Angelenos, catch Mitch McCabe’s Youth Knows No Pain at the Arclight on August 19th

Posted August 18, 2009 by Amanda McCormick, filmlinc.com
Categories: in other news, Indie Night

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Mitch McCabe’s Youth Knows No Pain premiered at the Film Society on April 28th, and since then, the beauty obsessed denizens of LA have been deprived of it’s incisive, funny and personal probing of the business around the quest to stay forever young.

Angelenos, never fear–Mitch McCabe will be town to screen her doc at the Arclight in Hollywood on August 19th. Chris Kattan will be on hand for the Q & A. Don’t miss it!

Read more about the event

Read the filmlinc blog’s interview with Mitch McCabe

Terrific opportunity for emerging documentary filmmakers at the Paley Center

Posted August 13, 2009 by Amanda McCormick, filmlinc.com
Categories: Contests

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The Paley Center (formerly the Museum of Television and Radio) has an interesting workshop/competition now looking for entrants. During DocFest, five preselected emerging nonfiction filmmakers will pitch their ideas to a panel of documentary producers. All finalists get feedback, but the winner walks away with $5,000 toward finishing their film.

Deadline is September 25. Read more about the contest.

And whether you make documentaries or cartoons, you’ll want to check out our search for the next great New York Film Festival Trailer, presented with Poptent.net. Your piece could premiere during the New York Film Festival!

Scorsese to LACMA: Film Matters (via the Los Angeles Times)

Posted August 12, 2009 by Amanda McCormick, filmlinc.com
Categories: in other news

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Last month, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art decided to scrap its four-decade-old-film program. We here at the filmlinc blog were saddened to see our left coast brethren lose such a precious venue through which to experience cinematic rarities. And we’re not alone. An active “Save Film at LACMA” page on Facebook is gathering steam, a petition has over 1,500 signatories, and film lovers coast to coast are up in arms.

Today, the Los Angeles Time blog printed an open letter from Martin Scorsese protesting LACMA’s move. Because we think it’s so important to read, we reprint it in it entirety below, but you can read the original post here:

“I am deeply disturbed by the recent decision to suspend the majority of film screenings at LACMA. For those of us who love cinema and believe in its value as an art form, this news hits hard.

We all know that the film industry, like many other institutions and industries, has to be radically rebuilt for the future. This is now apparent to everyone. But in the midst of all this change, the value and power of cinema’s past will only increase, and the need to show films as they were intended to be shown will become that much more pressing. So I find it profoundly disheartening to know that a vital outlet for the exhibition of what was once known as “repertory cinema” has been cut off in L.A. of all places, the center of film production and the land of the movie-making itself.

My personal connection to LACMA stretches back almost 40 years to when I lived in L.A. during the ’70s and regularly attended their vibrant film series, programmed by the legendary Ron Haver. It was actually at LACMA, during a 20th Century Fox retrospective, that I first became aware of the issues of color film fading and the urgent need for film preservation. Ian Birnie, a programmer of immaculate taste and knowledge, has continued in the tradition of Ron Haver, who was so well-versed in cinema past and present. I do not understand why this approach to programming needs to be re-thought. I am puzzled by the notion of pegging future film programming to “artist-created films,” as stated in the letter announcing this shift – to do this would be tantamount to downgrading the worth of cinema. Aren’t the best films made by artists in the first place?

Without places like LACMA and other museums, archives, and festivals where people can still see a wide variety of films projected on screen with an audience, what do we lose? We lose what makes the movies so powerful and such a pervasive cultural influence. If this is not valued in Hollywood, what does that say about the future of the art form? Aren’t museums serving a cultural purpose beyond appealing to the largest possible audience? I know that my life and work have been enriched by places like LACMA and MoMA whose public screening programs enabled me to see films that would never have appeared at my local movie theater, and that lose a considerable amount of their power and beauty on smaller screens.

I believe that LACMA is taking an unfortunate course of action. I support the petition that is still circulating, with well over a thousand names at this point, many of them prominent. It comes as no surprise to me that the public is rallying. People from all over the world are speaking out, because they see this action – correctly, I think – as a serious rebuke to film within the context of the art world. The film department is often held at arms’ length at LACMA and other institutions, separate from the fine arts, and this simply should not be. Film departments should be accorded the same respect, and the same amount of financial leeway, as any other department of fine arts. To do otherwise is a disservice to cinema, and to the public as well.

I hope that LACMA will reverse this unfortunate decision.”

–Martin Scorsese

Save LACMA film — sign the petition here

Led by Resnais, Almodovar and a newcomer called Precious, the New York Film Festival slate is up!

Posted August 11, 2009 by Amanda McCormick, filmlinc.com
Categories: new york film festival, on @ the walter reade

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Just announced: the official New York Film Festival slate! Let the chatter commence! The slate naturally boasts films from all over the globe: Italy, Portugal, France, Phillipines, Korea. And it’s got plenty of veterans: Catherine Breillat (Bluebeard), Claire Denis (White Material), Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon), Todd Solondz (Life During Wartime), and Andrzej Wajda (Sweet Rush).

The Festival will open with the U.S. premiere of Alain Resnais’s Wild Grass (Les herbes folles), close with Almodovar’s latest, and boast as Centerpiece Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire which got a lot of positive attention at Sundance. But what plenty of festival goers will be talking about is Lars Van Trier’s Antichrist (trailer above), which caused quite a stir at Cannes.

New Yorkers, get ready, the Festival is almost here!

Seth Rogen: Counter-Revolutionary?

Posted August 11, 2009 by Nicholas Feitel, Contributing Editor
Categories: in other news

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If one was looking in the New York Times’ Op-Ed section today for some opinions on the state of Obama-care or the media negligence surrounding the War in Iraq, one might have been surprised to see instead, a self-styled film review praising the “conservative values” of the films of Judd Apatow

Ross Douthat, the Times’ newest Op-Ed columnist and replacement for the gladly departed William Kristol, chose to wrote his Op-Ed this week on the film “Funny People” and how it was Apatow’s “most conservative” film in a long line of them.

His article, entitled “The Unfunny Truth,” states that no contemporary figure has done more than Apatow, the 41-year-old auteur of gross-out comedies, to rebrand social conservatism for a younger generation that associates it primarily with priggishness and puritanism.”

To make such a claim is to invite sniggers, as how can making movies involving so many Jews, Canadians, comedians, members of the so-called “Hollywood elite”, not to mention penis jokes, make for a “rebranding of social conservatism”?

But Douthat backs it up by citing The 40 Year-Old Virgin as an example of the benefits of waiting to have sex until marriage, calling the ending of that film akin to “an infomercial.”

More noticeably, he cites Apatow’s second film Knocked Up as an example of the arguments against abortion, with its scenes of rushing Katherine Heigl into a difficult choice, put upon by her parents, where she rejects the idea based on that discomfort.

Of Funny People, he claims that it reinforces the institution of marriage, citing George Simmons’s (Adam Sandler) misguided attempt to break up his ex’s marriage despite her two children.

“This time, doing the right thing has significant costs — but you have to do it anyway,” Douthat writes. “This time, doing the wrong things for too long has significant consequences — and you have to live with them. It’s the first Apatow film in which love doesn’t conquer all. And it’s the first Apatow film in which you get punished for your sins.”

Funny People was, now controversially, panned by most critics who saw it as bloated (it was marketed as a 150-minute comedy), but who also saw it as just not funny enough.

While I would say that might be the fault of the marketing of the movie, it might also be considered telling of Apatow’s attempts to be serious about love and loss, or his focus on the methodical ways of the stand-up comedian and their tenuous grasp on maturity through their profession.

In the same paper, A.O. Scott penned a defense of the film Funny People, citing it for it’s ambition, without mention of Douthat’s purported conservative overtones.

Is Funny People the most conservative comedy since An American Carol? Or is it just another movie, well, about Funny People that Americans didn’t seem to get too much?

I would say that Mr. Douthat reads too much into Mr. Apatow, a writer who claims all of his films as autobiographical, and his allegiances. I don’t think it is “conservative” to believe in love, or to have a frustrated sexual life (indeed, many conservatives seem to be enjoying quite active ones). I think Heigel’s character’s choice in Knocked Up was a product of feeling like she was pressured into something she didn’t want, not a reaction against the nature of abortion. Indeed, one might think that someone as assiduous as her character was in that film would have riled if she didn’t have a choice as to whether or not to terminate her pregnancy, which is what a socially conservative position espouses.

Still though, thinking about Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill as counter-revolutionaries espousing Apatow’s conservative message is a lot funnier than looking at a usual op-ed subject like Iraq. Or the economy. Or the job market. Or the housing market. Or Afghanistan. Or…

-Nicholas Feitel, Contributing Editor

Nicholas Feitel also writes for his own blog, Feitelogram.

A HUGE opportunity for filmmakers: Could YOUR trailer open the New York Film Festival?

Posted August 10, 2009 by Amanda McCormick, filmlinc.com
Categories: Contests, new york film festival, on @ the walter reade, video

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Fancy yourself a budding Scorsese? The chance to appear at a major festival may be closer than you think!

The Film Society of Lincoln Center has long cultivated a community of passionate film enthusiasts and filmmakers. On the web, Poptent.net brings together a community of 10,000 independent video makers who apply their know-how to assignments from big brands and organization.

For the 47th Annual New York Film Festival, The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Poptent have joined forces to create a unique opportunity for filmmakers to create a 30-90 second trailer that will premiere during the New York Film Festival and be adapted to run year round in front of Film Society programming.

The exposure and excitement are priceless, but here are some things you can win if your trailer is selected:

  • A VIP pass for two for all screenings during the 2009 New York Film Festival.
  • The distinction of having your trailer premiere during the New York Film Festival and possibly play in the Film Society’s screening venues year-round.
  • Two passes to the Opening Night party
  • A year-long subscription to Young Friends of Film, which includes regular special events including exclusive screenings, parties, and director Q & A’s
  • A limited-edition poster for the 47th Annual New York Film Festival
  • A two-year subscription to Film Comment Magazine
  • One Flip Cam HD

There are fantastic prizes for runners-up as well. What are you waiting for? Enter now!

HOW TO ENTER:

Join us for a debate on the future of conservatism Thursday at the Film Society

Posted August 5, 2009 by Amanda McCormick, filmlinc.com
Categories: Indie Night, on @ the walter reade

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Ever wondered where the country’s grass-roots conservative movement came from, and whether the country is veering right, left or center? Join us on Thursday for What’s the Matter with Kansas? and get some clarity on exactly that issue. Plus, there will be an incredible panel discussion afterward.

The New York Observer national correspondent Joe Conason and The New York Times editor Chris Suellentrop will square off in debate against National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez and conservative author and editor Ryan Sager.  Filmmakers Laura Cohen, producer, and Joe Winston, director, will also serve on the panel, moderated by Frances Fox Piven, CUNY Graduate Center Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology.

INDEPENDENTS NIGHT: What’s the Matter with Kansas
World Premiere
Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 6:30pm

Buy tickets>>

Bollywood Bard: Macbeth in the Mumbai Mafia

Posted August 5, 2009 by Ashna Ali
Categories: asian cinema, on @ the walter reade

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The Bard Goes Global takes Shakespeare to India with Vishal Bharadwaj’s Maqbool, an innovative rendition of Macbeth that reveals the riveting and unlikely connections between the dramatic traditions of one culture and another. The classic elements of Indian cinema – surges of emotional music, dialogue laden with drama, sweeping musical numbers – lend themselves with a natural ease in Bharadwaj’s hands to Shakespeare’s tragedy.

The tale moves from the hills of Scotland to the gritty and ubiquitous underworld of contemporary Mumbai, where the hierarchy of power is not that of kings but a complex chain of command based on sustained loyalty, crime, and legacies of bloodshed.  Irfan Khan (The Namesake) plays the brooding Miyan Maqbool, an orphan adopted by the powerful Don Abba Ji (Pankaj Kapoor) toward whom he feels unflinching love and loyalty. Abba Ji’s mistress, Nimmi, played by the ever-elegant Tabu (Also The Namesake, as well as countless other Indian films), takes the place of Lady Macbeth, seducing Maqbool and convincing him to murder Abba Ji and take his place as Don in order to stop hiding their illicit affair.

The Elizabethan concern with fate and the stars is mirrored by the Hindu astrological charts drawn by corrupt, guffawing police inspectors (Naseruddin Shah, Om Puri) who spell Maqbool’s fate for him as the next in the line of power, foreshadowing treacherous ambitions planted by Nimmi. Religion and crime interplay as the increasingly violent state of affairs volley us between dargahs, weddings, and funerals.

As the terrible string of murders escalates into a harrowing bloodbath, the relationships, sullied and turned ,are surprisingly nuanced, most striking in the scene that reveals the budding of Maqbool and Nimmi’s love affair where he attempts to wipe her tears with the lip of a gun over a moving musical overture. The gradual overtaking of evil in the otherwise steadfast Maqbool incites a similar foreboding in the viewer, particularly when guilt first begins to infect the tragic hero as he continues to see pools of fresh blood spread over the floors after a ritualistic slaughter, long after it is swept away.

Almost more poetic than Bharadwaj’s imaginative power were the career performances elicited from his actors. Irfan Khan’s haunted countenance beautifully reflected his doom. Naseruddin Shah and Om Puri’s performances as darkly funny, cackling lackies flood each scene with ominous intention.

Most strikingly, Tabu gives a characteristically brilliant performance as a deeply sensual temptress with a taste for dangerous games. The mischief in the character and the fear she elicits makes Nimmi, like Lady Macbeth, the most sinister character, but it is Tabu’s performance of her tumble into insanity that ultimately highlights the complex matrices of emotion, born of games of love and war. Her fall is most striking as she pulls herself from the bed of her and Maqbool’s love nest in a post-partum craze, attempting to wash from the walls of the blood she is unable to rid from her hands.

Maqbool accepts his fate sitting, beaten by the stars, against the wall of his bedroom holding his dying wife in his arms. Striken by their crimes, Nimmi asks, “Was our love, at least, not pure?” With this masterful film, Bharadwaj portrays the fragility of the complicated networks of power and the extremes people are willing to go for greed and desire as they exist in Shakespearean tragedy, as also in Mumbai noir, by painting a world where life is cheap, blood is cheaper, and love can only be the seed for evil, let alone a match for it.

-Ashna Ali

Looking back on our Shakespeare series: Titus Ambivalence

Posted August 5, 2009 by Morgan H. Green
Categories: on @ the walter reade

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I love Shakespeare. I am one of those people who would have happily endured a lifetime of chamber pot Elizabethan England just for a conversation with the Bard (or a touch of his nether lip). I also love the movies, so naturally I hope that these two passions are capable of some kind of exquisite union, like fried potatoes and chili. I’ve seen a few Shakespeare movies, and so far I’ve determined that as gourmet combinations go, Shakespeare on film definitely has more potential than hot fudge on a hamburger. I have yet to decide whether it can begin to approach chili fries.

The event of an international Shakespeare film series at Walter Reade is an obvious source of material for such a query; however, July 23’s screening of Titus and subsequent Q and A with director Julie Taymor provided me with little enlightenment. Taymor’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s early tragedy, Titus Andronicus, quickly found a niche in my mind shared by Barton Fink and every Kubrick flick ever: films for which I can say nothing with any certainty except, “It made me think a lot.”

After the movie, Taymor discussed how part of the challenge of putting Shakespeare on film is creating interesting and appropriate visuals that supplement the text rather than distract from it. She repeated more than once that if we “paid attention to the text”, we would see that the more fanciful visuals in the film find their root there. Titus’s observation “that Rome is but a wilderness of tigers” translates to literal celluloid visions if tigers in the wilderness. These beasts are beautiful, striking, violent… perhaps they serve the text. On the other hand, I wonder if they would not have been most faithfully left as literary metaphors rather than literal visuals.

The film as a whole is beyond ballsy, beyond epic, beyond different in its interpretation of what critics have for the most part considered one of Shakespeare’s lesser works. The costumes and set are rife with bold anachronisms of the sort more typical to the theater, where Taymor’s career was born. Wordless sequences that step out of the scope of literal events in the text include a Broadway caliber metallic dance sequence performed by gladiators still decked out in their armor, and a massive orgy at an indoor fountain filled with gilded prostitutes. These reiterations of glamorous violence and violent lust don’t really alter the pitch of a text whose plot hinges on adultery, murder, and brutal rape; however the film’s near three-hour runtime does call into question their necessity.

In length and approach, the movie is excessive and indulgent, but I am sure that I will never regret the hours I spent watching it. Even if the movie itself is not genius, even if it seeps past the container of Shakespeare’s words, it does make evident some of the more brilliant elements of one of Shakespeare’s less brilliant plays. When Tamora curses “cruel irreligious piety,” I find the oxymoron astute. When I hear Aaron’s admonition, as he ascends the gallows, that “oft have I digg’d up dead men from their graves,/And set them upright at their dear friends’ doors,” I think the description of the prank is the most brilliant two lines of ultra-dark comedy I’ve ever heard.

-Morgan H. Green

From The Film Talk, a special podcast about Ang Lee

Posted August 4, 2009 by Amanda McCormick, filmlinc.com
Categories: on @ the walter reade, what's on

Tags: ,

From our friends at The Film Talk, a podcast about Ang Lee, who’s the subject of a retrospective at the Film Society, now through August 11. Check it out to learn why it’s important to appreciate directors while they are mid-career, how it’s possible to bridge the art house and the multiplex, and the one genre the wide-ranging Lee hasn’t tackled yet.

INTIMATE VIEWS FROM AFAR
The Films of Ang Lee
August 1–11, 2009
See schedule and buy tickets

Listen to The Film Talk podcast here

To get a weekly dose on opinionated film discussion, you can subscribe to The Film Talk on iTunes.