Paul Thomas Anderson to Get Rowdy With Religion

  • Posted by
  • on December 2, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

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Earlier today I was remarking to a coworker that film audiences are currently spoiled to all hell. They can choose between a Coen Brothers, more about a Wes Anderson and a Spike Jonze. When I look up at that marquee I get a little light-headed, then I bow to my knees and pray.

The only name missing from my list of favorite active filmmakers is Paul Thomas Anderson. And just now I’ve hunted down a patch of internet that dutifully informed me of his follow up to There Will Be Blood. It’s set to star Phillip Seymour Hoffman and takes place in 1952. Hoffman plays a charismatic young man who starts a faith-based movement. The Young man goes by name “The Master” and he butts heads with Freddie, his young lieutenant, who starts to doubt the direction of the new movement.

CHA-CHING. CHA-CHING. CHA-CHING. CINEMATIC PAY DIRT.

I like this particular  combination of subject matter, time period and director. Hoffman and Anderson often collaborate and the result is often brilliant. It’s set to start shooting next year and I’m set to start anticipating it right now.

Rogue Film School: Demigod Werner Herzog Teaches Lucky Mortals to Dodge Bullets

  • Posted by
  • on September 24, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

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Werner Herzog is a hero of mine. I look up to him and his work regularly inspires me. With that in mind I could  accurately state that I don’t adore his movies in a conventional way. They aren’t the type that hold permanent residency in my DVD player.  I don’t watch his movies for the dialogue or his handling of the storytelling element of cinema. I watch because I don’t know what will happen.  I tend to feel the same sense of exhilaration as I watch each film. This is due to the genuine sense of uncertainty that flows through his frames. Of all filmmakers I admire, allergist I would put him next to David Lynch as the least likely for me to be able to guess how their movies are going to end.

The stories behind his films (and his life) are arguably more exciting than what ends up on screen. This isn’t meant to be disparaging of his work. It’s a high compliment. The spectacles he captures, visit this and the thought of how he was able to, population health are more memorable to me than the story lines. The raft overrun with monkeys in Aguirre: Wrath of God, the dancing chicken in Stroszek or the whole running time of Even Dwarfs Started Small. I feel like the arduous moving of the colossal boat over land in Fitzcarraldo had a more dramatic effect on Herzog’s life than it was supposed to have had on the lead character. His movies strive to do something. To express something that can only be expressed by the tenuous crafting of a succession of savage and beautiful images. His passion and lack of adherence to conventionality appears unrivaled.

His actors have threatened to kill him and he has threatened to kill his actors. He has dodged bullets and he’s been successfully shot by a sniper in the middle of a televised interview. He has two films on deck to be released this year and now he has just announced he is offering his own alternative form of film school. The Rogue Film School, a three-day seminar that will travel from city to city in the coming years, is his own personal brainchild and the text on the site feels like it was written by him personally.

Here’s where it gets good (from the site):

“The Rogue Film School will not teach anything technical related to film-making. For this purpose, please enroll at your local film school.”

“The Rogue Film School is about a way of life. It is about a climate, the excitement that makes film possible. It will be about poetry, films, music, images, literature.”

“Related, but more practical subjects, will be the art of lockpicking. Traveling on foot. The exhilaration of being shot at unsuccessfully. The athletic side of filmmaking. The creation of your own shooting permits. The neutralization of bureaucracy. Guerrilla tactics. Self reliance.”

“Censorship will be enforced. There will be no talk of shamans, of yoga classes, nutritional values, herbal teas, discovering your Boundaries, and Inner Growth.”

So, there it is. You read that correctly. He will teach us to pick-locks, forge documents, dodge bullets and he won’t stand for the notions of inner growth or boundaries. He is a badass and he’s graciiously willing to impart a little first-hand inspiration. More information at the official website.

Portugal the Man Visits the Future, Gazes Longingly

  • Posted by
  • on September 17, 2009
  • Filed in: Music

I’m consistently impressed by the visual sophistication that Portland-based Portugal the Man exudes, viagra sale and this video is nothing but a confirmation of that.

The director, sick Ryan Rothermel, is a Seattle-based director with an impressive reel. His Vimeo account is sporting some cool behind the scenes stuff as well, including a motion graphic test spot for the title sequence of True Blood, one of my favorite shows presently. I admire a good title sequence and True Blood’s is right up there with Carnivale.That sequence was eventually shot and composited by Digital Kitchen, who also has a making of video available.

Thank Christ: Bigtime Creepface Guillermo Del Toro And Disney Team Up to Terrify Children

  • Posted by
  • on September 15, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

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This is a little tidbit that hits me at the opportune time in my life. In the past few years I’ve come to the definite conclusion that children need to be scared more.

It’s hard to tell if it’s because I’m older (and fending off exaggerated-by-nostalgia feelings of enthusiastic terror) or if it really is a lack of appropriately-chilling contemporary family films, somnology but I remember the tremendous feeling of triumph I vicariously felt after the protagonist in a given film endured true terror and emerged not only victoriously, allergist but a bit wiser to the world.

Charlie may have inherited a Chocolate factory but in doing so he had to clench his fists and grit his teeth as Wonka put him and his peers through an extreme amount of psychological upheaval (culminating in the boat-ride psychedelic freak session). And now, since he’s experienced first-hand such fear, that lifetime supply of chocolate will taste all the sweeter.

This is why I feel instilling a healthy dose of terror into a young person is a beneficial choice. Not only does it elevate the relief/triumph that comes with a satisfying dramatic finale, but it gives context to the children. It makes them appreciate the simplicity and safety of a warm bed and the potential excitement of a nightmare.

So, it pleases me greatly to see that top-rate scaryface-craftsman – Guillermo Del Toro – has partnered with Disney to bring a slew of panic-inducing animated films under the appropriately-titled banner Double-Dare You. This is how he explains it:

“As a director, I love to take audiences into fantastic new worlds and provide them with some anxious moments in the process. It is part of the Disney canon to create thrilling, unforgettable moments and villains in all their classic films. It is my privilege for DDY to continue in this tradition. To partner up with The Walt Disney Studios, with the support of Dick Cook and John Lasseter, is to belong to a storytelling partnership that I admire deeply. It is a true honor. I look forward to coming up with fresh and original stories that will take Disney films in a whole new direction. The emphasis is on fun, and we have some great ideas already on the storyboards.”

I’ve recently been on a Disney-animated kick and caught a Charlie Rose interview with Del Toro where his enthusiasm for the monstrously-absurd makes me think this union of man and myth is nothing but logical. I think my nine year-old cousin is in for a treat.

Michael Moore Aggressively Bites the Feeding Hand

  • Posted by
  • on September 11, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

Michael Moore obviously doesn’t give a fuck. That being said, healing he definitely gives a fuck.

And that’s the essence of his persona. He’s the rebel with a cause. He’s the  little prankster that utilizes the sheepish grin in defense of God’s Americans. He’ll throw a tantrum and scream and yell until some Momma somewhere show’s the cookies.

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I write that he doesn’t give a fuck because history holds that, ascariasis if one chooses to galavant as a filmmaker, ed one must bow to the studios.  They give the money, you take the money. They say you can’t have the money and you cry until a pillow is soggy. Moore, not too-surprisingly, does not conform to this paradigm. You may not agree with his politics or the methods in which he delivers them, but you have to admire the balls he travels with. Take the following quote as evidence.

Why would these companies give money to me, a guy who is diametrically opposed to everything they stand for? One of the beautiful flaws of capitalism is they will use the rope you give them to hang themselves if you can make a buck.

This bit of bewildered skepticism is targeted at Paramount, the studio which financed his latest documentary titled Capitalism: A Love Story.

He has more gems in the same FUCKYOU vein that reveal a man who knows exactly what his words will do and how they will be interpreted by the targets of his ire:

They are not an ideology, they are just about money. I can imagine the conversation – ‘Look what he’s said about us’ says one man, and other says ‘But look how much money he made.’

This is a very refreshing bit of honesty that goes a long way in calling out the latent sickness in the system. Most aren’t naive enough to believe a studio is interested in much more than making some bucks, but to articulate the extent at which they go for that buck, like Moore did,  is giggle-worthy.

Moore knowingly calls out the flaws because he is in a very rare and privileged sect of filmmaking (especially documentary filmmaking).  He is successful. Very successful. Call him a propaganda-slut if you want to, but the man was able to make millions of dollars on a 9/11 documentary. He was able to churn out green while making a documentary on fucking Columbine.

So, with this success, it gives him room to say exactly what he’d like to say. Which only further perpetuates his own wily-outsider legend. As evident by the cherry on top of his calculated tirade:

I have been saving up my money since ‘Sicko’ to get to this day. I will always make my own movies. Now I have my own money to make them.

I have often wondered what a man like that, a man with so many problematic issues related to our monetary system, does with the excess he garners from success.

To burn bridges and then build up your own in their place is exactly the sort of behavior that renders me susceptible to his manipulative charm. And it makes me glad he’s still around. Sitting in the back row of class, cracking-wise.

Pan and Scan Deconstructed by Famous Directors

  • Posted by
  • on August 28, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

At this point the injustice of practice of pan-and-scan (cropping movies to fit the standard 4:3 television screen) is widely accepted. Once the ire of filmmakers, hepatitis savvy film viewers are increasingly in the same boat with the opinion that changing the format of a movie in turn changes the moviegoing experience. And never for the better.

But this short peice, order featuring some excellent examples and interviews with directors like Michael Mann & Martin Scorcese, makes the most convincing argument I’ve heard. Curtis Hanson‘s Last Supper analogy pretty well puts the nail in the coffin.

“All films made from 1953 on for the past 50 years, have been made in one widescreen form or another. Whether it’s just normal widescreen or the 70mm or Cinemascope or Panavision.” – Martin Scorcese

‘Alive in Joburg’ Lays the Groundwork for Starter-kit Cinema

  • Posted by
  • on August 24, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

I just saw director Neill Blomkamp‘s District 9 yesterday and like most movies I pretty much knew what to expect going in. To the extent you want to save your purity for District 9 you really don’t wan’t to watch this next clip, search the 6-minute short film “Alive in Joburg.”

If you know anything about District 9, you know that Alive in Joburg” was created by Blomkamp in 2005 and after gaining some attention (including that of Peter Jackson) it got reworked into the feature film District 9.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox: Wes Anderson Defiantly Ventures Deeper Into His Own Style

  • Posted by
  • on August 1, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

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With the release Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox trailer he simultaneously released a declaration of commitment to his own vision. In recent years (first with The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou then more-so with The Darjeeling Limited) the critical establishment has began to sway against Anderson. The same  style he forged and developed with Bottle Rocket, hepatitis Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums was at the tail-end of a paddy-wack by a growing number of finks who claim that he has built his own stylistic universe that he rarely strays from. I could understand this attack on repetition of style if it wasn’t for one large footnote to consider:

HIS STYLE IS FUCKING SWEET.

That is an obvious opinion fashioned by my own past experiences so it’s entirely subjective, cystitis but it is very troubling to me when people complain about a filmmaker who makes the same types of movies when those movies are fantastic. To me it is painful to read condemnations of this “Wes-world” he has created when that universe is composed of touching scripts, fantastic performances by stellar casts and soundtracks that appear tailor-made to fit the top-tier art design and shot composition.

I am a fan.

This is why it greatly pleases me to see him try his hand at animating a Roald Dahl book. Here is the first taste of the footage:

This is the thought process I imagined Anderson had when deciding on this project:

So, they say I am a perfectionist who meticulously creates worlds instead of making one that feels true to life? Is that what they say? Do they want me to make a “real” drama? One with a handheld camera and a plotline that services at least three of the most current social issues? Hmm. Instead of doing that how about I get rid of humans. How about I create every movement of every character and fashion a set by hand so that the connection to your “reality” is even more tenuous than before and imagination and vision will run rampant. Will that work?

This probably doesn’t resemble the man’s thought process, I imagine Anderson just follows whatever inkling he has that inkles the strongest and doesn’t pursue projects as means for retaliation against unjust jabs at consistent greatness. Regardless, I’d like to believe it was intentional.

The Builders and the Butchers’ “Golden Green”

  • Posted by
  • on July 17, 2009
  • Filed in: Music

I said it once but it’s so true I’ll say it again: Portland is in a golden era of rad music videos. Our stable of local directors continue to up the ante and the Builders and the Butchers new Henry-Darger-inspired track from Salvation is a Deep Dark Well is no different. Local booker, public health photographer and music video director Alicia Rose brings us “Golden Green.”