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Wednesday
May112011

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "MATADOR"

In the Hit Me With Your Best Shot Wednesday evening series we look at a pre-selected movie and choose what we each think of as its best shot. Anyone can play and we link up. (Links and next week's topic are at the end of the post.) This week, to coincide with the opening  of the Cannes film festival we thought we'd look at the one (or two) of the earliest Pedro Almodóvar / Antonio Banderas collaborations since the men are reuniting at Cannes to show off their first collaboration in two decades, The Skin I Live In (2011). I gave participants the option of either Matador (1986) or Law of Desire (1987) the films which elevated Banderas to Pedro Muse status, the only actor with a penis to hold that honor.

While Law of Desire (1987) is my all-time favorite Pedro, I chose to rescreen Matador (1986). Why? I thought this absurdist mystery about men and women who think of killing as an art form, might prove a fine companion piece to the director and star's new film, given the similarly violent and grotesque subject matter.

The title character trains new bullfighters in retirement.

So did I change my mind about Matador, my least favorite from my very favorite auteur? The answer is both No and Yes.

The opening credits of Matador seem to be challenging the audience to throw tomatoes and openly hate the movie as the title character, a retired matador named Diego (Nacho Martinez) masturbates to images of extreme violence against women. Moments later we see an explicit sex scene turn murderous. This time the corpse will be a man. All moviegoers have different levels of stamina with explicit material and I have the opposite constitution from the MPAA. Which is to say that I'm totally fine with sexually graphic imagery but I have a hard time watching people be brutalized. Pedro, a subversive artist and equal opportunity offender, is still working his way out of his "shock" phase. It's definitely a confrontational first reel but the rest of the film is much easier to watch.

The thing I forgot about Matador (I haven't seen it since... 1990?) is how completely erotic it is. Yes, all of the characters are either killers or caught up in the drama of death, but they're all horny about it.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May112011

Sal (Mineo) & Val (Lauren)

You may have heard the news earlier today that James Franco, Man of One Thousand Projects (half of which we assume will never see the light of day), has found the actor for his Sal Mineo biopic and it's Val Lauren. A lot of people were saying "who?" 'round the net but I'm here to tell you that he's a real talent, not just a lucky "unknown".

Sal Mineo and Val Lauren who may play him in a biopic

I'm not sure how old Lauren is -- IMDb doesn't offer up much info -- and the picture above is three years old (I wanted them both in hats. Sue me). Sal Mineo was most famous in his early 20s and was murdered at only 37 years of age and for all we know Franco's vision might have to do with the later years of Mineo's life. But fine acting is the most crucial element of biopic success anyway and acting chops have very little to do with age. Starpower is the other necessary Biopic element. By starpower I don't mean "Famous Person" but screen presence, the ability to hold a camera in an iron grip. If you don't have it and you're playing someone with it the disconnect is great. 

I have only ever seen Val Lauren in one picture, back in 2008, but he had it.

The film was called True Love, a contemporary ensemble romantic drama that, as far as I know, was never released.  I thought that he was mesmerizing. At the time I wrote.

Its title make it sound just stiflingly clichéd. But it isn't and it works. The characters were compellingly flawed and in not immediately recognizable ways, either. Best in show is Val Lauren who plays an unceasingly aggressive self-made man. If this film gets distribution I expect it'll do major things for his heretofore minor career (lot of TV guest spots and the like).

I was wondering when he'd blow up but he never did. Maybe now?

Here's the trailer to True Love. He's the one you see wearing the cute hats, the one you hear monologuing about Disney, and the one you glimpse thrusting in a sex scene and smashing up defenseless cars.

 

Wednesday
May112011

Dance the Link Away

Pop Confidential reviews the "Prom" episode of Glee. Heartfelt piece.
I0N Cinema looks at how female director heavy the Cannes lineup is, once you include all the sidebars. I hadn't realized this. Speaking of Cannes...

Uma Thurman is ready to judge your films!

Uma at the Cannes Jury Press Conference

She's ready to judge them with true old school glamour!

Film Doctor Thor makes the film doctor wax all poetic. No, truly.
Pajiba displays the entire Hunger Games cast in gallery form so you don't have to read all those repetitive filler articles clogging up 95% of movie blogs on the web.
Just Jared offers up the Young Hollywood Award Recipients: Elle Fanning, Hailee Steinfeld, and Aimee Teegarden, among others, are winning prizes on May 26th.
Go Fug Yourself Reese Witherspoon has a thing for the sweetheart neckline
Pop Matters Fellow Best Actress Obsessive Matt Mazur looks back at Best Actress 1978
Movie|Line Cannes may have only just started but the distributors are already buying titles.

New York Stories
New York Magazine did a profile on Mx Justin Vivian Bond who some of you will remember from John Cameron Mitchell's polysexual indie Shortbus (2006). Bond is one of the best performers you'll ever see so if you get a chance... take it. But about this profile...
Mx Justin Bond is NOT pleased with the piece, which is strangely disrespectful in regards to trans identity, despite ostensibly promoting v's new record and Joe's Pub residency.
Kenneth in the (212) naked insane guy on thetrain. Jennifer Lopez did not sing about this particular incident On the Six. (Is that why the trains were so fucked up the other day?)

A Moment of Beauty
In case you missed it here is the graceful inspired tribute to dance legend Martha Graham on Google's homepage today from animator Ryan Woodward.

Google - Martha Graham from Ryan J Woodward on Vimeo.

[Jan Brady Voice]  "Martha! Martha! Martha!"

Wednesday
May112011

I Dream Of Dali

May Flowers In Bloom

JA from MNPP here. Today would've been the 107th birthday of the flower man-child seen above, Salvador Dali. While he's best known as a painter - the melting clocks, the over-abundance of inappropriately-placed eyeballs - he of course made several well-known and loved contributions to the cinema too. And no, not just that movie with Robert Pattinson doing the gay stuff uncomfortably. Where would we be without Un Chien Andalou's edit from a razor at a woman's face to a cloud slicing through a moon?

He and Luis Buñuel wrote that script in a cafe in 1929 while Buñuel directed; they would go on to work together on L’Âge d’Or the next year, where they supposedly had a falling out over some of the anti-clerical content in the film, which was an attack on religion and politics alike. And so a pattern was set - it seems every time Dali tried to jump into film-making, difficulties would follow. In 1945 he was brought on board the contentious set of Alfred Hitchcock's film Spellbound by producer David O. Selznick; Hitch and Selznick were not getting along. Hitch had nothing to do with its shooting at all, but Dali shot a twenty-minute dream sequence for the film. It eventually got edited down to under three minutes, and you can see it here.

It's easily the most interesting part of one of Hitch's least interesting films. Then in 1945 Dali and Walt Disney attempted to work together on an animated film called Destino, but budget concerns canned that effort before it even got off the ground. 17 seconds were made. That effort did have a somewhat happy ending though, because Roy Disney picked up the project 58 years later and finished it as best as they could using Dali's storyboards. It was released for the first time as an extra on the Fantasia BluRay just last year. You can watch it over here.

Wednesday
May112011

Cannes Cometh

It all begins tonight. That sounds like the future but it's actually the now since it's mid afternoon in France and photo ops and press conferences are under way. The Opening Night honor is Woody Allen's (just discussed in that quickies list) for the premiere of Midnight in Paris.


Several stars have already arrived -- and their numbers will only strengthen -- until they barely need any artificial lighting at the Palais from all the star glow.

Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas (kicking off what could be a very big year for him) are already donning their mandatory star paraphenalia (sunglasses!) as they work the Puss in Boots promotional event.

Internationally Acclaimed Filmmakers and Global Beauties. Yep, it's Cannes Time.

Have you ever experienced a midnight in Paris?
Which films would be you queueing for at the 64th edition of the world's most famous film festival?

Tuesday
May102011

Top Ten Triple: Time Tables 'Tween Movies

Generally speaking a human infant can be produced in nine months. Baby elephants take two years. But when it comes to directors birthing their next celluloid or digitial babies, the time tables from conception to birth remain a calendrical mystery. Outside of Woody Allen, who brings an infant film into the world each and every year and Clint Eastwood, who often has twins, there's just no telling!

It's so hard to please movie buffs

We're thinking about this because Darren Aronofsky is lining up his post Black Swan project and Serious Film was just rejoicing over the news that P.T. Anderson is back to work. His thinly veiled Scientology film, formerly titled "The Master" has a June start date. Michael is like Goldilocks on the topic of time between pictures and we are too -- it's hard to satisfy us! -- but the Robert Altman / Martin Scorsese time table, a film every two or so years, is deemed "just right".

Michael writes:

Sure that makes them more vulnerable to the occasional dud, but it also opens them up to all the interesting follies and surprise discoveries that wind up being as treasured as their major masterpieces. Marty would never had produced anything as odd and discomfiting as King of Comedy if he has been moving at the glacial pace of a Terrence Malick, and the cinematic landscape would have been poorer for it.'

Can he get an amen?

We're limiting the following lists to living filmmakers / post-studio time frame because everyone was more regular when films ruled the world (prior to tv) and were assembled with greater efficiency. So for today's lists, let's look at the slowpokes, inbetweeners and quickies. These are not exact lists -- imagine trying to research every director in the world and we've also extracted shorts, tv films and documentaries -- but lists of commonly discussed feature filmmakers and a few of our favorites thrown in for good measure. 

DISCLAIMER: We're fully aware that financial backing is a factor in speed but have to ignore it for the purposes of this article. Also, we're aware that release dates don't always reflect timetables but you try looking up start of filming dates versus release date disparity on thousands of movies.

also: eating, sleeping, thinking, applying sunscreen.

SLOWPOKES
Listed from the very slowest to quickest among the slow. One is forced to imagine that the following filmmakers actually hibernate inbetween films. Only intense hunger pains ever reawaken them. This list is dedicated to Spike Jonze (who has only made 3 features since he started movies and they're all brilliant. But three is no kind of legacy: Commit!) and to Jonathan Glazer who we can only assume is having problems with financing. He's only made 2 films, both of them wonderful, in the past 10 years. His next feature is supposedly Under the Skin (2014) which would arrive a full decade after Birth, one of the most brilliant films of the Aughts.

  1. Terrence Malick
    Quickest: 5 years between Badlands and Days of Heaven.
    Slowest: 20 years between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line.
    Rough Breakdown: One film every seven and ½ years (5 films thus far)
  2. Baz Luhrmann
    Quickest: 4 years between Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet
    Slowest: 7 years between Moulin Rouge and Australia
    Rough Breakdown: One film every four years and 9 months (4 films thus far)
  3. David Lynch

    Bob, Dale Cooper and Lynch in the prolific Twin Peaks years.Quickest: He's managed one year gaps on occasion
    Slowest:

Click to read more ...