The year is not even two weeks old but it already has one electrifyingly brilliant film to its credit.
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
"Emer Kinsella on 'Jungle,' 'Faith,' Hack Music LA and More": At Indie Outlook, I interview the LA-based composer and experimental violinist about her latest projects, including an innovative fusion of music and virtual reality.
“I’ve been collaborating with writer/director Karen Dee Carpenter on a VR Opera ‘Muse of the Underworld,’ and I became aware of the LA Phil doing VR simulations of video art. They posted about Hack Music LA, a two-day event that brings in creative artists from all over—VR developers, game developers, composers and musicians—to create a project that can utilize music while finding new ways of bringing audiences to new media. I applied and was chosen as a selected participant. The LA Phil will choose two projects developed by the teams involved and then see how they evolve afterward. I think VR definitely has a lot of potential to access audiences in different ways. With the VR Opera project, we are aiming to stage it in a way similar to the site-specific performances that I did in Vienna. We’re placing it in an outdoor location where music is coming at the audience from all directions and immersing them in the experience both visually and musically, while engaging them in an emotional experience. VR gives you endless directional possibilities for the music, while enabling it to inform the viewer about where to look and what part of the story to experience at any given moment. It struck me as an interesting coincidence while working on the project that my company name, Emersion Music, so readily aligns itself with the qualities of immersion in VR. I figured it was a sign that I was meant to do this.”
"Zadie Smith Thinks We Should 'Retain The Right To Be Wrong'": An essential report from The Huffington Post's Claire Fallon.
“‘Because I’m not on Twitter, I’m not on Instagram, I’m not on the Internet, I never hear people shouting at me,’ said Smith, during a conversation with The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino on Monday. The acclaimed novelist and critic referred to an essay she recently wrote for Harper’s on Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ and Dana Schutz’s controversial painting ‘Open Casket.’ It was well-received in many corners, and heavily criticized in others. ‘If I knew,’ she said, ‘I wouldn’t be able to write. I need a certain amount of ignorance in order to have my feeling.’ The two writers were onstage to discuss Smith’s last novel, Swing Time, to celebrate the book’s paperback release, but the conversation inevitably turned toward the current state of political and intellectual discourse. ‘I have seen on Twitter, I’ve seen it at a distance, people have a feeling at 9 a.m. quite strongly, and then by 11 have been shouted out of it and can have a completely opposite feeling four hours later. That part, I find really unfortunate,’ she said. ‘I want to have my feeling, even if it’s wrong, even if it’s inappropriate, express it to myself in the privacy of my heart and my mind. I don’t want to be bullied out of it.’”
"Making a Hammer Film As If It Was Directed by Scorsese': John Landis on 'Innocent Blood' and Operating Muppets With Tim Burton": In conversation with Filmmaker Magazine's Jim Hemphill.
“Jim Henson had committed the Muppets to be on Disneyland’s 35th Anniversary show and the Disney Company had made a deal with an outside television production company to make the special. Jim went to Anaheim with the Muppet performers ten days before the show and was appalled at what they had planned – Jim felt it was amateurish. The talent were already signed. The host was Tony Danza. Tony had been on ‘Taxi,’ which was in syndication five days a week, and he was the star of a hit TV show called ‘Who’s The Boss.’ So at the time he had the highest ‘TVQ’ rating as one of the most recognizable faces on television. Who knew Tony Danza was such a big name? I had him for only 8 hours one day and he was a nice guy and extremely professional. I grew up in L.A. and had been going to Disneyland since it opened, and Jim knew I was a Disney freak. So when Jim Henson called me and said, ‘John, do you want to shoot a show in Disneyland? It’s Disneyland’s 35th Anniversary Special and shoots in five days,’ I said, ‘Of course I do!’ So I went out there and shot this thing, which, if you ever see it, is insane. Some of it is truly funny. I actually directed a scene with Michael Eisner, Tony Danza and Goofy! ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ was still in theaters, so Charlie Fleischer, the voice of Roger Rabbit, was in the show as the Jungle Boat Guide. We literally made that up as we went along. The gag was that on this particular Jungle Boat adventure none of the passengers except Tony Danza survive the cruise. The audio-animatronic natives throw spears at them and they jump overboard where they are eaten by crocodiles — it was nuts. The cast of ‘Cheers’ was also in it, and Jim Varney, the guy who played Ernest.”
"Misunderstood upon its release, 'Josie and the Pussycats' was ahead of its time": According to Mikael Wood of The Los Angeles Times.
“[Kay] Hanley recalled the experience of recording Josie’s vocals for the movie — a gig she got through her friend Dave Gibbs of the Gigolo Aunts, who’d moved from Boston to L.A. and befriended Kaplan and Elfont — with equal enthusiasm. She’d worked in movies before: In 1999, Letters to Cleo appeared in ‘10 Things I Hate about You,’ the high-school-set ‘Taming of the Shrew’ update starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. ‘But for this I was being hired as a vocalist outside the band,’ she said. ‘I was like, ‘I can’t believe someone’s paying me to sing.’’ Not only that, but she was being paid to do it with Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds, the hit-making studio wizard who served as the soundtrack’s executive producer. Hanley said she learned an ‘incredible’ amount from Babyface about music and about an industry then flush with cash from CD sales but which would soon undergo radical change thanks to the spread of digital file-sharing. Looking back today, the threat of that imminent crisis seems to propel ‘Josie and the Pussycats,’ which lampoons the idea of branding and product placement by putting corporate logos in virtually every scene; the movie is accurately predicting a future in which labels and musicians — even those not on ‘TRL’ — will move beyond selling albums as a means of making money.”
"Sean Baker's 'The Florida Project' is One of the Year's Best Films": According to master video essayist Nelson Carvajal at Indie Outlook.
“It’s hard to write about ‘The Florida Project’ without writing about Florida itself. As I type this review, a new tropical depression that is forming could very well turn into Hurricane Nate and hit the Florida panhandle this weekend. This, of course, comes soon after the recent devastating destruction caused by Hurricane Irma. Florida has been through some challenging trials as of late and, in a lot of ways, that’s a very Floridian plight. For a state that shines on the billboard with promises of vacation and sunshine, the real Florida doesn’t look like the brochure getaway that so many Americans figure it to be. Like many parts of America, there are the parts we see, and the parts we don’t. Sean Baker’s latest film ‘The Florida Project’ tells another story about a part of Florida that we don’t see very much in the multiplexes. In its geographical spirit, it joins the likes of Larry Clark’s ‘Bully’ and Harmony Korine’s ‘Spring Breakers,’ but because of its pint-sized protagonists, it shares more DNA with Hirokazu Koreeda’s ‘Nobody Knows’ and Ramin Bahrani’s ‘Chop Shop’; that is to say that it gives us a worldview from a group of adolescents, who are mostly void of cynicism and anger. There is jubilance in much of ‘The Florida Project’ that is instantly infectious.”
Michael Smith of White City Cinema recalls how the late Skip Haynes of Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah allowed him to use the group's classic tune, "Lake Shore Drive," for his great debut feature, "Cool Apocalypse."
This interview with Mary Reber, the woman who played Alice Tremond in "Twin Peaks: The Return" and the real-life owner of the Laura Palmer house, is a must-see for Lynch fans.
A report from the 75th annual Golden Globes.
Stop watching movies made by assholes. It'll be OK.
A look at the way Donald Trump's words and images recall the Stanley Kubrick classic.
Gerardo Valero tackles the latest "Star Wars" film.