Posts tagged ‘Film’

December 21, 2012

The Last Picture Show

The Last Picture Show is a 1971 American drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from a semi-autobiographical 1966 novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry. Set in a small town in north Texas during the year November 1951 – October 1952, it is about the coming of age of Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and his friend Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges). The cast includes Cybill Shepherd in her film debut, Ben Johnson, Eileen Brennan, Ellen Burstyn, Cloris Leachman, Clu Gulager, Randy Quaid in his film debut, and John Hillerman.

For aesthetic and technical reasons it was shot in black and white, which was unusual for its time. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and four nominations for acting: Ben Johnson and Jeff Bridges for Best Supporting Actor, and Ellen Burstyn and Cloris Leachman for Best Supporting Actress. It won two: Johnson and Leachman.

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December 21, 2012

Copyright Criminals

mlf

Copyright Criminals is a 2010 documentary film directed and produced by Benjamin Franzen examining the creative and the commercial value of sampling including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and money. Copyright Criminals was funded by the Ford Foundation, University of Iowa, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It premiered in 2010 at the Toronto Film Festival. Sampling is when musicians make an audio montage taking a portion, or sample, of a sound recording and reusing, remixing or reworking it as a separate instrumental layer or loop into another song.

The documentary contains interviews with several sampling artist pioneers, including hip-hop groups. A longtime area of contention from a legal perspective, early sampling used portions of other artists’ recordings without permission. Once hip-hop, rap and other music incorporating sampling began generating a noticeably substantial income, the original artists began to take legal action, claiming copyright infringement and demanding high-sum royalties. Sampling artists fought back, claiming fair use (an exception in copyright law).

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November 18, 2012

The Comedy

Tim Heidecker

The Comedy is a 2012 black comedy film directed and co-written by Rick Alverson, and starring Tim Heidecker. Supporting actors include Eric Wareheim (Tim and Eric), James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem), and Gregg Turkington (better known as Neil Hamburger).

Despite the title and use of comedians as actors, Sundance festival chief programmer Trevor Groth says that the film is not a comedy, but instead ‘a provocation, a critique of a culture based at its core around irony and sarcasm and about ultimately how hollow that is.’ Indifferent even to the prospects of inheriting his father’s estate, Swanson (Heidecker) whittles away his days with a group of aging Brooklyn hipsters, engaging in acts of recreational cruelty and pacified boredom. Desensitized and disenchanted, he strays into a series of reckless situations that may offer the promise of redemption or the threat of retribution.

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November 7, 2012

Stop Making Sense

David Byrne

Stop Making Sense (1984) is a concert movie featuring Talking Heads live on stage. Directed by Jonathan Demme, it was shot over the course of three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983, as the group was touring to promote their new album ‘Speaking in Tongues.’ The movie is notable for being the first made entirely using digital audio techniques. The band raised the budget of $1.2 million themselves.

The title comes from the lyrics of the song ‘Girlfriend Is Better’: ‘As we get older and stop making sense…’ The movie begins with the opening credits, using a style similar to Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’ (the movie trailer also makes references to ‘Dr. Strangelove’). Title designer Pablo Ferro was responsible for both title sequences.

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October 1, 2012

The Ascent of Money

Niall Ferguson by David Levine

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World’ is a 2008 book by Harvard historian Niall Ferguson’s, which was adapted into a series of documentary feature for public television in the US and UK. It examines the long history of money, credit, and banking. From Shylock’s pound of flesh to the loan sharks of Glasgow, from the ‘promises to pay’ on Babylonian clay tablets to the Medici banking system.

Professor Ferguson explains the origins of credit and debt and why credit networks are indispensable to any civilization. He also investigates human bondage. Studying the question: How did finance become the realm of the masters of the universe? Through the rise of the bond market in Renaissance Italy. With the advent of bonds, war finance was transformed and spread to north-west Europe and across the Atlantic. It was the bond market that made the Rothschilds the richest and most powerful family of the 19th century. The book also explores why stock markets produce bubbles and busts.

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September 27, 2012

Yojimbo

A Fistful of Dollars

Yojimbo (Japanese: ‘bodyguard’) is a 1961 period drama directed by Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of a ronin (a samurai without a master), portrayed by Toshirō Mifune (star of several of Kurosawa’s films), who arrives in a small town where competing crime lords vie for supremacy. The two bosses each try to hire the deadly newcomer for protection. The film’s look and themes were in part inspired by the western film genre, in particular the films of John Ford (e.g. ‘The Searchers’).

The characters—the taciturn loner and the helpless townsfolk needing a protector—are western archetypes and are reminiscent of Kurosawa’s own ‘Seven Samurai’ (1954). The cinematography also mimics conventional shots in western films, such as that of the lone hero in a wide shot, facing an enemy or enemies from a distance while the wind kicks up dust between the two.

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September 27, 2012

The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson

The Master is a 2012 film written, directed, and co-produced by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Laura Dern. The film depicts alcoholic Freddie Quell, a World War II veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and struggling to adjust to a post-war society. He is taken under the wing of a charismatic mystic Lancaster Dodd, progenitor of a new religious movement.

It was first reported in 2009 that Anderson had been working on a script about the founder of a new religious organization (described as being similar to Scientology) played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. In 2011 it was reported that Megan Ellison, daughter of billionaire Larry Ellison, would finance ‘The Master’ and Anderson’s adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel ‘Inherent Vice’ under her new production company Annapurna Pictures. Harvey Weinstein later picked up the worldwide rights to the film.

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September 15, 2012

Innocence of Muslims

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula

Innocence of Muslims is an anti-Muslim amateur 2012 film produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. Months after it was shown one time in a Hollywood theater, two film trailers were released on YouTube, in 2012. The trailers were dubbed into Arabic, and then spread by Egyptian American blogger and Coptic Christian Morris Sadek.

A two-minute excerpt from the film was broadcast an Egyptian Islamist television station. Violent protests against the film broke out on September 11. The protests spread to Libya, Yemen, and other Arab and Muslim nations over the following days, included the 2012 diplomatic missions attacks, incorporating an attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, that resulted the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

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September 1, 2012

Side by Side

aspect ratio

Side by Side is an American documentary film released in 2012 directed by Chris Kenneally and produced by Justin Szlasa and Keanu Reeves who also stars in the film. The film explores the art, science and impact of digital cinema through interviews with leading directors, cinematographers, film students, producers, technologists, editors, and exhibitors.

The movie examines all aspects of feature filmmaking: capture, editing, visual effects, color correction, distribution, and archiving. Reeves explores the development of cinema and the impact of digital filmmaking via in-depth interviews with Hollywood masters, such as James Cameron, David Fincher, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Steven Soderbergh, Danny Boyle, and others.

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August 31, 2012

The Body

Ron Geesin

The Body is a 1970 scientific documentary film directed and produced by Roy Battersby. In the film, external and internal cameras are used to showcase different parts of the human body. The film’s narrators, Frank Finlay and Vanessa Redgrave, provide insightful commentary that combines the knowledge of world renowned human biologists and anatomical experts.

Unlike similar films of this subject matter ‘The Body’ strives for an entertaining presentation of the human anatomy, and avoids monotone narration. The film’s soundtrack, ‘Music from the Body,’ was composed by Ron Geesin and Roger Waters, and includes songs that were literally made using the human body as a medium.

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August 23, 2012

The Point!

Fred Wolf

The Point! is a fable and the sixth album by American songwriter and musician Harry Nilsson about a boy named Oblio, the only round-headed person in the Pointed Village, where by law everyone and everything had to have a point. According to Nilsson:

‘I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to point. I thought, ‘Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn’t, then there’s a point to it.” There have been, so far, at least three different renditions of The Point!, each featuring songs written by Nilsson to accompany the story, including an animated film, an album, and a stage musical.

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July 26, 2012

It Couldn’t Happen Here

pet shop boys by stuart immonen

It Couldn’t Happen Here is a 1988 musical film starring the British pop duo Pet Shop Boys and based around their music. It was originally conceived as an hour-long video based around their album ‘Actually,’ but it turned into a surreal full-scale feature film directed by Jack Bond and co-starring Barbara Windsor, Joss Ackland, Neil Dickson and Gareth Hunt. The original idea of making a film emerged from the band’s immense reluctance to go on tour.

The band hoped that a film would satisfy the fans’ demand to see them in live action. Neil Tennant subsequently commented that making the film made him realize one thing, that he couldn’t act. When the film premiered in London’s West End, a crowd of fans were standing outside the cinema, waiting for the duo to arrive. However, as both Neil and Chris approached the crowd, they went completely unnoticed thanks to their anonymous appearance, and managed to walk past them.

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