William Friedkin’s Sorcerer failed to charm the critics and the audience back in 1977, when the film came out and was run over by Star Wars at the box office. The tables have turned, however, for this nihilistic, somber and, according to Friedkin, very personal story, and the film’s Blu-ray rebirth marked a clear shift in its status among film lovers. Sorcerer, starring Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal and Amidou, is one of the overlooked treasures of the past, lying in silence for the lucky explorer’s delight. A loose remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 thriller The Wages of Fear, based on Georges Arnaud’s novel Le Salaire de la peur, Sorcerer was written by The Wild Bunch‘s Walon Green, a great screenplay we’ve been lucky enough to finally unearth. Dig your claws deep into the magic of the seventies!
When it comes to the significant authors who indebted the world of film, there are important directors. There are very important directors. And then there’s Krzysztof Kieślowski. The man who gave us The Decalogue, A Short Film About Killing, The Double Life of Véronique, and the Three Colors trilogy is widely hailed as one the pivotal figures of European cinema. Many years ago, Kieślowski changed our stupid little lives. By opening our minds and hearts to him, we experienced a shift in the way we watched—and felt!—films. For that we remain forever thankful. Kieślowski is film magic. Kieślowski is love for the cinema. Kieślowski is the cinema. If you find it hard to believe coming from us, listen to a voice with far more authority: the great Kubrick once said The Decalogue was the best thing he’d seen in years, even wishing he had made it himself. What we’ve prepared for you might be considered just a small window into the mind of this true artist, but it functions as a rabbit hole that leads into the nuanced, rich and staggeringly beautiful world of the Polish maestro. Hop in. You’ll thank us later.
Mark Cousins’ Scene by Scene BBC series consists of detailed, incisive discussions in which film directors analyse key scenes from their film output. Those interviewed include such famous names as Brian De Palma, David Lynch, Bernardo Bertolucci, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme and many others. Presented in a lively and accessible manner by Mark Cousins, the series will appeal to the general viewer and those wishing to learn about the craft of filmmaking.
After many years of patiently waiting and rigorously searching, our minds are ultimately at ease—we’ve finally got our knowledge-thirsty claws on the screenplay of one of the films that marked our young days. Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas, the Cannes winner of 1984, is a film our role model and one of the icons of film criticism Roger Ebert called “true, deep and brilliant,” it’s a film hailed by Kurt Cobain as his favorite of all time, a story that, exactly thirty years from the premiere, still echoes in our hearts. This is a film of extraordinary beauty, outstandingly carried on the shoulders of Harry Dean Stanton, Nastassja Kinski and young Hunter Carson (the son of Karen Black and L.M. Kit Carson), and a significant part of its appeal and cinematic value stems from the screenplay written by L. M. Kit Carson and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Sam Shepard. It goes without saying how ecstatic we feel upon uncovering this hidden treasure. Ladies and gentlemen—without further ado—join us in exploring one of the films that shaped us into the cinephiles we’re proud to be today.
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster, said Ray Liotta, and the rest has become legend. Martin Scorsese’s 1990 crime film Goodfellas gloriously depicts the rise and fall of Henry Hill, a young man infatuated with the image of gangsters, in a film Roger Ebert dubbed the finest film about organized crime ever made. Mind you, Ebert had definitely seen The Godfather. An adaptation of co-writer Nicholas Pileggi’s 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy, Scorsese’s film brings out the very best out of a pool of talent made of such giants as De Niro, Pesci and Liotta. Certainly one of the iconic films of the nineties, Goodfellas remains an epitome of gangster films and one of Scorsese’s finest to date. Take a peek at Scorsese and Pileggi’s script that swept legendary director Michael Powell off his feet, as well as numerous outtakes and a historically enlightening PBS American Masters documentary that unearthed some priceless behind-the-scenes material. Goodfellas is what makes cinema so great—the ABCs of adept filmmaking, the sheer power of storytelling, the unique magic that makes you fall in love with characters that are far from deserving such affection. Goodfellas is divine and Scorsese is our god.
For all you Alien fans out there—look over here, because Christmas has come a bit early this year. Thanks to the wonderful effort of Dennis Lowe, as well as the Alien Experience website, we’re able to check out legendary film editor Terry Rawlings’ Alien editing script, which contains a lot of material that was either cut from the film, or never shot in the first place, scanned in its entire 240 pages of invaluable historic testimony.
Frank Darabont talks about his childhood as a refugee and immigrant; his youthful attraction to horror and fantasy; and the events and influences that lead him to pursue a career as a filmmaker. Darabont also talks his first movie jobs as a crew member on low budget horror films like Hell Night (1981); his first work as a screenwriter and director; and adapting the work of Stephen King. Continuing his chat with fellow writer-director Mick Garris, Darabont talks about his film The Mist (2007), and currant state of motion picture art and industry. In the conclusion of his interview, Darabont discusses sequels and remakes; career highs like The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Saving Private Ryan (1998), and disappointments like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (1994); and how time is the ultimate judge of quality.
Celebrated as one of the most original American films of all time, Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets holds a firm place among the best crime films we ever had the pleasure of seeing. It’s not easy to pinpoint what exactly makes it so damn good—whether it’s the memorable Keitel-De Niro on-screen collaboration, master Scorsese’s direction or the screenplay Scorsese wrote with his fellow student and frequent writing partner Mardik Martin—but it hardly matters anyway. It’s definitely one of the cinematic high points of the 70s and, as Ebert put it, “one of the source points of modern movies.” However, the significance of Mean Streets doesn’t lie only in its capable execution that knocked the critics off their feet. Since Scorsese made the film after some encouragement from friend and mentor John Cassavetes, it was the first story he personally wanted to tell and, as such, was much later hailed by Richard Linklater as “the patron saint of independent filmmaking.” At the same time inspired and inspiring, influential and influenced by such icons as Cassavetes and Godard, Mean Streets remains a necessary stepping stone in the education of all aspiring auteurs. Check out what we’ve prepared for you and allow yourself to be immersed in the world of Scorsese.
Jared Hogan’s Small Little Things is a story of two teenagers who meet and fall in love. Less than 11 minutes long, with virtually only a couple of lines of dialogue, this film is actually surprisingly successful in conveying all of the emotions that make young love such an amazing but traumatic experience. In such a short time, Hogan manages to capture the complexities of a relationship, giving us a glimpse of the burden and consequences of expectations and romanticizing. Things get messy, people get hurt, hearts get stomped, initial entrancement wears off. It’s the sticking together that counts. Visually delightful, to a degree melancholic and full of heart—Small Little Things reminds us who we love and why. And that’s why we love it.
Small Little Things really came from my personal struggle with becoming an adult. The original title was actually Adults. For me, getting married, having kids, having a serious job—all by the age of 23… it was a big transition. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are amazing, but crossing that threshold is difficult. In some ways, this film was my own way of giving myself perspective on the freedom that I thought I had lost. I have a way of over-romanticizing the past, so it was my goal to make a film that felt true to the human experience and relationships that I had experienced—especially as an adolescent. Even in the film we see the characters dealing with similar issues—maybe this isn’t as idealic as they had planned. By nature, I feel that I am a restless spirit, always ready to move on to the next thing. This film was a process of me pitting my adolescent desires against my life experience. The characters representing the desires, and the force that seems to be pushing against them, reality.
I always find myself drawn to filmmakers who find simplicity to be their sharpest knife. Gus Van Sant is one of my favorites. Gerry changed my life. Watching Hunger by McQueen silenced me for days. I just watched Ida (Pawlikowski) as well—blew me away. I guess I’m drawn to finding complexity within simplicity. Narratives that don’t try to do too much in form, but give space for deep introspection. Films like that seem to be living to me. They mean different things at different times in your life, at least that’s my experience. That’s what I respond to and I admire the masters who occupy that space. —Jared Hogan
2014 Official Selection at the Raindance Film Festival
2014 Official Selection at the Indie Memphis Film Festival
2013 Official Selection at the Bradford International Film Festival
Starring Rachel Middleton and Christofer J. Hardee
Written and Directed by Jared Hogan
Executive Producer Kevin Thomas
Associate Producer Justin Robinson
Cinematography by Ben Joyner
Edited by Jared Hogan
Original Music by Joel Khouri (with Drake Margolnick and Joel Willis)
Sound by Jeremiah Clever
Art Director Eric Hurtgen
Gaffer Brent Christy
Key Grip Josh Jones
Christopher Nolan while filming Interstellar (2014), courtesy of pickledelephant.
Roman Polanski’s arguably only romance film, Tess, is one his critically best accepted works, and the performance of 18-year-old Nastassja Kinski, along with Paris, Texas, is probably the high point of her career. “Without Mr. Polanski’s name in the credits,” wittily stated the New York Times, “this lush and scenic Tess could even be mistaken for the work of David Lean.” This great compliment is wholeheartedly justified–Polanski created one of the best literary adaptations to date. His inspiring vision of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles was greatly empowered by the terrific screenplay he was helped to write by Gerard Brach and John Brownjohn. Interested to see what makes for a truly great adaptation of a 19th century classic? Take a look at this scarce screenplay we were lucky enough to stumble upon.
Andrew Rowe’s Sleepy Stories is, admittedly, built upon a relatively silly concept, albeit a clever one. An insomniac, deeply exhausted and downright desperate, turns to a special service that provides “agents” whose storytelling technique is guaranteed to cure even the worst cases of insomnia. It may sound ridiculous, but thanks to capable acting, fine writing and nice, atmospheric set-up, Rowe simply pulls it off. Entertaining, smart and definitely worth your time.
Sleepy Stories was an idea that occurred to me while visiting with a relative. After a long day of travel, all I wanted was to sleep, but he kept taking trips down memory lane, speaking in a soft, calming voice. I wondered if I got up to brush my teeth if he would follow me into the bathroom, never breaking from his story. That image was so funny to me that I tried to think of a way to build that into a short film. About two months later my subconscious put everything together and I was able to write Sleepy Stories fairly quickly.
I entered the script in the Crazy 8s Film Competition in Vancouver, BC and was fortunate enough to be one of six filmmakers chosen to make the entire film (production and post-production) in eight days, with donated services and some cash. They were extremely supportive and I don’t think I would’ve been able to get the exact film I wanted without them.
In terms of style and tone, I felt it was important to have no score because I wanted the film to be quiet, like Bertram’s voice. I wanted moments of silence and I wanted it to feel like it could really happen. Although it’s a bit of a silly concept, I didn’t want music to make it seem even sillier. I also believe it is important to approach comedy as you would drama in terms of camera work and editing. By that I mean, the camera shouldn’t move unless there’s a reason and you should always strive to have the best angle to tell your story. I feel films should flow and faster editing doesn’t make something funnier; it’s all in the performances, so let them have space to breathe. There’s no reason why comedies can’t be beautifully made. Films such as After Hours and Something Wild by Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme respectively prove that great attention to filmmaking technique can mix with comedy. —Andrew Rowe
Andrew Rowe moved to Vancouver, BC from St. John’s, NL in 2006 with the intention of going to film school. He decided to withdraw from school and invest his money in equipment instead. He formed the comedy troupe Wild Driver in 2008, and has written, directed, edited and acted in over 25 sketches and short films with the group. His work has screened at various film festivals in North America and Europe.
I’m taking a gamble making the film. I don’t have any money. I just go to the bank and borrow it. And hope. But what isn’t risky about movies? It’s always risky when it’s original… It’s a very dangerous territory to be in where you can only make a film if your grosses reflect a large gross. I’ve been making films for twenty-five years and none of them has really made a lot of money. But there’s nobody in the world who can tell me we didn’t succeed. And that’s the greatest feeling that I’ve ever had in my life. The most difficult thing in the world is to reveal yourself, to express what you have to. As an artist, I feel that we must try many things—but above all we must dare to fail. You must be willing to risk everything to really express it all. —John Cassavetes
Classified ads on The Times newspapers by Stanley Kubrick’s office, July 1970, for A Clockwork Orange location scouting, courtesy of astanleykubrick.
Before Paul Thomas Anderson conquered our hearts with the hard-to-forget Boogie Nights, his first feature Hard Eight, also known as Sydney, gave us a glimpse of what he’s capable of. Anderson’s debut is a forceful character study that succeeds in creating rich and palpable on-screen personas, a true gift the master generously continues to demonstrate to this very day. Here’s the snippet of PTA discussing his horrifying experience on his first directorial feature, and how he survived and overcame: