...with I Think We're Alone Now, the 2008 documentary about two people who are proudly obsessed with the '80s teen pop star Tiffany. It is a one-of-a-kind document, and you may watch it whenever you care to on Netflix Streaming. (Or rent it from one of Seattle's many great video stores!) We will discuss the film here on Slog Wednesday at noon.
For now, here's the suitably unnerving trailer:
This week’s short film will be the trailer/preview for a short film, “Alternator,” directed by the Chilean-born local artist Rodrigo Valenzuela. The film is a part of a dance/film project curated by Adam Sekuler for Dances Made To Order (the other filmmakers in the project are Tracy Rector of Longhouse Media and Sekuler, who this week announced he is stepping down from his postion, Program Director, at Northwest Film Forum).
Like all of Rodrigo Valenzuela’s art installations, “The Alternator,” which features Molly Sides, is visually bold and striking.
I Think We're Alone Now is the 2008 documentary about two people who are proudly obsessed with the '80s teen pop star Tiffany. It is a one-of-a-kind document, and you may watch it whenever you care to on Netflix Streaming. (Or rent it from one of Seattle's many great video stores!) We will discuss the film here on Slog next Wednesday at noon.
Today at Disney’s CinemaCon presentation, the studio announced that beginning in 2015 we’ll see a new Star Wars movie every summer. The plan is to begin with Episode VII, written by Michael Arndt and directed by JJ Abrams, then alternate between standalone “spin-off” movies and new Episodes in the core storyline.
You see, if we cut the goose wide open and take a look at its intestines, we'll be able to figure out how it lays those golden eggs. Then we'll all have more golden eggs! It's what we like to call a win-win situation.
[Sniff, sniff] WHOO! Let's get this thing STARTED! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
Cocaine: One Man's Seduction is the 1983 made-for-TV movie about—surprise!—a man who becomes seduced by cocaine, which proves to be a terrible mistress, forcing him to jump around all sweaty and yell at his wife. This man is played by Dennis Weaver, an actor who appeared on Gunsmoke (which I never watched) and also released a couple country-and-western albums (which I never heard). Nevertheless, I now love him, for he is great in this film. In the spaces between his mustache and non-whitened teeth and three-piece suit, the whole of 1983 is evoked.
Weaver's soon-to-be-yelled-at wife is played by Karen Grassle, best known as Ma on Little House on the Prairie, and the couple's son Buddy is played by James Spader, in a rare non-asshole teen role.
The film starts proving its awesomeness within seconds, as the opening credits roll over upsetting pencil sketches of an ever-more-distraught Dennis Weaver. We're then plunged into Dennis Weaver's home life—a perfect TV movie of cheerful good mornings and glasses of orange juice sipped hurriedly before running out the door. But all is not well in Dennis Weaver's professional life. Long the top seller at his real estate agency, he's since plummeted to seventh, and when he's shut out of a major agency expansion, he angrily realizes he needs to up his game if he's going to stay relevant in the real-estate world. During an impromptu work party, a fun-loving lady offers him some cocaine, but he refuses....
Last year, Slog was highly skeptical about the Superman reboot movie, Man of Steel. Now, as the release date approaches, a new, more coherent, less mopey trailer has emerged:
What do you think now?
...the Slog Netflix Streaming Club will continue with Cocaine: One Man's Seduction, the 1983 TV drama about cocaine and how it seduces one man (who happens to be a maritally-troubled real estate agent played by Dennis Weaver. Also featuring James Spader, the mom from Little House on the Prairie, and a coked-up Jeffrey Tambor!).
Watch Cocaine: One Man's Seduction any time you want on Netflix Streaming—or rent the DVD from Scarecrow!—and we'll discuss it here on Slog tomorrow starting at noon.
Here's the first trailer for the Hunger Games sequel, which is apparently titled The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Something that Africa Is A Country posted on Facebook:
Roger Ebert in 1967: "One of these days maybe the Africans will get to be in a movie where they hunt the hero down and catch him. I wonder if that one will be filmed in South Africa, too."
Back for a 10th year, the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival packs a week-plus of films into its refurbished Performing Arts Center.
Opening the fest: 1984's sci-fi satire The Brother from Another Planet (with star Joe Morton in attendance!).
Closing the fest: In the Hive, a new film from Robert "Hollywood Shuffle" Townsend.
In between: a ton of stuff worth seeing, including the documentary The Loving Story (about Mildred and Richard Lovings’ quest to live together as a mixed-race married couple in the state of Virginia), the Afrofuturist science-fiction program, and an LGBTQ showcase.
(Of special note: Charles Murray's Things Never Said, an engrossing, complex marriage drama built around the world of performance poetry and featuring a beautiful lead performance by Shanola Hampton. The film alternates between great, small moments of life-as-it-is-lived and huge, sudden moments of serious drama, and it's arresting, thanks in large part to writer-director Murray's grace in capturing his characters' moral complexity. It's an infidelity drama with a hundred identifiable angles of empathy, and it will be super-fun to watch in a crowded theater, so go. (And if you're feeling the performance-poetry vibe, also check out White Space, Maya Washington's elegant short film about an ASL slam poet's open-mic debut.)
Full info on the festival and its schedule of films right here.
From the artsy heights of Holy Motors we plunge back down into the world of schlocky made-for-TV movies with Cocaine: One Man's Seduction, the 1983 TV drama about cocaine and how it seduces one man (who happens to be a maritally-troubled real estate agent played by Dennis Weaver).
Watch Cocaine: One Man's Seduction any time you want on Netflix Streaming—or rent the DVD from Scarecrow!—and we'll discuss it here on Slog next Wednesday starting at noon.
Yeah, The Hangover Part III. John Goodman is in it:
Yup. Looks like a trailer, all right!
Glen Mazzara, who ran AMC’s smash hit series The Walking Dead for the past several seasons, will now focus on ghosts. He’s in talks to write The Overlook Hotel, a prequel to the Stanley Kubrick-directed The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel.
Finally! Paul W. S. Anderson can collaborate through the decades with Stanley Kubrick, as God intended. Perhaps this prequel can be a precursor to a Shining Babies cartoon, too.
Of course, Stephen King is publishing a sequel to The Shining this fall. And the Deadline article doesn't mention if this movie prequel is being done with King's blessing or not. I know King doesn't like Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining, and he's not afraid to take his displeasure public, so this could get entertaining real soon.
(This post has plenty of photos of the Shining: Forward and Backward experiment, to give you a better idea of what I'm talking about.)
• The Shining's structure makes it a uniquely good candidate for this kind of treatment. The movie begins with a series of very calm scenes, with slightly uncomfortable people trying to convince each other that everything is going to be all right. When you reverse the ending of the movie and lay it over these scenes, you've got shadowy figures with axes and knives, howling in pain and anger as they stagger around, depicting all the frustration that lies just under the surface of the opening scenes. When Wendy talks about how Jack abused Danny, the scenes of Jack chasing Danny through the maze seem to be haunting Wendy as she speaks, like memories that can't be put to rest.
• The reversed scenes work best when the characters in them are restricted to the three family members at the center of the film. When the Torrances are happy, they're haunted by unhappy visions of the future. When they're unhappy, they're haunted by the happy moments of the past. It feels like some grandiose—or maybe just florid—statement about the American nuclear family. And the experiment falls apart when other characters enter the film. Just about every scene with Scatman Crothers doesn't really work in this format, for instance, because he's an outsider from this family unit.
• The one outsider character who really works as a superimposed spirit: The naked woman Jack embraces, at the exact same moment that Jack takes his first drink of liquor in five months. That scene is so literal it's almost too perfect.
• I thought The Shining played over The Shining would be more of a confusing mess, but it was pretty easy to follow. The reason for this was the soundtrack, which always played forward. Turns out, it's relatively easy pick the important signal out of a jumble of images if there is a clear audio message to guide you. I imagine the fact that I've seen The Shining before helped, too, not to mention the fact that humans are hard-wired for narrative pattern recognition: We want to find the story in something, to make sense of it for ourselves.
• The last twenty minutes of the movie are deflated by the experiment, if just because the last scenes of The Shining are so dimly lit that they're subsumed by the movie's bright early scenes. We've already seen these scenes haunted by the future, and there's not really much of a point in seeing the terrible present haunted by a stiff, mannered past.
• So, was The Shining: Forward and Backward an essential experience? Of course not. But I do feel like I came away with a better understanding of The Shining, and of Kubrick's strong grasp of structure. I'd recommend a viewing to screenwriters, editors, and directors. If nothing else, it's proof of The Shining's quality: You know a film has a strong authorial voice behind it when you completely readjust the context of the movie and the will of its creator is still up there on the screen, plain as day.
Holy Motors, the metaphysical fantasia by Leos Carax, is baffling by design. It's also gorgeous, sporadically riveting, and completely insane.
The film follows 24 hours in the life of Mr. Oscar (Denis Lavant), a shape-shifting man who spends his days executing various "appointments," each of which requires him to be someone new. He's transported from appointment to appointment by his trusty driver Celine (Edith Scob), in a limo big enough to contain a makeup table, costume storage, and a fireplace.
First, he's a wizened old street beggar, ignored by passers-by on the street.
Then he's a motion-sensor-laden acrobat on some sort of virtual soundstage, where he executes intricate stage combat before simulating sex with a motion-sensor-laden woman.
Then he's a milky-eyed monster troll who ventures into the sewer and emerges at a cemetery, where the tombstones says "Visit my website" and our monster troll devours flowers and terrifies onlookers. Ultimately, he comes upon a photo shoot, featuring a gorgeous top model (Eva Mendes) and a jittery photographer who'd love to shoot the milk-eyed troll. Instead, the troll bites off the fingers of the photographer's assistant and kidnaps the model, dragging her into the sewer and eventually giving her the full burqa treatment. (Also, his penis is blurred out, thanks to Netflix's censors.)
Then he's back to middle-aged man form, in which he drives to pick up his teenage daughter from a party. Father and daughter converse, then argue, and the father leaves in a huff, telling his caught-in-a-lie daughter, "Your punishment is to be you—to live with yourself".....
Better yet, the documentary appears to portray Morton Downey Jr. as a prototypical Fox News host:
Is it too late to request this for SIFF? I really want to see this thing.
UPDATE 4/11/2013: Just got word that it'll be screening at the Grand Illusion from June 28th through July 3rd. So excited!
Deadline Hollywood gave movie theater owners some bad news:
Bond analysis firm Fitch Ratings offers its bracing analysis of the movie exhibition industry a week ahead of theater owners’ annual CinemaCon trade show in Las Vegas. The company forecasts a “modest” decline in 2013 ticket sales and long-term challenges that should “cause concern” for lenders.
The comment thread to that post is your traditional boring movie-theater comment thread—blah blah HIGH PRICES blah blah KIDS WITH PHONES blah blah I'VE GOT A BIG SCREEN AT HOME blah blah—but none of those address the fact that sometimes people like to go out to see movies with other people. We're not all antisocial Deadline Hollywood commenters complaining about "the sounds of people eating popcorn" and comparing the price of a movie ticket to the price of a book "that will provide me with 8-9 hours of entertainment." (I obviously love books, but if you judge your entertainment on a pure cents-to-seconds basis, you're not a person I want to spend any time with.) We're not all sociopathic shut-ins, and we're willing to randomize an experience by including other people, in the hopes that we'll be pleasantly surprised every once in a while.
Here's the thing: I'm tired of people complaining about the things they hate about movie theaters. I'm interested in ways that movie theaters can do things differently. Chains that take the moviegoing experience seriously, like the Alamo Drafthouse, seem to be doing really well. There are services like Tugg that will allow people to choose the movies showing at their local theaters. As someone who has watched record stores, video rental places, and then bookstores go through terrible ordeals after being confronted by new technology, I'm not looking forward to seeing whole crops of movie theaters wilt and die. But for movie theaters to survive, they have to be re-imagined. I hope some of CinemaCon is devoted to remaking the industry, rather than just forecasting its demise.
It's the new sci-fi movie from Neill Blomkamp, the director of District 9, and once you get past the Inception-riffic "BWAAAAAAAOWWs" in the trailer, it looks pretty interesting:
This just in from SIFF's press office:
Yesterday, the Seattle International Film Festival announced that its 39th fest would open with Joss Whedon's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing; six hours later, the Opening Night Gala became single-greatest success in SIFF box office history.
"We are thrilled with the success of Much Ado and for what it means for this year's Festival and film's theatrical release," said SIFF Artistic and Co-Director Carl Spence. " This is a great triumph for us as an organization, for the Seattle film-going community, and of course, for the 'Whedonverse' at large. As Whedon has famously said, he has the 'smartest, most loyal, most passionate, most articulate group of [fans],' and I'd have to agree with him, and add that his Seattle fans are among his most devoted."
SIFF 2013: Already a lovefestTM.
Slog tipper Stinkbug asked why I haven't already posted the Carrie trailer on Slog:
The truth is, I'm having a really hard time giving a shit. Julianne Moore and Chloe Moretz both look like they kick ass, but I've seen this movie before. It's been a terrible year for movies, and the fact that what looks like a revisitation of Carrie is coming in October doesn't make me feel any more hopeful about 2013. Plus, they give the whole goddamned movie away in the trailer! Unless they add something new to the Carrie story, there's not much else to see. But then I saw a trailer that made me feel another kind of apathy: The special sort of apathy that I reserve for car racing movies. Here's Rush:
I have been enjoying Chris Hemsworth's career so far. And this movie looks like it's technically proficient. But unless we're talking about Viva Las Vegas, I just can't bring myself to give a shit about auto racing movies. I don't care about either of these films, for completely different reasons. But what do you think?
....with Holy Motors, the Franco-German fantasy drama film written and directed by Leos Carax. Watch Holy Motors whenever you want on Netflix Streaming—or rent it from one of Seattle's many great video stores—and we'll discuss it here on Slog on Wednesday starting at noon PST.
Tons of good stuff hitting Seattle cinemas this weekend.
*At Meridian 16, there's Reality, the new film from Matteo Garrone, the man who brought us the Italian mob drama Gomorrah:
Reality is Garrone's explosively colorful fable about a Neapolitan family man seduced (and eventually unhinged) by the promise of reality-TV fame. It's a film so different from its predecessor that it reintroduces Garrone-the-grim-hypernaturalist as a fearless genre-hopper of potentially unlimited gifts.
*At Northwest Film Forum, there's Leviathan, a wordless documentary capturing life on a commercial fishing boat from a thousand tiny angles. As Jen Kagan writes:
[Leviathan is] the new documentary by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, two instructors in Harvard's fittingly named Sensory Ethnography Lab. These people believe that artists, scientists, and academics have relied too heavily on the power of words to convey ethnographic experiences. To compensate, they are building a body of documentary work that relies primarily on images and sounds. In Leviathan, this means there is no voice-over to explain that you are following a fishing crew off the coast of New Bedford, Massachusetts, or to tell you that the disorienting footage you are watching was captured by a bunch of cheap digital cameras that the filmmakers either dangled in the water or attached to helmets, nets, and masts.
*At Harvard Exit, there's the Ryan Gosling motocross The Place Beyond the Pines. As Alison Hallett writes:
You'd think director Derek Cianfrance had never seen a movie before, given the disregard for narrative and visual conventions in his new film, The Place Beyond the Pines. It's like—and I mean this in the nicest way possible—an art therapist instructed him to dramatize his daddy issues, and all they gave him for reference was a motocross video, Hall & Oates's H20, and a beat-up copy of The Outsiders.
There are four films in Made in Seattle: Homegrown Documentaries (a two-day series at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center), and each deals with a significant social/political/cultural issue or project. Though all of the films are worth watching and talking about, one, Back to the Garden, Flower Power Comes Full Circle, fascinated me more than the others. The documentary, which is by Kevin Tomlinson, is about a community of hippies filmed in rural Washington in 1988—the last year of the 20th century (that century ran between the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989).
(Also opening today: The new comedy from the man who made the murderous-tire-on-a-rampage thriller Rubber, and an environmental documentary so honest you'll want to kill yourself. Find all things filmy here.)
This week’s film is “Surveyor,” an “anti-Western” by the local director Scott Blake. Everything about “Surveyor,” which is set in the Western frontier at the end of the American-Mexican war (1848) and runs for 25 minutes, is just great—the cast (David Kulcsar, Jay Hill, Nathan Fisher, Tom Brophy), the photography (Clyde Garrido), the music (Charles Henri-Avelange), the sound design (Jason Alberts), and the story (which is by the director). The thing that raises this work above so many other films is the director has a great grasp of film thinking. Meaning, he thinks in moving images and not pictures or words or plot. The scene with the wasp is permanently fixed in my mind.
It's the new crazy-violent trailer from the Drive boys:
This is so sad. The Sun Times just reported on Twitter:
There is a hole that can't be filled. One of the greats has left us. Roger Ebert has passed away at the age of 70. suntm.es/Z4EIOF
— Suntimes (@Suntimes) April 4, 2013
Just two days ago, Ebert reported that his cancer had returned, but he was still full of plans for the future. He leaves behind a tremendous body of work that will influence film critics for many years to come.
The Esquire profile of him from 2010, which hopefully will be pulled out from behind a paywall soon, Neil Steinberg's obituary in the Sun Times gets it right.
Netflix Streaming is the streaming video service ready to shoot several thousand movies onto your TV and/or computer screen. The film selection is a gloriously random array of "Hollywood hits!," beloved classics, art films, and off-brand delights. For the Slog Netflix Streaming Club, we'll all watch the same film on Netflix Streaming, then discuss it here on Slog.
Holy Motors is the Franco-German fantasy drama film written and directed by Leos Carax, which spent 2012 blowing minds and winning awards. I could inundate you with links to writing about the film, but it's probably better to just watch it before diving into what it all means.
Watch Holy Motors whenever you want on Netflix Streaming, and we will discuss it here on Slog next Wednesday starting at noon PST. (I'm officially moving Slog Netflix Streaming Movie Club discussions to Wednesday, since Monday is my frantically-writing-Last-Days day, and talking about movies is the world's best deadline distraction.)
Brendon Connelly at Bleeding Cool says that Transformers 4 (which I'm sure at some point is going to be renamed Trans4mers) is going global:
Paramount have officially announced that they’ll be co-producing the film with China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises. As a result, some of the film will be shot in China, and some of the cast will be Chinese.
Between this and last week's announcement that Marvel will release a special edition of Iron Man 3 in China with more Chinese content, it's pretty obvious which way Hollywood's gigantic blockbusters are going. I wonder if there will be some sort of a jingoistic backlash to these American/Chinese coproductions. I also wonder if the quality of blockbusters will decline even further as the films are produced for a global audience. Movies are already losing viewers in America because of Hollywood's insistence on producing "four-quadrant" event movies that wishy-washily appeal to every demographic*. When those quadrants expand to include a heavily censored nation, will America look elsewhere for the cheap and dirty thrills that movies used to provide?
* Although to be fair, Looper was a joint America-China production, and Looper was fantastic. But I'm going to go out on a limb, here, and predict that Trans4mers will not be as good as Looper.