Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Panic at the Corner of Beverly and La Brea: Quentin Tarantino Brings Back the Grind house for a two-month festival!
“Grindhouse,” filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s collaborative homage to retro exploitation cinema, will play state-of-the-art cinemas when it opens nationwide on April 6.
But if these two pulp mavens had a say, “Grindhouse” would play slightly worn, urban auditoriums like the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Great pulp — and “Grindhouse” is penultimate pulp — requires the right atmosphere: worn seats, slightly sticky aisles, and a talk-back-at-the-screen crowd whose refreshment of choice comes in a hidden beer bottle.
Tarantino and Rodriguez understand this and as part of the “Grindhouse” countdown, the New Beverly Cinema, Los Angeles’ lone seven-day revival house and onetime “X-rated” venue complete with a stage nudie show, becomes exploitation ground zero March 4 with a two-month festival through April 30. Over fifty films, many from Tarantino’s collection, will screen at the New Beverly. For the first time in years, lucky audiences will have the chance to watch little-seen gems like “The Girl from Starship Venus,” “Chinese Hercules” and “Asylum of Blood,” the Blaxploitation classic “The Mack” and the Kung Fu action film “Return of the Tiger.”
Find the complete “Grindhouse Cinema” calendar at www.newbevcinema.com or call the theater: 323-938-4038.
The only downside that Tarantino and Rodriguez haven’t considered is that after watching original cut fare like “Grave of the Vampire,” their own film may turn out to be a disappointment.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
David Mamet’s “Bambi vs. Godzilla” teaches Hollywood a thing or two
My favorite anecdote regarding playwright, filmmaker and all-around man of letters David Mamet involves an interview when he discussed in detail his working habits. Told that I was impressed by his set up of a writing shack behind his home; a workplace void of even the most basic connections with the surrounding world, including a phone line, Mamet acted surprised.
“You’re a journalist,” Mamet said, expressing surprise. “Isn’t this the way you work?”
My response was a matter-of-fact “No.”
Mamet’s advocacy for quiet and privacy when writing continues to make an impact on me. Currently, I’m reading his latest book, “Bambi vs. Godzilla – On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business,” a collection of brisk essays offering his insider’s opinion about the rights and wrongs of Hollywood moviemaking. “Bambi vs. Godzilla” is a tough love book; a series of slaps from someone who knows his target intimately. But Mamet pokes Hollywood because he cares about movies passionately. That’s an important lesson to remember in an age of instant gossip and far-reaching tabloids. Movies do matter and they’re worth discussing intelligently. That’s what Mamet is reminding us in “Bambi vs. Godzilla.”
Monday, February 26, 2007
Oscars 07: Marty’s Everywhere, but what about De Niro?
A double win at the Oscars Sunday night earned veteran New York moviemaker Martin Scorsese (pictured above, left, with his longtime collaborator Robert De Niro) coast-to-coast front-page newspaper coverage. “Scorsese Scores at Last” was the headline in “The Seattle Times.” Hometown tabloid “The New York Post” trumpeted the success of its local golden boy with the headline “Marty Scores.” Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director qualified “The Departed,” Scorsese’s rousing remake of the Hong Kong gangster drama “Infernal Affairs,” as the project that finally ended his streak as an Oscar runner up. Thelma Schoonmaker’s third career Oscar for editing brought extra glory to “The Departed.”
Marty Scorsese was the expected Oscar story, but my core comment focused on someone who wasn’t competing for Best Director alongside Scorsese, one of his peers and the artist responsible for the extraordinary spy drama “The Good Shepherd,” Robert De Niro.
Richer, vaster and timelier than “The Departed” and its gangster shootouts, “The Good Shepherd” and its epic tale of the CIA deserved a spot at the Oscars podium. More importantly, De Niro deserved a chance to compete with Scorsese, “Letters From Iwo Jima” director Clint Eastwood, “United 93” director Paul Greengrass, “The Queen” director Stephen Frears and “Babel” filmmaker Alejandro González Inárritu for a shot at Best Director.
Scorsese’s Sunday night win came after years of losing, despite creating some of the best American films. I’m convinced that De Niro will have his prize, sooner rather than later.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Will “The Hill Have Eyes 2” do seventies horror proud?
An end-of-Sundance chat with directors Craig Zobel (“The Great World of Sound”) and David Gordon Green (“Snow Angels”) landed on the topic of classic seventies scares and current filmmakers who get the blood and lewdness right. Heavy Metal Rocker-turned horror moviemaker Rob Zombie (“The Devil’s Rejects”) is at the top of the list. Eli Roth (“Cabin Fever” and “Hostel”) and Alexandre Aja (“Haute Tension’) are close seconds.
Talk about seventies-inspired horror movies, remakes or otherwise, quickly turned to films that fail. “Black Christmas,” the recent remake of Bob Clark’s 1974 killer in the sorority house thriller, was chosen as a prime example of a film void of the drive-in spirit.
A new chance to do seventies horror proud is director Martin Weisz’s “The Hills Have Eyes 2” — Aja directed the 2006 “Hills Have Eyes” remake — which opens in theaters March 23.
Helping core blood and guts fans wait out opening day is “15 Gigs of Fear,” a contest on FOXATOMIC.COM where scenes from the upcoming movie can be edited together via a blender tool into a personal music video. Each uploaded video, besides earning its makers chances at cash and prizes, also serve as an example of what fans appreciate about seventies horror and why veteran horror-maker Wes Craven continues to attract large crowds at comic conventions. For director Martin Weisz, the “15 Gigs of Fear” entries are warning shots of what fans expect from ‘Hills Have Eyes 2.”