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Posts tagged film

from "His Girl Friday - Between The Lines Edit," by Valentin Spirik, 2005. His Girl Friday is available in its entirety here :: via

"Moments," by Everynone :: via Nathan Clarke

"IAM Conversations: Film Critic and Novelist Jeffrey Overstreet," interview by Christy Tennant, International Arts Movement, 4 February 2010

from "Doug TenNapel: Changing the Rules for Telling the Story,", 19 September 2009

Project Gatsby, a film by Nate Barksdale, based on photographs by Henry Wei, with deep creative debts to (and potential for spirited fair-use debates with) Errol Morris, Philip Glass, Louis Armstrong, Alan Lomax, Stephen Rosen, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
from "WALL·E end title sequence + Jim Capobianco & Alex Woo interview," The Art of the Title Sequence, 22 June 2009 :: via Daring Fireball
excerpt No-toy story
from "Pixar’s Latest Film Has Wall Street on Edge," by Brooks Barnes,, 6 April 2009 :: via GigaOM

Adjusted for inflation, Pixar’s films have generated a combined $2.65 billion at North American theaters, a spectacular showing. “Finding Nemo” in 2003 was the high point, selling $405.6 million in tickets.

Pixar’s last two films, “Wall-E” and “Ratatouille,” have been the studio’s two worst performers, delivering sales of $224 million and $216 million respectively, according to Box Office Mojo, a tracking service. Attendance for Pixar films has also dropped sharply over the years, suggesting that ticket price inflation helped prop up overall sales for “Wall-E” and “Ratatouille.”

Retailers, meanwhile, see slim merchandising possibilities for “Up.” Indeed, the film seems likely to generate less licensing revenue than “Ratatouille,” until now the weakest Pixar entry in this area. (“Cars” wears the merchandising crown, with sales of more than $5 billion.) . . .

Perhaps Wall Street would not care so much if Pixar seemed to care a little more. The co-director of “Up,” Pete Docter — who also directed “Monsters Inc.” — said in a recent question and answer session with reporters that the film’s commercial prospects never crossed his mind. “We make these films for ourselves,” he said. “We’re kind of selfish that way.”

John Lasseter, a co-founder of Pixar and now Disney’s chief creative officer, routinely says in interviews that marketability is not a factor in decisions about what projects to pursue. Instead of ideas that feel contemporary, he aims for stories that are rooted in the ages.

“Quality is the best business plan” is one of Mr. Lasseter’s favorite lines.

"The Plastics Inventor" (1944), directed by Jack King, animated by Paul Allen et al, produced by Walt Disney :: via Boing Boing

"Her Morning Elegance / Oren Lavie," directed by Oren Lavie, Yuval & Merav Nathan, 19 January 2009 :: via Diary of an Arts Pastor
from "Virtuous Fun in the Films of Whit Stillman," by Rebecca Tirrell Talbot, The Curator, 23 January 2009

Because Stillman praises convention and doesn’t shun virtue, there are more options open to him.  It turns out looking at convention and virtue only through a perspective that disparages them can seriously limit your stock of references.  Stillman’s characters can move from examining Jane Austen or War and Peace to analyzing The Graduate from the perspective of the make-out king.  Stillman doesn’t feel the need for hip references; he simply explores his interests, and they are fascinating.

If praising virtue leads to creativity, this is good news for contemporary artists because it opens up more options for them.  Stillman is proof that virtue doesn’t have to lead to canned narratives.  Virtue in a world where it is largely misunderstood is fuel for drama, irony and a whole lot of cinematic fun.

video Objectified

from "Objectified: A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit," 5 January 2009 :: via Daring Fireball
from "Jury bars auction of Mary Pickford's Oscar," by Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times, 16 December 2008

And the Oscar for best Hollywood courtroom drama goes to . . . the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The golden statuette was awarded Monday by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury, which ruled that if Mary Pickford’s heirs want to sell it, they have to offer it to academy officials for $10 instead of auctioning it off for as much as $800,000. Academy leaders took a Rancho Mirage woman, her daughter and a cousin to court after the women announced plans to sell the Oscar presented in 1930 to the silent-movie star known as “America’s sweetheart” and donate the proceeds to charity.

from "Becoming Screen Literate," by Kevin Kelly,, 23 November 2008

The overthrow of the book would have happened long ago but for the great user asymmetry inherent in all media. It is easier to read a book than to write one; easier to listen to a song than to compose one; easier to attend a play than to produce one. But movies in particular suffer from this user asymmetry. The intensely collaborative work needed to coddle chemically treated film and paste together its strips into movies meant that it was vastly easier to watch a movie than to make one. A Hollywood blockbuster can take a million person-hours to produce and only two hours to consume. But now, cheap and universal tools of creation (megapixel phone cameras, Photoshop, iMovie) are quickly reducing the effort needed to create moving images. To the utter bafflement of the experts who confidently claimed that viewers would never rise from their reclining passivity, tens of millions of people have in recent years spent uncountable hours making movies of their own design. Having a ready and reachable audience of potential millions helps, as does the choice of multiple modes in which to create. Because of new consumer gadgets, community training, peer encouragement and fiendishly clever software, the ease of making video now approaches the ease of writing.

This is not how Hollywood makes films, of course. A blockbuster film is a gigantic creature custom-built by hand. Like a Siberian tiger, it demands our attention — but it is also very rare. In 2007, 600 feature films were released in the United States, or about 1,200 hours of moving images. As a percentage of the hundreds of millions of hours of moving images produced annually today, 1,200 hours is tiny. It is a rounding error.

We tend to think the tiger represents the animal kingdom, but in truth, a grasshopper is a truer statistical example of an animal. The handcrafted Hollywood film won’t go away, but if we want to see the future of motion pictures, we need to study the swarming food chain below — YouTube, indie films, TV serials and insect-scale lip-sync mashups — and not just the tiny apex of tigers. The bottom is where the action is, and where screen literacy originates.

by Andy Crouch for Culture Making

Every year there is a terrific lineup of summer courses at Regent College, in Vancouver, British Columbia. There may be no better place in North America to find inspiration and education for Christian culture making.

This coming year Week 5 (27–31 July 2009) is especially rich, including Michael Ward, author of the extraordinary book Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis, and Calvin College’s Quentin Schultze. The erudite and wide-ranging theologian John Stackhouse will be teaching a course called “The Ethics of Filmmaking and Other Media” with producer Ralph Winter (X-MEN, et multa cetera). “It will cover how money, sex, power, and ideology affect commercial filmmaking,” John writes on his blog, “with particular reference to Hollywood but to other other film centres (such as Vancouver itself) and, indeed, to other media as well.” If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, I suspect it will be well worth the trip.

In a sign of the embarrassment of riches available these days, the very same week I will be in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at IMAGE magazine’s incomparable Glen Workshop, teaching a week-long seminar on “Culture Making: Meaning in the Material World.” Other faculty include Makoto Fujimura, Lauren Winner, Barry Moser, and Over the Rhine. Wow. I’ll post more information when it’s available. Whether it’s Vancouver or Santa Fe, maybe a summer course registration should be on your Christmas wishlist this year.

excerpt Tough luck, Mel

A filmmaker’s dream of building a Hollywood-style studio in the northern part of South Africa has been blocked after a passionate campaign by the local Khoi-San community. Residents of the remote and desolate town of Pella say they do not care about the millions of dollars promised or the prospect of A-list celebrities flying in on private jets and instead wanted to keep their “sacred” scrubland, which was won in battle by their forefathers.Desert Star Studios wanted to transform their ancestral lands into a giant studio featuring biblical and cowboy film sets, production offices, stunt tracks, storehouses, and workshops, plus a luxury resort, golf course, and private landing strip. The consortium planned to spend $14 million on the project which it says would create 18,000 jobs and generate a further $14.2 million income for the area over the next 10 years—a huge sum for a relatively poor province.

A visit to the semi-desert area can see its potential. The flat scrubland nestles between giant mountains under clear blue skies. There are hidden valleys cut by tributaries to the mighty Orange River, and one mountain resembling the doomed Israeli fortress of Masada.

But the filmmakers underestimated the will of the local 5,000-strong population who put the spiritual value of the land over any potential economic gain and nixed the plan last month. “No money in the world can buy this land,” says Ina Basson, secretary of the Pella Community Forum. “It is ours and has sentimental value. Our forefathers fought the Germans for this land and had to battle to keep it. They have spilled blood for the land and for us, and it is not for sale. “[The producers] said Mel Gibson and Halle Berry would fly in to do movies, and that Tiger Woods would design the golf course,” adds Ms. Basson. “We don’t care about them. We want to live here.”

Day for Night (La Nuit américaine) trailer," directed by François Truffaut, 1973, and My Life, My Card ad, directed by Wes Anderson, 2006
a post from Fleming Rutledge’s Generous Orthodoxy

We recently had the rare privilege of attending a private screening of Leni Riefenstahl’s famous but seldom-seen film Olympia, made to celebrate the 1936 “Nazi Olympics” in Berlin. The powerful artistry and technical mastery of “Hitler’s moviemaker” left everyone stunned.

Naturally, the number one question asked afterward was about the relation of art to morality. There has been no clear answer to this question, but here are two sets of reactions that some of us shared:

Overall, the movie is apolitical. The overwhelming effect at the end of the very long movie is of the beauty of the human body in action. Riefenstahl’s amazing camera angles, often catching the athletes from below in motion against a sky filled with fair-weather clouds, are indeed “Olympian” in more ways than one. The astonishment of the second half, which covers the athletic events themselves, tends to cancel out the creepiness of the first half.

The first half of the film is deeply disturbing. It depicts the carrying of the Olympic torch by fleet, proud runners (looking for all the world like the old Modern Library logo) and then the opening procession with numerous shots of a beaming Adolf Hitler taking the salutes of the various teams as they pass. It is impossible to resist the powerful emotional effect of this pageantry. As the team members from the various countries (including the USA) pass in review, many give the Nazi salute with Rockette-like precision, all others turn their heads toward the Führer with perfect symmetry as they march by. What did they know? (By 1936, they should have known plenty.) Did it matter to them?  I found myself choking on tears and fury. Here were the principalities and powers on review. Human nature is irresistibly drawn to spectacle, and can be manipulated in almost any direction through pageantry when it is harnessed to nationalism and the will to power. We should beware of our own proclivities when we watch the Olympics this summer.