Archive for April, 2010

Charlotte Gainsbourg Q&A tomorrow – just announced

April 12, 2010

This just in from the Alliance Francaise Seattle!

Charlotte Gainsbourg in an Intimate Q&A

at the Alliance Française, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

Tuesday, April 13th from 7-8pm

Doors/Registration open at 6pm

Event in English but will have interpreter for French speakers.

France’s most-beloved daughter, award-winning actress and international musical star is stopping by the Alliance Française of Seattle for a Q&A session with Seattle’s French and Francophone community this coming Tuesday, April 13th from 7:00-8:00pm.

Charlotte is currently on tour promoting her latest album, titled IRM, where she collaborated with chart-topping American artist, Beck.

Charlotte will be answering questions not only about her latest work with Beck but also about what it is like for her to live with two languages and two cultures.  Her mother is English top-model/singer/actress Jane Birkin and father is the legendary French singer/songwriter, Serge Gainsbourg.

Charlotte is France’s most prolific star and the Alliance Française of Seattle is honored to welcome her as she talks about her latest work and her life as one of the most iconic people for France.

Space is limited to the first 100 attendees.

Doors open @ 6:00pm

FREE for Members of the Alliance Française

$15 donation for non-members

Bring your CDs, posters, etc for signing

*If planning on asking Ms. Gainsbourg a question, please have it prepared to hand it at registration on arrival.

For more information about this unique opportunity to meet Charlotte:

Alliance Française de Seattle • 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N #205, Seattle, WA 98103

events@afseattle.org • 206.632.5433

Follow Up From Cine Institute

April 12, 2010

Today I received a follow up form the fine folks at the Cine Institute, who were the beneficiaries or our  benefit for Haiti’s earthquake victims. Thought I’d share for those of you came out to support.

April 2010
Dear Friends,

THANK YOU to all our friends, partners and supporters who have contributed in so many meaningful ways over the past three months. Your support and assistance arrived in many amazing forms… From those who volunteered time and services, to hosting of benefit events, organizing relief shipments, lending office space, giving gifts in cash and in kind, providing professional references and opportunities, organizing school visits, ensuring blog and press mentions and the simple act of sending us letters of encouragement and support.

This is a long overdue letter of thanks and an update from the front.

Every bit of support has made a huge difference to us and has impacted our community. We suffered losses and significant damages, but thanks to your efforts Ciné Institute was the only school in the southeast of Haiti that remained open throughout the post-earthquake State of Emergency.

It is now three months since the tragic events of January 12th. We have been at work since day one assisting friends and neighbors in every way possible – from producing video reports and supporting visiting journalists and filmmakers, to helping victims obtain medical care, to assisting with the distribution of food, medicine, water filters, tents, blankets and generators. We’ve also provided enjoyment and pleasure to tent camp residents through weekly outdoor screenings. Our students have referred to this post quake period as their ultimate master class in civic duty and journalism. Their strength and determination to work through this tragedy has been truly remarkable.

We’ve been operating out of a temporary storage space and yard kindly provided by Gerald Mathurin and the team of CROSE (Coordination of the Organizations in the South-East Region), a group coordinating all grassroots organizations across the southeast of Haiti. Their generosity and solidarity has been extraordinary and we will forever be grateful. Learn more about CROSE here.

While Ciné Institute remains operational, there is so much about us and around us that has changed. As a result we are currently operating with an interim curriculum for the semester and have combined the entire student body into classes focused on areas of community outreach and documentary and fiction film production. We are also evaluating our longer term curriculum in light of a very different Haiti. How should we grow or adapt our curriculum and training to better serve Haiti’s future?

Our goal is to be relocated and able to implement full time normalized curriculum again by the start of the school year in September.  To do so we also find ourselves evaluating how best to go forward with the task of rebuilding: What are the safest structural approaches? What are the best environmental practices and how can we turn this into an opportunity to become more energy independent and even carbon neutral? Can our own rebuilding help give birth to a local green movement?

In the coming months we will develop and certainly share with you concrete strategies, plans and financial needs associated with rebuilding Ciné Institute.

Thank you once more for your continued support and interest!

David Belle

Ciné Institute

Tati, This Sunday

April 9, 2010


Jacques Tati directed only six feature films, meaning you could watch his entire ouevre in a day. And what a fun day that would be. I can’t decide if my favorite is Mon Oncle, his bemused meditation on late ’50s modernism (which features the slightly creepy fish fountain above), or Playtime, his 70mm anti-epic that, like Citizen Kane, was unappreciated in its time but is now considered a masterpiece.

The documentary Magnificent Tati, playing at NWFF this Sunday at 5:00, is a good introduction to Tati’s life and art. We learn about his family’s business (picture framing – how perfect!), influences on his performance style (mimes, Buster Keaton), and his personal problems (mostly financial). But my favorite sections deal with the anti-Hollywood formal qualities of his films, which favor mis-en-scene over story, use dialogue mostly as a sound effect, and (especially in Playtime) give us so much to look at in any given scene that each viewer is forced to create their own version of the film. (Jim Emerson recently talked about Playtime in this context on his blog, where you can find a representative clip. )

And don’t miss the interview with the film’s director, Michael House, posted below.

Interview with Magnificient Tati Director Michael House

April 8, 2010

This weekend as part of our Sunday masters series, we’re screening a new documentary about the great French comic genius, Jacques Tati.

San Franciscan Michael Guillen of twitch.com interviewd director Michael House when the film played in SF. With Guillen’s permission, here’s a reprint of that interview.

It seems that every 10-15 years Jacques Tati is reintroduced to the American moviegoing public. The last wave was in the late ’90s when the recently-restored color print of Jour de Fête (1949)–Tati’s first directorial feature–traveled the art house circuit. Now with the participation of the French ministry, spanking new prints have been struck of Tati’s films and a new wave is hitting American shores. Riding the crest of this most recent wave is The Magnificent Tati, an outstanding documentary biography by Michael House, which will see its U.S. premiere in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Sunday, January 24, 2010, 2:00PM, with House in the house.Along with Dennis Harvey’s helpful overview of Tati’s career, SF360 has optioned my interview with Michael House, which is now up at their site. As synopsized at SF360, Michael House was born in San Diego and worked as a musical composer in Los Angeles, writing music for television commercials. He migrated to San Francisco with his wife Julie roughly a month after Loma Prieta. They wanted to live in Europe but couldn’t negotiate work visas so they decided that living in San Francisco would be the closest they could get to Europe within the United States. They lived in San Francisco for 12 years before moving to Paris, where they have lived for the past 10 years. House still considers himself a San Franciscan, however, and returned to San Francisco to complete the final stages of The Magnificent Tati in collaboration with Kim Aubry’s ZAP Zoetrope. Aubry used to be the Head of Post Production at Zoetrope Studios and a long-time collaborator with Francis Ford Coppola. House phoned me from Paris to converse on the upcoming premiere and–to complement my piece on SF360–here are a few additional questions I put to House.

* * *

Michael Guillén: When you were talking to Macha Makeïeff of Les Films de Mon Oncle, she expressed the archive’s commitment to incorporating contemporary responses to Tati’s work. While conducting my research for our interview, I was astounded by the number of artists who claim to have been influenced by Jacques Tati, including those who served your documentary The Magnificent Tati, among many others. One noticeable absence, however–and I was wondering about his exclusion from your documentary in terms of helping you find financial backing for your documentary–was Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), who has capitalized on vague associations with Jacques Tati and who, I understand, was invited to introduce Mr. Hulot’s Holiday at the UK French Film Festival?

Michael House: I talked to him, yeah. But may I be honest with you? I don’t feel he’s much like Tati at all. Isn’t that terrible? Unlike Tati, he pulls all the comedy into himself. His character Mr. Bean is still a magnet for the viewer. Even though his character Mr. Bean doesn’t talk, and there’s been a film made Mr. Bean’s Holiday (which mimics M. Hulot’s Holiday), it’s a bit of a stretch–in my humble opinion–to liken him to Tati. He might say he’s like Tati, and maybe he is in some way, but I don’t see it and I didn’t really want to put him in my documentary. I guess that sounds horrible. Also–and this might sound like I’m milking the fact that I don’t have any superstars in the film–but, I didn’t really want to use anybody super famous, especially a performer. At the height of his career, Tati could have put anyone in his films–he could have put Sophia Loren in his films–but, he intentionally didn’t put anyone famous in his films.

I had even approached Johnny Depp’s sister, his agent, about possibly appearing in the documentary and everyone was like, “Oh! If you get him, the film will be great! You’ve got to get him in the film!” But Tati would have probably thought Depp was a jackass. Not that I think Johnny Depp is a jackass–I admire him greatly–but I’m just trying to say that what I would call “real” artists have careers that are not based on celebrity. Rowan Atkinson wasn’t that into the project, to be honest with you. He might have been willing, but not really. So I didn’t use him.

Guillén: Another sequence I much admired in your film was the foley sequence filmed at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, Chapman University where the instructor was teaching his class how Tati worked with sound to create comic effects. I’m aware that some of the students at Dodge College helped with your film. Could you speak to their involvement in your project?

House: I wouldn’t say that they helped. They helped in that sequence. They helped do some of the filming, helped with the lighting, and I shot a few sequences with them; but, Dodge College became involved after Melvin Bragg backed out. I approached Dodge to see if they wanted to help finance the film. They said, sure, we’ll put in some money if you involve our students and I said, “Okay. All right.” They gave a little bit of money for the production–which was great at the time–and then they sent six students from L.A. to Paris for a week and I took them to the Tati archive. They got to see and touch and learn all about Tati from Macha, followed up by a tour of France to all the locations where Tati filmed. After that, Dodge dropped the ball in the production, like people do. They got what they wanted and–I’m not badmouthing Dodge–but, they were going to handle post-production of the film at their million dollar facility in L.A. That had been the idea: that the kids would get to see a little bit at the beginning when I was researching the film and then help out with the final editing and sound mix to see how the film went from inception to projection. But Dodge dropped the ball and I had to find other ways to finish the film.

Guillén: I’ve heard that when the time came to dismantle Tativille–which is an immensely sad story that comes across quite poignantly in your film: this loss of vision, let alone his personal resources–Tati threw the script for Playtime into the rubble. Is that true?

House: It’s really hard to see him doing it but in my film there’s the footage of the big buildings being pulled down with ropes and if you look down in the shadow there’s a guy in a brown leather coat who you see flinging something, and that’s Tati flinging the script. Marie-France Sielger, Tati’s assistant, confirmed for me that it was indeed the script he was throwing into the rubble.

Guillén: Can you comment on the relationship between René Clément and Jacques Tati? I’m aware that Tati wrote and acted in René Clément’s first short film Soigne ton gauche (1936) about a country boy turned boxing maestro. Then later Tati stepped in as director for Clément when he withdrew from Jour de Fête.

House: I think he did, yeah. There’s a fair amount of contradiction in accounts of those early pre-WWII short films. I wouldn’t swear by any of it. But it seemed that Tati and Clément worked together a lot. Clément was trying to advance himself so, of course, when something bigger came along, he took those chances. At that time Tati was a nobody and his productions were gambles. For example, Jour de Fête–Tati’s first feature–was supposed to have been directed by Clément but he got an offer to direct Au-delà des grilles [Beyond the Gates, 1949; in English distribution, The Walls of Malapaga]. He abandoned the Jour de Fête project to make this now classic French film. I don’t know if he and Tati were close after that. Clément’s career took off after Au-delà des grilles. They knew each other, they worked together, but they were both struggling and took the opportunities as they came. Back then, I think Clément and Tati both thought, “I’m going to take the best offer I can get.”

There is so much backstory to that whole Jour de Fête project. I couldn’t possibly have gone into it in my documentary; but, it’s fascinating, all about the industry of film industry within France during the Occupation. Jour de Fête, in many ways, was an attempt by the French film establishment to get into the running and into the big leagues; but, unfortunately, it didn’t work out. They had the wrong film method for colorizing. A lot of people have talked about this incredible period in books, including Dave Bellos in his book, when France was struggling to reestablish itself, in more ways than just cinema.

Guillén: Roger Ebert has indicated that Clément’s Forbidden Games (1952) was likewise a project encouraged by Tati, who had seen a short film of Clément’s based on the same story and which Tati recommended Clément expand into a feature.

House: I don’t know. I think they remained friends; but, his name faded after Jour de Fête in all my research. Tati had to put up with a lot of shit anyway with Jour de Fête. Fred Orain, the producer of Les enfants du paradis (1945), also produced Jour de Fête. He was trying to make the first French color movie. Jour de Fête was supposed to be a vehicle for that. Orain got Tati involved because he knew him from his earlier shorts. Orain was a huge and important technician in French cinema. He was feeling high from the success of Les enfants du paradis and conquering the world with that film. But then when they couldn’t release Jour de Fête in color, I think there were a lot of people–Clément included–who said, “Oh fuck. Jesus Christ. All this waste. It’s just black and white. It’s like an old Chaplin film. Fuck it.” They couldn’t get Jour de Fête distributed in France. Tati took it very personally.

Almost a year after they wrapped the film, Tati took it upon himself to lie to a group of critics. He told them there was going to be a screening of a new film out in some remote venue and he lured a lot of critics there and screened Jour de Fête. They loved it! It got a Paris distribution from that bullshit session and then from there it got picked up nationally, then internationally.

Guillén: That’s a wonderful story. Thanks for relaying that to me.

House: He did that a lot. He did other really crazy stuff like: he would make all the extras in his films come to the first week of the opening and he would say, “Okay. I want everyone to line up–all 50 of you–I want you to line up in front of the theater, go in, leave by the back door, and come back around to get back in line. I want people to think there’s a perpetual line of people wanting to see this film.” He paid them to do that. They couldn’t actually go to see the film. He did that so that people driving by would think, “Oh, Tati’s film is popular.” I think he did that with Playtime.

Guillén: Can you speak at all to Tati’s failed project with Federico Fellini: Don Quixote?

House: I’ve heard about that. I read a letter that Tati’s secretary had written to someone, saying that Tati and Fellini were friends and that he was very interested in helping Tati with his Don Quixote project. I think it’s true. I think Fellini wanted to make Don Quixote with Tati in the lead role. Tati would have been perfect visually, though they probably would have killed each other on the set; but, from what I’ve deduced, that rumor is fact. That was out there. They were talking about it. But by the time Tati had filmed Mon Oncle, he had lost interest in little European 16mm projects and, poor Fellini, he could only get the money to shoot his films in 16mm. It was a shame he couldn’t get the money to film Don Quixote properly. Fellini, as far as I can tell, is one of the few directors that Tati ever paid attention to. He didn’t go to the movies much.

A Visual Music primer

April 8, 2010

Visual Music
Sensory Cinema 1920s – 1970s

Fri. April 9 – Wed. April 14, 2010

Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave, Seattle WA 98122
Series web site:  http://sensorycinema.org/

Read a preview at Capitol Hill Times

Northwest Film Forum  and The Sprocket Society , in association with Center For Visual Music (http://www.centerforvisualmusic.org) , are proud to present this special series celebrating the history of Visual Music.

This is a rare opportunity to see restored film prints of work by such master animators as Oskar Fischinger, Mary Ellen Bute, Jordan Belson, Robert Breer and many others on the big screen. In addition, we’ll host a panel discussion on Seattle’s own history of visual music in the 1960s and early ’70s.

Series curator: Peter Lucas.
“Sixties Synaesthetics” program co-curated by Spencer Sundell and Peter Lucas.
This program is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment For The Arts.

Friday, April 9, 2010 at 8:00 PM
OPTICAL POETRY: OSKAR FISCHINGER RETROSPECTIVE
1926-1947, 35mm
Advance tickets – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/101585

Fischinger needs no introduction.  Or put another way, if you don’t know who he is then you definitely should attend this program to see some of the best and most influential abstract films ever made.  Featuring restored 35mm prints of Circles (1933), Composition in Blue (1935), Allegretto (1936), Radio Dynamics (1942), Motion Painting No. 1 (1947), and many other rarely seen works. Plus: a special screening of a 35mm Cinemscope composite film recreating Fischinger’s multiple-projection performances, R-1, A Form-Play, (ca. 1926-33).  (Program presented in association with Center for Visual Music and The Fischinger Archive.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 8:00 PM
SEEING SOUND: THE FILMS OF MARY ELLEN BUTE
1934-1952, 16mm
Advance tickets – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/101589

Introduced by Cindy Keefer, Director of the Center For Visual Music

An unjustly neglected pioneer, Bute made a series of Visual Music films which she called “Seeing Sound,” some of which were screened regularly at Radio City Music Hall, New York in the 1930s. This program features all 14 of her remarkable short abstract films, including some rarely-seen films: Rhythm in Light, 1934; Synchromy No. 2, 1935; Dada, 1936; Parabola, 1937; Escape, 1937; Spook Sport (animated by Norman McLaren), 1939; Tarantella, 1940; Polka Graph, 1947; Color Rhapsody, 1948; Imagination, 1948; New Sensations in Sound, 1949 (RCA Commercial); Pastorale, 1950, Abstronic, 1952 and Mood Contrasts.  (Program presented in association with the Center for Visual Music, in association with Cecile Starr and the Women’s Independent Film Exchange.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 8:00 PM
JORDAN BELSON, FILMS SACRED AND PROFANE
1959-2005, 16mm & DigiBeta
Advance tickets – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/101593

Introduced by Cindy Keefer, Director of the Center For Visual Music

Jordan Belson studied painting before seeing films by Oskar Fischinger and the Whitney brothers in 1946. Since then, he has made more than 25 breathtaking abstract films ranging from precision geometrics to seemingly impossible imagery that has led many to refer to his work as “cosmic cinema.”  The program features rarely-seen works, including Allures (1961), Samadhi (1967), a newly-preserved print of Chakra (1972), Light (1973), Music of the Spheres (1977/2002), and Epilogue (2005).  (Program presented in association with the Center for Visual Music.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 7:00 PM
SEATTLE PSYCHEDELICS
Advance tickets – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/101596

A panel discussion, moderated by series curator Peter Lucas, explores the little-known history of experimental films and light shows in the Seattle area in the late 1960s and early ’70s, and celebrates the pioneers of this funky, techno-folk multi-media art form.  Panelists including Seattle historian and editor-publisher of the ’60s counterculture paper Helix, Paul Dorpat; media arts scholar Robin Oppenheimer; and artist and member of Seattle’s Union Light Company Ron McComb will discuss the films and events, the techniques and makeshift equipment used, and present slides and rare footage from the era.

Wednesday, april 14, 2010 at 8:00 PM
SIXTIES SYNAESTHETICS
1961-70, 16mm
Advance tickets – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/101600

A selection of highly original short works by artists who shattered the boundaries between visual and sonic through the creative use of optical printing, animation, electronics, and editing.  Featuring: a newly-restored print of Jud Yalkut’s Turn, Turn, Turn (1966), Scott Bartlett and Tom DeWitt’s landmark “electronic film” OffOn (1968), Robert Breer’s Blazes (1961), Storm DeHirsch’s Peyote Queen (1965), Barry Spinello’s Six Loop-Paintings (1970), and culminating with Tony Conrad’s legendary (or perhaps infamous) The Flicker (1965). SPECIAL ADDED ATTRACTION:  A extremely rare “Auroratone” film made ca. 1942 by Cecil Stokes, with abstract crystalline visuals combined with, yes, Bing Crosby.  (Program co-curated by Spencer Sundell and Peter Lucas.)

(This preview courtesy of Spencer Sundell)

Little Dizzle to have theatrical premiere in NYC on May 12

April 7, 2010

Tribeca Film Signs on as US Distributor of
“The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle”;

New York Theatrical Premiere Set for May 12 at Tribeca Cinemas


Director David Russo’s feature debut is one of twelve independent films that have been acquired by Tribeca Film, to be distributed across multiple platforms, including video-on-demand beginning April 21 and a theatrical run May 12-18 in New York City.
Seattle, WA—Northwest Film Forum is thrilled to announce that filmmaker David Russo’s dark, stylish comedy The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, has been selected as one of only twelve films to be distributed by newly created Tribeca Film, supported by founding partner American Express.  Dizzle will be released across multiple platforms, including video-on-demand beginning April 21, 2010 and a theatrical release at Tribeca Cinemas on May 12-18, 2010.  Director David Russo is scheduled to attend the theatrical premiere.

According to Tribeca, “All 12 titles will be available in up to 40 million homes via cable and satellite systems, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS, Bright House Networks, RCN, and Bresnan Communications. Subscribers will be able to access all films at affordable price points in the “Tribeca Film” category of their Movies On Demand channel and/or via pay-per-view offerings.”

Says producer Peggy Case, “I loved the script the first time I read it—I’m so glad we were able to bring it to life—now millions of people will have the opportunity to see this weird, miraculous, great little story.”

Director David Russo comments, “It’s exciting to be a part of this new endeavor by Tribeca. I’m really proud of all the hard work that went into making this film a success.”

Little Dizzle premiered to a standing ovation before a sold-out Sundance audience in January 2009, before joining the film lineup at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW), Seattle International Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, and several others.   Directed by Seattle filmmaker David Russo, Produced by Peggy Case, the cast includes Marshall Allman, Natasha Lyonne, Tania Raymonde, Tygh Runyan, Matt Smith and Vince Vieluf.  The film also includes unique animated sequences by Dutch animator Rosto A.D.

After losing his cubicle job in Seattle, spiritually confused Dory feels like his life is going down the drain. Forced to take a job as a night janitor at a shady research firm, he and his cast-off coworkers are unwittingly used as guinea pigs for new products that are doing strange things to their bodies and minds. Quirky, humorous, and dark, David Russo’s feature debut is a stylish, bittersweet fable about the search for meaning in our throwaway society.

Dizzle was produced in association with Northwest Film Forum as part of its Start-to-Finish program; it also received generous support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Creative Capital Foundation and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Start-to-Finish is a program to commission a narrative feature film of a Washington-state filmmaker. Using a holistic approach to supporting the filmmaker, the Film Forum aids in the project from conception to preproduction, shooting, post-production, sales and distribution.

Other films included in Tribeca Film’s initial slate include Metropia, directed by Tarik Saleh, and My Last Five Girlfriends, directed and written by Julian Kemp
Dizzle is represented by Visit Films (www.visitfilms.com).

More information about Tribeca Films is available at WWW.TRIBECAFILMS.COM

The official film website is www.littledizzlefilm.com. Updates can be found at the film’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Immaculate-Conception-of-Little-Dizzle/67518538435?

The Documentary As Music Video

April 7, 2010

I’m not even sure what this is, but I just had to share.

Top Ten Films of the Next Decade

April 5, 2010

Enjoy some (belated) April Fool’s fun from Seattle-based critic Sean Axmaker!

By Sean Axmaker
Special to MSN Movies

What a long, strange trip it will be. Markets peak and crash like yo-yos. Snowfall in Florida. Canada’s startling leap into geopolitical domination. Skeet Ulrich’s transcendent success as host of “Skeet Shooting With the Stars.” North Korea’s transformation into the world’s largest theme park. The rise of New Jersey. James Cameron’s misguided run for Governor of California (in 3-D!). The rise of curling from cult oddity to America’s new favorite pastime. Sarah Palin’s embarrassing slide to shopping channel sales personality and Steven Seagal’s signing on as Sarah’s on-air sidekick.

You can’t make this stuff up. Well OK, you can make this stuff up, and that’s the fun of looking ahead. I mean, why wait until the last minute to make a 10-best list? To get a jump on the rush, we’ve put on our prognostication caps, hit the flash-forward button and come back from the future with this snapshot of the 10 best films of the 2010s. We were just as surprised as you at the results.

“The Matrix: Devolution” (The Wachowski Siblings)
After the bizarre journey of Larry Wachowski’s transformation into Lana and a hermitlike retreat following the debacle of “Speed Racer” (only recently resurrected as a subversive blast of cinematic surrealism), the Wachowski Siblings relaunched their brand with a return trip to the virtual world that made their fame and fortune. Drawing liberally from the New Testament, the New Wave and various volumes of “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” “Devolution” pairs the messianic Neo with a sassy Southern society lady (Sandra Bullock, back with Keanu Reeves for the first time since “Speed”) who gets caught in the program while playing what she thinks is a cutting-edge version of fantasy football. Impressed with his ability to surf the Web and dodge bullets at the same time, she tries to adopt the jacked-up orphan and ends up marrying him rather than face deportation. The virtual romantic comedy of cyber-geddon took the country by storm: “Titanic” meets “Tron” with a dose of Southern comfort and a flashback soundtrack that turned “Freedom of Choice” and “Mongoloid” into anthems for the new generation of techno-rebels.

“Pride and Prejudice” (Guy Ritchie)
After the debacle of Zack Snyder’s green-screen epic adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and Roland Emmerich’s misjudged end-of-the-18th-century-world epic “Pride and Predator,” everyone figured that the endless recycling of Austen’s period romance for every genre was dead. Ritchie’s convoluted crime caper take on Jane Austen proved to be the key to unlocking the corset of this femme favorite for the lad market. With Reese Witherspoon as the feisty Elizabeth Bennet, girl gang leader at war with the male-dominated underworld (doing her own singing and her own stunts in yet another career reinvention) and Jason Statham as a streetwise Mr. Darcy plotting heists between his flirtations with the kick-ass rival turned dream girl, the film became the first chick flick with macho credentials and the ultimate date movie to please both swoony romantics and adolescent action junkies.

Read entire article

Cascadian Facts And Fictions

April 2, 2010

Next month, when I head back to the East Coast for a family wedding, I thought it would be a good idea to meet up with fellow film programmer Steve Holmgren of Union Docs, but Steve came up with a better idea than just drinks and conversation. He offered me the chance to curate a program of Pacific Northwest documentary work which he’ll screen and I’ll introduce at his venue in Williamsburgh. I jumped at the opportunity to share great NW films and filmmakers with New Yorkers. Below you’ll find the program listing. For those of you with friends in New York, please encourage them to attend!

The Pacific Northwest, stretching from Oregon to British Columbia, has become a vital home for some of the North America’s most promising film talents. CASCADIAN FACTS AND FICTIONS gives us insight into some of that regions most vibrant non-fiction filmmakers. This program, introduced by Northwest Film Forum program director Adam Sekuler, features films from Webster Crowell, Serge Gregory, Vanessa Renwick, Craig Downing, Sarah Jane Lapp, Larry Kent, and Matt McCormick, displaying just the tip of the iceberg from the regions wide-ranging talents.

Last Call 1 – 5 – 7min, by Webster Crowell, Seattle, WA (2010)Animation based on recordings from the filmmakers apartment window at 2am.

When Herons Dream – 10:34 min. by Serge Gregory, Seattle, WA (2009)
The film imagines the perspective of a Great Blue Heron as it moves throughout the seasons and Northwest landscape shaped by water. But more than this, “When Herons Dream” is a distilled meditative work in black and white shot on real film and utterly beautiful in its simplicity.

Portrait #3: House of Sound – 11min. by Vanessa Renwick, Portland, OR (2009)
Radio reminiscences and a photography-driven visit to the neighborhood of record shop “House of Sound” long after the wrecking ball, this film reflects the heart of a pre-digital era of music. Renwick’s latest in her ongoing Portrait series of stories in Portland, Oregon.

This True Story of Dad Club – 5 min., by Craig Downing, Seattle, WA (2008)
A memoir about the dark distance between a daughter and her dad.

Chronicles of A Professional Eulogist – 25 min, by Sarah Jane Lapp, Seattle, WA (2009) DIRECTOR IN ATTENDANCE!
Sarah Jane Lapp is a Seattle-based Renaissance woman, visual artist and filmmaker, who typically takes on abstract and ethnographic subjects in her finely rendered hand-drawn experimental animations. This is her semi-factual, hand-drawn animation (India ink, gouache, and wax) reminiscent of the work of John and Faith Hubley, and scored by Mark Dresser, was made possible by interviews with eulogists galore. The film follows a eulogist-in-training and his encounter with the spaces our communal memories create between mortality and immortality.

Hastings Street – 20 min by Larry Kent, Vancouver, BC (2007)
A dramatic portrait of a vulnerable young man set in downtown Vancouver. Filmed in 1963, this monochromatic film is a flashback to a notorious street and a bygone era of Canadian cinema.

It Was A Crushing Defeat – 4 min, by Matt McCormick, Portland, OR (2007)
In hi-8 night vision, this film features beautiful images of a late night at the Portland Police horse paddock beside Centennial Mills.