Why is a forthcoming DVD of Michelangelo Antonioni‘s Il Grido (’58) only available in England? Why isn’t it coming out here through Criterion? This is Antonioni’s first landmark film — his first world-class depiction of characters trapped and semi-narcotized by a sense of their alienation and rootlessness.
“When sugar refinery worker Aldo (Steve Cochran) is jilted by his mistress, Irma (Alida Valli), he takes to the road. With daughter in tow, Aldo wanders the Po River delta, seeking temporary but always illusory respite with a series of lovers, who only serve to remind him of Irma. Unable to find a new life, Aldo’s haunted past gives way to a fateful finale.
“With a script conceived by Antonioni, exquisite cinematography (including a signature concern with desolate vistas), and a plaintive score by renowned composer Giovanni Fusco, the award-winning Il Grido — it took the Golden Leopard at Locarno — is an early key work in the director’s much-celebrated oeuvre.
“The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Il Grido for home viewing in the UK for the very first time. New high-definition transfer of the film in its original aspect ratio. Newly translated optional English subtitles. Original 1957 Italian theatrical trailer. Previously unseen deleted footage. A 56-page booklet featuring a color reproduction of the original Italian poster. Archival publicity stills. An essay by William Arrowsmith called ‘Antonioni: The Poet of Images.’ Writing and interviews from Michelangelo Antonioni.”
Eight months before its scheduled release on 12.18.09, James Cameron‘s Avatar, a science-fiction thriller filmed with his own specially devised 3-D technology, “is stirring up a kind of anticipation that until now had been reserved for, say, the Rapture,” writes N.Y. Times reporter Michael Cieply in tomorrow’s edition.
But before we go any further, let’s cut to the chase with a few Avatar Wikipedia page quotes.
One, in Cameron’s original Avatar script treatment, “a man tries to make his way as a miner by combining with an alien during an interplanetary war in which aliens can make themselves manifest by possessing human bodies — avatars.” Or is it vice versa?
Two, when Avatar was titled “Project 880”, a casting call was put out in June 2006 with this plot description: “In the future, Jake, a paraplegic war veteran is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Navi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Those from Earth find themselves at odds with each other and the local culture.”
Three, Cameron having described Avatar in December 2006 as “a futuristic tale set on a planet 200 years hence…an old-fashioned jungle adventure with an environmental conscience [that] aspires to a mythic level of storytelling.”
And four, a January 2007 press release having described the film as “an emotional journey of redemption and revolution…the story of a wounded ex-marine, thrust unwillingly into an effort to settle and exploit an exotic planet rich in biodiversity, who eventually crosses over to lead the indigenous race in a battle for survival.”
Ceiply speculates that Avatar might become a hit on the order of Cameron’s Titanic with $1.8 billion in worldwide ticket sales. Or it might just be a giant headache for 20th Century Fox, which is backing Avatar and will have to spend much of the year managing expectations for a film whose technological wizardry is presumed by more than a few to promise an experiential leap for audiences comparable to that of The Jazz Singer, the arrival of Technicolor or an Obama campaign rally.
“To date, neither a trailer nor even a still photo from the film, which tells the story of a disabled soldier who uses technology to inhabit an alien body on a distant planet, has been made public by Cameron or Fox.
“Only a few weeks ago, Joshua Quittner, a technology writer for Time magazine, fed the frenzy when he reported feeling a strange yearning to return to the movie’s mythical planet, Pandora, the morning after he was shown just 15 minutes of the film. Cameron, Quittner wrote, theorized that the movie’s 3-D action had set off actual ‘memory creation.’
“Questioned by telephone recently at his home in Mill Valley, Calif., Quittner said he was still reeling from the experience.
“‘It was like doing some kind of drug,” he said, describing a scene in which the movie’s hero, played by Sam Worthington, ran around ‘with this kind of hot alien chick,’ was attacked by jaguarlike creatures and was sprinkled with sprites that floated down, like snowflakes.
“‘You feel like the little feathery things are landing on your arm,’ said Quittner, who remained eager for another dose.”
Two days ago I ran a two-point riff on the themes of Kirby Dick‘s Outrage. One, closeted gay politicians who support anti-gay legislation are tragic and despicable figures. And two, while I understand and sympathize with those who’ve sought to “out” these hypocrites, I would never out anyone on my own. But I feel differently after seeing Outrage at a Tribeca Film Festival screening last night. Not about my own hesitations, but about how there’s a certain logic and a rightness to outing Washington, D.C. power brokers.
Running only 90 minutes, Outrage seems to me like an exceptionally tight and disciplined and truthful testament. It’s ballsy and straight and coming from a healthy place. It’s certainly one of the best-made films I’ve seen this year, and without question one of the toughest and bravest.
Dick’s aim is to expose a bizarre psychology on the part of closeted politicians who’ve voted against gay civil rights as a way of suppressing their own issues. Bluntly and unambiguously and without any dicking around, Outrage names names. Dick seems to have done his homework; you can sense discipline and exactitude and what seems like solid sourcing all through it. I came away convinced that it’s better to look at this tendency frankly and plainly than to just let it fester.
I still feel opposed to personally outing anyone, but Dick’s motive is clearly to let air and sunlight into a series of Washington, D.C. situations that have been about shadows for too long. That’s what kept hitting me over and over as I watched — i.e., that Outrage is doing a fine job of persuading me that it’s all about telling the truth. I believed it, I believed it, I believed it.
Most of the politicians profiled in Dick’s film are Republicans, which of course fits the spin and deny psychology. Florida Governor Charlie Crist is the headliner. California Representative David Dreier, former George Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), and Rep. Ed Schrock (R-Va.). Private aspects of the history of Democrat Ed Koch, the former New York City mayor, are also reviewed.
Fox News anchor Shepard Smith also comes under scrutiny but not a certain CNN news anchor, mainly because CNN isn’t perpetrating a right-wing agenda and because the anchor is known for his humanistic, right-guy reporting so why go there?
The doc, Dick has said, examines “the issues surrounding closeted politicians and their hypocrisy in voting anti-gay — and how these people have harmed millions of Americans for many years…if someone is passing laws against the LGBT community, and they’re closeted, that is a form of hypocrisy, and the public deserves to know. These people are victims of homophobia too. You can never go into too much detail about anything you do because there will always be the next question, and the next question. That keeps you distanced.”
Openly gay politicans and LGBT advocates-activists Barney Frank, Larry Kramer, Michelangelo Signorile, < Tammy Baldwin, and former New Jersey governor JIm McGreevey all make their views known.
This is a curious observation that I don’t want to express the wrong way, but Outrage feels longer than 90 minutes. It doesn’t drag or meander in the least, but it crams so much solid-sounding, credible-seeming information into an hour and a half that it’s natural to assume without looking at your watch that it runs100 or 110 minutes at least. I mean this as a high compliment.
Dan Fogler‘s absurdly broad performance in Balls of Fury convinced me that he was a sworn enemy of restraint. His name went to the top of my must-to-avoid list. Then I read about his portraying the young Alfred Hitchcock in Chase Palmer‘s Number Thirteen and thought about cutting him a break. Now comes Hysterical Psycho, a Tribeca Film Festival entry that Fogler wrote and directed. Couldn’t see it last night; will try on Tuesday. Anyone?
Has anyone with a cinematic IQ over 50 even seen Obsessed since it opened, or in a press screening beforehand? The bizarre success of this faux-Fatal Attraction knockoff (to go by Variety‘s John Anderson) tells you there are two moviegoing cultures out there. One, people who have a semblance of taste in (or a healthy amount of passion about) movies, which accompanies a certain fervor and sophistication about movies in general. And two, those who flock to films like Obsessed.
Three days ago I mentioned that Jack Nicholson hasn’t made a film since The Bucket List — two years ago — and wondered what’s up. The next day I was told about a discussion he’ll be taking part in today at Brown University’s Salomon Center, in a panel arranged by the Ivy Film Festival. It starts at 3 pm. I was going to cover it, which would have involved Amtrak-ing all the way up to Providence and back within a 10-hour period. But I didn’t want to blow all that time and money.
But if anyone records this event today (or intends to take notes and report), please forward and I’ll post something tonight or whenever. Why is the usually reclusive Nicholson doing a q & a at Brown? He has a daughter, Lorraine, who’s in her junior or senior year there. Here are photos of the two of them touring Brown a couple of years ago.