Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On GreenCine Daily

Hey guys,

Let me say that
GreenCine Daily offers the best coverage on films on the web bar none, and no, they didn’t pay me to say that.

I receive their daily e-mail updates, which you can also get for free by signing up
here. I’ve said before that one major problem I’ve noticed in some aspiring screenwriters I’ve encountered over the years is that they limit their vision by ONLY hanging out with other screenwriters and by ONLY reading screenwriting books and screenwriting magazines. You hurt yourself and your creativity by limiting the information you get about films. Most discussions about films are usually, by extension, discussions about screenwriting, too.

These guys really open your eyes to films in ways you won’t expect, and today’s e-mail was no exception. So I’d like to share their coverage on three Cannes films that I personally can’t wait to see. The way that David Hudson compiles all the articles and quotes is certainly no small feat, and my hat goes off to him.



Cannes. Changeling.

"A thematic companion piece to
Mystic River but more complex and far-reaching, Changeling impressively continues Clint Eastwood's great run of ambitious late-career pictures," writes Variety's Todd McCarthy.

"Emotionally powerful and stylistically sure-handed, this true story-inspired drama begins small with the disappearance of a young boy, only to gradually fan out to become a comprehensive critique of the entire power structure of Los Angeles, circa 1928."


"Changeling rings the muckracking bells of the likes of
I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, and the devoted-mother high notes of Stella Dallas," writes Glenn Kenny. "Its old-fashionedness, or I should say respect for verities, goes hand-in-hand with a particularly Eastwood-esque directness. The result is not as perfect a film as Eastwood has made, but it's damn strong, both as a story and an exploration of the parent-child bond and a polemic. Because despite the fact that it deals with the corruption and venality of a past era, Changeling is at times a very angry picture; Eastwood's angriest, I think, since Unforgiven."

"Beautifully produced and guided by Eastwood's elegant, unostentatious hand, it also boasts a career-best performance by
Angelina Jolie who has never been this compelling," writes Mike Goodridge in Screen Daily.

The true story the film's based on, "as incredible as it is compelling," as the Hollywood Reporter's
Kirk Honeycutt puts it, was "uncovered by screenwriter J Michael Straczynski in the city's own records and newspapers, adds a forgotten chapter to the LA noir of Chinatown and [LA Confidential]."

Updates: For Time's
Richard Corliss, Changeling "juggles elements of LA Confidential, The Black Dahlia, The Snake Pit and any number of serial-killer thrillers. But at its center are the heartache and heroic resolve of a woman who has lost the one person she loves most and is determined to find him, dead or alive, against all obstacles the authorities place in her way. In that sense the movie is a companion piece to last year's Cannes entry A Mighty Heart, in which Jolie played the wife of kidnapped journalist Daniel Pearl - except that Changeling is far more taut, twisty and compelling."

"Because the film is based on real events, we know going in how it's going to end; the film's tension rides, therefore, not in the destination but in the journey to get there," notes
Kim Voynar at Cinematical.

Eugene Hernandez has a snapshot and quotes from the press conference.

"Whatever it winds up being called, 'L'Ex-Changeling' got a warm reception from the press this morning," reports Salon's
Andrew O'Hehir:

"Whether that really reflects the film's inherent qualities, or just the experience of observing two prodigious stars of different eras collaborate on a major Hollywood project that wasn't made for morons, is open to debate. For anybody who's ever felt passionate about the movies, it was impossible to resist the spectacle of Eastwood, looking both dapper and weatherbeaten in an elegant cream-colored suit, strolling slowly through a rooftop garden here with the gloriously pregnant Jolie on his arm. It was of course the impersonation of casualness and spontaneity rather than the real thing; they were walking through a forest of photographers on their way to the press conference. But the appearance of being at one's ease while maximally exposed to public scrutiny is the essence of stardom."

Much more follows.

Online viewing tip.
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times.


Cannes. Of Time and the City.

"[T]he one truly great movie to emerge so far has been
Terence Davies's Of Time and the City [site]; it's not only this writer who considers it some kind of masterpiece."

This writer is
Geoff Andrew (Time Out): "Watching the film, you realise that Britain has no other filmmaker to match Davies in terms of his purely cinematic sensibility. Fine as our other far-from-inconsiderable big names are, it's hard to imagine any of them creating sheer filmic poetry as may be found here. Davies's juxtapositions of music and image, especially, are consistently audacious, original and exhilarating, whether the compositions reflect and reinforce each other or whether they make more complex by way of superbly sharp irony."

Updated through 5/20.

"[E]ven though it runs a brief 72 minutes, this documentary memory play about Davies' hometown of Liverpool is so rich with emotion, nostalgia, clarity, and love that it feels epic," writes the Boston Globe's
Ty Burr. "Davies himself narrates over the inspired onrush of historical and archival footage, and his hoarse, whispered cadences have the urgency of the confessional and the scornful humor of the outsider.... [I]t's easily the most haunting work I've seen at Cannes."

"[T]his is mainly a biography of a place and time," writes
Mary Corliss for Time: "of its stately old civic monuments and, later, its soulless estates (an expression, Davies says in the narration, of 'the British genius for creating the dismal'); of its residents' football mania and fondness for radio's corniest comics; of the contrast between postwar rationing and the regal excesses of Queen Elizabeth's coronation ('the Betty Windsor Show')."

"Davies has always been fascinated by both out-of-reach glamour and the banality of everyday life," writes
Howard Feinstein in Screen Daily. "Revisiting what he calls 'the happy highways where I went and can not come again,' is obviously cathartic for Davies, even if melancholy seeps through every frame."

Frank Cottrell Boyce talks with Davies for the Guardian.

Updates, 5/20: Davies "ranges far and wide through both the city and its history, waxing personal and then political as he lingers at the movies (an early love), pauses in bleak homes and passes through one grim brick-lined Liverpudlian street after another, strewn with litter and busy with children," writes
Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "Mixing his words with quotations (from Friedrich Engels to Willem de Kooning), pop songs and classical music, he brings the past sensitively to life with black-and-white and color footage of a time long gone, both distant and still."

"Nothing in Cannes has given me as much pleasure as Terence Davies's glorious Of Time and the City," writes the Guardian's
Peter Bradshaw. "It is by turns tender, lyrical, angry, shrewd and, above all, funny. This tough, unsentimental film refuses to use cliches and it got enormous, deserved laughs from festival-goers of all nationalities.... I was reminded of Philip Larkin's request that his poems should be read aloud as simply as if giving directions in the street: Davies's poetic cinema has precisely this clarity and force."

Leslie Felperin finds the film "by turns moving, droll and charming, and niftily assembled, but not necessarily that profound."

"Who's the happiest man in Cannes this week?" asks the Telegraph's
David Gritten. "My vote would go to British director Terence Davies, who's walking around the place looking like the cat who got the cream."


Cannes. Ashes of Time Redux.

"National cinemas have different Golden Ages," writes
Mary Corliss for Time.

"For Hong Kong, it was the decade from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, when directors like
Tsui Hark and John Woo were revitalizing the crime film, and when young Wong Kar-wai was revolutionizing the misty romance. At the time, Hong Kong also had perhaps the world's greatest roster of glamorous stars, and prominent among them were Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, the two Tony Leungs, Jacky Cheung, Carina Lau and Charlie Young. All of them are in Wong's 1994 martial-arts reverie Ashes of Time, which had a special screening last night in a version revised by the director."

Updated through 5/20.

"The first surprise about Wong Kar-wai's revamped, re-edited and rescored version of his 1994 cult wuxia classic Ashes of Time is just how little has been changed," writes
Lee Marshall in Screen Daily. "The second is how much these minor tweaks still have helped clarify the Hong Kong auteur's interpretation of Louis Cha's historical fantasy novel The Eagle-Shooting Hero, confirming that his most poetic, experimental film belongs not in the curiosity cabinet but on the big screen."

"Wong was not content merely to repeat or reinvigorate the genre when he began shooting Ashes of Time more than 15 years ago, but decided to reinvent it completely," writes
Peter Brunette in the Hollywood Reporter. "[O]ne wonders what fecundity of imagination - or perversity of artistic willfulness - it took to shoot a costume epic that is made up almost entirely of dark rooms, close-ups and tightly constricted long shots... Wong's obsessive themes of memory, the irretrievability of the past and the impossibility of love, trump those of the traditional wuxia film, which tend to deal more with honor and the indomitability of the spirit."

"The original 1994 Ashes, which I haven't seen (it's available in a poorly done DVD version) apparently didn't make much sense, and it certainly doesn't now, but, lord, is it a vision to behold - a wuxia film turned into an abstract expressionist action painting," writes the Boston Globe's
Ty Burr.

Patrick Frater has a brief report on the emotionally charged screening - and a pick of Wong and cinematographer Christopher Doyle, together - at the Circuit.

Updates, 5/20: "Culled from prints gathered from around the world, this newly re-edited and digitally tweaked iteration runs about 10 minutes shorter than the original, and rather more coherently," writes
Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "Drenched in shocking color - the desert shifts from egg-yolk yellow to burnt orange under a cerulean sky - the film is Mr Wong's most abstract endeavor, a bold excursion into the realm of pure cinema. It also now seems like one of his most important. Ashes of Time Redux will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in September."

The Guardian's
Xan Brooks gets a few words with Wong.

Ray Pride's found the poster.


1minutefilmreview said...

Can't wait to watch the 'Ashes of Time' redux version!

Mystery Man said...

Me too! I CANNOT wait!


Christian M. Howell said...

I totally agree that new writers should study films and filmmaking and not just writing.


I co-agree with Christian's comment (and yours). As a filmmaker, I study films and film-making on a daily basis via films and filmmakers. It's an essential part of my on-going education as a writer and a, you guessed it, filmmaker.

Hey, MM! About time I shout out...Karl

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