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Monday, August 30, 2004

GreenCine Interviews Alex Cox
Full interview here:
While your films are all very different from another, there seems to be a certain personal style that remains consistent in each work. What, if anything, would you say makes your style unique? Are there certain elements, visual or otherwise, you consciously add to or keep out of a film?

I don't have any visual elements that I particularly like or want to re-use. At the same time I think you could run all my pictures in a row and there would be certain visual themes as well as narrative ones. What they are, though, I don't know!

I was very keen on shooting every scene in a single, moving master shot, and did four features that way in the 1990s. But I have had to promise producers to stop doing it, since they think - probably correctly - that long takes are alienating to a younger audience raised on fast-cut fare.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 8/30/2004 Comments (1)
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Friday, August 27, 2004

Freaks Reviewed
I just published my review of the new Freaks DVD in Mindjack. Here's a snippet:
Film critic Andrew Sarris famously called Freaks "one of the most compassionate films ever made." That is certainly true, but it's also one of the most misunderstood films ever made. Audiences and critics alike rejected it at the time of its release, dismissing it as nothing more than an exploitative geek show — it was even banned for decades in parts of the world. But now many consider it to be Browning's finest film, and one of the greatest American movies.

That Freaks remains classified as a horror film is not a disservice to the film's subject matter but rather it demonstrates the breadth of the genre. Just as science fiction often uses the future to examine issues of the present, horror uses the unknown and unfamiliar to examine ourselves. Freaks pushes this one step further, using real-life oddities instead of monsters, directly challenging the viewer in a way not possible with imagined monsters and grotesques.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 8/27/2004 Comments (0)
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Planet of the Apes as a Twilight Zone episode
This sounds incredible but I'm stuck on dial-up and can't download it. Get it while you can, I doubt Fox will be as impressed as everyone else seems to be.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 8/24/2004 Comments (0)
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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Shopping Tip
I don't know why it's so cheap, but has The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition) for only $14.99. If for some reason you don't have it already, now's the time to get it. It's back to regular price now.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 8/19/2004 Comments (0)
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Monday, August 16, 2004

Outfoxed in Mindjack
Jesse Walker reviews the much talked about Outfoxed in the new Mindjack.
But the biggest problem with the movie is its message. "My criticism of Fox News isn't that it's a conservative channel," the leftist media critic Jeff Cohen declares at one point. "It's the consumer fraud of 'fair and balanced.'" The filmmakers seem to believe that the great American hordes take Fox's "fair and balanced" slogan at face value. In the DVD's behind-the-scenes featurette, a woman involved with the production says that "watching Fox...has totally convinced me that the media is owned by these people and they're brainwashing the American public." It's much more likely, though, that the only people who believe Fox is unbiased are those who already share its biases. The rest of us wouldn't be surprised if Brit Hume's job was elevated to a cabinet-level position.
Full review here.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 8/16/2004 Comments (0)
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Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Sorted Saga of Exorcist: The Beginning
The story behind the making of Exorcist: The Beginning is probably more interesting than the film(s) itself. I say film(s) because two entirely different versions of the film now exist -- one directed by Paul Schrader and one by Renny Harlin (the one coming out next week). Scott Foundas recounts the whole saga in this exhaustive article in LA Weekly. What's especially notable is Foundas has actually seen Paul Schrader's version of the film. Here's a few of his impressions:
Rather than worshipfully recalling the claustrophobic, kitchen-sink realism of the 1973 film, Schrader and [screenwriter Caleb] Carr seemed actively engaged in subverting, as best they could, its iconography. Shot by no less a visual poet than Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, One From the Heart and virtually everything by Bertolucci), the film is visually wide-open, with a dramatic sense of landscape and a marvelous attention to the subtlest tricks of light. Moreover, this Beginning views demonic possession less as a singular occurrence - the terrors visited upon an innocent young victim - than as a contagion born in the hearts of men, able to cross oceans of time and space, infecting entire communities in its wake. It is, by Schrader and Carr's own admission, an internalized piece of psychological (as opposed to visceral) horror. It's also, not incidentally, an epistemological study of faith, set against a world that gives even the righteous many reasons to question their beliefs. In short, just the sort of brooding, introspective piece you might expect from Schrader (who was raised as a strict Calvinist and who has explored similar themes in films from Hardcore to Affliction) and Carr (who, though best known for his novels, has also written extensively about military history, global terrorism and other Zeitgeist matters), but which Morgan Creek would later claim was exactly what it hadn't asked for.
The good news is that it sounds like both versions will eventually surface on DVD. I just hope there's a making-of documentary, or two.
(via GreenCine Daily)
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 8/12/2004 Comments (0)
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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Welcome Filmbrain Readers
Many thanks to Filmbrain for choosing this site as one of his Blogs of Distinction. This blog isn't nearly as good as his, but I hope you'll stick around nonetheless.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 8/07/2004 Comments (0)
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Ebert on Zatoichi
"Kitano playing Zatoichi is a little like Clint Eastwood playing Hopalong Cassidy; the star brings along a powerful persona that redefines the pop superficiality of his character." Full review here.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 8/07/2004 Comments (0)
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