Elvis, the Dictator, and more!

I couldn’t resist today’s featured photo, which comes to us via replaceface, who enjoys putting celebrities in portraits of Russian Generals.


Stephanie Powers, Kevin Smith, Andrew Haigh, Billy Corben, Michael Shannon, Michael Shannon & Jeff Nichols, Kirsten Dunst, Jonathan Levine, Erik MacArthur, José Padilha, Anthony Mackie, Jeff Warwick, Rick Baker, Joey Arias and Basil Twist, Gerard Butler & Michelle Monaghan, and Joe Heyen.


This is a great little story posted by Sébastien Hary  called “Le Royaume” (The king and the Beaver), a student graduation film.


Martin Scorsese to pen a monthly column For TCM!

Here’s The Frugal Filmmaker‘s Weekly Recap Link List and Mubi’s daily briefing, which covers Kiarostami, Polanski, and StoryWorlds.

A. O. Scott looks back at The Gambler.

Read George Clooney’s List of Top 100 Films from 1964-1976.

“Realism,” says David Bordwell, “as usual, is simply a fig leaf for doing what you want. Virtually any technique can be justified as realistic according to some conception of what’s important in the scene. If you shoot the action cogently, with all the moves evident, that’s realistic because it shows you what’s ‘really’ happening. If you shoot it awkwardly, that presentation is ‘realistically’ reflecting what a participant perceives or feels. If you shoot it as ‘chaos’… — well, action feels chaotic when you’re in it, right? Forget the realist alibi. What do you want your sequence to do to the viewer?”

Matt Zoller Seitz on the new Terra Nova show: “Steven Spielberg has been playing God ever since 1977′s Close Encounters, envisioning scenarios in which individuals, groups, communities, civilizations, even whole species are figuratively or literally raised from the dead. The new Fox drama Terra Nova– which is created by Kelly Marcel and Craig Silverstein but executive produced by Spielberg, and which fits comfortably within the Spielberg continuum — could be the maestro’s most audacious resurrection yet. I’m not a fan of of tonight’s two-hour pilot — like most premieres, it’s mostly exposition wrapped in spectacle, and it has other problems that I’ll address in a second. But I can say that if you’re a science fiction buff of any kind, you’ll want to check it out just for the premise. The network’s marketing campaign is trying to position “Terra Nova” as another “Lost,” and the hype fits in one respect. Just as “Lost” fans were happy to spend hours debating the scientific, philosophical and theological aspects of the show even though individual episodes disappointed them, I can envision “Terra Nova” sparking a similarly devoted following — one that gathers online every Monday night to bitch about new episodes after they’ve aired, then spends the next six days geeking out over implications that the show failed to explore.”

Steven Spielberg talks about playing with new FX toys: “I don’t try new things just because they’re new, but if it’ll help tell my story better I’ll try anything,” Spielberg says. “But I don’t go out of my way to find things that are new only because they’re novel. I try to do things within the parameters of the narratives that I’ve been given to direct.”

Short of the Week is showcasing Jason Reitman’s old short film, In God We Trust.  “Even before Consent, Jason Reitman began turning heads with this short film classic.”

Magda Olchawska has a on how to finance independent films and also how to market them.

Between Music & Sound Design: An Interview with Composer Cliff Martinez.

Here’s some rare footage of James Dean acting with Ronald Reagan.

Paul Verhoeven: more than 90 % of all projects end before filming starts because getting the financing together is just too damn difficult in the current climate.

A History of Violence scribe Josh Olson will be penning Tabloid for Mick Jagger, who “had the idea for the film, and is producing with Victoria Pearman through his Jagged Films banner. They’ve set up the project to be financed by Steve Bing, who’ll also produce through his Shangri-La Entertainment banner. The role Jagger is eyeing is a global media mogul with dubious morality, and there is a young journalist who gets seduced and sucked into that immoral world.”

Leonard Maltin on the recent unveiling of an early Hitchock film, The White Shadow.  “…adapted by Hitchcock from a screenplay by Michael Morton, is a plot-heavy, often preposterous drama about twin sisters who lead different kinds of lives, because one has a soul (“a white shadow,” indicating purity) and the other is a hedonist. The favorite daughter turns her back on her stern father, who loses his mind as a result but somehow finds his way to Paris, where she has adopted a new identity at a Bohemian nightclub called The Cat Who Laughs. (Later, in what is described as “a vagrant flash of understanding,” he regains his senses—only to be struck by his daughter’s car back home in England. That incident, mercifully, occurs in the missing second half of the picture.) Meanwhile, a proper gentleman (Clive Brook) falls in love with the “bad” sister, so the “good” sister takes her place in his arms rather than see her sibling disgraced.”

Moneyball & how audiences fell back in love with screenwriting. “More than anything, though, the film’s not-so-secret weapon is its screenplay,  written by the powerhouse team of Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network). Moneyball may be a sports movie, but what it really is is one of those happy, gabby, super-smart talkfests that take you back to the pleasures of movies made during the wisecracking days of the Hollywood studio system, when action and F/X and “visuals” hadn’t taken over everything, and talking — whether in snappy screwball comedies, ingeniously ominous film noirs, or teary romantic melodramas — was really all that actors and actresses could do. Moneyball isn’t a movie about swinging a bat and spitting tobacco. It’s a heady, digital-age story of salaries, statistics, front-office politics, and the art of the deal that lurks behind the art of the game.”

Giovanni Tiso has a great post on the climactic factory settings in the Terminator films.  “All of the Terminator films except for the third one have their climactic scene set inside of a factory. That is the place where the killer robots (pardon: cybernetic organisms) are crushed or melted down or obliterated in a thermonuclear explosion. But factories are also where the Terminators are forged. These golems of the post-industrial age are born in factories just as humans – and especially first-world humans – are locked out of them, laid off, made redundant, outsourced, terminated. And so, albeit on a crude, literal level, the Terminator films are also stories about the de-industrialisation of America, a decades-long economic and social transformation that lacks a recognisable set of cinematic referents simply because blue collar work was hardly ever featured in the nation’s films to begin with.”

“When was the last time you saw a movie you knew nothing about?” asks Linda Holmes. “It’s a trickier thing to accomplish than it might seem to be. After all, if a film comes from a director whose work you’ve ever seen, you know something about it. If it stars an actor you’ve ever seen or ever read about – someone with any kind of a reputation, good or bad – you know something about it. If you’ve seen a trailer or an ad on TV, of course, then you know a lot about it. If it’s “from the people who brought you,” or “the director of,” you’re specifically being told what to expect, even if falsely. More often than not, the biggest concern about a film before it’s made available is that if you don’t know anything about it, you won’t go.”

Criterion posted a couple of new essays on the film Carlos: Sudden Death & What the Film Wanted.

Anne Thompson on “How Women Took Comedy by the Balls.”

Christopher Nupen pioneered a style of filming music and music making for television in which his excellence has rarely been equalled and never excelled.”  The Independent has a podcast with Nupen in which he talks to Edward Seckerson about a life lived through the camera lens in the company of some of the most legendary names in music.

5 Ways to Keep Your Writing Engine Running.

Enzo Tedeschi on distributing films via the iPad.

Hollywood downloads a post-DVD future. “After desperate attempts to prop up the industry’s once-thriving DVD business, studio executives now believe the only hope of turning around a 40% decline in home entertainment revenue lies in rapidly accelerating the delivery of movies over the Internet.  In the next few years, the growing number of consumers with Internet-connected televisions, tablets and smartphones will face a dizzying array of options designed to make digital movie consumption a lot more convenient and to entice users to spend more money.”

New at Film Studies For Free: “Sound in Hitchcock’s cinema.”

This Recording will be looking at the films of Roman Polanski this week.  “When did Harrison Ford stop caring about acting? Did he ever start, in the first place? His best characters make lazy insouciance a virtue. His worst (as in last year’s Morning Glory) come from writers and directors who don’t know the difference between Indiana Jones-y insouciance and simple grouchiness. Roman Polanski’s Frantic doesn’t ask Ford to have a cool attitude (per the title, he spends the movie in a panicky state Indy or Han Solo wouldn’t recognize) and nor does it require him to put on the crabbed, curdled grunt-whine he finds more easily accessible with every new movie.  Frantic is a deeply strange movie in many of its particulars, not least in its treatment of its star. Ford’s character, a doctor from San Francisco whose wife is kidnapped on a Paris vacation, is the squarest man on earth. His temper rarely rises during his search for his wife, and when it does, it’s with the sort of doofy impotence more familiar from Steve Martin characters. An official asks him, over the phone, to spell his location, and Ford shouts, ‘With an ‘S’—for ‘Shithead!’”

Speaking of Polanski, Press Play posted the first in a 5-part series of video essays about the director.  This first chapter is title “Polanski’s God.”

Yesterday, 102-year-old Manoel de Oliveira started shooting his new film Gabo and the Shadow.

LOL – Download ‘Twin Peaks Escape From Black Lodge’ video game for free.

Carson Reeves reviews the One Shot which is scheduled to film starring Tom Cruise. “One of the bigger lessons to come out of One Shot is one that Leslie Dixon reminded us of in an interview leading up to the release of her movie, Limitless. When asked why she chose to write the movie, she said she was tired of writing movies with main characters that movie stars didn’t want to play, because they never got made. She knew that the only way her movie was going to get greenlit was if she wrote a main character for a star. Say what you will about Limitless, but the movie definitely has an intriguing central character that a big Hollywood star would want to play.”

Movie critic Michael Phillips asks if digital movies are pushing smaller theaters and drive-ins to the brink.  “It’s not just drive-ins I’m talking about. I mean movie theaters, outdoor or indoor, showing films on actual 35 mm film, on big platters, instead of being projected digitally. West finds himself faced with an expensive decision. Right now it costs about $75,000 per screen to convert to digital projection. That’s $150,000 (lower if he waits a couple of years for used equipment) for a weather-dependent outdoor theater open four or five months out of the year, in a town of 2,589 at the last census.”

John August has a new podcast talking about copyright, musicals & the WGA  “The truth is, most screenwriters never need to worry about the vagaries of copyright and labor law that make our professions possible — the same way cinematographers don’t need to know the exact chemical formulations of developing baths, and gaffers don’t worry about the overall power grid for Southern California.  But it’s still good to be aware of the issues affecting your part of the industry, because small disruptions can ultimately have big consequences. In particular, I’m worried that a string of copyright-infringement cases could lead to situations analogous to the patent warfare happening in technology.”


And finally, I’d like to close with Alma.  Take good care of yourself. –D