I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Posts in cinema:

Modern Superheroes Strangle Our Dreams

Isn’t the whole fucking point of superhero fiction to provide an escape from the horrors of being aware? Aren’t we meant to imagine that if we–peons that we are–were imbued with superhuman abilities, we’d feel compelled to help out those less able? Isn’t the superhero premise sort of neutered if the world is worse off at the end of the story than it was at the beginning? Isn’t the very notion of narrative heroism inextricably tied to mostly-unqualified victory?

Christopher Nolan (in particular) seems to revel in destroying dreams: he fucks them brutally and leaves them for dead. He replaces them with paranoia, dread, and fear, mistakenly and hatefully arguing that those sentiments are all we have left.

Another Rich Asshole Begging Poor People For $$$

Sara Morrison for The Wrap :

James Franco is the latest celebrity to ask fans to fund his projects. Following in the footsteps of Rob Thomas, Zach Braff, and Zosia Mamet, Franco will try to raise $500,000 to film three feature films based on his 2011 book Palo Alto through Indiegogo. He says he wants to raise the money independently so he’ll be able to maintain “artistic integrity.”

Want to preserve your integrity, fuckwit? Fund it yourself.

Unmotivated Gimmickry Is Stupid

There seems to be a vogue for shooting (or at least releasing) a film in black and white, whether it makes any sense contextually or not: Baumbach’s Frances Ha and Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing each appear to consist of desaturated images for no real reason whatsoever, which strikes me as incredibly wrongheaded. Why are these films in black and white? What purpose does it serve?

In the clip below, from The Dick Cavett Show, Peter Bogdanovich explains why he decided not to shoot The Last Picture Show in color: it more or less boils down to the fact that he felt color would ruin the mood he was looking for in his setting. Mel Brooks–also a guest on that same episode–comments that black and white is nothing more than a silly “arty” gimmick unless it’s motivated by something within the story, setting, etc. The same could be said of any technique which is only technique. Thinking something “looks cool” isn’t enough.

Spielberg Predicts An End To Expensive Garbage

Paul Bond for Hollywood Reporter:

Steven Spielberg on Wednesday predicted an "implosion" in the film industry is inevitable, whereby a half dozen or so $250 million movies flop at the box office and alter the industry forever. What comes next – or even before then – will be price variances at movie theaters, where "you’re gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln." He also said that Lincoln came "this close" to being an HBO movie instead of a theatrical release.

This sounds like the best thing that could possibly happen to the American cinema. I really hope Spielberg is right.

William Friedkin Accepts An Oscar, 1972

Here, à propos of nothing, beyond my own historical interest, is William Friedkin winning an Oscar for Directing (for The French Connection) in 1972, beating out both Peter Bogdanovich and Stanley Kubrick. Say what you will about whether the award went to the right man–Friedkin’s work on The French Connection is easily deserving of the honor. It takes a giant set of balls to stage a dangerous chase scene in the middle of New York City without the necessary permits.

I was lucky enough to hear Friedkin speak recently at a screening of Sorcerer in San Jose; he told a number of wildly amusing stories. One of them involved a New York City functionary who agreed to look the other way with respect to the famous chase scene in The French Connection–in exchange for $40,000, with which he retired to Jamaica.

Friedkin is an incredibly fascinating and woefully under-appreciated filmmaker, in my humble estimation.

Ouch (Again).

A couple of years ago I took an opportunity to gloat over what seemed even then to be a relatively slow growth rate in film industry earnings from films presented in 3D. I noted then that despite all of the boosterism, nobody wanted to see their Underwear Heroes in the eye-poppingly ugly third dimension. It seems that revenue is declining even further.

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Harmony Korine | 2012

I realize I’m arriving at this party particularly late, but it still seems prudent to make a brief appearance. You’ll have to excuse me for not delving into the depths of the ‘party’ metaphor here; trust me, it required some restraint.

I’d simply like to point out that the extent of the outrage and befuddlement over this film is, itself, rather befuddling. I’ll largely leave aside the “you debased My Sweet Disney™ Princess” narrative, because it’s boring, stupid, and ignorant (“You mean young actresses want to seem grown up? This has never happened before!“). The far stranger phenomenon is in the outrage from those who ought to know better. Yes, the film is to a great extent a withering mockery of the trashy, solipsistic decadence in which most of the Western world seems so desperate to wallow. No, the film does not have to avoid making you uncomfortable along the way (pop culture has no compunctions about making me uncomfortable, after all). No, not every film has to evince the narrative sophistication of a children’s picture book (the vast majority of modern filmmaking notwithstanding). No, not every film has to be read as a neat, unconflicted little allegory about The American Experiment (just ask anyone from Europe).

Maybe a film can just have a point to make, and can try to make that point in an artfully subject-appropriate formal style. I thought we’d all learned these things pretty indelibly by the early 1960’s, but I’d forgotten that our cultural celebration of fetid garbage has liquified our brains.

This will always be my favorite memory of Roger Ebert.

If there were any kind of great beyond, Roger and Gene would probably already be going at it. That’s how I imagine it, anyway. Sleep well, Mr. Ebert.

Why Am I So Fascinated With Losers?

It might be fair to say that both of my features have taken failure-prone individuals as their protagonists. As I prepare to begin work on a third feature-length film–the protagonist of which can arguably be called as big a failure, if not a bigger one, than those of the first two films–it occurs to me that it might be a good time to ask myself what I find so compelling about people who try feebly and fail in a spectacular fashion.

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Information Wants To Be Free

R.U. Sirius on the tension between the ease of getting things for free and the fact that people who make things still need money. It’s a hugely important issue, and there may be no solution.