Ricky Jay, who is perhaps the most gifted sleight-of-hand artist alive, was performing magic with a deck of cards. Also present was a friend of Mamet and Mosher's named Christ Nogulich, the director of food and beverage at the hotel. After twenty minutes of disbelief-suspending manipulations, Jay spread the deck face up on the bar counter and asked Nogulich to concentrate on a specific card but not to reveal it. Jay then assembled the deck face down, shuffled, cut it into two piles, and asked Nogulich to point to one of the piles and name his card.
"Three of clubs," Nogulich said, and he was then instructed to turn over the top card.
He turned over the three of clubs.
Mosher, in what could be interpreted as a passive-aggressive act, quietly announced, "Ricky, you know, I also concentrated on a card."
After an interval of silence, Jay said, "That's interesting, Gregory, but I only do this for one person at a time."
Mosher persisted: "Well, Ricky, I really was thinking of a card."
Jay paused, frowned, stared at Mosher, and said, "This is a distinct change of procedure." A longer pause. "All right-what was the card?"
"Two of spades."
Jay nodded, and gestured toward the other pile, and Mosher turned over its top card.
The documentary about recently discovered street photographer Vivian Maier that was funded via Kickstarter almost two years ago is finally getting somewhere. Here's the trailer for the film, which appears to involve a crazy twist in Maier's story.
Mr. Koch's 12-year mayoralty encompassed the fiscal austerity of the late 1970s and the racial conflicts and municipal corruption scandals of the 1980s, an era of almost continuous discord that found Mr. Koch at the vortex of a maelstrom day after day.
But out among the people or facing a news media circus in the Blue Room at City Hall, he was a feisty, slippery egoist who could not be pinned down by questioners and who could outtalk anybody in the authentic voice of New York: as opinionated as a Flatbush cabby, as loud as the scrums on 42nd Street, as pugnacious as a West Side reform Democrat mother.
"I'm the sort of person who will never get ulcers," the mayor - eyebrows devilishly up, grinning wickedly at his own wit - enlightened the reporters at his $475 rent-controlled apartment in Greenwich Village on Inauguration Day in 1978. "Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I'm the sort of person who might give other people ulcers."
Koch, New York City's dominant political figure of the 1980s and the architect of what remains its governing political coalition, stayed politically relevant through his long political twilight, courted aggressively by figures including Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama for his role as a proxy for pro-Israel Democrats willing, but not eager, to cross party lines.
But Koch's later years of quips, movie reviews, and presidential politics remain secondary to his central legacy, which is in New York's City Hall. Tall and gangly with a domed, bald head and a knowing smile, Koch was New York's mayor and its mascot from 1978 to 1989. Through three terms, he repeated one question like a mantra: "How'm I doing?" At first, the answer was clear to observers who had watched the city slide toward bankruptcy: exceptionally well. Koch managed New York back from the brink, drove hard bargains with municipal unions, cut jobs where he had to and reduced taxes where he could. He presided over a boom in Manhattan, and spent his new revenues on renewing the south Bronx.
But as the Koch administration moved its third term, the mayor lost his momentum. As Wall Street boomed in the 1980s, Koch took advantage of the new revenues to double New York City's budget and offer tax breaks to real estate developers. But the largesse couldn't buy him friends: he clashed with black leaders and his old allies among Manhattan's liberal democrats. New York became famous for its racial tensions and rising crime. He courted the Democratic Party bosses of Queens and the Bronx only to be tarnished by the corruption scandals that surrounded them.
Here's the trailer for Koch, a documentary on the former mayor that coincidentally opens today in limited release:
Shane Carruth's followup to Primer is set to be seen next week at Sundance and a full-length trailer has been released:
And it won't be long before the rest of us will be able to see it as well. Ain't It Cool notes that Carruth will be distributing the film himself.
Carruth isn't waiting around for a big distributor or even a small, boutique distributor. He's putting the film out himself, booking it in New York at the IFC Center on April 5th, then expanding theatrically to LA, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago and other big markets.
Around that time he'll also have a digital distribution option, which will lead to Blu-Ray/DVD. You know, the standard Magnolia/IFC style release, but instead of being spearheaded by a distribution company, Carruth is doing it via his own company, erbp.
The Wachowskis (The Matrix movies) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) are teaming up to bring David Mitchell's award-winning novel, Cloud Atlas, to the big screen. It's an ambitious effort given the plot of the book:
The novel consists of six nested stories that take the reader from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or observed) by the main character in the next. All stories but the last are interrupted at some moment, and after the sixth story concludes at the center of the book, the novel "goes back" in time, "closing" each story as the book progresses in terms of pages but regresses in terms of the historical period in which the action takes place. Eventually, readers end where they started, with Adam Ewing in the Pacific Ocean, circa 1850.
Here's an extended trailer of the film:
The trailer is also on Apple's site along with a short commentary by the directors. BTW, the Wachowskis are no longer brothers because Larry had sexual reassignment surgery and is now Lana...the directors' commentary is the first I've seen of her since the switch.
Well, this is something...an ex-jewel thief decides to unretire and rob people with help from his robot butler. I had to look this up on IMDB to make sure it wasn't something from Funny or Die or College Humor.
Best robotic sidekick since Mr. Spock. Now reboot Lethal Weapon with Donald Glover and a robot playing the Mel Gibson role. (Yes, I meant Donald. Danny is clearly too old for that shit.)
At some point, Bourdin's story gets intertwined with that of Nicholas Barclay, a teen who went missing in Texas in 1994. After that, the story proceeds like the craziest episode of Law and Order you've ever seen.
The teaser trailer for P.T. Anderson's next film, The Master. Anderson himself cut the trailer -- why don't more director/editors do this?
Written and directed by Academy Award nominee Paul Thomas Anderson (the acclaimed director of, There Will Be Blood, Magnolia and Boogie Nights), this story stars Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) and Academy Award-nominee Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line). Set in America in the years following World War II, a charismatic intellectual (Hoffman) launches a faith-based organization and taps a young drifter (Phoenix) as his right-hand man. But as the faith begins to gain a fervent following, the onetime vagabond finds himself questioning the belief system he has embraced, and his mentor. A truly one-of-a-kind drama, which promises magnetic virtuoso performances, the film marks the fifth collaboration between Anderson and Hoffman, following Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Punch Drunk Love.
As good as this looks, I'm a wee bit disappointed that this isn't a PT Anderson-directed documentary style film about Doctor Who's nemesis. Wouldn't that be something? (via cigarettes & red vines)
Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, MOONRISE KINGDOM tells the story of two twelve-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore -- and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle.
The husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames are widely regarded as America's most important designers. Perhaps best remembered for their mid-century plywood and fiberglass furniture, the Eames Office also created a mind-bending variety of other products, from splints for wounded military during World War II, to photography, interiors, multi-media exhibits, graphics, games, films and toys. But their personal lives and influence on significant events in American life -- from the development of modernism, to the rise of the computer age -- has been less widely understood. Narrated by James Franco, Eames: The Architect and the Painter is the first film dedicated to these creative geniuses and their work.
The Secret World of Arrietty, the latest film from Studio Ghibli (Ponyo, Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle), came out in Japan last year and will be in US theaters in February 2012. Here's the English trailer:
The screenplay was adapted from Mary Norton's The Borrowers. (thx, david)
Linotype: The Film is a feature-length documentary film centered around the Linotype typecasting machine invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler. Called the "Eighth Wonder of the World" by Thomas Edison, the Linotype revolutionized printing and society, but very few people know about the inventor or his fascinating machine.
The Linotype completely transformed the communication of information similarly to how the internet is now changing it all again. Although these machines were revolutionary, technology began to supersede the Linotype and they were scrapped and melted-down by the thousands. Today, very few machines are still in existence.
Writer/director Sofia Coppola reunites with the film company with which she made the Academy Award-winning hit "Lost in Translation." Her new film is an intimate story set in contemporary Los Angeles; Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is a bad-boy actor stumbling through a life of excess at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood. With an unexpected visit from his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning), Johnny is forced to look at the questions we must all confront.
As one of the few people who enjoyed Marie Antoinette, I'm of course looking forward to this. (via df)
The Cove is a 2009 documentary film documenting the annual killing of more than 2,500 dolphins in a cove at Taiji, Wakayama in Japan. The film was directed by former National Geographic photographer Louis Psihoyos, and was filmed secretly during 2007 using underwater microphones and high-definition cameras disguised as rocks.
Max left the room and found Gary lying on the couch in his work clothes, his frog eyes closed, his chin entirely receded into his neck. Max gritted his teeth and let out a low, simmering growl.
Gary opened his eyes and rubbed them.
"Uh, hey, Max. I'm baggin' a few after-work Z's. How goes it?"
Max looked at the floor. This was one of Gary's typical questions: Another day, huh? How goes it? No play for the playa, right? None of his questions had answers. Gary never seemed to say anything that meant anything at all.
"Cool suit," Gary said. "Maybe I'll get me one of those. What are you, like a rabbit or something?"
But while I was working on the book, it was funny, because I started going in new directions, different from any of the screenplay versions, pushing it into some territory that was personal to me. So in a way the movie is more Spike's version of Maurice's book, and this novel is more my version.
In "Extract," writer/director Mike Judge returns to the fertile territory of the American workplace, rotating his perspective away from the white collar cubicle warriors of "Office Space" and towards a blue collar boss -- a small business owner -- who employs an odd cast of losers, loners and misfits in his flavor extract factory.
It is the story of a teenage girl who, after being brutally raped and murdered, watches from heaven as her family and friends go on with their lives, while she herself comes to terms with her own death.
Jackson personally purchased the film rights to the book and from the trailer, it seems like this is a return to his Heavenly Creatures days, with a bit of the LOTR fantasy and special effects sprinkled in. Looking forward to this one.
The September Issue is the much-anticipated documentary that follows Anna Wintour and her staff at Vogue through the process of creating the magazine's September issue, AKA the world's thickest magazine issue.
An apt demonstration that an editor/curator's main job is saying no to almost everything.
The world of the movie is one in which everyone tells the truth all the time...until Gervais invents lying. It also stars every other Hollywood actor and comic in the world, including Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Patrick Stewart, Jeffrey Tambor, Tina Fey, Christopher Guest, Rob Lowe, Louis C.K., and John Hodgman. (You know it's quite an august list when you have to stick "and John Hodgman" on the end of it.)
IFC lists the 50 greatest trailers of all time. Trailers are like episodes for Law & Order for me -- ten minutes after viewing and I can't remember a thing about them -- so I don't really have any favorites, but this list seems like a solid collection.
Errol Morris, Werner Herzog and over 30 of today's top documentary filmmakers provide an in-depth look at non-fiction filmmaking and the steps to making a documentary. These masters of the craft reflect upon the nature of documentary as a form of storytelling and offer insight into their approach to the 'truth.'
The trailer for Ponyo, the latest animated feature film from Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, etc.). The film opened in Japan last year and made more than $150 million at the box office. The American version is dubbed and I don't know if a subtitled version will made it to theaters in the US or not. There was a theatrical release of a subtitled Mononoke but that was a long time ago.
As a follow-up to the excellent Band of Brothers, HBO, Steven Speilberg, and Tom Hanks have teamed up to make The Pacific, a 10-part miniseries about the fighting in the Pacific during WWII from the perspective of a group of US Marines. The first trailer for the series has been released:
Update: So of course HBO made YouTube remove the video of the trailer. But they put up a smaller crappier version on their own site so it's all ok, right? (Why do media companies not like people spreading their advertising around? That's the fucking goal, yes?) Anyway, in the meantime I changed the link to the video above with a new one that hasn't been removed yet. And if that one gets removed, you can probably find the newest ones here. (thx, greg)
She was a librarian. Her husband was a postal worker. They lived on his salary and bought art with hers. Both are now retired. They have no children. "We bought art we could afford and that would fit into the apartment," they say. Water from the fish tank once splashed a Warhol they owned. It later had to be restored.
An eccentric New Yorker played by Larry David abandons his upper class life to lead a more bohemian existence. He meets a young girl from the south and her family and no two people seem to get along in the entanglements that follow. This is a comedy also starring Ed Begley Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Conleth Hill, Michael McKean, Evan Rachel Wood, and a number of other amusing types.
I can't figure out if Meryl Streep is almost nailing her Julia Child impression or completely blowing it. Also, Streep is ~5'7"....I don't know what they're doing in the movie to make her look so tall, but it doesn't work.
The whole-earth nature documentary space is quickly becoming crowded. We've got:
The Blue Planet, 2001
Deep Blue, 2003
Planet Earth, 2006
Nature's Great Events, 2009
The last one on the list is from Disney. If you watch the trailer, the company is attempting to say, "Planet Earth? Ha! Disney was down with nature all along!" Pfft. A point in Disney's favor however is that Oceans is being done by Jacques Perrin, the man responsible for Microcosmos and Winged Migration. Points against: the film has cost $75 million so far (for a documentary!), the footage in the trailer looks like it was lifted directly from The Blue Planet and Planet Earth, and no David Attenborough narration.
Update: I added Earth to the list, also from Disney. Here's the trailer. BBC and Discovery are listed as partners so it's likely that the footage in the film is from Planet Earth. (thx, @gjdsalinger)
I am hoping that Moon will be awesome and not just a mashup of 2001 and Solaris. The score is by Clint Mansell, who has scored all of Darren Aronofsky's movies, most notably Requiem for a Dream. Moon opens on June 12 in NYC and LA. (via sarahnomics)
How to Take a Beloved Children's Classic Book and Screw It All Up, Exhibit A: based on the trailer, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Except for the food falling from the sky, they changed everything else. But it's IN 3-D!!! *pffft*
Trailer for a new film called Guest of Cindy Sherman. It's a documentary about a man who becomes romantically involved with the famous artist, only to find that his ego can't handle her fame. I wonder if we actually get to see the real Sherman in the film...the trailer is very teasing about it.
Tarantino's latest film is about Nazi-killing American soldiers and stars Brad Pitt. I can't decide if this movie is going to completely suck or be really great. Vampire movies notwithstanding, Quentin always gets the benefit of the doubt from me so great it is.
With the exception of the two animated films and Year One, all of the above are either sequels or remakes. And Hulu, in a stroke of highly irritating genius, has inserted advertising before each of the trailers linked above. Advertising *in* advertising...the 20th century has officially ended. Welcome to the future.
Update: I've switched out the Hulu links for ones at Apple; they're higher quality and can be seen outside of the US. I wish the Apple trailers would have been live last night; it would have made for a lot less whining in my inbox. I just go where the links take me, folks. Oh, and I added the GI Joe trailer. (thx, david)
Back in the late '80s, Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was a headlining professional wrestler. Now, twenty years later, he ekes out a living performing for handfuls of diehard wrestling fans in high school gyms and community centers around New Jersey. Estranged from his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and unable to sustain any real relationships, Randy lives for the thrill of the show and the adoration of his fans.
Rourke looks great in this and Aronofsky appears back on form. I'm not saying that The Fountain was bad...but it probably was. (thx, kabir)
Never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists, and governments. '2012' is an epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors.
It is the eleventh Star Trek film and features the main characters of the original Star Trek series, who are portrayed by a new cast. It follows James T. Kirk enrolling at Starfleet Academy, his first meeting with Spock, and their battles with Romulans from the future, who are interfering with history.
I'm not a proponent of the idea that any Trek is good Trek so I really want to hate this movie but it looks kind of awesome. At least f'ing McG didn't direct.
The second trailer for Hancock, the Will-Smith-as-apathetic-superhero movie due out this summer, is up on Apple Trailers. I believe this is the same one I linked to on YouTube a month ago, but watch it again anyway. I am hoping against hope that this one isn't going to be as stupid as I think and instead will be as awesome as I hope.
I've got Will Smith action hero fatigue, but HOLY CRAP does Hancock look awesome. I am into apathetic superheroes. There's a second trailer available on YouTube...and its quality is surprisingly good. (You can tell I don't make it out to the movies a lot these days...the first trailer has been out since December.)
After seeing Ferro's commercials, Kubrick hired him to direct the advertising trailers and teasers for Dr. Strangelove and convinced him to resettle in London (Kubrick's base of operations until he died there in March 1999). Ferro was inclined to be peripatetic anyway, and ever anxious to bypass already completed challenges he agreed to pull up stakes on the chance that he would get to direct a few British TV commercials, which he did. The black and white spot that Ferro designed for Dr. Strangelove employed his quick-cut technique -- using as many as 125 separate images in a minute -- to convey both the dark humor and the political immediacy of the film. At something akin to stroboscopic speed words and images flew across the screen to the accompaniment of loud sound effects and snippets of ironic dialog. At a time when the bomb loomed so large in the US public's fears (remember Barry Goldwater ran for President promising to nuke China), and the polarization of left and right -- east and west -- was at its zenith, Ferro's commercial was not only the boldest and most hypnotic graphic on TV, it was a sly subversive statement.
Kubrick wanted to film it all using small airplane models (doubtless prefiguring his classic space ship ballet in 2001: A Space Odyssey). Ferro dissuaded him and located the official stock footage that they used instead. Ferro further conceived the idea to fill the entire screen with lettering (which incidentally had never been done before), requiring the setting of credits at different sizes and weights, which potentially ran counter to legal contractual obligations. But Kubrick supported it regardless. On the other hand, Ferro was prepared to have the titles refined by a lettering artist, but Kubrick correctly felt that the rough hewn quality of the hand-drawn comp was more effective. So he carefully lettered the entire thing himself with a thin pen. Yet only after the film was released did he notice that one word was misspelled: "base on" instead of "based on". Ooops!
If you want that hand-lettered look for yourself, Pablo Skinny is a font by Fargoboy that closely duplicates Ferro's handwriting.
Update: According to this Wikipedia article, the work of Canadian avant-garde filmmaker Arthur Lipsett caught the eye of Stanley Kubrick after an Oscar nomination for his short film, Very Nice, Very Nice and, more importantly for our business here, that Kubrick directed the Strangelove trailer himself in Lipsett's style after Lipsett refused to work with Kubrick on it:
Stanley Kubrick was one of Lipsett's fans, and asked him to create a trailer for his upcoming movie Dr. Strangelove. Lipsett declined Kubrick's offer. Kubrick went on to direct the trailer himself; however, Lipsett's influence on Kubrick is clearly visible when watching the trailer.
The two are stylistically similar for sure, but Ferro is credited with having designed the main title sequence (according to the titles themselves). That passage doesn't appear to have been derived from any particular source, so I looked for something more definitive. From a 1986 article by Lois Siegel
After his Academy Award nomination, he received a letter from British filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. The typewritten letter said, "I'm interested in having a trailer done for Dr. Strangelove." Kubrick regarded Lipsett's work as a landmark in cinema -- a breakthrough. He was interested in involving Lipsett. This didn't happen, but the actual trailer did reflect Lipsett's style in Very Nice, Very Nice.
Kubrick described Very Nice, Very Nice (1961) as "one of the most imaginative and brilliant uses of the movie screen and soundtrack that I have ever seen." Kubrick was so enthused with the film he invited Lipsett to create a trailer for Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1965) an offer Lipsett refused. Stanley Kubrick, letter to Arthur Lipsett, Arthur Lipsett Collection, Cinematheque québécoise Archives, Montreal, May 31, 1962.
It's not clear what the connection is between Lipsett's work and the trailer that Ferro ended up producing for Strangelove, but several sources (including Heller) say that Ferro developed his quick-cut style directing commercials in the 1950s, work that would predate that of Lipsett.
Lipsett more clearly influenced the work of another prominent filmmaker, George Lucas. Lucas found inspiration in Lipsett's 21-87 in making THX-1138 and borrowed the concept of "the Force" for the Star Wars movies. Lucas' films are littered with references to Lipsett's film; e.g. Princess Leia's cell in Star Wars was in cell #2187. (thx, gordon)
Movie trailer for Untraceable, which features a serial killer who live-broadcasts his murders online so that his victims are killed faster as more people visit the site. From the looks of it, the movie features every single bad computer-related movie cliche all in one neat package. Either that or it's a clever metaphor for what the web is doing to our culture. (via fimoculous)
Two more movies on my horizon, both about outsiders in the music business:
The trailer for Young @ Heart that nearly brought me to tears last night can't yet be found online, and the clip available at Channel4, where the film originally aired in the UK is a bit dry. Instead, you'll find info on the film and two great clips at The Documentary Blog, including a heart-wrenching performance of the Young @ Heart chorus of elderly people (average age 80) performing Coldplay, part of a repertoire including The Clash, The Ramones, and Sonic Youth.
Great World of Sound is an Altmanesque comedy about two normal southern guys who get caught up in a record industry talent scout scheme. The trailer at Apple looks promising.
It's a cruel trick to confront people with the cold reality of the past. Despite that, some enjoy being in the film and claim it as a thing to treasure; others take part under sufferance, persuaded that the films are unique and we should finish what we started. I thank them all for their generosity and courage in making these films possible.