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iPad ebook of the 100 finest examples of 20th century filmmaking

Taschen books has created a useful iPad ebook that serves as a companion to its excellent 100 All–Time Favorite Movies book set (a whopping 800-page two-volume softcover book set that comes in a slipcase.) It has a neat feature - if a movie is available for rental or purchase on iTunes, you can get it right from the ebook. The 100 All-Time Favorite Movies ebook is 671 pages long and features movie trailers and soundtracks for featured films, and interactive images and galleries.

From horror to romance, noir to slapstick, adventure to tragedy, western to new wave, all genres are represented in this compendium of celluloid excellence. Metropolis? Check. Citizen Kane? Of course. La dolce vita, Psycho, A Clockwork Orange? You bet.... and so many more, including lesser-known masterpieces like Buñuel’s The Young and the Damned. And for a first sample of each of these gathered greats, simply tap through with a wifi connection, watch the trailer, or tune into the movie soundtrack.

Each chronologically arranged film entry also includes a synopsis, cast/crew listings, technical information, actor/director bios, trivia, original poster, production photos, and a list of awards. Decade-by-decade introductions, meanwhile, explore the particular context of each era, setting the historical and social scene for each of these silver screen triumphs.

It's only $10. I bought it earlier today and I love it.

100 All-Time Favorite Movies

Crowdfunding money to finish animated film about Alice in Wonderland on a Toronto streetcar

A reader writes, "Lewis Carroll's Alice takes an eventful trip on a streetcar in contemporary Toronto in this short stop-motion animated video. The character of Alice from Lewis Carroll's famous children's novels is transported to contemporary Toronto where, like many native Torontonians, she takes a ride on the streetcar. As with many trips on the public transit, she encounters a succession of strange characters who engage her in (equally strange) conversations. The dialogue is borrowed directly from Through the Looking-Glass, but given a fresh & funny new twist in this stop-motion animation. Jennifer Linton is trying to raise funds for sound recording to an already visually complete project."

Linton's work is very beautiful, and she's looking to raise a very modest sum to finish a movie that looks just great. It's a pity that there isn't a low reward level that gets you online access to the finished short, though -- this would be a cheap reward for Linton to deliver and would let the movie's patrons see what they've funded ($25 gets you a Blu-Ray disc of all of Linton's work).

Update: She's added a private Vimeo link to watch the movie as a $10 perk!

Toronto Alice

The Dune in our Heads

A problem crops up when filmmakers try to adapt epic fantasy worlds to the big screen—particularly beloved, richly-imagined literary ones. Sacrifices must be made. Characters are cut, and plotlines are re-routed. Scenes and places don’t match what readers have pictured with their minds. Fans of the original book cry foul.

In the case of director Alejandro Jodorowsky, his vision for Frank Herbert’s masterwork Dune was so over the top, so surreal (and, at times, so absurd), it probably would have blown the minds of critics before they had a chance to grumble.

That is, if Jodorowsky’s translation and transmogrification of Dune had ever been made. It never was.

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Cheap Thrills: a movie that's like a twisted episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Carla and I saw Cheap Thrills on Saturday at Cinefamily in LA, and we loved every minute of this black suspense movie, directed by E.L. Katz. (It has a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer.)

Failed writer Craig has a wife, a baby, and an eviction notice taped to the front of his apartment. If he doesn't pay $4500 in back rent, his family will be on the street. Later that day his boss at the oil changing station informs him that he is being laid off, effective immediately.

Sitting in a local dive bar, contemplating his bad luck, Craig bumps into Vince, a high school skateboarding buddy he hasn't seen in five years. Vince is a loser (he collects loan shark payments from deadbeat clients), and Craig wants to leave the bar and go home just minutes after reuniting with Vince. Vince convinces him to have a drink with him. A few minutes later, they get invited by a loud man to join him and his beautiful much-younger wife at their table.

Colin explains that it's his wife Violet's birthday and he'd like them to have some drinks with with them to celebrate. Colin orders the most expensive bottle of tequila in the bar and tells Vince and Craig that he will give $50 to the first person to drink a shot. Before Craig realizes what's happening, Vince gulps his drink, and Colin hands him a $50 bill.

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Historic "mixfilm" in Detroit this weekend

Archivist Rick Prelinger sez, "I'm bringing a new archival 'mixfilm' on Detroit's rich history to the beautifully restored, vintage-1927 Detroit Film Theatre this weekend. This is the fourth of my Detroit compilations, and it's packed with new footage (especially home movies shot by Detroiters themselves) that's never before been publicly screened. It's a fully participatory show, meaning that viewers (hopefully you) are invited to identify places, people and events, ask questions, and converse with one another as the film unreels. And it's anything but nostalgic -- rather than lamenting what's gone, it aims to contribute to the ongoing, spirited discussion about Detroit's future, and encourage people to talk with one another."

Events: Detroit Film Theatre — The Detroit Institute of Arts Auxiliary (Thanks, Rick!)

Photos of actors playing historical figures

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VanVictor made a terrific image series showing historical figures played by various actors, from Aristotle to Edgar Allen Poe, Jesus to John Lennon. "Famous people in fiction" (via Laughing Squid and Reddit)

Studio gives Kickstarter Veronica Mars movie backers substandard, DRM-crippled "rewards"


Ryan writes, "I was a backer of the Veronica Mars movie, one level of backer got you a digital download of the movie. They ended up going with Warner Bros owned/backed Flixster. So for me I have an apple TV and a Roku. Flixster doesn't support appleTV or airplay, the Flixster channel for the Roku will crash anytime you try to watch anything. Flixster also will not allow you to watch the movie on a computer that has dual monitors."

The studio will allow you to buy a better experience on a non-Flixster service, send them the bill, and get a refund (but only if you complain first).

There's a copy of the movie on The Pirate Bay with more than 11,000 seeders, which means that this Flixster business is doing precisely nothing to deter piracy, and is only serving to alienate megafans who voluntarily donated money to see this movie made, and to subject the studio itself to potential millions in administrative costs and refunds to investors who were forced into the retail channels.

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Hal Douglas, famed movie trailer narrator, RIP

Imagine a world... where film trailers have emerged as their own art form. Where today, we learn that one of the greats of that genre has passed on. Hal Douglas, the familiar narrator of thousands of Hollywood trailers, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 89 years old. (New York Times)

Captain America, then and now

"When Captain America throws his mighty shield, all those who chose to oppose his shield must yield."

Free to Be...You and Me is 40

It's the fortieth anniversary of the release of Free to Be...You and Me, the groundbreaking movie/record/book that encouraged kids and their grownups to break out of gender stereotypes and shame and be whomever they were. This was hugely influential for me (I registered freetobeyouandme.com to keep it away from squatters and gave it to the nonprofit foundation that continues the project's work), and I'm incredibly pleased to discover that it resonates with my six-year-old daughter, too.

The thing is that Free to Be... is not only right-on in its politics and message -- it's also fabulous: funny, catchy, sweet and smart. It features an all-star cast that includes Michael Jackson, Mel Brooks, Marlo Thomas, Harry Belafonte, Rosie Greer, Carol Channing, Carl Reiner, Alan Alda, Diana Ross, and more. My daughter can't get enough of Boy Meets Girl and we sing William's Doll at bedtime all the time. Unfortunately, the theme of gender stereotypes is just as relevant today as it was 40 years ago. But the good news is that Marlo Thomas and her friends gave us parents a tool for helping our kids understand and break through these stereotypes that is just as powerful today as it was then.

CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht celebrates Free to Be...'s anniversary with a look at When We Were Free to Be, a 2012 book that looks at the project's history and impact:

As a kid on Long Island in the 1970s, Miriam Peskowitz was a frustrated "Free to Be" fan. She wrote in "When We Were Free to Be" about her feminist mom's righteous letters and calls demanding her daughter be able take wood and mechanical shop, or that girls need not wait for boys to ask them to square dance. (Square dancing, of course, being one way that schools satisfied Title IX requirements.) To Peskowitz's dismay, she had the same arguments at her child's school decades later. Peskowitz watched in the mornings as her daughter settled down to draw bubble letters with her gal pals while boys raced each other to the chessboards. The teacher said it wasn't a problem; it's just what the kids chose. "After I nudged again and again, the teacher eventually taught all the children in the classroom how to play chess. Some girls started to choose that as their morning activity," wrote Peskowitz, the author of "The Daring Book for Girls." "Very often," Peskowitz wrote, "all it takes to outsmart gender stereotypes is a little creative thinking and a little gumption.

Free to Be...You and Me [Soundtrack]

Free to Be...You and Me [DVD]

Free to Be...You and Me [35th anniversary edition book]

When We Were Free to Be [Book]

Remembering 'Free to Be... You and Me,' 40 years later [Jamie Gumbrecht/CNN]

See PIG in San Francisco

Next Saturday (Mar 15), the SF in SF people will host a screening of indie movie PIG, an award-winning sf movie, followed by a Q&A with producer Mark Stolaroff, founder of the No Budget Film School. (Thanks, Rina!) Cory 4

Texas Chain Saw Massacre, 40 years old and newly restored

Leatherface

On its 40th anniversary, iconic splatterpunk film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has been restored with a new 4K transfer from the original 16mm film shot by director Tobe Hooper in 1974. A production of Dark Sky Films, the new print premieres at SXSW on Monday, March 10 with wide theatrical release over the summer.

"I haven't seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on the big screen for many, many years," Hooper says. "This 40th anniversary restoration is absolutely the best the film has ever looked. The color and clarity is spectacular, displaying visual details in the film that were never before perceptible. The newly remastered 7.1 soundtrack breathes new life and energy into the film. I am very much looking forward to audiences experiencing this film as they never have before".

Leatherface had no comment.

Why does Hollywood like dystopian LAs and utopian SFs?

Jon sez, "When conjuring up the future, why do writers and filmmakers so often imagine Northern California as an edenic utopia, while Southern California gets turned into a dystopian hellscape? While Hollywood, counterculture, and Mike Davis have each helped to shape and propagate this idea, Kristin Miller traces its roots back to the 1949 George R. Stewart novel Earth Abides. Her essay follows the north/south divide in science fiction films and literature through the decades, and explores how it's continued to evolve. In the accompanying slideshow, Miller photographs stills from sci fi movies filmed in California, held up against their filming locations, from 1970's Forbin Project to 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It shows not just the geographic divide in SF, but also how our futures have evolved, and how movies have the ability to change how we see our surroundings in the present."

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Toronto Web Fest call for submissions

Robbo sez, "The first annual Toronto Web Fest is happening this May 9-11th and they are still taking submissions until March 9th - so if anyone has a Web series they'd like to enter - now is the time. T.O. WebFest is a 3 day festival of screenings and industry events being held at the Harbourfront Centre to celebrate the burgeoning Web series community.

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The sanitized "more killing, less gore" world of PG-13 remakes

Our standards betray us, leading to action movies (particularly remakes of Paul Verhoeven's) which "trade subversive carnage for sanitized violence that asks fewer moral questions." James Orbesen:

"Research has shown that depicted violence does not necessarily lead to real-world violence. But depicted violence can say a lot about the appetites and attitudes of audiences. The Verhoven approach—bloody, unsettling, and confrontational—seems more and more like a relic. What people want now is violence that is clean and quick, provoking no questions."