Wednesday, April 23, 2014

You Missed It At Cinema Village: Soft In The Head/ The Spectacle: India Song

No great acting, no great dialogue, no insights, no comedy, no nice shots. Cringing drama, muddled editting and pacing, a lack of any recognizable setting, a lack of questions, answers, ambiguities other than those produced by the failings of the script and continuity editing.

Soft In The Head is about an self-destructive alcoholic, Natalie, who leaves an abusive boyfriend and ends up on the street. She's taken in by a Christian man who runs a halfway house out of his apartment. The other residents are inarticulate men who struggle to make sense of one another and take each other's neurosis seriously (perhaps inspired by the author's experience sharing an apartment with other New Talkie filmmakers?) Nathan is an emotional cripple who lives with his overbearing Jewish parents. He falls in love with Natalie, who is his sister, Hannah's, friend. Natalie brings chaos into all of these relationships and settings.

That almost sounds like a story worth telling - millennial losers whose challenge, at the end of their drama, is how they can tell their story, which is seemingly so unrelatable and unsympathetic. Nathan Silver's failure to formulate such a narrative underlies the weight of the issue he took on as a filmmaker. The more one squints, the more the project seems worthwhile. One does have to admit Silver has some courage. It does have the merit of being a movie, of having been made and exhibited. This courage should not be ignored. Kickstarter made this movie, and at the end of the day we can say Kickstarter made a movie, a movie that plays by its own rules, that invests itself in its own concerns with its own resources and its own ideas about what a film should be.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Remake Dreamz

If remakes are the way of the future, I'm not going to fight 'em, I'd rather join 'em. If I had my druthers we would remake the following films with these star-for-star substitutions. Please register your protests in the comments.

I submit following for (someone's) consideration:

Sweet Smell of Success with Burt Lancaster's part played by...

Michael Fassbender and...

You Missed It At Light Industry: Poem For The Inland Sea

Yulia Soltsneva made this film based on pre-production material her husband and long time collaborator Alexander Dovzhenko (Zvenigora, Arsenal, Earth) left behind after his death during the post-Stalinist thaw. It's a lyrical, slow propaganda piece about a Ukrainian village (based on his own) about to be submerged under a "new sea" meant to stem drought and feed a hydroelectric plant.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NSFAC (Not Safe For Adam Curtis): A Brief Review of Outbreaks ofCompulsive Dancing on Film (Updated)

German fun. Less scary than it sounds. Especially for a film from the interwar period. What percentage of these actors would emigrate from Germany by 1933?

Ernst Lubitsch left much earlier than that. Some smart businessman in Hollywood figured out early on the cheapest way to dominate a foreign film market was to buy a handful of their best directors plane tickets to Los Angeles. They got one of Germany's best in Ernst Lubitsch. Billy Wilder had a sign on his office wall that read, "What would Lubitsch do?" If you'd like to see how well Lubitsch adapted to sound, adapted to making comedies in English, and his feelings on authoritarian states check out Ninotchka (written by Wilder, starring Garbo) or To Be Or Not To Be.

And for those who are unfamiliar with the great Adam Curtis and/or his uncanny fear of watching people dance...