Sophia, Frictions, & a Petition

The featured photo of Sophia Loren relates to a nice piece by Justin Rielly in the Examiner on how 1961 was a very good year for her. “Sophia Loren turned 77 in 2011, but she was just 27 in 1961 – when two very different films featuring her in two very different roles reachedworldwide film audiences. El Cid and Two Women may have gone down different story paths, but they would both become significant works in Loren’s distinguished career.”

INTERVIEWS

Steven Spielberg, Gary Oldman, Jonah Hill, Steve Carrell, Chris Evans, Tom Hardy & Joel Edgerton, Colin  Firth, John Singleton (Abduction director), Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive director), Jonathan Levine (50/50 director), Mattias Lindhal (VFX Sup for Attack the Block), and Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter director).

Today I’m going to post a couple of new Vimeo Staff picks, and this little bad ass short is called “Frictions” by Steven Briand. This was his graduation short film, “directed at l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs of Paris in 2010 – 2011, in the animation section. FRICTIONS mixes live action and stop motion animation and has been shot with a Canon Camera 5D Mark II and a 24-70 L lens, in a blue screen studio located in Ensad’s building.”

ROUNDUP

The Daily Mubi has been keeping track of the 6 filmmakers who were recently arrested in Iran. You can also sign a petition.

There’s a scandal in Russia!  “Russian movie critics and filmmakers expressed bewilderment Tuesday after the country picked a critically-panned film by veteran pro-Kremlin director Nikita Mikhalkov as its entry for the Oscars. The head of the country’s Oscar committee, Vladimir Menshov — himself an Oscar-winning director — publicly spoke out against the decision by his own organisation to nominate Mikhalkov’s unloved war epic Citadel.” Another article can be found here.

Jonathan Jones asks, “Are Hollywood and high art still compatible?” He writes, “American film has always existed on the borderland of art and trash, and it has its geniuses today just as in the days when expectant crowds filed reverently into the Egyptian to worship the flickering gods of light.”

Catherine Grant has a big entry with a gaggle of links about Bill Douglas, “one of the most interesting Scottish filmmakers ever, and a highly likely influence on anyone interesting working in that field today.”

Canada to honor female Iranian filmmaker, Pouran Derakhshandeh. “The award-winning female filmmaker will be honored during the 3rd edition of the festival, which will be held from September 23 to 25 in Toronto, Mehr News Agency reported.”

Watch the entire StanleyKubrick documentary called “The Invisible Man.”

Paris Review’s Michael Dirda on Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle. “Appropriately, Conan Doyle once named “unaffectedness” as his own favorite virtue, then listed “manliness” as his favorite virtue in another man; “work” as his favorite occupation; “time well filled” as his ideal of happiness; “men who do their duty” as his favorite heroes in real life; and “affectation and conceit” as his pet aversions. It should thus come as no surprise that Conan Doyle’s books are all fairly transparent endorsements of chivalric ideals of honor, duty, courage, and greatness of heart.”

Kurt Vonnegut on the shape of stories.

Sean Axmaker on the the 1924 The Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom: “Let’s face it, Soviet silent cinema isn’t known for its sense of humor. Which is not say that it’s completely unknown; the 1925 comedy short Chess Fever is an often cartoonishly inventive parody of the chess madness that swept Russia in its day and the cheeky humor and tongue-in-satire of the 1926 adventure serial Miss Mend is a delight by anyone’s standards. But silent Russian comedies are harder to find than, say, rousing celebrations of Soviet values and nationalistic displays of great communist victories.”

Retronaut has a collection of haunting pics of the abandoned set used for James Cameron’s Abyss.

John August on Final Cut Pro’s updates & free trial.

Screenwriter Diablo Cody is saddened by Bobcat Goldthwait’s new movie.  “I’ve been sad because I heard Bobcat Goldthwait (who is actually a really talented writer/director) brought a movie to Toronto that rips on everything stupid about American pop culture; namely, reality TV, Idol, Kardashians and…me? I don’t even consider myself a part of “pop culture” these days. I’m a screenwriter with a hit-or-miss career. I don’t really go out to events. I don’t have a million Twitter followers or a massive fandom (In fact, I seem to have a much larger and more vocal “un-fandom,” if you know what I’m saying.) I would think that to pollute pop culture to such a degree that it warrants being eviscerated in a movie, one would need to be, you know, powerful. Visible. Ubiquitous. I’m none of those things and I haven’t been in a while. Maybe this movie has been on the shelf? Hope so, but I doubt it.”

Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris on why they write. “First up: we write because of our own AUDIENCE FRUSTRATION. We both love movies. We both grew up watching movies constantly. For better or worse movies for us served much the same purpose as the Code of Hammurabi, the Old Testament, the Constitution of the United States and Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book have served for various constituencies in the history of the world: they were our guidebook for life. When we got old enough to understand how they got made we wanted to make sure we’d get to see more movies we would enjoy — and sometimes the only way to do that is to write that movie yourself.”

Carson Reeves reviews a Nicholl Fellowship winner, Short Term 12. “Writing what you know does not guarantee a good script. What it does guarantee is knowledge. You know that subject matter better than 99% of the people out there and that’s what you want to take advantage of. The reason David Seidler was able to write that memorable scene in The King’s Speech where Birdy reads while listening to music was because Seidler himself was a stutterer and was taught the exact same thing. Those are the kinds of memorable moments that only come from experiencing that stuff yourself (or through heavy research). Still, no matter how well you know a particular subject matter, no matter how much you’ve lived it, it’s always best to wrap that subject matter in an entertaining concept/story. Don’t get me wrong, Short Term 12 was a solid script, but this is a script that never would have been heard of without the Nicholl Fellowship, as it’s the only place that really celebrates these kinds of screenplays.”

LOL – Splitsider’s “8 Reasons To Dislike George Lucas That Have Nothing To Do With Star Wars:” “…5. The Saxophone Incident – A 1993 Lucas-penned episode of ABC’s The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles found Harrison Ford reprising his role(!) as the famous swashbuckling archeologist in wraparound segments that framed a story concerning teen Indy’s experiences in Prohibition Era Chicago. The wraparounds, set in 1950 Wyoming, end with a band of thugs busting in on Dr. Jones as he hides out in a snow-laden cabin. Quick thinking allows our gun-less hero to pick up his saxophone (the instrument in the cabin what triggered his Prohibition memories) and blow the exact note to bring a mini avalanche from the roof down upon the invading hooligans. If Ford weren’t so damn charming and such a good actor, the whole scene would have played out with all the gravitas of your average Alf escapade.”

Here’s another gem: Life Magazine has a slideshow on “Hollywood’s Worst Casting Choices.” It’s worth the visit just to laugh again about Keanu Reeves playing Buddha in 1993’s Little Buddha.

Kimbery Lindbergs on Seijun Suzuki’s Everything Goes Wrong (1960): “One of the film’s many highlights is a minute long tracking shot reminiscent of the magnificent opening in Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958). About an hour into the film Suzuki’s camera (guided by cinematographer Izumi Hagiwara) follows Keigo Nanbara out of a bar while he desperately searches for Jiro who has stolen a car and run off with his girlfriend. The camera cuts to young Etsuko as she wearily walks the street in distress over her unexpected pregnancy. After we see Etsuko stumble down some subway stairs Suzuki’s camera slowly moves up and away, and from an apparent crane shot overlooking the crowded streets of Tokyo, we see Keigo Nanbara come into frame again just as Jiro and his girlfriend drive by in their stolen sports car. This inspired moment unfolds quickly and you might miss it if you blink but it impressed me so much that I found myself in awe of Suzuki’s skills. Another director could have used a moment like that to open or close their film with a loud “Look at me!” but for Suzuki it’s just one more creative detail that transforms the movie’s simple narrative. This is a film that’s loaded with memorable directing choices and visual eye-candy. Everything Goes Wrong also boasts an incredible jazz infused soundtrack by composer Keitarō Miho that literally drives the plot, punctuating the script’s incredible highs and desperate lows. Simply put, this is great filmmaking.”

And finally, here’s Tokyo in slow motion by Alex Lee.