Go Check It Out – Movies, Silently

A delightful image from the Movies,. Silently site
A delightful image from the Movies,. Silently site

It’s probably about time for me to do another link dump post where I just give ya a whole bunch of links to articles and sites that have caught my eye lately, but I think I’ll probably save that for the weekend. There are, however, a couple of things lately that have crossed my desk that I definitely wanted to go ahead and share.

I’ve only recently run across Gwen Kramer’s site Movies. Silently, but I definitely dig what she’s doing there. Gwen really seems to have a love for the movies of the silent era, and her affection for them is contagious. She’s the kind of writer who posts something and makes me think “Yeah, I wanna check that out for myself now”.

Another of the wonderful images to be found on the site.
Another of the wonderful images to be found on the site.

Another thing that Gwen seems to do quite often in her reviews is to compare and contrast a silent movie with its later “Talkie” remake. One review in particular where she did this recently was her review of 1921’s The Indian Tomb which she then compared to Fritz Lang’s 1959 talkie version. Which came out on top? Sorry, I’m not going to give anything away here, except to note that Gwen may have written my favorite line of any review I’ve read this year in talking about the film’s female co-star, of whom she says “Debra Paget is lovely but I can’t imagine why anyone would think she is an Indian temple maiden. She couldn’t look more American if she had an apple pie tattooed to her fanny.”

Another recent post that I enjoyed was one entitled “About Silent Movies #6: Kinetoscope, Vitaphone, Part-Talkie…. huh?” in which she does a very good job of explaining just what some of the somewhat mystifying terms many of us who have been writing or talking about early film for awhile just kind of throw around, but which can be quite mystifying to anyone new to the conversation. This is something, really, that all of us need to keep in mind, and she does a good job breaking these terms down and explaining them.

Anyway, once you’ve read and loved everything here, I definitely suggest you check out Movies, Silently. Even if you don’t think you like silent or black and white or whathaveyou films, I have a suspicion that Ms. Kramer may just make a convert out of you. And even if she doesn’t, her writing is, I think, guaranteed to entertain.

Defining One’s Place – Havanah In Bushwick (2012)

Gabe Rodriguez’s first feature as writer and director was 2009’s Fighting Nirvana. Since then, he’s written and directed a number of shorts, including 2010’s Susie in the Afterlife which won the 2011 Spirit Award at Queens World Film Festival. His latest short is Havanah in Bushwick, which premiered at The International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival and is currently making the rounds at various film festivals, including an upcoming showing at the Bergenfield Film Festival.

Havanah stars Larry Costa as Garcia, a Cuban immigrant trying to find his place in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn. Garcia, having as much trouble finding a new love as he is having fitting into his surroundings, eventually meets a Russian Muse, portrayed by Dasha Kittredge, who leads him on a journey of discovery outside the actual world of the film and into a surreal continuum where he makes a rather startling discovery about himself.

Though it is, at times, perhaps a bit overly ambitious considering the budget Rodriguez had to work with, in the end, the film makes up for what it may lack in its effects with the story at its heart. Rodriguez shows himself to be willing to move beyond the conventional and in helping his protagonist find his place in the new life he is trying to make for himself, also comments on the place of film within each of our lives, and ultimately seems to be asking which is more true: that where we are shapes us, or that we shape where we are. The writing and narration of the film is quite sharp with some extremely good lines, and leading man Costa, who never actually utters a line in the film, nevertheless has a face and a look that is marvelously expressive. I definitely look forward to seeing more of him, and to seeing what Rodriguez comes up with next.

Take a look below at the trailer for Havanah in Bushwick, and if you get the chance to see it at a festival near you, then check it out.

Bang ‘Em Up New Footage From Pacific Rim (2013)

Guillermo del Toro writes in posting this Pacific Rim footage that it was originally intended only for WorldCon, but bowing to audience demands (I’d read that as “it’s gonna be pirated so I might as well make sure that what people see actually looks as good as it can”) he’s posted it on YouTube.

Yeah, I know, it’s a lot of CGI giant robots vs CGI giant Monsters, but damn, does it look like fun or what? As far as summer blockbuster/popcorn flicks go, this one is still SO on my short list!

Sleight of Heart – The Magic Box (2013)

R. Paul Wilson is a name that is probably not that well known in America outside of a few fans of British magicians/illusionists, but in the UK, he has been the presenter of a show called The Real Hustle for nine series now. According to Wikipedia, “he has studied sleight of hand, cheating and conjuring since the age of eight. After twelve years as an IT consultant, he became a professional performer and lecturer, studying film before moving into the industry”. Wilson has a number of film and television credits, from developing a number of tricks and illusions for various shows, to working as a second unit director and actor in quite a few films. Obviously, Mr. Wilson knows his magic and illusions and how to film them.

None of which matters when it comes to the Wilson written, directed, and produced short The Magic Box. Though I have no doubt that the illusion at the heart of Wilson’s film “works”, it wouldn’t honestly matter whether it did or not, because in the end Wilson’s film does exactly what characterizes the best illusions and makes them truly successful. Just as the illusionist’s goal is to distract the audience at just the right time in order to pull off the illusion in a way that makes the viewer wonder “how did he do that”, by using the title to focus the viewer on the box, and pretending to be about the growing child’s attempts to figure out the secret of the box, the short distracts us from what is truly the heart of the film – the multi-generational connection that is established by the little round piece of wood at its center.

In a lot of ways, The Magic Box is a perfect example of what a short film can do. Without a large budget, without any kind of excess, without even any words, Wilson gives us a simple story of love through the ages, a love that lasts, and a love that finds a way to express itself through the simplest of means.

Saturday Double Feature: Oblivion (2013) and…

Yeah, I’m a little later than I really like to be with this, but hey, it’s still Saturday (at least it is here as I write), so… Anyway, once again the basic idea is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before for a Saturday Double Feature. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

Actually, this one was kind of tricky. Y’see, I realized on thinking about it that one of the reasons that I liked Oblivion as much as I did, and that I think those who are giving it a chance are enjoying it, is that it echoes so many earlier science fiction movies. Now, I’m not saying that it directly copies any of them, but there are bits and pieces that are obviously using either established tropes or bits and pieces from other films. In a way, it’s almost like a sci-fi version of a remix song. It also has that kind of slow build first act that characterized a lot of 70s sci-fi and which may actually be responsible for one of the main criticisms that I’ve heard of the movie, that it s slow getting started. Yes, I can see this, but personally I think it’s kind of important that it spends that time because it does give the film a chance to effectively set its tone and set up what is to follow. Anyway, I do plan to write more on this later in the week, so for now I’ll just leave it at that and let you go ahead and have a look at the trailer.

Ok, so acknowledging that it has these echoes actually made it harder to pick just one movie to pair it with for a double feature, and I have to admit that I’m not fully satisfied with the one that I finally decided to go with, because I’m not sure that it really fits tonally. Still, it does have a few surviving “real” humans, and exploration of ruins beneath a devastated Earth, a Forbidden Zone with secrets that reveal more about the past and what happened to humanity, and a secret race of people dedicated to fighting mankind’s “conquerors”. What’s the movie? From 1971, it’s one of the best sequels ever, Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The trailer is below, but I do feel it necessary to note that it does contain spoilers for the first movie in the series, just in case you have never seen that one. Seriously. Big spoilers. You have been warned. Okay, here you go:

So what do you think? Like I said, I feel like there are a number of other possibilities of pairings for this one, and if you’ve seen it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on ones that might make for a better pair. And don’t forget to pass along any ideas about other new releases that you’d like to see paired up with something from the past. Just hit that comment button below. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo (2013) Gets English Subtitled Trailer

Here’s the trailer for Michel Gondry’s next film Mood Indigo. When the trailer premiered a couple of weeks ago without the subtitles it looked fascinating. The addition of the English translation simply serves to move this movie even further up my anticipated movie list. Take a look:

Unfortunately, as far as I have been able to tell, though it’s already opened overseas, no American release has yet been planned.

Regal, AMC Settle With Disney – Theater Chains Will Be Getting Iron Man 3 On Time for May 3 Opening

It looks like Tony Stark will be flying into theaters as planned.
It looks like Tony Stark will be flying into theaters as planned.

According to this article from the L.A. Times, Regal Cinemas have settles their dispute with Disney over the opening and the movie will be opening as scheduled in their theaters. The Times is also reporting that AMC, the nation’s second largest movie chain (after Regal) has settled with the studio. There’s no word yet of exactly what the settlements entail or who actually blinked first, but it does mean that both chains will be hustling to work with Fandango to get online ticket sales back up and running and will be premiering the film as scheduled.

So, Iron Man and Avengers fans can breathe a sigh of relief and go ahead and make plans to catch up with the latest adventure of the Iron Avenger. (Oh, and just as a quick aside, the film has already opened in the UK and initial reviews are very positive, though they also indicate that the film may take some viewers by surprise, as it seems to head off into territory not explored in the first two films, but which definitely sets it in a post Avenges milieu.)

Worthwhile Reading: Harlan Ellison Interviewed on Re-Release of His First Novel

Web of the cityYeah, I know, the header at the top of this page says “Movie Musings”, and this Tor.com interview doesn’t exactly fit into that purview, since it’s ostensibly about the republication by Hard Case Crime of Harlan Ellison’s first novel, Web of the City, but Ellison has been such a prolific screenwriter and has also had so many of his stories adapted to either the big or small screen that I really don’t have any trouble fitting it in here. Heck, even if all he’d ever contributed to the movie world was the short story that inspired 1975’s Don Johnson-starring A Boy and His Dog, he’d be worthy of inclusion in any discussion of people behind interesting flicks, and his credits go far, far beyond that.

Anyway, all of that is simply lead in to point you to this recent interview with Ellison which once again shows what a truly fascinating person he is. The interview is fairly wide ranging, and Ellison, as always, doesn’t hold back om saying just what’s on his mind.

Oh, and while I’m at it, if you haven’t checked out Hard Case Crimes before, you should, especially if you’re a fan of classic and neo-classic detective fiction or the pulp stories that paralleled and inspired so many great films noir (see, there’s another movies-related tie in). You can find out more about Hard Case Crime and their offerings at their website. Give them a visit and give them your support. They deserve it for trying to bring back a far-too overlooked genre these days.

New UK Trailer For Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing Highlights The Fun

Simply put, this is one of my most highly anticipated movies of the year. I love interesting interpretations of Shakespeare, I love Joss Whedon,  I love many of the stars involved… and it just looks like everyone involved in this project was having a good time making it.

Why You Can’t Buy Tickets Online For Iron Man 3 Yet – Major US Movie Chains In Dispute With Disney Over Their Cut of Ticket Sales

Iron Man may seem poised to rise to the challenge, but there are some villains even a high tech suit of armor can’t help you take on.

I’ve been sitting on this one for a few days now, ever since I heard about it last week, just in case it looked like there was going to be a quick resolution and the post would be outdated before I could even get it up, but as of right now, I’m hearing absolutely nothing as far as changes or compromise on either side.

Simply put, there is a dispute going on right now between three of the major US movie chains and Disney that has already resulted in what appears to be the cancellation of a planned marathon of movies leading up to the Iron Man 3 opening and, as of this writing, has caused a suspension in pre-sales of tickets for the expected summer movie season beginning blockbuster.

According to this article from Bloomberg Business Week and many other online and offline sources, the Regal, AMC, and Cinemark movie chains have all suspended online ticket sales for the highly anticipated sequel. The reason? At the last minute, Disney decided they wanted to re-negotiate the contracts for the movie, demanding a higher cut of the ticket sales, and the movie theaters immediately reacted by saying “No.”

Obviously, for Disney/Marvel, it seemed like a good move at the time. Coming off of the success of last year’s Avengers movie, Iron Man is the first big follow-up, and is set to garner huge box-office not only from fans of the two previous Iron Man movies, but those who were drawn in by the big-screen team-up and are looking to see what’s next for those characters. It’s also being considered the first in what looks set to be one of the biggest summers yet as far as big action movies go, what with Star Trek: Into Darkness and Man of Steel following closely behind, and even more coming down the road as the summer progresses. Surely the chains wouldn’t take a chance on losing the revenue from an obvious hit.

Can even Superman solve this dispute quickly enough?
Can even Superman solve this dispute quickly enough?

Unfortunately for them, it seems that Disney miscalculated the strength of their hand. It appears instead that the chains took one look at the new contracts and decided to draw a line in the sand. From their point of view, this is definitely a “slippery slope” negotiation that could ultimately lead not only to Disney demanding further increases down the line, but, should they give in, the other studios also demanding similar increases in their percentage of the box-office take. After all, if they give in to Disney on this, what’s to stop Warner Brothers from using Man of Steel as a bargaining chip in a similar way? And they also seem to feel that the anticipated strength of those upcoming movies from other studios will more than offset any revenue lost from this battle. After all, for them Iron Man, while it will certainly be huge, is really only a two-week blip in anticipation of the next movie coming along.

So, as of now, it appears that the studio and the theater chains have reached an impasse. But what does that mean for the movie-going audience who have been looking forward to seeing Robert Downey Jr. once again don both the persona of Tony Stark and his high tech armor? Well, that’s a good question, and one no one seems able to answer. The Regal chain, at least, has already cancelled plans for an opening day marathon that would have included showings of the first two Iron Man movies, The Avengers, and then Iron Man 3. All three chains have suspended online pre-sales of tickets for Iron Man, meaning if you go to Fandango for instance, while you may see ads encouraging you to buy your tickets now, when you click through to actually order tickets, unless you live in an area served by a Carmike cinema or one of the smaller chains, you’re going to be told that tickets are unavailable. (Carmike apparently has reached some sort of agreement with Disney already, but the details of that settlement are hard to come by.)

Is darkness exactly what's going to greet theater-goers who want to see Iron Man 3?
Is darkness exactly what’s going to greet theater-goers who want to see Iron Man 3?

Of course, with the May 3 opening date for Iron Man 3 less than two weeks away, everyone is expecting that some kind of agreement will be forthcoming in the next few days, but from what I’ve been able to tell, neither side is showing any sign of blinking. And as is usual in these kind of disputes, it’s likely the movie going public that’s going to bear the brunt of this dispute. After all, if the chains don’t give in, then it could very well mean that we will not actually see Iron Man opening as scheduled. And if they do, then of course any increase in the percentage of money they have to give to the studios is most certainly going to be used as an excuse to once again raise ticket prices at a time when the average consumer is already feeling sticker-shock at the cost of a night out at the theater.

Of course, I’ll be following this one along and will pass on any news as it becomes available, but for right now, I’d put any plans for attending early or opening night screenings of Iron Man on hold. Because it seems like this may be a dispute that even Earth’s Mightiest Heroes can’t quickly resolve.

***UPDATED 8PM 4/23/13*** Just left out local Regal theater where they were in the process of tearing down and removing all of the promotional material for Iron Man 3, including the giant archway at the entrance to the theater. This is what could be considered officially Not A Good Sign.***