Sunday, February 28, 2010

Not an animal

Thanks to The Playlist for drawing my attention to Richard Schickel's piece on the making of "Raging Bull" in the current "Vanity Fair" . Scorsese has never attempted to hide his personal problems during 70s and 80s, but Schickel does a good job of showing how they contributed to his commitment to make something more than a conventional sports film.
One important and rarely mentioned detail is how producers Chartoff and Winkler had to dangle the carrot of "Rocky II" ("Rocky" had been a popular and even well-reviewed film, but was not yet a sequel-producing-franchise) to convince United Artists to back Scorsese's film.
I suspect, however, that Schickel overstates the failure of "New York, New York" as a factor in Scorsese's personal bottoming out at the end of the 70s. Yes, "New York" was a commercial disappointment, but United Artists was still coasting on its reputation as a director's studio. As hard as it is to believe, the era of judging films solely by their opening weekends hadn't yet begun.

(One minor error in Schickel's account: "Home Movies" isn't one of DePalma's "earlier" films; Produced as a class project for his students at Sarah Lawrence, it was released in 1980 - the same year as "Raging Bull.")

Saturday, February 27, 2010

See the tree? How big it's grown! and other ballads

I have a confession to make: I've always had a problem with songs that tell long, pathetic stories, especially the maudlin pop ballads that were popular in the early 70s. Call it a short attention span, but I tend to drift off somewhere around the second verse. It took me years to figure out what happened to Timothy when he was trapped in the mine. I'm still not sure exactly what happened on the night Chicago died or what Joey did to get the young singer's daddy so worked up. Even after 40 years, I don't know why the lights went out in Georgia, though I'm fairly sure that it involved hanging an innocent man.
But here's one I've always been able to follow (after the cigarette break):

And the winner won't be...

"Logorama"- although it's worth a look. My Academy Award predictions, trickling in a few at a time, can be found here.

Logorama Trailer from on Vimeo.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tourism Dogme Style

Denmark Introduces Harrowing New Tourism Ads Directed By Lars Von Trier

Don't me our annual Dogville Days!

We are the world, too.

Looks even more refreshing compared to the rather stiff "We are the World 25".
(I know..they're both for a good cause, so do what you have to do...)