There’s already been plenty of buzz about the biggest movies to emerge from the Venice Film Festival thus far — if you haven’t heard of them yet, you will soon enough. There’s Terrence Malick’s typically abstruse TO THE WONDER; Spike Lee’s Michael Jackson tribute BAD 25; Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology-inspired THE MASTER; and our own Robert Redford’s THE COMPANY YOU KEEP.
Making movies costs lots and lots of money. Dependency is the name of the game in the studio system and the cliché of the executive producer coming to set and scaring everybody straight is surely based on actual events. ‘Indies’ used to be the alternative to that system, but that movement is now so big, such an institution in its own right, that ‘Independent’ may no longer be the most accurate nomenclature. ‘Indie’ is one of the haziest terms in the film industry; in the era of Steven Soderbergh’s watershed indie hit SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE, things were more cut and dry, you were either in or outside of the studio system.
Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week: a report from the frontline of WORLD WAR Z, the vanishing movie audience and Terrence Malick gets caught on film (but almost gets away).
The Los Angeles Times just posted a massive investigation into the demographics of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the 5,765 largely anonymous voters who every year decide who will receive the highly coveted and ultra-influential Oscars. Their findings, which will come as a shock to no one who has watched the Oscars at any point in the last 25 years, revealed a membership that is very old and very uncool. 94% of Academy voters are white; 77% are male. 54% are over the age of 60; just 2% are under the age of 40.
I recently posted on THE TREE OF LIFE, the Terrence Malick lush-fest that has been blowing minds – like explosions in space – since its recent release. I wrote about the film and parenting, a subject that comes up infrequently if you Google the two terms together. After a few conversations with friends, I’d like to follow up. And yes, full disclosure, I’m a parent of two boys (7 and 2), and a filmmaker too (SMALL, BEAUTIFULLY MOVING PARTS), so both are equally relevant. (Did I just equate my love for my children to my love for movies? The parent police should be at my door momentarily.)
Just like she did in her 2005 Oscar grabber The Constant Gardener, Rachel Weisz is bravely battling corruption again. In the just-opened The Whistleblower, Rachel’s an ex Nebraska cop who winds up a U.N. peacekeeper in Bosnia, where it turns out that organization is trying to cover up a gigantic sex trafficking scandal. If you think she shuts up about it, you don’t know Rachel Weisz.
After a special screening in New York the other night, Weisz (the new Mrs. Daniel Craig, by the way) kept blabbing, this time about her diverse career choices.
Here are her most memorable comments.
I saw THE TREE OF LIFE last night at the Sunshine Theatre in New York, and no surprise here – I loved it. As an urbanite at heart and decades-long Malick fan, I went in expecting to like it, and this epic look at life through lenses both broad and narrow did not disappoint. Here’s one revelation: if a twenty-something newbie director had paired dinosaurs with the intimate story of one Texas family, I very well may have balked. But I’ve been in a relationship with Malick for years now, and I trust him. I’d go anywhere with the guy, so cuts between sunshine-drenched babies draped in gauzy white to (next shot) an exploding star deep within space seem amazing, not pretentious. The scope of the project and its ability to move between things small and large feels truly groundbreaking. The one thing I was not expecting from the film was its specific meditation on parenting. In detailing small moments in the daily lives of the adoring-playful Mother and the adoring-stern Father (Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt), Malick paints a stark contrast between child-rearing approaches but is never overtly critical. As a friend said, it was the most patient and thorough examination of the small trials of parenting that she’s seen on the screen (and the day after with her own kids was more or less a misty-eyed affair), as the film ultimately asks us to cherish the living through all the small struggles and heart aches – especially if they happen to be our progeny.
The release of Terrence Malick’s latest film, THE TREE OF LIFE, has been accompanied by so many years of secrecy and anticipation that as both a critic and a Malick devotee it feels somewhere sacrilegious not to give into wholehearted praise and adoration. While THE TREE OF LIFE is nothing short of masterful, it is by no means a perfect film. New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane puts it well: “…no less perilous, however, is our assumption that merely because a movie…was pondered and kept secret for a lengthy period it must tower above its more precipitate peers.”
Because Terrence Malick takes such long gaps in between projects, he might be the only director capable of generating a buzz years before he releases a film. Fans flocked to see THE THIN RED LINE even though it came out twenty years after DAYS OF HEAVEN and his last film, THE NEW WORLD, was released way back in 2005. Now, six years later, Malick is finally releasing the much talked-about TREE OF LIFE, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. It’s not due out for another four months, but that’s like a week in Malick-time.
Transwhat? Transfat? Transgender? No, transmedia. Have you heard of it? It’s one of the latest buzzwords from media guru, Director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program, and Convergence Culture author Henry Jenkins. Jenkins has strong opinions on the future of screen-based storytelling.
In his 2007 article “Transmedia Storytelling101,” he outlines this theory: