I love this little snippet. David Lynch talks about turning down George Lucas' offer to direct Return of the Jedi. It's pretty hilarious. I can't shake that image of Lucas driving his Ferrari with the seat way back. Ha ha. Enjoy.
P.s. I think I'm going to get my hair cut like David Lynch's.
We may be on the verge of an Australian New Wave! Maybe. I might be exaggerating a little, but there are at least two very interesting Australian crime films that will be crossing the Pacific to North America.
The first is "The Square" directed by Nash Edgerton, and written by brother Joel Edgerton. Some people are saying they might become the new "it" brothers, so watch out Coens. It will be interesting to see how the brothers Edgerton's careers evolve! "The Square" looks to be a film noir crime thriller, and if one were looking for a Coen Bros comparison one might look to their debut feature, the jet-black thriller Blood Simple. What's it about? Take a look at the trailer:
The second Australian noir film is one that has already gotten a lot of attention and it rocked the Sundance festival this year: Animal Kingdom. Written and directed by David Michod, it stars the excellent Guy Pearce as a detective (with an awesome mustache) determined to help a teenager from being swallowed into his family's criminal legacy. It also features the above-mentioned Joel Edgerton in a supporting role! Interesting. Have a look-see yourself:
It will be cool to see how these films do, as it seems a number of established Hollywood filmmakers more or less phoned in their latest releases, some new blood in the industry might pump some energy into 2010's crop of thrillers!
This is a pretty interesting movie. I have to admit I've only seen it once, but it kind of pops up every now and then, because it has some cool parts, like this intro, and, well, Carl Sagan wrote the source novel. I'm definitely going to see have to see this again sometime soon! Also Jodie Foster is always a pleasure to watch.
I love this picture Stanley Kubrick took of himself. He started out as a photographer! I was going to accompany this picture with a shot of what he looked like in later life, but... let's just enjoy this picture.
I came across this photo, and it sent me into an Anna Karina whirlwind. I think maybe I'm just a sucker for a good photo, and this is a great one, it looks like it was taken yesterday! So crisp and beautiful, and looks like Paris, and if there is one thing I most definitely am a sucker for is a gorgeous, hip, nouvelle vague actress... just like Anna Karina!
Anna Karina is a Danish born actress who hitchhiked to Paris with neither a cent to her name nor a word of French in her vocabulary. She is most commonly associated with the French New Wave movement, a movement in which she was an integral actress. She was also as director Jean-Luc Godard's muse. In a way, they were the king and queen of French cinema in the late 50s and early 60s. She starred in a number of Godard's films; Une Femme est Une Femme (1961), and Vivre Sa Vie (1962), and Le Petit Soldat (1963), Band a Part (1964), Alphaville (1965), and Pierrot le Fou (1965), and the two were married from 1961 to 1967. (She and Godard also have small uncredited roles in a film-inside-the-film in Cleo de 5 a 7!)
As well as a successful film acting career with Jean-Luc Godard and others, she is also an accomplished singer, a theatre actor, and has written two fiction books. If I'm not mistaken, she also became something of an animal activist in her later life, and she is still alive!
I found some great old posters for Une Femme est une femme (1961)! It's one of my favorite films by M. Jean-Luc Godard. It's sort of an anti-musical ode to musicals--in typical Godardian fashion. Starring the inimitable Anna Karina (married to Godard at the time), Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Jean-Claude Brialy. Write-up to come! For now enjoy these. This bottom one is my desktop wallpaper right now.
I love Wes Anderson, even when he is selling out. But this is more than a commercial, it's a Wes Anderson short, which redeems everything. I'd even say it's better and more entertaining then The Darjeeling Limited. Discuss.
I just stumbled upon this a couple weeks ago. (Click here for the whole series) Apparently it is a fairly renowned fashion spread from the 1990s for a couple reasons, Christy Turlington for one, and two, it's an awesome set of photos. But beyond the obvious aesthetics, it's the source material I am interested in. I am a huge fan of the Jean-Lic Godard's French New Wave film A Bout de souffle (it's the picture behind the title of this blog!) and this spread takes all its cues from that film, in particular the character played by the gorgeous Jean Seberg!
In the film, Seberg plays Patricia, a young American woman in 1960 Paris, who helps her acquaintance and (sort-of) lover Michel (the now iconic French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo), who is wanted for the murder of a police officer. Michel is determined to have Patricia run away to Rome with him, and he spends a couple days bumping around Paris, avoiding detectives and trying eke out cash from whoever will give him the time of day. Patricia also wanders Paris, pondering the many options and choices her life ahead has in store for her.
Seberg's performance is delicate, funny, and introspective. Godard largely had his actors improvise the scenes. He was frequently coming up with new ideas on set, and writing the scenes the morning before filming. What resulted are some really genuine sequences between Seberg and Belmondo; they flirt, they laugh, they fight, and they discuss life.
Unfortuntely, Seberg herself had a fairly sad life. A number of personal problems almost derailed her career, and in the 1970s the FBI concocted a plot to discredit her due to her outspoken political and anti-war views. She also lost a child and had several problematic marriages. In 1979, she disappeared and was found dead in her car several days later at the age of young age of 39. It was largely thought to be a suicide.
Seberg's tragic life makes her performance in A Bout de souffle just that much more powerful. Like Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and other actors whose lives ended prematurely, there is something eerie and beautiful about her portrayal of Patricia. Patricia is in the same league as Agnes Varda's Cleo. She is ephemeral and she knows it. She looks at the world with curiosity even though she knows her experience is a fleeting one. Characters in the films of the French New Wave often have that fatalistic outlook. They suffer from ennui, a dissatisfaction with the world as it has been passed to them. They look around, they wander, and they examine their surroundings in a constant search for a meaning to their existence.
Along with Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows, A Bout de souffle is considered the beginning of the French New Wave--le nouvelle vague. These two films and the subsequent films of the movement are creative, fresh, innovative, and playful. The sensations of optimism and opportunity, of exploration and experimentation, are integral to many films of the movement. It was a genuine cry for more, a refusal to accept life as it is handed down, and it gave birth to generations of fascinating and inspiring cinema.
Sure enough, yet another Star Wars thingy. Joe Nussbaum's inspiring short film George Lucas in Love! As I said before, I'm not a huge Lucas fan, or even a Star Wars fan, but this is so well done! Bravo.
I swear, I'm really not a big Star Wars fan! I feel like Star Wars just keeps coming up though. I mean I like a lot of the movies, or at least parts of them (I mean, come on, the pod-racing in Episode 1 was awesome, as was the showdown with Darth Maul), but I think it's mostly George Lucas that bugs me. ANYWAYS, I wanted to put up this picture of a young Han Solo, in a test photo from the set of the Star Wars. A number of fantastic rare set photos were recently unleashed on the web, and you can see those any number of places including here and here.
I know, I know, I know. Marilyn Monroe is great, but to be honest, especially in this film, I prefer Jane Russell, the brunette. I mean, look at her, she is incredible! And in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Monroe is just such a ... ditz!
I just watched Carol Reed's sublime 1949 noir The Third Man again, and it gets better every time. Joseph Cotton plays Holly Martins, an American pulp-novelist who finds himself in Vienna just after the war ended. He's looking for his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) who promised him a job there. Upon his arrival, however, Martins discovers that Lime is in fact dead, recently struck by a car outside his apartment. Martins realizes something is a little fishy and begins to ask questions about Lime and the car accident that killed him, and begins to draw attention from the local international authorities, in particular the stern British Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) and his friendly Sergeant Paine (Bernard Lee, M from James Bond films!) as well as some local thugs, black-marketeers, and a handful of their cronies. Martins also gets to know Lime's lover, actress Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli), who does her best to divulge information as slowly as possible to the persistent Martins.
What follows is a cold, dark, and beautiful journey through the bars, police stations, desolate apartment buildings, the wet streets, and bombed out rubble that is Vienna circa 1946-47. Martins ends up both doing the chasing and being chased through the gorgeously lit night streets and sewers of the Austrian city. Identities are mistaken, loyalties are questioned, and people are bumped off!
Orson Welles has a very special role in all this, playing a character that everyone is talking about from the get-go, and does not even make an appearance until 2/3 of the way through the film. And his character's entrance, I maintain, remains to be one of the greatest character entrances ever filmed! (That essay to be written in the future!) This device can be risky; sometimes the character won't live up to all the talk. Not a problem here, the incomparable Orson Welles does what he does best, portraying Harry Lime as someone I both love and hate.
This is Welles' and Cotton's third of five (by my count) films they both worked on. Cotton was one of the main players in Welles' Citizen Kane, playing Kane's journalist and friend Jedediah Leland. Cotton was also in Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons, The Tragedy of Othello, and his noir masterpiece Touch of Evil in an uncredited role as a coroner.
At the 1949 Cannes Film Festival, it won the Grand Prize of the Festival. At the 1951 Oscars it won Best Cinematography (Robert Krasker), and was nominated for Best Director and Best Editing. Classic score by zitherist Anton Karas.
Hitchcock's great film involving two strangers who get involved in an exchange of murders, meaning they will commit murders for each other so as to avoid being suspects in each crime. As you can imagine, things go sideways and then it gets very interesting! Classic Hitchcock, great suspense, and some fanstastic sequences, especially the famous tennis spectator scene. I love the top poster, with Hitchcock inserting a letter into the title... Starring Farley Granger and Robert Walker.
CQ is one of my favorite movies of all time. The Coppola family undoubtedly has some unbelievable film-making talent from patriarch Francis Ford to daughter Sofia to her brother Roman. This is Roman Coppola's first and only feature, though he has been second unit director on his sister's films as well as a handful of Wes Anderson films!
Here, what Coppola crafted is nothing short of a love letter to 1960s filmmaking, specifically the low-budget, camp, European sci-fi films. Coppola's film follows Paul (Jeremy Davies) an American living in Paris in the late 60s (a time period and place I would trade almost anything to have lived in!) as a film editor. After the young star director Felix Di Marco (Jason Schwartzman) is injured in a car accident, Paul's name is put forward to move into the director's seat. He accepts, a little apprehensively, and begins work on "Dragonfly," trying to put together the pieces of the half-shot film while juggling the demands of his producer, the needs of his French girlfriend, and his own confused personal documentary film.
It is great homage to both film and the 1960s, Paris (though filmed largely in Belgium) is full of young beautiful people, Citroens DS's, and fantastically thick accents, all set to the funky throwback tracks of Mellow's almost impossibly hard to find soundtrack. Coppola nailed the aesthetics of everything, from the film-within-the-film "Codename: Dragonfly", from Agent Dragonfly's outfits, to her car, her hideout, spaceship, her nemeses, everything! There are also great little performances from Schwartzman, Gerard Depardieu, Billy Zane, Giancarlo Giannini, and model Angela Lindvall as Dragonfly herself.
The film is also full of references to 1960s films like Barbarella and Danger: Diabolik, as well as to Roman's own father Francis Ford and Stanley Kubrick. If any of this piques your interest, I suggest you seek out this film! I guarantee you won't be disappointed!
I remember seeing it as a child, but I just rediscovered it through a recent interest in Edward Gorey! There are a few different versions of this I think. I like the men with the mirror, the little skull on the headstone that winks, the stiff but elegant way the people dance, the woman's crazy hat, the mysterious masked villain on the balcony, the gentlemen playing croquet in a rainstorm (!), the helpless waif with the handkerchief wailing in the night wind... in short, everything! It's so full of macabre life and it inspires me to write mysteries of my own! Enjoy!
One of the great European actresses, the gorgeous Anouk Aimee was born in Paris in 1932, and began her acting career in 1947. I know her best from Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963), she plays Guido's wife Luisa (the bottom picture here), and I always thought she was amazingly beautiful. Aside from 8 1/2, she had worked with Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni three years earlier in Fellini's masterpiece La Dolce Vita. She's still alive and the last film I saw her in was Henry Jaglom's 2001 Festival in Cannes, playing a prima dona actress Millie Marquand. Anyways, there are many reasons one should see 8 1/2, and not the least of which is Anouk Aimee.
You can see her in this clip from 8 1/2 at about 48 seconds.
Think about how different the Star Wars series would have been if George Lucas had with an amazing title sequence like this!
It's inspired by the legendary Saul Bass, who was an American graphic designer and known for designing colourful, dynamic title sequences for filmmakers like Hitchcock, Kubrick, and Scorsese, among others. His style has gone on to inspire many others, his legacy can be seen in film credits like Catch Me If You Can, Toy Story, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, among many others. Bass' titles revolutionized how important a credit sequence can be. It sets the tone for the film, and if a director is smart, he can use it to prepare his audience emotionally for what they are about to see.
Hitchcock saw this, and it is apparent in the opening titles for both Vertigo and Psycho. Vertigo's titles literally give you the sensation of vertigo, as well as hypnotize you to Bernard Hermann's excellent and mysterious score. If you've seen the film, it's also no surprise that the journey down Bass' downward spiral is instigated by the face of a beautiful woman.
Saul Bass' Vertigo title sequence:
Psycho's titles are equally effective. Again Bernard Hermann's music is used to full effect; an energetic, pulsing, and piercing score that accompanies Bass' busy, fractured graphics. It gets you excited while slowly drives you crazy. Once the titles end, Hitchcock's camera scans the city of Phoenix, Arizona, giving the precise date and time, and slowly zeroes in on Marion Crane, almost picking her out of a city of millions, giving us the uneasy sensation that the protagonist could be nearly anyone, anywhere! Even you! It's no surprise that Psycho played at theatres with the proviso that no-one be allowed entry once the film had started. His films were a highly calculated package, with no dead weight; everything mattered--especially the titles.
This great film won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. Its really entertaining, full of detail, and quite funny. Directed, written, and produced by Francois Alaux, Herve de Crecy, and Ludovic Houplain.
Hitchcock employed Salvador Dali to design this fantastic dream sequence for the film Spellbound (1945), starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. Note the eye-ball slicing reference to Dali and Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou! Also, watching this makes me think the Coen's were simultaneously nodding to Dali and Busby Berkeley during their dream sequence in The Big Lebowski.