Posted by keelsetter on August 28, 2011
“This film has cross-over appeal that connects with progressive hippies and Tea Party members alike. It’s about government raids on local and organic farmers.” I’d had a long working relationship with the distributor who was telling me this over the phone, but in the past Jessica had been a broker for classics of the silent era as well as representing some of the biggest names in both the realm of foreign and contemporary arthouse movies. This was a very different and far cry from Dersu Uzala. It was a debut low-budget documentary called Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms. READ MORE
Posted by Susan Doll on April 25, 2011
These American artists, who so excelled at their crafts that their names can be found in the history books, lived or trained in the artists’ colony that existed for over 100 years in the two towers above Carnegie Hall. The towers contained 160 artist studios where painters, musicians, actors, photographers, dancers, and teachers lived, worked, or taught. Prior to seeing the documentary Lost Bohemia at the Sarasota Film Festival, I didn’t realize that this magical world—where art was the center of the residents’ lives—had ever existed. “Had existed” is the operative phrase as the artists were evicted and their uniquely designed studios destroyed or reconfigured by the Carnegie Hall Corporation. Why would they destroy a 100-year-old artists’ colony that was a living history of the popular arts in America? Well, the operative word there is “Corporation.”
Posted by keelsetter on April 24, 2011
The film series I program celebrated its 70th year anniversary last night with a concert film matinee from 1988, followed by a musician-studded film that was retooled last year, all of which was capped off with two live concerts in a building that was once an 800-seat film theater smack in the middle of downtown. I’m still recuperating from the festivities, which stretched out to into the morning hours. In the interest of full disclosure I should let you know that I’m writing this in a state of only semi-consciousness and am probably still legally intoxicated, this thanks to the 70-cent Imperial Stouts we had on tap to promote our 70th anniversary. If this post gets ugly or sloppy I’ll blame more than the booze and also point the finger to rock-and-roll. It’s what happens to be on my throbbing brain right now. Specifically: some of my favorite concert docs that are usually overlooked by the mainstream.
Posted by keelsetter on January 30, 2011
Last week I saw 20 films in five days at Sundance. With just over 200 films listed in the index, that means I barely covered 10% of the slate. Documentaries are a Sundance forté, so it’s not surprising that almost half of the films I screened fall into this category. Similarly, as most docs these days never get transferred to film that accounts for why about half of all my screenings were digital projections. Happily, despite many rumblings by industry pundits regarding the eminent death of 35mm film, most of the narrative features were still on celluloid. Huzzah! READ MORE
Posted by Susan Doll on January 24, 2011
David Lynch celebrated his 65th birthday last Thursday and Fellow Morlock RH Smith honored one of America’s most respected directors by offering a thought-provoking post comparing Lynch with Edgar Allan Poe as artists who traffic in a peculiar brand of American macabre. Elsewhere on the Internet, bloggers and cinephiles revealed their high regard for the Master of Muholland Drive by noting his special day. The attention and respect given Lynch is deserved, given his auteur status, body of work, and reputation as America’s premier surrealist of the cinema. Coincidentally, I recently caught a film at the Palm Springs International Film Festival that revealed another side to Lynch, and I wonder if his devoted fans will think of him differently should they see it.
David Wants to Fly was not the best film I saw at the festival but it may have been my favorite. This diary-style documentary by David Sieveking, a young filmmaker from Germany, is deceptively light in tone, but it is actually a complex combination of a personal journey, an investigative expose, and a commentary on hero worship. The film opens in 2006 with a young Sieveking fresh out of film school, unemployed, and living with his independent-minded girlfriend. With no direction, job, or sense of himself, he decides to travel to Fairfield, Iowa, for a workshop conducted by his idol, David Lynch, on the sources of creativity. There, Sieveking discovers that the event is being held at the Maharishi University of Enlightenment and that much of the workshop is about Transcendental Meditation. Lynch has been a practitioner of TM for about 30 years, but he did not begin advocating it publicly until after the turn of the millennium. In addition to workshops at Maharishi U, Lynch has written a book titled Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity. Transcendental Meditation is the spiritual movement begun by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who initiated many celebrities into TM in the 1960s, including the Beatles, Mia Farrow, and Donovan. Through TM, the Maharishi promised creativity, good health, success, and “heaven on earth.”
Posted by keelsetter on January 16, 2011
In my last post I explained the reasoning behind my programming choices for the first half of my Spring arthouse film calendar, today I finish the job. I accept the fact that anyone looking at my program will inevitably point to one (or more, perhaps even many) titles here and, in essence, ask the following question: “What the heck is THAT doing there?!” What follows below will hopefully dispel all head-scratching.
Posted by keelsetter on January 2, 2011
I celebrated the new year by proofing a final mock-up of my Spring arthouse calendar film series program. It will screen about 50 films. Some new. Some old. The selection usually nets an equal amount of praise and criticism. I put out a sneak preview of coming attractions on my FaceBook page the other day and within a few minutes received one enthusiastic remark from a reader looking forward to the latest Steven Soderbergh documentary about Spalding Gray (that one called And Everything Is Going Fine) while simultaneously getting one smack-down from a reader wanting to know why I won’t be screening González Iñárritu’s Biutiful, or Charles’ Ferguson’s excellent documentary regarding the details of our recent financial collapse, Inside Job, or even something so obviously winning as L’illusionist, which displays the latest animation of Sylvain Chomet of The Triplets of Belleville fame – especially as it is working from an unpublished screenplay by Jacques Tati. What could be more perfect for an arthouse theater? For those curious how this particular film curator made his final choices, here are my answers. READ MORE
Posted by Susan Doll on August 9, 2010
Elvis Week begins tomorrow in Memphis, and fans and tourists are descending on the King’s city to mark the 33rd anniversary of his death with a week of concerts, movies, Graceland tours, and informal get-togethers. This year would have been Elvis’s 75th birthday, adding a special note to Elvis Week. To honor—and exploit—both occasions, Fathom Cinema Events presented a special showing of the concert documentary Elvis on Tour on July 29. At 7:00pm in select theaters around the country for one showing only, Elvis on Tour graced the big screens for the first time since 1972. Having seen the film several times and written about it in various books, I thought I knew everything there was to know about this documentary, but seeing it on a huge screen in a theater made it a new experience. In addition, the film was preceded by a new introduction that provided enlightening details about the production, the filmmakers, and Elvis’s response to their approach.
Posted by keelsetter on August 8, 2010
Exactly one week ago today I was in a clear green field near an aspen grove here in Colorado, staring down at a suspiciously mutilated cow. Aside for a few flies, nothing else was near it. Oblivious to its gender I dubbed it “Fred.” My girlfriend and I took some pictures and we continued along on our hike. Less than an hour later we returned along the same path only to bear witness to one of the most bizarre things either of us had ever seen: a bunch of Fred’s pals – PREVIOUSLY far afield and seemingly (and understandably) avoiding the poor, dead beast – were NOW suddenly swirling about Fred’s carcass in a frenzy, like white-on-rice or flies-on-poop. They were jumping on top of each other and pushing one another around in an almost perfect circular pattern, trampling about on poor, dead, Fred. I’ve seen my share of punk shows, but this was one slow-motion-mosh-pit-from-hell scene I’ll never forget. There was something so downright unnatural about this spectacle that both my girlfriend and I immediately got the heebie-jeebies.
To honor the weirdness that occurred one week ago today, today’s blog looks at how a movie buff digests such a strange event. READ MORE
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on July 22, 2010
Photographer Julius Shulman may not be a household name but you’ve probably seen his work or at least its influence in Hollywood films. Shulman spent much of his life photographing architectural wonders in Los Angeles and his photos of private homes, office buildings and public structures helped shape the way that we all see the “City of Angels.”
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