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‘Better Call Saul’: Why That Blockbuster Video Scene Was Important, But Also a ‘Nail-Biter’ to Make

22 June 2017 1:41 PM, PDT | Indiewire Television | See recent Indiewire Television news »

[Editor’s Note: Mild spoilers for Season 3, Episode 10, “Lantern” follow.]

It’s at times easy to forget that “Better Call Saul” is a period piece, if only because its 2002-2003 setting isn’t always noticeably distinguishable from the present day. But then every once in a while, creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould slap us in the face with a reminder that this show is happening in the past. It can be as simple as a trip to a video store — but not just any video store.

Read More: ‘Better Call Saul’: The 7 Times Jimmy and Kim Kissed On Screen, And How That Makes It The Most Rewarding Romance on TV

It’s something we all accepted as routine, just 15 years ago: Want to watch a movie? Go to Blockbuster Video. So in the Season 3 finale, “Lantern,” Kim (Rhea Seehorn) asks her assistant Francesca (Tina Parker) for a ride to what was once the dominant source for Americans in search of movie rentals, and we then get to see her browse the aisles in search of the perfect comfort viewing, following her near-fatal car accident the episode prior.

Executive producer Gennifer Hutchison, who wrote the season finale, told IndieWire that the decision to have Kim visit a video store came in the writers’ room, as the team discussed what Kim might possibly do after deciding to relax following her accident. “I just really loved the idea of her renting a bunch of videos and sitting around watching movies and eating junk food. Just because it’s something I relate to, it’s something I like to do when I destress. And I feel like it’s not something you see a lot of on TV and in movies,” she said.

And as a result, Gould — who directed the finale — got very excited about the idea of Kim going to not just any video store, but Blockbuster in particular. However, don’t think that this was an easy choice for the show — because according to production designer Michael Novotny, “it was a total nail-biter.”

Novotny told IndieWire that as soon as he received word that “Saul” wanted to recreate a Blockbuster, he got his team to work — specifically, the graphics department. “I can always do a set. A set’s the easy part. The hard part is the graphics and all of the art work you’re going to turn out,” he said.

But that process started before the show had actual permission to recreate a Blockbuster. “We started to build it without approval. That’s part of the nail-biting process,” he said. “It wasn’t until the day before we shot it that we got approval.”

This is because, as anyone who works in production might tell you, trying to depict a real brand on screen can be an incredibly difficult task. And the “Saul” team wanted to actually use Blockbuster iconography, which isn’t the easiest thing given that it’s a brand name you haven’t probably seen in the wild in years.

Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010, and “roughly a dozen” stores currently exist today. Thus, the set was built on one of the show’s Albuquerque soundstages, and in fact, a great deal of what was on screen was made from scratch by the “Saul” production team, including the big Blockbuster sign hanging in the wall and the period-accurate movie covers.

One thing they were able to buy: the shelving units came thanks to an ironic stroke of luck and an Albuquerque video store that was going out of business. The production was thus able to buy those displays, which Novotny made sure were shortened so that, as they shot the scene, Kim and Francesca could be seen walking through the aisles. That framing was based on Gould’s storyboards, which were altered slightly during the production process, but otherwise didn’t require any major additional construction.

But really, here’s what people care about — the movies that are being considered, as Kim prepares for an epic binge in the pre-Netflix days. None of the titles are fake, and Novotny did work carefully with his team to carefully curate the movies that appeared on screen during the scene, all of which were drawn from a list provided by Peter Gould and the writers. Here are just some of the ones we happened to spot while freeze-framing:

“A Knight’s Tale” “Lawrence of Arabia” (the 40th anniversary special edition) “Love Liza” “The Mothman Prophecies” “Punch-Drunk Love” A Richard Pryor stand-up special “Beverly Hills Ninja” “The Cheap Detective” “Hanky Panky” “Blue Thunder” “American Sledge” “Darkness Falls” “Night of the Living Dead

They’re all movies that feel appropriate to the era at least within a year or two or as classics, though unfortunately a quick Internet search can reveal whether a film in question would have been available on DVD in the year 2003. Perhaps the most glaring oversight is the appearance of Tim Burton’s “Big Fish,” which was released in theaters December 10, 2003 and made available on DVD April 27, 2004 — something Hutchison’s husband (who actually worked at Blockbuster in the past) noticed while watching the final product. “We don’t always get it right,” she admitted.

Novotny acknowledged the “Big Fish” error, but he was relatively zen about it, given the intense pressure of making the scene happen in the first place. “It really was a down to the wire thing,” he said. “If that’s as much as I’m wrong… I’m sad to hear that but at the same time I’m happy that it went as good as it did.”

Update: On Twitter, Gould offered a little clarity as to why “Big Fish” might have time traveled back a year:

And that #BigFish they mention? Could be a shoutout to my former student @johnaugust… #YesYouReadThatRight

Peter Gould (@petergould) June 23, 2017

Hutchison couldn’t remember every one of the 10 films Kim officially rented, though such a list was made during production. Beyond “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Monty Python,” she said the rest were mostly legal dramas, though she did make sure to include the Luc Besson sci-fi romp “The Fifth Element.” “That was one for some reason I was really stuck on making sure was in her stack,” Hutchison said.

While hardly the most memorable scene of the finale, it still sticks in the mind because of how it triggers memories of an experience we’ve largely lost, traded in for the convenience of Netflix.

“I like the idea of physically walking around and choosing movies,” Hutchison said. “There is something about actually going into a store, having everything broken down by genre. Sometimes with the streaming services it’s a little overwhelming, but having that physical space… I don’t know. It was like a ritual.”

And depicting that ritual was just more proof that “Better Call Saul” will always find a way to surprise us with the seemingly mundane.

Stay on top of the latest film and TV news! Sign up for our film and TV email newsletter here.

Related stories'Better Call Saul': The 7 Times Jimmy and Kim Kissed On Screen, And How That Makes It The Most Rewarding Romance on TVThe 20 Best-Directed TV Drama Series of the 21st Century, Ranked'Better Call Saul' Review: Season 3 Finale Proves A Good Man Knows When to Give Up »

- Liz Shannon Miller

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‘Better Call Saul’: Why That Blockbuster Video Scene Was Important, But Also a ‘Nail-Biter’ to Make

22 June 2017 1:41 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

[Editor’s Note: Mild spoilers for Season 3, Episode 10, “Lantern” follow.]

It’s at times easy to forget that “Better Call Saul” is a period piece, if only because its 2002-2003 setting isn’t always noticeably distinguishable from the present day. But then every once in a while, creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould slap us in the face with a reminder that this show is happening in the past. It can be as simple as a trip to a video store — but not just any video store.

Read More: ‘Better Call Saul’: The 7 Times Jimmy and Kim Kissed On Screen, And How That Makes It The Most Rewarding Romance on TV

It’s something we all accepted as routine, just 15 years ago: Want to watch a movie? Go to Blockbuster Video. So in the Season 3 finale, “Lantern,” Kim (Rhea Seehorn) asks her assistant Francesca (Tina Parker) for a ride to what was once the dominant source for Americans in search of movie rentals, and we then get to see her browse the aisles in search of the perfect comfort viewing, following her near-fatal car accident the episode prior.

Executive producer Gennifer Hutchison, who wrote the season finale, told IndieWire that the decision to have Kim visit a video store came in the writers’ room, as the team discussed what Kim might possibly do after deciding to relax following her accident. “I just really loved the idea of her renting a bunch of videos and sitting around watching movies and eating junk food. Just because it’s something I relate to, it’s something I like to do when I destress. And I feel like it’s not something you see a lot of on TV and in movies,” she said.

And as a result, Gould — who directed the finale — got very excited about the idea of Kim going to not just any video store, but Blockbuster in particular. However, don’t think that this was an easy choice for the show — because according to production designer Michael Novotny, “it was a total nail-biter.”

Novotny told IndieWire that as soon as he received word that “Saul” wanted to recreate a Blockbuster, he got his team to work — specifically, the graphics department. “I can always do a set. A set’s the easy part. The hard part is the graphics and all of the art work you’re going to turn out,” he said.

But that process started before the show had actual permission to recreate a Blockbuster. “We started to build it without approval. That’s part of the nail-biting process,” he said. “It wasn’t until the day before we shot it that we got approval.”

This is because, as anyone who works in production might tell you, trying to depict a real brand on screen can be an incredibly difficult task. And the “Saul” team wanted to actually use Blockbuster iconography, which isn’t the easiest thing given that it’s a brand name you haven’t probably seen in the wild in years.

Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010, and “roughly a dozen” stores currently exist today. Thus, the set was built on one of the show’s Albuquerque soundstages, and in fact, a great deal of what was on screen was made from scratch by the “Saul” production team, including the big Blockbuster sign hanging in the wall and the period-accurate movie covers.

One thing they were able to buy: the shelving units came thanks to an ironic stroke of luck and an Albuquerque video store that was going out of business. The production was thus able to buy those displays, which Novotny made sure were shortened so that, as they shot the scene, Kim and Francesca could be seen walking through the aisles. That framing was based on Gould’s storyboards, which were altered slightly during the production process, but otherwise didn’t require any major additional construction.

But really, here’s what people care about — the movies that are being considered, as Kim prepares for an epic binge in the pre-Netflix days. None of the titles are fake, and Novotny did work carefully with his team to carefully curate the movies that appeared on screen during the scene, all of which were drawn from a list provided by Peter Gould and the writers. Here are just some of the ones we happened to spot while freeze-framing:

“A Knight’s Tale” “Lawrence of Arabia” (the 40th anniversary special edition) “Love Liza” “The Mothman Prophecies” “Punch-Drunk Love” A Richard Pryor stand-up special “Beverly Hills Ninja” “The Cheap Detective” “Hanky Panky” “Blue Thunder” “American Sledge” “Darkness Falls” “Night of the Living Dead

They’re all movies that feel appropriate to the era at least within a year or two or as classics, though unfortunately a quick Internet search can reveal whether a film in question would have been available on DVD in the year 2003. Perhaps the most glaring oversight is the appearance of Tim Burton’s “Big Fish,” which was released in theaters December 10, 2003 and made available on DVD April 27, 2004 — something Hutchison’s husband (who actually worked at Blockbuster in the past) noticed while watching the final product. “We don’t always get it right,” she admitted.

Novotny acknowledged the “Big Fish” error, but he was relatively zen about it, given the intense pressure of making the scene happen in the first place. “It really was a down to the wire thing,” he said. “If that’s as much as I’m wrong… I’m sad to hear that but at the same time I’m happy that it went as good as it did.”

Update: On Twitter, Gould offered a little clarity as to why “Big Fish” might have time traveled back a year:

And that #BigFish they mention? Could be a shoutout to my former student @johnaugust… #YesYouReadThatRight

Peter Gould (@petergould) June 23, 2017

Hutchison couldn’t remember every one of the 10 films Kim officially rented, though such a list was made during production. Beyond “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Monty Python,” she said the rest were mostly legal dramas, though she did make sure to include the Luc Besson sci-fi romp “The Fifth Element.” “That was one for some reason I was really stuck on making sure was in her stack,” Hutchison said.

While hardly the most memorable scene of the finale, it still sticks in the mind because of how it triggers memories of an experience we’ve largely lost, traded in for the convenience of Netflix.

“I like the idea of physically walking around and choosing movies,” Hutchison said. “There is something about actually going into a store, having everything broken down by genre. Sometimes with the streaming services it’s a little overwhelming, but having that physical space… I don’t know. It was like a ritual.”

And depicting that ritual was just more proof that “Better Call Saul” will always find a way to surprise us with the seemingly mundane.

Stay on top of the latest film and TV news! Sign up for our film and TV email newsletter here.

Related stories'Better Call Saul': The 7 Times Jimmy and Kim Kissed On Screen, And How That Makes It The Most Rewarding Romance on TVThe 20 Best-Directed TV Drama Series of the 21st Century, Ranked'Better Call Saul' Review: Season 3 Finale Proves A Good Man Knows When to Give Up »

- Liz Shannon Miller

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‘Better Call Saul’ Review: Season 3 Finale Proves A Good Man Knows When to Give Up

19 June 2017 8:20 PM, PDT | Indiewire Television | See recent Indiewire Television news »

Last Week’S Review: Brace for Impact, It’s the Penultimate Episode of Season 3

Case Summary

It’s not always easy to tell how bad an accident is upon first glance, so for the past week we’ve been waiting to find out just how badly Kim was hurt following the crash at the end of “Fall.” Almost right away, we get our answer — beyond the car, Kim’s down one arm. “This one handed crap is going to get real old real fast,” she muses. The real blow appears to be to her spirit, but at least she’s committing to her recovery in the short term. (A movie binge can cure an awful lot of ills.)

While Kim might be injured, it’s Jimmy who’s truly shaken up by the accident. Blaming himself for the fact that Kim was pushing herself too hard, Jimmy resolves to take care of her and make good. His first major act is to surrender the office in which he once took such pride, greatly simplifying his life and Kim’s — then, he tries to make amends with Chuck, which leads to a heartbreaking scene where Chuck basically dismisses him from his life.

Lest you feel too much pity for Jimmy, he next tries to make things better for Irene, the sweet old woman from last week who he manipulated into accepting the Sandpiper settlement by turning her into a social pariah. Re-corking that genie proves pretty much impossible without desperate measures: In order to fix what he did, Jimmy has to expose his scheme in front of Irene’s entire retirement home community, sacrificing his Sandpiper payday and ruining any chance he had of resuming his elder law practice when he gets his license back.

It’s a rough break for Jimmy. But he’s having a much better day than others.

Oh, That’s Right, It’s a Period Piece

Blockbuster Video. Need we say more? For the record, here is a list of all the DVDs we saw on display in the New Releases section: “A Knight’s Tale,” the 40th anniversary edition of “Lawrence of Arabia,” the Philip Seymour Hoffman drama “Love Liza,” horror flick “The Mothman Prophecy,” and the Adam Sandler/Paul Thomas Anderson collaboration “Punch-Drunk Love.”

For the record, there may be some DVDs visible on the shelves that are not 100 percent period accurate — for example, Tim Burton’s “Big Fish” might have been present, a film which did not come out on DVD until April 2004. But if that’s the case, it’s a rare slip-up for a show that otherwise knows its period details. Seriously, a video store. Our early-2000s nostalgia is real.

“It’s From a Movie!”

Kim and Jimmy’s quiet conversation over “To Kill a Mockingbird,” invoking her childhood idealism for the law as practiced by Atticus Finch, offered more insight into Kim’s youth than we’ve gotten in quite some time. Maybe this is an indication that when she’s fully recovered, she’ll reapproach her own practice of the law? One can only hope.

Best Quote

“After… everything, I don’t give a shit about the office.”

— Jimmy

Jimmy and Kim’s post-accident discussion in the kitchen is the show at its most adult and pure — two grown-ups taking responsibility for their actions. It also contains the above line, which is basically the closest we’ve ever gotten to Jimmy telling Kim “I love you.” In that moment, the connection between Rhea Seehorn and Bob Odenkirk had more real passion than a hundred soap opera love scenes.

Remembering What Hasn’t Happened Yet (The “Breaking Bad” Tie-In)

It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for since our first glimpse of Mark Margolis in the “Saul” timeline — the cardiac event that eventually incapacitated the all-powerful Don Hector Salamanca. “Breaking Bad” fans never knew how, exactly, Hector ended up paralyzed in a wheelchair, but now we have the answer, thanks to Nacho’s patience with the long game. (If you want to know exactly how Nacho pulled this off, this Reddit thread has a pretty coherent breakdown of why Nacho swapping Hector’s medication for ibuprofen was effective.)

Nacho, of course, isn’t a player in the “Breaking Bad” era, so there’s still plenty of reason to be concerned about him. Especially considering…

Gus Watch

In the finale, it’s not so much about keeping our eye on Gus as who Gus is keeping his eyes on. That of course, would be Nacho, who seemed to get away with his pill-swapping scheme. But Gus is clearly suspicious and, more importantly, now has Mike on his payroll. Mike’s kept bigger secrets, but right now who knows exactly what is unclear.

What’s Up With Mike?

No clueJonathan Banks did not make an appearance this episode. Which makes sense for storytelling purposes, but it’s time to revive a complaint from last year’s Emmys season. Since Season 2, the more visible supporting actor contender has clearly been Michael McKean, who has gone un-nominated since the show’s beginnings. McKean getting overlooked was a shame last year — if it happens again this year, it’ll be a crime.

Brotherly Love

Every time it seems like the relationship between Jimmy and Chuck can’t get worse, we reach a new level. In this case, their final scene together goes beyond love and beyond hate: Chuck dismisses Jimmy with utter indifference. It’s something which clearly ends up tearing at Jimmy inside, but he accepts it, letting Chuck have the last word as he slinks away.

It’d be easy to believe that Chuck genuinely means everything he says to Jimmy — except that something about this encounter was clearly triggering, and within the next 24 hours Chuck completely backslides into his old patterns.

Earlier in the episode, director Peter Gould indulged in a bit of house porn when it came to Chuck’s fully restored home. This ended up making sense once Chuck began tearing away at his one refuge, the once-lovely home decorated by ex-wife Rebecca, now in ruin.

And then things got even worse.

In Conclusion, Your Honor

Better Call Saul” is all about the details, especially when it comes to episode titles. Nearly every week, in fact, attentive viewers will experience a moment of realization when it becomes clear why that episode got its name: A moment of dialogue, such as Episode 303, “Sunk Costs,” or a physical action, such as Episode 308, “Slip.”

These moments are never extremely subtle, instead often landing like a physical blow. But we maybe thought we understood why the season finale was called “Lantern” following the cold open, which gave us a bittersweet flashback to the brothers McGill, bonding over childhood favorite “The Adventures of Mabel.” But then we reached the ending, and the brutal final moments which awaited us.

The slow rise of the flames is a moment that is truly, definitively “Saul” at its best — quiet, yet horrific, and oh so grounded and real. Any long-time television fan knows that no one’s truly dead until you see the body. But as we prepare for the long wait for Season 4, we do so knowing that this time, the damage may truly be done. And it just speaks to the brilliance of the series, which keeps us hooked, tragedy after tragedy.

Grade: A

Stay on top of the latest film and TV news! Sign up for our film and TV email newsletter here.

Related stories'Preacher' Review: A Bloody Search for God in New Orleans Uncovers a More Focused and Colorful Season 2'Better Call Saul': The 7 Times Jimmy and Kim Kissed On Screen, And How That Makes It The Most Rewarding Romance on TVThe 20 Best-Directed TV Drama Series of the 21st Century, Ranked »

- Liz Shannon Miller

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‘Better Call Saul’ Review: Season 3 Finale Proves A Good Man Knows When to Give Up

19 June 2017 8:20 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Last Week’S Review: Brace for Impact, It’s the Penultimate Episode of Season 3

Case Summary

It’s not always easy to tell how bad an accident is upon first glance, so for the past week we’ve been waiting to find out just how badly Kim was hurt following the crash at the end of “Fall.” Almost right away, we get our answer — beyond the car, Kim’s down one arm. “This one handed crap is going to get real old real fast,” she muses. The real blow appears to be to her spirit, but at least she’s committing to her recovery in the short term. (A movie binge can cure an awful lot of ills.)

While Kim might be injured, it’s Jimmy who’s truly shaken up by the accident. Blaming himself for the fact that Kim was pushing herself too hard, Jimmy resolves to take »

- Liz Shannon Miller

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Alfred Hitchcock: The Six Decades and 54 Movie Posters That Define His Career

12 June 2017 10:06 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

With a career spanning six decades, Alfred Hitchcock remains the most influential filmmaker of all time. And while many of his later films are well known, there are also numerous titles to explore during the earliest part of his career in the 1920s.

Read More: How Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and More Influenced Wes Anderson — Watch

While Hitchcock started making a name for himself in the 1930s with films like “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and “The 39 Steps,” he really hit his stride during the 1940s with “Rebecca, “Foreign Correspondent” and “Suspicion.” By the next decade, Hitchcock was creating some of the most iconic films of all time with “Rear Window” and “Vertigo.”

In the 1960s, Hitchcock showed no signs of slowing down, transforming the horror genre with “Psycho” and “The Birds.” Even in one of his final films, “Frenzy,” Hitchcock still showcased his ability to shock audiences. »

- Jamie Righetti

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Video: 6 Best Literary Adaptations

3 June 2017 4:59 AM, PDT | The Cultural Post | See recent The Cultural Post news »

What with so many films and tv shows being based on popular works of film and television these days, and many more of those films being based on remakes of themselves, it seems no better a time to review some of the most defining literary adaptations in all of film.

6. Dr. No (1962)

Ok, so while it may not be the most high-minded of adaptations, the first Bond film ever to be made deserves inclusion on the list if only for asserting a legacy that has endured for over half a century. As all good literary film adaptations must do, Dr. No captures the essence of its source material, distilling it into accessible visuals and dialogue and set pieces, thereby assuming ownership of Bond’s tropes by canonising them in the minds of generations of viewers. All the first and most classic Bond moments are here and, in some cases, they’re never better. »

- brettneslen

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“Letters from Baghdad” Directors on Spy, Explorer, and Political Powerhouse Gertrude Bell

2 June 2017 1:01 PM, PDT | Women and Hollywood | See recent Women and Hollywood news »

Letters From Baghdad

Interview by Kate Gardner

Sabine Krayenbühl is an award-winning editor with over 20 theatrical documentaries and narrative features to her credit. Her work includes Oscar and Independent Spirit Award-nominated “My Architect,” for which she received an American Cinema Editors (Ace) Eddie Award nomination. Her other credits include “Mad Hot Ballroom,” “Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies,” “My Reincarnation,” and “Kiss the Water.” Krayenbühlis is a long-term member of New York Women in Film and Television. “Letters from Baghdad” is her directorial debut.

Zeva Oelbaum is an award-winning producer and photographer. She recently produced “Ahead of Time,” a feature length documentary about centenarian journalist Ruth Gruber which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film opened theatrically across the U.S. and was broadcast on Showtime Channel. She previously worked as a still photographer. Her work has been extensively published in periodicals such as The New York Times Magazine, and her photographs are in international public collections including the Bibliothèque nationale de France and The Brooklyn Museum.

Letters from Baghdad” opens in New York today, June 2.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

Sk&Zo: “Letters from Baghdad” is a feature length hybrid documentary about a true original — Gertrude Bell — sometimes called the “female Lawrence of Arabia.” Voiced and executive produced by Academy Award-winning actor Tilda Swinton, the film tells the dramatic story of this British spy, explorer, and political powerhouse who helped shape the modern Middle East after Wwi.

Using stunning never-seen-before footage of the region shot a century ago, the film chronicles Bell’s extraordinary journey into both the uncharted Arabian desert and the inner sanctum of male colonial power.

In a region of the world notorious for conflicting narratives, we wanted to reveal the unfiltered views of the important players of the day. So, one thing that makes our film stand apart is that the story is told entirely in the words of Gertrude Bell and her contemporaries, excerpted from their intimate letters, private diaries, and official documents. It is a unique window into a remarkable woman and the tangled history of Iraq and although it takes place in the past, it is eerily current.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

Sk&Zo: We have both traveled extensively in the Middle East and are very familiar with many of the regions that Gertrude Bell explored 100 years before us. We were attracted to Bell as a compelling character after we both read her definitive biography by Janet Wallach, “Desert Queen.”

We discovered how enormously powerful and influential she had been during her day, yet is virtually forgotten today. Even a recent biography about her colleague and friend T.E. Lawrence omitted her completely. We wanted to find out why.

She left behind over 1600 private letters that revealed a fascinating woman who was arrogant, vulnerable, confident, and complex. A perfect subject for a film!

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

Sk&Zo: Gertrude Bell championed the diversity of the Middle East and observed that the people of the region were more tolerant of other ethnicities and religions than the rigid Victorian England of her youth. She had a sincere interest in other cultures and a curiosity and passion to discover a world she was unfamiliar with.

Our hope for the viewer is that they come away from film with a more nuanced understanding about the history and the peoples of this portion of the Arab world. Gertrude Bell became an inspiration to us and we hope that she can inspire others as well, especially young women.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

Sk&Zo: We encountered many challenges. Our first concern was that we would not find enough archival footage of the Middle East from 100 years ago, but we were dazzled by the quantity and quality of the footage we uncovered in archives around the world.

Our second challenge was finding funding for a historical documentary which was centered around a person that had died nearly a century ago. How would we bring her and her story to life? It had to be told from her point of view by creating a narrative that would take the viewer back in time to a place completely unexpected.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

Sk&Zo: Luckily we received two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. We also launched a very successful Kickstarter campaign and were able to raise money with tax-deductible contributions through our fiscal sponsor, Ifp. With the help of our UK co-producer, Missing In Action Films, we were able to receive valuable UK tax incentives for our shoot in London.

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

Sk&Zo: The best and worst advice was the same. Everyone said, “Don’t do a historical documentary; it’s too hard to fund and too hard to sell.”

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

Sk&Zo: There is only one answer: Let your passion lead the way.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

Sk&Zo: We love “The Arbor” by Clio Barnard. She pushes the boundaries of what a documentary is and is not afraid to break “the rules.”

W&H: Have you seen opportunities for women filmmakers increase over the last year due to the increased attention paid to the issue? If someone asked you what you thought needed to be done to get women more opportunities to direct, what would be your answer?

Sk&Zo: In the documentary field, women have been pretty well represented. There is always room for improvement.

https://medium.com/media/fc469a39e8b580d7d3adac435aad5d73/href

Letters from Baghdad” Directors on Spy, Explorer, and Political Powerhouse Gertrude Bell was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »

- Women and Hollywood

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Rescuing the Runes: The Almost-Lost Original Long Cut of Night of the Demon

20 May 2017 10:29 AM, PDT | Trailers from Hell | See recent Trailers from Hell news »

 

— A Savant Guest Article by Wayne Schmidt

Fires, clerical errors, and lab mistakes have caused films to become unavailable in good quality, or even lost forever. Studio indifference also allows vintage films to be ignored to death, while their negatives rot in cans. So it’s great to hear a ‘lost film’ story with a happy ending.

A note from Glenn Erickson: About twenty years ago, when I worked at MGM, I had some contact with MGM’s in house Film and Video Services team, and learned how the department maintained the MGM library of film titles. My old friend Wayne Schmidt was at the time over at Sony, and busy doing much the same work for that studio’s older Columbia film library. Naturally, the first thing I asked about was the status of both studios’ Hammer film collections!

Wayne had also been a video editor, and even »

- Glenn Erickson

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Movies to Show My Son: Singin’ in the Rain

15 May 2017 4:01 AM, PDT | Blogomatic3000 | See recent Blogomatic3000 news »

Welcome to another installment of Movies to Show My Son. This is the blog series were I discuss movies I can’t wait to show my son in the future. I’ll be covering my own personal experience with the movie, movie and life lessons I hope he will learn, and lastly my concerns about showing said film. This week’s film is Singin’ in the Rain

Personal Memories:

Growing up my parents watched a lot of classic Hollywood films. Back when AMC actually lived up to its name of American Movie Classics it was regularly on in our household. I do not have a specific memory of when I first watched Singin’ in the Rain but I do remember watching it often mostly in bits and pieces.

It was not until recently when I sat down to watch it for the first time from start to finish, and serendipitously »

- Dan Clark

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Ishtar at 30: is it really the worst movie ever made?

15 May 2017 3:00 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The pairing of Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty failed to attract audiences and repelled critics, but the biggest casualty was the career of director Elaine May

In October 1985, Elaine May, Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, and a battalion of film techs marched out into the deserts of north Africa to make some magic. Their mission was a far cry from the stone-faced epic sweep of Lawrence of Arabia; comedy had brought them to Morocco, a buddy farce about two bumbling singer-songwriters who get caught in the crossfire between a local militia and the CIA. With a few respected, if little seen, films, May had proven herself an expert director of small-scale comedies, and the time had come for her to move up to the next level, working on a more ambitious scale with movie stars at the top of their game. Ishtar was to be her Sistine Chapel of pinheadery; what could possibly go wrong? »

- Charles Bramesco

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Alien: Covenant and Hr Giger's lasting impact on the franchise

12 May 2017 7:24 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

Ryan Lambie May 17, 2017

Swiss artist Hr Giger sadly died in 2014, but his legacy lives on in Alien Covenant, as Ryan explains...

Nb: The following contains major spoilers for Alien: Covenant.

See related  Star Trek: Discovery - trailer, poster, image & synopsis Star Trek: what do we want from the new TV series?

If Prometheus strongly hinted at the fact, Alien: Covenant pretty much confirms it - Ridley Scott's Alien prequels are primarily about David, the android played by Michael Fassbender. Introduced as the unblinking space butler to billionaire industrialist Peter Weyland, David proves to be Prometheus' mischievous catalyst and most charismatic character: obsessed with Lawrence Of Arabia, quietly resentful of the human crew, and wont to experiment on them using the black space goo (or pathogen) he finds on Lv-223.

Alien: Covenant deepens David's backstory a bit further, reintroducing the synthetic as an embittered genius with daddy issues and a god complex. »

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The Trip: a show about death that deserves to live on

11 May 2017 11:00 PM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan’s show is an absurd meditation on ageing – and as the years go by, it just gets better. It would be a grave mistake to stop it now

Lurking just over the horizon throughout all three series of The Trip is death. However much fun Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan have, there is always the vague sense that time is running out. In The Trip to Italy, as they sit on a rooftop bar admiring the beauty of the Italian Riviera, Rob can’t stop himself from wondering: “Don’t you think everything’s melancholic once you get to a certain age?”

The reaper’s icy presence is always felt but never seen. Until, that is, it comes roaring into view in the final seconds of The Trip to Spain. Steve, stranded and alone in the desert, gets out of his broken-down car to see »

- Edward Tew

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Queen of the Desert movie review: Gertrude Bell gets forgotten again

26 April 2017 12:30 PM, PDT | www.flickfilosopher.com | See recent FlickFilosopher news »

MaryAnn’s quick take… This may be Werner Herzog’s most conventional film, but its mostly untold true story knows what it means for a woman to choose a life of adventure and intellect. I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for stories about women

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Have you heard that there is a new movie, a sweeping biopic of a major historical figure, written and directed by Werner Herzog, starring Nicole Kidman, James Franco, and Robert Pattinson? Seems like kind of a big deal, doesn’t it? Seems like the kind of movie you’d hear a lot about. Instead, Queen of the Desert has been sitting on a shelf since it debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015 — more than two years ago — because… why? Why did it just now get a »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Movie Review – The Promise (2016)

26 April 2017 1:30 AM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

The Promise, 2016.

Directed by Terry George

Starring Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, Charlotte Le Bon, Tom Hollander and James Cromwell.

Synopsis:

In the days just before World War I, Michael (Oscar Isaac) has become engaged to a girl in his home village and is studying to be a doctor in Constantinople.  He falls in love with Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), but she is attached to American journalist Chris (Christian Bale).  As the situation in the region escalates and the Armenians are increasingly persecuted, the three are repeatedly separated and re-united.  And Ana has to choose between the two men.

Never a director to shy away from tough subjects – think Hotel Rwanda and In the Name of the FatherTerry George has returned to the subject of genocide in The Promise, but this time moving his theatre of war to the start of World War I.  The Ottoman Empire was crumbling and »

- Freda Cooper

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Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ Receives Spring 2018 Release Date and Gorgeous Teaser Poster

25 April 2017 11:23 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

A new Wes Anderson is movie coming…in 12 months. Fox Searchlight Pictures has released the teaser poster for the director’s stop-motion “Isle of Dogs,” which confirms Anderson will be back in U.S. theaters on April 20, 2018.

Read More: Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ is Inspired By Akira Kurosawa

Isle of Dogs” is Anderson’s first stop-motion animated movie since 2009’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” The story is set in Japan, as the post makes abundantly clear, and follows a young boy’s adventure in search of his missing dog. Earlier this year, Anderson said the film was “less influenced by stop-motion movies than it is by Akira Kurosawa.”

Further details around the project have remained under wraps. Anderson has been filming in London this year.

The star-studded voice cast includes the likes of Bryan Cranston, Tilda Swinton, Greta Gerwig, Scarlet Johansson, Yoko Ono and Bob Balaban. Check out the teaser poster below. »

- Zack Sharf

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These ‘Avengers 4’ Subtitles Would Actually Be Spoilers

25 April 2017 7:51 AM, PDT | FilmSchoolRejects.com | See recent FilmSchoolRejects news »

Let’s teach Marvel about spoilers.

Does Marvel know what spoilers are? We’re skeptical. On the subject of the title of the follow-up movie of Avengers: Infinity War, a yet untitled sequel, they appear to be confused. Yesterday, Cinema Blend published an interview with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who answered the direct question of “I’m curious if the reason [they’re not going to announce the title] is because it’s a spoiler” with “Yeah, for sure.”

This led to all sorts of speculation as to what kind of spoiler would be so hot that Marvel wouldn’t want to release the title of the Infinity War sequel until after we’ve seen the first movie. For a time, it was fun. Then later in the day, a BBC News reporter talked to Zoe Saldana on the red carpet for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, who said that after Infinity War, they had to go back for Gauntlet. This »

- Film School Rejects

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Peter O'Toole's Personal Archives Acquired by the University of Texas

21 April 2017 10:50 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The personal archives of Peter O'Toole, the late and legendary British star of Lawrence of Arabia and so many other memorable films and plays, have been acquired by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

The veritable treasure trove contains O'Toole's correspondence with Laurence Olivier, Marlon Brando, Michael Caine, John Gielgud, Katharine Hepburn, Jeremy Irons, Paul Newman, Kevin Spacey and others; diaries, notebooks, and theater and film scripts; photos, both professional and personal; and audio recordings of O'Toole rehearsing lines and reciting poetry (those alone are surely worth the price of admission).

The collection, held in 55 »

- Mike Barnes

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Peter O’Toole Archive Acquired by University of Texas

21 April 2017 10:12 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin has acquired the archive of British theater and film actor Peter O’Toole.

O’Toole began his career as a theater actor in Britain and went on to receive eight Academy Award nominations for films including “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” “My Favorite Year,” and “Venus.” His 1962 role as the titular character in “Lawrence of Arabia” made him a household name. In 2002, O’Toole received an honorary Academy Award for his lifetime of work.

The archive contains several theater and film scripts, as well as O’Toole’s writings, including drafts and notes from his three memoirs, the last of which remains unfinished and unpublished since his death. Letters between O’Toole and other renowned members of the film and theater industries are also included, with correspondents like Marlon Brando, Katharine Hepburn, Michael Caine, Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman, and Laurence Olivier among them. »

- Erin Nyren

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Letters from Baghdad documentary review: Gertrude Bell, the original Lawrence of Arabia

21 April 2017 4:32 AM, PDT | www.flickfilosopher.com | See recent FlickFilosopher news »

MaryAnn’s quick take… One of the most cinematically beautiful documentaries ever is a phenomenal portrait of a shamefully forgotten woman who helped shape political history. I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for stories about women

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

If there was any justice in the world, T.E. Lawrence — aka Lawrence of Arabia — would be known as “the male Gertrude Bell,” instead of Bell being spoken of, when she is spoken of at all, as “the female Lawrence of Arabia.” Lawrence, 20 years her junior, was barely out of diapers when Bell first journeyed from England to the Middle East, and by the time he was traipsing around the desert, he was using intelligence on the local landscape — political and well as geographical — that she had gathered by living and working among the Arab tribes and gaining their enormous respect. »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Letters from Baghdad review – Gertrude Bell gets the documentary she deserves

20 April 2017 11:00 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Tilda Swinton reads from the letters of the colourful and charismatic explorer, diplomat and archeologist who, along with Te Lawrence, shaped modern Iraq

It is one of the injustices of the universe that the fame of Te Lawrence, Aka Lawrence of Arabia, lives on (probably mostly thanks to David Lean and Peter O’Toole), while far fewer people are familiar with the biography of his contemporary and comrade-in-diplomacy, Gertrude Bell (1868-1926), a character no less colourful, charismatic and compelling than Lawrence. Getting a niche arthouse release, this finely wrought documentary won’t rectify that imbalance in their respective reputations. But it does serve as a handy summary for those who want a cinematic introduction to Bell’s sprawling, singular story, and don’t want to start with Queen of the Desert, Werner Herzog’s dramatised flop that starred Nicole Kidman as Bell.

Related: The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell

Continue reading. »

- Leslie Felperin

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