Pretty scary Ad Creepage currently up in Rio de Janeiro for the Mayan calendar Apocalypse flick, (I hope Woody Harrelson bites it hard) opening here in the States on Friday the 13th, of course. First off, when the Evil Doers next blow up and flood an underground tunnel somewhere in the world, my bet is, that ‘somewhere’ will be ‘here.’ Secondly, our tunnels already leak just fine, thx.
Last night I almost hit a bus crossing in front of me with a giant 2012 sign on the side. Doesn’t get much funnier than that.
Aaaaand OK, I might as well throw in my 2 cents about this one since it’s a hot topic: 2012 is a transition and demarcation point past which our culture will hit a certain no-return-point in shifting towards spirit and away from matter (read, on one level, as: life becoming almost completely Internet-mediated, while economy and physical infrastructure continues to fall apart by dint of being less exciting than Twitter). It is NOT the end of the world and one of the more productive things to think about around the whole issue is why, exactly, people are so addicted to apocalyptic thinking (as Alan Moore pointed out somewhere?
“I could seduce the President of the United States…but I have no political ambition.” For you LA connoisseurs of obscure ‘70s gems, get thee tonight to the Egyptian Theatre! For the first time in 38-plus years, Nelson Lyon’s The Telephone Book will be playing its first big screen engagement.
Much like ‘69’s Midnight Cowboy, The Telephone Book was branded in ‘71 with an “X,” but now probably plays as no more risque than an episode of Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew. What a cast, though: everyone from Warhol superstar Ultra Violet, to character actor’s character actor, the great William Hickey.
The film presumably involves a woman (Sarah Kennedy) who falls in love with the world’s greatest obscene telephone operator. Here’s what the excellent resource VideoUpdates has to say about it:
The opening quickly establishes a style and mood somewhere between Soviet Montage and a 16mm student film. While its (literally) X-rated nudity and frank discussion of sexuality are hardly shocking in the 21st century, the offbeat humor and profound strangeness seem amplified by the decades. Beyond that, there seems to be a very intelligent undercurrent to the madcap randomness.
Regarding writer-director Lyon, not much comes up on him beyond a brief, early writing stint on SNL, but he was also one of the people doing coke with John Belushi on his last night on earth. He’ll be in attendance tonight (Lyon, not Belushi), so maybe not bring that up during the Q & A? A trailer and clip from The Telephone Book follow below.
I’m always fascinated when the great European directors come to work in America. Zabriskie Point, while a hands-down favorite of mine anyway, in my eyes, almost succeeds more as a relative failure because there’s something poignant about Michelangelo Antonioni‘s need to make sense of a landscape more disjointed than Rome (L’Eclisse), more baffling than North Africa (The Passenger), and possibly more empty than ‘60s London (Blow-Up). Antonioni might not have succeeded in making sense of countercultural America, but there’s something undeniably beautiful about his attempt.
Jacques Demy‘s nearly forgotten film, Model Shop, is another example of a perceived failure that somehow manages to succeed all the more so for it. Released, briefly, by Columbia Pictures in ‘69, when Demy was still basking in the international glow of his Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Model Shop stars Gary Lockwood as a Vietnam-dreading drifter who starts trailing around Los Angeles Anouk Aimee’s older French woman (well, who wouldn’t?!) Thus begins a hall-of-mirrors roundelay that, despite it’s strained dialogue and meandering plot, comes off as much a love letter to Los Angeles as it does to melancholy romance.
And while Model Shop flirts with themes of the “universal condition,” it’s also wonderful to see (as it is in Don’t Make Waves or Play It As It Lays) what the city looked like back then, less burdened as it was by cars, noise, and signage. A (typically) colorful clip from Model Shop follows below:
No word yet if, as was the case with his prior successes, producer Barrie Osborne (The Matrix, The Lord Of The Rings) plans to build a trilogy around the Prophet Mohammed. I’m guessing, though, that even a stand-alone film will attract its share of uproar:
Qatari media company Al Noor Holdings used Sunday’s closing of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival to announce its launch into the movie biz with a $150 million feature about the Prophet Mohammed, to be produced by Barrie Osborne. Osborne and Al Noor execs are in discussions with a number of studios, distributors and ten-percenteries about boarding the English-language project.
Al Noor thus becomes the latest link between Hollywood and the Mideast, where companies are anxious to provide work for local filmmakers and to offer a more positive portrayal of Islam around the world. Muslim cleric and TV personality Sheik Yousef al-Qaradawi will serve as a technical consultant. “He was a profound genius who founded a religion whose name in Islam signifies peace and reconciliation,” Osborne said. “This is what our film will aspire to do.”
And while the film will cover the years from his birth to his death, a Mohammed biopic will prove especially tricky considering the Prophet himself cannot be in it. In accordance with Islamic law, neither Mohammed nor direct members of his family can be visually depicted.
In Variety: Al Noor Sets Mohammed Feature
The Sweet Smell of Success is one of the great screenplays, and films, of all time. It’s an absolutely vicious piece of work about a powerful New York gossip columnist (Burt Lancaster) and a sleazy impresario who spends the film trying to scrape his way into his good graces (Tony Curtis, in a rare villainous turn). The level of 50s slime out-does anything in “Mad Men” and the dialogue cuts with every nasty, New-York-Overdrive quip. Plot summary follows:
A classic of the late 1950s, this film looks at the string-pulling behind-the-scenes action between desperate press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) and the ultimate power broker in that long-ago show-biz Manhattan: gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster). Written by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets (who based the Hunsecker character on the similarly brutal and power-mad Walter Winchell), the film follows Falco’s attempts to promote a client through Hunsecker’s column—until he is forced to make a deal with the devil and help Hunsecker ruin a jazz musician who has the nerve to date Hunsecker’s sister. Director Alexander MacKendrick and cinematographer James Wong Howe, shooting on location mostly at night, capture this New York demimonde in silky black and white, in which neon and shadows share a scarily symbiotic relationship—a near-match for the poisonous give-and-take between the edgy Curtis and the dismissive Lancaster.
The screenplay by Odets and Lehman is one of the most incredible pieces of writing I’ve ever read/viewed, surpassing, perhaps, even classics of nasty dialogue (and I’ll go out on a limb here) like The Lion in Winter and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? There’s just no comparison to any other film and I think this is the ultimate flick for ANYBODY who works in the media. Check out the trailer below to see what I mean.
Mister Freedom is a 1969 satire directed by expat American fashion photographer William Klein. It stars French actress Delphne Seyrig (who was also in Day of the Jackal). Donald Pleasence and Serge Gainsbourg have supporting roles and May 1968 student rebel-rouser Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Simone Signoret and Yves Montand have uncredited cameos.
Mister Freedom concerns a loutish, jingoistic American superhero, a self-righteous idiot run amok, who’s willing to destroy France in order to save it from the Ruskies and Chinamen. Obviously this is a parody of American foreign policy of the Vietnam era, but what’s so utterly uncanny about the film is how well it predicts the Bush era. It’s incredible! Watch a clip and see if you agree:
Beck made a “tribute” to Mister Freedom with his Sexx Laws video and the Japanese pop duo Pizzicato 5 made an homage to the film with their Sister Freedom Tapes EP.
Fans of Chris Smith (American Movie, The Yes Men) can look forward to the indie director’s upcoming release, Collapse. In it, Smith gives the Errol Morris treatment to Michael Ruppert, the one-time cop turned investigative journalist.
Here’s what Apple’s Trailer site has to say about Collapse which, curiously, is listed as both a documentary and a horror film (but then again, if you know about Ruppert, maybe it’s not so curious at all):
Americans generally like to hear good news. They like to believe that a new President will right old wrongs, that clean energy will replace dirty oil, and that fresh thinking will set the economy straight. American pundits tend to restrain their pessimism and to hope for the best. But is anyone prepared for the worst? Michael Ruppert is a different kind of American. He predicted the current financial crisis in his self-published newsletter ?