Scott McFadyen and Sam Dunn‘s Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage has just been named the winner of Tribeca Film Festival’s Audience Award. The doc isn’t bad, but Rush’s music, for me, is mute nostril agony and incessant torture. This award, trust me, is as much if not mostly about the fervor of Rush-heads stuffing the ballot box as an expression of general audience admiration for the film.
I just saw this trailer for Xavier Dolan‘s Les Amours Imaginaires, which was posted yesterday on the alternate Playlist. The analysis is correct: it is a Pedro Almodovar film. The plot is about Francis (Dolan) and Marie (Monia Chokri) falling for the same guy — i.e., Nicolas (Neils Schneider). The Canadian-made feature reminds me of a 1977 Coline Serreau film called Pourqois Pas!.
Les Amours Imaginaires will play in the Un Certain Regard programming of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. No U.S. distributor as we speak, but opening in Canada in early June.
Schneider is almost as pretty as the young boy everybody wanted in Fellini Satyricon.
It suddenly hit me five minutes ago that I’ve never read Wlliam Monahan‘s London Boulevard script, so if anyone could forward…thanks. It’s pretty much finished, no distributor yet, presumably destined for distinction in the fall. That’s Colin Farrell, of course — a guy named Mitchell, just out of the slammer and fated to fall in love with Keira Knightley‘s Charlotte, the actress in the black-and-white photos, and run afoul of some gangster guy or guys (presumably played by Eddie Marsan or Ray Winstone).
The London-based crime drama also costars David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Ben Chaplin, Sanjeev Baskhar and Jamie Campbell Bower.
The above photo was first linked to by Awards Daily.
Pic is based on Ken Bruen‘s 2001 novel . Mitchell’s romantic interest in Bruen’s book is a 60 year-old reclusive actress named Lillian Palmer, so Monahan has definitely shuffled that element around. So Knightley will play…a reclusive 25 year-old actress?
Bruen’s book was described in a book-review synopsis as a “gritty reimagining of Billy Wilder‘s Sunset Boulevard, transplanting the action from glitzy Hollywood to the rough and tumble London streets…looking for an honest job, Mitchell finds work as a handyman for a wealthy and reclusive former stage beauty, Lillian Palmer, who lives in a sprawling estate with her taciturn butler, Jordan.”
Thewlis is playing Jordan in the film, and Friel is playing Briony, who is Palmer’s sister in the book but Farrell’s in the film.
Within the trappings of its somewhat old-school, ’60s widescreen-epic realm, David Lean‘s Dr. Zhivago (’65) has always been a nice warm schmaltz-bath — eye-filling, movingly scored, nicely edited, decently written and for the most part very well acted (especially by Tom Courtenay, Rod Steiger and bit player Klaus Kinski). And it looked quite good when the November 2001 DVD came out — play it on your plasma or LCD flatscreen and it’s still handsome as hell.
The new Bluray Zhivago, of course, is more desirable. More detail, delicacy, vibrancy. Cleaner, sharper, etc. I could go on and on about how this or that scene looks decidedly better due to this or that enhancement, but we all know what a well-mastered Bluray delivers, and what exacting technicians the Warner Bros. home video guys (led by Ned Price) have always been.
Price was in Manhattan earlier this week for some Dr. Zhivago promotional activities (including a 4.28 screening at the Tribeca Film Festival). He spoke to me on the phone for a few minutes on Thursday, and explained some of the challenges and aplications that brought about the necessary upgrade in the basic Zhivago elements. But I didn’t speak with Ned as long or as thoroughly as Glenn Kenny did for his 4.30 piece for The Auteurs. Read it and get back to me in the morning.
I’ll always have problems with that shot of the rainbow over the dam at the very end. To me it’s an attempt to give a nice, bright happy ending to a film that didn’t need one. The story is fairly melancholy throughout, always about longing and sometimes about finding relief or brief serenity, but mostly about the brutal forces of early Bolshevism interfering and destroying time and again. I only know that a glowing rainbow at the end of such a tale feels wrong.
And Lean’s quick cut to an electric power-line spark when Omar Sharif‘s Zhivago and Julie Christie‘s Lara brush against each other on a Moscow subway car is way too on-the-nose. A similar strategy was used by Alfred Hitchcock when he cut to fireworks during a Cary Grant–Grace Kelly love scene, but there the tone was strictly playful. On the other hand Lean, who’s telling a straightforward love story, appears to be offering a note of assurance. “Are these two are destined to fall in love or what?,” he seems to be saying. “I mean, my God, even the overhead subway wire can sense something’s up!”
Last night I attended a one-time-only film and music event at MOMA called Here [The Story Sleeps]. It sounds arty-farty, yes, but that was the point — come see an original multi-media presentation from some very committed and cool people, and try and figure it out.
I couldn’t quite manage that, but it was awfully pleasant to just let the avant-garde-ish sounds and images wash over and say to myself, “Yeah…this is cool and different, all right, which sort of makes me cool and different because I was invited to see it.”
It was basically a three-screen tryptich presentation of footage from a forthcoming feature called Here, a two-character relationship drama with Ben Foster and Lubna Azabal from director Braden King. The music was by Michael Krassner and the Boxhead Ensemble, and the projection design was by Deborah Johnson.
Here will be out sometime next year, King said in a q & a after the show. It was shot last year in Armenia, which makes it the first American feature ever filmed in that former Soviet republic. The film is described in the program as “a landscape-obsessed road-movie romance chronicling a brief but intensely affecting relationship between an American satellite-mapping engineer (Foster) and an expatriate Armenian art photographer (Azabal).”
I loved the triptych effect mixed with music, but I don’t know how inspired it was. You can take footage from any heavily covered film and break it into three reels, and then project the main footage on the main screen plus ancillary footage on the two adjoining walls, etc. And yet I haven’t seen a presentation quite like this anywhere, and if I have I’ve forgotten about it.
The Boxhead Ensemble was quite good, particularly the drummer. They had rehearsed extensively, they said, but their music sounded moody and ethereal and unstructured in a kind of improvised, half-Grateful Dead-y sort of way, which seemed just right.
The funding came from Creative Capital and Pomegranate Arts.
I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that Martin Scorsese‘s The King of Comedy came out 27 years ago. Robert De Niro‘s Rupert Pupkin represented, of course, a burgeoning mob obsession with celebrity that’s probably ten times more malignant today. The problem is that viewers have to spend 109 minutes with him — perhaps the most clueless and pathetic worm in cinematic history, and definitely with one of the worst haircut-and-moustache combos in any realm.
And yet this scene between De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Diahnne Abbott and the servants has never left my head. It’s agonizing, excruciating and sadly truthful all at once, and there’s no comfort to be had from any aspect of it. You just want the fucking scene to end, and yet it’s spellbinding.
I also love that scene when a fan begs Lewis to sign an autograph for a relative and he politely refuses, and she says “You should get cancer…I hope you get cancer!”
De Niro is a moron whom you can’t stand, but we’re all stuck with him. Lewis’s Jerry Langford, an old-school talk-show host by way of Johnny Carson, is stuck with Pupkin also and wants nothing more than to be rid of him, but you can sense that Langford isn’t very good company himself — he seems morose, resigned and more than a little contemptuous of his fans. (Perhaps, one suspects, like Lewis himself.) And forget Sandra Bernhard‘s Masha — a braying egoistic psycho.
And yet distasteful and unappealing as these characters are, they’ve somehow “grown” The King of Comedy into something more than what it was. The film has endured the test of of time because of people’s willingness to be tortured by it, year in and year out. It’s not just an uncomfortable film to sit through, but perhaps one of the most deeply uncomfortable viewing experiences with movie stars ever put before the public. I too am spelled by this quality, the way it makes me clear my throat and grind my teeth and feel faintly nauseous.
I’ve either trained myself to think this way or have been trained by the FSLC dweebs: The King of Comedy is a great film! Are the people who swear absolutely by each and every frame of Barry Lyndon (i.e., the ones who don’t share my “dead zone” issue) also King of Comedy devotees? Something tells me they are.
Has there ever been another lead character as chalk-on-the-blackboard detestable as Rupert Pupkin?