Filmmaker Wes Anderson (“The Royal Tenenbaums” ) interviews Peter Bogdanovich (“The Last Picture Show, “Paper Moon”) about Bogdanovich’s film “They All Laughed,” the film Bogdanovich calls his personal best.
Following in the footsteps of Martin Scorsese in 2007, and also Stephen Frears, Nanni Moretti, Wong Kar Wai and Sydney Pollack, Quentin Tarantino was invited on May 22, 2008 at the Cannes Masterclass to speak to the Festival’s audience about his professional experiences as a filmmaker and screenplay writer. Tarantino held a thousand-strong audience captive for 90 minutes with commentary on clips from Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Death Proof. The masterclass was moderated by French film critic Michel Ciment.
The documentary, produced by the American Film Institute, consists of a series of interviews with several filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, King Vidor, Peter Bogdanovich, Samuel Fuller, David Lynch, Paul Schrader, and some others. Basically they discuss the concept of maverick filmmaker in relation to the Hollywood cinema. It contains lots of clips from such film classics as “The Crowd”, “The Docks of New York”, “Greed”, “The Scarlet Empress”, “Citizen Kane”, “The Lady From Shanghai”, “The Searchers”, “Chimes at Midnight”, “Pickup on South Street”, among many others.
There is one rare insightful clip of director Josef von Sternberg discussing his masterpiece “The Saga of Anatahan”(1954) and how he came up with the idea of the group of Japanese sailors trapped in the island during World War II. Sternberg says the idea intrigued him and saw a cinematic potential. And everything in that overlooked marvel was meant to be detached, artificial, and completely stylized. Sternberg complained that the only real thing were the shots of sea waves. This is an important insight to Sternberg’s art and technique, and you get to hear it from the director himself.
When asked why he never followed up his 1997 directorial debut “Nil By Mouth” Oldman answered, “Well, I tried to funnily enough. I tried to follow it with a film [I wrote] about a sex addict. And he was married and had a mistress and all the machinations of that and it was very, very, very difficult to finance. I couldn’t get the money or at least I couldn’t get the money to do it the way I wanted to do it. He’s a 50 year old Italian New Yorker. And they said, ‘We’ll give you the money if you put Russell Crowe in it.’ And I said, ‘[The character’s] an Italian, I need [an Italian]. You know, [Crowe’s] terrific but not for me in this role.’ [Imitating studio], ‘I don’t see him in something like this.’ And it went around, it bounced around to a few different people and [the script] just sat there on the shelf.”
“Try to look a chicken in the eye with great intensity, and the intensity of stupidity that is looking back at you is just amazing,” he marvels while gesturing as a professor might while making a salient point during a lecture. And that’s before he gets to his thoughts on hypnotizing chickens: “They are very prone to hypnosis, and in one or two films I’ve actually shown that,” Herzog adds proudly.
The Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner — Werner Herzog (1974)
“Possibly the best sports documentary ever made
This starts out looking like a more or less standard TV documentary about a ski-jumper. Over time, however, it somehow gets stranger and stranger, until the ending, that somehow, incomprehensibly, left me totally out of breath. The film works on so many levels: It’s a fascinating portrayal of the celebrated ski-jumper Steiner, but it’s also an amazing look at the plain aesthetics of ski-jumping, with extreme slow-motion pictures showing the jumpers’ fears and ecstasy at a very profound level. In addition, there is also something in this film that’s simply very hard or impossible to define, something about man itself, something about longing and - perhaps the most advanced of human emotions - pity.
How much of this portrayal that actually reflects Steiner’s personality, and how much of it that reflects Herzog’s, is hard to tell. But that’s the only catch. Those looking for Herzog classics should not think that this movie can be missed because it’s a 45-minute TV documentary. Apart from pictures of some nasty ski-jumping falls, it’s not really disturbing to the extent that put me slightly off when watching for example Aguirre and Even Dwarfs Started Small - so it could from my point of view overall be the best of the many Herzog movies I’ve seen so far.”
After the success of Star Wars Begins, filmmaker Jamie Benning embarked upon a new adventure. This time turning his attention to the first film in the Indiana Jones Trilogy (yes, trilogy!). Raiding the Lost Ark, A Filmumentary is the culmination eight months of reading, trawling, interviewing and editing. This time Jamie has sourced some of the interviews himself, with contributors from Wolf Kahler (Colonel Dietrich), Brian Muir (legendary sculptor), Mark Mangini (part of the Oscar winning sound team) and most surprisingly Sean Young (talking about her audition for the part of Marion Ravenwood). Raiding is available for your viewing pleasure on Vimeo from 4th February 2012.
What may be a holy grail of Indiana Jones artifacts was posted online on Monday (March 09, 2009): a 125-page transcript of the original story-conference meeting involving producer George Lucas, director Steven Spielberg, and writer Lawrence Kasdan. The blog, Mystery Man on Film, somehow got its hands on the alleged transcript, which features the filmmakers talking at great length in January 1978 about what would eventually become Raiders of the Lost Ark. The thing’s a pure joy to read. In it, you can find the genesis of everything from Indiana Jones’ name to his fear of snakes to his (possibly risque) romantic history with Marion Ravenwood.