The House


1. "What Happens to Filmmakers Who Can't Market Themselves?" Reid Rosefelt poses this question at his blog Shake Your Windows. Jim Emerson adds his two cents at Scanners.

["Many of the best filmmakers are allergic to the idea of selling their films. They feel it somehow diminishes them as artists. They want to create; they don't want to be hucksters. They want their work to speak for itself. They sometimes act like they don't want to be successful, that there is something actually distasteful about success. Many have told me flat out that they are proud of their film but doubt it will reach much of an audience. I worked on three films with a director long ago. His movies were funny, witty, stylish, and had a dazzling visual style. There were so many reasons why all kinds of people could enjoy them. But every interview he gave made them seem dry and boring; he cut off the possibilities for the way different kinds of people might perceive them. He was effectively an anti-marketer. It was pointless to talk to him about it. If I had run the distribution companies, I would actually have canceled all his interviews and appearances, but distributors want to see a sheaf of articles—that's what they pay for. One of his movies starred a beautiful and charming actress, so I concentrated my efforts on her. I was able to get bookings on a few talk shows. She was so good that I would send the tapes to the next show and we kept getting better bookings. She was having fun, and the clips from the film were very appealing. One day she called me in tears. He had phoned her and said he was grateful because he understood how soul-destroying doing these interviews must be for her. I love this director's films, but sadly it is very difficult for him to get financing these days, and his output has slowed. Maybe that would have happened anyway, but this might have had something to do with it."]

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2. Another from Emerson: "By Bye Miss American Privacy." See also: "Join the Shame Parade," a Salon piece by former Los Angeles Times film critic Carina Chocano.

["Privacy and shame. One keeps the other in check. A little confession is good for the soul. But compulsive self-revelation can become a form of shameless, invasive exhibitionism—a lack of respect not only for one's own privacy (and individuality), but for others'. Shame and humiliation can be crippling when linked to things beyond someone's control. On the other hand, they also provide a healthy check on human behavior. That's why—last year, at least—'too much sharing' could get you 'unfriended.'"]

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3. "Drive-in Hell and Back!" In which Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule blogs about the first "SLIFR Night at the Drive-in," with an intriguing detour into a discussion of how ratings (and their relative usefulness) have changed over the decades.

["I will say, though, I am beyond surprised that Drag Me to Hell has a PG-13 rating. I don't think it's a reactionary, pooh-poohing kind of a thing to observe that the world of what constitutes a PG-13 these days is noticeably different than it was in 1984, when Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and its relatively grotesque imagery (everything from ripping a beating heart out of a man's chest to being gleefully served a bowlful of chilled monkey brains) got concerned citizens like Jack Valenti all steamy under the collar and inspired the MPAA to create the subdivision of the 'parental guidance' rating. Even though Drag Me to Hell operates in very much the same adolescent world of cheap thrills and dirty laughs by way of variations on every gross-out in a kid's imaginary arsenal, the truth is, over the distance of 25 years now Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a cake walk (and a Disneyland ride), graphic images-wise, compared to Raimi's new movie, a movie I think any sane person, despite the lack of actual bloodletting, would have rated R."]

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4. "Glory Bound: In Memory of David Carradine," by Nick Dawson for Film in Focus. Ruminations on Carradine's work in Bound for Glory, taken from Dawson's biography Being Hal Ashby: The Life of a Hollywood Rebel.

["Much as Ashby liked Carradine, he looked nothing like Guthrie and was far too tall. 'He told me that if I were six years younger and six inches shorter, he would hire me right on the spot,' Carradine recalls of his second meeting with Ashby. 'I told him I'd do the part with my knees bent.' Six weeks after their first meeting, Ashby had offered the role to Richard Dreyfuss, but Dreyfuss had asked for more money; and the folk singer Tim Buckley, whom director Henry Jaglom had suggested to Ashby, had tragically died of a drug overdose. So Ashby called in Carradine and had Haskell Wexler shoot a screen test. Ashby had moved from Appian Way (after the house had become too full of editing equipment) out to Malibu Colony and now lived with [his girlfriend Mimi] Machu and Sean, her ten-year-old son by Sonny Bono, right on the beach. Carradine also lived in Malibu and used to run along the beach past Ashby's house every day, refusing to let Ashby forget him. 'One time he leaned out the window and said, 'Hey, why don't you come in and say hello?'' Carradine recalls. 'I hung out with him a lot as a result, and I realized, 'If I just keep running past Hal's house, I'll get the part.'' Ashby later recalled it was Warren Beatty who pointed out that Carradine had 'the right 'I don't give a fuck' attitude' that he was looking for. Ashby knew that he was not making a documentary, that nobody would look like Guthrie and be able to act and sing, and that Carradine having the spirit of Woody Guthrie was more than enough."]

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5. "Away we Go." A.O. Scott gives Sam Mendes and Dave Eggers a spanking that at first seems gentle, until you get to the end and realize that he had very tiny, very sharp knives hidden between his fingers.

["Really, Away We Go is about the flight from adulthood, from engagement, from responsibility, even as it cleverly disguises itself as a search for all those things. But the dream of being left alone in a world of your own making, far from anything sad or icky or difficult, is a child's fantasy. Not an unattractive or uncommon one, it must be said, and for that reason it is tempting to follow Burt and Verona into the precious, hermetic paradise that awaits them at the end of the road. You know they will be happy there. But you should also understand that you are not welcome. Does it sound as if I hate this movie? Don't be silly. But don't be fooled. This movie does not like you."]

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Quote of the Day:


"One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion. "

--Simon de Beauvoir

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Image of the Day (click to enlarge): John Lennon photographed by Bob Gruen on the roof of an apartment building in New York's lower East side circa 1974. The photographer gave Lennon the shirt. Part of "John Lennon: The New York City Years," a exhibit that continues at New York's Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame Annex through this fall.

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Clip of the Day: Lennon performing "Imagine" live at Madison Square Garden with Yoko Ono in 1972.


"Links for the Day": A selection of Links that will hopefully spark discussion. Comments encouraged. Suggestions for links are also welcome. Please send to todd@vanderwerff.us.

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