9 items from 2009
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a friend have been debating about my qualities as a film critic, and they've involved a considerable critic, Dan Schneider, in their discussion. I will say that he has given the question a surprising amount of thought and attention over the years, and may well be correct in some aspects. What his analysis gives me is a renewed respect and curiosity about his own work.
A friend and I would like to have your opinion. It's basically so that we can settle an argument (and small side bet) with a friend over what your opinion would be. My friend and I have carefully co-drafted this email to try to eliminate one or the other of our biases. I hope we succeeded!
I have read your columns and watched your tv shows for many years now »
- Roger Ebert
We've had shops, police stations, hospitals, newsrooms, prisons and offices – what about a circus sitcom? On BBC1. Starring Amanda Holden. What could possibly go wrong?
Tonight, BBC One unveils its big new circus-based sitcom Big Top, starring, among others, Tony Robinson and John Thomson. I think it could actually make history – as the first sitcom ever that makes its situation seem markedly less funny than it actually is in real life.
Prison isn't generally known for its hilarity, so it was easy for Porridge to be funnier than the situation it was based on. Being a member of the French resistance during the second world war wasn't especially jolly either, so it wasn't hard for 'Allo 'Allo! to out-funny that. A basement bar surrounded by habitual alcoholics who all suffer from varying levels of self-loathing? Depressing. And yet Cheers is one of the most-loved sitcoms ever. But here's the problem »
- Stuart Heritage
While not quite as massive as the thousands of films the Starz deal provided to Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” service last year, IFC Films has signed an exclusive streaming deal with Netflix for 53 of IFC’s films. Among the 53 films are John Sayles’ The Brother From Another Planet and Return of the Secaucus Seven; Christopher Nolan’s first film, Following; James Toback’s When Will I Be Loved?; the Errol Morris’ documentaries Gates of Heaven and The Thin Blue Line; Susanne Bier’s Brothers (which is the original version of the upcoming Tobey Maguire/Natalie Portman/Jake Gyllenhaal movie of the same name); and Alfonso Cuaron’s first feature film, Solo con tu pareja. The press release doesn’t say whether or not any IFC Films beyond the 53 they’re adding today will become available on “Watch Instantly”.
For those who don’t know, Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” service allows »
- Matt Goldberg
In a move designed to increase the reach of independent cinema, IFC Entertainment, one of the leading distributors of independent and foreign films, and Netflix, the world's largest online movie rental service, today announced a partnership that gives Netflix U.S. rights to 53 unique titles from IFC Entertainment. Through this agreement select titles from IFC Entertainment's eclectic library of independent films will become available to be streamed instantly to televisions and computers via the Netflix service. The deal was announced jointly by Lisa Schwartz, executive vice president for IFC Entertainment, and Robert Kyncl, vice president of content acquisition for Netflix.
The partnership gives Netflix members on an unlimited plan the opportunity to instantly watch the newly acquired films on their computers or TVs through a range of Netflix ready devices. Those devices include Netflix ready Blu-ray disc players and new Internet TVs from LG Electronics; Blu-ray disc players from Samsung »
0:00 - Intro 3:12 - Headlines: Wipeout Contestant Dies, Robert Zemeckis to Direct The Nutcracker 3-D, Joss Whedon's Dollhouse Canceled, Blockbuster to Start Renting Movies on Sd Cards, Cinema Eye Nominees, Francis Lawrence to Direct Sgt. Rock, Oldboy Remake is Dead, The Exorcist Remake?, Rachel McAdams is Black Cat? 25:00 - Review: 2012 43:30 - Trailer Trash: Clash of the Titans, Date Night, Kick-Ass 53:30 - Other Stuff We Watched: Fata Morgana, Goodfellas, Monsoon Wedding, The Thin Blue Line, Wendy and Lucy, A Boy and his Dog, Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm 1:07:51 - Junk Mail: Best Directors on a Limited Budget, Guy Pearce, Movies You Didn't Like But Are Glad You Saw Anyway, Film School, Top 100 Movies that Define the Decade 1:36:15 - This Week's DVD Releases 1:45:30 - Outro » Download the MP3 (51 Mb)  » View the show notes  » Vote for us on Podcast Alley!  Subscribe »
The International Documentary Assn. will present its 2009 Life Achievement Award to Errol Morris at its 25th annual Ida Awards on Dec. 4 at the DGA in Los Angeles.
The Ida will present its Amicus Award for only the third time in its history. It will go to attorney and independent film advocate Michael Donaldson, an expert on fair use and other clearance-related issues and author of the book "Clearance and Copyright." The group said the award "acknowledges the friends of the documentary who have contributed significantly to our industry."
- By Gregg Kilday
The most remarkable thing about Sacha Gervasi's "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" may be that it is unarguably one of the most heart-swelling and moving films ever made about rock 'n' roll, and at the same time, it is very unlikely to convert any viewers into passionate Anvil fans. In fact, the movie barely bothers to make a case for Anvil, the orphaned band maudit from the '80s surge in heavy metal heavy hitters, as musicians, and doesn't allow you to hear a single song all the way through. (Contrast that to, say, Jeff Stein's "The Kids Are Alright," which has certainly transformed innocent non-partisans into life-grabbing Who fans, and did it with whole songs played beginning to end.)
Frankly, Anvil's thunking, adolescent caterwaul isn't very promising, even if Anvil's commercial fate seems less surprising in retrospect than the success of bands like Mötley Crüe, Anthrax and Megadeth. »
- Michael Atkinson
Filmmaker Errol Morris
Errol Morris: Come Along On My Death Trip
by Jon Zelazny
The acclaimed documentary filmmaker Errol Morris once devoted an episode of his cable TV series First Person to a criminal behaviorist named Michael Stone, a pleasant, slightly nebbish intellectual of about sixty who analyzes and classifies “evil” behavior, from the mildly exasperating to the most disturbing outer reaches of violent insanity. Morris seems to take an odd delight in having this gentle man run through a true-crime litany of torture, murder, and unthinkable depravity, then at the end of the program, asks Stone how he developed an interest in such gruesome activities. Stone seems puzzled by the question. He thinks for a moment, and describes how he endured some bullying as a schoolboy: nothing too terrible; he was just picked on and pushed around a bit. Morris then asks something like, “Do you think there’s something mysterious inside you, »
- The Hollywood Interview.com
Written by Matt Goldberg Documentarian Errol Morris ("The Thin Blue Line", "The Fog of War", "Standard Operating Procedure") is taking up a narrative feature about cryonics. Not cryogenics. There is a huge difference between the two. I have no idea what the difference is since it would involve research and it's late and I'm tired so let's just say that while cryonics is the study of freezing people so they can be revived at a later date, cryogenics is the study of freezing people named Eugene so they can be revived at a later date. The "dark comedy" (as Variety calls it) will draw from Robert F. Nelson's memoir and an episode from this week's "This American Life" called "You're as Cold as Ice" (which, as many disappointed listeners discovered, was not a retrospective on the band Foreigner). According to Variety, "The »
9 items from 2009
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