Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Major studios like the indie feel


Late this season we have seen more films distributed by major studios (not their boutique subsidiaries) but marketed to the young adult public in platform fashion as if they were art films (often with very large budgets). AMC Theaters will still call this "AMC Select". Let's hope that this bodes well for a trend for major studios to book more original projects with real substance.

Examples: Columbia: Marie Antoinette, Stranger than Fiction
TriStar: Running with Scissors
MGM: Bobby
Paramount: Babel
Dreamworks: The Last Kiss, Flags of our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima
Dreamgirls
Warner Brothers: The Fountain, The Good German
New Line Cinema: Little Children, The Nativity Story
Universal: Children of Men
20th Century Fox: Borat

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Revolution OS: Documentary film visits Open Source


Revolution OS, directed by J. T. S. Moore, distributed bt Seventh Art, produced by Wonderview Productions, was available in 2001 but I don't recall the theatrical run. This is an example of making a film about an intellectual concept, which, here, is the Open Source model of competing, credited to Linus Torvalds, the brainparent of the Linux Operating System. The film also discusses how Microsoft developed the idea of proprietary software.

As a documentary, the film is unique in that it is shot in full 2.3 to 1 anamophic, unusual for documentaries of this type where much of the film is showing interviewers and technology.

The open source model comports with the idea of "open content," most of all exemplified by Wikipedia.

Subject matter of this nature has always been viewed as hard to film. But Al Gore pulled off a "college lecture" in his An Inconvenient Truth

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Movie Wish List


While more films still get made (I saw the film of 23-year-old Christopher Paolini's fantasy novel "Eragon" last night -- the next one will be "Eldest") that seem to set new milestones, I still have my wishlist, and I wonder why we haven't seen some of these yet.

(1) Clive Barker's monumental novel Imajica (1991), in two parts "The Fifth Dominion" and "The Reconciliation". That would make two big films on the scale of the Lord of the Rings. But the social issues are much grittier. The Fifth Dominion is present day earth, and it is to be "joined" with the other four civilizations, with the first being "Heaven". At the end, Man beats God (Hapexamendios), which may be a problem. But with Barker's clout, it ought to get made. A good one for New Line Cinema.

(2) Clive Barker's Sacrament (1996), about a gay journalist, and, again, monumental.

(3) Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz, in three parts (like The Fountain), but probably three separate films as a franchise. (New Line, again.)

(4) Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, which is really apocalyptic. Mel Gibson should try this one, given the moral message of the ending. I like the idea of seeing NewMarket Films on this one.

(5) Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama. A good one for Aronofsky, maybe Warner Brothers and its Casablanca Theme.

(6) At least one full biography of a gays-in-the-military case. Joe Steffan's account of his harrowing experience at the Naval Academy in 1987 ("Honor Bound", 1992, Random House) would make the best film. It could rival "A Few Good Men". But I like it as an indie film (call it "AMC Select", maybe The Weinstein Company (with MGM -- The Cat).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Short Films of David Lynch


This is a video/DVD dating from 2002 with no commercial distributor, so it seems to be self-distributed to Netflix and others by the director himself.

David Lynch introduces each of The Short Films of David Lynch -- there are six of them -- by speaking into a mike in a simple black-and-white shot. Though the video dates to 2002, the films range in date from 1966 to about 1998 but tend to look primitive, somewhat in Andy Warhol vintage.

"Six Men Getting Sick" is a painting the self-animates with the stick figures doing projectile vomiting in abstract fashion, through six cycles.

"The Alphabet" is a similar animation with a woman reciting a grade school lesson, and bleeding out at the end.

"The Grandmother" (a "babushka") is the longest film (33 min.), seems to be about child abuse. A little boy rebels against his tormentor by planting a carnivorous plant on soil planted on his bed, and the grandmother enters the picture chasing his affections. The plant (Venus-fly-trap?) anticipates "Eraserhead."

"The Amputee" is very short and crude (1973) with a woman having two stumps attended to with a pedicure while she writes a nonchalant letter.

"The Cowboy and the Frenchman" (26 min), is a satire about cowboys meeting Parisian culture (the Frenchman is lassoed) but makes little narrative sense. It has effects that anticipate "Wild At Heart." Maybe, like in Oklahoma! the Cowboy and the Farmer should be friends.

"Lumiere" is only 55 seconds and simply a progression into apocalypse.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Leonardo Di Caprio on Oprah


It's good to see Leonardo Wilhelm Di Caprio as a grown man, just having turned 32. The main reason I watched Oprah Winfrey today was to see what progress he is making on his documentary on global warming. The film will be called 11th Hour, which he wrote with Nadia Conners, who in turn codirects the film with Leila Conners Petersen. The production company is Tree Media Group (sorry, not One Tree Hill). There is no commercial distributor listed on imdb yet.

The film will make an important complement to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"

Di Caprio offers two short films "Global Warming" and "Water Planet" on his "eco-site." Di Caprio was already involved with an earlier Discovery film "The Great Warming" (dir. Judith Hallet). See reviews here.

On the show, Oprah discussed his two other big movies this year: The Departed, in which he co-starred with Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Marky Mark Walhberg, and Blood Diamond, directed by Edward Zwick (Warner Brothers), in which Di Caprio plays a mercenary (Australian?) running diamonds in Sierra Leone in 1999, where diamond money funds oppression and civil war, which Sebastian Junger had reported live when it happened. There is controversy about "conflict diamonds" and retailers worry that the film could affect sales. NBC4 story is here. Di Caprio said on the show that consumers should be conscious of the possibility that luxury products that they buy could fund harmful activities ("tainted fruits").

The link for this show on Oprah is here.

A related story where Al Gore appears on Oprah Dec 5 is here.