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Archive for May, 2011

David Fincher’s “Dragon Tattoo” Red Band Trailer

I am the last person who I expected to be pumped about this. I’ve never seen the original “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” nor any of its sequels and I never really planned to. Also, as hard as it is to believe, “Social Network” groupie that I am, I have never been pumped for an impending David Fincher movie (outside of “TSN” and “Zodiac”). Therefore, it’s pretty strange that an American remake of a foreign thriller (or adaptation of the original source material, as I believe is the popular way of saying it) directed by Fincher has my interest.

And boy does it have my interest. Granted, this is just the first glimpse. However, from what we have here, it looks pretty brilliant. Fincher’s crisp visual style looks to still be in good form. The red band aspect, as well as the overall feel of the trailer, show that this will be a return to the director’s gritty roots. I’m not sure that Rooney Mara has really built up an image yet with the few roles that she has had. However, she’s certainly not worried about tarnishing that image with this rough portrayal of tattoos, leather, piercings and apparent nudity. Thankfully this performance will surely make her career explode, in a good way.

Needless to say, I am stoked. In fact I’m currently watching “The Social Network” again to gear myself up. The trailer is cell phone quality, but you can watch it in it’s entirety with great audio. To be honest, I’d watch it as fast as possible. I’m surprised that it hasn’t already been taken down by Columbia.

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My “Separation of Church and State” Montage

As I said, earlier in the year, I planned on including more than just commentary on this site. I also intend to feature content that I have created or worked on as a filmmaker, as well. I had posted the production stills and trailer for a short film that I had gotten the chance to work on in late winter, titled “Blood on the Plain.” Production of that film will be resuming soon and there will surely be some phenomenal work to be advertised. Recently, I also gripped on a short film titled “A Tribal El Community.” It’s the first student film ever to be sanctioned to shoot on the Chicago Transit Authority’s train system. Hopefully I will have some photos from that production, soon, as well.

On top of lighting work, I have also dabbled in editing from time to time. I thought I would share a montage that I made for my Editing Styles and Techniques class earlier this year. The topic of my project was the separation of church and state, an issue that I believe is burning our country alive. As some of my readers know, I am an athiest (actually borderline agnostic). While I respect other people’s decision to believe in religion, I prefer it be kept the hell away from me. Therefore, it kills me to see that our country, founded on religious freedom, has become so heavily tied in with Christian ideals and beliefs, both morally and politically.

Quite frankly, this issue is, for me, the epicenter of 90% of what’s wrong with this country. It’s why women may have to fear dying from back alley abortions. It’s why our children are growing up ignorant enough to believe that the world was created in seven days. It’s why millions of people remained plagued with horrible, debilitating illness (because God says we’re not allowed to find a cure for them). It’s why gay people cannot find there place as equal members of society (which they are; any debate on this issue is frivolous) and why humans may never find an ultimate solution to global warming. In other words, the Christian grasp of this country is what is preventing our civilization from moving forward.

Anyway, enough of my preaching. Let’s move on to the montage. This is, by standards, a found footage montage, meaning that it is assembled from dozens of different sources. Those who listen carefully will be able to tell immediately what musical choice I made for the piece. I’ve also used elements from perhaps my favorite feature documentary, “Jesus Camp,” which, to this day, remains the scariest movie I’ve ever seen in my life. The rest is assembled from various sources and websites. Hope everyone enjoys it and perhaps it might spark some debate.

If Posters Told the Truth….

Wow. I stumbled upon a few of these over at Sasha Stone’s Awardsdaily and then hit the motherload. These are hilarious. In some cases, they’re reaching, but in most, DEAD ON. It’s also worth noticing the great craftsmanship in some of these. They look absolutely spectacular. I’m not sure who exactly to give due credit for designing these, but props to them.

Some of the highlights definitely include “The Tree of Life” and the painfully honest “Transformers 3.” Granted, some of these films do have potential for decency or even greatness. And yet, these posters advertise what all of us are really thinking, even if we’re looking forward to them. Without a doubt, my favorite of the lot is the “Harry Potter” one, featuring a quote that I have been saying to myself for longer than I can remember.

Find your summer favorite in the selections I’ve made after the jump. If it’s not there, check out the full load at the The Shiznit. Enjoy. Read more…

Interview with Michael Rooker

This is certainly worth a read. A little while back, The Edge of the Frame, on behalf of The DePaulia, got a chance to interview actor Michael Rooker at the James Hotel. He was in town on a press tour for his new film “Super,” which he co-stars with Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page and Kevin Bacon.

Rooker is both one of the most iconic, while at the same time, under-appreciated actors of his generation. If you enjoy movies and see them fervently, it’s almost guaranteed that you have seen him in a role at some point in the last twenty-five years. He is one of those actors who barely ever headlines, yet always delivers a memorable performance.

To refresh some folks’ memories, he got his start right here in Chicago playing the title role in John McNaughton’s influential and disturbing “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” Since then, he has hammered out loads of fantastic supporting performances. Certain standouts include racer Rowdy Burns in “Days of Thunder,” the brutal racist Frank Bailey in “Mississippi Burning,” the courageous lawyer Bill Broussard in “JFK” and the infamous chocolate-covered pretzel-eating Svenning in “Mallrats.” Aside from “Super,” most recently Michael has appeared on the AMC TV series “The Walking Dead.”

A great interview subject, Rooker discusses working with director James Gunn, his life in Chicago, his favorite of films that he has worked on, and more. Here is a short excerpt:

DP: You worked with director James Gunn on “Slither.” How was it the second time around?

MR: Just as bad as the first time around [laughs]. He’s so demanding. He’s always telling me what to do [laughs]. He’s not the boss of me. He’ll learn.

DP: When did he first approach you about the film? I know it’s been in the makes for a while.

MR: It has been in the makes for a while. But this last time, it actually got cast and got done, of course. But the film was actually written ten years ago. So it’s gone through several casts and never got made. This time around, it just so happened that James’ ex-wife, Jenna Fisher, knew and worked with Rainn Wilson. So she showed the script to him and he loved it and that’s how the film finally got made. I’ve been friends with James since “Slither” and he eventually asked me if I wanted to do a role. He was a little embarrassed about asking me to do it since it was like three lines [laughs]. But, I mean, we all did it for nothing. We did it because we all knew each other and we’re all friends and wanted to make the movie.

Read the full interview over at the new DePaulia Online website. Afterwards, you just might feel the need to go back and truly notice this actor in some of his best works.

Here is the full INTERVIEW and below is a clip from “Mississippi Burning,” my favorite role by the actor. I apologize for the poor quality, but it was the only version of this scene that I could find. Enjoy.

Is AFI Missing Their Opportunities?

As everyone knows, each year for nearly four decades, the American Film Institute has awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award to a single individual. The honor is meant to reflect that person’s “lifetime contribution to enriching American culture through motion pictures and television.” When looking at the list of recipients over the years, it’s enough to fill the Kodak Theater several times over. Some of my personal favorites include Orson Welles in ’75, William Wyler in ’76, James Stewart in ’80, Steven Spielberg in ’95 and Al Pacino in ’07.

This year, the Institute has chosen to honor Morgan Freeman for his body of work as an actor. For sure, not an unusual choice for such an award. He received his first Oscar nomination in 1988 for “Street Smart” and has been captivating audiences, multiple times a year, ever since. For me, performances simply don’t get much better than his work in “The Shawshank Redemption.” The speech in his final parole hearing is the stuff that legends are made out of.

All in all, though, aside from a few great decisions, the AFI award seems kind of tainted and lazy, as of late. The whole picture seemed to change around the time that Tom Hanks won what many called his “mid-life” achievement award ten years ago. It seems that the award is being given more on account of how popular the recipient has been in recent years instead of, say thirty years ago. There are many, MANY performers, directors and producers who are much more deserving of the award than recent fare.

I’d much rather have seen men the likes of Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, David Lynch, Francis Ford Coppola or, for crying out loud, Woody Allen receive distinction above the likes of George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas, Sean Connery or Morgan Freeman. The talent ratio is nearly incomparable. I mean, in terms of weight in Academy Award recognition is 49 nominations to 13 (Douglas, Ford and Connery only sharing 4 nominations between them).

What’s even more disturbing is the complete disregard to female contributions to cinema. In the last two decades, three women have received this award. Meryl Streep is completely understandable. Elizabeth Taylor cannot be argued with. Barbara Streisand…really? Meanwhile, the following women are still living and more than deserving of this award: Faye Dunaway, Vanessa Redgrave, Maggie Smith, Julie Christie, Sissy Spacek, Diane Keaton, Glenn Close, and Jessica Lange. Perhaps the most ridiculously passed over women are Ellen Burstyn and Jane Fonda who have delivered some of the most phenomenal performances Hollywood has ever seen and have been doing so for upwards of forty years.

The greats are passing away left and right. Paul Newman, Robert Altman, Marlon Brando and, of course, Sidney Lumet are the most recent to leave this world without receiving this prestigious honor. AFI needs to keep its eyes on the prize and award some of these more-deserving folk before it’s too late.