Monday, June 27, 2016

THIS SUMMER, THERE'S A CINEMATIC VOID FILLED WITH INSANITY, by Heidi Honeycutt

Cinematic Void is the brainchild of American Cinematheque programmer Grant Moninger and technical director James Branscome. It’s also an insane film party, usually packed into the intimate setting of the Spielberg Theatre, with giveaways, curated trailers, unexpected oddball extras, often costumes, and even special guests from the specially-selected films. The Cinematic Void films themselves are only familiar to the most die-hard cult, horror, bizarre and eclectic cinema fans (and even in that context, sometimes they’re obscure as hell).  Cinematic Void screenings are, according to Branscome, “an opportunity to screen some summertime horror favorites and mix in some serious deep cuts. Obviously things like The Burning or Friday the 13th don’t need much of an introduction. But introducing film fiends to the mind-bending lunacy of Wild Beasts and Demonoid is something special. Those are films that should be seen with a rabid audience. It’s also great to work with some of my favorite boutique home video labels: Severin Films and Vinegar Syndrome.”



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

MOLLY SHANNON, BRUCE MCCULLOCH AND STEVE KOREN DISCUSS SUPERSTAR, by Claudia Oberst

"She lives these lives; she doesn't just read these lines,"
-Screenwriter Steve Koren on working with Molly Shannon


Actress Molly Shannon, director Bruce McCulloch, and screenwriter Steve Koren stopped by for a discussion following the May 20, 2016 screening of their comedy Superstar at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The Alamo Drafthouse partnered with the American Cinematheque for the occasion. Shannon, McCulloch, and Koren let fans in on their favorite scenes, talked about kissing trees, and gave away why Drew Barrymore was crucial for the making of the movie.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

BARRY LYNDON: PATTERNS, WEALTH, AND FATE, by Scott Nye

Like the life of its protagonist, Barry Lyndon only came to be by chance. Stanley Kubrick planned to make a film about Napoleon Bonaparte but, when mega-producer Dino De Laurentiis not only beat him to the punch but also flopped at the box office in so doing, nobody with any money really felt like more failure need be associated with that particular subject. Kubrick would spend the final twenty years of his life researching and planning and aborting plans for a handful of films, but in the early 70s, he wasn’t about to let all that preparation go to waste. He was at the peak of his critical and commercial viability, and Hollywood was feeling particularly generous to directors at this point. Especially ones who made money. So he funneled all that enthusiasm and research for his Napoleon film into an adaptation of a lesser-read novel by William Makepeace Thackeray (set not too far from from Napoleon’s time) that cost a great deal of money, fared poorly at the box office, and has figured very little into the legacy of one of cinema’s most renowned and popular filmmakers. This may be fitting for a film that summarizes itself with a sort of complacent irony - “good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now” - but hardly for what it is, which is Kubrick’s absolute masterpiece.


Monday, June 13, 2016

CHARACTER WITNESS: THE FILMS OF TED KOTCHEFF, by Susan King

Acclaimed Canadian director Ted Kotcheff will be visiting the Aero Theatre June 23-25, 2016 for a five-film series that illustrates his versatility as a director. Among the films featured in the mini-retrospective “Character Witness: The Films of Ted Kotcheff” are the 1971 thriller Wake in Fright, the hit 1989 comedy Weekend at Bernie’s, and the 1982 action-drama First Blood, in which Sylvester Stallone introduced his iconic character of the Vietnam vet Rambo.


Kotcheff, now 85, has never been typecast in a certain genre. Kotcheff, who began directing at CBC in Toronto in 1955, credits his early years in live television for cultivating his interest in all film genres.

“I started directing in live television,” said the spry Kotcheff during a recent phone interview from his home in Mexico, where he was putting the finishing touches on his autobiography.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

MARXISTS UNITE! by Nick Santa Maria

No, this isn't a political message. It means that the American Cinematheque is having a Marx Brothers festival in June. Let the celebration begin!

You say you've never heard of the Marx Brothers, or that you haven't seen their films?  Or, perhaps you haven't seen their films in a while.  Well, this is your opportunity to see one of the most unique and hilarious acts in the history of cinema.  And to top it off, you'll be seeing them the way they are supposed to be seen, in a theater with a live audience.



That last part is very important in the case of the Marx Brothers.  Unlike other comedy acts, before some of their films were shot they actually took the comedy scenes on the road and played them in front of live audiences. That way they could clock the laughs for timing and response.  This told the editor how to pace the scenes, and also told them what material should stay and what should go.

Who were the Marx Brothers, you ask?  Read on, MacDuff.

Monday, June 6, 2016

STAND UP AND BE COUNTED: WOMEN MAKING MOVIES, by Stacy Pippi Hammon

I’m often pulled into various discussions on the representation of women in film. In front of the camera. Behind the camera. Sitting in the audience. There is chatter on the marketing of toys. Who is choking whom on a billboard. The types of films women direct. The types of films women watch. How women can change their behavior to fit into the industry. How there is a lack of female representation in the film industry and what we can do to increase women in the filmmaking arena.