Inside Llewyn Davis
"Inside Llewyn Davis" is the most satisfyingly diabolical cinematic structure that the Coens have ever contrived, and that's just one reason that I suspect it…
* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.
Bruce Springsteen mourns the closing of Blockbuster's retail stores. OK, not really—but these Springsteen spoofs are pretty funny anyway.
Sheila writes: Today, October 30, is the 75th anniversary of the historic 1938 "War of the Worlds" broadcast, presented by Orson Welles and his merry band of Mercury Theater friends. In Peter Bogdanovich's book "This is Orson Welles", Welles tells Bogdanovich: "Six minutes after we’d gone on the air, the switchboards in radio stations right across the country were lighting up like Christmas trees. Houses were emptying, churches were filling up; from Nashville to Minneapolis there was wailing in the street and the rending of garments. Twenty minutes in, and we had a control room full of very bewildered cops. They didn’t know who to arrest or for what, but they did lend a certain tone to the remainder of the broadcast. We began to realize, as we plowed on with the destruction of New Jersey, that the extent of our American lunatic fringe had been underestimated." Bogdanovich later says to Welles, "The Martian broadcast didn’t really hurt you at all. Would you say it was lucky?" Welles replied, "Well, it put me in the movies. Was that lucky? I don’t know." Here is the original radio broadcast in all its mockumentary glory.
If you go to a yacht party, don't expect to be living out your own version of "The Talented Mr. Ripley."
James Toback discusses his new documentary, "Seduced and Abandoned," which traces the life of a failed movie project. He also discusses the ultimate fate of humanity. Seriously.
Barbara Scharres sets the stage the 66th annual Cannes Film Festival.
Marie writes: Remember Brian Dettmer and his amazing book sculptures? Behold a similar approach courtesy of my pal Siri who told me about Alexander Korzer-Robinson and his sculptural collages made from Antiquarian Books. Artist's statement:"By using pre-existing media as a starting point, certain boundaries are set by the material, which I aim to transform through my process. Thus, an encyclopedia can become a window into an alternate world, much like lived reality becomes its alternate in remembered experience. These books, having been stripped of their utilitarian value by the passage of time, regain new purpose. They are no longer tools to learn about the world, but rather a means to gain insight about oneself."
Marie writes: I may have been born in Canada, but I grew-up watching Sesame Street and Big Bird, too. Together, they encouraged me to learn new things; and why now I can partly explain string theory.That being the case, I was extremely displeased to hear that were it up Romney, as President he wouldn't continue to support PBS. And because I'm not American and can't vote in their elections, I did the only thing I could: I immediately reached for Photoshop....
(Click image to enlarge.)
Judging from the overwhelmingly tepid critical reaction that "To Rome with Love" has been getting since it opened in Poland, European film critics seem to take offense at what they describe as glossy, superficial way of presenting their continent in Woody Allen's recent movies. I know a Spanish film buff who hated (hated, hated) "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," as well as a Parisian who despised "Midnight in Paris." Clearly, there's something about the way Allen shoots European cities that many of their natives object to. They hate how prettified and inane their stomping grounds look on the screen (mere sightseeing folders, they say). And yet they never minded when New York was getting the same kind of Allen treatment back in the day. It seems we're much more comfortable with mythologizing someone else's home than we are with other people sprinkling glitter on ours.
Marie writes: It was my birthday June 25th. Unlike Roger however, I'm a Crab not a Gemini. So to celebrate and with my brother's help (he has a car), I took my inner sea crustacean to Barnet Marine Park on the other side of Burnaby Mountain... and where our adventure begins....
The 65th Cannes Film Festival's eleven days of prediction, wild speculation and gossip, some of it centering on the notoriously cranky personality of this year's jury president Nanni Moretti, came to an end Sunday evening in festival's business-like awards ceremony (or Soiree de Palmares, as the French call it) that traditionally lacks the extended let's-put-on-a-show aspect of the Oscars. The jury was seated onstage in a solemn group, and the awards given with a modest amount of fancy-dress formality, a bit of unrehearsed fumbling, and acceptance speeches that were short, dignified and to the point.
The foul weather that has marred the usually sunny festival continued to the end, and elite guests and movie stars alike walked a red carpet tented by a plastic roof as the rain fell on the multi-colored umbrellas of the surrounding crowds. Festival director Thierry Fremoux personally held an umbrella for Audrey Tautou, star of Claude Miller's closing night film, "Therese Desqueyroux," as she headed up the famous steps in a calf-length ivory lace gown with a bodice heavily embroidered in gold.
Actress Berenice Bejo, an international sensation since her starring role and subsequent Oscar nomination for "The Artist," performed mistress of ceremonies duties in a white, bridal-looking strapless sheath with long train, her only jewel an enormous heart-shaped emerald ring. Just about the only prediction this year that turned out to be accurate was the one that advised that all was unpredictable under the jurisdiction of the pensive and often-scowling Moretti.
HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY TO THE EBERT CLUB!
Marie writes: I can't prove it but I'm convinced they're related.
"I like flicks that are great..." This is why Alec Baldwin may be the best host "Saturday Night Live" has ever had. He commits. I'll put this up there with anything he's ever done on the show. To me, it's funnier than "Schweddy Balls" and "Canteen Boy" put together...
Roger Ebert writes: Alan Berg was a Denver talk-radio host who was murdered on June 18, 1984. He was a goofy-looking bird, with a thin face and a bristly white beard that hid the ravages of teenage acne. He wore reading glasses perched far down on his nose, and he dressed in unlikely combinations of checks and stripes and garments that looked left over from the 1950s. When the members of a lunatic right-wing group gunned him down in the driveway of his home, they could not have mistaken him for anybody else.
I was on Berg's radio show three or four times. I listened to him as I drove down from Boulder to Denver. He was chewing out some hapless housewife whose brain was a reservoir of prejudices against anyone who was the slightest bit different from her. Berg was telling her that no one in his right mind would want to be anything like her at all.
Live-tweeted from Los Angeles:
HOLLYWOOD — "The Hurt Locker," a film that was made with little cash but limitless willpower, defeated the highest-grossing film in history and won the best picture Oscar here Sunday night. The director of the spine-chilling war drama, Kathryn Bigelow, became the first woman to ever win the best director Oscar. James Cameron, director of "Avatar" — and her former husband — cried all the way to the bank.
Sun-Times Gallery of Top Oscar Categories
Based on his show-stopping speech at Saturday night's Independent Spirit Awards, if Mickey Rourke wins an Oscar on Sunday night the Oscarcast is going to be a lollapalooza. As his comeback film "The Wrestler" won for best film, male actor and cinematography, Rourke brought the show to a halt and the audience to its feet with an acceptance speech that was classic Mickey. The Indie Spirits are telecast live and unbleeped, which added considerably to the speech's charm.
First: Was the cold open lackluster on purpose? Did Alec Baldwin deliberately read the cue cards badly just so he wouldn't have to look at Sarah Palin? (I worked on an "SNL" when Baldwin co-hosted with his painfully untalented-as-a-live-actor ex-wife, and he's a million times better than that. Lorne Michaels, too.)
See Baldwin's comments on Palin's appearance here.
Second: Because this blog is all about me (see above): How weird to see Sarah Palin in that very hallway where (he suddenly remembered) I was introduced to Paul and Linda McCartney. (That's the only Beatle, or Beatle spouse, I've ever shaken hands with.) My narcissistic perspective: Does Palin deserve to be standing anywhere near that spot? I think not. (Apropos of nothing: You know who I love? Mike Shoemaker and Marci Klein, that's who.)
Third: Regarding MacGruber: I know, but are there really any rich people who were rich a month ago who aren't still rich?
Fourth: Simon and Garfunkel Jack-in-the-Box Burger King commercials.
Fifth: Congrats to Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers (and Palin). This is funny:
We've gotta cash in on this quick, so here's my pitch:
Tina Fey plays Sarah Palin as Tina Fey as Sarah Palin in a semi-remake of "Dave."
Animal Control nabs Palin off the street, mistaking her for a stray pit bull whose previous owner tested makeup on animals. Palin is asked to host "SNL" the week before the election, but nobody notices she's missing because the McCain campaign is so successful at keeping her away from the press that they forget where they put her. Security is airtight. Because Fey does a better Palin than Palin does, she is forced to do the show as Palin as Fey as Palin.
By Roger Ebert
TORONTO -- In the beginning, its organizers were happy to sell out a 500-seat theater. Now the Toronto Film Festival requires 35 theaters and assorted screening rooms, starting with the 2,800-seat Roy Thomson Hall. If you're a moviegoer in central Toronto and want to avoid the festival, you've got your work cut out for you.
View image Alain Delon as Jef Costello in Jean-Pierre Mellville's "Le Samourai." How un-American!
Edward Copeland, mastermind and organizer of the online ""Best" non-English language films poll, reports that Danny Leigh at the film blog at The Guardian (UK) is wondering about our motives ("The view: Is Hollywood America?"): Naturally it's nice to see this kind of attention lavished on some of history's finest yet lately neglected films; but between Copeland's poll (coming after The Guardian's similar exercise earlier in the year) and the surging popularity of foreign movies in the UK, I can't help wondering how much of the current enthusiasm for what was once known as world cinema is purely that - and how much a rejection of Hollywood at a time when the wider America is so reviled. In other words, is George Bush responsible in some odd tangential way for the rediscovery of Jean Renoir and Fassbinder?
If so, it's clearly a phenomenon with differing degrees of enmity; few US bloggers are likely to share the anti-Americanism of many British audiences. And yet in both cases there may be an underlying notion of Hollywood as a tool of a cultural imperialism that, however murkily, reflects the actual imperialism of US foreign policy. Follow that logic far enough and Hollywood flicks aren't just dopey time-killers - but sermons straight from the bully pulpit. I see his angle regarding Hollywood hegemony, but to attribute anti-American (or, rather, anti-Bush) motives to this particular project is stretching things quite a bit.
When it comes to Hollywood movies, I thought we had the British (Robin Wood, Raymond Durgnat) and the French (the Cahiers du Cinema crowd) to thank for originally helping us see the artistic worth of American studio pictures once dismissed as "dopey time-killers."
On the other hand, according to the incessant drumbeat of Fox and the rest of the far-right media, "Hollywood" is America's greatest enemy (since Ronald Reagan left town, anyway) -- especially its outspoken movie stars and Jewish singers! Their favorite targets are Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Barbara Streisand... So, in this climate, if we really wanted to appear "anti-American" (by their definition) wouldn't we actually align ourselves with "Hollywood"?
But this effort to showcase films that aren't in our native tongue (including non-British films, if you want to put it that way) has nothing to do with contemporary politics. It has to do with looking beyond the English-speaking film-world to... the rest of the world and the diversity of movies beyond the five government-selected nominees for the annual Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and the like.
Alec Baldwin, the Cable News Celebrities' Menace to Society.
From a 2003 interview with Toby Young, celeb interviewer, memoirist and author of "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People": "I have this idea for a dystopian satire. It's set in the immediate future, and it's going to be about the moment when ordinary Americans turn on the celebrity class. There's going to be a sort of French Revolutionary-style bloodbath where A-list celebrities are strung up from lampposts and lynched on street corners. The storming-the-Bastille moment is going to be when the looky-loos outside the 2023 Academy Awards kind of break through into the Kodak Theater and start lynching A-list movie stars on live TV." (Only 15 minutes 'til the first VF Oscar party reference, I note.)
"And it sets off a chain reaction across the United States," he continues, leaning in, conspiratorially. "And there's a scarlet pimpernel figure, who's kind of a second rate English talent agent based in Los Angeles, and in the pre-revolutionary era, he couldn't get anyone to return his calls. But in the post-revolutionary era, he figures out a way to get celebrities to safety. And the way he does that is, the only country where celebrities are still safe is Britain, because they're such craven starfuckers that the revolution doesn't actually affect them. And the way he smuggle celebrities out of Los Angeles is by disguising them as flight attendants on Virgin Atlantic. They occasionally get spotted. They get rumbles in mid-air and tossed off the plane. I need to come up with the right word to describe this celebrity apocalypse. If I can come up with the right word, I'll be in business. My father wrote a similar book in the 1950s called 'The Rise of the Meritocracy,' which is about a bloody revolution in which a kind of meritocratic overclass overcame and coined the term 'meritocracy.' I want to coin a similar word to describe a society in which celebrities are the kind of governing class." Don't we already live in a celebritocracy? Not in the sense that the National Inquirer and the Star and People and Vanity Fair and cable news continue to inflate the importance of celebrities (including wannabes from the media like Anna Wintour or Graydon Carter or A-- C------). That kind of thing has been going on for a long time.
What I'm fascinated by is the insistence by some of the media entertainers (from Sean Hannity to Wolf Blitzer) that the lives and political views of celebrities really are as important as those of elected officials! It's just amazing. Quote from a reader at Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish blog: ... [T]he actor Alec Baldwin was on a radio show in NYC a short time ago when conservative radio hosts Sean Hannity and Marc Levin called in to hurl insults against him. During the course of the 7-minute battle, Levin, out of nowhere, suddenly seeks to mock Baldwin as "Brokeback Alec."
Which, when you think of it, makes no sense. You can love or hate Alec Baldwin. But to hurl the epithet "Brokeback Alec" at him – at an actor who was married to, and had children with Kim Basinger, who has had any number of relationships with any number of starlets -- to call him "Brokeback Alec" is as nutty, as counterintuitive and just plain silly, as to hurl that ["faggot"] epithet against Edwards!
[Sullivan responds]: Mark Levin anti-gay? I listened to the exchange. Levin called Baldwin a "butt-boy" as well as "Brokeback Alec." This is hilarious! Well, OK, pathetic. But it reveals the priorities and reasoning abilities of lightweights like Hannity and Levin when they feel they have to call in to a talk show to hurl nonsensical names at an actor. (BTW, "30 Rock" is really funny most of the time. It's a TV sitcom. Starring Alec Baldwin. I hope Hannity and Levin will call in to randomly question Jim Belushi's sexuality the next time he does promotion for "According to Jim." Then they can go on Ellen DeGeneres's show and accuse her of having a hankering for man-flesh!)
What Hannity and Levin and other celebritalkers don't get is that they themselves are just celebrities, famous for being on TV or radio. (And, I suspect, some acting talent.) If Toby Young's "revolution" ever comes about, they'll be the first ones to go -- not because they're "A-list" (they're certainly not), but because, like Paris Hillton or Zsa Zsa Gabor, they're famous just for being famous. They're at the bottom rung of celebrity along with reality TV personalities (maybe above William Hung but below Rob and Amber), yet their entire careers depend on them pretending to be serious ideologues. (Except for Rush Limbaugh, who admits to just being an "entertainer" who makes stuff up in character that he's not stupid enough to actually believe himself. Is that worse?)
Selznick, Rossellini & Fellini, by Rossellini & Maddin.
Brad Damaré of Ann Arbor, MI, was kind enough to point me to a marvelous YouTube post of the entire 16-minute 2005 collaboration between Guy Maddin ("The Saddest Music in the World") and Isabella Rossellini: "My Dad Is 100 Years Old" (in English, with Italian subtitles). In this personal tribute to Roberto Rossellini, the subject of recent retrospectives and the father of neorealism (and more), Isabella creates imaginary conversations between herself, her papa, producer David O. Selznick, Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin and her mother, Ingrid Bergman -- with the actress/daughter playing all the parts. (My delight in her performances is only enhanced by Isabella's recent appearances as Alec Baldwin's volatile ex-wife on "30 Rock.")
Through his daughter, papa Rossellini expounds on his contrarian theories of film -- not as dreams or distractions, manipulations or entertainments, but as works that engage the viewer's conscience. As is often the case on YouTube, the soundtrack slips out of synch partway through, but it's not all that distracting. In some ways it's perfectly appropriate (I wouldn't put it past Maddin to have come up with the effect deliberately), since Italian films were shot without sound (MOS) into the 1960s, with little attention to precisely matching looped dialogue to lip movements.