Laura Poitras is the Macarthur-winning, Oscar-winning documentarian who made Citizenfour. Her life has been dogged by government surveillance and harassment, and she has had to become a paranoid OPSEC ninja just to survive. Read the rest
The original Rollerball (1975) is a fantastic dystopian science fiction film in which corporations run the world and crowds go crazy for an ultraviolent sport called, you guessed it, Rollerball. (Watch the movie trailer below.) Just before shooting wrapped up, the movie teams played the game for real (apparently with less blood) for an audience of thousands at Munich's Olympic Basketball Stadium. Sports Illustrated covered the chaos for its April 21, 1975 issue:
(Director Norman Jewison... was delighted that the game devised for his film turned out to be one that can be played in earnest. "It can be played, if it's played with very strict rules..." he said on the set. "But it is still a very violent game, though maybe no more so than football. There is a gladiatorial aspect to rollerball that frightens me."
Don Cheadle directed and stars in Miles Ahead, the film portrait of the jazz legend that opens in theaters April 1. How did Cheadle get the role? Well, he never auditioned or even talked to anyone about it before he was cast. Rather, Miles's nephew Vince Wilburn declared that Cheadle would play his uncle. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Cheadle:
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The film jumps around, but the main thread of the plot is set around 1979. Why did you chose to focus on that time period? Just the fact that he wasn’t playing. The fact that he hadn’t played for five years, up to that point, and in a way, was either chomping at the bit to figure out what to say again, if to say again, or he was going down towards death very quickly. He was standing on that knife’s edge at that point, and I don’t think he even know which way it was gonna go. So for us, when we got to the period in all the research about how Miles didn’t play for five years, we were like, “What?” [Laughs] That was the part that was the most interesting from a human being standpoint to me. Musically and what he did with his art form was amazing to me all the time, for the most part. But for me, as a human and an artist and someone who’s a creative person, what happens when you just stop for five years? That’s why we picked that moment to sort of be the departure point: him on the verge of talking again, basically.
Ben Hansford writes about his Kickstarter campaign for a short film called "Uprising - A Post-Apocalyptic Robot Comedy,"On the surface it's a comedy - but at its heart it's a story about me (an idiot man-child) becoming a responsible father. It's also a one-man show, with me doing all of the development, production, post, and visual effects on a shoe-string budget. But most importantly, Uprising is my chance to do my film, my way, with my friends and family by my side." Read the rest
Nightflight has a great article about the weird and wonderful cult exploitation 70s movie, Pretty Maids All in a Row, with a screenplay by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry!
I also like the opening song by the Osmand Brothers, called "Chilly Winds." Read the rest
Pretty Maids would end up being Roddenberry’s first — and only — feature film writing credit during his impressive and long career. He transformed the problematic first draft of Pollini’s original story completely, deepening the dark comedy (it’s pretty black, actually) and softcore semi-misogynistic erotica of the original story — about a high school guidance counselor and football coach who sleeps with a lot of his foxy female students and then murders some of them (the ones who fall in love with him, and ask him to leave his wife, and daughter) — and turning the story into a whodunit that one writer later described as “an episode of ‘Kojak’ written by the staff of Penthouse Forum.“
To protest the UK's antiquated film censorship regime, Charlie Lyne crowdfunded a movie of paint drying. Having raised £5963, Charlie was able to submit a 607 minute film, which the censors now have to sit through. Charlie's just done an "ask me anything" interview at Reddit, with some illuminating answers.
About a year ago, I went to a filmmaker open day held by the BBFC at their offices in Soho. I'd expected to see quite a lot of conflict between the BBFC examiners and the visiting filmmakers whose work was at the mercy of the board, but there was nothing like that. Most of the filmmakers — even those who'd had trouble with the BBFC in the past — seemed totally resigned to the censorship imposed by the board, even supportive of it. I think that shocked me into action.
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This 1927 silent horror film was based on the short story “The Hypnotist” by Tod Browning who also happened to direct this film adaptation. The film is noted for starring Lon Chaney with the makeup used for his vampire character being done by himself. The film was a success upon its release by MGM, but all prints have been lost to time. The film is considered to be the most famous and sought after lost film of all time, with Turner Classic Movies airing a reconstructed version of the film using the original script as well as actual production stills.
With an estimated 100,000 homeless people living on the streets of Delhi, and 18,000 shelter beds, the city's nighttime sidewalks are the only bed for tens of thousands of workers. Read the rest
Okay, this may not in fact be ALL of the classic movie references in animated films from Pixar, but it's a whole lot of 'em.
JWZ of San Francisco's DNA Lounge writes, "First, I reverse engineered an old payphone and turned it into a Linux computer. This was a ridiculous thing to do and my build log is ridiculous. Second: The reason I did this was to use it as a prop at our next HACKERS party." Read the rest
This killer 1977 "Smokey and the Bandit" Pontiac Trans Am, customized by Universal Studios to promote the classic Burt Reynolds/Jackie Gleason film at car shows and other public events, will be sold at auction on January 30! Original Smokey and the Bandit trailer below. From the auction listing at Barrett-Jackson:
Burt Reynolds and McLaughlin Museum present the 1977 Universal Studios Promo Bandit Trans Am from the movie "Smokey and the Bandit." It has been frame-off restored and matching-numbers PHS-documented. Own a piece of history related to one of the most recognized movies of all time. We all loved watching Smokey chase the Bandit in that black Trans Am. Includes Universal Studios certificate listing the VIN of this car, a plaque from General Motors showing the car was used to promote the movie and Universal Studios maps showing scene locations. Title states Universal Studios Promo. Promoted and autographed by Burt Reynolds.
The new trailer for High-Rise, director Ben Wheatley's film based on the 1975 novel by one of my all-time favorite writers JG Ballard, looks absolutely fantastic. And dig the use of Tangerine Dream's track "Love on a Real Train" (famously first heard in Risky Business)! I can't wait to see this.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” just pushed James Cameron's “Avatar” aside as the top-grossing film in North America. In just 20 days of release, the seventh installment in the space opera saga has earned more than “Avatar’s” $760.5 million lifetime gross.
One important caveat is that this massive haul does not account for inflation. When pricing increases are factored in, “Gone With the Wind” remains the highest-grossing film in history with $1.7 billion and the first “Star Wars” is runner-up with $1.5 billion. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is in 21st place behind classics such as “The Sound of Music,” “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” and “Titanic.”
Globally, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ranks as the fourth highest-grossing pic in history, having earned $1.5 billion worldwide. It opens this weekend in China, the world’s second-biggest market for film. Depending on how enthusiastically it is received in the People’s Republic, “The Force Awakens” could shoot past “Avatar’s” record $2.8 billion global haul.
Some people prefer vinyl LPs over MP3s. And it's likely that some people would rather make films instead of videos. That's one reason why the Eastman Kodak Co. announced it will make a Super 8 film camera again. Kodak launched the first Super 8 camera at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and continued to make them until 1982, when camcorders took over.
Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke says the new camera, which will have a digital viewfinder, will be used by pros and film school students who like the unique qualities of analog recording. It will arrive in the fall, and cost between $400 and $750. Processing will cost between $50 to $75 per cartridge.
Mr. Clarke said Kodak has received expressions of support for the new camera by many Hollywood directors, including Steven Spielberg and “Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams, who directed a 2011 film called Super 8 and was famously hired by Mr. Spielberg as a 14-year-old to work on the older director’s Super 8 film archive.
Great news. Let's just hope Kodak doesn't emulate Vivitar's advertising campaign: