Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Samuel L. Jackson Sings The Blues

Black Snake Moan"Black Snake Moan" is shaping up to be one of the events of 2007. Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci play two strung-out characters -- Jackson is Lazarus, who is coming off a bad marriage and emotional betrayal. Ricci is Rae, a victim of abuse who turns to self-destruction. When Lazarus discovers Rae half naked, beat up and passed out on his lawn he takes her in, and after finding out her history, chains her to the radiator to facilitate curing her of her ways.

Samuel L. Jackson in Black Snake MoanThe movie's site has lots of stuff, but my favorite perk is the complete soundtrack -- not just samples -- the entire thing. I've never heard of a free soundtrack being made available before the movie came out, or for that matter, after the movie comes out. Jackson sings a couple tracks and does a pretty nice job. The tunes are all gritty down-south blues/rock that's reminiscent of Led Zeppelin -- especially track 4: When the Lights Go Out by The Black Keys. The site also has clips, stills, and blinking pictures of either Jackson's tummy or Ricci's tummy, I'm not sure which it is.

This movie has story. Nice job.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Honorary Oscar For Alec

Alec BaldwinBaldwin, that is. He's one of my favorite things about any given movie -- that's certainly the case for "The Departed" -- even though Baldwin only had a few minutes of screen time in this year's Best Picture winner, he nailed each scene to the floor. Stephanie Zacharek makes a good argument for giving Baldwin Salon's honorary Oscar Performances in Several Different Pictures in the Same Year (excerpt):

Baldwin shines in too many movies to list, and although he's different in every role, his performances often bear trademark qualities. Often, I think, we respond to Baldwin because his mere presence -- his confident bearing, the way he cocks an eyebrow at just the right angle -- speaks of healthy skepticism, an intolerance of idiocy and phoniness. An understated superhero in an age of overstatement, he can zap bullshit with a single glance: His X-ray vision seeks, and destroys, baloney. Baldwin is always both laid-back and on point, which seems a contradiction but is actually a delicate balance that's hard to strike. And although we're lucky to have him now, with his elegant carriage and knife-edge timing -- not to mention that voice, a voice with the texture and suppleness of the silkiest luxury mohair -- he'd be just as much at home in the comedies of the '30s and early '40s: Preston Sturges would have adored him.

Sure, I'll go along with that.


Tideland directed by Terry GilliamHere's the pitch: A father, Jeff Bridges, teaches his daughter, Jodelle Ferland, how to prepare injections of heroin so that he can take his 'vacations'.

It may have a certain yuck factor, but "Tideland" is the latest effort by Terry Gilliam and it's one of the oddest movies to have come along in a while. It's so off-putting Gilliam himself appears at the beginning of the movie to appeal to the audience not to walk out, saying "Many of you are not going to like this film," and finishing with, "I was sixty-four when I made this film, and I think I finally discovered the child within me. It turned out to be a little girl. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." Not exactly reassuring, but it watches better than it reads.

The picture is now out on DVD. The trailer looks quite inventive and I may give this one a spin. Steve Inskeep talks with Gilliam (7:19). On the same page there are links to the complete intro by Gilliam and two clips.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Best Short Documentaries

Pianist Leon FleisherNathaniel Kahn's short documentary, "Two Hands", about pianist Leon Fleisher's 30-year struggle with the paralysis of his right hand is up for an Academy Award tonight.

Fleisher was a brilliant young pianist on track for stardom. He cut the thumb of his right hand while carrying a lawn chair. Later the fingers of his right hand curled up and would not extend. Fleisher struggled with the problem, seeking every type of therapy and treatment for decades, but found no cure -- until just a few years ago. Now, Fleisher, age 78, has successfully returned to a career as a concert pianist.

Liane Hansen talks with Kahn on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday (10:46). On the same page there are links to audio of Fleisher playing, and video clips from "Two Hands" as well as the other films nominated for Best Short Documentary; "The Blood of Yingzhou District", by Ruby Yang, about a boy who stops speaking after both parents die of AIDS; "Recycled Life", by Leslie Iwerks and Mike Glad, about people in Guatemala City who scavenge giant garbage dumps in order to survive; "Rehearsing a Dream", by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon, about gifted high school students who spend a week working with leading actors, singers, and dancers.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Anne Thompson Goes On The Record

Anne Thompson gives her perspective on movies and the Digital Revolution. Here is On The Record's set up:

Anne Thompson goes On the Record...Online with host Eric Schwartzman to reveal how movies secure Oscar nominations, how films win Oscar campaigns and whether or not online buzz influences which movies get nominated.

The deputy film editor of The Hollywood Reporter, Anne Thompson writes the weekly film industry column "Risky Business," which is globally syndicated by Reuters. She also contributes to Premiere, Wired, Filmmaker, New York Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The London Observer. From 1996 to 2002, she headed Premiere's Los Angeles bureau as West Coast Editor. Before joining Premiere, she tracked behind-the-scenes Hollywood as a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly and as West Coast Editor at Film Comment Magazine. From 1985 to 1993, she wrote the first iteration of "Risky Business" for L.A. Weekly and The Los Angeles Times Syndicate. A graduate of the Department of Cinema Studies at New York University, Thompson teaches the fall semester of Sneak Previews at UCLA Extension.

On The Record is a weekly podcast that usually covers the tech-revolution in journalism and entertainment.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Michael Crichton

Next by Michael CrichtonMichael Crichton has had 13 best-selling novels adapted into major movies including "The Andromeda Strain" and "Jurassic Park", as well as being one of the creators of ER, and holds an MD from Harvard.

He talks about his new novel Next, as well as global warming, Gore and "An Inconvenient Truth", Andy Warhol vs Jasper Johns, and consensus science on Charlie Rose.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Producing The Oscars

Kim Masters talks with Academy Awards show producer Laura Ziskin

Sound Editing For Blood Diamond

Lon Bender, who won for Best Sound Editing for "Braveheart", is now nominated for his sound editing in "Blood Diamond". He talks with Alex Chadwick on Day to Day on NPR. So, just what is the difference between Best Sound and Best Sound Editing? "If we've done our job well, no one knows we did anything." (8 min.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

Point And Click World

Okay, I have a joke. It's not a good joke, but: A teenager is reading a newspaper. That's it -- setup and punch line all in one. There is just too much competition from the internet. Most times a computer is nearby -- so why run to the corner store for a paper? Hardcopy newspaper circulation is down across the country while web traffic grows everyday. Teenagers (and most adults) do not read newspapers anymore -- they prefer online sources of news.

It's been my opinion for some time now that movie theaters are going the way of the newspaper. I've thought this for longer than it has been cool to do so. When I first suggested it the common line was that no such thing could happen. That theaters would remain the primary venue for seeing a movie forever. I engaged in more than a few arguments (online) with bloggers uncomfortable with the notion that anything so well established as the movie theater industry could be facing a threat from DVDs or any other source.

I don't know why it's so hard to accept this. With DVDs you can purchase a movie for the same price it would cost to see it in a theater, and (legal) online downloads will make it possible to watch a movie in the comfort of your own home the same day it's released in theaters. There isn't much to support the continued need for movie theaters, and there are few who argue this contention anymore.

The fact is young people today would rather connect with the world via an electronic medium than have go to a physical location at a certain time, stand in line, buy a ticket, interact with the public, behave, etc. Old people (those over the 18-24 bracket) do not want to go to the movies anymore, either. They're beat from working, have kids to take care of, and also don't want to stand in line, interact with the public, behave, etc.

The answer for years has been the DVD. Pop it in, watch your favorite, eat fresh homemade popcorn, pause the show anytime you want. But now, online movie downloads sites are gaining traction -- although, amazingly, there are those who feel this technology will never take off. Walmart has just started up its online movie download service (use Internet Explorer only, please). (Did you know Walmart currently sells 40% of all DVDs sold in the United States -- see Steven Levy's upcoming story at Newsweek)? This can't make the movie theater industry too happy.

I'll make a prediction: DVDs will be a thing of the past within 10 years. Well. Now, that I look at this 'prediction', it doesn't seem very impressive. Everything will be a thing of the past given enough time. I'll try for clarification: DVD sales will be down 50% within six years. There. How's that?

Impossible? Check out what I found over at the Rocketboom weblog. They recently did a survey, asking, among other things, where their viewers -- Rocketboom video blog here -- got their news and found that 14% get their news from newspapers (click graph to see source). That can't be good (if you run a newspaper).

Rocketboom surveyNewspapers. What dinosaurs. They're printed up every day around 3 in the morning (featuring yesterday's news) so that they can be loaded (by the ton) into vans and cars and delivered to various distribution points around the city (or to your home), where they then sit until, oh, let's say sometime between 7 and 10 a.m. when they are picked up and read whilst enjoying a cup of coffee. How can they possibly compete with the internet?

Now, all things analog are being supplanted by the point and click, the right here right now, the digital, instant, the at your fingertips; no waiting, preparation, talking, cash/cashier -- no personality or style needed. Why buy a newspaper when the up-to-the-minute news is only available online? By this logic the DVD will certainly go the way of the newspaper -- why buy a DVD when movies will be available via online download as soon as they're released in movie theaters? As the newspaper went, so will go the DVD -- it's just a matter of time.

Read the rest

Across the Universe

I'm not much of a fan of musicals but this looks stupendous.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Small Talk

Here is a very funny short film by Keilly and Roeters called "Small Talk".

Test Footage From Star Wars?

Joanne Colan has a video blog called Rocketboom. In this installment she seems to have some early special effects/sound effects test footage (starring herself as a Leia-esque character) from Star Wars. It's pretty funny.

X Marks The Spot; Or Indicates The Homage

Goingtothepictures has got some interesting stuff. In "The Departed", Martin Scorsese pays homage to Howards Hawks' 1932 "Scarface", which, in case you didn't know (I certainly didn't), has a lot of X's in it. Here are a few of the stills GTTP posted from "The Departed":

The Departed directed by Martin Scorsese

The Departed directed by Martin Scorsese

The Departed directed by Martin Scorsese


Best Score (Part II)

Liane Hansen and Andy Trudeau continue their rundown of the music nominated for Best Score. This week they listen to the scores for "The Good German" by Thomas Newman, who "has created a 1940s soundtrack filled with grand gestures of a golden age to go along with it," and "Pan's Labyrinth" by Javier Navarette, which is "centered on a little girl's daydreams, by putting a lullaby at the heart of a lullaby at the heart of the score."

Last week Liane and Andy reviewed the scores for "Babel" and "The Queen", next week it's "Notes on a Scandal" by Philip Glass.

So far, the score for "The Good German" is my favorite. Thomas Newman pays homage to his father Alfred in a score which is classical and layered and not at all the superficial 'movie' melodies that so typically nudge our emotions in the desired direction -- Newman's score stands on its own. Nice listening for a Sunday.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Jim Carrey
Okay, this looks very much like Jim Carrey doing Mick Jagger. Anyway,
Joel Stein reports over at Time that Carrey may be reinventing himself yet again (excerpt):

That's the thing you have to admire about Carrey even as you cringe at what he's saying: he's not afraid. He's not afraid of getting made fun of, he's not afraid of change, and he's not afraid of his audience flying away. In fact, every time he's become successful at something, he's stopped doing it. As soon as he became famous as an impressionist, he stopped doing characters. After he got traction as a stand-up, he retired his act, going onstage without any material, often being overtly hostile to his audience. When that got him a job on Fox's sketch show In Living Color and led quickly to a $20 million paycheck, he decided to ditch his devoted Adam Sandler-loving audience by making the disturbing, dark comedy The Cable Guy and dropped his price to make such dramas as The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And now he's made The Number 23, a cheapie $30 million horror film about a man consumed with numerology, in which he frequently appears shirtless, tattooed and with slicked-back hair. If he somehow manages to keep any of his original fans, he could still try to shake them with an Elizabethan costume drama.

Jim Carrey in The Number 23There have been reports of bizarre behavior from the sets of Carrey's recent movies and that, plus the fact that he has fired his reps and had projects cancelled recently (like "Used Guys" and "Ripley's Believe It or Not") hasn't done his profile any good.

I can respect an artist changing their approach but Carrey has always been manic and playing a man who is losing his grip on reality in an edgy psych-thriller, "The Number 23", may not be the best move right now. While Carrey's core audience might be getting older, they may prefer to remember him as a comedy superstar.

If Carrey has made adjustments in his approach in the past, this looks more like a pivotal turning point. Buzz on 23 is not very strong and if the box office is weak it will be interesting to see what tack Carrey takes next. An Elizabethan costume drama might not be such a bad idea.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Praise For Cooper In Breach

Chris Cooper as Robert Hanssen in Breach"Breach", the story of traitor Robert Hanssen, which stars Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillipe; directed by Billy Ray and written by Ray, Adam Mazer, and William Rotko, is getting some very fine ink -- all of which praise Cooper's performance.

Here is Manohla Dargis' take, Kenneth Turan's and David Edelstein's reviews, and my favorite of the bunch, Steve Inskeep's interview with Cooper. (8 min.)

I especially like the way Cooper keeps Inskeep (one of NPR's senior reporters and a veteran interviewer) just a bit off balance. It would seem Cooper has very much internalized some tinker/tailor pyschological orientation.

The Business: You Suck

You Suck: A Love Story written by Chris MooreClaude Brodesser-Akner talks with Chris Moore, author of "You Suck: A Love Story", on The Business on KCRW in Santa Monica. Why has Moore's first novel been in development in Hollywood for sixteen years? Why doesn't he take meetings anymore? How does Hollywood filter out original elements until they're left with the same old product?

Moore defines the code terms 'we have a vision', 'we're enthusiastic about this project', and 'we want to do justice to your novel'. A nice insider's look from an author with a wagon full of best-selling novels and high-end options, but no movies made from his work yet.

I found this excerpt from You Suck: "You bitch, you killed me. You suck!"

The Treatment

Scenes from the City: Filmmaking in New York edited by James Sanders
This week on The Treatment on KCRW in Santa Monica, Elvis Mitchell talks with James Sanders, editor of "Scenes from the City: Filmmaking in New York".

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Guillermo del Toro
Talk of the Nation with Guillermo del Toro, director and writer of the fable for adults, "Pan's Labyrinth" -- "Magic and imagination create a spiritual reality." (11 min.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Charlie Rose

If you haven't heard, Charlie Rose is making his shows available online. This is a convenient way of catching a great show whenever.

On this week's show: Mark Halperin, political director of ABC News, Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter, and Patrick Healy of The New York Times discuss Barack Obama's announcement that he is running for the presidency -- and -- David Mamet talks politics and writing.

Hollywood Candidate(s)

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
The next run for the presidency is shaping up to be a good one. The Democrats have, for a change, a viable candidate. They also have that most rare of aces...a second viable candidate. Hillary is a good choice, who is also a woman; Obama is a good choice, who is also a black man. This, needless to say, is a first and should yield a helluva race.

But, before the campaign starts there is the little matter of Hollywood alliance to be decided. MovieLand has two kinds of constituents: liberal and really liberal, and whoever wins the support of the LA elite will probably walk away with a decisive advantage. Certainly, both Hillary and Obama appeal to creative types everywhere but there is already a split forming in the Tinsel-Town community, with some power players choosing sides early on while others play it safe, waiting to see where the chips will fall.

Kim Masters comes out strong on the topic. Here is her story at NPR (4 min.), here is her story at Slate.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hot Fuzz

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz
I recently watched "Shaun of the Dead" on DVD -- excellent. Written by and starring Simon Pegg, SOTD is funny, original, and, believe it or not, has a strong story with that most elusive quality, Universal Theme. The shots are beautiful, and comic timing and strong attention to detail make this movie, well, good.

Nick Frost stars with Pegg in the upcoming "Hot Fuzz", a comedy-action about a big-city cop trying to solve a series of strange crimes in a sleepy small town.

HF delivers the same fresh comedy and inventive detail that bring each scene to life (like the tag on the shotgun in the above still) as SOTD.

Working Title Films has a series of video blogs made during production. They're very good -- in #10 production is halted due to yet another rainy day -- Pegg's comments are a hoot.

Ropeofsilicon has three HF clips that are, dare I say it, brilliant -- each scene manages a series of punch lines that are both funny and endearing. Very much looking forward to this one. Fresh.

Best Score

Every year Andy Trudeau and Liane Hansen review the music nominated for Best Score. This series is always enjoyable. Trudeau knows his stuff and you can tell Liane looks forward to doing this coverage.

This year's nominated scores are for "Babel" by Gustavo Santaolalla (who won last year for "Brokeback Mountain"), "The Queen" by Alexandre Desplat, "The Good German" by Thomas Newman, "Notes on a Scandal" by Philip Glass, and "Pan's Labyrinth" by Javier Navarette. On this week's show Liane and Andy talk about the scores for "Babel" and "The Queen". (14 min)

Black Snake Moan

Christina Ricci in Black Snake MoanWhen I first heard the pitch for "Black Snake Moan" I just rolled my eyes. Christini Ricci plays a victim of sexual abuse who turns to sleeping with everybody in sight as a way of coping.

Sam Jackson is a former blues guitarist who discovers Ricci passed out after a night of partying, and chains her to a radiator in an effort to cure her of her destructive ways, saying “God seemed fit to put you in my path and I’m gonna cure you of your wickedness.”

So. A man chains a half-naked nymphomaniac to his radiator...(roll eyes here).

Sam Jackson in Black Snake MoanI thought this plot had 'cheap exploitation' stamped all over it -- but, alas, I may have been wrong ('may have been' is code for 'was'). This picture is getting some very fine reviews and all the clips I've seen point in the right direction. This is shaping up to be a statement by writer/director Craig Brewer on ever failing moral standards.

IESB has seven clips from "Black Snake Moan". They're all good but the 11-minute making-of feature and music video are a cut above.

Where would we be if people didn't do work like this? Yes, I 'may have been'...wrong.

The Future Is Here

Tom Cruise in Minority Report
There's that very cool sequence in "Minority Report" where Tom Cruise's character adroitly accesses a multi-sensor computer interface to track down a crime that's about to be committed. Well, we really don't have the ability to predict crimes quite yet but part of the technology in "Minority Report" is here now.

Steve Bryant reports that a Perceptive Pixel has developed a cool touch-screen interface. The level of usability and intuitive response is pretty damn impressive. Check out the video at Bryant's blog Reel Pop.

Apple iPhoneSo, what does that do for us today? Check out Steve Jobs' demo of the new iPhone.

If you're interested in the tech aspect of this stuff here is a rundown on Laser Gesture Capture, and FTIR (Frustrated Total Internal Reflection) touch-screen. And, I thought my trackball mouse was cool. :-|

Some Great Acting

Cate Blanchett
I love Lynn Hirschberg's articles. Her story on how Vera Farmiga sorts through piles of scripts to find that one compelling role worth her time (she argued with Martin Scorsese that her role in "The Departed" was not substantial enough -- Marty agreed and beefed it up -- it was improved but Farmiga felt the character was still 'more a device than anything else') was greatly appreciated. Hirschberg runs down the year in acting at NYT Magazine, and includes a beautiful portfolio of photos (like the one above of Cate Blanchett by Rineke Dijkstra) and a short film by Jake Paltrow, "The First Ones".

The Next Meryl Streep?

Vera FarmigaLynn Hirschberg's piece in the New York Times looks on the surface to be just another star profile, but is really an examination of one actor's potential in the changing Hollywood landscape. Vera Farmiga can be seen in Martin Scorsese's upcoming "The Departed" along with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson, but is the role what she's looking for?

This leads us to an examination of the status quo for female actors in Hollywood -- female characters in mainstream movies are underwritten. Even though Farmiga brings to mind the seamless skill of Meryl Streep, there are no longer parts which call for such talent. Of her part in "The Departed" Farmiga says, "There was no real personality to the character." Scorsese agreed to reworking the character but, Farmiga says, "...the character is still more of a device than anything else."

This is the problem female actors face. Even in a high-profile movies the female characters are thin and supportive when compared to hard-edged male counterparts that carry the action. Hollywood is reluctant to make movies with strong female characters, and this makes actors with the depth and technique of a Meryl Streep superfluous. Hirschberg says:

In the last few years, former child actors like Lindsay Lohan and Scarlett Johansson have emerged as the new generation of female stars. Unlike the women of Meryl Streep's generation, they did not attend drama school. Their training has been on the job in Hollywood films, and even when they are talented, they do not have much life experience or sense of craft. They are programmed for stardom rather than for acting.

It's difficult to argue with this. I just don't see many meaty roles for women (there aren't that many for men), and I don't see much technical acting these days. Of the trend, director Anthony Minghella says:

"Meryl Streep is always specific and precise in her interpretations," Anthony Minghella told me. "And I find that those sorts of women are now virtually nonexistent in studio films. Even talented actresses are given nothing to play, and they don't all have Meryl Streep's inventiveness when the material is lacking." Minghella says he worries about the prospects for an actress with the ambitions of Farmiga. "Increasingly, audiences are uncomfortable with any subject that is not aspirational," he said, "and the studios acquiesce rather than provide an alternative that might inspire a new audience. It's too easy and potentially dangerous a label to hang on her, but Vera is of the quality of Meryl Streep. Her characters have the same sense of depth and commitment. The question is, Is it even possible to have a career like Meryl Streep's now?"

Meryl Streep in Sophie's ChoiceMeryl Streep in "Sophie's Choice" from 1982. Can you really see Hollywood making such a movie today? Why is that?

Much of the growing reluctance to feature actresses derives from the changing economics of the business: women are no longer big box-office draws, especially in dramas. Twenty years ago, movie budgets were smaller, there were fewer independent productions and the major studios did not aim as specifically as they do now to entertain a vast global audience that prefers action and broad comedy to dialogue and drama. "Studios are now pressured to make films that appeal to the masses," Tracy Brennan, one of Farmiga's agents, told me. "And although special effects and explosions are great, you can't carve out a career the way that Meryl Streep did in those kinds of films."

Makes a lot of sense. Hirschberg follows through with:

In 2005, there was not a single female-driven drama that was a financial blockbuster -- not "North Country," starring the Oscar winner Charlize Theron; not "Proof," starring another Oscar winner, Gwyneth Paltrow; not "Memoirs of a Geisha". Even romantic comedies, long a showcase for actresses, are being replaced by male-driven comedies like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Wedding Crashers".

And, for effect Hirschberg adds:

Even when a female-oriented film does succeed financially, as with "Something's Gotta Give" (2003), starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, the studio typically credits the box-office bonanza to the male actor. "He's had lots of flops," one agent said of Nicholson. "But no one cares. But if an actress has one flop, her stock is immediately down."

How does Farmiga take all this? In stride with an eye to the future. But, she does have a practical method:

In the grassy land that surrounds Farmiga's house in upstate New York sits a pile of ashes. "This is where I burn the scripts," she said as she circled the scarred earth with her two pet goats. "I stack up all those crass female characters, all those utterly ordinary women, all those hundreds and hundreds of parts that have no substance or meaning and turn them into a blazing pyre." She kicked some charred pages that had somehow escaped the flames. "It's really cathartic," she said. "It's my revenge on Hollywood insensitivity and greed. The ashes go to the compost. At least the scripts can finally help the world in some way."

..."I think I want to quit acting after every movie. Each time I have to decide whether or not I want to go back to the struggle of seducing people into believing that I am an entirely different individual. It's especially challenging when Hollywood would like me to be the same bland character over and over again." She pointed to a pile of scripts on the coffee table. "Those need to be burned," she said.

Read Lynn Hirschberg's complete story at The New York Times

Tough Biz

Maggie Q in Live Free or Die
How tough is the movie business in Hong Kong? Maggie Q, starring with Bruce Willis in "Live Free or Die",
has put up with a lot to make it.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The First Ones

NYT has a film by Jake Paltrow. Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt, Helen Mirren, Abbie Cornish, Ken Watanabe, Penelope Cruz, and Leonardo DiCaprio talk about films that made an early impression on them.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Young Cannibal

Gaspard Ulliel as Hannibal Lector in Hannibal Rising Directed by Peter WebberGaspard Ulliel portrays a young Hannibal Lector in "Hannibal Rising", the new prequel directed by Peter Webber. The trailers I've seen are of the 'quick-cut' variety, not disclosing much plot or hinting at character development. Usually, this is because such movies do not have too much of these qualities to disclose, and it looks like 'Rising' will not endanger the status the venerable "Silence of the Lambs".

On the plus side, the trailer boasts some lush production value and titillating imagery, and this picture should be a feather in Webber's cap. Webber is best known for "Girl with a Pearl Earring", which won critical praise but didn't draw an audience. Somehow, the clips from 'Rising' make me want to see 'Earring', which I had written off as fluff.

I'm looking forward to watching "Hannibal Rising" on disc some quiet night at home -- it should go well with some popcorn and body parts. Did I say that? I meant human flesh cooked extremely rare. Wait. I mean butter. Yes. Jeez. Butter. Popcorn with butter, and a nice Chianti.

I found a video interview with Ulliel and Webber at IGN. They also have a trailer and new exclusive footage. Did Webber arrange for Ulliel to take part in a real autopsy to prep to play Hannibal the Cannibal? Gads! Find out the truth!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sarah Silverman

Sarah SilvermanOkay. This babe throws you this look. Does it mean she thinks you're hot or you're a prick? Who can say, maybe both -- 'Hey prick, you're hot'. She's Sarah Silverman, possibly the most politically incorrect woman working -- guess that's what I like about her (besides her looks, and her sense of humor, and her looks). Heather Havrilesky runs down Silverman's new show on Comedy Central, "The Sarah Silverman Program", over at Salon. Heather cites a few of Sarah's observations:

"I was raped by a doctor, which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl."

"I don't care if you think I'm a racist, I just want you to think that I'm thin."

"A couple nights ago, I was licking jelly off my boyfriend's penis. And I thought, 'Oh, my God. I'm turning into my mother.'"

Nice. If you like those you might want to check out the show, or at least Heather's review. If you're still on the fence try my review of Silverman's DVD "Jesus is Magic".

Tracking Oscar

The Washington Post has put together a nice Academy Awards tracking site that is one of the best kept secrets in the blogosphere. Awards Show Central is running a series of videocasts featuring WP movie critics Stephen Hunter, Ann Hornaday, and Desson Thompson, hosted by the movie critic for WP online, Jen Cheney. This week's show covers the Best Actor/Actress category. Last week it was Best Supporting (still available). The next shows will feature Director, followed by Picture. Videocasts are every Monday.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Adam Kempanaar and Sam Van Hallgren review this year's Sundance Film Festival
. Their top pick -- "Son of Rambow" which, from their rundown, sounds very appealing. Featuring two interviews: Craig Brewer, director of "Black Snake Moan", and Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith, director/producer of "Son of Rambow".

Bastards Of The Party

HBO will run Cle Sloan's LA gang documentary "Bastards of the Party". Sloan was an active member of the Bloods gang and is known to them as 'Bone'. NPR's News and Notes speaks with Sloan.

Bastards Of The Party

HBO will run Cle Sloan's LA gang documentary "Bastards of the Party". Sloan was an active member of the Bloods gang and is known to them as 'Bone'. NPR's News and Notes speaks with Sloan.

Monday, February 05, 2007

China Blue

Factory workers from the documentary China Blue
What are these girls doing? Goofing? Trying a new fad? That's what I figured when I first saw this still from "China Blue", the documentary by Micha Peled.

I was truly shocked when I learned the clothes pins are used by workers to stay awake during long shifts making blue jeans in Chinese factories.

Filmed over four years, China Blue focuses on the Lifeng factory in Shaxi, China, and three girls who work there: Jasmine, 16, who travels from the countryside in search of a better job (a thread cutter); Orchid, 19, a zipper-installer who travels to meet her boyfriend; and Li Ping, 14, a seamstress. For her work as a thread cutter, averaging a pair of jeans per half hour, Jasmine makes half a yuan, or six cents.

Complete story at The Reeler

The Way You Look Tonight

You have to admire this crew's knowledge of movie tunes. AV Club

How Far Will An Actor Go?

Robert De NiroHow committed is Robert De Niro when it comes to preparing for a role? They joke about it. Playing De Niro when he finds out a movie he was planning to do has been cancelled, Sean Penn says, in an SNL skit, “I can’t believe it! I had three vertebrae surgically removed to make myself shorter for this role!”

To play the young Vito Corleone, he became fluent in Sicilian dialect. There was the filing down of his teeth to perfect the appropriate maniacal snarl in Cape Fear; the proficient jazz sax mastered for New York, New York; the custom-made silk undies insisted upon, but never seen, in The Untouchables, allowing him to swish exactly like Al Capone. Almost no need to mention his fabled 4½-stone porkathon for Raging Bull. In researching The Deer Hunter, it is whispered, he played real Russian roulette. On Awakenings, so authentic were the results of his brain scan, it was feared he had acted himself into a genuine coma.

I don't really believe the Russian roulette thing -- sounds too much like having a vertebra removed. I do love Bob, though. Who doesn't? De Niro talks with Jeff Dawson at The London Times.

Kathleen Turner On Stage

Kathleen Turner in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
When Kathleen Turner did "Body Heat" she was afraid she would "cast a smoldering look at Bill Hurt and people would giggle". Not quite. Turner is now in a production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Interview at All Things Considered

Tarantino Doll?

Grindhouse action figures
I'm not sure who would want a Quentin Tarantino doll, but they're available ($47.99 for the above set) along with other action figures from the movie "Grindhouse". (via

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