This is rare, nuanced storytelling, anchored by one of Brad Pitt’s career-best performances and remarkable technical elements on every level. It’s a special film.
"How to behave with disabled people: A new guide tells you what to do and what not to do": At The Independent, our FFC Scott Jordan Harris pens an essential essay.
“The majority of people who are not disabled feel awkward around those, like me, who are. Most don't admit it publicly, but statistics show it to be true. Scope, Britain's leading disability charity, conducted a survey into attitudes to disability and the results are astonishing. Sixty-seven per cent of British people feel so awkward around disabled people they either panic or avoid all contact with us. Forty-eight per cent have never started a conversation with a disabled person. Seventy-six per cent have never invited a disabled person to a social occasion and only 16 per cent have invited one of us into their homes. Saddest of all, only five per cent of people who are not disabled have ever asked out, or been on a date with, someone who is. To put all this in context, disabled people make up 18 per cent of the population. That's just under one in five. The most important result to come from Scope's survey is ‘End the Awkward,’ the campaign it inspired the charity to begin. ‘Not enough people know a disabled person or know enough about disability,’ says Mark Atkinson, Scope's interim chief executive. ‘That's why Scope launched End the Awkward – it aims to tackle the awkwardness that many people feel about disability.’ Part of the initiative involves teaming up with Channel 4 to release a series of short films called ‘What Not to Do.’”
“We've barely sat down when Waleed Zuaiter, a Palestinian-American actor in his early forties, recounts for me his death scene on ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent.’ This was about a year after September 11. ‘I play a guy from a sleeper cell,’ Waleed says. ‘I’m checking my e-mails. I hear the cops come in, and the first thing I go for is my box cutter. There's literally a box cutter in the scene.’ ‘Was this in an office?’ I ask Waleed. ‘It was in my home!’ he replies. ‘I just happened to have a box cutter lying around.’ Waleed shakes his head, bemused. ‘The cops burst in, and next thing you know I've got the box cutter to some guy's neck. And then one of the cops shoots me.’ ‘I die in ‘Iron Man,’” says Sayed Badreya, an Egyptian man with a salt-and-pepper beard. "I die in ‘Executive Decision.’ I get shot at by—what's his name?—Kurt Russell. I get shot by everyone. George Clooney kills me in ‘Three Kings.’ Arnold blows me up in ‘True Lies’…’ As Sayed and Waleed and the others describe their various demises, it strikes me that the key to making a living in Hollywood if you're Muslim is to be good at dying. If you're a Middle Eastern actor and you can die with charisma, there is no shortage of work for you.”
"Mirror Images: 'American Sniper' and 'Selma'": At Indie Outlook, critic John Marks makes his case for why two of last year's most divisive fact-based dramas "lay bare the anatomy of Oscar-bait."
“The procedural elements in ‘Selma’ are more overt, and in some ways less troubling. The film is to a large extent an educational film about the mechanics of civil disobedience (it’s no wonder that Richard Roeper advised middle school teachers to ‘take a field trip to see this movie.’) A procedural like ‘Sniper,’ the runtime is divided pretty evenly into thirds between: (1.) powwows, the SCLC leaders’ backroom strategizing of the protests. (2.) King’s personal lobbying of President Johnson to pass a civil rights bill. (3.) The protest itself. At times this literal approach can seem downright perverse, since it departs so conspicuously from the typical biopic template. Most Hollywood biopics rush over or even conceal the practical consequences of their character’s ‘growth arc,’ as though the actual achievements of the subject were a waste product of their spiritual self-actualization (I’m thinking specifically of ‘The Iron Lady’ here.) In ‘Selma,’ those practical consequences are all we get. The filmmakers seem to have made the choice to focus exclusively on the material process of the protests and not at all on the principles motivating its participants, whether that be King or the ordinary black citizenry under his leadership (we get almost no sense of the living conditions of an average black southerner.) To my taste, that made for a dry, unsatisfying film; it’s like touring a sausage factory and not getting to taste one afterwards.”
"'The Ultimate '80s Guilty Pleasure Movie': Randal Kleiser on 'Summer Lovers'": Another great interview conducted by Jim Hemphill at Filmmaker Magazine.
“Filmmaker: ‘Let’s talk about the casting. You had three very strong actors in the leads—’ Kleiser: ‘Yes, we had that wonderful actress Valérie Quennessen, who I knew from my friend John Milius’s film ‘Conan’…right after the movie came out she was killed in a car crash. She had a child who was around six years old at the time, and about four years ago he wrote to me and asked to see ‘Summer Lovers.’ I sent him a copy and he wrote back that he was in tears after getting to see his mother for the first time since he was a child, as she was when she was alive and beautiful. It was really touching. I noticed Daryl Hannah in the Warner Bros. commissary when she was shooting ‘Blade Runner.’ I saw her across the room and wrote her a note that said, ‘To the girl in the pink dress: if you are an actress please call this number for a screen test. This is not a joke.’ I had the waitress pass along the note and then left, and Daryl called and she got the part. I originally had Dennis Quaid set to play Peter’s part, but on the Friday before we were supposed to start shooting – we were going to begin that Monday in Greece – Dennis called and said, ‘My wife won’t let me do this movie.’ She didn’t want him running around the Greek islands naked with two women, so he dropped out. The next night I turned on the TV and was watching ‘The Idolmaker’; I called our casting lady and said, ‘Can we get Peter Gallagher?’ So she called him, and the next day we were all in Greece.’ Filmmaker: ‘Speaking of running around the islands naked…there is a lot of nudity in the film—’ Kleiser: ‘The terrible thing is that whenever it would show on TV they’d cut out all the nudity and you lost a lot of plot points. All of the dialogue when people are walking by naked was gone, so the movie made no sense at all.’”
"Silent movie buffs search the screen for clues to origins of 'mostly lost' films": A fascinating report from Noah Bierman at The Los Angeles Times.
“A locomotive flashed, and someone deduced that a scene had been filmed in France, given the placement of the boiler. When dialogue titles popped up on another clip, a viewer guessed that it was produced by Thomas Edison's studio because of the distinctive font. And then there was the lucky glimpse of a calendar with a key nugget — the date April 1 falling on a Saturday. That movie was probably shot in 1922, a fan surmised, based on a quick online search of old calendars. This was the ‘Mostly Lost’ film festival, which has become a pilgrimage for a subset of movie fans who revere the era long before the advent of computer-enhanced animatronic dinosaurs. For four years, the event at the State Theatre on the Library of Congress' Packard Campus has attracted historians with advanced degrees, old men with stacks of even older film tins in their basements and self-taught aficionados who can quickly determine a car's model year or identify a never-famous actor by the shape of his posterior. This year, an 11-year-old boy, who has appeared on Turner Classic Movies to introduce Charlie Chaplin's ‘Modern Times,’ missed two days of school to be here. What they all had in common was an obsession with a time when movies were made without color, sound or social media campaigns. The Packard Campus, about 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, houses the largest and most comprehensive film collection in the world. The 125 films screened over three days in June were mere fragments — five- to 10-minute clips — mostly from movies so obscure that even top film archivists could not decipher the titles, name the actors, or determine the year they were made.”
The A.V. Club's Katie Rife helpfully explains to the people who made the galvanizing curiosity "Roar" that "when you let actual lions direct your movie, expect to be mauled."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sometimes, Roger Ebert is exposed to bad movies. When that happens, it is his duty -- if not necessari...
A review of Netflix's The I-Land, the worst show in the streaming service's history.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
A review of the new film by Roman Polanski, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival.