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A Movie a Day, Day 70: Three-Minute Stories

I meant to watch the 1933 version of Alice in Wonderland on the big screen at BAM last night, but the heat chased me inside instead and onto my computer.

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A Movie a Day, Day 70: Three-Minute Stories

I meant to watch the 1933 version of Alice in Wonderland on the big screen at BAM last night, but the heat chased me inside instead and onto my computer, where I watched Three-Minute Stories on SnagFilms.

You might wonder if the world really needs more short films these days, but Cinelan, the series’s producer, is trying to give gifted documentary filmmakers more visibility and a chance to make some money online by distributing their short films on the web. You have to sit through an ad before their movies start, but that’s over pretty soon and then you’re home free, watching a very short (the credits usually start before the three-minute mark) documentary. Some are better than others, of course, but the production values are always excellent and the subjects usually well chosen, and the length makes it hard not to keep going. I went through every one I could find on Snagfilms and then headed over to the Cinelan website, where I watched two more by Steve James.

The best felt surprisingly unhurried and dense with detail, considering how little time they had to work with. Blog Stalker is the dryly narrated story of how one high school girl’s obsession with another turned into an obsession for a whole office full of workers, including the two narrators, after they start following her online diary. There’s even a satisfying conclusion: The narrators get over their fixation after traveling more than 200 miles to see the blogger in a school play. “She was just, sort of like, a normal person,” says one.

Several of the shorts profile a visual artist. I guess that guarantees you something interesting to shoot, but the more you like the art being portrayed, the better these work. I happened to like Paul Houser’s work in Abigail Norris and Jerry Rothwell’s The Work’s the Thing, and he said some interesting things to say, such as “The notion of artists being special people is a bit misleading. If anything, they’re less than special. It’s almost something you’re missing rather than something extra you’ve got.” It was also interesting to follow him as he looked for objects to paint and explained that the ones he chooses all share “an element of strange defiance.” I was also drawn to Steve James’ Paradise Regained, in which a mural appears piece by piece on a wall as the artist, Milton Reed, tells a funny story about creating it for one of his neighbors in Chicago’s Robert Taylor homes.

There are some nice snapshots of elderly New Yorkers, like a conversation between longtime midnight-to-3-a.m. BAI DJ Bob Fass and one of his faithful listeners, a cabbie who calls in to report on traffic patterns and other news of the night. The elderly friends who get together in a classic diner on the Upper West Side in the R.O.M.E.O (Retired Old Men Eating Out) series are like non-showbiz brothers of the alter kockers in Broadway Danny Rose. Director Katy Chevigny and her crew don’t do anything fancy; they just watch and listen as the old friends talk about what was in that day’s Times, crack jokes about Jews and old people, or squabble over politics, history, and the bill.

Ahmad Zahir bills itself as a beginner’s introduction to “the Elvis of Afghanistan” but turns into a haunting snapshot of a wounded culture, as director Liz Mermin talks to Afghan emigrants around the world about the singer they adored. His sad songs about being separated from a beloved person or place are revealing, as is the apparently universal conviction of his fans that his death in a car crash was no accident. They’re all careful to say they don’t know what happened, but everyone Mermin talks to believes he was killed “by one of the kings of the regime,” as one puts it.

Thank goodness for the next film, a cheery look at the supple stars of Moscow Cat Theater.

Elise Nakhnikian has been writing about movies since the best way to learn about them was through alternative weeklies. She is currently the movie reviewer for TimeOFF. She also has her own blog, Girls Can Play, and a Twitter account.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcftIUE6MQ

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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