Must-see bizarro viewing: Boots Riley's 'Sorry to Bother You'

This isn't a review, but I'd regret not giving you a heads up about Sorry to Bother You, Boots Riley's first feature film. It's an absurd black sci-fi satire shot in Oakland and it's the off-the-wall dystopian summer indie flick we all deserve.

At the last minute last Friday, I put my hands on some tickets for its sold-out nationwide opening night at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland. And wow, am I glad I did.

It was a real happening. People cheered and laughed. Plus, the movie was simply fantastic. After the show, folks with tickets for the late show (which had the bonus of an after-show Q&A with Boots himself) were already lining up. Lots of people posed with the shitty Tercel featured in the film, which was parked right in front of the theatre.

Hilariously, you can buy that shitty Tercel for a mere $23,999.40 on the STBU website:

(I got my eye on that Mr. Bobo collectible plate myself.)

If you want to read what reviewers are saying, here's a good start:

Review: ‘Sorry to Bother You,’ but Can I Interest You in a Wild Dystopian Satire? by A.O. Scott of The New York Times:

"If Mike Judge’s “Office Space” and Robert Downey Sr.’s “Putney Swope” hooked up after a night of bingeing on hallucinogens, Marxist theory and the novels of Paul Beatty and Colson Whitehead, the offspring might look something like this."

Film Review: ‘Sorry to Bother You’ by Peter Debruge of Variety:

"Nearly as deranged as it is politically engaged, Boots Riley’s sui generis “Sorry to Bother You” is the kind of debut feature that knocks your socks off, tickles your bare tootsies with goose feathers for a while, then goes all Kathy Bates in the final stretch, ultimately taking a sledgehammer to your kneecaps."

This one might make more sense AFTER you've seen the movie:

In 'Sorry To Bother You,' an Alternate-Universe Oakland Rings True by Janelle Hessig of KQED Arts:

"The “don’t sell out” moral of the story is delivered with all of the subtlety of a circus clown with an erection, but appropriately so—there’s nothing subtle in being a person of color fighting to survive capitalism."

Go see it. Read the rest

Watch Christopher Nolan's 1997 short horror film "Doodlebug"

It's easy to forget that even now-legendary directors had to start somewhere. Doodlebug is an early effort by Christopher Nolan, about a man trying to kill an annoying pest in his squalid home.

In addition to being in black and white, several of the shots are reminiscent of Memento's noirish vibe, especially the phone receiver in the water. There's also a clear connection to Eraserhead and other Lynchian horrors, with a touch of Rod Serling thrown in for good measure. And the effect looks as if it was made from hand-cut celluloid, a time-consuming effort that might make someone appreciate having the kinds of digital tools that enhanced Interstellar.

Doodlebug (1997)- Christopher Nolan Short Film [HD] (YouTube / Pensare Films) Read the rest

Peter Jackson shares clips from his World War I film restoration

Imperial War Museums and 14-18 Now commissioned Peter Jackson to use the latest technology to restore archival footage of World War I, and the results are remarkable. Read the rest

Scarlett Johansson will no longer play a transgender man in her next film

When news that Scarlett Johansson was planning to play trans man Dante ‘Tex’ Gill in the biopic Rub & Tug, her rep's tone-deaf response launched the casting controversy into overdrive. She's now announced she exited the project. Read the rest

Watch "The Frog," a deeply weird short film from 1908

Spanish film director and cinematographer Segundo Chomón (1871-1929) was a pioneer of movie special effects, camera tricks, and optical illusions at the intersection of technology, art, and magic. See more of his surreal work at the Internet Archive's "Segundo de Chomón Collection."

Read the rest

Watch these film scenes inspired by famous paintings

This lovely trilogy of videos by Vugar Efendi collects shots from movies that are homages to notable paintings. Read the rest

Fascinating interview with a film bootlegger from the 1960s

Woody Wise was manager of a small movie theater in the 1960s, when people were starting to watch TV more. To supplement his meager income, he eventually picked up a side hustle trafficking in bootlegged film prints until he was pinched by the FBI and caught a felony conviction. Read the rest

Watch 3,000 insect specimen photos turned into a stunning animation

In 2004, Paul Bush released When Darwin Sleeps, 3,000 digital stills of insects in the Walter Linsenmaier in the Lucerne Nature Museum. They flash by so quickly they feel animated, or as if evolution itself is happening on screen. Now he's released a better quality copy than has been previously available online. Read the rest

Honest Trailers roasts every Christopher Nolan movie ever

Well, not really a roast, but a warm light chafing, perhaps. Read the rest

Watch this cool one-take "animation" of a student daydreaming

Shin Shinrashinge created a meticulous setup of his two-dimensional drawings, then guided his phone through his 3D creation to create this one-take story of a boy daydreaming about fighting monsters. Read the rest

Explore what London looks like in infrared

Invisible London is a great primer on infrared filmmaking, with lovely shots of London as the backdrop. Read the rest

Thought-provoking list of 1980s movies that shaped our humanity

YouTuber Pop Culture Detective has a lovely video essay up on 1980s movies that shaped our humanity, and he chooses five often-overlooked favorites of his. What films would you list? His choices are: Read the rest

Foley artists share how they make sex noises

A nasty comedy short depicting a foley artist fisting a jar of mayo to make sex noises for the movies was not far off the truth. Sometimes. Rebecca Pahle:

“Stay away from gooey, wet sounds, because it usually doesn’t contribute to the scene and make it romantic,” cautions Goro Koyama, whose Foley credits include Blade Runner 2049 and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. “Unless they’re trying to make it sound gross” — in which case a wetter, more gooey sound, like the Foley artist manipulating half a grapefruit with their hands, may be called for.

Read the rest

Artists pay tribute to 2001: A Space Odyssey at the half-century mark

It's Nice That surveyed an eclectic group of artists, designers, and thinkers on the outsize impact of 2001 since its premiere 50 years ago this month. Read the rest

Benedict Cumberbatch says he will only work on films in which female co-stars are paid as much as he is

That's right, wizard, detective, and occasional actor Benedict Cumberbatch isn't cool with bullshit pay gaps that Hollywood production companies have been laying on his female colleagues since pretty much forever.

During an interview with the Radio Times, the actor, best known for his come-hither and do-my-bidding eyes, proclaimed that he refuses to have anything to do with a project where his female co-star isn't being paid the same amount of cash as he is. In an interview with Radio Times Magazine, Cumberbatch espouses the fact that “Equal pay and a place at the table are the central tenets of feminism." He goes on, compelling other men to look at what they're paid and, if they see that a women they work with is being paid less, refuse to do it until amends are made.

More than this, with his production, SunnyMarch, Cumberbatch is putting his personal fortunes where is mouth is.

From Radio Times Magazine

“I’m proud that [partner] Adam [Ackland] and I are the only men in our production company; our next project is a female story with a female lens about motherhood, in a time of environmental disaster. If it’s centered around my name, to get investors, then we can use that attention for a raft of female projects. Half the audience is female!”

Granted, it's far easier for a fella that's already made his millions to suggest that others refuse the ability to pay their bills in the name of equality. But if enough people were to do it, often enough, it wouldn't be long until shoring up a pay gap would prove less costly to companies than the lost hours their protesting employees are costing them. Read the rest

Moving documentary on prisoners who break wild horses

The Wild Inside follows Arizona prisoners in a program where they work to break wild horses rounded up from the desert. Read the rest

Watch these newly discovered film clips from the glamorous birth of Technicolor

The British Film Institute discovered bits of very rare Technicolor film fragments from 1920s Hollywood. The fragments, attached to the beginning and end of other film reels, include Louise Brooks doing what may be a costume test for her first credited movie, The American Venus (1926), thought to lost. From Film News:

As Bryony Dixon, BFI’s Curator of Silent Film explains, “Everybody loves Technicolor but so much film from glamorous 1920s Hollywood is lost; when it turns up, however fragmentary it’s exciting. What to do with tiny clips that are only a few seconds long? Imagine an Egyptian vase shattered into pieces and the shards scattered across museums all over the world. You can imagine that one day you might be able to see it whole again. It’s like that with films; only an international effort by film archives like the BFI can bring the pieces of the jigsaw together. For now we have the shards but we can dream of seeing Louise Brooks’s first film or a lost Hedda Hopper in colour”.

James Layton, MOMA’s Film Department Preservation Manager adds, “Only a few Technicolor musicals from the dawn of sound survive complete and entirely in colour, whilst some only exist in poor quality black and white copies. It is always a cause for celebration whenever previously lost colour footage turns up. These excerpts provide fascinating glimpses at these films’ pioneering use of colour, which we could only guess at before.”

"BFI uncovers rare Technicolor footage of Louise Brooks in living colour" (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!) Read the rest

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