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1
Once Upon A Time In America / TCM Premiere OUATIA
« on: January 15, 2020, 12:47:28 PM »
TCM for January has been spotlighting the Roaring 20's and Prohibition.   Every Wednesday the programming has been hosted by Eddie Muller.  The overall schedule is varied focusing on different topics of the decade.  There's already been two segments on gangsters.  They've featured two of the big three gangster films from the 1930s (The Public Enemy and Scarface).  Also aired some of the films from the late fifties/early sixties period that emerged with the popularity of The Untouchables on television.

http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/1551778%7C0/The-Roaring-20s-on-Film-Wednesdays-in-January.html

Tonight (1/15 10:15 PM Eastern) a TCM premiere of Once Upon A Time In America.  Looks to be the 229 minute version not the extended version.   Comments by Eddie Muller before and after should be interesting. 

Hopefully it will be available on Watch TCM as well.  Had hoped to post earlier, but it's difficult when you're time challenged and going to bed early every night.  Still watch and love Leone cinema.

As an aside,  Alan Parker's Bugsy Malone will premiere during January as part of the Roaring 20s programming.  Also, seems I've been watching quite a few Sydney Pollack films of late (directed and acting).  On January 24th, TCM will be airing The Yakuza with Robert Mitchum.  It's not on television frequently.  I've not seen it in a long time, been wanting to revisit it.

2
Sergio Leone News / Leone Retrospective At Harvard Film Archive
« on: November 03, 2011, 08:54:42 PM »
During the month of November there will be a Sergio Leone retrospective at Harvard Film Archive.  Not sure if there are any members in the Northeast that might have opportunity to go..... Always gratifying to see another organization honoring SL's body of work. 

There was a lengthy article in the Boston Phoenix about the retrospective which provides a little discussion on each film.  Nothing revelatory but enjoyable to read.  (Definitely got a laugh over the foot reference in the discussion about Colossus Of Rhodes and how he brought it to Tarantino.)

http://thephoenix.com/Boston/movies/129345-films-of-sergio-leone-at-the-hfa/?page=1#TOPCONTENT


Also found web site for HFA with their treatment of the retrospective, Once Upon A Time....Sergio Leone.

http://hcl.harvard.edu/hfa/films/2011octdec/leone.html

3
Sergio Leone News / Francesca Leone: Close Ups and Gazes On Canvas
« on: July 21, 2009, 10:28:25 AM »
I recently found a few articles on Francesca Leone.  She currently has a significant exhibit of her art work (June-July) at the Moscow Museum Of Modern Art called “Beyond Their Gaze”. The exhibit consists of about thirty of her paintings.  Francesca studied painting at the Fine Arts Academy Of Rome.        
 
The first time I had seen the information was on artdaily.org sometime last week.  I found there were a lot of similar articles with the same written content in numerous places on the web.  It may be old news to some of our friends in Europe.  I think various Italian newspapers may of carried the story about the exhibit frequently and also given coverage to her work in the past.  I thought I would post in case someone on the board hadn’t connected with any of it and had any interest. 

Here is article and link:

Quote
MOSCOW.- For the first time in Russia, Moscow Museum of Modern Art opens a personal exhibition of Francesca Leone, the artist whose paintings have a special place in contemporary Italian art. “Beyond Their Gaze” project presents about 30 large-scale paintings notable for the carefulness of the technique, the concentrated consciousness of chromatic transitions, and the extreme refinement of experiences combined with the force of a visual spell.

Francesca Leone was born in Rome into a creative and versatile family: her father Sergio Leone was the outstanding film director who collaborated with Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, and Ennio Morricone. Francesca’s mother was a famous ballerina, her grandmother was an actress. Since her birth, Francesca was endowed with a deep, spontaneous emotionality that was reflected in her pictorial works.

At the start of her creative career, Francesca Leone studied and reinterpreted the artistic experience of Futurism: Gino Severini, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, and Giacomo Balla. Her fascination with Futurism was reflected in the works of the artist – her oeuvre includes energetic compositions where movements of the figures are shown in a dynamic stream of time, where flashing forms, zigzags and oblique lines prevail, where motion is depicted by imposing of consecutive phases in one image (the so-called principle of simultaneity). This artistic principle of “closed dynamics” is reflected in her huge portraits, as if they were piling on the spectator, not holding within the canvas borders.

Despite the obvious narrative and coloristic dramatic nature of her works, Francesca Leone tells the story that is made of thoughts, not of events. The artist has chosen the theme of the picturesque matter formed and transformed in front of the eyes of the spectator. As if the image couldn’t or shouldn’t be provided with a static quality that would have fixed it once and forever. The deep sense of Francesca’s works is concealed in the metamorphoses of the matter symbolizing the conditions of human existence in a labyrinth of a city and an intimacy of a home.

The characters of Francesca Leone’s pictorial works are distinguished by the highest concentration of tension that generates ideas and actions. The theme of the city and loneliness is present in her portraits, heroes, thoughts and actions. Francesca Leone introduces a sensual, emotional measurement in hyperrealism and creates magnificent pictures that can be defined as classical works of the big style – but it is the modern classics, the classics of our time. 

http://www.artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=31679

Other articles about the exhibit and her work.
From Moscow Museum Of Modern Art website.  The Moscow International Film Festival was held in June at the time the exhibit started.  This article seems to indicate that the restoration print of Once Upon A Time In The West was shown.  I couldn’t find anything more to confirm that.  I didn’t even see the film listed on the website for the festival.   
http://www.mmoma.ru/en/exhibitions/zurab/beyond_their_gaze/

From artslant.com
http://www.artslant.com/ew/events/show/58485-beyond-their-gaze#

From Art Knowledge News
http://www.artknowledgenews.com/francesca-leone-beyond-their-gaze.html

The exhibit opened on June 25, 2009 at the Moscow Museum Of Modern Art.  There was a ceremony in which Francesca was made an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts.  Ennio Morricone attended the opening and ceremony.  Found a site with some tagged pictures.
http://visualrian.com/lists/item/37919

Some pictures of her work found in the articles and by image searches.  In addition to studies of historical figures such as MLK, Malcolm X, Dali Lama and Gandhi, there are paintings of Ennio and Sergio.











4
I came across an article about researchers combining neuroscience and film studies.  It summarizes a study by NYU neuroscientists analyzing how different styles and aesthetics of filmmaking affect and engage regions of the brain of viewers.

In the study, the participants were shown a 30 minute segment from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, an Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode (Bang! You’re Dead), a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode and a random 10 minute clip of a concert in New York’s Washington Square Park (as a sample of unstructured reality).  While the participants viewed the clips, the scientists used two methods in their research.  The first being a form of MRI to analyze and study activity in the brain.  The other method is called inter-subject correlation analysis or ISC to measure and compare brain activity amongst viewer participants.  They found that there was a greater percentage of shared activity or ISC, in the neocortex (the region responsible for cognition and perception) and other regions of the brain, amongst the participants while watching the Hitchcock program and GBU.  Hitchcock and Leone were able to stimulate a greater percentage of similar responses in the viewers (Hitchcock rated highest on their ISC scale), possibly suggesting that their filmmaking styles achieve a greater control over brain activity and their viewers.

In the detailed study, researchers also measured eye movement and glances.  They found a high level of shared visual responses among study participants when watching the GBU segment.  For example, the researchers were able to quantify how successful Leone was with his framing to direct the vision of viewers toward specific parts of the screen. The researchers also talk about the results and discuss how it could relate to the Bazin/Eisenstein debate of realistic cinema versus structured cinema.  I found that part of the article interesting.  It seemed to be an important component of how they set up their study; the selections of clips and part of the reason why they chose their video samples.

 It would of been interesting if they had also included in their study a segment from a popular recent film which was deficient in story and character development and filled with special effects.....to see how it contrasted to the viewer results for Hitchcock and Leone.

I had seen the article sometime last month, and found variations of it in quite a few places, so perhaps some have seen it.  If not, and interested....here is a link. (Or, if you’ve seen one of the summary articles, and interested...check out the last link)

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/110376.php

similar article in pdf form as it appears in an NYU newspaper
http://www.nyu.edu/nyutoday/pdf/1213723593.pdf            

If you’ve seen one of the articles somewhere, perhaps the original study results would be of interest.  Recently, I found a pdf of the study results in the referenced article in Projections:The Journal For Movies And Mind.  At times the study is clinically detailed with scientific terminology.... brain physiology, but I think overall a good portion is still quite readable and interesting.  It goes into greater detail about their research and findings (responses to editing, responses to audio and visual aspects of film). 
 
http://www.cns.nyu.edu/labs/heegerlab/content/publications/Hasson-Projections2008.pdf

5
Sergio Leone News / The Leone Ranger
« on: May 31, 2008, 01:48:11 PM »
I was in the library and I came across a couple of interesting articles/interviews.  This one is a Sergio article from an Australian journal called Quadrant.  The article was written by Desmond O’Grady.  O’Grady is an Australian author and journalist that has lived in Italy since the early 1960's.  He’s contributed articles to many international publications and newspapers.  He’s also the author of over a dozen books.  Seems when he’s not writing about Italy, Italian culture and history,  he writes studies about the Church and the Vatican.  This particular article appeared in Quadrant in 2006.  I wish it included some background and details as to when and how the meeting with Leone took place.  As a reader, I would of found that background information interesting as well.  May very well have been just a journalist interviewing a popular film director for an arts and culture article.  That this article was published in 2006, not sure if the article appeared elsewhere in an earlier form.


The Leone Ranger
Desmond O'Grady
Quadrant Magazine Australia’s Independent Review Of Literature And Ideas
(a quarterly cultural journal)
Quadrant 50.5 (May 2006): p79(3).  COPYRIGHT 2006 Quadrant Magazine Company, Inc.


"I've ALWAYS BEEN fascinated," says Sergio by Sicilian puppeteers. Their puppets act out the drama of Orlando and other knights fighting the Muslims. But because the puppeteer know the village where he presents his show, he gives the puppets the characteristics of the mayor, the chemist, the police chief ... In other words, the archaic drama becomes topical. That's what I've always tried to do.

Leone spots archetypes, as is shown by his remark, "Homer wrote the best westerns". When he saw an early Kurosawa film, in which Dashiell Hammett's novel Red Harvest was transposed to the samurai era, Leone found parallels with Carlo Goldoni's play Harlequin, Servant of Two Masters and transposed it in turn to a western made in Spain. That almost completed the circumnavigation of the globe. He adapted the archetypal, updated the archaic, and transposed geography.

He did not try to portray contemporary Italy, he said, because "it's provincial whereas in America there's the whole world". Where Leone lives, between the walled city and the seafront, Rome could be part of America. Mussolini built there a futuristic city for what was to have been the 1942 World's Fair. The glass box buildings of banks, oil companies and airline offices which are excluded from central Rome here overshadow Fascist architecture which recalls the classic edifices in some De Chirico paintings. The residential zone consists of villas set in broad streets with lush vegetation: it is spacy suburbia, Anglo-Saxon style, which most Roman flat-dwellers see mainly in films.

Leone means lion. His house, at the end of a cul-desac, was the one with a lion's head on the gate set in high walls. Visitors were scanned by a telecamera before entering a pathway beneath a Parisian street sign: XIV arr. Rue Sergio Leone. A seventeen-metre swimming pool was set in lawn before a three-storey, unfaced cement building whose style was vaguely Frank Lloyd Wright. Underground, a projection room could seat thirty. The garage sheltered a Rolls-Royce. A chow, a cocker spaniel and a white maremma sheepdog made a poor showing as watchdogs.

Leone married a ballerina, Carla Ranalli, in 1960. Their eldest child, Raffaella, worked as an assistant costume designer on his films and those of Fellini; the other daughter, Francesca, studied architecture, while his son Andrea was a professional soccer player while still at high school.

The first-floor studio looked out on trees, grey skies and persistent autumn rain. It was furnished with two antique desks, a modern divan, oils and sketches by artists such as Ottone Rosai and Renato Guttuso, a framed title granted by King Balduin of Belgium, a Roberto De Niro photo in the ring in Raging Bull with his dedication and a painting of Leone looking almost as imperious as when he entered, portly and grey-bearded, in a brown caftan. His Eastern potentate air was belied by his white skin. He told me about the circumstances of his birth:

   My father Vincenzo, a director, was asked to
   replace Ernst Lubitsch when he went from
   Germany to Hollywood. My mother, an actress,
   was pregnant with me at the time. I'd have been
   born in Germany but for the fact that my mother
   didn't want to go there and wouldn't let my father
   leave--she'd been married for fourteen years
   without a child and she was not going to take any
   chances.

As she was not able to have other children, little Sergio was spoilt and smothered even more than most Italian children. "To get any autonomy," he recalls, "I had to threaten to join the M [for Mussolini] battalion." It was the ultimate threat in an anti-Fascist household.


6
In the UK, Carling/Molson Coors has a series of commercials featuring “the mates” and their adventures which usually result in grabbing some pints together.  The latest commercial motif is a western...the rescue.  The commercial was shot using various GBU/OUATITW locations in Spain. 
                                    
Here’s a small article:

Carling Hits The Wild West
The Publican, Adam Withrington
http://www.thepublican.com/story.asp?sectioncode=7&storycode=59663&c=1


Here’s the actual commercial that someone uploaded on You Tube:
OKAY!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLdvVQCMZLc

7
I came across this while reading another article.   It’s an interesting page devoted to Ian Fleming and James Bond by the Times Online.  Apparently the Imperial War Museum London is featuring an exhibit that explores Ian Fleming’s early career in journalism and his experiences during the war. The exhibit tries to show how these experiences contributed to his creation of the James Bond character and were reflected in his series of novels...and also the films.  There’s a lot of articles running off the page about Fleming and the films.  A series of top ten lists of various matters (gadgets, cars, villains, girls) related to the Bond films to disagree with.  A map of London citing various places of interest for Fleming and Bond.  Another pretty nice link is a virtual tour giving a taste of some of the things in the exhibition which runs from April 2008 to March 2009.  Thought maybe there would be something there of interest to Bond fans.

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/specials/for_your_eyes_only/

8
Once Upon A Time In The West / OUATITW Restoration
« on: March 18, 2008, 08:50:35 AM »
Just a heads up for SLWB members in New York area.  I came across an article on the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.  The festival is running from April 23-May 4.  The festival will include the New York premiere of the OUATITW restoration.  They are going to show the film in Italian with English subtitles.  Couldn't find a specific date for the showing.  It's a collaboration with the  Museum Of Modern Art.

Here's the blurb on OUATITW 
 

Once Upon a Time in the West (C'era una volta il West), directed by Sergio Leone, written by Sergio Donati and Leone, English dialogue by Mickey Knox. (Italy, USA, 1968) - New York Premiere Restoration, Narrative. What is there to say except "restored--at last." This breathtakingly beautiful and unforgettable film, as much an opera as it is a Western, has been both adored and reviled since its initial release, but it's been almost impossible to see the way it was intended to be seen--until now. Italian with English subtitles. Restoration made possible by support from The Film Foundation and The Rome Film Festival, in association with Sergio Leone Productions and Paramount Pictures. Screening is a collaboration with the Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.



Here's a link for the article with additional festival information.  Includes the list of other films.  They're also going to have a special showing of 2001: A Space Odyssey with a special panel and discussion.

http://www.indiewire.com/ots/2008/03/tribeca_08_trib_2.html

If I see any more details on the OUATITW showing .... will update.

9
Off-Topic Discussion / Six Reel-ly Important Years
« on: February 29, 2008, 05:46:10 PM »
......by a panel of writers contributing to the The Guardian, UK.

 I came across this article today and thought it was an interesting read.  This group of writers picks what they feel are six years that impacted world cinema and discuss the reasons for their choices.  In the course of the discussion they talk about sound, noir, neorealism,  the french new wave, independent film and the rise of the hollywood blockbuster.  Along the way they talk about or mention Out Of The Past, Truffaut and The 400 Blows, Bonnie And Clyde....and Sergio and the dollars trilogy.  They don’t pick years that were uncommonly good in the number of good films that they produced..... maybe like 1939 in American film.  They’re looking at innovations and changes that affected the art and business of cinema.  I was kind of surprised by the inclusion of 1994.  That particular one may be a little overstated.  It also has a little slant toward the changes in British cinema. 

I thought maybe it would be interesting for others.  Maybe some agree or disagree with their thoughts....maybe there was another year that some feel is more worthy for various reasons....Here’s the article:



The Difference A Year Makes

If you're being reductive - and we are - you can boil cinema history down to the story of six years that altered the course of the movies. Here's how film journeyed from the Vitaphone sound system to torture porn.

Friday February 29, 2008
The Guardian

1927
The image of a blacked-up Al Jolson singing My Mammy in 1927's The Jazz Singer has come to define cinema's move from silence to sound, as if the talkies happened overnight. In fact, the first commercial showing of motion pictures with sound-on-film had taken place in New York in 1923, when a set of soundtracked shorts were placed on a bill with a silent feature. And the Vitaphone sound system employed by Warner Brothers on The Jazz Singer had been publicly introduced a year before, on the three-hour feature Don Juan, the first to employ a synchronised soundtrack throughout.

So why do we remember 1927? Because The Jazz Singer was the first commercial smash with sound. After opening on October 6, The Jazz Singer took $2.6m at the box office, nearly $1m more than Warner's previous highest-grossing film. Nevertheless, with the major studios still trying to work out which sound format they would back, there was no immediate rush to talkies - it took until June 1928 for anyone other than Warners to release a movie with dialogue - though by 1929 all the eight majors had seen the light (or heard the sound), and Fox president William Fox's proclamation to the New York Times that "in five years, no producer would think about making silent pictures" was proved correct.

The silents did not die without one last glorious hurrah, however. For 1927 also saw the release of arguably the most influential of all silent movies: Metropolis, Fritz Lang's expressionist masterpiece. Metropolis created a visual language for science fiction through its towering edifices and dystopian worldview - seen most clearly in Blade Runner - and provided direct inspiration for the comic book artists who invented superheroes (not for nothing does Superman live in Metropolis). Technically, too, Lang was pioneering, using the Schüfftan process of angled mirrors to make his miniature sets appear as huge cityscapes among which his actors walked. The technique has remained in use, and Peter Jackson employed it on The Return of the King.

But it wasn't all technical breakthroughs in 1927. The year also saw Hollywood establish the principal means by which it has maintained its own mythology, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded on January 11 1927. Henceforth, the world would listen when Hollywood patted itself on the back.
Michael Hann

1947

It was the best of times and the worst of times. In 1947, carrying on the surge in attendance that marked the war years, the American box office reached sales of 100m tickets a week. It has never again come near that number. And it was in 1947 that the Supreme Court judgment (long feared, long resisted) was being formulated that would compel the major studios to sell off the theatres they had owned. The golden age of the movies, it was decided, was founded on an un-American monopoly. In the same space of time, the craven studio system agreed to participate with the House Un-American Activities Committee. In just two years, the euphoria of victory and peace had given way to the paranoia of the cold war and the decision of Huac to make Hollywood a focus of its activities rooted the age of anxiety in Beverly Hills.

You could feel it in the best American films, not just Crossfire (a study of anti-Semitism), but in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, in which the Jimmy Stewart character, close to despair and suicide, has a vision of what his town might be like without him. That film ended cheerfully, but no one could forget its dark dream. In France, some critics saw the new brand of film from America - suspicious, shadowy, fatalistic - and they called the trend "film noir". In fact 1947 is a vintage year for the new genre, with Crossfire, Desperate, Out of the Past, Dark Passage, Gilda, Scarlet Street, Body and Soul, Kiss of Death.

Nor was film noir just an American sport: in Britain, it flourished with Odd Man Out and It Always Rains on Sunday; in France it was marked by Quai des Orfèvres, by Le Diable au Corps, and by Les Maudits. In Italy, neo-realism was underway and Vittorio De Sica was shooting Bicycle Thieves, the story of an impoverished man who needs a bike for his meagre job - sticking up movie posters in the city, posters of Rita Hayworth in Gilda.

Within a few years, it could be said that mainstream cinema was over. Could art movies fill the gap? One answer eventually came via two people born in 1947 - Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steven Spielberg.
David Thomson

1959

Few people realised it at the time, but 1959 was the year cinema got truly modern. Classical Hollywood was at its peak - the big hits included Ben-Hur, Some Like It Hot, North By Northwest, Imitation of Life and Anatomy of a Murder - but on both sides of the Atlantic, cinema was loosening its necktie. At that year's Cannes film festival came the first ripple of the French New Wave: François Truffaut's The 400 Blows.

Not for nothing was Truffaut labelled "the gravedigger of French cinema". He and his fellow critics had been laying into the conventional studio system for some time. They objected to its retrograde period dramas and literary and theatrical pretensions, but they also separated Hollywood's wheat from its chaff, labelling Orson Welles, Nicholas Ray, Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock as auteurs - film-makers with a distinct voice that transcended their material. Truffaut was the first of the critics to become an auteur himself, but his colleagues - Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer - were close behind.

The 400 Blows was not particularly revolutionary in content - a sympathetic but unsentimental portrait of a rebellious youth - but in form it was a breath of fresh air, literally. It took to the streets, the fairground, classrooms, the beach, the cinema, tracking its protagonist from rooftops, running alongside him, picking him out in street crowds. The New Wave suddenly made Hollywood movies look ludicrously stiff.

Across the Atlantic, one young American was already planting the seeds of indie cinema. A stage actor with no directing experience to speak of, let alone a script to work from, John Cassavetes borrowed equipment and money and let loose his beatnik acting troupe on the streets of New York and got on with it. The result was Shadows, a hip, jazz-backed semi-improvised story of interracial relationships. Few Americans knew what to make of Shadows, but the French New Wave hailed Cassavetes as a transatlantic cousin. Cassavetes and the French New Wave didn't destroy the studio system, but they certainly gave it something to worry about. They were the outsiders, but they proved that the outside was the most interesting place to be, and that young audiences wanted to see a world they could relate to on their screens.
Steve Rose

10
Off-Topic Discussion / TCM Remembers 2007
« on: December 26, 2007, 04:10:41 PM »
Last few nights I've watched parts of films on TCM and afterward they've aired their remembrance video.  It's very well done.  They do this every year in December, and I always appreciate it.  It's very much like the memoriam video they feature on the Academy Awards.  (Which in some ways for me is the best part of the telecast).  I think throughout the year everyone does such a great job creating RIP threads for all the talented people associated with cinema that we admire.  Hope we get by this last week or so without adding any more to the already too long list.

There's a button to click that makes the video a little larger for viewing.  Here's link:

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/index/?o_cid=mediaroomlink&cid=189530


 

11
Other Films / Summer Love (2006)
« on: October 18, 2007, 12:50:10 PM »
I came across this article in the N.Y. Times today that had a reference to Sergio.  A Polish film that's being touted as the first Polish Western and Spaghetti.  The film was shown at the 2006 Venice Film Festival.  Although it's been out sometime it appears it's just getting a release in the States now.  I didn't see an existing thread for it.  Just a mention on the  2007 Venice Film Festival thread.  Val Kilmer is in the cast.  The episodic, vignette description doesn't sound good.
Here's article:



New York Times
Movie Review
Summer Love (2006)




Tumbleweeds, Sagebrush and Kielbasa on the Range

By MANOHLA DARGIS
Published: October 17, 2007

A conceptual nudge in the ribs, “Summer Love” has been called the first Polish western and the first Polish spaghetti western, though the truer description might be the first deconstructed art western. (The film is being shown through Nov. 9 at the Whitney Museum of American Art.)

In a cheeky act of appropriation or perhaps misappropriation, the artist Piotr Uklanski has relocated the classic American film from its familiar physical coordinates — the open range, a Hollywood back lot — to an anonymous, near-abstract space where the genre codes roam as free as the buffalo and the heroes and the villains play.

If it sounds like a bad joke — think “Once Upon a Time in Poland,” “The Good, the Bad and the Polish” or even “A Fistful of Poles” — it isn’t, quite. (It’s actually a fairly decent one.) Mr. Uklanski is a serious artist, or at least a semiserious artist, whose works have been exhibited around the world, including at the Museum of Modern Art. Among his most well-known is “The Nazis,” an installation (and later a book) of photographs of actors like Clint Eastwood, Marlon Brando, Yul Brynner and David Niven glammed up in National Socialist costume, a project that owes a strong debt to Susan Sontag’s important 1974 essay “Fascinating Fascism,” if without the corresponding intellectual rigor and moral unease.

Shot in southern Poland, “Summer Love” — the title matches the syrupy song oozing on the soundtrack — features a sorry collection of nameless archetypes amassed around a ramshackle town under a brilliant blue, blazingly bright sky. Among the players are the Stranger (Karel Roden), a gunslinger who wears black and bleeds red; the Woman (Katarzyna Figura), a busty barmaid whose monstrous tongue would make Gene Simmons blush; the Sheriff (Boguslaw Linda), a broken-down alcoholic carrying a sputtering torch for the barmaid; and the Big Man (Krzysztof Zaleski), a not-so-big man in filthy garb who lusts after the woman. Rather mysteriously, Val Kilmer pops up as the Wanted Man, a designation that may have more to do with celebrity than function.

Nothing much happens, which is to the filmmaker’s purpose. “Summer Love” isn’t a standard western but a series of loosely ordered, vaguely chronological narrative shards and iconographic images that will be familiar to anyone who has a casual acquaintance with the genre. Thus instead of a story and plot there are fired guns, dusty boots, grizzled beards, clanking spurs and galloping, whinnying, falling horses. Blood and booze and spit flow, along with the scripted clichés spoken in Polish-accented English. One man builds a scaffold and fashions a noose, another man loses his head and the barmaid loses her knickers. If this sounds like a Sergio Leone film, it is, kind of, sort of, if not as beautiful, pleasurable or profound.

There’s a flicker of a political critique embedded in Mr. Uklanski’s playful intervention and mocking tone, something about the displacement of the American cowboy ideology, though the film finally weighs in as more cynical and detached than passionate and engaged. In “Summer Love” the western is little more than a collection of disintegrated parts, frayed bits and shabby pieces of some formerly coherent idea, a vague suggestion of an ideal (democratic, cinematic) that has become as blurred as a copy of a copy of a copy. Mr. Uklanski keeps the joke going even over the final credits, with Lorne Greene, the paterfamilias from the television western series “Bonanza,” growling the 1960s song “I’m a Gun.” There’s something ominous about this kitsch ballad, which is precisely the point.



SUMMER LOVE
Opens today in Manhattan.

Written and directed by Piotr Uklanski; director of photography, Jacek Petrycki; edited by Mike Horton; produced by Mr. Uklanski, Staffan Ahrenberg and Hamish Skeggs. At the Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue. Screenings, through Dec. 9, on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.; Fridays at 1:30, 3:45 and 6:30 p.m. Running time: 93 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Boguslaw Linda (the Sheriff), Karel Roden (the Stranger), Katarzyna Figura (the Woman), Krzysztof Zaleski (the Big Man) and Val Kilmer (the Wanted Man).

Here's link.  Not sure how long it can be looked at before you have to register.
http://movies.nytimes.com/2007/10/17/movies/17love.html?em&ex=1192852800&en=8a4e71d549150f62&ei=5087&ref=arts


Here's what imdb had:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0486020/

12
Off-Topic Discussion / Un Coeur En Hiver (1992)
« on: October 17, 2007, 07:01:12 PM »
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Re: What Are You Reading Right Now?
Quote from: Dave Jenkins on October 15, 2007, 02:04:54 PM
The chapter in Roger Shattuck's Forbidden Knowledge entitled "The Pleasures of Abstinence: Mme de Lafayette and Emily Dickinson," as a way to better get at Claude Sautet's 1992 film Un coeur en hiver.
 


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Re: What Are You Reading Right Now?
Quote from: Noodles_SlowStir on October 15, 2007, 03:15:08 PM

I really like Un Coeur En Hiver.  Great film.  Daniel Auteuil's heart really had to be in winter to resist Emmanuelle Beart.  Very beautiful woman.  Love the Ravel score.  Sautet's Nelly And Monsieur Arnaud with Beart and Michel Serrault is very good as well.

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Re: What Are You Reading Right Now?
Quote from Dave Jenkins on October 15, 2007, 05:58:47 PM


You're right about the Ravel and the character played by Auteuil. And Beart was incredibly beautiful before she had all that collagen pumped into her lips (she looks like a cartoon character now). Hey, this is Shattuck's take on the film, tell me if you agree:


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"Claude Sautet’s music-filled film Un coeur en hiver (1992) tells the story of a woman’s love refused by a man who half-believes that such feelings do not exist. Everyone and everything else in the film, including Ravel’s sensuous music, belies his attempt at emotional isolationism."


Shattuck seems to be saying that the Auteuil character is operating on principle, that he sees romantic love as a fiction, and as such, can't in good faith participate in the charade. To me the guy came off as just a cold fish.

I've seen Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud and have yet to make my mind up about it. As far as Beart's film appearances, her most impressive has to be la belle noiseuse (1991), where, as an artist's model, she spends most of the movie nude.



13
Off-Topic Discussion / Tony Bennett
« on: September 14, 2007, 01:50:05 PM »
I was clicking through the channels the other night in between innings of a game, came upon PBS and the American Masters Program.  Through the years, I've seen so many great American Masters features on people like Charlie Parker, Ralph Ellison, Martin Scorsese....the list goes on.  It's one of the better investments of time in television.

This week's program was a new production for this season on Tony Bennett called Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends.  I only caught parts of the program, what I saw was very good.  It's going to be rebroadcast during the weekend and I'm definitely going to catch it in its entirety.  I've really come to admire Tony Bennett as an artist.  I found that my admiration really grew after watching the programs he had done for Arts & Entertainment...the by request programs.  I was just so amazed by the artistry of Bennett in interpreting the great American songbook (there'll never be songs like that ever) and his ability as a performer in that stage of life to be able to interact live with an audience seamlessly and professionally.  In August of 2001 (the show was memorable in itself but it was also a few weeks before Sept 11),  I had an opportunity to see his live show.  That year he toured with K.D. Lang just before the release of a blues album with guess artists he put out.  The show and his performance were absolutely outstanding.

This new American Masters program is produced by Clint Eastwood.  It has narration by Anthony Hopkins.  Clint is actually in it quite often.  With Bennett in a studio on piano, or just hanging with him talking about Tony's career.  If you're not a Bennett fan, it's interesting to see this program to see Eastwood interacting with Tony as they discuss music and Bennett's life and career.  During the Academy Awards this year when Eastwood was featured a little more with his part in the presentation of the honorary lifetime award to Ennio, I noticed a little more how Eastwood seemed older.  I got the same sense here with Tony.  Definitely his laid back personality is there, but also I couldn't help but see Clint as an older man, really not that far from Tony.  Maybe as a film star it's more impactful because we see and remember him from those moments frozen in time.  Not sure.

There were other interview guests featured such as Harry Belafonte with interesting comments about Tony's involvement with the Civil Rights Movement and also about his stint in World War II where he experienced racial intolerance with a friend while stationed in Europe.

Here's a clip from You Tube, sort of the beginning of the program:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ll21rgBypUo

Here's the PBS American Masters page on Tony along with other links.  It also can help search your local schedule if you should decide to try and catch the program.  I would imagine this weekend may be your best bet.
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/bennett_t.html?campaign=pbshomefeatures_3_americanmastersbrtonybennett_2007-09-13

This is a news article I saw afterward which talks a bit about the program and Eastwood's involvement with the production.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/cpress/20070905/ca_pr_on_en/tv_eastwood_on_bennett

   

14
Sergio Leone News / Lucien Ballard
« on: September 06, 2007, 11:08:42 AM »
Tonight on TCM, their evening schedule spotlights the cinematography of Lucien Ballard.  His filmography is quite diverse (noirs,westerns,blaxploitation,television). He worked with Josef Von Sternberg, Gregg Tolland and Howard Hawks early in his career.  He was the cinematographer for Kubrick on The Killing.

The line up pretty much features his work on western films. Although quite talented in every aspect of cinematography (quite a few nice black and white films on his resume), he became most associated with his color photography of westerns.  Ballard had collaborative relationships with Henry Hathaway, Budd Boetticher,Sam Peckinpah and Tom Gries. 

He never won an academy award (nominated only once for The Caretakers 1963) but received the National Society Of  Film Critics Award in cinematography for The Wild Bunch.  His other Peckinpah films were: The Westerner, Ride The High Country, The Ballad Of Cable Hogue, The Getaway and Junior Bonner.   

Here’s schedule (Eastern)
 8:00    Nevada Smith
10:15   Will Penny
12:15   The Sons Of Katie Elder
 2:30    From Noon Till Three
 4:15    Hour Of The Gun

TCM schedule link with some film details:
http://www.tcm.com/schedule/index.jsp?startDate=09/06/2007&timezone=EST&cid=N

Here’s small biography profile from TCM.  Has an interesting aside on his invention of a camera spotlight, “The Obie”, he invented while married to Merle Oberon to help conceal the facial scarring she received from a car accident.  I'm sure Robert Osborne will have other interesting biographical and professional anecdotes in between films. 
http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article/?cid=176172

His filmography link at IMDb
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005644/

15
Once Upon A Time In America / The Ladd Company Vs. Warner Bros
« on: August 14, 2007, 11:49:15 PM »
This seems to be yet another interesting story to add to the history of Once Upon A Time In America.  I came upon a few recent articles which detailed a lawsuit filed by Alan Ladd Jr. against Warner Bros.

Alan Ladd Jr., son of actor Alan Ladd, was an influential Hollywood film executive.  He was president of 20th Century Fox during the 1970's.  During his tenure as president of 20th Century Fox, he is remembered as the executive that was willing to back George Lucas and allow him to make Star Wars.  Obviously the decision would almost become career defining, as Star Wars would become successful beyond anyone’s imagination.   After Ladd left his position with 20th Century Fox, he founded his own film and production company, The Ladd Company, in 1979.  Through The Ladd Company, Ladd would be involved in the production and/or distribution of various films in the 1980's to the present.  Some of the films the company served as producer and distributor are: Body Heat, Outland and Night Shift.  The company produced The Right Stuff and Blade Runner.  In 1984, Arnan Milchan produced Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America.  However, The Ladd Company was the distributor, and responsible for the promotion and releasing of the film through Warner Bros. After The Right Stuff had been a box office failure, the company languished for a while until almost a decade later when it found success in producing Braveheart for Paramount Pictures.  Ladd won an Academy Award as the producer of that film.

The lawsuit between Ladd and Warner Bros has been four years in the making.  It centered on the amount of revenues and royalties which Ladd felt the studio did not pay his production/distribution company after the selling of the broadcast rights of specific films to various television outlets.  Apparently the films are sold by the studio in licensing packages to television and cable companies.  According to Variety in an article on August 2nd, “Ladd and Jay Kanter, his partner in the Ladd Co., claimed that when 11 of their films, including Blade Runner, Body Heat, Chariots of Fire, Night Shift and the Police Academy movies were licensed to the domestic and international television and cable market, they were packaged with inferior films and the fees attributed to their films were unfairly under-allocated.”  Another rather disturbing claim was that the studio actually omitted The Ladd Company logo from the packaging of DVD releases of several films from 1997 to 2003.  The films included in this allegation were such titles as Chariots Of Fire, The Right Stuff and..... Once Upon A Time In America.  The studio claimed this was an oversight and that specifically in the case of OUATIA, it was corrected early on in the production of the DVD.

Two weeks ago, on August 2nd, a Los Angeles jury ruled against Warner Bros and awarded Alan Ladd Jr. and Jay Kanter 3.2 million dollars.  Warner Bros issued a couple of statements indicating they would appeal the decision, and that it was only the first battle in what is expected to be a long legal war.

I definitely do not agree with the unintentional or intentional exclusion of any production or artistic credit from any work.  Certainly within a free market, everyone should receive their proper due.  Warner Bros and The Ladd Company were the two entities which were at the center of the editing tragedy of OUATIA.  I guess to this day, both companies point the finger at each other as to who is most responsible for the editing travesty that stigmatized the film and resulted in its box office failure.  In light of what happened to OUATIA and Sergio Leone, it’s ironic that now both companies are going at each other, disputing the level of profit and royalties each feels it’s entitled to in regards to the licensing and television sales of some of these old films.



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