Ebertfest to welcome Jason Segel, James Ponsoldt, Chazz Palminteri, Jon Kilik, Julieta Zylberberg and Alan Polsky.
Marie writes: I've been watching a lot of old movies lately, dissatisfied in general with the poverty of imagination currently on display at local cinemas. As anyone can blow something up with CGI - it takes no skill whatsoever and imo, is the default mode of every hack working in Hollywood these days. Whereas making a funny political satire in the United States about a Russian submarine running aground on a sandbank near a small island town off the coast of New England in 1966 during the height of the Cold War - and having local townsfolk help them escape in the end via a convoy of small boats, thereby protecting them from US Navy planes until they're safely out to sea? Now that's creative and in a wonderfully subversive way....
Marie writes: There was a time when Animation was done by slaves with a brush in one hand and a beer in the other. Gary Larson's "Tales From the Far Side" (1994) was such a project. I should know; I worked on it. Produced by Marv Newland at his Vancouver studio "International Rocketship", it first aired as a CBS Halloween special (Larson threw a party for the crew at the Pan Pacific Hotel where we watched the film on a big screen) and was later entered into the 1995 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prix. It spawned a sequel "Tales From the Far Side II" (1997) - I worked on that too. Here it is, below.
Marie writes: Widely regarded as THE quintessential Art House movie, "Last Year at Marienbad" has long since perplexed those who've seen it; resulting in countless Criterion-esque essays speculating as to its meaning whilst knowledge of the film itself, often a measure of one's rank and standing amongst coffee house cinephiles. But the universe has since moved on from artsy farsty French New Wave. It now prefers something braver, bolder, more daring...
Marie writes: Holy crap! THE KRAKEN IS REAL!" Humankind has been looking for the giant squid (Architeuthis) since we first started taking pictures underwater. But the elusive deep-sea predator could never be caught on film. Oceanographer and inventor Edith Widder shares the key insight - and the teamwork - that helped to capture the squid on camera for the first time, in the following clip taken from her recent TED talk." And to read more about the story, visit Researchers have captured the first-ever video footage of a live giant squid at i09.com
Marie writes: Behold a truly inspired idea...Age 8: Eileen's pink creature It started with a simple idea: to make a recognizable comfort toy for her 4 year-old son Dani, based on one of his drawing. His school had asked the children to bring in a toy from home; an emergency measure in the event of a tantrum or crying fit. Fearing he might lose his favorite, Wendy Tsao decided to make Dani a new one. Using a drawing he often made as her guide, she improvised a plush toy snowman. Five years later, Wendy Tsao has her own thriving home-based craft business - Child's Own Studio - in which she transforms the imaginative drawings of children into plush and cloth dolls; each one handcrafted and one-of-a-kind. She receives requests from parents all over the world; there's 500 people on waiting list. Note: kudos to club member Sandy Kahn for submitting the piece.
Marie writes: I attended three different elementary schools; St. Peter's, Our Lady of Mercy (which was anything but) and finally St. Micheal's; where I met my Canadian-Italian chum, Marta Chiavacci (key-a-vah-chee) who was born here to Italian immigrants. We lost touch after high school, moving in different directions til in the wake of a trip to Venice and eager to practice my bad Italian and bore friends with tales of my travels abroad, I sought her out again.We've kept in touch ever since, meeting whenever schedules permit; Marta traveling more than most (she's a wine Sommelier) living partly in Lucca, Italy, and happily in sin with her significant other, the great Francesco. I saw her recently and took photos so that I might show and tell, in here. For of all the friends I have, she's the most different from myself; the contrast between us, a never-ending source of delight. Besides, it was a nice afternoon in Vancouver and her condo has a view of False Creek...smile...
(click images to enlarge)
View image: "The Crowd" (King Vidor, 1928)
View image: "The Apartment" (Billy Wilder, 1960)
View image: "The Rapture" (Michael Tolkin, 1991)
View image: "Fight Club" (David Fincher, 1999)
View image: "Office Space" (Mike Judge, 1999)
Ken Wiley, a jazz historian and musician, has a radio show called "The Art of Jazz" that airs Sunday afternoons on my favorite station, KPLU-FM in Seattle (and online at Jazz24). He has a reocurring feature in which he chases down a musical element -- a melody, a set of chord changes, developments on a solo -- through a number of records. I've often wanted to do something similar with movies, and in researching my MSN Movies feature, "Wither While You Work" (Dave McCoy came up with that headline; I wish I had), a few ideas occured to me.
This one starts with King Vidor's great 1928 "The Crowd." The camera climbs up the side of a skyscraper (a miniature) looks through a window and a dissolve takes us to an overhead shot of an enormous diagonal grid of desks, emphasizing the regimentation and depersonalization of working life in the big city.
In one of the most famous homages in movies, Billy Wilder paid tribute to Vidor at the beginning of 1960's "The Apartment" with a tilt up the side of the building and a dissolve to the famous image of the sea of desks. Wilder shoots it straight on, from above desk level, but keeps both floor and ceiling in view, the receding lines of desks and fluorescent light fixtures converging into infinity. The scale is so immense, it's funny. Later, when 5:20 p.m. arrives and the bell rings, everybody gets up, places covers over their adding machines, puts on their coats and goes home... and another dissolve shows us C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) all alone in this vast office space, knowing there's no point in heading back to his apartment just yet.
Michael Tolkin's "The Rapture" opens with a maze of modern cubicles at a directory assistance facility. (And, yes, this is soon to be an Opening Shots entry.) Tolkin actually moves into the maze, rather than simply surveying it from above. The camera begins by rising above a cubicle wall in the foreground, then moves across to the left, down one of the paths, then back to the right until it floats over another cubicle wall and comes to rest nearly on top of Mimi Rogers' monitor. (You may be able to spot her if you enlarge the accompanying image here -- she's in the fourth box back, just right of center.) Notice how Tolkin also uses the overhead lighting to add forced perspective, a sense that the room extends even further than it actually does. And the lighting is so muted that the shot almost seems to be in black and white.
In "Fight Club," Edward Norton's anonymous narrator stands in front of a copier and describes experiencing the world through his depression as being like seeing "a copy of a copy of a copy." He's placed his Starbuck's coffee on the copier in front of him, and it rides back and forth on the top. When we look out at the office from his POV (fixed perspective), his copier lid moves back and forth in the foreground. Three people, also standing in front of copiers at perpendicular angles to the camera, are drinking their Starbuck's simultaneously, moving every bit as mechanically as the office machines. A man pushing a cart comes in from the left and moves in perfect sychronization with the foreground copier motion. The whole world has become a grid, populated by monochromatic automatons.
That's the same feeling conveyed by the relatively short, stationary shot in Mike Judge's "Office Space," where Peter (Ron Livingston) comes to work and passes across the screen in the foreground from right to left (not unlike the copier lid in "Fight Club"). This one, especially, reminds me of newspaper newsrooms I've worked in. Again, the lines of the cubicles and the fluorescent ceiling lighting converge in the distance. Whenever I see this image now, I'm reminded of dominoes -- how one thing leads to another and Peter and his friends from the office eventually knock down these walls, literally and figuratively.