I recently learned of the passing of long time film-goer Terry Blue, a regular at Oak Street Cinema, a former venue that I worked at. Learning of his passing was very emotional for me and it got me thinking about the act of film going more generally. Terry Blue lived to see movies, but more importantly, he lived to see them in the movie theaters around town, to see them with other people. He had an infectious laugh, and a wealth of film knowledge, not to mention a love of movies and the movie community. Terry was one of those guys who knew the cinema was much more than a house to watch film in, it was a community to watch film with. He engaged with you in the lobby before and after screenings. He met his neighbors, strangers, and friends at the cinema. And it wasn’t just our cinema, like most film goers Terry attended screenings all over the city. He once told me that the act of cinema going was democracy with a lower case d. As we live more of lives wired and less of our lives in real places and spaces, that statement seems even more true. The cinema is one of the last places in our culture where you can run into your neighbor, a stranger, and a friend, have shared experience, grab a beer or coffee with each other and talk about what you just witnessed. So for Terry’s sake, next time you attend a screening take note of the film enthusiast next to you, say hello, find out more about them, and you might just end up meeting someone like Terry, a sincere human who loves the movies as much as you do.
Here are 75 photos of decrepit, deceased, or otherwise destroyed cinemas, once home to our flickering dreams. Has digital destroyed the temple of our dreams? You be the judge.
We encourage you to watch the new TV series Els noms de Crist by Albert Serra, whose BIRDSONG and QUIXOTIC both screened at Northwest Film Forum.
What a day to get sick! In between naps as I lay suffering from god only knows what bug that has rendered my body achy and poured some fluids into my lungs, I received two notices from two ends of the film industry that make my illness pale in comparison to that of the celluloid image. A fellow film programmer forwarded me a press release issued by NATO, that would be the National Association of Theater Owners and not the folks currently conducting bombing raids over Libya, which was a sort of call to arms for theater owners and operators. Who was the fight against? Well the studios of course, who’ve decided to shorten the window of release between theatrical and VOD, something that smaller theaters like ours succumbed to several years ago when many of the indie distributors often eliminated them completely. The theater owners were of course no consulted about this, and it appears as thought perhaps all the majors made this decision as an industry wide mandate.
If that weren’t enough cause for concern, my industry insider also included a quote from a speech delivered at something called CinemaCon, an excerpt of which I’m including here.
John Fithian told exhibition at CinemaCon:
“For any exhibitor who can hear my voice who hasn’t begun your digital transition, I urge you to get moving. The distribution and exhibition industries achieved history when
we agreed to technical standards and a virtual print fee model to enable this transition. But the VPFs won’t last forever. Domestically, you must be installed by the end of 2012 if you want to qualify. Equally significantly, based on our assessment of the roll-out schedule and our conversations with our distribution partners, I believe that film prints could be unavailable as early as the end of 2013. Simply put, if you don’t make the decision to get on the digital train soon, you will be making the decision to get out of the business.”
Whoa… film prints unavailable as of 2013?! A few studio repertory divisions are already making it very difficult to secure prints for retrospectives. But when your multiplex goes all digital that suggests a seismic shift in the way films are exhibited FOREVER.
And that my friends is just item number one.
Item two comes from the caretakers of some of experimental cinema’s (you read correctly) finest treasures; Canyon Cinema. It was the kind of plea that we received back in February of 2009 from the Filmmakers Coop, who were threatened with eviction. Canyon labeled their plea an “Important Message To The Film Community” and starting with the the sentence, “This is a very serious letter.” And it is very serious. Canyon is going through some difficult financial times, and are considering some drastic measures. Their appeal while not exclusively financial, is also for creative solutions, of which they offer a few possibilities.
In the opening paragraph they suggest part of this trouble comes from the fact that universities are purchasing dvds instead of renting prints for classroom use, which of course they acknowledge is due to changes in budgets and equipment. Our own Search and Rescue program was born out of this quagmire a few years back.
My illness seems to have coincided so perfectly with that of the moving image. What a day!
Here’s an interesting interview conducted by Damon Smith of Filmmaker Magazine of our youngest auteur of the quarter Xavier Dolan, whose HEARTBEATS opens here on Friday.
A native of Montreal, Dolan is a former child actor who wrote and directed his first film, I Killed My Mother, at age 20, after dropping out of university. That movie, a semi-autobiographical tale of coming out which debuted at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, won three awards at the 2009 festival, including the Regards Jeune given to young filmmakers of great promise.
A stylized depiction of hopelessly “imaginary” love, Xavier Dolan’s sophomore feature Heartbeats (which also premiered at Cannes) trails a pair of close friends—witty, Audrey Hepburn manqué Marie (Monia Chokri) and sweet-faced Francis (Dolan)—who simultaneously crush out on tousle-haired Nicolas (Niels Schneider), a dreamy new acquaintance whose Adonis-like physical beauty and bedroom-ready manner drive them into a passive-aggressive rivalry for his affection. Although the love-triangle motif evokes films as diverse as Jules et Jim and Y tu mamá también, Dolan’s dazzling slo-mo fantasy sequences (especially those featuring Dalida’s exquisite version of “Bang Bang”) and sassy, Almodóvar-esque color schemes give everything a uniquely farcical edge.
Filmmaker spoke with Dolan about Woody Allen, bad reviews, and why style is sometimes more important than substance. (more)
Congratulations to NWFF board member Steven Schardt and his partner in film Sean Nelson on having their latest film TREATMENT accepted at the Tribeca Film Festival. Announcement here.
“Treatment,” directed by Steven Schardt and Sean Nelson, written by Sean Nelson. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative.
When Leonard convinces his best friend Nelson to bankroll his stint at a glitzy L.A. rehab clinic so he can pitch a movie idea to mega-star Gregg D, his blind ambition begins to consume him. The producing team behind Humpday returns with this witty, ridiculous, and sincere tale of co-dependent friendship on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Indie darlings Joshua Leonard, Sean Nelson, and Ross Partridge star.
Congratulations to Josh and Benny Safdie whose feature DADDY LONGLEGS took home the JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD given to the best feature made for under $500,000 at the Independent Spirit Awards today. Totally deserved!
A side by side comparison of Gaspar Noe’s Enter The Void credit sequence and Kanye West’s All of The Lights music video.
A rip off or what?
Last night I managed to get into the much anticipated and rumored final project for the master of Hungarian stoicism Bela Tarr, The Turin Horse, freely inspired by an episode that marked the end of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s career. On January 3,1889, on the piazza Alberto in Turin, a weeping Nietzsche flung his arms around an exhausted and ill-treated carriage horse, then lost consciousness. After this event, the philosopher never wrote again and descended into madness and silence.
Tarr delivers his usual brand of wind swept black and white rural isolationism, this time set in the late 1800’s and filming the few objects of the period as though they’re appearing on film for the first time. The images, which offer the typical dose of the mundane, follow six days in the life of a horse driver and what appears to be his daughter, both getting by on their daily sustenance of boiled potatoes and vodka. The two are confined to a tiny one room home, the stall for the horse and carriage, and the land just outside the door. This is Tarr’s chamber drama, delivered in sparse dialogue, with few visitors from the outside world. The only other presence is the gale force winds driving against the house for the full six days, which seem to swallow the landscape with each passing day.
Two visits are paid to the household, one from a drunkard seeking more vodka, who delivers a monologue on the evils of capitalism which he refers to as debasing the world through acquisition. No doubt a not so subtle injection of the housing crisis into this particularly bleak fare? The other surprise visit is paid by a band of traveling gypsies who offer a biblical text in exchange for the consumption of some water, an act that delivers one of the only plot twists, if you could label it such!
Glacially paced, as per usual, if this is indeed Tarr’s final work, he’s left us with a haunting allegory on the brutality of our time.