March 2012 - Posts

From Hammer to Nail: What We Lose When We Lose Video Stores

Indiewire is a big fan of the microbudget film review site Hammer to Nail, as well as filmmaker Alex Ross Perry, whose "The Color Wheel" won the title of Best Undistributed Film in last year's critics' poll. So we were excited to see Perry's name in Hammer to Nail this past week with an essay/interview that reflected his DIY ethos. Perry's interview with Joe Martin, the longtime proprietor of East Village rental store Reel Life--which closes its doors for good at the end of this month--is an unexpectedly heartfelt tribute to the deterioration of the physical video store. Perry and Hammer to Nail editor Michael Tully have graciously allowed us to republish the interview here in full. --Indiewire editors __________________________________________________ On Sunday March 18, 2012, I was walking around the neighborhood where I live—Park Slope, Brooklyn -- thinking about places where I would be able to display promotional posters for the release of...
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Vote on the Project of the Week! Will It Be 'Two Blind,' 'Mahogany,' 'Noise' or 'Beyond'?

Vote below for this week's Project of the Week. The winning filmmaker will receive a digital distribution consultation from SnagFilms and will become a candidate for Project of the Month. That winner will be awarded with a consultation from the Sundance Institute. The four projects up for the prize: "Two Blind to Ride," "Mahogany Sunrise," "Red Noise" and "Beyond." Voting will end on Monday April 2, at 11AM Eastern. Which project do you most want to see?
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Who Killed Rosie Larsen? The Top Suspects Going Into Season Two

Last June's finale of "The Killing" seemed headed toward a wrap-up of the season-long whodunit -- a suspect was arrested, finally releasing dogged homicide detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) to head to California with her son and try to patch together her relationship with her fiance. The family of the murdered teenager Rosie Larsen might be permanently shattered, but they had closure. And then, in the final minutes, a key piece of evidence was revealed to be fabricated, the motivations of a character we believed trustworthy were brought into question, and an act of vigilantism was on the verge of taking place -- cut to the credits. It was an ending that maddened some viewers, though it was in line with the two seasons the Danish series on which "The Killing" is based took to solve its mystery. Creator Veena Sud has promised the identity of the killer will be revealed at the end of season two, which kicks off this Sunday on AMC at 8pm,...
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Movie Lovers We Love: David Bordwell & Kristin Thompson Are Rock-Star Film Scholars

Husband-and-wife film studies team David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, now retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have published editions of their "Film Art" textbook since 1976. It's a classroom standard, one that freshmen often react to with some eye-rolling derision: Certainly we've all watched so many films that we know everything there is to know about film form and film language. Dive into it, however, and in no time you'll realize that you don't. Now Bordwell and Thompson are preparing to release the 10th edition of "Film Art," this one with annotated film clips from the Criterion Collection as an online supplement.  Bordwell said he's not surprised the book has maintained its relevance. "There's a fork in the road in studying film and media, whether you want to look at the cultural impact of film or at film-as-art-form," he said. "Even in programs that emphasize the...
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Will You See This Movie? Carol Kane Stars as a Hoarder Opposite Natasha Lyonne and Joshua Leonard in 'Clutter'

When Diane Crespo, who directed the 2007 indie friendship film "Arranged," received the script for "Clutter," she was enthralled.  "When you have a production company, you get a lot of scripts," Crespo told Indiewire.  "You get three pages into a script, and you know how you feel about it.  In this case, I got to page 23, and I realized I wasn't judging it, I was reading it, enjoying it. "It is a dark comedy with a rhythmic way of working with dialogue.  It seemed very natuarl to me.  I liked the three women in this family.  And I liked the idea of doing something about a hoarder.  Other than the TLC show, I haven't seen anything like it." "Clutter" stars Joshua Leonard ("Humpday," "The Blair Witch Project") as Charlie, an artist who is trying to keep himself away from the hectic home life he was raised in.  After a water stain on his mother's garage...
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Critic's Notebook: Is It Wrong to Download Pirated Movies? Not Quite, Says One Critic.

Remember back in the '80s, when people used to engage in recreational drug use? Just Say No, Nancy Reagan told us, and a collective lightbulb clicked on over America, ending the drug war forever. Over in the U.K., the fight against online piracy now hopes to achieve similar results with a campaign that amounts to Knock It Off, as British filmgoers will be subjected for the next few weeks to a special "Battleship" trailer listing the various reasons why it's well worth paying to see a board-game adaptation on the big screen. That's the face of piracy for most people: overprivileged computer nerds downloading a copy of a movie that's playing at the multiplex just a few minutes away from their house. Skinflints. Freeloaders. Lebowskis. There's another, much less publicized side of pirating movies, however—one that isn't quite so black-and-white, though it's impossible to convince certain parties of the difference. About a month...
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Watch: Jenna Fischer Charms in Trailer for 'The Giant Mechanical Man'

Ahead of its world premiere at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival, the trailer for Jenna Fischer's latest vehicle "The Giant Mechanical Man" has landed, and it looks pretty darn endearing. In the Tribeca Films release, "The Office" star plays Janice, a woman in her 30s struggling to learn how to properly navigate adulthood. To get her life back on track after getting fired from her job, she moves in with her overbearing sister (Malin Ackerman) and seeks out a self-help guru (Topher Grace, sporting a new-age wig). Chris Messina plays Janice's love interest, Tim (this is a romantic comedy, after all), a street performer trying to catch a break. The film, from first-time director Lee Kirk (Fischer's husband), premieres at Tribeca on April 23. Expect to see it in theaters and on VOD this spring.  
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First Person: 'Bully' Writer-Producer Cynthia Lowen Speaks Out

Never has failure been so successful: While Harvey Weinstein was unable to get "Bully" a PG-13 rating, his attempts resulted in massive public awareness, celebrity rallies and even free advertising in support of the film and its cause. However, it's a PR coup that the filmmakers never saw coming. In this first-person feature, exclusive to Indiewire, "Bully" writer-producer Cynthia Lowen opens up about why she teamed with director Lee Hirsch to make the film, why they chose not to intervene while witnessing the bullying, and what it's been like to go through this experience with Weinstein at the helm. __________________________________________________ When director Lee Hirsch and I teamed up to make "Bully," starting in the spring of 2009, we sensed a “tipping point” moment was occurring in our society and a nation around the issue of bullying. On YouTube, we discovered kids making videos about the terrible...
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Hey Geeks! Get Your Hands Off Kickstarter!

At indie pre-production meetings around the world, one question is becoming impossible to avoid:  "When do we launch our Kickstarter campaign?" As regular viewers of our Filmmaker Toolkit know, different filmmakers find different times in their film's life to launch a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo or any of their other crowdfunding competitors.  Need money to buy cameras?  Launch a Kickstarter in pre-production.  Need money to hire an editor?  Launch a Kickstarter in post-production.  Need to find the money to self-distribute your film or to recoup costs?  Launch a Kickstarter once its debuted at a festival. Kickstarter has been around since 2008, and throughout, it's had its critics.   Today, Gizmodo published a wildly popular rant against the site, "We're Done With Kickstarter."  In it, Joe Brown focuses on the plethora of gadgets that he and other geeks are convinced to...
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Is The New York Times Being Unfair to 'Game of Thrones'?

Superheroes, robots, vampires and wizards dominate the big screen box office, fantasy fiction's all over the bestseller lists -- geeks, like it or not, have inherited the world (of popular culture), and you'd think this would mean the dismissal of a property just because it's genre would be long over. So why is the New York Times' taking easy "nerds like this" pot shots at HBO's "Game of Thrones" once again? Reviewing the show, which returns for a second season on Sunday, Neil Genzlinger suggests that it has issues to fix if it's going to "expand its fan base beyond Dungeons & Dragons types": Thinking of jumping into the new season without having seen the first? Don’t even try; your brain doesn’t have that many neurons. Some people love this kind of stuff, of course, and presumably those addicted to the George R. R. Martin books on which the series is based will immerse themselves in Season 2, just as...
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Critical Consensus: Stephen Farber Discusses the MPAA, 'Bully' and What the Future Holds

Editor’s note: Critical Consensus is a biweekly feature in which critics from Indiewire’s Criticwire network discuss new films with Indiewire’s chief film critic, Eric Kohn. Here, we offer an analysis of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in light of the newly released "Bully," which the Weinstein Company has decided to open this weekend unrated after the MPAA chose to give it an R for language. Stephen Farber, a film critic for The Hollywood Reporter and an expert on the MPAA, spoke about the history of the organization and what the future may hold. For more about the MPAA, check out Indiewire's list of 10 films that appealed their ratings and Matt Singer's comparison of reactions to the "Bully" situation at Criticwire. In your 1972 book "The Movie Rating Game," you wrote that the MPAA was initially supposed to encourage a process of "self-regulation." Was there ever a point in time where that system...
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The MPAA Being a 'Bully': 10 Films That Appealed Their Ratings

Anti-bullying documentary "Bully" has drummed up the type of controversy most indies only dream of, thanks to Harvey Weinstein's much-publicized efforts to fight the film's R-rating in favor of a more teen-friendly PG-13. Despite Weinstein's best efforts and the rallying cries of his celeb pals, the MPAA didn't change their tune, leaving Weinstein to release the film unrated this Friday. Now, this doesn't mark Weinstein's first battle with the MPAA (in 2010 he snagged an R rating for "Blue Valentine," after appealing the film's initial NC-17 slap). In fact, many distributors have stood up to the MPAA over the years, in the hope of earning their film a rating that could give it a chance at the box-office. In honor of Weinstein's efforts on behalf of "Bully," we've weeded through the best MPAA vs. distributor battles to bring you our list of 10 films that made an effort to change the board's minds (in...
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Hey, NYC! Win Tickets to IFC's Nanni Moretti Retrospective

It's been quite a year for Italian master Nanni Moretti. His most recent film, "We Have A Pope," weathered considerable Vatican controversy last year and ended up atop Cahiers du Cinema's 2011 list, and this spring he will head the Cannes jury. The director behind "The Son's Room," which won the Palme D'Or in 2001, will cap the year off this weekend with appearances at with La Vita e Cinema, Moretti's first New York career retrospective. Never a crossover success in the United States, Nanni Moretti has nonetheless long been one of Europe's most consistent and successful filmmakers. He began in 1976 with his Super-8 feature "I Am Self-Sufficient," in which he played the lead role, and had his biggest early success with "Ecce Bombo," which started off his long relationship with the Cannes Film Festival. Since then, his prominence has allowed him to make many of cinema's great comedies, all of which eloquently mesh...
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FUTURES: Writer/Director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen Just Wants You To 'Turn Me On, Dammit!'

Why She's On Our Radar: Norweigan filmmaker Jannicke Systad Jacobsen turned heads at last year's Tribeca Film Festival with her sweet (albeit provocatively titled) debut, "Turn Me On, Dammit!," a coming-of-age tale that turns turns the tables on its American counterparts by centering on a female teenager (Helene Bergsholm) who wants to get off. The film charmed the pants off of critics and audiences (our own Eric Kohn was a fan), and walked away from the festival with distribution via New Yorker Films in the US. What's Next: "I'm writing my next script, which is an original idea," Jacobsen told Indiewire from Norway. "It's a tragic comic love story about people trying to be grownups. It's different, but I think it has some of the realistic bittersweetness. It's seeing everything subjectively from one person." The film, despite its racy title, is pretty endearing. How has the reception been in Norway, where the...
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Project of the Day: A Burning Car Pushes a Child 'Beyond'

Here's your daily dose of an indie film in progress; at the end of the week, you'll have the chance to vote for your favorite. In the meantime: Is this a movie you’d want to see? Tell us in the comments. "Beyond - The Adventure Short!" Tweetable Logline: When an accident traps his parents inside a burning car, a 7 year-old boy must find the hero within him in order to save their lives… Elevator Pitch: Remember the early Spielberg era of the 80s? Indiana Jones? The Goonies? Are you hungry for more adventure films full of childlike excitement and edge-of-your-seat action scenes? This is where we're taking you with BEYOND, an adventure short film about a family on a road trip across the California desert. When an accident traps the parents inside the burning car, their little boy must find the hero within him in order to save their lives… Production Team: Writer/Director: Jeremy Haccoun About the...
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