Is this supposed to be some kind of metaphor for his career? (Alright, that was a bit cheap.)
Yesterday the Huffington Post put together a clip of every single Woody Allen stammer from every single one of his movies. The whole thing is almost 45 minutes long, and watchable for about 45 seconds. Enjoy for as long as you can stand it (after the jump).
Phil Spector’s life could be summed up in four words — musical genius, eccentric and murderer.
Playwright David Mamet’s HBO film “Phil Spector,” which airs March 24, makes the most of all of them but his take on the 2007 murder trial of the record producer has split opinion as much as the crime itself.
Al Pacino plays the bombastic, multi-wigged, gun-obsessed creator of the 1960s “Wall of Sound” recording technique in the weeks before his first trial in Los Angeles for the 2003 shooting death of struggling actress Lana Clarkson.
The first trial ended in a deadlocked jury. Spector, who pleaded not guilty and never took the witness stand, was convicted of second-degree murder after a second trial in 2009.
The 73-year-old is serving 19 years to life in prison and did not collaborate on the project.
Neither documentary nor pure fiction, Mamet’s film begins with a puzzling disclaimer saying that it is “a work of fiction … not based on a ‘true story.’”
“This Is the End,” Seth Rogen’s co-directorial debut with Evan Goldberg, won’t be out in theaters for another three months, but the pair has already signed on to co-direct and co-produce another movie titled “The Interview.” Rogen will also star in the film.
As we wait for “This Is the End,” to arrive in theatres June 14 so we can watch James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson act outrageously (funny) as cataclysmic events ravage Los Angeles, Rogen and Goldberg are already working with Columbia to get “The Interview” into production. James Franco is being eyed to co-star with Rogen, but talks with the super-busy actor haven’t commenced yet.
The movie’s plot deals with a good-looking talk show host (the role Franco would potentially play) and his producer (Rogen) who somehow get involved in a plot to assassinate North Korea’s prime minister. The screenplay is based on a story written by Goldberg, Rogen and Dan Sterling.
Goldberg and Rogen are childhood friends (the grew up together in Vancouver) and longtime creative collaborators. They’ve worked together on numerous movies including “Knocked Up,” “Pineapple Express,” “Funny People” and “The Green Hornet.”
Watch the trailer for ‘This Is the End’:
For Philip Roth’s upcoming 80th birthday on March 19, New York magazine assembled a “Literary Caucus” to assess the career of a writer that some love, others hate, but everybody who knows anything about literature respects. While Roth himself had no hand in the piece, the 28 men and five women who weighed in on Roth’s life, times and books were more than enough to add fuel to an already fiery conversation. It didn’t help that n+1 co-founder Keith Gessen answered the question, “Is Roth a misogynist?” with: “If you hate women, why would you want to spend all your time thinking about f*cking them?”
The piece sent readers and writers into a tizzy, prompting discussions on everything from the gender imbalance of the “caucus” to Gessen’s answer, and on the decades-old discussion about Roth himself. What people failed to mention is that while Roth and his work have been stirring up controversy since the 1950s, this conversation was something totally different — Philip Roth was able to enrage people by proxy. He did nothing but serve as a starting point for several different debates. It is a testament to Roth that in his eighth decade he doesn’t even need to write anything and can still cause trouble.
On March 29, PBS will be airing “Philip Roth: Unmasked,” as part of its American Masters series. The documentary debuts March 13 in New York on the big screen at Film Forum, and will no doubt spark more discussion about Roth and his work. But this time it will be about things Roth actually says, rather than what a bunch of writers he influenced have to say about him.
The reviews are in for “Oz the Great and Powerful,” the new Wizard of Oz movie by “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi, and the verdict is not good.
Unlike the original “Wizard of Oz,” this version focuses on the Wizard himself, and how he got to Oz. It’s got a glittering cast that includes Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Zach Braff, with James Franco starring as Oscar Diggs, the small time circus magician-turned-magical wizard.
While the movie has been roundly criticized for being all special effects and no soul, Franco is under especially heavy fire for a dismal performance.
Here’s Manohla Dargis in the Times:
“Mr. Franco looks pretty pained in most of his scenes… and it’s hard to blame him.”
And that’s from a relatively mild review.
John Milius is a Hollywood Legend. He’s the screenwriter responsible for “Dirty Harry,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Conan the Barbarian,” and has produced films by Robert Zemeckis, Paul Schrader and Steven Spielberg. He’s also a self-described “Zen anarchist” who claims to have been blacklisted for his right-wing politics.
Most infamously, Milius is the real-life inspiration for Walter Sobchak, the gun-toting Vietnam vet in the Coen Brothers’ cult hit “The Big Lebowski,” which just celebrated its 15th anniversary. Like Sobchak, Milius is Jewish (though some have refused to believe it), and recently narrated the documentary “Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Grey,” about Jewish combatants in the Civil War.
Now Milius is the subject of a documentary (titled “Milius”) by Joey Figueroa and Zak Knutson, premiering March 9 at the South by Southwest Film Festival and featuring interviews with Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Francis Ford Coppola, among others. For those of us who can’t make it down to Texas, here’s a sneak peek:
Collbran, Colo., is the kind of all-American town conservatives point to when they talk about how great America is. The town doesn’t even have a policeman, for goodness sakes. It has a marshal. How much more all-American, Wyatt Earp can you get?
But as Bob Wilson, pastor of the local Plateau Valley Assembly of God, notes, his town is “close knit, caring yet almost desperate.” In fact, all of Colorado is desperate; the state is ranked number one in child poverty.
Wilson and several other town residents are at the center of “A Place at the Table,” a searing and sober indictment of a nation that allows its children to go to bed hungry. The documentary opens in major markets and video on demand March 1.
The magnitude of the problem is staggering. Fifty million Americans are food insecure and 17 million of those are children. Of all industrialized countries, the U.S. ranks last in terms of the number of people who are food insecure.
Filmmakers Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson interview the usual suspects, like the heads of various end hunger groups. More effective, though, is the desperation that comes from the single mom in Philadelphia and the fifth grader in Collbran, who struggles “a lot [in school] and most of the time it’s because my stomach is hurting.”
The filmmakers spoke to The Arty Semite about how the film came about, misconceptions about hunger and the role of tikkun olam.
Curt Schleier: How did you become aware of this problem?
U.S. director Steven Spielberg will preside over the 2013 Cannes film festival jury in May, organisers said on Thursday, an A-list casting that adds Hollywood firepower to the high-brow international festival.
Spielberg, whose presidential drama “Lincoln” took home two Oscars at Sunday’s Academy Awards, will succeed Italian director and actor Nanni Moretti, who helmed the jury for Cannes’ 65th anniversary last year.
The 12-day festival, which takes place on the Cote d’Azur in the south of France, is a major showplace for new movies from around the world that attracts top and emerging screen writers, deal-makers and hundreds of film critics.
Spielberg’s blockbuster film E.T. screened as a world premiere at Cannes in 1982, and festival President Gilles Jacob called the respected director a “regular” at the prestigious film festival.
It’s not giving anything away to say that Lifetime’s new movie “Twist of Faith” ends with its mismatched romantic leads back together, embracing on the threshold of her home. Nor does it reveal anything to note that Music and the Power of Song connect Toni Braxton’s Black Gospel singer with David Julian Hirsh’s doubting, erstwhile cantor. And it certainly doesn’t spoil the movie to mention that “Twist of Faith,” which Lifetime calls an “interfaith love story,” begins with the horrific murder of the cantor’s wife and children on an ordinary bus, on an ordinary day, in an indeterminate part of Orthodox New York. This is a Lifetime movie: love conquers all and violence expresses the persistent vulnerability of women. None of this makes watching “Twist of Faith” any less surreal.
It’s the misnomer “interfaith” that makes “Twist of Faith” mildly uncomfortable. We’re used to seeing intermarriages on TV and in movies. It’s almost easier to count the number of times that the Jewish hero ends up with a Jewish woman than it is to count the times he ends up with the American gentile woman; the former is so infrequent.
But we’re used to watching intermarriages and inter-dating with couples that are only residually or ethnically Jewish. They eat bagels and lox, drop a few Yiddish words, and otherwise go about their lives. For that matter, their spouses are only residually or ethnically Christian: they sit down for Easter dinner and drink cocktails with their meals. Their lives are inherently secular. Chrismukkah for all!
What’s strange is that “Twist of Faith” is a story about believers, religious doubters, and those who care passionately about God. It’s a story about trying to interpret God’s will, and how we comprehend human suffering. In some ways it’s one of the most admirable attempts to talk about faith and piety ever seen on screen, and it is respectful to Judaism as a religion. Yet it’s also uncomfortably Christian: the only person who can heal the Jew’s suffering is the righteous Gospel singer, and the only community that embraces him as a full servant of God is the Black church. The cantor is only the object in a story about Christian mercy, the recipient of other people’s acts of kindness. Also: he is possibly Jesus.
Sight unseen, Putzel seems the perfect film to have its New York premiere as part of the Tuesday night screening series at the JCC in Manhattan. Like the JCC, it is set in the borough’s Upper West Side. And like both the neighborhood and the JCC, it is oh so Jewish.
What could go wrong? Sadly, at some point you actually have to watch it.
The central character, Walter Himmelstein, was nicknamed Putzel by his grandfather, Harry. Walter’s sole ambition is to eventually take over the UWS institution Harry founded, Himmelstein’s House of Lox, and run it for 40 years.
Walter, however, isn’t the little putz his grandfather named him; that carries a negative connotation. He’s a hapless shlimazel, played by Jack T. Carpenter, a young actor who has made a career of playing shlemiels and shlimazels (“Lipschitz Saves The World,” “I Love You Beth Cooper”).
How shlemiel-y is Walter? For one thing, he is literally unable to venture beyond the store’s delivery zone — from 59th Street in the south to 116th Street in the north. Why? He has granddaddy issues with the constantly-critical Harry, who raised him after his parents died in an automobile accident when Walter was still an infant. It’s because of Harry that Walter lacks confidence, has lost his wife (he discovered her in bed with another guy) and is geographically limited.
At this year’s Academy Awards, Israel’s blossoming film industry has two nominations for the Best Documentary Award. In this highly competitive category, Israel is dominating with “The Gatekeepers,” following former chiefs of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service operators, who give a tell-all expose of some of the most notorious operations in the West Bank and Gaza. “5 Broken Cameras,” released in the U.S. earlier this year by Kino-Lorber, follows a Palestinian man documenting the peaceful resistance of his Arab village in the West Bank (protesting illegal expansions of territories and land confiscation), and the not so peaceful reactions of the Israeli military.
Both films stylistically could not be more different. “The Gatekeepers” is made with ground breaking animated effects, while “5 Broken Cameras” is more of a gritty found-footage film, edited together to create a story from the guerilla images. But both films bring a critical perspective of Israel with hope to create change in the stalemate peace process and, more importantly, to change Israeli society’s unethical elements from within.
“Lore,” short for Hannelore and the title of a new film opening February 8, is the name of a strong-willed and idealistic teenager who tries to lead her four young siblings to safety through the war-ravaged and dangerous landscape of a German nation defeated in 1945. Her physical trek triggers an inner journey for this impressionable young person on the edge of adulthood. We gradually see her shed the Nazi faith she grew up with, and recoil against the hatefulness of the people around her.
After rousing them in the night and setting incriminating files on fire, the children’s uniformed father transports the family in an army truck to a farm in the countryside, and leaves them, ostensibly to return to the front. His crimes are left to the viewer’s imagination, but after Germany’s defeat becomes official, the distraught chain-smoking mother packs her bag and instructs Lore — played by Saskia Rosendahl, a striking young actress — to take the family’s remaining money and jewelry and to get the children to “Omi” (grandma), near Hamburg. She then dons a smart blue outfit and proceeds on foot to surrender to the American occupation authorities.
Along the way, Thomas, a fellow refugee, falls in with Lore and her siblings. He acts like a deus ex machina, getting them through savage territory as they journey from Bavaria to Omi’s house on Germany’s northern seacoast. There’s an element of mystery to this character: Is he really the Jewish survivor he claims to be?
HBO has released a trailer for its upcoming Phil Spector biopic, about the legendary record producer and convicted murderer. The film, written and directed by David Mamet, stars Al Pacino as Spector and Helen Mirren as his defense attorney. Based on the trailer, though, the main attraction seems to be the many phases of Spector’s hair. Take a look:
J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author of “The Catcher in the Rye” and “Franny and Zooey,” among other books, will be the subject of a new biography and film, according to the Associated Press.
Publisher Simon & Schuster announced today that they had bought the rights to “The Private War of J.D. Salinger” by author David Shields and screenwriter Shane Salerno. The book is scheduled to be published in September 2013, with a documentary version to air on PBS next January. The biopic will the 200th episode of PBS’s “American Masters” series.
According to Simon & Schuster, the book is informed by “over 150 sources who either worked directly with author J.D. Salinger, had a personal relationship with him, or were influenced by his work.” Salinger died in 2010 at age 91.
We called it! Both feature-length films premiering at Sundance we wrote about last week have won awards at the prestigious film festival.
First-time director Jill Soloway won the Directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic Competition for her film, “Afternoon Delight,” about what happens when a frustrated Jewish housewife living in the hip Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles hires a stripper to be her child’s nanny.
Soloway, who is an Emmy-nominated television writer, told the Forward how important it was for her to try her hand at directing. “I could have remained a well respected writer who didn’t get anything of my own made,” she said. “But I stopped waiting for directing opportunities to come my way, and I built that reality myself.”
The “Afternoon Delight” production team is doubly proud, with Kathryn Hahn, who plays the film’s protagonist, Rachel, putting in one of the 10 best performances at Sundance, according to New York Magazine.
While “An Inconvenient Truth” had Al Gore expounding on the causes and effects of global warming, this new movie has former labor secretary and current UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich explaining the global economic forces affecting our lives and arguing that widening income inequality is a great — if not, the greatest — threat to our economy and democracy.
Sebastian Dungan, one of the producers of “Inequality For All,” has no problem with the comparison between the two films. In fact, he told The Arty Semite in a recent phone interview that the climate change game-changer served as an inspiration for him, his producing partner Jen Chaiken and the film’s director, Jacob Kornbluth. “’An Inconvenient Truth’ has a polar bear, and our film has middle class families,” Dungan said.
With so many great films premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this week, it’s impossible to focus on them all. But it would be shame to miss “What Do We Have In Our Pockets,” a whimsical, endearing animated four-minute short by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Goran Dukic and based on a short story by Israeli writer Etgar Keret.
“What Do We Have In Our Pockets,” is from Keret’s “Suddenly, a Knock on the Door” collection, published in English translation in 2012. It’s about how the inordinately large number of items a young man carries around in his pockets leads to a love story. “Be prepared,” is basically the narrator’s motto and the take-away lesson. It’s also a fun testament to the virtues of clutter.
The actors are director-screenwriter Azazel Jacobs and Diaz Jacobs, and the visual style is part hipster, part children’s “I Spy” books. See for yourself:
“I could have remained a well respected writer who didn’t get anything of my own made,” said Jill Soloway, the Emmy-nominated writer behind successful television shows like HBO’s “Six Feet Under” and Showtime’s “United States of Tara.” “But I stopped waiting for directing opportunities to come my way, and I built that reality myself.”
Soloway spoke to The Arty Semite as she prepared to attend the premiere of her first feature film, “Afternoon Delight,” at the Sundance Film Festival, where it is part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Soloway wrote and directed the dark comedy, about Rachel, a 30-something-year-old Jewish woman in the affluent Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, who responds to her ennui by visiting a strip club and impulsively hiring a sex worker to be her child’s nanny. The film stars Kathryn Hahn (as Rachel), Juno Temple (as McKenna, the stripper), Josh Radnor and Jane Lynch.
“The housewife thinks she’s saving someone, but she ends up being saved,” Soloway revealed. She said her aim was to take the viewer on a “stomach-dropping roller coaster of emotions” with this “pretty dirty, kind of shocking, and very funny” film.
Unlike most filmmakers, Iris Zaki did not have to go out and find a subject for her movie. Instead, it came to her. In fact, it walked right up to her as she sat behind the reception desk at the Croft Court Hotel, in Golders Green, London.
Zaki, a 34-year-old secular, single Israeli woman from Haifa pursuing advanced filmmaking degrees in London, had been working at the Lubavitcher-owned hotel. It soon became apparent that the fascinating conversations she was having with the hotel’s patrons — primarily ultra-Orthodox Jews — would make for an interesting short film.
With the encouragement of her professors and mentors, Zaki focused a lens on these interactions and turned the view from behind the reception desk into “My Kosher Shifts.” The film has been screened at European, Israeli and American festivals, most recently at the Washington Jewish Film Festival earlier this month.
A wacky, coincidence-laden plot. Super-saturated colors. Over-the-top, emotion-drenched songs. And even Spanish superstar Carmen Maura.
“Let My People Go!” opening January 11, has everything a Pedro Almodovar picture should have. Except Almodovar.
Instead, it’s helmed by 29-year-old French filmmaker Mikael Buch, here directing his first full-length feature. Buch transports Almodovar-esque high drama and low comedy to Paris — and, probably for financing, Finland — to tell the story of a dysfunctional Jewish family’s nearly shipwrecked Seder one overly eventful Passover.
The journey, unfortunately, isn’t worth the schmaltzy payoff, which feels predictable from the film’s opening frames.
In a bucolic Finnish village, where fussy French transplant Ruben (Nicolas Maury) and beefy blond boyfriend Teemu (Jarkko Niemi) share a cozy cottage, the couple is starting what seems like another workday.
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