Festivals & Awards
A dispatch from TIFF on three major narrative titles, including a whip-smart satire starring Jeffrey Wright.
A dispatch from TIFF on three major narrative titles, including a whip-smart satire starring Jeffrey Wright.
A column on the latest on Blu-ray and DVD, including Criterion editions of Code Unknown & In Cold Blood, The Man From UNCLE, Meru, Ant-Man and more!
Marie writes: Welcome to "Good Books", an online bookseller based in New Zealand. Every time you buy a book through them, 100% of the retail profit goes directly to fund projects in partnership with Oxfam; projects which provide clean water, sanitation, develop sustainable agriculture and create access to education for communities in need. To increase awareness of Good Books' efforts to raise money for Oxfam, String Theory (New Zeland based agency) teamed up with collaborative design production comany "Buck" to create the first of three videos in a digital campaign called Good Books Great Writers. Behold the award winning animated Good Books Metamorphosis.
Marie writes: For those unaware, it seems our intrepid leader, the Grand Poobah, has been struck by some dirty rotten luck..."This will be boring. I'll make it short. I have a slight and nearly invisible hairline fracture involving my left femur. I didn't fall. I didn't break it. It just sort of...happened to itself." - Roger
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Marie writes: Behold a living jewel; a dragonfly covered in dew as seen through the macro-lens of French photographer David Chambon. And who has shot a stunning series of photos featuring insects covered in tiny water droplets. To view others in addition to these, visit here.
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Marie writes: It's no secret that most Corporations are evil - or at the very least, suck big time. And while I have no actual proof, I'm fairly certain there is a special level of Dante's Hell reserved just for them. (Map of Dante's Hell.)That being the case, when my younger brother Paul wrote me about a cool project sponsored by Volkswagen, I was understandably wary and ready to denounce it sight-unseen as self-serving Corporate shyte. As luck would have it however, I was blessed at birth with curiosity and which got the better of me and why I took a look. For what I found was nothing less than extraordinary....
The Grand Poobah shared the following recently and which struck me as just the thing to put in here - for it amounts to someone inventing a moving still akin to those seen on the front page of Harry Potter's famous newspaper."You know how people sometimes say that jazz is the only truly American art form? Animated GIFs are like the jazz of the internet: they could only exist, and be created and appreciated, online. That said, PopTart Cat is not exactly on par with Thelonious Monk. But photographer Jamie Beck and motion graphics artist Kevin Burg may have finally found a way to elevate the animated GIF to a level approaching fine art, with their "cinemagraphs" -- elegant, subtly animated creations that are "something more than a photo but less than a video." - fastcodesignAnd sadly, they won't work in here; Movable Type doesn't like animated gifs. It's easily solved however, just visit Far Better Than 3-D: Animated GIFs That Savor A Passing Moment to see an assortment in play!
Michael Caton-Jones' 1989 film "Scandal" begins amidst an atmosphere of gaiety and innocence at the start of the 1960s. Bright, resplendent, sparkling visions burst before our eyes. Soon the tones will become darker. "Scandal" chronicles the multi-faceted sex scandal that erupted in the "you've never had it so good" British Tory prime minister Harold Macmillan's conservative government in 1963.
Some people are proposing a boycott of Newsweek because of a silly article that criticizes gay actors -- specifically on TV's "Glee" and in the Broadway revival of the Bacharach-David Musical "Promises, Promises" -- for acting too gay in straight roles. This strikes me as fundamentally hilarious for several reasons, the most obvious of which are:
1) I didn't know anyone needed additional incentive to not read Newsweek, since circulation figures indicate that lots and lots of people have been not reading it without making any concerted effort not to do so.
2) "Glee" and "Promises, Promises" are both Musicals, for god's sake. Where would the Musical be without the participation of gay actors? The movie version of "Paint Your Wagon" -- that's where. You Musical fans want to spend the rest of your lives watching and listening to Clint Eastwood singing "I Talk to the Trees"? Then go ahead and complain that gay performers are too gay to star in Musicals.
AMC's re-do of the classic British TV series "The Prisoner" gets under way Sunday night, following the conclusion of "Mad Men"'s third season last week. The new version stars Jim Caviezel as Number Six and Ian McKellen as Number Two. (The great Leo McKern played Number Two a couple times in the original series, and there were some other repeats as I recall, but generally there was a new Number Two each week.)
From the teasers it appears that the new version (tagline: "You Only Think You're Free") takes place in a desert suburb of Dubai rather than a quaint seaside village. (Actually, the new "Prisoner" was shot in Cape Town, South Africa, and Swakopmund, Namibia.) The big white bouncy billowy security devices are back. But I'm most interested in the opening credits sequence, because I became so enamored with the ritualistic nature of the earlier one, as you can see from the following obsessive video analysis originally published in 2008:
(Rescued and reposted months after the death of iKlipz caused all my video essays to disappear from the web. Originally published -- with more on "The Prisoner" here.)
Actor director writer producer Patrick McGoohan has died at the age of 80. (News story here.) In fond remembrance, I resurrect this essay -- the only one I've done with voiceover -- about the opening of his most ambitious project, the 1960s television series "The Prisoner." The show is currently being remade for AMC, with James Caviezel in McGoohan's role as Number Six and Ian McKellen as Number Two.
Here's just what you've been craving: Twelve minutes and 19 seconds of stopping, starting, slowing down and gabbing (I mean, breathless commentary) over the one-minute, 47-second title sequence that introduces each episode of the cult-classic 1967-68 British science-fiction / spy TV series, "The Prisoner," starring Patrick McGoohan.
I was possessed by the need to do this -- just for myself -- while (re-)watching the entire series again on DVD and becoming mesmerized by repeat viewings of the opening. It sucked me in every time. I hadn't seen the show since it aired -- on PBS? -- in the late 1960s or early 1970s, and this time I was endlessly fascinated and delighted by the sheer sixties-ness of it all -- the camera set-ups, optical gimmicks (zooms galore) and cutting techniques that epitomized the era.
Do you want more information about "The Prisoner"...?
Latest Contrarian Week News:
In his New York Observer year-end wrap-up (and ten-best list), Andrew Sarris attempts to steal the thunder of one of his New York "alternative weekly" rivals.
Sarris writes: Fortunately, modern technology makes it almost impossible for a good movie to get “lost” because of end-of-the-year mental exhaustion. So, with the proviso that I still have a great deal of catching up to do, here are my considered choices for the various 10-best categories, and one of my patented 10-worst lists under the provocative heading of “Movies Other People Liked and I Didn’t.” I am not at all deterred in dishing out my annual supply of negativity by the correspondent who informed me last year that he preferred all the films on my 10-worst list to all the films on my 10-best list. I have long ago become resigned to my fate as a reviled revisionist ever since my first column in The Village Voice in 1960 hailed Alfred Hitchcock as a major artist for "Psycho," and inspired more hate mail than any Voice column had received up to that time. That clinched my job at the ever-contrarian Voice, and I have simply gone on from there.So, how contrarian is the "reviled revisionist" 46 years later? Let's see:
"The Departed" as best film of the year. (Only in New York!)
"Blood Diamond" as #5.
Best Supporting Actresses: 1) Jennifer Connelly, "Blood Diamond" 2) Gong Li, "Miami Vice" 3) Maggie Gyllenhaal, "World Trade Center"
And then there's this: Other striking male performances were provided by: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin and Anthony Anderson in The Departed; Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber and Toby Jones in The Painted Veil; Wim Willaert in When the Sea Rises; Leslie Phillips and Richard Griffiths in Venus; Clive Owen, Denzel Washington, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Inside Man; Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase and Shido Nakamura in Letters from Iwo Jima; Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin and Paul Dano in Little Miss Sunshine; Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Rufus Sewell in The Illusionist; Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Noah Emmerich, Gregg Edelman and Ty Simpkins in Little Children; Keanu Reeves, Christopher Plummer and Dylan Walsh in The Lake House; Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena and Stephen Dorff in World Trade Center; Tim Blake Nelson, Pat Corley, Jeffrey Donovan, Stacy Keach and Scott Wilson in Come Early Morning; Ryan Gosling and Anthony Mackie in Half Nelson; Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn, and Danny Huston in Marie Antoinette; Matt Damon, Michael Gambon, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt, Billy Crudup, Robert De Niro, Keir Dullea, Timothy Hutton, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Ivanir and Joe Pesci in The Good Shepherd; Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones and Ben Foster in X-Men: The Last Stand; Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Simon Abkarian, Sebastien Foucan, Jesper Christensen and Tobias Menzies in Casino Royale; Ebru Ceylan and Mehmet Eryilmaz in Climates; Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck and Bob Hoskins in Hollywoodland; Jamie Foxx, Danny Glover, Keith Robinson and Hinton Battle in Dreamgirls; Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Trevor Fehrman, Kevin Smith and Jason Lee in Clerks II; Justin Kirk and Jamie Harrold in Flannel Pajamas; Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker and Adrian Grenier in The Devil Wears Prada; Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman and Tom Hulce in Stranger Than Fiction; Samuel L. Jackson, Curtis Jackson, Chad Michael Murray, Sam Jones III and Brian Presley in Home of the Brave; Harris Yulin, Ty Burrell and Boris McGiver in Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus; Max Minghella, John Malkovich, Jim Broadbent, Matt Keeslar, Ethan Suplee, Joel David Moore and Nick Swardson in Art School Confidential; Joseph Cross, Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes and Alec Baldwin in Running with Scissors; Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Ciarán Hinds, Justin Theroux, Barry Shabaka Henley, Luis Tosar and John Ortiz in Miami Vice; Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam and Tim McMullan in The Queen; Samuel L. Jackson, Ron Eldard, William Forsythe, Anthony Mackie, Marlon Sherman and Clarke Peters in Freedomland; Vin Diesel, Peter Dinklage, Linus Roache, Alex Rocco, Ron Silver and Raul Esparza in Find Me Guilty; Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Stanley Tucci, Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley in Lucky Number Slevin; Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Chris Klein, Shohreh Aghdashloo, John Cho, Tony Yalda, Sam Golzari and Willem Dafoe in American Dreamz; Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson and Rory Cochrane in A Scanner Darkly; Adam Beach, Ryan A. Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, John Benjamin Hickey, Jon Slattery, Barry Pepper, Jamie Bell, Paul Walker and Robert Patrick in Flags of Our Fathers; Chow Yun-Fat in Curse of the Golden Flower; Sergi López, Doug Jones, Álex Angulo and Federico Luppi in Pan’s Labyrinth; Bill Nighy in Notes on a Scandal.Take that, A----- W----!
Kal-El descends to Earth in his Super Jesus Christ Pose
The figure responsible for last year's so-called Hollywood slump may just be be the savior of this year's summer grosses, according to some biz types. Yes, we're talking about Jesus Christ. Mel Gibson's blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ" attracted so many people who don't ordinarily go to the movies in the spring of 2004, that it made the revenues for 2005 look out of whack in comparison. But this year, JC helped inspire "The Da Vinci Code" to a miraculous opening (despite generally bad reviews -- a miserable 24% on the TomatoMeter). It's been the top grosser for five weeks overseas, where Box Office Jesus has trumped all the X-Men's superpowers combined. Next, the King of the Jews is poised to take on "Forrest Gump," making "The Da Vinci Code" the biggest Tom Hanks movie ever. Holy Fool!
(Second) Coming Soon: "Superman Returns." He's been away, but now he's back. Just like You Know Who....
Sir Ian McKellen Explains It All For You in "The Da Vinci Code."
As a species, we humans are designed to connect the dots. But so many of our problems and mistakes arise from: 1) not knowing (due to misunderstanding or lack of information) where, exactly, the dots are; 2) not knowing what they signify; and 3) misattributing conscious intention to some hidden force behind the nature and placement of those dots.
I'm alternately amused and bothered by responses I've seen to "United 93" and "The Da Vinci Code" that claim to know, one way or another, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the events of 9/11, the history of the bible, the historical validity of Christianity and the existence of a monotheistic deity. (I have to pause here, just to laugh at that last sentence.)
The biggest conspiracy theory yet invented by mankind is "Intelligent Design," the idea that everything that currently exists was destined to "turn out" the way it is right now because a supernatural intelligence (conspiring, apparently, with itself) made it happen deliberately. No room for chance or coincidence or (shudder) evolution in that fixed, closed-world view. But the only reason a concept as preposterous as Intelligent Design can continue to exist is because there are still so many things we don't know about the development of life on this planet (or any other). That's why Intelligent Design is also known as "God in the Gaps." Anything that's unclear or can't yet be explained? Just plug "God" into the equation and voila! -- it's complete! Conspiracies about 9/11 or Christianity are, in principle, exactly the same: Just fill in the gaps in what is known with a top-secret cabal guiding everything behind the scenes, and suddenly it all makes sense. I guess that's why they say a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.
CANNES, France -- One of the traditions at Cannes is the dramatic unveiling of advance footage from a blockbuster scheduled to open next Christmas. I avoid these opportunities. I prefer to see movies all at once. Therefore I turned down an invitation to the preview party for "Dreamgirls," the big musical scheduled to open Dec. 6.