The incredible storyboards of Parasite compared to the film

Parasite director Bong Joon-ho drew out beautiful storyboards before rolling film. He's combined his drawings and all of the movie's dialogue into Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards coming out in May. In the videos above and below, Through the Viewfinder compared the storyboards and the scenes from the actual film.

(via Kottke)

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These are the first words ever heard in a feature film

“Wait a minute... Wait a minute... you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.”

In 1927, Al Jolson spoke those words in The Jazz Singer, marking the end of the silent film age. (Of course, that film also featured Jolson in blackface which unfortunately was common at the time.) From The Guardian:

Just a year before (The Jazz Singer), Warners had made Don Juan, starring Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Astor, which didn’t exactly set the Hudson river on fire, despite sound effects like the clash of swords or chairs being thrown – all to the accompaniment of the New York Philharmonic.

The reason Sam Warner, the technical genius of the brothers, thought that adding a human voice would make all the difference was a series of shorts brought in as a late addition to the Don Juan programme. Giovanni Martinelli, principal tenor at the Metropolitan Opera, sang Pagliacci. The leader of the Philharmonic played his violin and Al Jolson sang When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along).

They were a secret success. The New York press hardly noticed, but audiences did – and loved them. What would be known as “the talkies” were coming out of the fairground.

It was Sam Warner’s idea to team up with the Western Electric company to buy its Vitaphone synchronising system. He had the faith that few others possessed, but sadly died of a mastoid infection of the brain the day before the hugely successful premiere of The Jazz Singer.

(via r/TodayILearned) Read the rest

Watch Mel Brooks' wonderfully funny and very short animated film "The Critic" (1963)

In 1962, Mel Brooks attended a screening of an abstract animation by Norman McLaren. He overheard an older fellow chattering and complaining through the whole thing. Inspired, Brooks and director Ernest Pintoff created this wonderful short film, "The Critic." Amazingly, Brooks improvised the narration while watching the animation. The film won a 1964 Academy Award in the category of Short Subjects (Cartoon). Read the rest

Trump is mad 'Parasite' won Movie of the Year because it's from South Korea

“Can we get 'Gone with the Wind' back, please?” — Donald Trump, 2/20/2020, Colorado

Powerful Iwo Jima WWII footage shot by marines in combat and never seen publicly

Today is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Iwo Jima, when the US Marines and Navy invaded and captured the island from the Imperial Japan Army. Almost 7,000 Allied troops and 18,000 Japanese soldiers were killed. The University of South Carolina's Moving Image Research Collections is now helping the History Division of the Marine Corps digitize and make public mostly unseen film footage shot by marines in combat during the battle. There are 14,000 cans of film undergoing the digitization and preservation process. The videos above and below are barely a teaser of what's to come. From the University of South Carolina:

From the beginning, Marine Corps leaders knew they wanted a comprehensive visual account of the battle — not only for a historical record but also to assist in planning and training for the invasion of the Japanese main islands. Some Marine cameramen were assigned to the front lines of individual units, and others to specific activities, such as engineering and medical units. Films from these units show the daily toll of the battle such as Marines being treated in the medical units or being evacuated off the island to hospital ships as well as essential behind-the-lines tasks of building command posts or unloading and sorting equipment on beaches....

Another goal of the Marine Corps film project is to identify and label as much of the historical information in the films as possible, such as Marine Corps units and equipment. In addition to manually scanning the films for this information, Moving Images Research Collections has partnered with Research Computing and the university’s Computer Vision Lab, a research group within the College of Engineering and Computing, to use artificial intelligence to recognize text in the films to help identify units as well as individual Marines, airplanes and ships.

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George Miller reportedly to begin shooting Fury Road sequel this fall

Geeks Worldwide is reporting that Mad Max director, George Miller, has resolved his legal issues with Warner Bros. which were holding him back from filming the follow-up to Mad Max: Fury Road. The GWW piece claims that Miller will begin filming in Australia in the fall. No word yet on theme or who might already be signed on to the project.

Image: George Miller by Jasin Boland CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International Read the rest

There's going to be an "International Male" documentary

The upcoming documentary ALL MAN: The International Male Story promises to go behind the spandexed bulges of the most flamboyant mail-order fashion catalog for men ever to exist to expose its "impact on fashion, sexuality and masculinity in America." The filmmakers report that in its heyday, the International Male catalog reached three million mailboxes every three months! Watch the film's new teaser trailer. Read the rest

The world's first Christmas movie is a silent one made in 1898

While looking up something else on YouTube, I came across Santa Claus, the world's first Christmas movie! This British silent film, a little over a minute long, was made in 1898 and was directed by George Albert Smith, a "stage hypnotist, psychic, magic lantern lecturer, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, inventor" and noted film pioneer. It was considered a technical marvel in its time and definitely worth a watch.

Michael Brooke of BFI National Archive reports that the movie had "considerable technical ambition and accomplishment for its period," and that it "uses pioneering visual effects in its depiction of a visit from St. Nicholas." He also writes that it is "believed to be the cinema's earliest known example of parallel action and, when coupled with double-exposure techniques that Smith had already demonstrated in the same year's The Mesmerist (1898) and Photographing a Ghost (1898), the result is one of the most visually and conceptually sophisticated British films made up to then."

In this picture you see two children being placed in bed by a maid, lights are then shut off. Santa Claus enters the room from the fireplace and proceeds to trim the tree. He then fills the stockings that were previously hung on the mantle by the children. After walking backward and surveying his work, he suddenly darts at the fireplace and disappears up the chimney. This film surprises everyone and leaves them to wonder how old St. Nicholas disappears.

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Dredging Up What's "Under the Silver Lake"

Did you see this trailer for Under the Silver Lake about a year ago and think nothing of it? Lots of people did and dismissed it as a generic hipster-centric snoozefest. But a few interested people stuck around and read the checklist as a piece of comedy. Vinyl? Yes. Ridiculously nice apartments with one sole occupant? Yes. Struggling actors trying to make it in Hollywood? Yes. Pretentious bars? Yes. Violent Femmes? Sure, yes.

As much as these elements might seem like they'd make for a bland 30-something-centric film involving thousand yard stares and brunch, director David Robert Mitchell (It Follows) lampoons mumblecore, Los Angeles and "the male gaze."

The story in Silver Lake starts off innocently enough, wherein our protagonist Sam (Andrew Garfield) is caught staring at his sunbathing neighbor through binoculars and later notices signs of a neighborhood dog murderer. Perpetually unemployed (and unperturbed), Sam tracks down clues surrounding a disappearance and gets rapidly sucked into the lavish, oddball world of the Hollywood adjacent.

Though the plot reads a bit like a noir, it's difficult to describe this world as an "underbelly," seeing as the parties and high teas Sam goes to on his mock-chivalric quest are neither clouded in cigar smoke nor shot through shuttered blinds. The real hook of this film comes in the barrage of red herrings, corner-of-your-eye subplots and ridiculous clues that sometimes pan out, sometimes don't, and sometimes turn out to be redundant at best. In addition to all that, the film's (for lack of a better word) meta narrative allows you to go on a hunt for clues that parallel Sam's adventure. Read the rest

The airships of Hayao Miyazaki's wonderful films

Film editor Andrew Saladino of the Royal Ocean Film Society analyzes the exquisitely engineered airships in the films of Hayao Miyazaki. Read the rest

"Halloween in a Box" tells the story of plastic costumes of yore

My mom always sewed my Halloween costumes when I was a kid, so I never got to wear one of the many licensed ones featured in the recently released documentary, "Halloween in a Box." I'm not really complaining but the plastic-masked ones you'd find at Woolworth did have a real charm to them. In any event, this film follows the history of these costumes and how its manufacturers had to work together to keep trick-or-treating alive after the Tylenol poisonings of the early eighties. Read the rest

A lovely film of spinning tops by Charles and Ray Eames

In 1969, visionary designers Charles and Ray Eames directed this cinematic ballet of more than 100 spinning tops from around the world. The score is by famed Hollywood composer Elmer Bernstein (The Ten Commandments, The Magnificent Seven, Airplane!, etc.). From the Eames Office:

Tops had its genesis in an earlier film produced for the Stars of Jazz television program in 1957. The Eameses decided to make a longer, color version in 1966, which they worked on in spare moments between other projects.

The film is a celebration of the ancient art and craft of top-making and spinning. One hundred and twenty-three tops spin to the accompaniment of a score by Elmer Bernstein. Using close-up, live-action photography, the film shows tops, old and new, from various countries, including China, Japan, India, the United States, France, and England.

Charles’s fascination with spinning tops went back to his childhood; in this film he found a perfect vehicle for demonstrating their beauty in motion and for making visual points about the universality of tops, the physics of motion (MIT physics professor, Philip Morrison, often showed the film to students and colleagues), and the intimate relationship between toys and science.

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The same four notes from a Gregorian chant are used over and over again in movies

These four notes from a 13th-century funeral song can be heard during emotional scenes in countless movies.

From Vox:

Think back to some of the most dramatic scenes in film history — from The Lion King, The Shining, It’s a Wonderful Life. Besides being sad or scary, they have something else in common: the dies irae. “Dies irae” translates from Latin to “Day of Wrath” — it’s a 13th-century Gregorian chant describing the day Catholics believe God will judge the living and the dead and send them to heaven or hell. And it was sung during one specific mass: funerals.

As Catholicism permeated world culture, the melody of the chant was repurposed into classical music, where it was used to convey a deathly, eerie tone. From there it worked its way into films — and if you don’t already know it, you’ve almost certainly heard it before: It’s played over and over in our scariest and most dramatic cinematic moments.

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A fun thing to do in LA on 9/22/19: screening of The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952)

If you live in Los Angeles, I highly recommend paying a visit to Japan House in Hollywood. It's an event and cultural center created by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and features art exhibits, lectures, architecture and technology exhibits, and more. Its upcoming "Movie & Bites" event is a perfect reason to visit:

Sunday, September 22 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM | $20 JAPAN HOUSE Salon | Level 5

A meal brings people together in more ways than one. As well as nourishing the body with sustenance, a meal can evoke forgotten memories and renew bonds that have weakened over time and distance. In this installment of “Movie & Bites,” a combined screening and culinary event featuring acclaimed works in Japanese film and television, these themes will be explored in The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952) by legendary filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu.

Taking place in 1950s Tokyo, a wealthy middle-aged couple find themselves growing apart and their marriage slowly disintegrating. Taeko, a sophisticated, city-bred housewife, is bored and resentful of her marriage to Mokichi, a humble and provincial businessman whose simple pleasures include cheap cigarettes and a taste for the unassuming, eponymous dish: green tea over rice (ochazuke). The couple’s marital woes are heightened by the arrival of Taeko’s vivacious niece, Setsuko, whose modernizing ways come into conflict with Taeko and Mokichi’s traditional views. Ozu, a master of observational storytelling, crafts an emotionally powerful yet austere film that shows the gentle unraveling of a marriage, the growing pains of acceptance, and the timorous, hesitant first steps at reconciliation over a mutual understanding of each other’s flaws and humanity.

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Ed Norton finally breaks cover in Motherless Brooklyn

For years, it was just about impossible to see a film that Ed Norton didn't have something to do with. Then, just like Kaiser Soze, poof, he was gone. Except now he's back! Given that Norton will wrote, directed and is staring in Motherless Brooklyn, his absence from the big screen is totally understandable—that's a lot of work to shoulder. Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, with Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe are on board to help bring this Jonathan Lethem's gem of a neo-pulp thriller to life. Read the rest

Taika Waititi's got some great advice for writers and film directors

If you're a Taika Waititi fan, like I am, it's been one hell of a year. The What We Do in the Shadows TV series was absolutely brilliant. Last week, it was announced that he'd be directing the fourth Thor movie and, earlier today, the first trailer for Jojo Rabbit dropped. He's a writing and directing machine! If you've ever wondered what Waititi's creative process is like, then you'll want to dig into the insight offered up in this interview with the good folks at BAFTA.

My biggest takeaway: Keep writing no matter what. Force yourself to write and don't be afraid of blank pages. It's a grind, but no matter what you're scribbling about, you'll get there in the end.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of Activités culturelles UdeM Read the rest

"Verasphere: A Love Story in Costume" is a vibrant, psychedelic must-see doc

You don't want to miss the technicolor "rainbow of love" that is Verasphere: A Love Story In Costume. This new KQED Truly CA short documentary film made me smile, laugh, tear up, and want to pull out my glue gun and start making costumes again, all in the span of 20 minutes.

[It] follows two San Francisco artists, David Faulk and Michael Johnstone, who fall in love at the height of the AIDS epidemic. While most of their community is overcome with grief and rage, David and Michael discover an unlikely joy through the creation of Mrs. Vera, an outrageous costumed character made from found materials. What began as an intimate art project and a way to pass the time while they faced an inevitable death, soon took on a life of its own. Now 25 years later, a large and diverse community has evolved around Mrs. Vera, all centered around one day of costumed celebration in the San Francisco Pride Parade.

For SF Pride this past weekend, Mrs. Vera and Michael Johnstone rode in the parade as Community Grand Marshals, followed by colorful members of the "Verasphere." Put on your sunglasses because the photos are super bright!:

Mrs. Vera

Mrs. Vera and Michael Johnstone

Marcos Sorensen and Isabel Samaras

Andy Cowitt and Michael Wertz

Also, don't miss Mrs. Vera's Daybook, an ongoing series of photos by Michael of David as Mrs. Vera.

Thanks to Ruby Rieke for the SF Pride photos! Read the rest

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