Thursday, November 8, 2012

The company that should have bought LucasFilms

Posted By on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Anime I
  • Courtesy of GKIDS/Studio Ghibli
  • Anime I?

With so much talk and chatter the past two weeks focusing on the blockbuster deal between LucasFilms and the Walt Disney Company, what better time to ponder what the future of the franchise might look like in the hands of the world's greatest animation studio?

When The Walt Disney Company looks into the mirror on the wall to ask who's the fairest animation studio of them all, the answer, since 1985 invariably comes back: "Studio Ghibli." (This must be why Disney holds international rights to much of the Ghibli library.)

The brainchild of directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and the producer Toshio Suzuki, Studio Ghibli has produced seventeen feature films celebrated for their nuanced, textured, richly detailed landscapes; their vivid imagery; and their imaginative, fantastic, epic story lines. Ghibli films often feature child protagonists in allegorical stories that feature mythic figures from the spirit world interacting with the "real" world.

In addition to their status as critical darlings, Studio Ghibli's films claim eight slots on the chart of top fifteen highest-grossing anime films of all time, with Miyazaki's Spirited Away holding the top spot all films in Japan, topping James Cameron’s Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2010).

The series "The Studio Ghibli Collection" opens Friday November 9 for one week only at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, showcasing 14 features over the course of the next week all in 35mm prints, in the original Japanese with English subtitles, except where noted after the jump.

One can only imagine what future Star Wars films might look like in the hands of Miyazaki and the Ghibli team.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Films reveal the meaning of life, love, and society

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 10:52 AM

A walk on the slippery rocks
  • A walk on the slippery rocks

The Atlanta Philosophy Film Festival, now in its fourth year, is one of the region's coolest film events. Not only are the offerings free (no one ever said you can get rich from philosophy), their content is consistently challenging, offering viewers an alternative to candy-coated popcorn fare jamming up the screens at most multiplexes.

The festival describes its mission thus:

"Films have been often characterized as being essays on the human condition. In an essay, one should gather insights about the philosophy that guides the questions and attitudes of the work. Films should be no different. Film is Philosophy expressed through the medium of image- realized through light and sound. Presented and structured in such a way as to foster debate in the public and private forum.

The Atlanta Philosophy Film Festival welcomes all those films using the image median to question how we think and how we interact with the world. Films that question what it is to exist. What it is to know. What it is to love. What it means to be ethical and objective. What it is to experience. What it is to...

We welcome films aware of their role as provocateur in a world where answers are more readily available than questions. Films that use dialogue, story, image, style, tone and theme to confront our universal values and confront how we understand our experiences. Films that use ideas as a laboratory to explore the human condition.

We welcome films, that both style and content, embark on the difficult and rewarding journey towards knowledge and better understanding. Our festival is proud to exhibit the Cinema of Philosophy."

This year, the event has expanded to include two programs of films: the first, Wednesday, October 24, at 7:30 pm devoted to the topic of "Love"; and the second, on Thursday, October 25, to the topic "Society."

Films selected for this year's festival include:

Argile (eng title: Clay) by Michael Guerraz (France)
Las Batallitas Del Abuelo (eng title: My Grandfather's Tales) by Néstor Fernández (Spain)
Bendito Machine IV by Jossie Malis (Spain)
Blacktree by Maria Pia Fanigliulo (UK)
Breach by Chaotung Thomas Huang (USA)
Chuzos de Punta (eng title: Cats and Dogs) by Suda Sánchez (Spain)
Espectadores (eng title: The Spectators) by Roger Villarroya (Spain)
Inseparables (eng title: Inseparable) by Ádel Kháder (Spain)
Literalmente (eng title: Literally) by Néstor Fernández (Spain)
Naufragos (eng title: Castaways) by Mario Rico (Spain)
Non Double by Mo Hyun-Shin (South Korea)
Neukölln Berlin Wake Up Dance by Victor Meliveo (Spain)
The Conversation by Piotr Sulkowski (Poland)
There's A Dead Crow Outside by Morgan Miller (USA)
2ºA by Alfonso Díaz (Spain)
A Trois (eng title: Three) by Vanessa Clément (France)
Freud by Federico Calabuig (Spain)
Luminaris by Juan Pablo Zaramella (Argentina)
Memory by Víctor Suñer (Spain)
Parrot Peeter Aurelius by Anti Naulainen & Ando Naulainen (Estonia)
Rotos by Roberto Pérez Toledo (Spain)
Son Souffle Contre Mon Epaule (eng title: Her Breath On My Shoulders) by Noel Fuzellier (France)
Vicky And Sam by Nuno Rocha (Portugal)
Inmovil (eng title: Immobile) by Helio Mira (Spain)
La Manada (eng title: The Pack) by Mario Fernandez Alonso (Spain)
Being A Trans-Person Living In A Two-Gender Society by Petar Veljacic (UK)

The complete line-up can be found at the cleverly named website:

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Film Love's "Primary" flashes back to Kennedy-era politics

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Screening tonight at the Plaza Theatre, Robert Drew’s influential documentary “Primary,” uses Wisconsin’s 1960 presidential primary campaign to contrast the political tactics of two different eras. Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey comes across as a retail politician, eager to glad-hand prospective voters on the sidewalk and hand out flyers at a grocery store.

Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, however, more closely resembles a modern media celebrity. We frequently see him addressing large groups and surrounded by adoring throngs. At one point we see a group of young woman rushing up from a distance, as if they’ve just spotted The Beatles. Presented by Andy Ditzler’s Film Love series at 7:30 p.m. tonight, “Primary” shows Kennedy sitting through a make-up session for a photographic portrait and, later, reveals a group of prospective voters watching him give a speech on TV. Compared to Kennedy, Humphrey seems merely life-sized.

“Primary” offers an early example of the kind of campaign journalism that would define the coverage of the 24 hour news cycle. Director Robert Drew and cameramen Richard Leacock and Andrew Mayles used newly-invented mobile cameras and lighter sound equipment that allow them to follow the candidates through crowds and listen in on conversations in automobiles. That fly-on-the-wall perspective on campaigns would become the standard technique, and “Primary’s” editor, D.A. Pennebaker, won an Oscar for his Clinton campaign film The War Room. If “Primary” looks old-fashioned today, it’s partly because it pioneers a cinema verite approach that technological changes would greatly improve.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'The Dark Knight Returns' flashes back to classic graphic novel

Posted By on Tue, Sep 25, 2012 at 8:35 AM

IVE COME ALIVE AGAIN. Batman: The Dark Knight Rises - Part 1
The opening of the animated film Batman: The Dark Knight Returns — Part 1 begins both exactly the same as, and completely different from, the original graphic novel of the same name. In 1986 author/illustrator Frank Miller and inker Klaus Janson crafted a strikingly gritty, antiheroic take on the Caped Crusader. Like Gotham City’s own high-wattage bat signal, The Dark Knight Returns drew mainstream attention to the creative boom of comics in the 1980s while shining a path for the brooding big-screen Batmen of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan.

The new direct-to-DVD film, the 15th in the DC Animated Universe series, goes on-sale today and hurls the audience into the same sequence as the book. We find a 55 year-old Bruce Wayne (voiced by Robocop’s Peter Weller), having hung up the cowl a decade earlier, recklessly competing in an Formula One-style automobile race. In the comic book, Miller and Janson confine the competition to a single page, rendered almost entirely in tight close-ups of Bruce behind the wheel. The reader requires at least one reading to follow the rapid editing and skewed perspective on the action, which suggests the comic book equivalent of a contemporary Bourne movie.

The film, directed by Jay Olivia, offers all the conventional race images that you’d expect, with long shots and bird’s eye views of the road that emphasize bland visual clarity at the expense of the book’s off-kilter emotional intimacy. Even more strikingly, the film dispenses with Miller’s hard-boiled interior monologues, eliminating many of book’s most memorable lines and the uncomfortable implications about Bruce’s sadistic psyche. When the race ends with a fiery crash, on paper Bruce thinks, “This would be a good death... but not good enough.” The script confines itself almost entirely to the book’s spoken dialogue.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

The best concert films you've never seen

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 12:36 PM

With Music Midtown occupying Piedmont Park this weekend, let's take a look at some of our favorite music and concert films, with the caveat that we're steering from the usual suspects (Last Waltz, Gimme Shelter, Don't Look Back, Ziggy Stardust, Stop Making Sense, Woodstock etc.), and opting instead for deep cuts you are not as likely to have seen already, by filmmakers making films, not promotional pieces:

Awesome I Fuckin' Shot That

When Beastie Boy Adam Yauch passed in May, I showed my fondness for this concert film writing the following:

He also oversaw what is, in my humble opinion, the greatest concert film ever: Awesome, I Fuckin' Shot That put 50 Hi8 cameras in the hands of the fans for a hometown show at MSG. (Bon Jovi did it first with Sam Kinnison handing out cameras for the "Bad Medicine" video, but did they get a shot of Ben Stiller rapping?).

The miracle is not the footage itself, but rather in the way MCA assembled it.

Rather than coming across as a stunt, the resulting film is an absolute masterpiece: a staggering, frenetic, varied, magical visual smörgåsbord, an epic display of montage that would make Dziga Vertov's head spin.


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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pearl Cleage's novels inch closer to the big screen

Posted By on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Pearl Cleage and filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira
  • Pearl Cleage and filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira

It’s kind of hard to believe that no one in Hollywood has ever made a film adaptation based on the books of local author Pearl Cleage. You’d think a movie industry that seems so starved for ideas would tap the works of Cleage, especially seeing as how her novels have repeatedly appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List — and one book (What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day) was even picked for Oprah’s high-profile Book Club. But alas, none of Cleage’s tales have made it onto the big screen ... until, perhaps, now.

A few weeks ago, Cleage and filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira (Alma’s Rainbow) announced the launch of the Pearl Cleage Film Project. The project reportedly came about from Chenzira merely asking Cleage if she could bring her novels to the screen (Cleage said “yes”). Now, the duo is slated to adapt two of Cleage’s novels: the previously mentioned What Looks like Crazy on an Ordinary Day and Babylon Sisters.

Chenzira — along with producers Dana Offenbach (MOOZ-lum) and Tandria Potts (A Cross to Bear) — and the rest of the Pearl Cleage Film Project team is currently in talks with potential investors. To learn more about the project visit,

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Monday, July 16, 2012

VIDEO: Billy Redden, 'Banjo Boy' from 'Deliverance'

Posted By on Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 12:21 PM

As part of CL's 40th anniversary Deliverance cover story, I drove up to North Georgia and spent the afternoon with Billy Redden, who played the roll of "Banjo Boy" in the iconic "Dueling Banjos" scene from the movie. I met Billy at the Huddle House in Clayton and we drove up to Dillard and found the land where the famous scene was shot. He said he had not been there in 40 years. I also interviewed Ronny Cox, who played the roll of Drew, the character who played the guitar opposite Billy and Eric Weissberg, the session musician on the recording of "Dueling Banjos" from the movie.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Spoiler questions, now that we've seen 'The Amazing Spider-man'

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2012 at 9:18 AM

HOOK EM HORNS: Spider-fans have been wanting to see these for more than a decade.
Where do his webs come from? Going back 50 years, comic book tradition has that Peter Parker, after getting his super powers, develops his web-fluid as well as the mechanical shooters in his palm. In Sam Raimi’s films, Parker generates the webs organically, from his hands, sort of like a real spider. (Just not, you know, from his abdomen.) It’s one of those seemingly trivial details that the Internet gets totally bent out of shape about. Amazing goes back to web-fluid basics — sort of. At one point Peter tells a car-jacker that it’s “webbing that I developed myself,” but he seems to be stretching the truth, since we see him derive the formula from an Oscorp innovation. He did make his own mechanical shooters, though.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rebooting the Reboots

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 7:39 AM

Rocky Amadeus
  • ZAZ
  • Rocky Amadeus

Once upon a time, sequels were viewed as such crass cash grabs that very notion of Sylvester Stallone making a career out of Rocky movies made for a meta-punchline in Airplane II. (But it was Stallone, riding his Balboa character to five sequels, who got the last laugh playing Rocky at 60 in 2006's Rocky Balboa).

Sequels now the rule for virtually every successful blockbuster film, have given way to the "franchise," making the brand bigger than the elements of the films themselves.

The original franchises were serialized movies from a half century ago-Zorro, Captain Marvel, Flash Gordon. In the last 50 years, the biggest franchise one screen is James Bond, himself based on a series of novels. (Televisions's stalwart is Dr. Who.) While the actors aged out, and times changed, the fundementals of the franchise have remained essentially the same.

The issue now is not that of how to keep a franchise hot, but rather, what to do to when a it runs out of steam.

The answer: Reboot!

Wikipedia describes the reboot thus, "In serial fiction, to reboot means to discard much or even all previous continuity in the series and start anew with fresh ideas. Effectively, the writer(s) declare all established fictive history to be irrelevant to the new storyline, and start the series over as if brand-new. Through reboots, filmmakers can revamp and reinvigorate franchises to attract new fans and stimulate revenue. Therefore, reboots can be seen as attempts to rescue franchises that have grown 'stale'".

Need Help Friending Me on Facebook?  Its on the Web
  • Need Help Friending Me on Facebook? It's on the Web

With Mark Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man set to open next week, with "Dallas" returning to the airwaves on TNT (some call it a "continuation," not a "reboot," but let's keep it real), the third installment of Christopher Nolan's exceptional Batman franchise reboot The Dark Knight Rises on the horizon, and Jeremy Renner picking up the Matt Damon-less thread in The Bourne Legacy expecting in August, we take a look at a few of our favorite reboots:

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Film Love Presents: Painters Filmmaking

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 6:53 AM

There's nothing like the explosive kinetic energy of a hand-painted film. While so-called action painters like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning made the act of dripping, spraying, and applying paint on canvas the hight of artistic expression the 40s, abstract filmmakers like Harry Smith and Len Lye put the action in painting by painting directly onto 16mm celluloid - and then bringing them to life by illuminating the paintings with light and motion via projection.

Each frame of film, an individual work of art in its own right, dances with life when run through the gate of a projector, 24 frames per second.

When projected, these films are a sight to behold. (The provided Youtube links fail to do justice to the light play and the optical illusions one experiences in a live presentation.)

As part of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center's Painters Panting show, curator Andy Ditzler has put together PAINTERS FILMMAKING: An evening of handpainted films, featuring Smith and Lye, as well as works from Robert Breer, Otto Muehl, Kurt Kren, Luther Price, and my Bard classmate Jen Reeves.

The program screens Friday, June 15, 2012, 8:00 pm at the ACAC. Complete info on the show is here.

As a fan of film, and painting, you really oughtn't to miss this one.

The highlight of the evening comes courtesy of avant garde pioneer Stan Brakhage. Late in his career, when it appears that he felt he did everything he could possibly do with film and a camera, he turned to hand painting film strips. Black Ice(1994) and The Dante Quartet(1987) (after the jump) are prime examples from this stage of his career.

As engaging as the films are when they're projected, they take on a whole new depth when viewed on their own, laid out frame by frame.

Treat yourself by visiting here.

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