Trial by Fire
The film plods at points, trudging along, and there are a few misguided narrative "devices" tacked on, but still, "Trial by Fire" bristles with anger.
"Lindsay MacKay on 'Wet Bum,' 'Clear Blue'": My interview at Indie Outlook with the extraordinary Canadian director, whose feature debut ("Wet Bum") is currently available on Netflix Instant.
“‘Wet Bum’ is actually somewhat based on my own experiences. I grew up with parents that run and own a nursing home, and I worked there as a cleaning woman like Sam. I had a lot of experiences at a young age where I would be confronted with people who were towards the end of their life. It rocked me to my core, in terms of understanding that my young adolescent life is not the most important thing. I also realized that old people aren’t just sweet grandmas and grandpas who are going to give you Werther’s all the time. Their lives are super-complicated and they are going through some really tough things. Even if they aren’t, it doesn’t mean that they are just grandparents waiting for you to arrive to make their lives better. What I experienced through that job and what I’ve learned from an older generation is really important to me and obviously influences my work on all levels. ‘Clear Blue’ is a mythical tale, but it’s also about our bodies and how age can isolate us from others. Underwater, Flova’s a beautiful young woman, and above water, she’s an old woman that no one would pay attention to. The film was about the way in which we put those barriers up through life. What I really loved about ‘Wet Bum’ was how both Sam and Ed are going through a big life change and they are coming into their new selves. Ed lost his wife and he’s trying to figure out who he is without her. Sam is becoming a woman and trying to figure out who she is in that situation. They are both going through transitions that are similar and not similar at the same time, but both are experiencing change and can find a connection with each other and support each other through that.”
“Barbara, in her own words, only knew how to act. She tried to employ herself, wash hair, work at a hotel, move to Mexico (which she enjoyed) but that was short lived. This is an actress and, so, even her bedtime escapades became something of a show; she’s still the star of her own movie (as detailed in O’Dowd’s book she often left the shades open with clients, so those outside world could get a proper screening). She was the big, peroxide, blonde star lead in her seamy little world, with all its ups and downs, bounced checks, stolen purses, court appearances and police pick-ups -- she would continue to make money pleasing her public. Once they were fans, now they were Johns. And they were as worshipful and as critical as the public and the writers and the lovers ever were. And nasty. The judgment of her seems especially harsh, twisting her beauty into continual ugliness and the (gasp!) horror of growing old and not just blousy, bloated. The way people viewed Payton (though some friends felt for her) is with the underlying sense of “she deserves it.” Franchot Tone can mess up his life and relationships three times over, but once Barbara took up with ‘Detour’ actor Tom Neal after marriage to Tone (Neal almost killed Tone in a beat down that was the scandal of Hollywood – something you can’t even imagine today, and Neal didn’t fare much better than Payton in the end) the limited but powerful actress (she really had it on screen – even up to her last film, Edgar G. Ulmer’s ‘Murder is My Beat’) was done for.”
"Across the Aisle: 'The Family,' Political Entertainment for the Age of Hillary": Great commentary from Jim Hemphill at The Talkhouse.
“Even when ‘The Family’ gets into well-covered territory, like the idea that political campaigns are won more by celebrity and personal narratives than issues, it does so in surprising ways, and with characters whose relationship to the audience is constantly shifting. I can’t think of another show that so deftly takes advantage of the ensemble format to consistently force the viewer to reexamine his or her own assumptions – not just about the characters, but the larger implications of what they represent. This show about politics is ultimately anti-politics in its repudiation of politics’ vulgar simplification, making multiple perspectives its guiding principle in both the structure (which jumps back and forth between numerous time periods and characters) and visual form (which relies heavily on split screens, split diopters and an elaborate manipulation of depth of field). It gives us something our polarizing politics (beautifully dramatized in the battle between Allen and Show’s characters) can’t: nuance and empathy. In ‘The Family,’ everyone is capable of monstrous acts (often the result of the best intentions) and everyone has his or her reasons, and the line between self-interest and self-sacrifice is disturbingly blurry. McCarthy’s extraordinary performance as Hank is key here, sympathetic without any sense of false softening or sentimentalizing – he’s as chilling as he is heartbreakingly human.”
"The Director and Star of 'Dheepan' on the Refugee Crisis and Taking Inspiration from Scorsese": Slate's Aisha Harris interviews director Jacques Audiard and actor Antonythasan Jesuthasan.
“[Harris:] ‘This movie is very timely right now, considering everything that’s going on with the Northern African and Middle Eastern refugees who are seeking asylum. In light of the news this week about France taking in, I think, 25,000 refugees, how do you feel about that? And do you think that nations that can do it should be opening their borders?’ [Jesuthasan:] ‘In my opinion, these Western countries that have the ability to take in refugees have the duty to take them in. Because what happened in Sri Lanka was not just the result of just the Sri Lankan government—it was the result of many international governments feeding in and causing that war and the genocide. So they have the duty to take in those who are affected or who are victims of that war. So just like things happening in Syria and other countries right now—that is a result of a lot of other governments having a hand in them, so they have a duty to clean up what they started.’ [Harris:] ‘How about you, Jacques?’ [Audiard:] ‘I totally agree with what Shoba said ... I think that’s just the beginning. What we are seeing today is just small images of what’s going to happen in the future. And we are very late to react, especially in European countries. If you are small in Europe—you have a small country—they think they are gonna continue their own lives by themselves—national identity, so on and so forth ... It’s garbage. It is going to explode. It is going to explode. The world of tomorrow will be like that—that’s gonna be our culture: total worldwide migrant movement.’”
"'The Shining' Anniversary: Stanley Kubrick & His Mysterious Classic": Variety's Tim Gray chats with "Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich about the 1980 masterpiece.
“May 23 marks the 36th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining,’ one of those rare works that wasn’t a huge hit when it opened but has grown into a movie classic.Among its many fans is Lee Unkrich, the director of Disney-Pixar’s ‘Toy Story 3’ and the upcoming ‘Coco,’ who says it’s one of the reasons he was inspired to become a filmmaker.Unkrich has been collecting memorabilia for years and decided to share it with other devotees, via TheOverlookHotel.com. Since the website’s debut several years ago, other admirers have shared things with him. There are now about 700 pieces online, including photos and notes on the film’s production, as well as work inspired by the movie: paintings, sculptures, songs, perfume, clothing, vinyl figures, a skateboard, even a gingerbread house re-creating the Overlook Hotel. The site also offers a few short films, such as ‘Wes Anderson’s The Shining,’ a 75-second faux trailer by Steve Ramsden that brilliantly intercuts footage from the film with ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel.’ Unkrich continues to collect ephemera for an upcoming book on the making of the film, interviewing the surviving crew and cast members, and finding rare bits that had been stored away, ‘including some photos that have only been seen by eight pairs of eyes.’ In the Variety Archives, ‘The Shining’ was first mentioned as a possible Kubrick project in January 1977, the same month that Stephen King’s novel debuted. Anticipation was high, since Kubrick was a source of fascination for the industry and King was hot from his two earlier novels, ‘Carrie’ (a hit film in 1976) and ‘Salem’s Lot.’”
Complex's Justin Korkidis celebrates Akira Kurosawa's birthday by presenting some of his glorious "hand-painted storyboards."
Fabrice Mathieu's eye-popping Hitchcock/Lucas mash-up, "Darth by Darthwest," makes marvelous use of Bernard Herrmann's timeless music.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...