Categories
Film Suggestions

Deadwood – The Film

Finally saw the long-awaited and long anticipated Deadwood film. The original HBO show remains among my favorites of all time, especially the first two seasons. By the third season, tensions between HBO and David Milch1 caused the season to have some gaps in the story. But still, watch all three seasons if you haven’t already, or haven’t watched recently.

The film is rather bittersweet, several of the actors have died in the 13 year interim of the end of the tv show in 2006 and 2019, and mortality is one of the main themes, no doubt informed by David Milch‘s own illness. Still, I was happy to spend another 90 minutes with those who survived.

Powers BootheRicky Jay and Ralph Richeson died between the conclusion of the series and production of the film. Boothe’s small role in an early version of the script was written out. Titus Welliver, who portrayed Silas Adams, was unable to appear in the film due to scheduling conflicts as he was filming his Amazon Prime series BoschGarret Dillahunt and Larry Cedar, who played characters who were killed in the original series, returned as background characters; Dillahunt plays a drunk who throws something at Hearst, yelling: “Hope you die in the street, like my dad did.”


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadwood:_The_Movie

Don’t watch if you are offended by the King’s English, especially by the words, “fuck” and “cunt”…

Footnotes:
  1. allegedly []
Categories
Film

2020 Oscars

9 great movies

A mid-range Oscar night, not as bad as some, not as good as others. Martin Scorsese got blanked, again. Happy that Parasite won big, even though I haven’t yet seen the film, because the director/writer, Bong Joon-ho, looked so joyful. I bet that was a good drinking party afterwords. It might still be going on actually! 

The Nation:

Parasite, the astonishing Korean film about the yawning gap between rich and poor in one of the most advanced economies in the world, made history Sunday night by sweeping the top Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best International Feature. Bong Joon-ho, its innovative director, also took the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (with Han Jin-won).

“I’m very ready to drink tonight, until the next morning,” Bong declared in true Korean fashion after accepting his first award of the night for his screenplay. South Koreans are exuberant consumers of alcohol, a habit that makes for raucous social interactions but also reflects the anxieties and stress of a country divided by class and split along national lines.

But on this occasion, Bong’s desire to crack open a beer—or, more likely, a bottle of soju—was a cry of unmistakable joy. “We never write to represent our country, but this is very personal to South Korea,” he said while accepting his award for best screenplay.

The awards capped a remarkable night for Bong, who is now the leading light of the century-old Korean film industry. And it was a triumph for the incredible cast of actors—led by the beloved Song Kang-ho—who transformed Bong’s story of class conflict in high-tech South Korea into a remarkable window into the human condition in the 21st century.

 

(click here to continue reading The ‘Parasite’ Oscar Sweep Is a Triumph for South Korean Culture | The Nation.)

Also enjoyed Brad Pitt’s dig at the show-trial in the Trump Impeachment saga…

Variety:

During his speech, Pitt also got political, calling out the Trump impeachment trial for blocking the testimony of former national security adviser John Bolton.

“They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week,” he said on stage. “I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it — in the end, the adults do the right thing.”

 

(click here to continue reading Brad Pitt Wins Oscar, Calls Out Trump Impeachment Trial – Variety.)

Don’t understand why Eminem performed a song that was a hit like 20 years ago, but  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

USA Today:

The rapper, 47, surprised by turning up at the awards show at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre on Sunday to perform his track “Lose Yourself” – earning a slew of reactions from celebs in the audience and fans watching at home.

The 2002 track was featured in the film “8 Mile” and won an Oscar for best original song the following year. Eminem skipped the awards show and missed out on performing it at the time.

On Twitter, he partially quoted the lyrics of the song following the head-turning performance that left some fans wondering why he was on the Oscars stage.

“Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity… Thanks for having me @TheAcademy. Sorry it took me 18 years to get here,” he tweeted with a video clip of Barbra Streisand presenting the award years ago.

 

(click here to continue reading Oscars 2020: Eminem ‘Lose Yourself’ performance shocks, confuses.)

Categories
Film politics

Adam Schiff And Narrative Strategy

Someone mentioned that Representative Adam Schiff has a side gig as a screenwriter.

Back in 2018, Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker wrote a nice profile of Adam Schiff, which includes this:

Schiff mostly sticks to business with his staffers, but they all know that he was a movie buff long before he became the congressman from Hollywood. (Several years ago, his holiday gift to each staffer was a DVD of “The Big Lebowski,” which Schiff often quotes.) It’s less known that, like many lawyers in Los Angeles, Schiff has been writing screenplays on the side for years, which together amount to a kind of autobiography. “The first was a post-Holocaust story called ‘Remnant.’ ” As Schiff recalled, “I had an agent at William Morris tell me it was good but no one would want to see it—too depressing. Then ‘Schindler’s List’ came out, and I was, like, ‘Come on!’ ” His next, written when he was a prosecutor, was a murder mystery called “Minotaur.” “I had a friend who was a producer, and he said there were two answers in Hollywood—‘Yes,’ and ‘Here’s a check.’ I was getting lots of yeses.” But perhaps there is hope for his third. “It’s a spy drama,” he said. “That one is a work in progress.”

(click here to continue reading Adam Schiff’s Plans to Obliterate Trump’s Red Line | The New Yorker.)

So no wonder his closing argument yesterday was so eloquent. He’s molding the Democratic impeachment case as if it was a narrative, using his skills as a screenwriter. It makes perfect sense.

If you didn’t see the whole impeachment saga yesterday, at least watch nine minutes of Adam Schiff’s closing argument

Congressman Adam Schiff: “We believe we will have made the case overwhelmingly of the President’s guilt. He has done what he’s charged with… but I want to address one other thing tonight. Okay he’s guilty, does he really need to be removed?”

Full video here: https://cs.pn/2tA32nD

Categories
crime Film Suggestions

Judge holds Martin Shkreli responsible for $10.4 million in losses

Iron Cock Head
Iron Cock Head

Not sure anyone will get choked up about something or anything bad happening to Martin Shkreli or his smirk. 

A federal judge ruled Monday that former drug company CEO Martin Shkreli will be held responsible for $10.4 million worth of financial losses related to his time as head of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

Judge Kiyo Matsumoto rejected Shkreli’s argument that he did not cause any losses for investors because they eventually came out with a profit, Reuters reported. The total losses will likely play a factor in Shkreli’s sentencing on March 9.

Matsumoto ruled Shkreli should not get credit for the money that was repaid to investors because he only returned it after they became suspicious.

(click here to continue reading Judge holds Martin Shkreli responsible for $10.4 million in losses | TheHill.)

Speaking of Dirty Money, did you ever watch the Netflix 6 part series of the same name? Highly recommended…

 

Erin Lee Carr’s “Drug Short,” my candidate for a nonexistent Best in Show award, shows how big pharmaceutical companies jack up prices on lifesaving drugs, and how renegade short sellers with a pretense of social conscience get rich by trying to undermine companies they believe are spreading harm. The use of graphics in this one is particularly impressive; I’ve had short selling explained to me many times in the past, but I don’t think I ever really understood it on a fundamental level until Carr’s series laid it out.

 

 

(click here to continue reading Dirty Money Netflix Review.)

Categories
Books Film politics

Echoes of History of The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer In Trump’s Immigration Policy

Gustav Klimt 046.jpg
By Gustav Klimt – 1. The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. 2. Neue Galerie New York, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=153485

I watched the film version of this book, and I should probably read the book one of these days, such a fascinating story.

“The Lady in Gold” is a fascinating work, ambitious, exhaustively researched and profligately detailed. Anne-Marie O’Connor traces the convoluted history of Gustav Klimt’s dazzling gold-leaf portrait of the Jewish society beauty Adele Bloch-Bauer from its commissioning in 1903 to its sale to cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder in 2006. But the book’s title does not do justice to O’Connor’s scope, which includes the Viennese Belle Epoque, the Anschluss, the diaspora of Viennese Jews, the looting of their artwork and legal battles over its restitution, and thorny questions facing the heirs of reclaimed art.

Roughly a third of the book deals with Klimt’s “Austrian Mona Lisa,” its Nazi-era theft and its eventual return to the Bloch-Bauer heirs. The rest provides context and a milieu dense with particulars. The work teems with historical personages who lived in, visited or plundered Vienna during the tumultuous first half of the 20th century. Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Mark Twain, Joseph Goebbels and scores of others, both integral and incidental to the story of Klimt’s golden portrait of Adele, appear in O’Connor’s populous and several-branched narrative.

(click here to continue reading “The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer” by Anne-Marie O’Connor – The Washington Post.)

The film was good, not great. Helen Mirren is always spot-on, but her “kid lawyer” Ryan Reynolds (playing Maria Altmann’s young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg) didn’t quite fit in the role, plus there were superfluous scenes with Katie Holmes pretending to be maternal. Still, worth watching if you haven’t seen it.

The back-story of Austrian Jews suddenly, nearly overnight, becoming part of the Third Reich is illustrative. They lost their homes, their businesses, their prized personal possessions, their lives, their freedoms. Donald Trump, and others in the Republican party, like Ted Cruz, others, want to round up and deport all the poorly documented immigrants if gods forbid, a Republican wins the Oval Office. Trump claims there are 11,000,000 people who don’t have permission to be in the US, and on January 21st, 2017, he is going to find them all and send them somewhere else, outside of the US borders, or maybe in camps like the Japanese-Americans during WW2.

Is 11,000,000 an accurate number? Are there more? Less? Probably more, and not all these folks are dishwashers, roofers and field hands. Some are middle class people, or even wealthy, there are multi-generational families involved, and many have been here for decades. In Trump’s vision, a bunch of gold-booted thugs with golden “T” armbands are going to kick in doors, smash storefront windows, and arrest all the undocumented people, without incident, without protest as Americans cheer and jeer in the streets. Will petty jealousy and unscrupulous neighbors make false claims against personal enemies? Does Trump even know what due process is? 

Trump is not a policy person, he is extremely slippery in his positions, when he even understands them, but one theme has been nearly constant: immigrants are the enemy of Trump’s Fourth Reich.

More importantly, would America (and the world) really allow this to happen in the 21st Century? 

Categories
Film Music

David Bowie as The Man Who Fell To Earth

David Bowie Is: waiting in line
David Bowie Is: waiting in line

If you haven’t seen this film recently, do. Especially the Criterion Collection released a few years ago…

David Bowie, The Thin White Duke, and The Man Who Fell To Earth:

Casting David Bowie as a space alien was one of Hollywood’s best decisions since marrying sound and image. Okay, that’s more than a touch hyperbolic, but come on. Bowie, and his post-Ziggy specialization in coming off like an otherworldly being, was exactly what Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth needed. Hallucinatory, heartfelt, and wholly bizarre, Bowie’s 1976 cult film turned 40 this year, and its marvelous mystery seems to still reach not just beyond the stars, but deep within the human condition. The Man Who Fell to Earth endures not only as a truly bizarre sci-fi masterpiece, but as a time stamp for one of Bowie’s most fascinating and alluring creations: The Thin White Duke.

Newton’s the only alien on our planet; perhaps not so coincidentally, so was Bowie. While the film may flounder at points due to ‘70s excess – hefty nudity, hallucinatory cinematography, a general lack of focus that may or may not have been brought on by drugs – it endures as a wild trip into the outer limits of what defines a man. If anything, Newton is a classic story of commerce, a rise and fall experienced by an extraterrestrial with a preternatural world-weariness. Newton lacks affect for much of the film, as he casually gazes at our world through a particularly yahoo American landscape. Commerce and cowboys and loud things abound. Why wouldn’t an alien recoil in quiet contemplation of the surrealism of it all? Bowie himself summarized it best: The film is sad.

(Via Consequence of Sound)

Categories
Film News-esque

Haunting Photos of Life 20 Years After the Bosnian War

These photos are interesting, but be warned, Wired wants to charge you $52 a year to view them, or else install 15 or so 3rd party advertising related cookies and trackers on your computer. I’ve found if you are quick, you can avoid either of these unsatisfying choices…

FRENCH FILMMAKER ADRIEN Selbert was 7 when the Bosnian War started in 1992, and he’s never forgotten the horrible images he saw each night on TV. His fascination with the war and its impact on the country intensified over time, leading him to join a friend in making the 1,100-mile drive from Paris to Srebrenica in 2005. “It was just 10 years after the war, but in a city like Srebrenica, [it] looked like the conflict had ended only yesterday,” he says.

The war killed 100,000 people between 1992 and 1995 and displaced 2.2 million more, making it Europe’s most devastating conflict since World War II. Even now, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains politically and economically fractured, its people divided by ethnicity and religion.

Selbert explores these themes in Nino’s Place, a documentary film he made in 2008, and Srebrenica, Night to Night, a photo series about Bosnian youth in 2014. He returns to them in The Real Edges, an ongoing series of moody vignettes he made while visiting 10 cities, wandering the streets and talking to locals.

His scenes teem with contrasts. In one, a woman relaxes with a cigarette in Markale square, where dozens of civilians died in two bombings during the siege of Sarajevo. In another, a priest baptizes a child in Pale, a Serbian stronghold during that same brutal siege. Selbert occasionally combines scenes to form diptychs and create a dialog. “I like the cinematic idea, theorized by Jean Luc Godard, that two images put together create a third image,” he says.

(click here to continue reading Haunting Photos of Life 20 Years After the Bosnian War | WIRED.)

The photographer’s website is also a source for these photos, without the ad-blocking annoyance, fwiw…

http://cargocollective.com/aselbert

Categories
Film religion

Bill Maher and Michael Moore discuss The Kings of Atheism – A New Film-in-the-making

I forgot to write this up yesterday, but Bill Maher and Michael Moore discussed their new film idea on Overtime With Bill Maher (you’ll have to skip ahead about a minute to hear the beginning of Michael Moore’s response which leads to discussion of the film, or jump ahead to about the 3:30 mark to hear the exact discussion begin)

 

Watch ‘Overtime’: May 13, 2016:

Bill and his roundtable guests – Michael Moore, Jack Hunter, Katty Kay, Fmr. Sen. Bob Graham, and Jeremy Scahill – will answer viewer questions after this week’s show.

 

(Via Real Time with Bill Maher Blog)

The idea for The Kings of Atheism is simple: Michael Moore will follow around several atheist comedians as they tell religious-themed jokes in the Bible Belt area of the South. Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman, Ricky Gervais, Seth MacFarlane, and possibly others. Michael Moore says he is not an atheist, and playfully joked about a vengeful god sending down thunderbolts directed towards them, and not wanting to be there for that. 

I’d love to watch this film: make it happen guys!

Ricky Gervais has one of my favorite god jokes, paraphrased thus: “I don’t believe in any gods, if you are Christian or Muslim etc., you are nearly the same, you don’t believe in most of the gods humankind has created either.”

Ricky Gervais tells it better of course 

The dictionary definition of God is “a supernatural creator and overseer of the universe.” Included in this definition are all deities, goddesses and supernatural beings. Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.

So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…” If they say “Just God. I only believe in the one God,” I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.

(click here to continue reading Ricky Gervais: Why I Don’t Believe in a God – WSJ.)

Categories
Film religion Reviews

You Should See the Film Called Spotlight (2015)


I’m a lazy film reviewer, but I very much enjoyed seeing Spotlight, and you probably would too. 

Netflix will have it soon, or see it in the theatre

SPOTLIGHT tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. Directed by Academy Award-nominee Tom McCarthy, SPOTLIGHT is a tense investigative dramatic-thriller, tracing the steps to one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times.

  • Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes
  • Michael Keaton as Walter “Robby” Robin
  • Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer
  • Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian
  • Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron
  • John Slattery as Ben Bradlee, Jr.
  • Billy Crudup as Eric MacLeish

(click here to continue reading Spotlight (2015) – Rotten Tomatoes.)

Spotlight doesn’t resort to typical Hollywood clichés, there are zero car chases, there are no weapons being brandished, there isn’t a heart-pumping scene where a villain is just around the corner about to catch the hero as dramatic music swells, there is not even a heavy-handed monologue from some powerful higher-up at the Boston Globe trying to shut down the whole investigation. The reporters who make up the Spotlight team aren’t presented as larger-than-life super-humans, there are zero scenes about someone coming in drunk and belligerent, zero scenes about love-interests that have nothing to do with the plot, but simply exist to give “depth” to the character. The journalists slowly, methodically practice journalism, a dying art form. 

Instead, the film follows what actually happened as an investigative journalism team composed of Roman Catholics discovers how the institutions fail to protect the vulnerable. Cardinal Bernard Law doesn’t even get his comeuppance (in this lifetime, anyway). 

Wow. Highly recommended.

Categories
Film

The Breakfast Club 30 years later

"You load up. You party"

A photo posted by Seth Anderson (@swanksalot) on

I graduated from high school in 1986, so the Breakfast Club will always have a certain resonance for me. Coincidentally, I watched the film a few months ago (for the first time since seeing it in a theater in Austin) – verdict, good film, not great, but watchable.

Make it a double feature with Slacker (filled with people I knew or at least recognized from Austin’s streets), and you have a decent biosketch of a lot of people my age.

Hanging over the film is a dread that no matter how cool or rebellious or thoughtful you may be, we all become our parents. Well, sounds good: Socioeconomically speaking, this generation (according to too many studies to mention) will be the first in 60 years to have smaller incomes, greater student-loan debt and higher unemployment than the previous generation. Said Daniel Siegel, the esteemed clinical psychiatrist and author of “The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are”: “The upside may be an increased quality of life than generations before this one. Science supports that if you don’t reflect on what happened to you as a child, it is highly probable you will re-enact the behaviors of your parents. Under stress, those qualities really come out. Culture may change, but that fundamental reality hasn’t. But it could be this generation is more reflective. The more mindful you are, the more you release yourself from matters of the past, and I think that mindfulness is being encouraged more than back in 1985.”

The critical assessment

“The Breakfast Club” made $51 million on a modest budget of $1 million. Chicago reviews were generous: Roger Ebert (“a surprisingly good ear”) and Gene Siskel (“thoroughly serious”) raised their thumbs. Elsewhere, notice was mixed. Kirk Honeycutt, then film critic for the Los Angeles Daily News (and later the Hollywood Reporter), remembers: “I thought the movie was a little pat, a little too eager to blame parents, then go home.” These days, it’s seen as Hughes’ defining work, an ’80s touchstone with a Rotten Tomatoes approval (consisting of mostly blog reviews) of 91 percent. It is in a way a reminder that nostalgia and reassessment take an outsize role in deciding what becomes a classic. Honeycutt, for instance, has a new book: “John Hughes: A Life in Film.” He told me: “A lot of critics didn’t treat (Hughes) fairly. I think we were too worried about, say, Woody Allen. These kid problems looked overblown. We missed the relevance. Hughes was making a point about how it felt to be a teen, and we missed it with “Breakfast Club.” I failed it too. But then, a good film — you see something new each time. And 30 years later, I’ve changed my mind.”

(click here to continue reading The Breakfast Club 30 years later, how culture has changed – Chicago Tribune.)

Categories
Arts Film

Early Morning, Cold El animated GIF

An animated GIF created in Photoshop CS6, with photographs from Hipstamatic’s new “burst” option.1

Early Morning El
Early-Morning-El.gif

Footnotes:

  1. apologies to The Who’s Early Morning, Cold Taxi []
Categories
Film Music

James Brown and the Making of ‘Get On Up’

I hope this is a good film, because James Brown was an amazing performer, and a complicated cat…

“I was sitting right there,” says Mick Jagger, pointing at a row of seats in the famous first balcony at New York’s Apollo Theater. He is remembering how, as a young fan back in England, he had worn out the grooves on his copy of James Brown’s 1963 album, “Live at the Apollo.” Then, he says, he watched from the balcony in 1964 as the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business performed his splits and spins and dropped to his knees begging and screaming “Please Please Please.”

Fifty years later, Mr. Jagger is back at the Apollo, speaking in the historic space where “Get On Up: The James Brown Story”, which he co-produced with Brian Grazer, would have its premiere in a couple of days. It hits theaters Aug. 1.

“It was daunting, of course,” Mr. Jagger says of having to follow the future Godfather of Soul in one of his most amazing performances. Keith Richards has said it was a big mistake to even try. Mr. Jagger’s perspective: “At that age you don’t care. You don’t think. You just do it.”

Mr. Boseman worked with choreographer Aakomon Jones to learn Brown’s signature moves, including the one-legged sideways slide step that “we called the good foot,” the actor says.

It also didn’t hurt that one of the film’s producers happened to be among a handful of people on earth who has had as long and storied a performing career as James Brown.

“I would say that Mick Jagger sort of produced the philosophy behind how to approach the performances,” says Mr. Boseman. “He was adamant about the amount of intensity that James Brown brought to a performance and [Mr. Jagger] always tried to match himself. He drove that point home.”

The two also discussed what Mr. Boseman calls Brown’s “good face,” which his audience saw, and the “bad face” that the famously strict to the point of abusive band leader turned on his backing musicians.

Mr. Jagger says “We talked about how there are two people you’re playing really—James Brown the person and there is James Brown the performer. They’re not the same James Brown.”

(click here to continue reading James Brown and the Making of ‘Get On Up’ – WSJ.)

and I happened to run across these James Brown Youtuberies yesterday, so I’m sharing them for your edification. The man could dance…

 The film took a while to make…

But a primary reason the project “was pushed off year after year,” Mr. Grazer says, was pinpointed by James Brown himself. Though Brown had given his blessings to Mr. Grazer’s film he remained skeptical, telling the producer: “You’ll never find somebody to play me.”

He was right. And though Wesley Snipes and Eddie Murphy reportedly were considered for the role, the part had not been cast by 2006 when, following Brown’s death that year, rights to his story were returned to the Brown family estate.

For Mr. Grazer, the film was a labor of love. A self-described James Brown fanatic, he grew up in the San Fernando Valley listening to his music. “When I was in high school, I was in a car club and I just played James Brown over and over and over again on my 8-track,” he says.

“`You wanna know how hardworking I am?”” Mr. Grazer remembers Brown saying. “Then he told me a story about how once he was dancing and he stepped on a nail on stage. The nail went right through his foot, bled through his shoe and he kept on going.”

That fired Mr. Grazer’s determination to make his film.

(click here to continue reading James Brown and the Making of ‘Get On Up’ – WSJ.)

but they want the young’uns to go see it too:

With the film ready to open in theaters, the filmmakers are hoping to repeat the success of Mr. Taylor’s, “The Help,” which grossed close to $170 million domestically on a reported budget of $25 million, slightly less than “Get On Up.”

While test screenings have shown that “Get On Up” currently appeals to “a 40-plus audience,” Mr. Grazer says, “I want kids to see it.” To get them into theaters he has tapped into friends in the hip-hop community whom he met during the production of his 2002 film “8 Mile.”

“Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, ODB from the Wu-Tang Clan, Kanye, those guys worship James Brown, who really is the progenitor of hip-hop. They were all influenced by him and they all feel that some of their funk has come from James Brown. I want kids to see where the music comes from.”

To help get the word out, Mr. Grazer says he hopes to enlist his friends Jay Z and Justin Timberlake to help promote the movie.

“A lot of my friends, and Brian’s friends as well, said it was impossible to make a film about James Brown,” says Mr. Jagger.

(click here to continue reading James Brown and the Making of ‘Get On Up’ – WSJ.)

Like I said, I hope this turns out to be the biopic that The Hardest Working Man In Showbiz deserves.

Categories
Business Chicago-esque Film

Chicago wins George Lucas museum

Chicago at Night
Chicago Museum Campus at Night

In case you hadn’t heard…

“Star Wars” creator George Lucas has selected Chicago over Los Angeles and San Francisco as the future home of his collection of art and movie memorabilia, according to a spokeswoman for the museum.

The museum’s board Wednesday is expected to vote on a name change — from the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art — and destination.

Pending approval by the Chicago Plan Commission, Lucas’ institution would be built on what are now parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place and would open in 2018. Architectural renderings will be presented to city officials in early fall, according to a statement from the museum.

(click here to continue reading Chicago wins George Lucas museum – chicagotribune.com.)

 The clouds in july are mostly in the plain

Soldier Field

Our first question about the proposal has already been answered, will there be lawsuits against this private museum being placed on the lakeshore? Yes:

Still, the museum has drawn opposition from open-space advocates, such as Friends of the Parks.

Among the 14 “basic policies” of the Lakefront Plan of Chicago, adopted by the city council in 1973, is that “in no instance will further private development be permitted east of Lake Shore Drive.” And the Lakefront Protection Ordinance says that the plan commission’s decisions “shall be made in conformity with” those policies.

“We will do what it takes and that very well may be a lawsuit,” Friends of the Parks President Cassandra Francis said. “We are in coalition-building mode, but we are very optimistic, based on discussions, that we will have a broad group of organizations joining us” in opposing the lakefront location for the museum.

Our second question: are there public funds being used for the George Lucas Megalomania Museum? Apparently, no, at least at first:

Under Emanuel’s plan, the two Chicago Park District-owned parking lots would be leased to the museum for $1, which is similar to arrangements other large cultural institutions have with the Park District.

But unlike other museums, the Lucas museum would not receive taxpayer subsidies to cover a portion of its operations, a top mayoral aide has said.

The parking lots would be moved underground at Lucas’ expense, the city has said.

That’s positive news, and different than how the Chicago Children’s Museum fiasco played out. 

I haven’t yet seen the plans, so I still wonder if the proposed museum will shrink the available green space along the lakeshore? If I’m reading the description correctly, the museum will take over 17 acres of asphalt parking, and put a 5 acre museum building and 12 acres of new green space. That sounds ok to me, but then I’m not a Chicago Bears tailgating maniac. Friends of the Park make a good point too: the land may be a parking lot now, but parking lots are easily converted to grassy knolls, much easier than removing a building once it is built.

Cassandra Francis, President of Friends of the Parks says:

Although the proposed site is now used as a parking lot, its future reversion to parkland is possible. Once a building is in place, it is forever precluded from being public open space.

9 great movies
Film History

For the record, I haven’t watched a Star Wars film in 25 years or more, but perhaps there will be other items of narrative film history of interest.

Categories
Arts Film News-esque

On Boycotting Woody Allen’s Films, Hate the Artist, Love the Art

9 great movies
9 great movies

For many years I’ve heard many variations of the question answered here by the New York Times Ethicist columnist, Chuck Klosterman; whether moral failings or even alleged moral failings are reason enough to avoid the work of certain offending artists.

I was discussing with a friend whether it is permissible to boycott Woody Allen’s films in the wake of the sexual-abuse allegations. We both thought it would be wrong to further empower someone who may have sexually abused a child. But our legal system is built on the principle that the accused are innocent until proved guilty, and preserving that value is important whether or not you believe the allegations. Is it permissible in this case to boycott, or should we presume innocence? J.K., NEW YORK

When news of Dylan Farrow’s accusation against Allen resurfaced earlier this year, I received many emails that were all different versions of the same question: “Is it acceptable to continue watching (and re-watching) Allen’s films if any part of me believes he may have molested his adopted daughter?” Your query is both similar and different; you’re wondering if it’s O.K. to stop watching his movies, even if he has been convicted of absolutely nothing and insists that he’s innocent.

My answer to both questions is yes.

There are many who find themselves wondering if they can still love “Manhattan” or “Crimes and Misdemeanors” if the allegations against Allen are true. It’s highly unlikely, however, that those same people would wonder if they needed to move out of a house if they discovered the carpenter who built it had been accused of the same offense. This is because of art’s exceptionalism — we view artistic endeavors as different from other works. But it’s this same exceptionalism that allows a person to consume art by people they see (rightly or wrongly) as monstrous: What you know about an artist can inform the experience you have with whatever they create. A film is not just a product that has one utility; it’s a collection of ideas that can be weighed and considered in concert with one another.

Watching a movie is not a tacit endorsement of the person who made it.

(click here to continue reading On Boycotting Woody Allen’s Films – NYTimes.com.)

Johnny Depp and some psychoactive mushrooms
Johnny Depp and some psychoactive mushrooms

Can you separate the artist as an individual from their work? I settled this question long ago, for myself, by agreeing to let myself read and enjoy poetry written by Ezra Pound. Ezra Pound seems like he was a virulent anti-semite, a Nazi-sympathizer, and so on, and yet his poetry is intriguing. Roman Polanski admitted having drugged and screwed a 13 year old girl, and yet “Chinatown” is still a great film, as is “Knife in the Water”. John Lennon might have hit Yoko Ono a few times, does that mean I can never listen to “Working Class Hero” again? What about David Bowie’s Third Reich fixation during the time of the recording of some of his best albums? The list goes on and on: artists who were assholes, thugs, sexual deviants, or even worse, Scientologists! Does it matter if Henry Ford was a Nazi-sympathizer? Would you still drive a Ford car? Like Mr. Klosterman says, would you boycott your house if you discovered one of the carpenters who worked on your kitchen did some vile thing ten years ago? Where does it stop? 

It’s a variant of the old cliché: Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner, in this case, Hate the Artist, Love the Art. Or not, it’s your own choice, and your choice alone to make.  

Categories
Film

Quick, shallow review of The Untouchables

Not only a quick, shallow review, but also will probably be disjointed since I watched this film on my iPad while on my treadmill, over a period of 3 days. Anyway, how did this film get such good press? Full of gangster clichés, Chicago tropes, and populated by Kevin Costner’s usual Bloomingdale’s store mannequin style of acting. There are an insane amount of continuity, factual and editing problems, enough to start me laughing eventually. Even the famous scene, so beloved by News America’s thuggish CEO, Paul Carlucci, doesn’t get explained – if you didn’t know before hand what was going on, you were not informed. Why does De Niro’s Al Capone suddenly start beating his own guy with a baseball bat? Doesn’t seem to be very emblematic of teamwork to me. Were there a couple pages of script that got cut out?

Untouchables
Somewhere in Chicago under the El

I watched the entire movie, so it wasn’t horrible, but it boggles my mind that The Untouchables allegedly propelled Kevin Costner to film star status.

My Netflix rating: two stars out of five.

Only Don't Tell Me You're Innocent
Only Don’t Tell Me You’re Innocent

As an aside, has Kevin Costner ever been in a good film, a movie where his acting was the essential ingredient? I can’t say I’ve seen one, but then I haven’t ever sat through either of his big films: The Bodygaurd, nor Waterworld. I did watch about 15 minutes of The Bodyguard once on television, but decided I needed to trim my toenails instead of wasting more time with that dreck. Waterworld might be more fun to watch, albeit not in the way Costner intended. Waterworld was famous for a minute for being an expensive flop, full of closeups of Costner’s face, but empty of plot.

Speaking of Waterworld, some fun gossip collected by IMDb

  • It is rumored that director Kevin Reynolds and Kevin Costner had a huge squabble over the film, resulting in Reynolds walking off the project and left Costner to finish it. Reynolds was quoted as saying that “Kevin should only star in movies he directs. That way he can work with his favorite actor and favorite director”.
  • The script underwent 36 different drafts which involved six different writers.
  • Joss Whedon flew out to the set to do last minute rewrites on the script. He later described it as “seven weeks of hell”.
  • The 1,000 ton floating set did not have any restrooms, nor were there any on any of the 30 boats used by the cast and crew. The result was that filming had to halt so those in need could be ferried to a barge anchored near the shore which had several portable toilets on it.
  • Widely considered to be one of the biggest box-office bombs of all time. Although it grossed $255 million from a $175 million production budget, this does not factor in marketing and distribution costs, or the percentage of the gross that theaters keep (which is up to 45% of a film’s box office takings). The film came to be nicknamed “Kevin’s Gate” after Heaven’s Gate (1980) and “Fishtar”, after Ishtar (1987), two previous mega bombs.