Posts Tagged ‘film’
July 26, 2013 | by James Hughes
My Lunches with Orson, a collection of off-the-cuff conversations between filmmaker Henry Jaglom and Hollywood lion Orson Welles, recorded before Welles died of heart failure in 1985 (when his body was discovered, he had a typewriter in his lap, keystrokes from a comeback that was cruelly out of reach), arrived in bookstores last week with much fanfare. The chats were recorded weekly at the duo’s favorite restaurant, the now-shuttered Ma Maison on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, and were conducted not only with Welles’s consent but at his urging. The transcripts read less like a meal and more like forkfuls from a dessert cart that endlessly whizzes by. Welles stabs at topics this way and that, exposing his deepest grudges and marveling over his unmatched moments of grandeur, sometimes in the same sentence. Author Peter Biskind combed through the cassettes, dozens of which Jaglom had stashed in a shoebox, and edited them for maximum punch. In his introduction, Biskind claims this “may be the last undiscovered trove of Welles on Welles.”
Excerpts from the book, which can be snacked on online, reveal Jaglom recoiling at times as his companion blows buckshot across Hollywood. With each passing course, Welles serves up one-liners, each more potent than the last, and dismisses showbiz royalty past and present. High-powered table-hoppers are skewered the moment they’re out of earshot. Richard Burton gets the breeze. Waiters get shushed. Jaglom gets embarrassed. Even Wolfgang Puck, the chef preparing Welles’s meals, is targeted. (This was before Puck slid to Spago, the quintessential mideighties hot spot he erected off the Sunset Strip.) While Welles has no problem chortling about a leading Broadway critic who was unaware that the disgruntled staff at his favorite hotel routinely pissed in his morning tea, he doesn’t seem particularly mindful of his own tableside vulnerabilities. Read More »
June 24, 2013 | by Pedro Almodóvar
Although we associate comedy with spontaneity, the comedies I’ve made to date—including this new one, I’m So Excited!—are rehearsed exhaustively during preproduction and afterward during shooting. Spontaneity is always the product of rehearsal.
A script isn’t finished until the film has opened. I rehearse a script as if it was a play. As it happens, both Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and I’m So Excited! are play-like, in the sense that the action takes place mainly on one set. I rehearse them like plays, but I don’t film them like plays (actually, I’ve never directed a play, so I don’t know what it’s like). They’re very verbal comedies: the action lies basically in the words and in the openness of the characters.
I usually improvise a lot in rehearsals, then I rewrite the scenes and rehearse them again, and so on, to the point of obsession. With improvisations, the scenes usually grow longer, but it’s the best way I know to find nuances and parallel situations that I would never discover if we stuck rigidly to the script. After stretching the scenes out and blowing them up, I rewrite them again, trying to synthesize what has been improvised. And then we rehearse again. Some of the actors, especially Carlos Areces, can’t bear you to cut a single one of their jokes, even if it has come up while the scene is looking for itself and hasn’t yet gelled. Everything that comes up and involves his character belongs to him. If it were up to him, the film would last three hours. (At times I shoot two versions of the same scene, and I admit that at times I edit the “improvised” one.) Lola Dueñas is another one who immediately appropriates all the antics that occur to me during the first rehearsals. Afterward, it’s heartrending to tell her that it was just a game, a way of stretching, of being crazy, of probing, of losing all sense of the ridiculous—above all losing respect for the script—and that it was all just an exercise. When Lola sees me improvising a scene with her character, however exaggerated it may be, if she likes it, she grabs on to it and it’s impossible to convince her that I was just fooling around. I admit that at times she’s managed to get her own way. When I had the idea for the mise-en-scène of the first time she goes into a trance in the cockpit, looking for sensations while groping the two pilots’ bodies, all those involved laughed, but I never thought about editing the scene like that—and yet that’s how it turned out in the film. After much insistence, Lola asked me at least to look at how she did it and then decide. The point was, I had to give her the chance to play the scene that way. She did it, and after seeing it, I had no choice but to include it. Lola is capable of breathing such truth into the most insane situations that she manages to make any craziness plausible. Read More »
June 10, 2013 | by Dave Tompkins
Skeletons seem to be preternaturally deft swordsmen. This one is giving Sinbad all he can handle, at one point throwing its shield like a Frisbee. It’s a roadhouse move, executed with zing and grimace. Sinbad ducks and the shield crashes into the evil sorcerer’s lab, causing a model dinosaur to take a header off the top shelf.
This scene from 1958’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad was created by Ray Harryhausen, a special-effects pioneer who recently died, at the age of ninety-two. Only in this lost world could a model Sauropoda look faker than a skeleton wielding a scimitar. The realness was in the time and dedication that went into letting that shield fly, its rotation not unlike the UFO that Harryhausen drunkenly crashed into the Capitol two years earlier in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. While destroying national landmarks makes for a good time, stop-motion animation also demands archeological patience. A mere shoofly of a skeleton’s wrist can equal a full day’s work. For Harryhausen, a little boy’s “dinosaur phase” evolved into a lifetime of endless adjustments and clicks, a shot for every move and turn. One of his biggest challenges and triumphs was activating Medusa’s snake perm in Clash of the Titans (1981), not to mention the instant ossification induced by her stink-eye. Harryhausen would also embellish the legend: Medusa as a graceful archer with snake arrows was as myth-busting to me as a Kraken showing up in a movie without tentacles. Read More »
May 29, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
Writes filmmaker Tom Bean,
George and Robert Kennedy were close friends for many years, and their relationship weaves into George’s story in interesting ways. Bobby had encouraged George to marry his first wife, Freddy, while they were all traveling on the ’68 presidential campaign together (George was making appearances and speeches on behalf of the campaign). Later, when Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, George dove on the attacker and helped disarm him. We spoke with Robert Kennedy Jr. about his memories of George’s relationship with his parents, and I think he perfectly articulated George’s love of adventure and his whole-hearted embrace of life.
Plimpton! is playing at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center.
May 23, 2013 | by Liz Brown
Sometimes there are things you didn’t know you wanted to see.
Like Michael Douglas, spangled and rouged, arms out in a white ostrich-trimmed cape, prancing sideways across a Vegas stage. This is barely two seconds of the trailer for Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra, about the relationship between Liberace and his younger lover, Scott Thorson, but those are two seconds I want to see over and over.
Usually I get cranky and snide about biopics. The last one I saw was Hitchcock. I went to have my prejudices against the genre affirmed, and they were. I kept watching Anthony Hopkins in his fat suit and thinking about his makeup, the boom just outside the frame, the camera rolling back on its track, the contrivance of the whole thing—and not in some provocative, Brechtian sense. I left full of scorn for the labored verisimilitude and regurgitated history—a petty way to go to the movies, but kind of satisfying, too, in the way that being petty can be.
Maybe it’s a good film if you weren’t aware Alfred Hitchcock had a thing for so-called icy blonds and that he got creepily obsessive when it came to his leading ladies. And if that’s not clear from watching Hopkins/Hitchcock skulk around dressing rooms, Jessica Biel/Vera Miles explains it to Scarlett Johansson/Janet Leigh and us in a scene that feels more like a DVD featurette about the “making of” than dialogue between two people. Read More »
May 17, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
Writes filmmaker Tom Bean, “George’s first piece of ‘participatory journalism’ was to pitch in a baseball all-star game at Yankee Stadium in 1958. He wrote about his experience for Sports Illustrated and then expanded the piece into a book called Out of My League, which he got his friend and mentor Ernest Hemingway to blurb (Hemingway called the book ‘Beautifully observed and incredibly conceived’). This is the event that launched George’s career as a writer. One of our goals for the movie was to have George narrate as much of his own story as we could (cobbled together from interviews, TV appearances, and speeches), and I think this scene serves as a good illustration of that approach.”
Plimpton! opens May 22 at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center.