Sundance competition films: juicy, mopey, risky, arty?

Article: Sundance competition films: juicy, mopey, risky, arty?

The 2010 Sundance Film Festival won’t kick off for a few weeks, but the press is already dusting off its snow boots and readying for action. (“Should the Bagger rent a car in Sundance, or are the shuttles where all the good gossip is?” wonders The New York Times’ Melena Ryzik, the new Carpetbagger blogger and a festival first-timer. One reader suggests a Norwegian kicksled.)

Is screen direction overrated?

Article: Is screen direction overrated?

Screen direction – one amongst many rules in visual storytelling. This one dictates the direction in which people look at each other, or the direction in which they walk, implying that on the two- dimensional screen, the characters are engaged by their looks, or walk away or toward one another.

I’m editing a film right now, and okay, some mistakes were made on the set. Not many, granted, but a few. In other words, we thought an actor should have been walking or looking right to left and as it turns out, when we cut it together, there’s a jump where we’ve crossed the 180 degree “line” – the actor should have been looking or walking the other way. In the last week, I’ve asked myself, in this age of very sophisticated film viewing, does it even matter anymore? Should we just sort of, get over it?

Broadway Legend Chita Rivera Launches New Album

Article: Broadway Legend Chita Rivera Launches New Album

Chita Rivera onstage at New York City’s Birdland Jazz Club – October 13, 2009.

Saxophone giant Charlie “Bird” Parker called it the “crossroads of the world.” New York City’s famed jazz club, Birdland, was just that on Tuesday for the launch of beloved Broadway star Chita Rivera’s new album, And Now I Swing.

Jay Smooth vs. Roman Polanski

Article: Jay Smooth vs. Roman Polanski

Jay Smooth, who created the hip hop music blog and founded NYC’s hip-hop radio show, WBAI’s Underground Railroad, recently took on Roman Polanski on his blog. Roman Polanski on a hip-hop blog? Ok, I’ll listen. The rant, clocking in at over seven minutes, is hard to look away from. He presents his case against Polanski, and…

Geeking on the center of the frame

Article: Geeking on the center of the frame

Like my colleague Lisa, who wrote recently on this subject, I too saw Jane Campion’s BRIGHT STAR. What innovation … Campion truly takes luscious to a new level. One element far more subtle than butterflies and tree tops, though, that I noticed right away and has been on my mind since, is how Campion twists traditional portraiture and cinematography composition by using the center of the frame. The center of the frame? Who cares! Well, to some geeks out there, including me, it’s absolutely notable.

Wild Thing: Spike Jonze

Article: Wild Thing: Spike Jonze

Usually in Hollywood we hear stories about how a director’s vision is compromised and corrupted by the influence of big business, movie heads, and focus groups. The New York Times Magazine ran a story about Spike Jonze’s journey of bringing Maurice Sendak’s brilliant, iconic Where the Wild Things Are to life. It seems in this case, art, and the good guy, have won.

The Wizard of Oz at 70

Article: The Wizard of Oz at 70

The Wizard of Oz turned seventy this year. The film continues to cast its spell on both children and adults. It has staying power that’s unheard of in Hollywood. And rightfully, in celebration of this big birthday, Netflix will on October 3rd stream the film for free for 24 hours.

Hitler as the face of AIDS

Article: Hitler as the face of AIDS

A new AIDS awareness-commercial, released last week online in Germany, uses a strong and familiar image to give a face to the AIDS virus. Adolf Hitler appears as a woman’s lover in the spot that reads “AIDS is a mass murderer.” It’s a ballsy move, that the organization Rainbow is willing to take.  Jan Schwertner,…

Death and life of ice cream

Article: Death and life of ice cream

This time lapse video of every conceivable type of that summer elixir, ice cream and all its derivatives melting is deliciously contemplative and meditative. This was created by Mind Pie, a video art collective. The segment involving the ice cream sandwich melting would probably however horrify my special lady friend who loves ice cream sandwiches…

Everyone forever now

Article: Everyone forever now

“Everyone Forever Now” is an “episodic motion-based media project” that “is an examination of the collective wisdom and expression of human actions.” Creators Will Hoffman & Daniel Mercadante attempt to document and capture the mundane experiences of everyday like suntanning to the provocative such as shooting a gun. I particularly enjoyed their effort to document…

Iconic gay film roles: After Elton's list

Article: Iconic gay film roles: After Elton's list

Since Sundance Channel shows so many GLBT-themed films, I’d be remiss to not point out After Elton’s recent list of iconic gay movie roles. They based their inclusions on cultural significance and cultural impact, spotlighting “10 performances that we believe changed the popular perception of gay men in some important ways.” The list is thorough…


Article: Michael Moore's CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY

Populist director Michael Moore takes a stab at the fat cats of Wall Street in his latest film CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, a documentary about the financial crisis of 2007-2009 and the subsequent stimulus and bailout packages. CAPITALISM echoes similar themes from a 2003 Canadian documentary THE CORPORATION, a critical examination of the modern-day corporation and its behavior towards society.

A year without haircuts

Article: A year without haircuts

While checking out Kid Robot’s blog this morning I came across the below stop-motion video of one man’s travels and hair growth. Christoph Rehage was going to walk from Beijing to Germany. While he did not make it to Germany, he did document his hair growth for one year. Not a single haircut. It’s a fascinating video.…

The Apatow boys bro it out again in FUNNY PEOPLE

Article: The Apatow boys bro it out again in FUNNY PEOPLE

How many ways can men bond? They can bond over the effort of getting their friend laid (40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN), or they can alternatively support and ridicule their friend as he struggles to do the right thing (KNOCKED UP), or they can fetch them diet cokes, cup their balls, and sit at their bedside while they fall asleep as in FUNNY PEOPLE. It’s been out for awhile now and I wasn’t compelled to see it until it was 90 degrees out yesterday and I sought the respite only an air-conditioned movie theater can provide, but I’m kind of glad I did. It stars Adam Sandler as George Simmons, an Adam Sandler-like comedian: middle-aged, ex-stand up comic earning an ample income making pandering comedies, and Seth Rogen as Ira, a struggling comic hired to be Simmons’ assistant. The pair develop that love/hate bro-relationship Apatow does so well, at one moment patting each other on the back and the next making fun of each other’s penis size.



Terry Gilliam next fantastical foray comes in the form of THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS starring Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and Christopher Plummer as the titular character. Doctor Parnassus, the leader of a traveling theater troupe that offers audience members a chance to go beyond reality through a magical mirror in…

In The Loop – Lost in translation

Article: In The Loop – Lost in translation

I have no doubt that the days before the US declared war on Afghanistan in 2001 were hectic and that accusations and insults were flung about prolifically amongst various government offices. Such is the setting of the political farce IN THE LOOP, which plays out during the final, clamorous days of a war-free United States – from the British perspective. Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) is a bumbling British Secretary of something-or-other who inadvertently gets involved in the war planning after a gaffe during an interview and spends the rest of the film trying to stay afloat amidst a sea of war-hungry American politicians.

Stop motion BB King

Article: Stop motion BB King

Female street artist Yseult aka “YZ,” pronounced as “Eyes,” created this meditative stop motion video “Still Alive” of blues icon BB King animated from almost 70 street posters. For more information on this artist check out this interview.

Alice wonders Burton and Leibovitz

Article: Alice wonders Burton and Leibovitz

As artists continue to draw inspiration from childhood fears and fairy tales, it comes as no surprise that classic stories like Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (more commonly known as Alice in Wonderland) are being tapped. Coming up on the 2010 film lineup is Tim Burton’s much anticipated ALICE IN WONDERLAND with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter (who else?), Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. But Burton is hardly the first to put a unique spin on Carroll’s tale. With the first official photographs of WONDERLAND released last week, photographer-extraordinaire Annie Leibovitz’s editorial for Vogue US December 2003 have “resurfaced,” thanks to the efforts of bloggers everywhere.

Not just another film screening

Article: Not just another film screening

There aren’t any jaded directors in Nollywood. Spirited and optimistic more appropriately describe Nigeria’s booming film industry as seen in NOLLYWOOD BABYLON, a documentary that follows its most important filmmakers as they battle low budgets and low technology to create “stories that explore traditional mysticism and modern culture, good versus evil, witchcraft and Christianity. Nollywood auteurs have mastered a down-and-dirty, straight-to-video production formula that has become the industry standard in a country plagued by poverty.”

Destroying Africa, One Helping Hand at a Time

Article: Destroying Africa, One Helping Hand at a Time

Sundance Channel is proud of one of our alumni!

Former Production Assistant Landon Van Soest left us several years ago when he received a Fulbright Scholarship to Kenya. While on his Fulbright and in the ensuing few years Landon and his filmmaking partner Jeremy Levine followed several people whose lives were gravely changed by two “poverty alleviation” projects funded by the UN and an American philanthropist.

We’re very proud to announce that Landon and Jeremy’s film GOOD FORTUNE is having its New York premiere next week at the prestigious and always politically impactful Human Right Watch International Film Festival.

Baby daddy drama in TETRO

Article: Baby daddy drama in TETRO

Francis Ford Coppola’s latest, TETRO, has everything an epic family drama should have: greed, ego, sex and lies that span generations and pit fathers against sons against brothers. It centers around the Tetrocinis, who are a male dominated bunch, constantly duking it out over the women in their lives.

Boys beware

Article: Boys beware

The short film BOYS BEWARE, made in 1961, is an anti-gay PSA directed by Sid Davis. It is proof that we’ve come such a long way in the struggle for equality. It would also make me angry, that is, if it was not so damn funny. Beware!

Spielberg approves of pending robot apocalypse

Article: Spielberg approves of pending robot apocalypse

Why, Steven? WHY?

Remember our post about IBM’s latest supercomputer, Watson, who (or is it which?) will be competing on Jeopardy? Not to be out done, Microsoft announced at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo their latest achievement-to-be : Project Natal. Project Natal aims to be a “controller-free gaming and entertainment experience,” hopefully making the XBox 360 and gaming overall more approachable.

While the prospect of a more immersive entertainment experience is highly appealing to many, this new chapter in technology is opening new doors for human interaction with artificial intelligence that were only possible in science fiction films such as Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Developed for years at Lionhead Studios under the pseudonym The Dimitri Project, Milo is a new brand of AI that totally blew every attendee at E3 away.

Learn more about Milo and Spielberg’s thoughts on Project Natal and how it relates to technological advancement…

Paris has burned

Article: Paris has burned

Paris is Burning still remains a gay cult classic. Jennie Livingston’s documentary from 1990 about the voguing balls of New York City is full of one-liners, but also of sadness: AIDS, discrimination, drugs, poverty, etc. It was both uplifting and tragic. It’s a rollercoaster of a film.

The musical stylings of Robyn Hitchcock

Article: The musical stylings of Robyn Hitchcock

Known for his offbeat humor, absurdist lyrics and stream-of-consciousness riffs, singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock returns to Sundance Channel in this original concert film shot in New York in late 2008. Here the cult favorite — dressed in a polka-dotted shirt and matching guitar — is joined by Terry Edwards on keyboards, horns, bass and piano and Captain Tim Keegan on guitar to perform songs from his 1984 album I OFTEN DREAM OF TRAINS, including “Cathedral” and “I Used to Say I Love You.” John Edginton directs.

Read more about Robyn Hitchcock…