Wednesday, January 8, 2020


“Noir reminds us that behind the American narrative we trust in, there is a shadow side of power machinations,” explained Ed Norton of his choice to make Motherless Brooklyn (2019) full-on film noir. “Noir is a tradition in American cinema. There’s a kitsch version, but the best of it - films like Reds (1981) or Unforgiven (1992) - look at the shadow side of life.”

In Motherless Brooklyn, Norton adapts a Jonathan Lethem novel about an orphan with Tourette’s syndrome who has matured into a hard-nosed detective. His pursuit of the murderer of his mentor leads to an unscrupulous New York developer who is covertly destroying the city. The developer’s huge projects make money at the expense of working class people, many of them people of color, and line the pockets of a tiny minority of very rich individuals. While the theme has contemporary relevance, Norton reminded the audience that he began the project in 2012 and his “inspiration goes much deeper than current affairs.”

Friday, January 3, 2020


“The thing I don’t understand is making a living as an actor,” Adam Driver commented. “Just thinking about it is an embarrassment of riches. I’ve been incredibly lucky - just that I get to do it.”

Driver spoke following a screening of Marriage Story (2019) at the Egyptian Theatre on December 15, 2019. Driver received a Screen Actors Guild award nomination a few days before and already has a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Charlie Barber in the film.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Cinematheque Members Give THE IRISHMAN a Warm Welcome by Judith Resell

Martin Scorsese “wanted the technology to be invisible,” said cinematographer Rodirigo Prieto of THE IRISHMAN(2019). “Every camera angle has three cameras, not one, so that Scorsese could direct how he wanted, the actors could act as they wanted and I could light it any way I wanted.”

Prieto and IRISHMAN producer Emma Tillinger Koskoff appeared for a Q and A following a screening of the film at the AERO theatre on October 23, 2019, the night before its LA premiere.

“It was a blessing in disguise,” Tillinger Koskoff said of the difficult twelve years it took to get the film made. “The new technology made the time right.” When Netflix agreed to finance the project, motion capture technology was highly-developed and the remarkable cast headed by Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci signed on.

“It was so amazing,” continued Prieto, “when you watch the performances, you totally forget they’re de-aged.”

“O my God, I can act for thirty more years!” Tillinger Koskoff laughed as she recalled the actors’ response to de-aging.

Because the story spans a long period of history, Scorsese wanted the feel of an old movie. A color scientist went to Kodak to get the color process right for different eras, Prieto recalled. Kodacolor for the fifties, Ectochrome for the sixties and the process of color in 2000.

Another important visual choice was when to move the main characters from CGI to just regular make-up. Prieto and Scorsese wondered “when do we do the transition?” They decided on sometime in the sixities and used make-up and prosthetics for the characters who survive to old age, including DeNiro and Pesci.

The car sequences, a significant part of the film, were shot in the studio. Prieto explained that allowed him to shoot through the windows and to use billboards they “drove” past as lighting. Neither could happen on location.

“He’s not a typical director,” Prieto said of Scorsese. He made comments like “I’d like it to be more extreme,” leaving the specifics of how to do that up to Prieto rather than telling Prieto what lenses and camera angles to shoot. “Now I know what he likes and doesn’t like,” Prieto explained.

“The relationship between the cinematographer and director is huge,” Prieto continued. “Every single shot is the two working together.”

Prieto mused that, in a sense, everthing the actors do and everthing the audience sees has to go through a lens. So it’s crucial that the cinematographer knows what the director wants. You have to “really listen, really carefully, to the director, try to understand it, why he wants it. I’m the one who has to be flexible,” Prieto concluded.

As an example, he gave the type of shooting required to communicate the DeNiro character’s clockwork methodology. A Mafia hitman, he has to time it perfectly and make sure all the pieces are in place in the right sequence for a successful kill. He visually notes that everything and everyone is where they should be when they should be so he can complete the hit.

“It plays,” Tillinger Skoskol said when asked about the over three-hour length of the film. She added that an intermission was never contemplated and that “we got absolutely no negative feedback from Netflix” about it.

Prieto commented that there was no conscious effort to look like GOODFELLAS(1990) or any of Scorsese’s other movies. “But every filmmaker has his style. I have things I like and he has things he likes. It’s definitely there—his signature.” For example, graphic direct shots.

Asked if she believes that Frank Sheeran murdered Jimmy Hoffa as the book on which THE IRISHMAN is based contends, Tillinger Skoskol replied with a smile “I don’t know.”

“It doesn’t really matter,” interjected Prieto, whether the story is factually true or false. “Since we are telling it the way Frank sees what happened and it is told from his point-of-view.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


“It’s more about the silence than the in-your-face effects,” commented Bryan Woods about writing and directing horror films. No one can say that with more authority than Woods and his long-time writing partner Scott Beck - they wrote the script for A Quiet Place (2018). “Sound design is as important as anything,” Woods concluded.

Woods and Beck appeared in-person for a Q&A following an advance screening of Haunt (2019) on September 7, 2019 at the Egyptian Theatre. Woods and Beck teamed as directors as well as screenwriters on Haunt. Eli Roth, one of the film’s producers, moderated the discussion. A screening of A Quiet Place capped the evening.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


“You are not going to believe what you’re about to see,” said director Fred Durst to introduce the L.A. premiere of his film The Fanatic at the Egyptian Theater on Aug. 22, 2019. “It wouldn’t have happened without John Travolta. He is the superstar,” Durst continued, with Travolta at his side.

“It all started years ago with Fred’s idea,” Travolta said during the Q&A following the screening, adding that he contacted a few friends to finance the film for a small budget. “It can happen. We got it done,” Travolta said.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


The stage was set for the Los Angeles premiere of Chelsea Stardust's Satanic Panic, presented by BeyondFest and Fangoria, and red was the theme. Not simply of the carpet, though the parade of guests certainly did get some attention there. The whole theater was set, with an eager audience and a special Satanic photobooth courtesy of Flipbook Frenzy, complete with costumes and props for the audience to imitate dark ceremonies of their own. Temporary tattoos with the film's title and logo were distributed and subsequently displayed on fresh flesh. Cinematic Void was present with an ample selection of horror films on sale. A ritual night all around.

Photo by Robert Enger
That audience certainly appreciated the film, responding to its unique tone and splatstick with glee. Stardust appeared pleased, as did the cast and crew who joined her on stage, including actors Rebecca Romijn, Jerry O'Connell, Hayley Griffin, Ruby Modine, Arden Myrin, Hannah Stocking, AJ Bowen, Clarke Wolfe, and Jeff Daniel Phillips, as well as producers Amanda Presmyk and Adam Goldworm. Chelsea took us into what her process was before, during, and after making this film. She cited such influences as Jennifer's Body, Evil Dead, Drag Me to Hell, Deathgasm, and, of course, "motherf---ing SOCIETY."