Read Mindjack's Daily Relay
tracking trends and developments
in digital culture

home | archives | about us | feedback

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Own A Piece Of Brando
... Yes, I'll resist saying that there's lots to go around.

Exactly one year (less a day) after his death, many of Marlon Brando's possessions are now up for auction at Christie's. So, if you happen to have $20 000 or so lying around, you may want to bid on his original Godfather script. Gauze-stuffing for cheeks not included.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/30/2005 Comments (1)
Links to this post

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New 'War of the Worlds' Movie Review
I checked out the new War of the Worlds on Monday night, and I've got the review right here. In a nutshell, it's a style-over-substance movie, with Spielberg at the top of his game, crafting a superbly visual, physical experience, but unable to find anything deeper than a summer suspense flick. It's a bit of a letdown after his thoughtful sci-fi films A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Minority Report, but a step up from The Terminal.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 6/29/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Turning the Mike Around
After interviewing hundreds of celebrites myself, the online magazine SFist recently interviewed me. For the record, my other all-time favorite movies are: Sherlock Jr., Chimes at Midnight, Bringing Up Baby, Vertigo, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Close-Up, Naked Lunch, Tokyo Story, The Red Shoes, Monsieur Verdoux and Cat People.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 6/29/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

A Different World

In the hype leading up to War of the Worlds, it's probably only right for us to give Orson Welles his due as the first popularlizer of H.G. Wells' seminal science fiction novel. There are so many myths about his 1938 radio drama adaptation of War of the Worlds that teasing out reality can be a little tricky. For example, it wasn't a Halloween prank (the broadcast was actually on October 30), it was thoroughly in keeping with Welles' pioneering style of radio drama (not a purposeful attempt to trick the entire nation) and Welles (despite his denial the next day) knew exactly what he was doing. Orson's radio work is the subject of a new book by my friend and colleague Paul Heyer called The Medium and the Magician, and in it, this radio broadcast is placed (finally) in its correct historical and cultural context.

The broadcast came at a time when America was gripped by fear (sound familiar), fear of some intanglible invading power that threatens civilization (hmmm... sounding even more familiar) and the electronic media had the ability to play the emotions of the population pretty much like a fine-tuned instrument. In today's world of orange alerts and CNN's breathless coverage of the latest fist-pumping speech from their President, the story is even more timely (which probably was a deciding factor in Steven Spielberg's push to make the upcoming movie re-make).

War of the Worlds was not Orson's best radio work, but it was his most well-known. Luckily, there's a website where you can hear just about all of it, so decide for yourself.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/29/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Psycho Returns to DVD
One of the most amusing (and illuminating) scenes in American Psycho involves a group of selfish, soulless yuppies sitting around a boardroom table comparing business cards. They examine each other's fonts, make comments about the highlights on the card, the paper. Their faces register what their voices don't, and the metaphor is clear. This is "Yuppicus Selfishicus" in its natural habitat, establishing the dominance hierarchy, based on the largest "asset" available to them.

In some ways, watching this brilliant 2000 film again is a lot like watching a nature video, if only because the behavior it depicts is so primal, so pure. Patrick Bateman (played in a career-making turn by Christian Bale) is an upcoming wall street executive in the 1980s who is dead at his core. Nothing excites him, as he says in the voiceover, "I can feel nothing but greed and disgust". His need to feel some kind of real emotion is fueled initially by an excess of image (including a morning bathing ritual that makes a supermodel seem like trailer trash in comparison), but later evolves into ritualized gruesome murder, set to a parade of 80s hits. His desperate struggle to connect with some kind of genuine emotion, find some person inside this hollow corporate shell, is both fascinating and deeply disturbing.

If that makes it sound like a slasher movie, don't be fooled. It's a sly, knowing film that actually comes across with a great deal of wit and black humour. The source novel was criticized heavily upon release for being anti-female (most of Bateman's victims are women), but this is a simplistic and reactionary reading. At least through the cinematic filter, this is an exploration and criticism of eighties urban culture, knowing and clever, told with intelligence and imagination.

The recent special edition DVD release contains numerous special features, including a new, nice-looking anamorphic transfer, a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, audio commentary with director Mary Harron (a Canadian!) and a few great little documentaries concerning the book, the film and their impact. (Among the neat tidbits here is the revelation that the movie originally starred Leonardo DeCaprio and was to be directed by Oliver Stone.)

Stay away from the wretched direct-to-video sequel (with William Shatner) and enjoy a provokative look at post-modern American moral culture.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/28/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Cinemagoing and Ads Go Together Like Popcorn and Butter
New York Times: Advertisers Pour More Money Into the Big Screen (registration req'd). Depressing yet true.
:: posted by Matt, 6/28/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

War of the Worlds reviewed
David Lowery reviews Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, saying: "It is, essentially, his most serious-minded and harrowing film since Schindler's List, passable as entertainment simply because of it is, after all, about an alien invasion."
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/28/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Monday, June 27, 2005

Using the Yellow Pages as a Way Into the Movies
I just got back from talking to Gus Van Sant about his new film Last Days, which is loosely inspired by Kurt Cobain. In one scene a Yellow Pages directory sales guy (played by Thadeus A. Thomas) drops by the rock star's house and talks to not-very-alert musician (played by Michael Pitt) for several minutes about maximizing ad space. Apparently Thomas, a Yellow Pages man in real life, blundered into a costume fitting attended by Pitt, Van Sant and designer extraordinaire Ann Roth (Closer, The Village). "This was a warehouse near a flea market and he apparently thought it was a shop. He started picking things up and looking them over," Van Sant said. Van Sant told him to leave and Roth threw a fit, but Thomas was unfazed. Eventually Van Sant decided, "I've got to have this guy in the movie!" True story.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 6/27/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Vintage Ladies

Comics artist Ivan Brunetti has assembled an image gallery of mostly silent-era actresses. One of Dolores Costello's portraits is seen here. Neat!
:: posted by Matt, 6/25/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Friday, June 24, 2005

Christina Ricci Restored on DVD
By some odd coincidence, Miramax serverely butchered, mishandled and otherwise discarded two new Christina Ricci films, both of which deserve a look. Wes Craven's Cursed is actually a mildly entertaining post-modern werewolf film, despite the fact that the studio re-cut Craven's version. The new "unrated" DVD is not a director's cut, but it's still fun. Erik Skjoldbjaerg's Prozac Nation is quite a bit more notorious; even the original author has disowned it, but Ricci gives a bold performance, and it gets close to a palpable portrait of modern-day depression. I can only imagine how angry Ricci must have been at the treatment of these two films, but they're both coming out in DVD this month. Don't believe the hype and check them both out.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 6/24/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

New Reviews at Combustible
It's Friday, and you know what that means: new movies. Here are my latest reviews of new movies and DVDs: Francois Ozon's 5x2, Herbie: Fully Loaded, George A. Romero's Land of the Dead, Au hasard Balthazar (Criterion Collection), Jaws (30th Anniversary Edition), Hitch, Jean-Luc Godard's Notre Musique and Bewitched: The Complete First Season. I saw the new Bewitched only last night, so my review will be forthcoming.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 6/24/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Producer Credits
I love the scene in David Mamet's film State and Main in which one character (a newcomer to the movies) asks an experienced film hand, "What's an associate producer credit?" To which the man responds, "It's what you give your secretary instead of a raise." Even on the smallest of movies (including Space Daze, which I recently reviewed for Mindjack) there are numerous producers listed. What all these people actually do is beyond my understanding, and apparently the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences agrees. In this article, it's reported that they're trying to limit the number of producers that can receive credit for a film (and hence, the Oscar). It's about time someone got a handle on this industry glad-handing that's made creative recognition into a meaningless reward system.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/24/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Romero Returns
Zombie movies have made a bit of a resurgance in recent years - witness the re-make of George A Romero's own Dawn of the Dead last year, as well as the edgy, low-budget 28 Days Later and the spoof Shaun of the Dead (both, incidentally, from the UK). Now Romero is back in all his metaphorical glory with Land of the Dead. Check out a short piece on him here, and I'll be writing a longer piece about it next week.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/23/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Harryhausen's Stash
Turner Classic Movies is having a night-long birthday tribute to Ray Harryhausen next Wednesday, June 29th. In addition to signatures like Mighty Joe Young and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, they'll be showing rare stop-motion animated shorts from early on in his career. Harryhausen made these fairy tale-themed films in his garage, but they're as technically dazzling as his feature film work. One of them, "The Tortoise and the Hare", went unfinished for more than 50 years until it was completed by two Harryhausen fans - with the master's blessing.
:: posted by Matt, 6/22/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Rich Bounty
The Bounty (1984) was one of those films that kind of fell under the radar in most circles, and that's a shame. It's actually a moody, tension-filled piece, well-acted, well-shot and fairly realistic looking, betraying little of its early-80s origins (the effective but slightly dated Vangelis score notwithstanding). With a cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Mel Gibson (in an early role, already the pin-up), Bernard Hill (recently seen in the Lord of the Rings), Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson and even Laurence Olivier, how can you go wrong?

I was surprised to learn recently that the Bounty had a tortured and painful gestation, which may explain why it was under-promoted and generally forgotten upon release. It was originally developed as the project that would re-unite masterful writer Robert Bolt (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago) with director David Lean (well.... same as above...). It was conceived variously as a two-parter, or one 3 1/2-hour epic. This is probably what attracted the A-list cast, but for reasons that remain unclear, the situation unravelled, and journeyman director Roger Donaldson (who recently helmed the skillful Thirteen Days) was brought in to shoot a version of the film from a heavily edited Bolt script. Neither Bolt nor Lean were happy with this result, and would not work together again. (Bolt went on to write The Mission and Lean directed A Passage to India before they both passed away.)

Why do I know this story? Because the British DVD edition of the film is loaded with extras that discuss it, including commentary tracks, a contemporary documentary and other special features of which the film is deserving. This is unlike the Canadian and American DVD (commonly called "region one") that contains nothing but a reasonable transfer of the film itself.

A shame - why did the Brits get a spectacular product while we got a bare-bones release? Probably because someone in the marketing department at MGM saw the film, as many did, as a cheap failure from the early 80s, instead of the effective and dramatic piece it is. Let's hope they find the error of their ways soon and give this movie the attention it deserves.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/22/2005 Comments (1)
Links to this post

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Val Lewton on DVD at Last!!!
The great critic James Agee compared producer Val Lewton to the greatest filmmakers of his day, including Orson Welles, and he was right. Working on tiny budgets and mostly in the horror genre at RKO, Lewton and his stable of directors, actors and writers produced a collection of nine horror films unsurpassed in their use of mood, presentation and unalloyed smarts. Lewton discovered that not showing the scary stuff was somehow scarier than actually seeing it. These nine films were released in the 1990s in an amazing laserdisc box set, and some have been available on import DVDs and VHS tapes, but now Warner Home Video is putting out a new 5-disc box set including all nine films, new commentary tracks (by Robert Wise, William Friedkin and others), and a new documentary. Titles include Cat People and Curse of the Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie and The Body Snatcher, The Leopard Man and The Ghost Ship, Isle of the Dead and Bedlam, and The Seventh Victim with the new documentary Shadows in the Dark: The Val Lewton Legacy. I love them all, but I'm partial to the two Cat People films -- the first for its sheer bloody lunacy and the second for its gentle heart. The discs will be sold seperately for about $20 each, and the box set will sell for about $60.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 6/21/2005 Comments (2)
Links to this post

Celebrating the Old
One recent trend in the use of the DVD medium (as Matt has already written about here) is the issue of multi-DVD boxed sets featuring a theme or actor. Many of these actors are from "old Hollywood", but there are examples of others as well, such as the Kurosawa Samurai Collection. Usually they're a pretty good deal, and give the viewer a chance to survey an actor's body of work in an interesting way.

Of course, it would be far more artistically meaningful to survey a director's body of work than an actor's, but that's the cineaste in me...
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/21/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Monday, June 20, 2005

Another One for the "Stating the Obvious" File Hollywood Risks Future by Ignoring Adults. Actually an interesting article, which uses the disappointing performance of Cinderella Man as a springboard towards explaining why the big studios are having a hard time with adult-oriented films.
:: posted by Matt, 6/20/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Poor Tom
I'm getting a little sick of Tom Cruise - and apparently he's getting sick of us as well. I couldn't believe the headline of this story - "Police Arrest Four After Tom Cruise Squirted With Water". What's next? "Police Arrest Six After Tom Cruise Stubs Toe Leaving Hotel. Katie Holmes Reported Uninjured"

Another day in the life of a movie star, I guess.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/20/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Summer Movie Slump
The words "just OK" more or less sum up this season's summer movies so far, and a recent AP story confirms it, reporting that box office is down again this year. The slump has caused me to think up another list, this time of the best summer movies of the last 30 years, assuming that the "summer movie" was born in 1975 with Jaws. My list would include Jaws, certain of the Star Wars films, all three Indiana Jones films, Aliens, Robocop, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Unforgiven, Speed, Face/Off, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Pirates of the Caribbean and Spider-Man 2. Conclusions? That recent films aren't as bad as they seem and that Spielberg is still the Summer Movie king.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 6/20/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Eastwood on Flags of Our Fathers
In The Carmel Pine Cone, Paul Miller talks to Clint Eastwood about his next film, Flags of Our Fathers, apparently his biggest project yet. Eastwood is also planning on shooting a companion piece to the film, about the invasion from the Japanese point of view. "It will be like a documentary," Eastwood said, "telling the story of the men who defended the island, their tenacity, and what it was like to have this armada coming at them."
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/19/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Friday, June 17, 2005

Four golden rules from Kiarostami
In The Guardian, Paul Cronin reports on the eight-day filmmaking workshop held by Abbas Kiarostami he recently took part in.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/17/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Why Shark Movies Jumped the Shark
Slate chronicles the decline of shark movies ever since Jaws first took a chunk out of box offices 30 years ago. This article is part of a summer movie package, which also includes a rather convincing critical analysis of Michael Bay.
:: posted by Matt, 6/17/2005 Comments (1)
Links to this post

Bargain Watch: Deep Discount DVD 20% Off Sale on Now
Don't blame me for your credit card bill next month, but Deep Discount DVD is currently running its famous 20% off sale, which includes free shipping (inside the US). Check out DVD Talk for the details. A warning for our Canadian readers though, while the shipping to Canada is fairly cheap ($4.95 for any order), there's a good chance you'll be hit with some customs fees (I was the last time I ordered from them), although the 20% off should balance it out.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/17/2005 Comments (3)
Links to this post

Who Needs Theatres?
Several news sources (including the BBC) are making a fuss over a poll that suggests most (73%) of American moviegoers prefer watching movies at home than at their local theatre. It shouldn't be surprising - let's break down the prices.

For your average movie ticket in Canada, it's around $10. Then about $5 for popcorn and possibly another $3 for a drink. That's roughly $18 per person, making a romantic night at the movies for two come up to a whopping $36. For that price, you get 20 minutes of commercial messages before a movie, no privacy and probably an uncomfortable chair.

For around $5 (total), you can rent a DVD to watch at home. Presuming, as many people now do, you have a true 5.1 surround sound system installed, and perhaps even a 16:9 television monitor, the picture and sound experience is at least comparable, if not better. You can skip the commercials, sit on your own couch, have a nice glass of wine and even pause the movie for bathroom breaks (or other romantic interludes, should the spirit move you...). (Heck - for around $20 - still cheaper than a night at the movies - you can OWN the DVD.)

You also get to choose the film, which may not be something that a theatre would show.

My question is - why is anyone surprised?
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/17/2005 Comments (2)
Links to this post

Thursday, June 16, 2005

July Sight &Sound
The July issue of Sight & Sound is now out but, as usual, not much of it is online. What we do get are reviews of Batman Begins, Revenge of the Sith, and Torremolinos 73 , as well as Guido Bonsaver's piece, Geometry of Feelings, on the re-release of Antonioni's L'eclisse and the director's appeal and Michael Brooke's tribute to Alastair Sim.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/16/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Warner classic horror on DVD this October
Warner Bros. has just announced a ton of classic horror movies set to be released on DVD just in time for Halloween. The centerpiece is something I've been looking forward to for about as long as I've had a DVD player, The Val Lewton Horror Collection. It consists of nine films spread across five DVDs, including a number of Jacques Tourner classics. Here's the complete list of titles in the set: The Cat People, Curse of the Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, Body Snatcher, Isle of the Dead, Bedlam, The Leopard Man, Ghost Ship and The Seventh Victim. Believe it or not, the suggested retail price for the entire set is only $59.92, meaning you'll be able to pick it up for even less than that from most retailers.

Also announced for individual DVD releases are: Dracula A.D. 1972, Demon Seed, Night of the Lepus, Private Parts (1972), A Stranger Is Watching.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/15/2005 Comments (1)
Links to this post

Mark Hamill as The Joker?
IMDb reports that Mark Hamill is on the shortlist of actors to play The Joker in the sequel to Batman Begins. As many of you probably know, Hamill did the voice of The Joker in the fantastic Batman animated series in the early 90s. Also apparently on the shortlist are Crispin Glover and Lachy Hulme. Hmmm... Luke Skywalker or George McFly? Tough decision.
[Via Cinematical]
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/15/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Blogger Welcome
You've probably noticed a new face (or name at least), around here in the past few days. I'm pleased to welcome Ian Dawe as Mindjack Film's newest contributor. Ian has written for Mindjack in the past, but he's also a first class film geek -- currently doing a Master's in European Film History no less -- so he was a natural to join our little band of cineastes here.

We're still looking for more contributors though, so if you're interested in joining us just drop me an email and I'll fill you in on the details.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/15/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Revenge of the Comics
Have comic books taken over the movies? There certainly seem to be numerous comic book references in modern films, and an increasing number of films not only based on comic books, but influenced by their visual style.

Batman Begins opens today, and by all accounts the latest Batman film is dark and stylish, patterned more after Blade Runner than anything from DC Comic land (Frank Miller notwithstanding). The inside joke is, of course, that Blade Runner (and Ridley Scott's earlier masterpiece, Alien) had its roots in the enormously influential and stylish French comic, "Metal-Hurlant" (marketed in the US under the name "Heavy Metal"). A comic-influenced film influencing a film based on a comic... it boggles the mind.

More than that, it's clearly no longer a badge of shame to be a comic book fan. Heck - if Christopher Nolan, Robert Rodriguez, Samuel L. Jackson and Ridley Scott are all confessed comic nuts, they can't be that bad. Comics are getting their revenge at last.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/15/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Treasures Hidden in Plain Sight
Wal-Mart may be getting out of the VHS business, but in the DVD department they're still running strong. It's quite amazing what they carry, and the price they ask. I was at the local store just today and managed to find two absolute classics - The Shootist and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - both for $15. (That's not each - that's $15 for both!) (Both, by the way, are late-period westerns starring John Wayne. The Shootist was actually one of the primary inspirations for the award-winning Clint Eastwood film Unforgiven.)

I had a quick look around the other offers and noticed a distinct trend. All those films that so many laboured on for years, now offered at bargain bin prices. Some have slipped out of copyright and into the hands of low-cost distributors, others have simply fallen under the radar for too many years. Either way, the cost of DVD's is on the way down, and fast. It wasn't that long ago that collectors like me were paying $30 for a VHS copy (albeit a letterboxed one) of any number of films. Now $30 is expensive for a DVD, a much better technology.

It makes me both optimistic and nervous. The ownership cost of DVD is sinking to a point where the next technology (probably some kind of HD format) is looming on the horizon. I'm sure I'll have to buy Blade Runner again in five years. Oh, well. Such is the life of a cineaste.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/15/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Wal-Mart to exit VHS business
As if VHS wasn't dead already, this should finally put an end to it. CNN/Money reports that Wal-Mart will stop selling VHS movies early next year. BestBuy and Circuit City have already stopped selling tapes and Target has announced that they'll have phased out VHS sales by September.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/14/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Monday, June 13, 2005

When Moviemakers Blog
The L.A. Times has an intriguing story (requires registration) on weblogs as a potent marketing tool for filmmakers. The recipe for success in these projects is the same as for any weblog: they work if the filmmaker is personally involved, updates frequently, and establishes some intimacy with fans; they don't work if used as a bald-faced marking tool.
:: posted by Matt, 6/13/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Princess Racoon recommended
Filmbrain says that a certain "well-known film critic of note" told him not to miss Seijun Suzuki's latest film Princess Racoon under any circumstances. It has its North American premeire June 19th as part of the New York Asian Film Festival.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/13/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

You Will Be Amalgamated
The two biggest theatre chains in Canada, Famous Players and Cineplex Galaxy, are merging. I know, you're asking, "What happened to Cineplex Odeon?" Well, it was blended a couple of years ago with Galaxy Entertainment.

So, now there is only one major theatre chain left in this country. The need for independent theatres has never been more pressing. These organizations do exist (they usually market themselves as "film clubs", and require a small membership fee), but they're essentially the only way anyone in this country is going to be able to see anything other than the major Hollywood dreck.

Case and point: I live in a small town, and we have one theatre with five cinemas. At the moment, there are essentially no films there worth seeing (Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith excepted, of course), nor are there likely to be. They systematically avoid playing any movies for "grown-ups" and instead play whatever garbage the marketing machine forces down the pipeline. It was three months before they finally consented to showing "Farenheit 9/11" last year, and there were many other good films (with built-in politically/artistically-minded adult audiences) that they pass on.

I fear this kind of thing will happen more and more often, so get out there and start your own film clubs before it's too late. One last reasont to fear corporate control over film: when's the last time you saw a Canadian movie in a Canadian cinema?

I rest my case.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/13/2005 Comments (2)
Links to this post

Saturday, June 11, 2005

"Great" Hollywood
Let's get real for a minute -- how many great films has Hollywood really produced? I think we can agree that it had two, perhaps three, "golden ages"; the early 1940s, the early 1970s and perhaps the indie boom of the late 90s. But that's pretty much it. Everything in between, except for some anomalies, has been overblown, decidedly formulaic, mediocre "product". Why is it, then, that every filmmaker I know is desperate to get to Hollywood and have their talent sucked away? Why aren't filmmakers clamouring to get to Germany, or Sweden, or France, or to be part of the exciting Latin American film industry? Money is certainly one factor, but it"s interesting to note how deep-rooted the myth of Hollywood still is in this era. Does nobody read history? If they did, they'd know that all the "great" films that Hollywood has managed to produce have been industry "accidents", accidents they were determined to not repeat. Give a director total creative control? You get Citizen Kane. Look what they did to Welles on his very next picture -- yank the whole thing from under him, butcher it and, in Welles' words, "Rip the heart out of my movie". Who cares if it was the greatest American film ever made? Did it win the Best Picture Oscar? Of course not. Heck, even last year's Million Dollar Baby, a courageous if pedestrian drama, was turned down by everyone until Clint Eastwood's star power finally rammed it through.

Time and time again, Hollywood sabotages its own success by presuming the idiocy of its audience. Sad to say, it's always been thus, and I fear it will always be thus. It seems the myth of Hollywood is no truer than any of the others.

For true greatness, one has to look beyond Hollywood - not necessarily far beyond (there are still great American movies). Try checking out some Canadian films. Or even those European flicks. Go ahead. It's good for you.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/11/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Friday, June 10, 2005

More classic horror on DVD from Universal
Universal has just announced two new sets of classic horror films, The Bela Lugosi Collection and The Hammer Horror Collection, for release on September 6th. The Lugosi Collection is only one disc (presumably two-sided) but includes five films: Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Black Cat (1934), The Raven, The Invisible Ray and Black Friday. The Hammer set gets two discs to hold its eight films, including Brides of Dracula, The Curse of the Werewolf, The Phantom of the Opera (1962), Paranoiac, Kiss of the Vampire, Nightmare, Night Creatures and The Evil of Frankenstein. With so many movies crammed onto so few discs it's unlikely there'll be any extra features to speak of, which is a shame, but it's great to finally have these films available on DVD.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/10/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Panther Not So Pink
Sony has just announced that it is shelving its upcoming re-make of the Pink Panther, following negative early reviews. Will it ever see the light of day? Well, of course the company still loves it, but one early reviewer wrote, "How could anything with Kevin Kline and Steve Martin be so unfunny?" It is never a good sign when movie studios start listening to critics.

The new release date is February of 2006.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/10/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Simpsons Movie A Go
The long-planned feature film version of 'The Simpsons' is finally ready to begin production. This time for real. Honest.
:: posted by Matt, 6/09/2005 Comments (1)
Links to this post

Halliwell's Top 1000 Movies
Taking list making farther than most dare go, Halliwell's has just published their list of the top 1000 movies, as compiled by film critic John Walker. The book is available for order at and Walker explains his choices in this article in London's Times newspaper. The Times also has the top 100 movies on the list. Here's the top ten:
1. Tokyo Story
Japan, 1953, Yasujiro Ozu
2. La Regle du Jeu
France, 1939, Jean Renoir
3. Lawrence of Arabia
GB, 1962, David Lean
4. The Godfather Trilogy
US, 1972, 1974, 1990, Francis Ford Coppola
5. The Seven Samurai
Japan, 1954, Akira Kurosawa
6. Citizen Kane
US, 1941, Orson Welles
7. Raging Bull
US, 1980, Martin Scorsese
8. Vertigo
US, 1958, Alfred Hitchcock
9. Some Like It Hot
US, 1959, Billy Wilder
10. 8 1/2
Italy, 1963, Federico Fellini
Any comments?
[via The IFC Blog]
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/09/2005 Comments (2)
Links to this post

In Praise of Bad Behavior
So, Russell Crowe's been at it again. This time, assaulting a hapless hotel desk clerk with a telephone. He's been in trouble for brawling, drinking and generally making a spectacle of himself before. I don't hold that against him - he's part of a great acting tradition.

Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn were Hollywood's first infamous hell-raisers, running through women and wrecking hotel rooms, but always performing when the job called for it. They were followed by Orson Welles (probably the world's first high-profile hotel-wrecker for a spree in New York in the 30's) and then by inneumerable rock stars in the 60's and 70's. Three of my favourite actor/personalities, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed and Peter O'Toole were also as famous for their drinking and brawling. (Harris was once found riding the luggage carousel in Heathrow, passed out; Reed died in a drinking and armwrestling contest with Maltese sailors, and O'Toole, among other things, was arrested in Casablanca for making a spectacle in a bar celebrating the end of Lawrence of Arabia.) It's telling that Richard Harris and Crowe actually shared the screen near the end of the former's career, in Gladiator. Their scenes had an extra layer of meaning for me, as I saw the torch being passed.

Of course, it would have all been for naught had these men not been superb in front of the camera, which they must assuredly were. In today's world of sanitized, green tea-drinking scientologist stars, it's refreshing to know that some celebrities are still impatient with the constraints of their world. I for one welcome Crowe's bad behavior and hope it continues. Someone needs to keep being famous fun.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/09/2005 Comments (1)
Links to this post

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Year So Far...
It's just about that time of year for the critics to start complaining about how bad movies have gotten and the death of the cinema, etc. The year is nearly half over, and I've seen very few decent movies. My favorite so far was a festival film that won't get a release until later this fall, Jia Zhang-ke's The World. Likewise my second favorite, Wong Kar-wai's 2046. I've enjoyed some popcorn films, like Revenge of the Sith, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Sin City, but I think the best American film I've seen so far is Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda, which ain't saying much, followed by Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin. The foreign films have fared a little better, with Jean-Luc Godard's Notre Musique and Manoel de Oliveira's A Talking Picture leading the pack, even though those films played for about a week and disappeared. Revivals have been quite a bit more exciting, such as Peckinphah's Major Dundee, Godard's Masculine Feminine and Bunuel's Los Olvidados. Even the new Batman film disappointed me with its clumsy action sequences. But the fall is still coming, and my ten best list will probably be saved at the last minute, as always.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 6/08/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Here's to You, Anne Bancroft
What made Mrs. Robinson such an indelible character in American culture? It has, as with many things, a lot to do with sex, but more to do with freedom. The Graduate came along at a very precarious time in American film. The late 60s saw many of the major studios either collapsing or losing their audiences (or both). There was a new generation of auteur filmmakers waiting in the wings of their film schools, but they wouldn't come into their own until the early 1970s. In 1967, when The Graduate was released, films were not on most people's mind.

What was on their mind was sex, drugs, rock and roll and above all, freedom. Freedom in every imaginable way - freedom from reality, from the demands of the economy, from the demands of family and particularly freedom from what they saw as outdated moral codes. The Graduate character of Benjamin (played by Dustin Hoffman) is young, but not free. Mrs. Robinson, on the other hand, is.

"Freedom, man - that's what it's all about," was to become a rallying cry a couple of years later in Easy Rider, but Anne Bancroft was way ahead of them. Her confident sexuality reflects, probably for the first time in a hit movie, the underlying reality of 1950s America. Women were bored - their workaholic husbands ignored them, and ignored their needs and they were given little or no opportunity to develop individual lives. Mrs. Robinson shattered all that, acting out "free" in a truly sixties way. If, by the end of the movie, she has turned into the enemy, it's only because she has freed Benjamin to realize his own possibilities. The final scene of The Graduate shows the young couple riding off into the turbulent but exciting future of the 1960s.

Anne Bancroft's performance in the film is key - and she hits exactly the right tone of confidence and sexuality. I can't imagine anyone else in the role (although it has been re-created on stage by a number of actresses). It's such a potent image of the times, and all times, particularly now that America is sliding back into purile fundamentalist moralism. Even though, by all accounts, Ms. Bancroft would have rather been remembered for other things, the ultimate symbol of cultural freedom isn't that bad.

Here's to you.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/08/2005 Comments (1)
Links to this post

Nouveau site du Cahiers du cinema
The landmark French film magazine Cahiers du cinema has a new website. Best of all, they're putting their entire archives online, apparently for free. So far, issues #1, 100, 300, 400 and 500 are all available in PDF form. Time to brush up on my French.

[via GreenCine Daily]
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/08/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

An Oscar for Cronenberg?
Emanuel Levy is touting David Cronenberg's new film A History of Violence as an Oscar contendor, especially for Cronenberg himself as Best Director. It's certainly one of the movies I'm most looking forward to seeing this year.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/08/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Fistful of Treasures
The Museum of American West is in Los Angeles, which is appropriate, considering that the American West as we know it through film and literature, never really existed. It's a popular and enduring myth, however, and one that obviously still has quite a following.

One of the great myth makers of a different kind of west was Sergio Leone, who, as the most artistically and commercially important of the "Spaghetti Western" directors, interpreted the west in a uniquely European way. Now things have come full circle with an exhibit at the Museum of the American West containing history and memorabilia from Leone's western films, which include A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Leone also made what many (including myself) consider to be the ultimate western: Once Upon a Time in the West.

With costumes from his movies, special multimedia features and a treasure trove of exhibit items, this kind of thing makes me wish I lived in LA.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/07/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Watch the Skies on TCM
If you're lucky enough to recieve that wonder of American cable television, Turner Classic Movies, you won't want to miss Watch The Skies, film critic Richard Schickel's new documentary on the golden age of science fiction movies. It first airs July 5th and will repeat a few times after that. What's more, leading up to it, TCM is showing a bunch of classic sci-fi films throughout the month of June, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Forbidden Planet, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Logan's Run, and even the underrated Mars Attacks!.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/07/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

So Long, Mrs. Robinson
AP: "Anne Bancroft, who won the 1962 best actress Oscar as the teacher of a young Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker but achieved greater fame as the seductive Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, has died. She was 73."
:: posted by Matt, 6/07/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Some People Call it a Good Movie
We may think of Billy Bob Thorton these days as a bit of a joke - a Hollywood celeb, courting starlets and appearing in films hardly worthy of his talent. We must remember that at one time, he was a hot young writer/director. His stunning debut, Sling Blade has just received a great new DVD release, complete with a new director's cut. Check it out before you write him off as some LA freak.

Of course, Billy Bob isn't the first aspiring film great to have his career get lost in a maze of fame and infamy, just look at Stallone, who was once hailed as the new Brando. (Heck - look what happened to Brando!)
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 6/07/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Monday, June 06, 2005

If you scroll down the page a bit you'll see that we've (finally) added a link roll to the site. If you'd like to suggest something to be added to it, feel free to email me.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/06/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Ratner gets X3
It's official, auteur extraodinaire Brett Ratner will be directing the third X-Men movie, replacing Layer Cake director Matthew Vaughn who jumped ship last week.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/06/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Friday, June 03, 2005

Roeg Interview
Jason Woods interviews director Nicholas Roeg in The Guardian.
Roeg: On The Man Who Fell To Earth, we had a scene where David Bowie first arrives on Earth and walks into town; it's completely empty, things blowing. I couldn't believe this, but there was a children's fairground, with a big bouncy clown thing bouncing around. We had David cross the road and we followed him from behind, and this bouncing clown lost its cables and started bouncing towards him. I looked sideways, and there was a man who'd been lying in one of these torpedoes in a fairground ride. He staggered out of the torpedo towards David and kind of belched in front of him. And that was Mr Newton's first contact with human beings. Fantastic. He was completely baffled. I used that belch at the end too. You can't write that stuff in. So I shoot a lot of stuff. I think that's probably come from not having gone to film school. Things work themselves out. You've lost the showmanship thing, the fairground barker, come-see-what's-inside aspect of film-making when you try to plan everything for the audience.
[via GreenCine Daily]
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/03/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Remakes that beat the originals
... at least according to MSNBC's John Hartl, who picks ten remakes that he thinks outdo the first go around. Included on his list are The Fly, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the 1978 one), The Maltese Falcon, and Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli, not Luhrmann). Anyone care to add anything to the list?
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 6/03/2005 Comments (1)
Links to this post

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Hello Noir, Goodbye Noir
Warner Home Video just announced the release of six elusive classics on DVD, notably John Boorman's brilliant, long-awaited Point Blank (1967) and Fritz Lang's Clash by Night (1952). The other titles include Robert Wise's Born to Kill (1947), Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire (1947), Max Nosseck's Dillinger (1945) and Richard Fleischer's The Narrow Margin (1952). Several contemporary directors will provide commentary tracks: Peter Bogdanovich will fill in for Fritz Lang, John Milius (who did the 1973 remake) will talk about Dillinger, William Friedkin will do The Narrow Margin and Steven Soderbergh will join John Boorman for Point Blank. And Robert Wise is still with us, and will do his own track for Born to Kill. On a sad note, however, VCI Entertainment has announced that their Anthony Mann discs Raw Deal and T-Men (1949) will be going out of print. That gives fans a chance to snatch up copies for about $6 before collectors jack the price up to $75 or $80 each.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 6/02/2005 Comments (2)
Links to this post

Music Video Auteurs
The second wave of Palm Pictures' excellent Directors Series DVDs will be available in September. This round explores the works of Mark Romanek, Jonathan Glazer, Anton Cobijn and Stephane Sednaoui. Very cool. (via Coudal Partners)
:: posted by Matt, 6/02/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Less Tent-Poles, More Quality
Do Movies Suck? - Evan Shapiro of IFC analyzes Hollywood's sucky year(s) and offers suggestions on how to bring audiences back to theaters.
:: posted by Matt, 6/01/2005 Comments (0)
Links to this post

Subscribe to our RSS feed:
Subscribe with Bloglines



Your Ad Here

More from Mindjack:

Daily Relay

Tracking trends and developments in digital culture

Support Mindjack


Mindjack Release
Sign up to receive details of new issues

Archives prior to April, 2005 are from Donald Melanson's personal film blog.


Roger Avary
Bitter Cinema
Cinema Minima
Film Journey
Filmmaker Mag Blog
A Girl and a Gun
GreenCine Daily
Indie Film Blog
IFC Blog
Like Anna Karina's Sweater
Masters of Cinema
Reel Reviews Podcast
Wiley Wiggins

Film Criticism and Theory
James Beradinelli
Bright Lights Film Journal
Combustible Celluloid
Dual Lens
Roger Ebert
European Films
The Film Journal
Jim's Film Website
Guardian Unlimited Film
Long Pauses
Milk Plus
The New York Times
The New Yorker
Not Coming to a Theatre Near You
Reverse Shot
Jonathan Rosembaum
Salon A&E
Senses of Cinema
Slant Magazine
The Stranger
Strictly Film School
The Village Voice

Movie News
Ain't It Cool News
Movie City News
Dark Horizons
The Movie Blog
Cinema Confidential
Coming Soon

DVD News & Reviews
The Digital Bits
DVD Journal
DVD Times
DVD Verdict

Print Magazines
Cinema Scope
Film Comment
Independent Film Quarterly
Inside Film
Movie Maker
Sight & Sound
Total Film

IMDb Search