August 30th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Given that Keanu Reeves was the star of the 1999 movie that pretty much paved the way for a whole slew of digital filmmaking innovations, he seems an apt figure to guide us through the discussion of film as a recording format being in its twilight years. However, it’s the vibrant and colorful directors, cinematographers, and other filmmakers that he interviews that give this movie life and passion. We all know Keanu can come across as wooden and not very animated in his delivery, which is why we are blessed with his mostly being behind the camera in this film.
This film more or less has the prevailing Hollywood viewpoint in mind: all filmmaking will be digital and film will become extinct. While we at the GI (35mm forever!) will certainly mourn the day no movies are made on film, the range of working filmmakers skewed nearly entirely digital. While it’s great to see Christopher Nolan and few other firm believers in the look and feel of film, Soderbergh, Lucas, Lynch and more say they’ve had it with the limitations of film and film cameras. Very much a look behind the curtain to the firm technical side of filmmaking, the film comes across at time like an infomercial for Red and other technology manufacturers. One bit I really appreciated was seeing clip shows of films made in the past few years on both film and digital, and saying what cameras they were shot on. But ultimately for the film consumer, it’s all about distribution and projection. I’ve had the pleasure to work at a couple of theatres around town and sling some film and digital up onto that silver screen. At least Scorsese and a couple other filmmakers give the nod to exhibition, because that really determines the final product. Films are very rarely distributed for average use in more than 1080p, and movies are now being shot with much, much higher resolution than we can currently enjoy at home.
I could wax on about the state of the industry for a while, or you could come down to the GI and see for yourself. Keanu and team do a good job of giving a lot of different professionals equal time in the spotlight over a breadth of topics, and one of the most important aspects of the digital era does not get overlooked: archiving. I sincerely believe this is one of the most “must-see” documentaries about the digital era of filmmaking ever made, and you would do yourself a disservice by not arming yourself with this knowledge and new soundbytes by your favorite directors.
—-analog and he knows it, dan
August 24th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
No, I’m not talking about the character of titular movie fame (portrayed by Jim Varney). I’m not even talking about Hemingway. I’m talking Ernest Goddamn Borgnine, a man active in film and television right up to his death earlier this summer at the age of 95. 95 and he was still doing acting work! For those of you who may not know his face (i.e., if you weren’t born in the 20th century) you’ll surely know his voice, as he was the force behind senile superhero Mermaid Man on Spongebob Squarepants.
Anyway, I went on a Peckinpah kick a few years back, saw nearly all the man’s stuff. I gotta say “The Wild Bunch” is one of the best of the revisionist westerns of the late 60s early 70s. Starring other GI favorite leading men William Holden and Warren Oates, the film is a true treasure and a must-see film because of its game-changing bullet storms that paved the way for John Woo and a host of other over-the-top filmmakers (and fans of slo-mo!).
That being said, I had never seen “Marty” before, and if you haven’t either, I can hardly recommend it more. I was moved nearly to tears, I have rooted for few on-screen romances in recent months as hard as this one. Who doesn’t love a lonely hearts tale? Ernest’s Marty, a butcher whose siblings have all gotten married and moved on, is starting to believe he’ll be a bachelor for life. He lives with his mother, and even his cousin’s family is trying to get his aunt to move out of their place and move in with him. Set over the course of roughly a 24 hour period, Marty’s chances at happiness dependent on him overcoming the forces of comfort and perceived duty to his bachelor buddies and his mother made for an edge-of-my-seat cinematic treat. “We ain’t such dogs as we think we are.” Goddamn! I was feeling hella romantic and sweet after seeing this film. Hey, apart from the awful-looking “Hope Springs,” there are no major romantic releases anywhere near this weekend. Need a great date movie, make it “Marty.” He won an Oscar for that performance for goodness sake! If you don’t leave with a smile on your face, you’re broken. But then, maybe you should stay for “The Wild Bunch.” 🙂
And hey, with Rob and Kristen broken up, we need “Marty” now more than ever. Don’t give up on love!
————long dash line this time, dan
August 11th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Oh yes, it’s Wes.
My boy, finally here at the Grand Illusion for the first time since I’ve been slinging corn and threading film at our favorite little art house theatre. And what perfect timing, his latest (and one of the greatest) film is rocking movies houses round the globe this summer, and we take it all the way back to the beginning with a 35mm print of “Bottle Rocket.” Rarely screened and rarely on film, view the career launching film for Anderson and the brothers Wilson at the Grand Illusion this week only!
If you’re like me, you enjoyed the gorgeous print of “The Sting” last week and were enraptured by the mastery of the con film in its finest form. “Bottle Rocket’s” amateurish enthusiasm at unraveling the heist/con genre (post-Tarantino and pre-Ritchie) is the perfect pairing to contrast “The Sting’s” criminal professionals. Anderson and the Wilson bros give us some of the worst (clumsy, not evil) criminals to ever grace the screen, and one of the most bungled heists ever imagined.
And what can I say for sweet sweet Inez? Few movies have ever made me want for it to work out between an unlikely couple. Luke Wilson may have used up most of his charm in this film. I know he got a bit overweight, but where has he gone? He used to make ladies swoon, right? Or maybe I’m remember the last 15 years differently.
It took until “Rushmore” for Anderson to truly find his voice, but other than the afore-mentioned Tarantino, how many American independent directors came out of the 90s and have developed such a rabid following (because they can’t make a bad movie!)? I’m sure there are a few, but Anderson became a cultural and critical mainstay. “Bottle Rocket” is the geode that Anderson has been splitting and polishing over the past 15 years.
—self-professed Andersonian, dan