Category Archives: Featured

Martin Scorsese on the Making of SILENCE

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The one and only Martin Scorsese visited the AFI Campus recently to discuss making his spiritual epic SILENCE (an AFI AWARDS 2016 Official Selection), the master filmmaker’s decades-long labor of love that explores apostasy and crises of faith in 17th-century Japan. The film features Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as Jesuit missionaries dispatched to Japan to locate a fellow priest gone rogue, played by Liam Neeson.

“Obviously, these themes and ideas and concepts are very much the foundation of my life. The formation began, in a way, at a very early age, so I’ve never really lost interest in that or the urge to keep searching,” Scorsese told AFI Conservatory Fellows, referencing his religious films THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988) and KUNDUN (1997). SILENCE is based on Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel of the same name. “Reading the book… The whole idea of this apostasy, why did it seem like a victory rather than a defeat?” Scorsese said, explaining one of the film’s central questions.

Watch a clip below in which Scorsese discusses how he was forced to re-think how to film a particular scene in SILENCE.

 

Scorsese also discussed the future of cinema with Fellows. “I do feel that cinema, for the first hundred years, has been within this proscenium…but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way,” he said. “You have this unlimited technology; you can do anything. I’m the product of a certain place in time. You’re younger, it’s very different, and it’s up to you to reinvent it and use any form you want… The one thing that keeps you human is your story, and it has to be from a personal vision. It has to come from a personal truth that is different from making a product.”

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(Source: afi.com)

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Nostradamus Report – The Future of Film

Posted by Larry Gleeson

If you could see what the film industry has in store for the next 3-5 years, would you dare…

2017 Nostradamus Report

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Despite increased competition for audience attention in general and cinema screens in particular, the number of feature films produced in Europe and the US continues to grow. It is not expected to shrink significantly in the next 3-5 years. Among the reasons are new tax incentives and increasing investment from new platform media companies, but also the impact of real democratization of production technologies and to some degree of funding.

A Swell of Films

While this swell of cinema in theory allows a wider range of voices to be heard, in practice it makes it very difficult even for excellent work – of which there is arguably a lot – to find an audience, as there is no equivalent surge of innovation in distribution and audience relations. It also means that bad or irrelevant work has almost no chance to be seen. While it seems clear that public funds should be redirected from the latter categories either towards more deserving feature projects, or towards the production of excellent film content in other formats or for other platforms, this is currently not politically possible. A change like that might also exacerbate the already difficult career paths especially of directors in a marketplace where films by unknowns are very difficult to fund or sell.

3dtechnologyOn the next 3-5 years, all exhibitors will need to focus on the customer experience to stay competitive, but this can look very different depending on their type. On the one hand, we are seeing the emergence of a technologically oriented cinema optimized for experiencing blockbuster fare. On the other hand, we are seeing a focus on human interactions and live performance – so called “live cinema” – as a rapidly developing segment of the exhibition sector, helping audiences both new and old to build relationships with institutions and curators. These ostensibly very different styles of exhibition have in common that they are immersive, allowing the viewers to place themselves socially or physically inside the story, or to engage with its themes together. The social aspect is also at the heart of the growing market for film festivals aimed at general audiences.

Specializing The Screening Experience

Another approach to eventizing movies is just to make the cinemas a lot nicer, with better chairs, better concessions, food and alcohol, increasing cinema’s appeal to, for instance, grownups on dates. This strategy is working well both in mainstream and arthouse environments. At the extreme end are the dedicated luxury cinemas, offering experiences like butler service, Tempur mattresses, or massages.

While the future looks bright for movie theatres big and small, the sheer number of feature premieres means a theatrical window is not feasible even for all quality films – not even on the festival circuit. There is certainly room in the VOD marketplace for both strong curation and dedicated film libraries, but among the pieces missing from the distribution puzzle are still business models for social or distributed digital premieres.

A complete digital transformation of the small screen landscape seems inevitable and will probably happen relatively fast since audiences neither understand nor much care about business models or back-end technologies. As we discussed last year, the end result will probably look something like TV has for the past few decades, with consumers paying one or a few separate bills to services aggregating OTT content. Viewers are, however, likely to be allowed to pick their packaged channels more selectively than before.

The Uncovered Financial Stream

The revenue streams will of course be radically different from the current models. Mergers and acquisitions are likely to continue as the biggest players scramble to establish dominance throughout the value chain. In the US, studios and networks are eyeing a future after affiliate fees and syndication fees, and considering whether owning the viewer relationship directly could provide a similar amount of revenue. Similarly, it seems feasible that a major technology company could purchase a major studio. If antitrust regulation is relaxed under the Trump administration, as net neutrality rules almost certainly will be, the media landscape is regardless likely to consolidate dramatically during the next four years. Changes in the US entertainment industry have global ripple effects. It is also likely that the cultural importance of US content specifically will diminish in the long term, a tendency that could be accelerated by isolationist policies.

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VR on the Verge

In the next 3-5 years, the fundamental grammar of VR storytelling will finally be developed, and the real leaps will happen once the production tools are more widely available. Some standardisation will help focus a splintered marketplace. Investment in “VR cinemas” today should be viewed as tests – exhibitors preparing for a coming generation of the technology that may not be easily available in homes. In the short run we are also likely to see a brief exclusive “theatrical” window for VR.

Download the full report here at your own risk: nostradamus2017

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(Source: nostradamusproject.org)

 

 

 

 

‘Singin’ in the Rain’ was first stop in Debbie Reynolds’ unsinkable career

Posted by Larry GleesonBy Sharon Eberson / Pittsburgh Post-GazetteUnfolding memories of all that Debbie Reynolds brought to the stage, screen and celebrity fascination of our lives would read like a chronicle of Hollywood history, starting in 1952. That’s when a 19-year-old went toe-to-toe with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in “Singin’ in the Rain,” the American Film Institute’s No. 1 movie musical of all time.Ms. Reynolds died Wednesday at 84, just one day after the death of her daughter, actress, writer and mental health activist Carrie Fisher.

In recent years, Ms. Reynolds appeared on screen mostly as matriarchs, with Albert Brooks in the title role of the 1996 film “Mother” and as Debra Messing’s mom in the sitcom “Will & Grace.” She also provided the voice of the nurturing spider in “Charlotte’s Web,” Nana Possible in the animated TV series “Kim Possible” and Lulu Pickles for “Rugrats.”

The 1973 Broadway musical “Irene” earned her a leading actress Tony nomination and her lone Academy Award nomination was for her favorite role — “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Earlier this year, Ms. Reynolds was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars ceremony.

Ms. Reynolds gave us many more memories in seven decades as a public figure, but if she had done nothing else in her career, she would still be remembered simply for being in “Singin’ in the Rain,” Mark Olsen wrote in his Los Angeles Times appreciation.

The actress had four credited movie roles when she was cast opposite Mr. Kelly, a Pittsburgh native, and Mr. O’Connor.

“She noted at the British Film Institute in 2011: ‘I wasn’t sexy, I wasn’t beautiful, I wasn’t cute and I couldn’t dance. Why would they take me?’

“One only has to see her pop out of a cake to dance and sing to ‘All I Do Is Dream of You’ to answer the question. Her exuberance, the sheer attack with which she approached the part, made her undeniable,” Mr. Olsen writes.

“You know, I was so dumb,” she said to the American Film Institute in 2012, “that I didn’t feel you could fail.”

Mr. Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, on Thursday told BBC Radio that Ms. Reynolds, Mr. Kelly and Mr. O’Connor “are like comets that flash through the air once in a lifetime. And we are ever so grateful.”

On Facebook, Mrs. Kelly debunked what she called “a tall tale” about Ms. Reynolds as a young dancer. She quoted NPR’s Neda Ulaby as saying Ms. Reynolds “had studied gymnastics, but for the movie, she practiced tap dancing for up to 14 hours at a time.”

Mrs. Kelly said production records are very clear on the subject. For example, “on April 25, 1951, the report indicates that Gene arrived on set at 10 a.m., had one meal and departed at 5:15 p.m. ‘Debbie Reynolds same.’” She also notes, as Ms. Reynolds has said, that her rehearsal time was three months, “which says a lot about Debbie and the remarkable assistants who taught her to dance.”

There has been much speculation about the cause of the seemingly unsinkable Ms. Reynolds’ death. The entertainer suffered two strokes in 2015 but seemed to make a full recovery.

No cause of death has been disclosed for mother or daughter, but some are blaming Ms. Reynolds’ passing on broken heart syndrome, known medically as stress-induced cardiomyopathy. In the scant space between her daughter’s death and her own, Ms. Reynolds told her son, Todd Fisher, ‘I want to be with Carrie,’” according to the Associated Press.

“A ‘broken heart’ really is an event where the heart ceases to function normally and is prone to heart rhythm abnormalities,” Dr. Mark Creager, past president of the American Heart Association, told the AP. “That term is used to explain a very real phenomenon that does occur in patients who have been exposed to sudden emotional stress or extremely devastating circumstances.”

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The documentary “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds” will premiere at 8 p.m. Jan. 7 on HBO. The film chronicling the sometimes rocky mother-daughter relationship was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May and was originally set to air on HBO in March.

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The Hollywood Reporter called it “a tender tribute to two iconic women whose Hollywood history spans from ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ through ‘Star Wars’ and whose intimate connection is no less singular.”

In the meantime, viewings of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “Singin’ in the Rain” would seem to be in order.

(Source:post-gazette.com)

Korean cinema of 2016: Women, politics, horror

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com)

Women, female relationships and political intrigue were the hallmarks of Korean cinema this year.

A number of films that delved into the world of the occult, driven by unfathomable forces of evil, also stood out in a year that saw the return of some of Korea’s most renowned directors, including Park Chan-wook and Na Hong-jin, who each added significant pieces to their idiosyncratic oeuvre.

Spotlight on women

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Arguably the most globally lauded Korean film of the year, Park Chan-wook’s “The Handmaiden” took on the subject of a lesbian thriller romance, featuring two female lovers against a world of demented male figures. Provocative scenes were portrayed against a fairy tale-like backdrop.

“Handmaiden” has nabbed various international accolades since its screening at the Cannes International Film Festival in May. Vogue.com named it among the “10 Most Fashionable Movies of 2016” for its lavish mise-en-scene, while the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards gave it a best production design award.

The New York Times listed Kim Tae-ri, who stars as Japanese lady Hideko’s earthy, unabashed handmaiden Sook-hee, in a September article titled “Four Actresses Everyone will be Talking About this Fall.”

Female romance also featured in Lee Hyun-ju’s indie film “Our Love Story,” a subtle, realistic tale of an encounter between an art student and a stranger.

Antagonistic relationships between women were explored in films like Kim Tae-yong’s “Misbehavior,” which draws on the jealousy and pride between two female teachers fighting for the affections of a male student. Both Kim Ha-neul and Yoo In-young are excellently cast in their roles: One is reticent and downtrodden, while the other is vivacious, young and self-absorbed.

Director Lee Eon-hee’s “Missing,” meanwhile, saw the unlikely reconciliation between two women — a mother and the nanny who kidnapped her daughter, played by Uhm Ji-won and Gong Hyo-jin.

In a mature tale of womanhood, “Bacchus Lady” explored the world of Korea’s elderly prostitutes and the universal solitude of growing old.

Veteran actress Youn Yuh-jung portrayed the feisty protagonist, who, at 65, turns tricks for a living. Directed by E J-yong, the film offers an emotional reflection on life and death as Korea advances into an aging society. It was screened at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.

Scandalous politics

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This year also saw a number of films portraying disasters and authorities’ damnable responses.

Director Park Jung-woo’s “Pandora,” set to be streamed globally on Netflix, depicted a nuclear power plant meltdown and the lack of an emergency response system, resulting in the preventable deaths of nuclear power plant workers and residents of surrounding areas.

Kim Seong-hun’s “Tunnel” saw actor Ha Jung-woo trapped inside a collapsed tunnel for weeks on end, with members of the rescue squad wringing their hands at the ineffectual orders from those higher-up in the government.

Kim Sung-su’s “Asura: The City of Madness” depicted a bloodstained web of criminals and politicians.

The latest political thriller “Master,” helmed by Jo Eui-seok, stars actor Lee Byung-hun as a con artist who amasses astronomical wealth and bribes government officials to exert power in state affairs. The flick which opened last week, rang an eerily familiar bell in Korea, which is currently embroiled in an influence-peddling political scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye.

Ride into the occult

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Two of this year’s most striking films were in the horror genre, ruminating on morality and human nature.

Yeon Sang-ho’s apocalyptic zombie thriller “Train to Busan” showed everyday characters — from students to office workers — fighting for their lives while trapped on a torpedoing train swarming with flesh-hungry zombies. It premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival’s Midnight Screenings section and has been picked up for a US remake by Gaumont, a French film studio.

Na Hong-jin’s occult thriller “The Wailing (Goksung),” which also screened at Cannes’ Out of Competition section, took viewers on a terrifying journey toward unreasoning evil. Fourteen-year-old actress Kim Hwan-hee delivered a chilling performance as a possessed child.

A period in time

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A number of period pieces also sought to reinterpret historical events from the Japanese occupation era.

Kim Jee-woon’s “The Age of Shadows” transformed the story of Korean independence fighters smuggling in bombs from Shanghai to Korea into a stylish noir.

In “The Last Princess,” director Hur Jin-ho focused on the early stages of the Japanese occupation of Korea through the eyes of Joseon princess Deok-hye, weaving the historical into a personal tale.

“The Portrait of a Poet” by Lee Joon-ik offered a moving portrait of poet Yun Dong-ju, in colonial Korea where the Korean language was banned.

(Source: www.koreaherald.com)

Top 3 Christmas Movies

With Christmas Day upon us, I wanted to revisit my three all-time favorite Yuletide films.

It’s A Wonderful Life – From Paramount Studios, American Frank Capra’s Christmas fantasy/drama based on Philip Van Doren’s short story, “The Greatest Gift,” tops the list.

A Christmas Story – Nipping at Capra’s heels’ masterpiece is Bob Clark’s comedy based on Jean-Shepherd’s anecdotes.

Home Alone – American classic comedy from  John Hughes and Cris Columbus tells the story of a small Chicago boy who is left behind while his family flies to Paris for the holidays.

Merry Christmas!

FILM REVIEW: Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941): USA

Viewed by Larry Gleeson as part of the American Film Institute’s (AFI) AFIFEST 2016 presented by Audi. Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Welles, was first on AFI’s first 100 Greatest American Movies Movies of All Time in 1998. Ten years later, a 10th Anniversary Edition of AFI’s 100 Greatest American Movies found Citizen Kane still perched in the top spot.

Loosely based on newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst, Citizen Kane was the first feature film by Welles. Hearst forbad any mention of the film in his newspapers upon the film’s release.

After signing his contract, Welles had been green-lighted for his film with a directorial final cut by RKO Pictures after his string of successes on Broadway with his Mercury Theater, including the thrilling radio broadcast of ‘The War Of The Worlds.’ Welles also brought several of his Mercury Theater actors on board for the project, several of whom would go on to have substantial Hollywood film careers including Joseph Cotton, Agnes Moorehead, Everett Sloane and Ruth Warrick.

Welles shared writing credits for Citizen Kane with Herman Mankiewicz and the two won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1942. The film received a total of nine Oscar nominations in 1942 including Best Picture, Best Director (Welles), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Welles), Best Cinematography (Gregg Toland), Best Sound, Recording (John Aalberg), Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture (Bernard Herrmann), Best Film Editing (Robert Wise), and Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White (Perry Ferguson, Van Ness Polglase, A. Roland Fields, Darrell Silvera).

The film opens in what appears to be a surreal reflection with a Bengali Tiger and ominous non-diagetic music with snow falling inside a crystal with an utterance of “Rosebud.” A strong, deep-toned, narrative voice-over begins informing the viewer with wartime newsreel clips from “News on The March,” mentioning among others Khubla Khan. After a series of quick edits, a low-angle shot of a large, stone-built castle the narrator refers to as “Xanadu, a pleasure dome,” is held for a moment.

Without missing much of a beat the narration continues with quick frames of paintings, pictures and statues that have been “looted” from the finest European museums. Not stopping, the narration intensifies as the narrator projects powerfully about animals of the land, foul of the air – two of each – in creation of the world’s largest private zoo since Noah and the largest monument a man has built to himself since the pyramids using 100,000 tons of concrete and 200,00 tons of marble in its construction culminating in a crescendo as the narrator introduces by name only the film’s protagonist, Charles Foster Kane, the great yellow journalist and heir of the Colorado Lode. News stories and the biography of the his life and death are flashed on screen as the story begins with a smoke-filled room of newsmen trying to determine the significance of the last word the newspaper tycoon uttered, ‘rosebud.’

Told primarily through flashbacks as the mystery of rosebud is explored, Citizen Kane contains a highly structured narrative coupled with revolutionary deep focus cinematography, mostly unseen before in mainstream cinema. Cinematographer Gregg Toland provided the deep focus effect with his specially treated lenses and light-sensitive film stock. The deep focus cinematography allowed the entire scene being shot to have primary focus and thus allowing the subjects to have equal importance visually. In addition, Welles and Toland removed floorboards in another groundbreaking scene to create ultra low-angle shots of the newspaper men following Kane’s unsuccessful pursuit of the American Presidency. The effect visually is stunning as rather ordinary, though influential, men are now seen as overly large, powerful titans squaring off.

In its essence, Citizen Kane, is the tragic tale of a man who has high ideals to be the people’s voice, the voice of the common everyday man. Slowly, however, the benevolence of the man becomes consumed with a passionate pursuit for power.

Tellingly, Citizen Kane’s message is still pertinent today. After Kane is defeated at the ballot box by the ‘sleaze factor’ (a decidedly distasteful tactic that can skewer even the most accurate polling data) he uses his newspapers to declare “Fraud at the Polls” in large-type newsprint headlines. Historians often cite Welles’ depiction of Susan Alexander Kane (a character purportedly representative of Hurst’s long-time, close intimate, Marion Davies) as the basis for Hurst strong negative reaction to Citizen Kane. More recently, several news outlets cite President Obama’s infamous roasting of President-elect Donald Trump at a 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner as the catalyst for Trump’s headlong dive into the 2016 race for the White House. Interestingly, even before Election Day, Trump declared fraud on the election. Interesting indeed. Citizen Kane is a must-see film for any serious cinephile and is highly recommended for all filmgoers.

FILM REVIEW: Jackie (Larrain, 2016): USA

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson. Viewed during the 2016 American Film Institute’s (AFI) FILMFEST 2016 presented by Audi.

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-12-23-06-pmJackie is Chilean Director Pablo Larrain’s love letter about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the days following the assassination of her husband, John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK).  Drawing extensively from a series of private letters between the First Lady, played by Oscar Award-winning actress, Natalie Portman and her Catholic priest, played by John Hurt, Larrain attempts to address what it was like for Jackie as she tries to cope with an overwhelming grief, tend to the psychological needs of her children and to create a legacy for her husband’s short-lived administration.

Portman skillfully channels the spirit of Jackie Kennedy. Larrain chose to recreate archival film clips with Portman. Having seen the original clips of the First Lady showcasing her masterful interior decorating of the White House, I believed Larrain had inserted the originals into the film. Only when the camera pushed in to a medium full frame was I able to discern the subject. It was Natalie Portman!

Several other scenes provided an astonishingly likeness as well. Most notably are the veiled widow walking in the funeral procession and the interview that would result in a Life magazine feature. Veteran stage and and film actor Billy Crudup, portrays the journalist (a dramatization of the four-hour interview Jackie had with journalist Theodore H. White on November 29th, 1963 that evoked the Camelot myth). Noah Oppenheim wrote the script. Greta Gerwig, currently one of Hollywood’s most sought after actresses, warmly portrays Nancy Tuckerman, the Kennedy’s Social Secretary. Peter Sarsgaard embodies Bobby Kennedy, the late President’s brother, protector and consoler of the First Lady. Last, but certainly not least, is Danish actor Caspar Phillipson as a spot-on JFK lookalike.

Most people know the story of the Kennedy assassination and some are familiar with the Kennedy Administration and the Camelot myth. What most people are not aware of is what a thirty-four year-old Jackie Kennedy experienced in the moments and days after the fateful day in Dallas and her need to secure her husband’s historical legacy. After watching Jackie, and seeing Mrs. Kennedy retrieve the portion of the President’s brain matter from the trunk of the convertible and place it back inside the gaping hole on the left side of his skull, I realized magnitude and scope of her love.

I believe this is what Larrain had in mind as he created Jackie. Intensely private, the world knew very little of Jackie Kennedy’s private life despite her immense popularity as a public figure. Photographed as much as almost any woman in the 20th century, Jackie emanated style and sophistication and evoked desire becoming known simply by her first name.

Larrain poses questions of how she must have felt in those days following the assassination. She became a queen without a crown. Her throne and her husband had been taken from her. Showing undaunted courage and concern for her husband’s legacy, she fought despite the challenges and obstacles placed in her way. Admittedly, most will probably never know exactly what was going through her mind and what feelings she was experiencing in their entirety during these days. Nevertheless, Larrain weaves together an extraordinary narrative that attempts to piece together a brief moment in time that became the genesis of Camelot and the Kennedy Administration. Highly recommended.

Anna Biller’s ‘The Love Witch’ Screens Tonight

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Come see the Love Witch and a Q & A  with Director Anna Biller at the Los Angeles Nuart Theater!

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THE LOVE WITCH

Actress Samantha Robinson
Plus Principal Cast Members
Fri Nov 11, 7:00pm show w/Q&A*
Sat Nov 12, 7:00pm show w/Q&A
Sun Nov 13, 4:00pm show w/Q&A
*With Filmmaker Anna Biller

Viewed by Larry Gleeson.

The Love Witch is the second feature film from Anna Biller and it recently received distribution from Oscilloscope Laboratories. Biller’s first feature was Viva(2007), a dramedy about two Los Angeles suburbanites who experiment with drugs, sex and bohemia in the 1970’s. Both films are shot in 35mm. Biller wrote, directed and produced The Love Witch and also made many of the props and paintings and is credited with Costuming and Production Design. Biller also devoted time and efforts to the film’s musical score and composition and has quickly become known for using classic and outdated film genres to communicate the feminine role within contemporary culture. Interestingly, with The Love Witch Biller creates a visual style that pays tribute to the Technicolor thrillers of the 1960’s while exploring aspects of female fantasy along with the repercussions of pathological narcissism.

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In the film’s opening, blood-red, gothic text provides introductory credits. Soon we see the film’s protagonist Elaine, a stunningly, good-looking young witch, played by the svelte Samantha Robinson, driving in a mint-condition, red mustang convertible from the mid-to-late 1960’s. An inner voice-over narration informs the viewer Elaine is leaving the city (San Francisco) driving into the redwoods where no one will know her. A flashback to the scene of her former husband Jerry’s death and more voice-over indicate Elaine suffered a nervous breakdown after he “left her” and she’s under suspicion.

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As Elaine is driving the Mustang convertible in the first scene Biller appears to pay homage to Hitchcock’s Psycho  with some nice camera work from cinematographer M. David Mullen with a police cruiser appearing in the rear view mirror coupled with a closeup of an eyeball. Other closeups are provided in this sequence of a Tarot deck and a heart card with swords through it as well as an opened pack of cigarettes. It becomes quite clear Elaine is hell-bent on having a man to love her.

Without much adieu, Elaine moves into a small-town (presumably in or near Eureka, California) and holes up in a three-story, royal purple Victorian home. Her friend Barbara, another witch, played by Jennifer Ingrum, has made available an apartment space within. The apartment décor seemed rather peculiar to the interior decorator, Trish, played by Laura Waddell, who welcomed Elaine and showed her the place. Trish commented she had decorated the apartment with the peculiar color scheme from a soft tarot deck while Barbara and “her students” provided the occult paintings and other similarly styled wiccan décor adornments.

The costuming and visual colors are alluring and highly feminine complete with a golden-haired harpist maiden and large pastel-colored hats in a Victorian Tea Room for ‘Ladies Only.’ Here Elaine reveals she has fairy princess fantasies and that all women are just little girls underneath with dreams of a prince carrying them off on a white horse. Trish agrees she has those fantasies too – commenting about how ridiculous it all is. After a slight pause Elaine confides she doesn’t think she’s found her Prince Charming yet. However, she believes she’s discovered the formula as she’s been studying parapsychology and now knows everything there is to know about men.

Her “formula” are spells and potions she conjures up in her apartment. She then proceeds to pick up her unsuspecting male victims, seduce them and leaves them forlorn and hapless. Finally, she at last meets her Prince Charming. However, her overriding and desperate need to be loved drives her to the edge of insanity and to murder.

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The Love Witch is a beautifully lush film with its lavish, fetish costuming and meticulous set designs. It also has a 1960’s look and feel despite its contemporary setting and it makes extensive use of high-key lighting as it delves into female culturally defined roles with entrancing scene work. These filmmaking techniques and production design attributes allow Biller to encode feminist ideas within the frames of cinematic aesthetics and visual pleasure. And even though Biller was making a film for women, I can tell you after seeing this film, it’s a film made for men, too, with what could arguably have the longest running female tampon joke. The Love Witch is wholeheartedly recommended and dare I say…. “a film to die for.” It’s intriguing and, in my opinion, it’s fun!

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Again, the film will be screening in Los Angeles at the Landmark Nuart on November 11th and in New York on November 18th, with additional screenings in select theaters across the country. Hope to see you there!

(Press materials provided courtesy of Marina Bailey PR)

SBIFF The Showcase – Tampopo

NEW RESTORATION OF THE 1985 JAPANESE COMEDY MASTERPIECE!

Screening:
Sunday November 6 @ 2:00pm
Monday November 7 @ 7:30pm
Tuesday November 8 @ 5:00pm
Wednesday November 9 @ 7:30pm
at the Riviera Theatre
2044 Alameda Padre Serra

Juzo Itami’s rapturous “ramen western” returns to U.S. screens for the first time in decades, in a new 4K restoration. The tale of an enigmatic band of ramen ronin who guide the widow of a noodle shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe, Tampopo serves up a savory broth of culinary adventure seasoned with offbeat comedy sketches and the erotic exploits of a gastronome gangster. Sweet, sexy, surreal, and mouthwatering, Tampopo remains one of the most delectable examples of food on film.

TAMPOPO
Written & Directed by Jûzô Itami
Starring Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Koji Yakusho, Ken Watanabe, Rikiya Yasuoka
Country of Origin: Japan
Running Time: 115 min
Subtitled

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Tampopo is right up there with Ratatouille and Big Night when it comes to peerless movies about food.”
Joe Morgenstern – Wall Street Journal

“It’s a funny story beautifully told.”
Gene Siskel – Chicago Tribune

“Charming and touching, with lots of sumptuous meals to inspire you to get cooking.”
David Parkinson – Empire

“The movie, which Itami calls a ‘Noodle Western,’ is a rambunctious mixture of the bawdy and the sublime.”
Hal Hinson – Washington Post

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(Source: sbiff.org/tampopo/)

FILM CAPSULE: Circus Kids (Alexandra Lipsitz, 2010): Israel | USA

By Larry Gleeson

Viewed at the Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood, Calif., AFI film festival 2010.

bxry2prcA new documentary, Circus Kids, directed by Alexandra Lipsitz, made its second stop on the festival route in Los Angeles, CA during the AFIfest. Last month Lipsitz debuted Circus Kids at the Chicago International Film Festival. The film follows a group of young circus performers, known as the St. Louis Arches, aged 7-17 from St. Louis, Missouri as they are invited to travel to Israel and to perform with a Israeli/Palestinian kids circus troupe known as the Galilee Children’s Circus.

For most of the Arches, many of whom are from broken homes, it is the first time traveling abroad. Israel is at war. One of the Arches does not receive parental permission to make the trip. Jessica Hentoff, a lifelong circus performer, organized the trip and tells the camera she views the role of the Arches as “peace ambassadors.” Hentoff sees the circus arts as a vehicle to encourage social change here and abroad.

The Galilee Circus is comprised of both Israeli and Palestinian children. The mission of the Galilee Circus is to foster collaboration among the warring cultures and to focus on their cultural similarities and to work toward creating positive solutions.

Jose Guzman edits the film and uses graphic aids in telling this children’s story. His visuals include cartoonish animations depicting airplanes, similar to Man on Wire depictions, flying to and from Tel Aviv, and a bus as it traverses the Israeli countryside. The children exchange circus tricks and performances. The Arches are astounding acrobats but don’t have the baton twirling gifts of the Galileans.

Lipsitz captures her own footage with her own camera. The viewer is treated to a display of teen angst, including a retelling of a performers first kiss, while watching two circus groups separated by a language barrier come together as one strong performing unit.

At the  end of the tour a tearful goodbye is captured as the Arches must return to St. Louis. They are wished well with promises that the Galileans will come to St. Louis for another successful performance collaboration.