Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cinema Gallery: 200 MORE Movie Images, Part 1 of 5

I am doing this only because (a) I enjoy it and (b) Movieman over at The Dancing Image let me know that I had a particular talent at this frame-grabbing business (he said that my previous 200 images in my Cinema Gallery were among his favorite movie blog posts ever, which is quite a compliment, coming from him). So, for 2010, I'm contributing 200 more entries towards my CINEMA GALLERY. I hope y'all find something fascinating about these images, and that they spur you on to watching the movies from which they hail. In the end, this is a deceptively simple post: you'll see only 40 frames here, but all are extremely indelible.

An innocent is fed in Au Hasard, Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 66)

The Color of Pomegranates. (Sergei Parajanov, 68)

Blue shadows on the trail in Three Amigos. (John Landis, 86)

A penguin's tears break into ice cubes in 8 Ball Bunny. (Chuck Jones, 50)

Kim Hunter, in all her backlit glory, reassuring David Niven in A Matter of Life and Death. (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 46)

A worthy woman's lowest point's hardly endured in The House of Mirth. (Terrence Davies, 2001)

"Satan?" The Iron Giant. (Brad Bird, 99)

A fan's disbelief's registered in A Hard Day's Night. (Richard Lester, 64)

The slap of righteousness in The Night of the Hunter. (Charles Laughton, 55)

A return to simpler times in The Deer Hunter. (Michael Cimino, 78)

The trapped witness the trapped in The Diary of Anne Frank. (George Stevens, 59)

Cozy couch play in Clueless. (Amy Heckerling, 95)

The marathon begins in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Sydney Pollack, 69)

Max's resume peaks in Rushmore. (Wes Anderson, 98)

Determining the depth of the Washington water in Being There. (Hal Ashby, 79)

"This Must Be The Place." Stop Making Sense. (Jonathan Demme and Talking Heads, 84)

A boy's nominally set for battle for Culloden. (Peter Watkins, 64)

Reaching for the meds in THX-1138. (George Lucas, 71)

The idyllic, yet somehow still scary opening shot to The Other. (Robert Mulligan, 72)

The Mercury '67 on the rise in Bullitt . (Peter Yates, 68)

The ultimate shot--the one that says it all--from Dazed and Confused. (Richard Linklater, 93)

Altered States: the beginning of a mind- and body-altering experience. (Ken Russell, 80)

In Barry Lyndon, a duel plays out. (Stanley Kubrick, 75).

Max Frost readies to address his young constituency in Wild In The Streets. (Barry Shear, 68)

Eggs broken, and situations assured, in Funny Games. (Michael Haneke, 97)

"You'll muck it up!" The Hill. (Sidney Lumet, 65).

Our hero faces our heroes in The Valley of Gwangi. (Jim O'Connelly, 69)

The play in the yard in Titicut Follies. (Frederick Wiseman, 67)

Fingers plink out a tune in Hausu. (Nobuhiko Ôbayashi, 77)

Fear of castration. After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 86)

Kristen's around the corner in Hardcore. (Paul Schrader, 79)

Many faces, one body, in Catfish. (Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, 2010)

Touching up the twenty in To Live and Die in L.A. (William Friedkin, 85)

The last glimpse of home, from a far-up airplane, in American Graffiti (George Lucas, 73)

A deserted autumn street from Halloween. (John Carpenter, 78)

Notes for a film being made as we watch it. The Sea That Thinks. (Gert de Graaff, 2000)

The heady colors of Punch Drunk Love. (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)

A Texas drive-in sees no customers at the beginning of Midnight Cowboy. (John Schlesinger, 69)

That shiny dead hand breaking the overloaded waters of the once-raging Cahulawachee in Deliverance. (John Boorman, 72)

Still faithful, but disappointed, underneath West Virginia's Matewan. (John Sayles, 87)

Still to come: 40 more entries into 2010's Cinema Gallery pantheon.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Three movies on the ball field, in one minute flat

I've been wanting to post these athletic film pieces for months now, and now that I have very little time to compose a preferably detailed new post on filmicability, it seems like a perfect opportunity to do so. Will Tribble has a blog here and these three movies I include here are among his many film outputs (which I have yet to delve into, in all honesty, even though he recommends on his You Tube channel that we all watch "every single one"). The two of his pieces that first caught my eye almost two years ago were his excellent one-minute adaptations of both Robert Zemeckis' 1994 Oscar winner Forrest Gump and his energetic condensation of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill double feature. Then, just now, I discovered Tribble's detailed take on Danny Boyle's zombie extravaganza 28 Days Later. I love the Keystone Kops quality to these three pieces because they combine something I adore--movies--with something I generally despise--sports. These are pristine video mash-ups of these two forms of entertainment: one comes from the brain, the other from the body (the undoctored playing fields Tribble's movies play out upon cement the examined films to the sports arena). The camerawork in all three pieces is outstanding and robust--the open skies and green fields make a particularly deep, horizontal impression. And the sound--an amalgamation of pertinent music cues and terrific foley and voice-over--is a feat unto itself. But Tribble's deceptively little works are obviously a product of meticulous direction, design, choreography, film study, and acting. I particularly like they underline that, in all movies, we're seeing characters get from points A to Z. I'll be looking at more of Will's work, for sure.


BONUS: THE GODFATHER, in one minute flat, from Japan;

Monday, January 10, 2011

2010 Directors Guild Awards -- Predictions and nominees

I think I'll do this just like I'm doin' right now: hours before the announcement's made, I'll release my predictions. And then, afterwards, I'll dip in and include the eventual selections. Yep. This is what I'm doing for my predictions for 2010's Director's Guild Awards, to be announced later on today. These are, of course, the progenitors to the Oscar nominations. 'nuff said. My predictions for today's nominations are:

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David O. Russell, The Fighter

And the real nominees--just announced--are...

Black Swan
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Mr. Aronofsky’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Manager: Jennifer Roth
· First Assistant Director: Joseph Reidy
· Second Assistant Director: Amy Lauritsen
· Second Second Assistant Director: Travis Rehwaldt
· Location Manager: Ronnie Kupferwasser
This is Mr. Aronofsky’s first DGA Feature Film Award Nomination.

The Social Network
(Columbia Pictures)
Mr. Fincher’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Manager: JoAnn Perritano
· First Assistant Director: Bob Wagner
· Second Assistant Director: Allen Kupetsky
· Second Second Assistant Director: Maileen Williams
This is Mr. Fincher’s second DGA Feature Film Award nomination. He was previously nominated for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008. He previously won the DGA Commercial Award for Speed Chain (Nike), Gamebreakers (Nikegridiron.com), and Beauty for Sale (Xelibri Phones) in 2003 and was nominated in that category again in 2008.

The King’s Speech
(The Weinstein Co.)
Mr. Hooper’s Directorial Team:
· Production Manager: Erica Bensly
· First Assistant Director: Martin Harrison
· Second Assistant Director: Chris Stoaling
This is Mr. Hooper’s first DGA Feature Film Award Nomination. He was previously nominated for the DGA Award for Movies for Television/Miniseries for John Adams in 2008.

(Warner Bros. Pictures)
Mr. Nolan’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Manager: Jan Foster
· First Assistant Director: Nilo Otero
· Second Assistant Director: Brandon Lambdin
· Second Second Assistant Director: Greg Pawlik
· Additional Second Assistant Director: Lauren Pasternack
This is Mr. Nolan’s third DGA Feature Film Award nomination. He was previously nominated for The Dark Knight in 2008 and for Memento in 2001.

The Fighter
(Paramount Pictures and The Weinstein Co.)
Mr. Russell’s Directorial Team:
· Unit Production Manager: Mark Kamine
· First Assistant Director: Michele Ziegler
· Second Assistant Director: Xanthus Valan
· Second Second Assistant Director: Timothy Blockburger
This is Mr. Russell’s first DGA Feature Film Award nomination.

AWRIGHT! Five for five.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Films #139 and #140: Catalog (1961) AND per-mu-ta-tion (1966)

Animator John Whitney Sr., one of the fathers of modern computer animation, built a one-of-a-kind animation contraption in the late 50s after messing around with parts from a World War II anti-aircraft plane's gun director. After a bit of tweaking, the machine stood at twelve feet and could produce dazzling images, if operated correctly. According to Wikipedia, "Design templates were placed on three different layers of rotating tables and photographed by multiple-axis rotating cameras. Color was added during optical printing." So this film Catalog is merely that: a stunning demo reel designed to test the limits of this massive device (and imagine the additional effort put into optically coloring the original black-and-white footage!!).

John Whitney Jr., now also a filmmaker (along with his two brothers), offers here a technical explanation of how his father's machine worked:

I don't know how many simultaneous motions can be happening at once. There must be at least five ways just to operate the shutter. The input shaft on the camera rotates at 180 rpm, which results in a photographing speed of 8 fps. [normal speed is 24 frames per second--JDT] That cycle time is constant, not variable, but we never shoot that fast. It takes about nine seconds to make one revolution. During this nine-second cycle the tables are spinning on their own axes while simultaneously revolving around another axis while moving horizontally across the range of the camera, which may itself be turning or zooming up and down. During this operation we can have the shutter open all the time, or just at the end for a second or two, or at the beginning, or for half of the time if we want to do slit-scanning.

Slit-scan is the special effect used by Douglas Trumbull to arrive at the famed Stargate sequence at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Trumbull and Kubrick both were inspired greatly by the effects Whitney came up with in Catalog. In fact, as you watch the piece, you'll be aware of yourself falling into the same sort of abstracting trance the Stargate sequence produces for Kubrick. Like many of Whitney's subsequent works (which you can locate on You Tube if you search for this film), it's a magical, meditative movie, backed by Gyorgy Ligeti-like music (which furthers the 2001 connection), and produces purely color-, musical- and geometry-based emotions (the film is an early version of John Whitney Sr.'s 1966 film per-mu-ta-tion). Both movies are landmarks not only of animated and experimental cinema, but also of television (where would 70s TV graphics be without it?), abstract art, and the merging of technology and human expression. Whitney was a genius of bold feelings and of knowing how things work. Check it out. PS: Trivia note: Whitney also produced the spiragraph-like drawings adorning Saul Bass's credits sequence for Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo).

REMEMBER, VIEWERS: this is 1961 and 1966 here. My recommendation: start both movies at the same time and watch them both on one screen. The violin score on Catalog and the percussion score on per-mu-ta-tion work together absolutely perfectly--enough to make me think that both movies were designed to be seen simultaneously. I will never, now, see either without the other.

and in 1966, now start...: per-mu-ta-tion

NOTE, ONCE AGAIN: For a REALLY unique viewing experience, run both films concurrently, on top of each other. That's my steadfast recommendation. The neat thing is: it makes every viewing experience different, because (now, at least) we have control over which movie stops and starts and when each movie does so. This could potentially make for an infinite number of versions for simultaneous viewings of Catalog and per-mu-ta-tion.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More answers for the Good Professor

I'm a little late on the uptake, but PROFESSOR HUBERT FARNSWORTH'S ONLY SLIGHTLY FUTURISTIC HOLIDAY MOVIE QUIZ went up over at Dennis Cozzulio's Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule on December 23rd. filmicability participated in this sort of stunt back at the beginning of fall in September 2010, and is excited to throw in again (and is even more excited to hear it's a turn-of-the-season tradition). The professor's questions are alternately expected, surprising and occasionally inscrutable, but always fun. I decided to become more terse with my answers, as you'll see. Here we go:

1) Best Movie of 2010

2) Second-favorite Roman Polanski Movie

3) Jason Statham or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Jason Statham

4) Favorite movie that could be classified as a genre hybridThe Wicker Man (1973) (horror/mystery/musical)

5) How important is foreknowledge of a film’s production history? Should it factor into one’s reaction to a film?
Production histories can be interesting if we're talking about older titles. Interest in them should never overtake the movie itself, though; it's the movie that's the important thing, right? Following a film from production to completion via the press is a dicey, pricey proposition. Sometimes troubled production histories stand in the way of enjoying a really great movie (like Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate). Sometimes, production histories make us think a so-so movie is cleverer than it is, simply because it was financed and made in a chancy way (say, Kevin Smith's Clerks). On and on it goes. Astounding, actually, are the myriad of ways your moviegoing could be fudged up by too much foreknowledge of all aspects of any film. So, day to day, I try to stay away from stories about a film's production, again, unless it's an older title.

6) William Powell & Myrna Loy or Cary Grant & Irene Dunne
Cary Grant and Irene Dunne were sexier, if not as witty.

7) Best Actor of 2010

I wish I could say it was Edgar Ramirez in Carlos. But it was Ben Stiller in Greenberg.

8) Most important lesson learned from the past decade of watching movies

CGI looks just as fakey as the worst stop-motion out there.

9) Last movie seen (DVD/Blu-ray/theater)
On DVD, it was Clint Eastwood's Blood Work. On VHS, it was Marvin and Tige with John Cassavetes. On computer, it was The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash. And in the theater it was The Fighter.

10) Most appropriate punishment for director Tom Six
Without recognizing his name at first (he's the guy that's responsible for The Human Centipede series): complete moviegoing indifference.

11) Best under-the-radar movie almost no one else has had the chance to see
Tuesday, After Christmas from Romania, about the dissolution of a marriage. Brave and straightforward drama, with no outlandishness whatsoever.

12) Sheree North or Angie Dickinson
Angie Dickinson! I ain't crazy, yo!

13) Favorite nakedly autobiographical movie
All That Jazz

14) Movie which best evokes a specific real-life place
A late 1970s southern high school in Dazed and Confused

15) Best Director of 2010
Apitchapong Weerasethakul for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

16) Second-favorite Farrelly Brothers Movie


17) Favorite holiday movie
A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's A Wonderful Life

18) Best Actress of 2010
Greta Gerwig in Greenberg

19) Joe Don Baker or Bo Svenson
Joe Don Baker

20) Of those notable figures in the world of the movies who died in 2010, name the one you’ll miss the most
Overall, I'll miss Harvey Pekar the most. But his dip into movies was a slight one. Jill Clayburgh, Dennis Hopper, Sally Menke, Arthur Penn, and Dino De Laurentiis would top my list, really. And Maury Chaykin...does anybody out there know who Maury Chaykin was? Only the best character actor to come out of Canada in the last 30 years.

21) Think of a movie with a notable musical score and describe what it might feel like without that accompaniment.
Lawrence of Arabia without Jarre's music would be like thirstily visiting a well devoid of water.

22) Best Screenplay of 2010
Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network

23) Movie You Feel Most Evangelistic About Right Now
Greenberg, of course! Can't you tell?

24) Worst/funniest movie accent ever
Worst accent might be Matthew Broderick's on/off again British accent in Richard Donner's Ladyhawke. What makes that worse than, say, Kevin Costner's multitude of bad tongues in things like JFK, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Thirteen Days is that we expect MORE of Broderick, even at that young age. He had, after all, come from an acting family and a smart start on Broadway. I notice Broderick has never tried to do accents since. Funniest movie accent is John Cleese's "outrageous French accent" in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (he also, as the sorcerer near the end, does a funny Scottish one in it, too).

25) Best Cinematography of 2010

Best that I saw: Mikhail Krichman's work in the Russian film Silent Souls. Best that you might have seen: Adam Kimmel's lensing of Never Let Me Go.

26) Olivia Wilde or Gemma ArtertonGemma Arterton, though this is only based on looks alone.

27) Name the three best movies you saw for the first time in 2010 A Matter of Life and Death, Los Angeles Plays Itself, and Edvard Munch

28) Best romantic movie couple of 2010J.R. Ackerly and Tulip in My Dog Tulip. Two humans? Okay...well, I could go with Stiller and Gerwig in Greenberg again, and I have good reason to. But instead I think I'll cite Ellen Burstyn and Martin Landau in Lovely, Still.

29) Favorite shock/surprise endingThe last 10 seconds of Takeshi Miike's Dead or Alive.

30) Best cinematic reason to have stayed home and read a book in 2011Scott Pilgrim excepted, all movies with superheroes in them.

31) Movies in 2011 could make me much happier if they’d only......keep paying attention to examining the lives of real, everyday people.