Tag Archives: Directors

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Stanley Kubrick, Observing

Stanley Kubrick on set

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Billy Wilder

Great picture of Billy Wilder with his six Oscar statuettes. He had won three of them just the night before for writing, producing and directing the Best Picture winner The Apartment. LA, April 18th, 1961.

Beautiful Movie Map

I absolutely love this.  From the design team at Dorothy (via Kottke)

“A street map made up of over 900 film titles including cinema classics such as Lost Highway, On the Waterfront, Jurassic Park, Reservoir Dogs, Carlito’s Way, Nightmare on Elm Street, Valley of the Dolls and Chinatown.

The Map, which is loosely based on the style of a vintage Los Angeles street map has its own Hollywood Boulevard and includes districts dedicated to Hitchcock and Cult British Horror movies. Like most cities it also has its own Red Light area. There’s an A-Z key at the base of the Map listing all the films featured with their release dates and names of the directors.”

A Prosaic Approach to Civil Rights Images by Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks was a prolific and brilliant photographer, musician, director and writer.  He is best known as the director of seminal “blaxploitation” film, Shaft (1971), and as a photo-essayist for LIFE magazine, where he produced photographs on subjects such as Muhammad Ali, Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X and Barbara Streisand, as well as fashion and sport.

Perhaps his most important, and interesting contributions, however, were his images documenting racial segregation and the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and ’60s.

This article in the New York Times is a celebration of some 70 previously unseen photographs from the 1956 The Restraints: Open and Hidden photo-essay, for LIFE, recently discovered by the Gordon Parks Foundation. They are powerful, quiet, intense. Dignified and beautiful. A fascinating and essential alternative to the more widely published and frequently brutal images that record that tumultuous and violent period.

Parks would have been 100 this year and in celebration the Schomburg Center, NYC, is exhibiting 100 his photographs.

Spike Lee Interview (NY Magazine)

US filmmaker Spike Lee interviewed by the NY Magazine here. Love him or loathe him (with Lee there seems to be very little wiggle room) he is always fascinating and challenging. And he is, undeniably, important.

Returning to Brooklyn—a very different Brooklyn—with Red Hook Summer, the outspoken filmmaker talks with Will Leitch about the timidity of Hollywood, reality-TV minstrelsy, and what it’s like to have inspired the president and the First Lady’s very first date.

When I was 13, I had a picture of you and Michael Jordan on my wall.
The poster where he was holding my head up?

That’s the one, from your Nike commercials with him. Five years after that, you were making Malcolm X. No offense, but I’m not sure you could get Malcolm X made today. Did you have more power then?
I do not think the word is power. I think that it is a different climate today. I do not think Oliver Stone gets JFK made today. Unless they can make JFK fly. If they can’t make Malcolm X fly, with tights and a cape, it’s not happening. It is a whole different ball game. There was a mind-set back then where studios were satisfied to get a mild hit and were happy about it; it helped them build their catalogues. But people want films to make a billion dollars now, and they will spend $300 million to make that billion. They are just playing for high stakes, and if it is not for high stakes, they figure it is not worth their while.

People keep talking about Red Hook Summer as a return to your roots. Do you feel that way?
I am glad you asked that, because I am going to try to shake the narrative as much as I can. This is not Spike going back to his roots. Red Hook Summer is another chapter in my chronicles of Brooklyn. I am a professor at NYU—I’ve been one the last fifteen years—and one of the courses they are teaching in cinema studies this summer is “Scorsese’s New York.” The postcard has a map of Manhattan and a dot where each Scorsese film took place. For me, it’s Brooklyn. She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, He Got Game, Clockers, Crooklyn, and Red Hook Summer.

The movie has a lot of Carmelo Anthony.
We actually painted the shrine to him on the courts for the movie. It’s still there.

There’s a perception that Carmelo isn’t ­really from New York, that he’s really from Baltimore. But the people of Red Hook don’t feel that way.
They claim him. They claimed him when he was at Syracuse. We claimed ­Michael Jordan—he was born in this neighborhood, Fort Greene.

But here is the genesis to the whole thing: When the Knicks traded for Carmelo, he got a deal with Boost Mobile, and they came to me to do a digital piece on Carmelo. So I said, “Let’s go to Red Hook.” Then, one Saturday morning, [co-screenwriter] James McBride and I were eating breakfast at Viand. Do you know where Viand is?

I do not.
It is the best coffee shop in New York. It is on 61st and Madison. One Saturday morning, James McBride and I were eating breakfast there. We both have kids, and we were talking about what kind of film our kids would see. One thing led to another. I talked about Red Hook, he grew up in Red Hook, his father and mother were preachers, you have the Carmelo thing, and that is how it all came together.

Besides writing and directing, I am producing this thing, too, so I know that time is money. The film was shot within a ten-block radius. We shot it in eighteen days, three six-day weeks. She’s Gotta Have It was shot in twelve days and two six-day weeks.

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Philip French: Top 10 Movie Sequences

The peerless Observer film critic, Philip French, has drawn up his top 10 movie credit sequences, including Seven, The Wild Bunch, The Magnificent Ambersons and A Bug’s Life. The full list is here.

I also liked Blue Valentine:

If you are interested in title sequences and design, then this is a great place to spend a few hours trawling the archives and reading interviews Art of the Title

 

Boxing Gym: A Frederick Wiseman Documentary

Boxing Gym

I recently re-watched Frederick Wiseman’s documentary, Boxing Gym. I was lucky enough to catch it at the brilliant IFC Centre on Sixth Avenue, New York, in 2010. Like so much of Wiseman’s work it was gripping then. And it remains so.

Boxing is a sport of incomparable skill, wit and dexterity. An ability to improvise both physically and mentally, to read the tides and adapt accordingly, is something that is hard to teach. If it can be taught at all. It is a quality that separates the great from the merely “good”. But boxing is also a sport built on repetition and devotion, on a quasi-religious fidelity to routine. Only through a strict adherence to ritual solitude can fighters lay down the foundations for glory. Through the thousands of rounds, punches, dips, ducks and jumps that condition the body and purge the mind.

The ambient sounds of a boxing gym, the metronomic buzzers and bleeps, the whip of the skipping rope; the dull thud of the punch bag and medicine ball, the staccato thrup of the speedball, the exhalations and the beat of the footfalls. All create a natural cadence, a lyrical lilt, that pay homage to this habit. It is a cadence that permeates Wiseman’s wonderful film.

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