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Hope for Film Author Ted Hope on Life, Independent Film and Systems Reboots

Ted Hope Ted Hope

Ted Hope — producer, Good Machine co-founder, and now CEO of Fandor — is no tongue-tied wallflower in the independent film community. Indeed, his passionate commentary, counsel and editorializing on topics ranging from net neutrality to making better films to a “systems reboot” of the independent film economy seem to be everywhere these days. But while his website, Twitter account and frequent speeches at industry events may make it seem that his opinions have been enabled — or at least turbo-charged — by this current social media age, he has, in fact, been lobbing list-driven rhetorical broadsides for years. (Don’t believe me? Read his “The Death of Independent Film” published in this magazine in 1995.) So, when considering Hope’s first…  Read more

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Birdman: Five Points of Contention

Michael Keaton in Birdman Michael Keaton in Birdman

Having barely survived Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams when it came out, I was inclined to stay away from his filmography for the rest of my life. But people I respect and trust — Iñárritu haters no less — kept saying that Birdman was actually quite good, so I popped in; two hours later, I felt as if my initial disinterest had been validated the hard way. Praise first for Edward Norton’s note-perfect rendition of the actor as a toxically always-“on,” reflexively self-dramatizing narcissist. Swaggering into conversations and pushing them into weird rhythms he can play with without regard for the other party’s comfort, seeking to turn life into one long Cassavetes conversation, Norton is absolutely spot-on, and the only truly…  Read more

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Ten Lessons on Filmmaking from David Lynch

David Lynch (Photo: Lucca Film Festival) David Lynch (Photo: Lucca Film Festival)

After 25 years, the wait is over for Twin Peaks fans. David Lynch and Mark Frost have announced a return to the mythical town coming in 2016 to Showtime. The show is often credited for having paved the way for the golden age of television today, when many TV programs rival cinema for compelling stories. Through the episodic medium of television, Lynch was able to create a multi-layered world full of rich stories, diving deep into the lives of its characters. The season will pick up in the present day and bring back many of the show’s iconic roles. Shortly before the announcement, David Lynch teased the possible comeback at the Lucca Film Festival in Tuscany’s storied city, where the…  Read more

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The Economy of Web Series and Five Questions for This Is Not a Conspiracy Theory Director Kirby Ferguson

Kirby Ferguson Kirby Ferguson

Kirby Ferguson’s four-part web series, Everything is a Remix, was a brilliant blend of form, content and delivery system. A discussion of not just the legal issues surrounding fair use and appropriated content but also the nature of creativity itself, Ferguson’s work scored hundreds of thousands of views, launched a TED talk and established this savvy director at the forefront of the DIY web content creation business. With his new recently launched series, This is Not a Conspiracy Theory, he is aiming to make that web content creation business more of a, well, business by switching from free to a subscription model. Ferguson Kickstarted the early development of the project and is now charging $15 for the entire series. Subscribers…  Read more

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No One Knows About Persian Cats

Arash Marandi, Masuka, Milad Eghbali Arash Marandi, Masuka, Milad Eghbali

The oft-heard label “Iranian vampire western,” which highlights the pop, postmodern, and cross-generic character of Ana Lily Amirpour’s fresh and potent A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, inflates its self-proclaimed hype and to-date majority critical evaluation. By these measures, its salient quality is hipness. A minority of writers have taken a more sociological tack. From a PC vantage point, the director is the first-generation daughter of Iranian immigrants. In addition, vampire films scream tooth-and-nail for ideological deconstruction. You need only scrape the veneer of a film that is largely surface to uncover its denunciations of generalized misogyny, social stratification, and physical abuse, and more specifically, the fundamental structure of contemporary Iranian society. The jabs run deepest and most oblique…  Read more

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RIP Mike Nichols (1931-2014)

474px-Still_portrait_Mike_Nichols

The sad news of Mike Nichols’ death at age 83 had me searching for something beyond the usual The Graduate highlight reel that would illustrate what seems to me like his greatest directorial virtue: the ability to keep a tonal straight face when confronted with material whose comic or dramatic potential could quickly push matters way over the top. This Catch-22 clip serves the purpose: the famous speech explaining what Catch-22 actually is is dwarfed by the airfield it takes place on, with jets and vehicles surrounding Yossarian (Alan Arkin) and Doc Daneeka (Jack Gilford). The choreography, both human and mechanical, is immaculate and clearly extremely difficult to pull off, something like epic-era David Lean making a comedy. Catch-22 is hardly the catastrophic disaster it was initially…  Read more

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Five Questions for Sam Green About His Live Documentary, The Measure of All Things

The Measure of All Things Sundance Premiere. (Photo: Ryan Johnson) The Measure of All Things Sundance Premiere. (Photo: Ryan Johnson)

The biggest, the smallest, the most, the more-times-than-anyone-else — filmmaker Sam Green has revisited a common childhood fascination, The Guiness Book of World Records, for his latest “live documentary,” The Measure of All Things, receiving its New York premiere at The Kitchen this week. It’s Green’s third work combining film, music and his own on-stage narration — a hybrid film/theater form that’s proved surprisingly popular in performing arts venues around the world. Indeed, when so many filmmakers are trying to figure out a “new model” for their work, Green has turned himself into a touring artist, finding new, less jaded audiences for his wonderfully essayistic work. Below, we asked Green about his development as a performer, that touring model and…  Read more

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Watch: Josephine Decker’s Flashes of Brilliance

Butter on the Latch Butter on the Latch

A considerable crowd of critical praise has coalesced around the work of Josephine Decker, most notably this “A Star is Born” piece from her longtime champion Richard Brody. Kevin B. Lee at Fandor put forth a more tempered assessment of Butter on the Latch and Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (ending their week run at the IFP Media Center today), but he also compiled this beautiful, elliptical montage of the imagery in the two films. Narrative and/or stylistic misgivings aside, it is undoubtedly clear that Decker buttresses her films with a visceral atmosphere, achieved through fine details, ethereal lighting and playful camerawork, courtesy of Ashley Connor.

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Filmmaking

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David Lynch and Patti Smith Talk Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and More on the BBC

David Lynch can be a tough interview — check out my attempt back in 2001. Patti Smith does a bit better in this joint interview on the BBC2 Newnight’s Encounters series. They both discuss their memories first hearing the song “Blue Velvet,” and Smith’s reflexive…  Read more

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Nov 21, 2014

Festivals & Events

Tabitha Jackson Tabitha Jackson

“The Lingua Franca of Non-Fiction Filmmaking Should be the Language of Cinema, Not Grant Applications”: Sundance Documentary Film Program Director Tabitha Jackson at DOC NYC

“We have to make artful films,” declared Tabitha Jackson at this morning’s DOC NYC keynote. Her thoughtful and engaging address — accompanied, half-jokingly, by what she dubbed her first attempt at Powerpoint — was filled not with statistics about audience reach or NGO partnerships but…  Read more

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on Nov 17, 2014

Interviews

The Shooting The Shooting

Bridging Ford and Antonioni with Jack Nicholson: Monte Hellman on The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind

In July of 1964, director Monte Hellman and actor Jack Nicholson went to the Philippines to shoot two war movies back to back: Flight to Fury, which Nicholson also wrote, and Back Door to Hell. By June of 1965, Hellman and Nicholson had shot two more movies,…  Read more

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on Nov 17, 2014

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