M.I.A.’s “Born Free” video directed by Romain Gavras, the son of Costa-Gavras (of Z fame), seems to be clearly inspired by Peter Watkins Punishment Park, which we screen this week at NWFF. The video has apparently been banned from youtube for its graphic content so you’ll have to watch it here. There is a small youtube making of video which looks like a promo for something called the ultimate arm. You can see that below. For you M.I.A. fans, come out this weekend to the film that inspired this remarkably realistic music video.
Archive for June, 2010
It is not often that a distributor provides such an exhaustive supply of related materials for the films that we show. The media kit for Punishment Park was so informative and thorough, I feel I’d be remiss if I did not share it with you, since it’s unlikely we’ll find this kind of context in any new critical reviews. In addition to the essay and filmmaker biography posted below (click for a bigger version), you can download the original 1971 press kit here, and an even more complete selection of press responses to the film here.
As film writing as well as a history lesson, it all makes a fascinating read. Enjoy, and you can catch Punishment Park at Northwest Film Forum July 2-8.
It isn’t often that I can say I first heard about a movie showing at NWFF on “At the Movies.” But Daddy Longlegs, the microbudget indie playing through Thursday, has grabbed the attention of all kinds of film critics. Its mainstream fans include J. Hoberman, Roger Ebert, and A.O. Scott. You can see Scott and co-host Michael Phillips give Daddy Longlegs the “At the Movies” treatment here (it’s listed under Now Playing).
“I like the way he pops!” Michael Jackson Tribute
By Peter Lucas
In 1983, outside of the Los Angeles location shooting of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video, interviewers asked many among the throngs of young fans who’d shown up why they liked Michael Jackson so much. For the most part, the girls thought he was dreamy and the guys though he was super cool. Of course all of them praised his dancing. But I think one young boy said it best, and simplest: “I like the way he pops.” The kid was referring to the sharp and energetic movements in his dancing, and using a term from the break dancing craze that was just starting catch fire around the country. But I think his simple statement is so right on a larger level. In terms of both his singing and his dancing over four decades, what set Michael Jackson apart from the rest is his “popping”- from his screeches and moans to his kicks and glides. Like his childhood idol James Brown, Jackson’s whole body- his whole being- WAS the music. Besides the Godfather of Soul, one would be hard pressed to name another entertainer who committed half as much of himself to every performance and presentation. And it showed- it popped. That’s why the Jackson 5, fronted by a 11-year old Michael, was a phenomenon right out of the gate in the late 60s (their first four singles on Motown were all smash hits). And it’s why his solo career, a decade later when he was a young adult, changed popular music forever (1979’s ‘Off The Wall’ generated more top 10 hits than any other album before it, and you know 1982’s ‘Thriller’ topped that record by a mile.) Its why, when he busted out the moonwalk during a live TV performance of ‘Billie Jean’ in 1983, the whole world went completely silent for a moment before letting out a scream. (After seeing that TV special, Fred Astaire called him personally to praise his dancing.) And its why the world has memorized every move in his classic videos and still no one can pull them off like Michael. The guy just completely embodied his music, or vice versa. It was the magic of his delivery that moved us. When they call him the “King of Pop,” it doesn’t mean popular music so much to me as it signifies just how electrically charged Michael was when he was doing his thing, how much he popped out from the mundane, and how powerfully his music popped us all out of our lives and onto the dancefloor.
We at the Film Forum love Michael’s music, and have always lived by the credo “Don’t stop ‘til you get enough.” That’s why we’re presenting a special Michael Jackson Tribute on Tuesday July 7, 2009 (8pm, doors at 7:30) to celebrate the great entertainer. We’ll show his classic music videos from the late-1970s and 80s on the big screen (and cranked up loud), as well as other stuff (including a 1968 performance of the Jackson 5, an excerpt of Michael in the 1978 musical ‘The Wiz,’ and the 1983 TV performance that introduced the “moonwalk.”) Of course we’ll have refreshments in the cinema, and all ages are welcome. Please join us in raising a glass to the one and only King of Pop and seeing his legacy of fantastic music videos on the big screen.
This just in from producer Peggy Case, formerly of Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle fame…
GRASSROOTS – CAST ANNOUNCED FOR QUIRKY GYLLENHAAL COMEDY
A short-tempered, unemployed music critic who likes to dress as a polar bear thinks he can harness the power of the people to ride the monorail to political victory in Seattle. And he’s right. Almost…
SEATTLE – Stephen Gyllenhaal co-writes and will direct GRASSROOTS, produced by Oscar-winner Peggy Rajski, based on the memoir “Zioncheck for President” by former “Stranger” writer Phil Campbell.
Stage and screen veteran Jason Biggs (AMERICAN PIE, MY BEST FRIEND’S GIRL) has signed to star as Campbell, a recently fired journalist who reluctantly agrees to spearhead the Seattle City Council campaign of his eccentric friend Grant Cogswell. Rapidly rising star Joel David Moore (AVATAR, MEDIUM, BONES, HOUSE) co-stars as Cogswell, a former pedicab driver with a burning passion for the Monorail.
Can two completely broke political newbies with no campaign contributors, a collection of homemade yard signs, and a ragtag crew of unruly young supporters unseat their powerful opponent? Well, maybe…
Writer-director Stephen Gyllenhaal adapts this true story into a touching, hilarious portrait of the Emerald City and its unique political landscape.
“I can hardly wait to bring it to the screen,” says Gyllenhaal. “I am so thrilled with the chemistry the actors have together.”
“I think we have the perfect cast for this unique comedy,” adds Rajski, ” it’s half buddy movie and half political knucklebiter, and it’s all about having the guts to stand up for what you believe in.”
GRASSROOTS begins shooting next week in Seattle.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS:
Award-winning director Stephen Gyllenhaal’s productions include LOSING ISAIAH with Jessica Lange and Halle Berry; DANGEROUS WOMAN with Debra Winger and David Strathairn; WATERLAND with Jeremy Irons; PARIS TROUT with Ed Harris and Dennis Hopper; and KILLING IN A SMALL TOWN with Barbara Hershey. He also co-wrote and directed HOMEGROWN with Billie Bob Thornton, Hank Azaria, Jamie Lee Curtis and John Lithgow.
Rajski’s producing credits include TOWELHEAD, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, LITTLE MAN TATE, THE GRIFTERS, MATEWAN, EIGHT MEN OUT and THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET. Her collaborations with iconoclastic filmmakers like Jodie Foster, Stephen Frears, Alan Ball and John Sayles have garnered over 40 award nominations including wins at the Independent Spirit Awards and Academy Awards.
Daddy Longlegs begins with a dedication, scrawled on the screen as if it were a handwritten note left on a kitchen table:
FOR OUR FATHER, FOR FUN AS A RESPONSIBILITY,
FOR THE MIDDLE PERSPECTIVE, A LOST PAST, LIGHTS
ON DURING THE DAY TIME, LOST LOVE BUT STILL
SOMETHING THERE, EXCUSES, THE FRIDGE FULL OF GAMES,
SMALL APARTMENTS & OUR MOTHER
The effect is that of something homemade and haphazard, underscored by an opening scene that eavesdrops on a random New York deli order – “two hotdogs with mustard, onions, sauerkraut…and a large piña colada” – before introducing Lenny, stumbling over a Central Park fence like Buster Keaton straying into a Cassavetes reel, the first in a succession of minor humiliations suffered by the single father of two precocious boys, Frey and Sage. For the directors, brothers Josh and Bennie Safdie, is there a sadder instance of everyday poetry than the sight of a half-eaten hotdog strewn on a lawn, strangely worthy of your attention? (see also: their Red Bucket Films collective) And is there anything ultimately more homemade and haphazard than a family?
Known as Go Get Some Rosemary at its Cannes premiere (a directive from Lenny to his kids to buy groceries) and now as Lenny and the Kids in France (where it received critical attention in the pages of Cahiers du Cinema, along with a snapshot of Safdie père and the kids, an emotional arrow shot from the same bow as Robert Frank’s later work of visual autobiography), the film’s final incarnation as Daddy Longlegs seems fitting for its childlike perspective; it is Lenny in shorts on the racquetball court, and it seems to be the arachnid that Lenny encounters in a fever dream after the kids have left. In any case, it’s a mercurial film, including but not limited to: a grade-school teacher with an inexplicable black eye; a proposed nap on the emergency third rail; a can of coke in a Chinese restaurant, without the MSG; a rat trapped in a peanut butter jar; a squirt-gun full of pee; a singing water-skier with full band on board; and that salamander in a cereal box, just incredible…
I spoke with Bennie and Joshua Safdie at the Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival, where they proved to be typically forthcoming about what motivates their tragically funny art. The interview appears in the forthcoming issue of Cinema Scope magazine, but in anticipation of their Seattle visit at Northwest Film Forum, where they will introduce their film and conduct a weekend workshop, here’s a small preview in the hope that this unconventional, boldly candid, emotionally exhausting immersion into the life of a fracture family in New York will lure you to the cinema…
Josh Safdie: “I’m an advocate of personal cinema, of personal movies. But I don’t think the goal is for anyone to go out and make a movie about their life. In the end this is a reflection of where we were are right now, where we were in the past, and it’s very much a reflection of how we were left feeling by the hectic circumstances of growing up with our father. Factually, we’re not to the point where we’re checking things off – did this or that happen – but the truth of the matter is that our father, who was the inspiration for the movie, saw it and couldn’t tell truth from fiction, he felt it was all real. The most important thing is harking on this sense of distress and confusion. We dealt with some of the trauma by romanticizing it out of proportion. The movie is torn: the child in us is screaming for love, the adult is screaming expose! expose! It’s a constant clash, and that’s the emotional aspect.”
Bennie: “It sucks to see the other side, and that’s what we’re forcing ourselves to do here. Kill your childhood memories, so you may remember them again! It’s a messed up way of going about it, but… For us it was an act of understanding our father, of understanding that someone was ultimately trying. It’s such a raw, human gesture. When someone tries very hard but fails, you feel something for them. Acceptance is where the compassion comes in. As for a lost childhood, yes, I think that too is where the compassion comes in, and it makes sense because I’ve mentally blacked out certain parts of it to forget the bad things. We wanted to re-feel certain emotions that we had lost touch with, had lost our grasp on.”
Thanks to a generous donation from The Schreiber Family Charitable Foundation, the Film Forum has replaced all of the aging computers in our edit room with six shiny new Apple iMacs! And just in time for our summer of youth filmmaking camps, which start June 28.
The specs of our edit suite iMacs: 21.5″ HD displays, 3.06 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo Processors, with 4Gb Ram, blue tooth keyboards and mice, running OSX Snow Leopard.
With the hardware upgrade, our edit suite is an ideal facility for both youth and adult classes (beginning and intermediate FCP, introductions to Flash, AE and Blender), and is an ideal place to work on your project, whether it’s capturing footage, making your rough cut, or doing your final color correction.
As always, NWFF’s Studio Director, Dave Hanagan, is on-hand 30 hours a week to provide expert technical assistance.
We are eager to upgrade our editing and graphics software. If you or your organization would like to make a donation of software (current versions of FCP, Adobe CS5, 3-D modeling and animation, etc), please contact Dave Hanagan at 206-329-2629 or dave at nwfilmforum.org.
Documentary Filmmakers Please Take Note – Storyville Vancouver Call for Submissions!
The Vancouver Film & TV Forum (British Columbia, Canada) runs from Sept. 28 – Oct. 1 plus New Filmmakers’ Day, Oct. 2. The 2010 Forum is proud to stimulate the development, co-financing and co-production of the creative documentary by creating Storyville Vancouver. an opportunity for filmmakers based in the Pacific Northwest to pitch their projects to an international forum of commissioning editors. Pre-selected creative, feature length (minimum TV hour) documentary projects, at various levels of development, from the Pacific Northwest will be publicly pitched to international commissioning editors with accredited Forum observers in attendance. Key commissioning editors from the UK, Sweden, Germany, US, Japan and Canada will be in attendance at the pitch forum. Visit http://www.viff.org/storyville for entry forms and further details.
(and don’t forget, the Local Sightings Film Festival submission deadline is July 1)