Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)

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An unreleased film starring Bill Murray with Dan Akroyd and directed by SNL alum Tom Schiller is available for free viewing via vie YouTube. A series of recent articles have brought attention to the film’s mysterious upload to YouTube and as a result of this flood of attention it’s likely to be taken down at some point soon, so check it out before it’s too late. The film has never been theatrically released, ‘nor released on home video and at this point there are no plans for it.

The story line (via IMDB) reads as follows: An artist fails a test and is required to direct traffic in New York City’s Holland Tunnel. He winds up falling in love with a beautiful woman, who takes him to the moon on a Lunar Cruiser.

According to sources, all screenings of the film have been at the insistence of Murray and other participants of the project, including a screening at BAM Cinematek in Brooklyn in 2004. Additionally, MGM has dug in its heels in an attempt to keep the film under lockdown, even denying special requests from the Cannes Film Festival, to screen the film at the internationally recognized event.

Further reading: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087817/

 

Rhythm Thief Cast & Crew Reunite

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[Reblogged from my article at Renegade Cinema]

This past evening I had the pleasure of attending a screening of the 1994 indie film Rhythm Thief, which as some of you might remember, I previously wrote about in an article calling on Criterion to pick the movie up for distribution. There is something about this film that has mystified me since I first saw it and even though I have had multiple opportunities to sit down with filmmaker Matt Harrison to discuss his work, it was starting to sink in that no amount of Q&A’ing was going to help me figure out what was going on with this movie.

Tonight, I’ve made some progress. The film screened as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s “Cinématek Overdue” series. Along with a screening of an actual 35mm print (which I rarely see these days), the event included a wonderfully detailed and enthusiastic Q&A with Harrison and his cast and crew, including actors Jason Andrews, Kevin Corrigan and Kimberly Flynn.

Aside from the usual battle stories which I had already been familiar with, one of the key components I discovered that makes this film special is the obvious rapport the participants have with one-another. It’s clear to me now that Rhythm Thief works because it is a film made out of love, not just love for the craft, but love between the people involved and that love, which has lasted two decades, is exactly what has been translated onto the screen. This is an element that is so important to the creative process, but is often overlooked by young indie filmmakers today, many of whom would easily sacrifice a friendship or two in exchange for time on a Red Epic.

Experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas wrote in his Anti-100 Years Manifesto, “The real history of cinema is invisible history: history of friends getting together, doing the thing they love.” I’ve used this quote before and will again because it’s important and absolutely true. Today I witnessed that same love,  between all of the people involved in the making of this 90′s classic and I realize too that I can see that love come alive every time I take a gander at the work they all created together. Thankfully, I have taken a major leap forward in demystifying this amazing work.

Thanks for putting up with my romanticism.

-E

Rhythm Thief is available for streaming on YouTube, Amazon and on DVD through Netflix and Kino.

[Reblogged from my article at Renegade Cinema]

2nd Week Push for Seed & Spark

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[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary]

Hey everyone,

Now that we’re in the middle of our second week of fund raising through Seed & Spark, I thought I’d send in an update and give the project another push. I have been in communication with the high brass over at Seed & Spark about the progress of this campaign. It turns out that their success rate on getting projects funded is 70%. That’s a good ratio (better than Kickstarter). I would hate for us to wind up outside of that 70% – so here is the second push for this particular blog.

Additionally, I wanted to thank everyone who has pledged to the campaign and helped spread it to their contacts. It means a lot. You folks recognize how important this film is for everyone involved and I’m beyond happy to see that. Thank you so  much.

Direct Link URL:  http://www.seedandspark.com/studio/spaceship 

Best,

Eric

[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary]

Seed & Spark | The Spaceship

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[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary in its entirety]

Hey everybody,

We’ve launched a campaign to raise finishing resources through the website Seed & Spark. Please help us by contributing and just as improtant, spreading the word about our film and funding efforts. We’ve found the people for a Seed & Spark incredibly helpful and delightful to collaborate with and some of our peers have really jumped on board to get the word out. I hope you join us too!

-Eric

https://www.seedandspark.com/studio/spaceship

[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary in its entirety]

Mister Roberts (1955) at A World of Film

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Excerpt reblogged from A World of Film:

From the getgo, Ford wanted to shoot the bulk of the movie off of Midway Island, where several years before he had been wounded while shooting b-roll for The Battle of Midway, a World War II documentary. When the production first approached the  Navy about cooperating with the production, the Navy turned their backs, citing the Captain’s sociopathic character as “detrimental to their image”. Ford responded by going directly to the Chief of Naval Operations and thus, secured the use of the USS Hewill, which stood in for the fictional Reluctant, along with permissions to film at bases on Midway and on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu.

For a young Jack Lemmon, being cast onto this film as Ensign Pulver was the biggest break of his career. Lemmon had many stories to tell about his work on the picture, some of which he recounts on the film’s DVD audio commentary. Among the many stories, he remembers having his screen test spliced to the end of dailies on one of Ford’s earlier movies, just to get him to watch it. On developing his character, Lemmon described Ensign Pulver as “not needing a great deal of research”, “you just kind of get the guy” he said, “you don’t even have to understand the Navy to play him.”

During the production of the film, Lemmon started a long-time friendship with Cagney, which lasted until Cagney’s death in 1986. Years before Mister Roberts, Lemmon starred in live television. In one particular performance, Lemmon decided to play his character ‘left handed’ for one episode, to see if anyone would notice. No one did, neither his wife ‘nor the director of the show. A few years went by and when Lemmon finally met Cagney at the airport before heading out to Midway, the first thing Cagney asked was “Are you still fooling people into believing you’re left handed?” As Lemmon and other people have noted about Cagney, this is an example of Cagney’s ability to observe human behavior and adapt these observations to enhance his own performances.

“Pappy Ford” used to pull tricks on his actors. As Lemon said, “he was famous for it.” He used to try and trick actors into giving the performances he didn’t think they were capable of, and many actors used to resent him for it. One incident had Ford telling Cagney that he wanted him ready at 6AM sharp for a scene. At the last minute, Ford would send an assistant to inform him that he didn’t need to come in at all This would go on for many days. Cagney recognized the behavior, as it had been described by other actors who had previously worked with Ford. He knew was Ford was up to. When Cagney’s first shoot day finally arrived, Ford attempted to catch him and Lemmon off guard, by sending an assistant to inform them an hour before the new call time. Cagney and Lemmon were smart about it and to prepare for this possible circumstance, they secretly rehearsed the entire script, front to back, so that Ford would get an actual performance and not a forced reaction. Lemmon believed that actors have to be in control of what they’re doing but Ford felt if the scene was thrown at them, it would bring an added element that couldn’t be “performed”. Ford told Lemmon at the end of this day “that was damned good work.” Ford never tried to pull this stunt again, at least, not on this film.

[Read more at A World of Film]

Barry Lyndon (1975) – Stanley Kubrick

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Re-blogged from A World of Film:

Kirk Douglas once said of Stanley Kubrick “he’s a talented shit.” I often avoid talking or writing about the work of Stanley Kubrick because I find that his seemingly meticulous approach to every aspect of the craft is a little too forced for my taste and if you’ve read enough of my blogs and articles as it relates to other people’s films, if there’s one apparent constant is my lack of appreciation for contrievity. But Douglas was right, Kubrick was one of the most talented filmmakers to have the opportunity and freedom to create. Aside from my balls to the wall fear of Kubrick loyalists, I’m actually a huge admirer of his body of work and specifically of his film Barry Lyndon. This week, I’ve made the conscious and cautious decision to attempt to separate allegations from fact and hopefully introduce all of you to the beauty of this magnificent film. So throw away your pre-conceived ideas of who Kubrick was, forget the conspiracy theories and accept for a moment, this down to Earth essay on his 1975 masterpiece: Barry Lyndon.

Read the entire article at A World of Film…

Philadelphia (1993) – They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

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Phil One SheetThe 1993 dramatic film PHILADELPHIA is a prime example of how good mainstream film-making used to be. Hollywood doesn’t make films like this anymore and if they did, it would hardly ever be as successful as this Academy Award winning masterpiece. It’s a different business with a different core audience.

Philadelphia was directed by Jonathan Demme and stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Philadelphia is an important work of cinema because it was among the earliest of films to tackle the subject of HIV/Aids and homosexual discrimination in a mainstream format.

The film is a little more than loosely inspired by the real life Geoffrey Bowers case, where he sued his employer for wrongful termination. The importance of the film is often overlooked on many of the film lists I’ve been reading lately, but its production and release is vital in understanding the improved social attitude regarding homosexuality and sexually transmitted diseases in North America.

The film opens up with a wonderful montage of images from the great City of Philadelphia, some dramatic in style, a-typical landmark shots to solidify the setting of the story, but most of the images are seemingly documentary or news-like. Often times Demme allows the “extras” on the street to break the forth wall and wave to the camera as it moves along the streets. This sequence engages the audience head on and makes one thing clear: this is a very real story about a very real problem. The sequence screams: Listen up! This is YOUR world and YOUR neighbors we’re portraying here so don’t think for a second that we’ve made any of this up for your entertainment. The sequence plays beautifully against the incredibly heartbreaking Bruce Springsteen single “Streets of Philadelphia”, which Demme had commissioned specifically for this film. It was important for Demme to have the film appeal to as broad an audience as possible and having Springsteen whip up this amazing song worked wonders.

Opening:

The movie is largely a courtroom drama, with witness testimony and bureaucratic nonsense. But it’s also a relatively light approach to what is normally a heavy, depressing subject matter. There is also a great deal of humor peppered throughout, but the spine of the story is always there, as it should be. The general “vibe” of the movie is clear in the trailer:

Trailer:

I am pleased to be adding this to Film Anthropology’s Essential Cinema list, under the General Category. If you’ve seen the film, please post your thoughts here. Were you old enough to attend the original release when it hit theaters? If so, I’d love your memories and a description of the audience reaction at your local theater.

-E

DISCLAIMER: About FA Essential Cinema List: The General Category list is not numbered, but a drop of essential titles that everyone in the movie watching world should know inside and out. Philadelphia is the first to be added to the list publicly, but it is not the most ‘nor least vital title here. There are more and they are all equal.

TMNT The Movie: Criterion Collection

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Should the original live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film be a part of the Criterion Collection? In an article I wrote for Renegade Cinema, I make my case for why this should happen.

The original live action adaptation of the comic book property TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is one of the most original, dark and gritty children’s films I have ever experienced. I remember seeing it in the movie theater when I was a child growing up in Maine and to this day, no other kids movie has been able to top this one. Here is my reasoning for why Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) deserves the Criterion Treatment (or an equally thoughtful release).

Read the rest of the article here.