Tag Archives: movie

Help Out the Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival

Onion

There’s just six days left to help them out! Keep Chicago a vibrant locale for a diverse selection of cinema viewing. Go to their Indie GoGo link here.

Is Warner Brothers Getting Wise with Piracy?

Warner Bros logo WB logoTorrentFreak is reporting on interesting developments within the Hollywood studios currently treating piracy as nothing short of sacrificing newborns in Satanic rituals. It seems some within the bureaucracy are starting to realize that piracy is reflecting audience demand and can be used as a measurable indicator .

Warner Brothers’ anti-piracy exec David Kaplan:

“Generally speaking, we view piracy as a proxy of consumer demand…Accordingly, enforcement related efforts are balanced with looking at ways to adjust or develop business models to take advantage of that demand by offering fans what they are looking for when they are looking for it.”

This falls in line with a recent study indicating that a crackdown on piracy has some slight effect on blockbusters but is much more hurtful on independent features that have little chance at big screens anyway and that file sharers actually purchase media and attend events.

If the big studios were smart, they would take this knowledge and cater directly to the audiences they want to appear for certain features as they  localize events  in independent theaters.  Sundance does a bit of that already with stars making personal appearances with their films at special screenings.

This would, however, assume a respect for a moviegoer’s choice, and the studios are ill-equipped for that idea. When you have to travel 30+ miles to see a movie you want to see in a theater, you don’t have that choice. If studios learn to distribute their PR budgets among movies more evenly and come up with better ideas for filling the seats, they’ll diminish piracy.

Mediatrocities #7: Legendary Lew Interviews Chris Hefner on His Upcoming New Feature “The Poisoner”

poisonerChicago filmmaker Chris Hefner recently sat down with me and talked about his new movie The Poisoner, which will debut soon at The Portage Theater (you can help him screen the film sooner by visiting his website and buying a deluxe screening ticket).

Chris is a wonderfully talented director, whose first feature The Pink Hotel had a successful debut at The Music Box Theatre. Our talk discussed everything from his filmmaking approach and his start behind the camera to current methods of radically independent film production and distribution. If you have any interest at all in making films on the cheap but have them not looking that way, you really should give a listen.

This episode hosted by Legendary Lew. Produced and directed by Lew Ojeda. The closing theme is “Ghostsong” by Daniel Knox.

 

Arias with Your Mouth Full: Legendary Lew Interviews Michael Smith on Manoel de Oliveira’s “The Cannibals”

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This Saturday night at midnight, indie filmmaker and instructor Michael Smith will present Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira’s very rarely seen and incredibly strange opera, The Cannibals (Os Canibais), for Facets Night School. Straddling between the two cinematic worlds of art house finesse and grind house excess (think Marco Ferreri’s La Grande Bouffe), The Cannibals promises to blow your mind (if you don’t blow your chunks in the process).

LL:  The Cannibals has been rarely shown in The United States. Could you tell us a little about the film?

MS:  The Cannibals is one of the very best films of Manoel de Oliveira who iscannibals3 one of the world’s greatest living directors. Oliveira is best known in America not for any specific films but rather for having a freakishly long career. He directed his first film in 1931 (in what was still the silent era in his native Portugal) and he is currently in pre-production on a new film at the age of 104. But the movies themselves, which are made in conscious opposition to Hollywood conventions and have not been widely distributed in America, are great: they tend to be rigorous, deliberately paced literary or theatrical adaptations centered on the theme of doomed love. I think The Cannibals is an ideal introduction to Oliveira’s work because it shows off his playful side: it’s funny, surreal and very subversive. It shows the strong influence of Luis Bunuel.

LL: How is The Cannibals a bridge between art house cinema and midnight movies?

MS: I would describe it as a midnight movie disguised as an art film. I think it was brilliant of Oliveira to tell this particular story as an opera. It’s an adaptation of a 19th century novel but he hired a contemporary composer, Joao Paes, to write an original operatic score and libretto. Literally every line of dialogue in the movie is sung and the score is excellent. However, the film becomes weirder and weirder as it goes along until it reaches the climax, which is totally insane. I think Oliveira chose to work with the form of opera because no other artistic medium is so closely identified with the upper class — the true subject of his satire. He’s making fun of his target audience! Without giving anything away, I would say he wanted to cloak his movie in the semblance of respectability and “high art” in order to deliver a kind of sucker punch at the end. I almost want to compare The Cannibals to Takashi Miike’s Audition in terms of how it works. (If you’ve seen that film you know that it lulls you into a state of near-boredom before presenting a mind-fuck of an ending that is effective precisely because of what comes before.) I also hasten to add that it’s not necessary to understand anything about opera to appreciate this film. I myself know little about opera.

LL: Were there any other operas commissioned directly to cinema?

MS: I’m not aware of any. It’s very rare to have any kind of musical film in which all of the dialogue is sung. Les Miserables is an obvious example but that’s, of course, an adaptation of a well-known musical play and had a built-in fanbase. The only other film I can think of that comes close to fitting the bill is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Jacques Demy commissioned Michel Legrand to write the original score and Demy himself wrote the dialogue, all of which is sung, but the style of the music is not that of an opera. So I think Oliveira’s achievement is singular and highly innovative.

LL: What do you wish to accomplish by presenting The Cannibals to a crowd accustomed to exploitation, sexploitation and violent trashy films?

 MS: I’m glad that you asked. I hope to broaden viewers’ horizons as to what their perceptions of a midnight movie is. The Cannibals is not exploitative or trashy and yet, in a lot of ways, it’s far weirder than many of the movies to which those labels are often attached. This film is so odd, in fact, that I myself don’t even know how to fully process it! This is also a big part of the reason why I want to show it: presenting it to an audience will hopefully inspire everyone present to work together in making sense of it in our discussion afterwards.

My thanks to Michael Smith for the interview. You can read his posts on the blog White City Cinema. It’s definitely worth your time.
Come feast your eyes and ears on The Cannibals at Facets Night School.
Saturday night April 27, 2013 at midnight
Facets Multimedia
1517 W Fullerton
Chicago, IL 60614
Admission: $5, FREE for Facets members! Become one here.

When “Sex Kitten” Mamie Van Doren Met Classic Film Director Peter Bogdanovich

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It’s tough to imagine that 1950’s sex kitten Mamie Van Doren turns eighty today, but her glamour and beauty continue even as the films she appeared in after that decade became schlockier.

One notable example is by the man who may very well finish Orson Welles’ final film, Peter Bogdanovich. Working as “Derek Thomas,” Bogdanovich edited a couple of Soviet sci-fi films together with new footage shot of Doren and other beauties, supposedly on the planet Venus. To ease any transitions between Russian actors and actors in a completely different film, Doren and the Venusian beauties use telepathy to communicate. Of course, when you have buxom babes in your movies, you may already have all the body language you need.

Could a New Movie about the 1960s Cult Music Icon, Mrs. Miller, FINALLY be in the Works?

Annette Bening: the onscreen face of Mrs. Miller?

Annette Bening: the onscreen face of Mrs. Miller?

Right on the heels of our latest Mediatrocities podcast celebrating the work of the wonderful warbler from the 1960s comes word that a new movie about Mrs. Miller is currently in development.

The working title is “Will Success Spoil Mrs. Miller?” (same as the actual title of the singer’s second album). Annette Bening is being offered the project, but there’s no confirmation that she’s accepted. Hopefully, the script will be smart enough for her to say yes. She’s one of the best unappreciated talents out there–just like Mrs. Miller was in her day.

Local Filmmakers to Look for: Chris Hefner

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Chicago’s own Chris Hefner is just about set to release his second feature-length film, The Poisoner.  Filmed in black and white, this strange tale tells of the marriage between a man and a woman forming a eerie contract. He convinces her to wed him with the intent of slowly poisoning him to death. Though the contract is agreed to, the marriage  doesn’t go as planned.

The multi-talented Hefner has had gallery showings at Finch, Heaven and MCA. He’s also collaborated with director Guy Maddin for the “Hauntings” short film series. Watch The Poisoner trailer or the feature The Pink Hotel, and you’ll definitely see the influence. He also plays a mean musical saw.

Head on over to his website for a selection of good stuff and learn how you can help him distribute The Poisoner.