Forty years after his animated classic The Lord of the Rings hit theaters on Nov. 15, 1978, these are some of the things on diretor Ralph Bakshi’s mind during a candid conversation about what happened, and what could have been.
During the course of the ’60s, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books grew exponentially in popularity and was initially perceived as “An underground smash hit, especially with artists and cartoonists,” Bakshi says.
Peter Bogdanavich happened to be pitching a project with the studio head behind closed doors, but Bakshi talked his way into the office and dangled the rights to Rings in front of them.
As Bakshi’s animation company was winding up Wizards, a whole division was established to develop The Lord of the Rings.
Given all the tap dancing required to effectively merge the vocals with the performances, Bakshi was least concerned about precisely syncing them together: “In animation I could shift the track; all they had to do was come close enough,” continues Bakshi.
” Bakshi approached the band to use their music as the soundtrack to the film and he says they responded with an enthusiastic “absolutely!” But according to Bakshi, producer Zaentz, which owned Fantasy Records, couldn’t get the music rights, as the top-selling band’s contract prevented them from working for another label.
“So I get a call from Mick Jagger – he wanted to come up and see what we were doing on Rings,” recalls Bakshi.
A key criticism of Bakshi’s Rings final cut was the fact that the story simply ends after the battle of Helm’s Deep, with a narrative voiceover explaining, “as their gallant battle ended, so too ends the first great tale of The Lord of the Rings.
The orginal article.
Three years ago, BBC Culture ran its first major critics’ poll, to find the 100 greatest American films.
Two further polls looked for the best films of the 21st Century and the greatest comedies ever made – and those also ended up with films from the US in the top spot.
The result is BBC Culture’s 100 greatest foreign-language films.
From the perspective of an English-language website, that’s an accurate description – but equally, as an internationally-focused one, we’re happy to acknowledge that, depending on who you are, many of these films won’t be in a language that’s foreign to you.
As the poll exists to salute the extraordinary diversity and richness of films from all around the world, we wanted to ensure that its voters were from all around the world, too.
The result: 100 films from 67 different directors, from 24 countries, and in 19 languages.
French can claim to be the international language of acclaimed cinema: 27 of the highest-rated films were in French, followed by 12 in Mandarin, and 11 each in Italian and Japanese.
While the cinema of an individual nation is inevitably tied to its unique identity and history, the language of film is universal.
The orginal article.
The lush new art-world documentary The Price of Everything shows us a system so waist-deep in hypermarketing and excess that it’s hard to look at art without being overcome by money, prices, auctions, art fairs, celebrities, well-known artists, and mega-collectors who fancy themselves conquistadors.
I used to believe the art world was at war with itself, that money was fighting art and vice versa.
Cut to Simon de Pury, the so-called “Mick Jagger of auctioneers” purring, “It’s important that good art be expensive.” This is a perfect and ridiculous echo of Sotheby’s former Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art, Tobias Meyer, who once chirped, “The best art is the most expensive because the market is so smart.”
Over the course of these decades art and its market have become central fixtures of mainstream culture, so that artists are now celebrities, prices are news, collectors try to enter art history by paying the highest prices for art, and auction houses – once dusky places – are now hubs where contemporary art sometimes goes from studio to trading floor without ever being shown at all.
It’s amazingly thrilling to witness art playing a huge role in culture and to know that many of these self-made people built this art world with their own obsessions and sweat.
The reasoning is that if you don’t understand it, maybe the art is trying to put one over on you, take your money, that it’s laughing at you, means nothing, or is somehow fake and bad. I told him “Understanding” art has very little to do with it; we don’t “Understand” Mozart, the Mona Lisa, or Rothko’s floating, fuzzy, Buddhist TV-shapes.
I said, “You hate the art world and these mega-structures of power and things like this for destroying your father, ignoring his greatness, and allowing him to die forgotten, in poverty. The art world is a stand-in for what tragically and unjustly happened to him. And to you.” Total stillness.
A place of cravenness and tropospheric wealth, yet a world that still provides comfort, safe spaces for people to do their work, take chances, assert themselves, step outside themselves, act, and maybe do “Something meaningful.” A place where Koons can make you crazy and still make good work; where Cappellazzo can act batty but shine with intelligence; where former art-star octogenarian Larry Poons – cast as the film’s Tiny Tim battling against the evil Scrooge art world – might be on famous-male-artist automatic-pilot, not really pushing his work enough, but is obviously still following a deep calling.
The orginal article.
Even though Kodak and Fujifilm produced cameras, their core business was centered on film and post-processing sales.
According to Forbes, Kodak “Gladly gave away cameras in exchange for getting people hooked on paying to have their photos developed – yielding Kodak a nice annuity in the form of 80% of the market for the chemicals and paper used to develop and print those photos.”
In 2000, just before the digital transition, sales related to film accounted for 72% of Kodak revenue and 66% of its operating income against 60% and 66% for Fujifilm.
Willy Shih, former vice president of Kodak also confirms that “Color film was an extremely complex product to manufacture.” The film roll “Had to be coated with as many as 24 layers of sophisticated chemicals: photosensitizers, dyes, couplers, and other materials deposited at precise thicknesses while traveling at 300 feet per minute. Wide rolls had to be changed over and spliced continuously in real time; the coated film had to be cut to size and packaged, all in the dark.”
“With film, the entry barriers were high. Only two competitors, Fujifilm and Agfa-Gevaert, had enough expertise and production scale to challenge Kodak seriously,” Shih said.
Why? Because all of a sudden, Kodak and Fujifilm were forced to leave their quasi-duopoly and compete against dozens of companies in the low margin business of digital cameras.
Retrospectively, Mr. Shih, the former VP of Kodak thinks that the company “Could have tried to compete on capabilities rather than on the markets it was in” like Fujifilm did but “This would have meant walking away from a great consumer franchise. That’s not the logic that managers learn at business schools, and it would have been a hard pill for Kodak leaders to swallow.”
Some say Kodak made the mistake that George Eastman, its founder, avoided twice before, when he gave up a profitable dry-plate business to move to film and when he invested in color film even though it was demonstrably inferior to black and white film.
The orginal article.
In 2018, it’s harder than ever to be independent in the world of movies.
What about Boyhood, financed over its 12-year genesis by a series of independent production companies and released domestically by IFC, a company whose name literally contains the word “Independent?” Or how about a movie like Chloé Zhao’s The Rider, one of 2018’s true standouts, which was made completely apart from the traditional moviemaking apparatus before being acquired at Cannes by Sony Pictures Classics-a subsidiary of the studio currently spewing Venom all over American multiplexes.
With this in mind, compiling a list of the best-or maybe let’s say the most interesting-American independent films since 2000 is a fool’s errand.
No movies produced or distributed by major studios or mini-majors, which led to the decision to leave out A24; no foreign titles, since financing structures abroad are even more difficult to categorize; no obvious “Calling card” movies; and no need to include certain films that Ringer readers probably already know and love.
What better way to suggest your movie is about “America” than to name it after a Founding Father? Essentially a “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” riff awash in delicate, ominous lyricism, David Gordon Green’s film was propped up by critics like Roger Ebert and gradually canonized; all you need to do is watch any five minutes of Mid90s to see how an even younger generation of would-be auteurs has absorbed its atmosphere-is-everything ethos.
Heaven Knows What Josh and Benny Safdie, 2014 It’s definitely one way to make a movie: after meeting a 20-year-old former crack addict on the streets of New York City, Josh and Benny Safdie encouraged her to write a memoir of her experiences-and then cast her in the film version.
Richard Linklater’s Before films were never as inherently politicized as Medicine for Melancholy, whose characters-wary, militant Micah and sharp, supple-minded Jo-become embodiments of a larger, argumentative dialectic about the assimilation of African American art, culture, and identity as well as gentrification in that all-time cinematic city, San Francisco.
Sweetgrass Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash, 2009 In documentary circles, the films created by the members of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab have been considered one of the decade’s major and most contentious bodies of work: Does their narration-and-information-free descent into a series of unusual physical environments and socioeconomic ecosystems represent a new stage of verite or is the rampant GoPro abuse in a film like Leviathan just another stylistic gimmick? I like Leviathan’s doomy view of an industrial fishing vessel, but I truly love its directors’ earlier experiment, Sweetgrass, which documents a sheep drive in the mountains of Montana.
The orginal article.
Cummings submitted Thunder Road, a tragicomic 12-and-a-half-minute short, to the Sundance Film Festival just past deadline.
“We were trying to make more of a movie than a film,” Cummings says.
Having missed the window for Sundance, in March the team took the movie to a safe space: the South by Southwest Film Festival.
“Then, there are the films that just get you so excited that it makes it worth it. Last year, Thunder Road came in. Jim was a known person, so we made sure to see it right away. I loved it. He’s so original, and what he’s doing is so hard. That line between comedy and drama, I’ve never seen a character like it. To be able to sustain what he’s done, that was the moment last year when I said, ‘We have a festival. We got it. This is just fantastic.'”.
After playing the public-friendly Deauville American Film Festival this summer, French distributor Paname encouraged the Thunder Road team to open the movie in 67 theaters in September.
“I’m like, ‘Jim, that’s not how it works.’ Then I sent it to the acquisitions guy at Netflix. I’m like, ‘I told Jim this is not how it works but this film is great. It won a prize. Is it on your radar. Do you want me to connect you? He was like, ‘Absolutely, I’m happy to connect to him.’ It didn’t work out, but what’s so funny about that story was Jim has been doing that every day. Who do I know who can review my movie? It makes me laugh because he’s doing it so much his own way. He’s just going out there and creating this different paradigm, but it’s working for him. It’s a beautiful thing.”
On the one hand, digital film projection and viral marketing make it feasible for virtually any movie to find its way into theaters and then capture an audience.
“Posting stuff on Reddit, engaging with other filmmakers who were struggling like we were for years and saying, ‘Hey, this is how it’s working for us.’ We’re so lucky to have as many champions as we do in film schools, because they were able to send the ladder back down,” Cummings says, “We were able to give people insight and help when nobody else does, and, really, using the websites like Reddit and Imgur to share content, it’s been very useful to get people to see our longform content.”
The orginal article.
6 minute Read. Dieter Rams is done giving interviews, and Gary Hustwit can only poke at his tempeh hash with a laugh here and a sigh there, hoping he did the legend justice.
Hustwit cannot know this documentary represents the last time Rams will speak to the press, of course, but Rams has certainly left him with that impression.
Rams is known for saying that “Good design is as little design as possible.” But in Rams, addressing a world that throws away its phones every two years and can’t look away from a screen, he’s tweaked the message a bit.
Exactly how Hustwit courted Rams to be in the film is something he glosses over, even when pressed.
Rams also hinted that the only way he’d consider making the film was if Hustwit himself directed it, which only put more pressure on Hustwit.
So the moment Rams agreed, Hustwit booked a ticket to Germany and began his first week of filming.
For the remainder of the film, Hustwit follows Rams to speaking engagements and museum exhibit openings, while digging deep into the history of Braun and the influential Ulm School of Design.
In what may be the film’s most damning moment, Rams walks into an Apple store in London, and looks at a tablet with a detached sadness, while lamenting that people don’t look each other in the eye anymore.
The orginal article.
In 1937, Orson Welles had a strange run-in with Ernest Hemingway.
When Welles proposed some changes, Hemingway rasped, “Some damn faggot who runs an art theatre thinks he can tell me how to write narration.” Welles responded by assuming a fey voice and saying, “Oh, Mr. Hemingway, how strong you are and how big you are!” A physical altercation ensued.
In the following decades, Welles obsessives, of whom I am one, experienced fleeting excitement whenever plans to release “The Other Side of the Wind” were announced, only to see the prospect slip back into limbo.
Just as “Wind” got under way, he directed “The Last Picture Show,” which caused him to be described as the second coming of Orson Welles.
Huston asked, in his golden growl, “And how many films have you acted in, Peter?” Bogdanovich answered, “One.” Huston said, “That’s not very many.” Bogdanovich then mimed Welles guffawing in the background, “Not very many! Bwah ha ha! Not very many!”.
Although he didn’t begin as a Welles devotee-he was oriented more toward European, Russian, and New Asian cinema-Rymsza acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of the “Wind” material, combing boxes of scripts and memos that are stored in the Welles archive at the University of Michigan.
Although Welles had not yet cast Huston, he wished to film a scene in which cinéastes are badgering Hannaford.
“Peter and Frank have been a little more resistant: they want to stick to the ‘A’ story-Hannaford’s party. But I think the more Welles shot the Hannaford movie, the more he embraced it. There’s so much footage-he covered it to death. Oja Kodar was very involved, as well; she was into more experimental stuff. Orson probably had different ideas about how to approach it from day to day.”
The orginal article.
Using a strict interpretation of the genre, only three of those movies are true horror films.
So as we approach another awards season with virtually no chance of a horror winner, I thought it’d be fun to chart a little revisionist history: Let’s determine the winner of the Horror Oscars every year since Halloween.
The Shining isn’t just one of the best horror movies ever made-it’s one of the best, period.
Pet Sematary was a hit, and also, notably: still one of the biggest horror movies ever directed by a woman, Mary Lambert, who was until then best known for a string of iconic music videos for Madonna, Janet Jackson, and the Go-Go’s.
Simply put, Misery is the best King horror movie since The Shining and the last great one we’d get, arguably, ever.
John Carpenter hadn’t made a true-blue horror since 1987’s Prince of Darkness when he took on future Oscars producer and longtime Hollywood executive Michael De Luca’s script about the people who become overtaken by the haunted novels of a cultish author named Sutter Cane who resembles both Lovecraft and Stephen King from different angles.
Shot in 2009, scheduled and shelved in 2010, and mercifully released in 2012, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s maximalist meta-commentary on the horror genre isn’t just one of the most fun and clever movies on this list, it’s one of the most persuasive, aggressively making the case that horror needed a reboot from slasher flicks, virginal heroines, foggy cinematography, and stoner humor.
The virgin has been a sacrosanct concept in horror movies ever since Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode stayed celibate throughout Halloween-and survived.
The orginal article.
Fifteen years ago, they booed Michael Moore on his best day.
As they booed, Moore began to smile; he became more excited, clutching his thumb to his forefinger and waving it not unlike the way Bill Clinton does during a speech.
Michael Moore wasn’t just a major documentarian in 2004; he was a major American voice.
Do people-the same people who think about the crisis of American politics all day long-need Michael Moore to tell them what they think they already know?
For the past 30 years, Moore has presented in his films and television a voice that is fearless and pugnacious in the face of power; a defender of organized labor; an advocate of socialized medicine and immigration; and, as a Flint, Michigan, native, a credible fighter for American middle-class values.
Fahrenheit 11/9 is no grand stylistic reinvention for Michael Moore.
It’s all very Moore and also very modern for our discourse, like a particularly energetic episode of Pod Save America.
The film then begins to veer further from Trump and from Flint and from broad politics, and travels down to Parkland, Florida, where Moore spends time with the teen survivors turned activists of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
The orginal article.