Thumbnails 4/12/20

Thumbnails is a roundup of brief excerpts to introduce you to articles from other websites that we found interesting and exciting. We provide links to the original sources for you to read in their entirety.—Chaz Ebert

1. 

"John Fortson, Christie Lynn Smith and Abby Ryder Fortson on 'Rated'": At Indie Outlook, I interview an amazingly talented family of actors about their prize-winning short film now available on Vimeo

“[Smith:] ‘Rated’ is about how it doesn’t matter what your race, religion, sexual identity or social status is. All that matters is who you are as a person, which resonates now more than ever, especially in light of the crisis we’re dealing with. No one is going to know what the person next to us in line at the store has gone through, and we need to be more compassionate, more caring and more understanding. My character, Maggie, is an overwhelmed mother. What if somebody one day had just said, ‘Hey, are you having a bad day?’ Would she still have exploded at everybody at the dry cleaners and the restaurant? I know a lot of people can relate to Maggie’s predicament of being overwhelmed. That’s why we decided that this was the right time to release the film. The world needs to heal and we need to be kind to each other. [tears flow] Sorry, I was not expecting to cry, but it’s so overwhelming to see my kids having to grow up in this and wear a mask at the grocery store and not go to school. When are we going to hug each other again? Abby’s birthday party got cancelled, which is such a minute little thing, but it meant the world to me. Once we are able to gather again in groups, we are going to have to show that kindness. One question our movie raises is what if we all were striving to have five stars, and that’s all we cared about? Would that make us less authentic of a person because we’d do anything to earn those stars?”

2. 

"Deborah Kampmeier's 'Tape' explores the gray areas of #MeToo through sharing one woman's powerful story": The filmmaker chats with Cinema Femme's Rebecca Martin about her powerful new film now available online.

It was guerrilla filmmaking. We went into this building, 1501 Broadway, and again it was before 9/11, so we went to the top floor. Somehow my DP knew about this little closet–you open the closet door and there is this little tiny cat ladder that went all the way up on to the roof, up to this eagle sculpture. I went on the roof, over this eagle, and he went downstairs and up into a gorgeous architecture office across the street. And he said ‘Hey, you see that woman on that building over there, can I film her?’ That was the kind of thing we were doing with this film. I ended up editing for two weeks in an editing room, right next to Martin Scorsese because I kept telling everybody about my dream. This was before indie film was big. Jim Jarmusch had just made ‘Stranger Than Paradise’. People were giving me things for free. I edited the film in two weeks. One piece that I think I forgot to tell you was the first day of the workshop I bought a ticket to Berlin on a brand new AMEX card. I finished the film two days before my flight, had a little screening, and jumped on a plane to Berlin. I went to his production company Road Movies, and when I arrived, I learn he’s not there. He was in Paris. It was two weeks of my banging on the door–I called Peter Falk in LA, and I just got his answering machine. It says, ‘Hello this is Peter Falk’ and I’m leaving this message, like ‘Hi I’m this person, I’m trying to speak with Wim Wenders, and he’s in Paris, can you tell him I’m trying to reach him?’ Again, 23-year-old drama. I ended up flying home, not being able to reach him, and not getting into his film obviously. But it changed my life. It’s the most alive I’ve ever felt in my life.”

3.

"'We Kept the Third Act in a Safe': Tarantino's Assistant Director William Paul Clark on 'Kill Bill,' 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' and Improvisational Logistics": In conversation with Jim Hemphill of Filmmaker Magazine.

“The ending for ‘Inglourious Basterds’ wasn’t in the script anywhere. That was completely reworked by him over the Christmas holiday that we had taken and never put into script format. It was basically an outline with little snippets of dialogue. He wrote this out by hand and handed me a stack of yellow ruled paper. My solution for scheduling and making sure everybody else knew what we were doing was to photocopy it. Fortunately my daughter Josephine, who is one of the Manson girls in ‘Once Upon a Time,’ was in kindergarten, so I was quite apt with cut and paste at the time. I cut and pasted it together  into a daily schedule that I distributed to the crew. It was a bit unorthodox, but I think it really worked out well. The final shootout in ‘Django Unchained’ where we killed around 40 overseers wasn’t in the script. I mean, I was in that scene, because Quentin kept saying, ‘We need more people.’ I killed a couple of PAs. Anybody who could fit, we’d put in, to get more guns in there. It just had to get bigger and bigger to top what we had done in the barn earlier. The whole ending—the dynamite and everything—was all different from what was in the original script. The last month of ‘Django’ was quite an exercise in flexibility.”

4. 

"From Clint to Campion, filmmakers pay tribute to Kenneth Turan": As compiled by Mark Olsen of The Los Angeles Times (the tribute below was penned by Alexander Payne).

“Along with its virtuosity, what I appreciate about Kenny’s writing is that he’s so clearly a film enthusiast. He loves cinema and cinema history and longs to see the good in a film. When he pans a movie, it comes from a thoughtful place; you feel his genuine disappointment, and he never condemns. Maybe because I used to hear his boyish voice so often on NPR, but even in his writing one always detects the joy in his work. Critics have to slog through even the worst new films, and if good-hearted Kenny ever got jaded, he never showed it. When my early movies came out, I remember heading out to the newsstand on those Friday mornings to see what the New York and L.A. Times had to say, and I was always so relieved when Kenny liked them. We finally met over a long, champagne-filled interview in Cannes in 2002 when ‘About Schmidt’ was there, and a couple of years later I asked him to be my interlocutor at a public dialogue in Minneapolis. On both occasions, and each time we’ve met up since, I find him one of those fellow film nerds you can’t get enough of, one with whom delightful conversation flows and flows, and you wonder where the time has gone. Like everyone else, I’ll miss him very much in The Times, but he’s assuring us he’ll keep writing and getting around. Thank the gods.”

5. 

"19 Classic Screwball Tex Avery Cartoons, Ranked from Best to Worst": Courtesy of our contributor Donald Liebenson at Vulture. 

Avery cartoons were meta before meta was cool, Beck notes in a phone interview. They fully acknowledged that they were indeed cartoons being watched in a movie theater. In ‘Screwball Squirrel,’ one of the 19 animated shorts included on the Blu-ray, an adorable squirrel straight out of a Disney cartoon is interrupted mid-frolic by the title character. ‘Say, what kind of a cartoon is this gonna be, anyway?’ It’s gonna be a Tex Avery cartoon, and that means Screwy will take that furry charmer behind a tree, violently dispose of him, and assure the audience, ‘The funny stuff will start as soon as the phone rings.’ Avery’s Blu-ray debut is a big deal beyond the visual upgrade that makes these cartoons pop like the Wolf’s eyes do when he gets an eyeful of Red Hot Riding Hood in Avery’s essential cartoon of the same name (also included here). Beck ranks Avery, who is credited with giving Bugs Bunny his personality at Warner Bros., up there with Buster Keaton as a comic visionary and innovator. In ‘The Little Mermaid,’ when Sebastian’s jaw drops like an anvil when he spies Ariel comforting an injured Prince Eric, that’s Avery. When Jim Carrey’s Mask Jim Carrey’s ‘Mask’ man stops in the middle of a dramatic death scene to accept an acting award to the applause of silhouetted movie theater audience members, that’s Avery. And the Animaniacs’ Animaniacs’ helter-skelter pace, meta references, and fourth wall-breaking? That’s Avery, too.”

Image of the Day

Frazer Harrison / Lawrence Lucier, Getty Images

Matthew Wilkening at Ultimate Classic Rock details "how an unplanned Roger Ebert review launched John Prine’s career."

Video of the Day

RATED from John Fortson on Vimeo.

Here is the trailer for John Fortson's prize-winning film, "Rated," which is now available on Vimeo. It is sure to brighten your holiday at home with the family. 

Matt Fagerholm

Matt Fagerholm is an Assistant Editor at RogerEbert.com and is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association. 


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