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Darren H

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Posts posted by Darren H

  1. My sense of the Venice, TIFF, NYFF partnership is that they're essentially agreeing to drop (temporarily) their battles over premiere status. Not that it really matters this year. Everyone is just trying to keep people employed and their bills paid in hopes of returning to some new sense of normal in 2022. I suspect the fall festivals will function primarily this year as launch platforms for VOD releases. The festivals will take a small cut of that revenue, but whatever streaming they do will have to be locked down tight. I wonder if the virtual screenings will be like press screeners, with the user's name watermarked on the image?

    As an aside, I remember attending a public screening of Jia Zhangke's 24 City at TIFF a decade ago. It was in a small room and every seat was sold. I asked a friend, who was formerly a TIFF programmer, why they would put a Jia film on such a small screen. Her answer had never occurred to me before: "This film already has Canadian distribution, and Toronto is Canada's biggest market. Every ticket TIFF sells is one less future ticket sale for Films We Like." Now imagine how a virtual premiere will undercut the market value of a film!

    I have to imagine that the people behind the fall premieres are essentially writing off US box office -- as we're seeing with the shifting release strategy of films like Tenet. Their best hope is to get the films onto European and Asian screens for two or three weeks and then rent/sell the films online to as many people as possible. Actually, I guess their best hope is a deal with Netflix or Amazon.

    I have a lot of dear friends who earn their meager livings as filmmakers, publicists, programmers, critics, etc. I don't know how most of them are going to make rent for the next two years.

    EDIT: After looking at TIFF's lineup, I'm not sure how many of these have VOD launch potential? There are a lot of films by major directors ready for release, not to mention the acclaimed films that premiered at Sundance and Berlin. None of them are playing at TIFF. Looks like we won't be seeing any of them for quite a while.

    EDIT 2: Variety just published an interesting conversation with Oren Moverman.


    The idea of independent financing, putting together films that have no home, taking them to festivals, trying to sell them — they’re going to have to take on a very different model, if they get made. A lot of producers I talk to are looking to set up projects with the streamers, the studios, whoever’s going to be left standing. Whereas the sort of grungy putting together of ten dollars here, ten dollars there to make a film — it’s possible from a financial standpoint, it’s just a question of where it will ever be seen.


  2. This will be the first time since 2004 that I haven't spent at least a week at TIFF. Which will be weird. I did the math recently and discovered I've spent more than five months in Toronto over the years.

    Also weird -- and a little worrying -- is that I have zero interest in online film festivals. To be honest, I've lost most of my interest in films, generally, during the quarantine. When we were all preparing for the Top 100, I binged on great movies. But over the past two months, I've only watched eight feature films, and seven of them were with my kids.

    Still, I'm looking forward to seeing Chloe Zhao's new film, which is playing Venice, TIFF, and NYFF. It's sad to think I might never get a chance to see it on a big screen.

  3. I forgot about this thread!

    Since the quarantine began, my kids have gradually shifted to a later bed time, which means I have less than an hour to myself every night before I start falling asleep. I've gotten in the habit of fixing a cocktail and watching something from the Tell Me series on Criterion Channel. I'm a little more than halfway through the collection so far, and it's been a real treat. Few of the films are excellent on their own, but the program has such a clear voice. Most of the films were made in the early-'70s, when I was a child, so it's giving me a new perspective on my mother and other women of her generation. Also, it's just fun to see inside homes, businesses, schools, and grocery stores of the era.

  4. 3 hours ago, Christian said:

    I just have to find 7.5 hours over a three-day rental window.

    Sorry, you're only allowed to watch Satantango projected in 35mm in a single day with one 30-minute intermission. Like I did. :)

  5. Joel, I read one of Paul's early drafts of the script and was able to so clearly imagine that scene. It gets me every time I watch it too.

    Paul guided me through the process of writing a script treatment and first draft of a feature screenplay, and I think about one of his observations all the time now when I'm watching movies. "Beginnings and endings are usually pretty easy. It's figuring out all of the stuff in the middle that takes so much work." They trimmed the heck out of Light from Light in post-production. One big scene was cut completely, another brief scene was added, and I get the sense it was all about finding the pace that would maximize the effect of those final moments. He's really good at it.

  6. 2 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

    Darren, I'd be happy if you are still willing to do Beau travail and What Time is it There?

    I'd love to. Working from home while three kids run around me is starting to take its toll, so I'm struggling to find the energy and concentration I need for writing. But I'll give it my best shot.

  7. Here's the top 25. The number after each title represents the slots it moved because of the final round of voting. The big winner is The Seventh Seal, which jumped eight slots. No other film moved more than four slots. I was happy to see there were no ties.

    The most interesting facet of this round is that many of us appear to have voted strategically in hopes of causing more significant moves, but for every person giving Three Colors: Blue a 1, there were two people giving it 23, so it ended up in the same slot. 2001 is the most divisive film, with a standard deviation of 8.1 (average is 6.1). Five people gave it 24 or 25 but nine people put it in the top seven, so it ended up climbing four slots.

    The only other two films that fell out of the standard range of consensus are Of Gods and Men and First Reformed. The four films that we are in most agreement about are Andrei Rublev (deviation of only 3.8), Into Great Silence, The Flowers of St. Francis, and Make Way for Tomorrow.

    All in all, I'd say this looks like an Arts & Faith Top 25.

    1. Ordet (1955) 0
    2. Andrei Rublev (1966) 0
    3. The Tree of Life (2011) +2
    4. Babette's Feast (1987) +2
    5. Of Gods and Men (2010) -2
    6. Silence (2016) -2
    7. The Kid With a Bike (2011) 0
    8. Do the Right Thing (1989) 0
    9. Ikiru (1952) +1
    10. Diary of a Country Priest (1951) +1
    11. First Reformed (2017) -2
    12. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) +4
    13. The Miracle Maker (2000) +1
    14. The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) -1
    15. Into Great Silence (2005) -3
    16. The Flowers of St. Francis (1950) -1
    17. The Seventh Seal (1957) +8
    18. Three Colors: Blue (1993) 0
    19. The Night of the Hunter (1955) -2
    20. Night and Fog (1956) -1
    21. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) +2
    22. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) 0
    23. Sunrise (1927) +1
    24. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005) -4
    25. Monsieur Vincent (1947) -4

  8. I mentioned this briefly in another thread, but a great companion with Sophie Scholl is Su Friedrich's The Ties That Bind, which is on Criterion Channel right now. It's an experimental essay film that compares 20-something Friedrich's life in 1980s Chicago to her mother's in 1940s Germany. Her mother was the same age and from the same town as the Scholls.

  9. 49 minutes ago, kenmorefield said:

    When I was writing my dissertation, I remember reading that Graham Greene's regimen was to write one publishable page a day and then stop so that he would never take more than one year to write a new novel.

    From Philip Roth's The Ghost Writer: "I turn sentences around. That’s my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around. Then I look at it and I turn it around again. Then I have lunch. Then I come back in and write another sentence. Then I read the two sentences over and turn them both around."

    I've taught the shitty-first-draft approach to writing because in theory it makes sense, but I also tell my students I've never been able to use that technique myself. I write a sentencen and then read it out loud nand then rewrite itn and then reread it out loud along with the preceding paragraph, and then eventually, when I don't absolutely hate it, I move on to the next sentence.

  10. I thought about nominating Su Friedrich's The Ties That Bind (1984) as my +1, but it had been 15 years since I saw it and I couldn't remember it well enough to judge how it fit the tenor of our list. I revisited it this morning as part of the Tell Me series and now think it certainly needs to be on our growing alt-list. I'd encourage whoever writes the blurb on Sophie Scholl to try to see this film, which is a portrait of Friedrich's mother, who was a peer of the Scholls.

  11. Ken, since 7th Heaven and The Immigrant made the cut, I might be interested in writing something about expressionist American melodrama, also pulling in Sunrise, Frisco Jenny, and possibly other films like The Best Years of Our Lives, The Grapes of Wrath, The Song of Bernadette, and others. I'm seriously considering jumping into a grad program this summer, so I should know soon if I'll have time for serious writing.

  12. Here are the films from my original 25 nominations that made the final cut. Asterisk beside the ones I've advocated for most strongly over the years. Two asterisks beside the ones I'd love to write about.

    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    Beau travail (1999) **
    Close-Up (1990)
    Frisco Jenny (1932) **
    In a Lonely Place (1950) *
    In Praise of Love (2001) *
    My Night at Maud's (1969)
    Night and Fog (1956)
    Ordet (1955)
    Still Life (2006) *
    The Flowers of St. Francis (1950)
    The Gleaners & I (2000)
    The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
    What Time Is It There? (2001) **

    I didn't end up nominating Heartbeat Detector (I chose In Praise of Love for that slot instead), but I'd enjoy writing about it too.

  13. We've trimmed the list to one film per director and broken the ties. Now it's time to settle on the final ordering of the top 25.

    Here are the rules.

    Step 1: Assign the original rank to every film you have not seen. For example, if you haven't seen Silence, please rank it 4.

    Step 2: Reassign the rank of all remaining films however you please. Take care to use each number (1-25) only once.

    We have 23 active participants in the process. We will grandfather in the original ranking for everyone who doesn't vote. The final top 25 will be based on average score (total divided by 23). Ties will go to whatever film was ranked higher in the original list.

    Deadline: Tuesday, May 26, at 11:59 PM (Eastern)


  14. 1 minute ago, kenmorefield said:

    rule #1 does appear to require a person to watch the film if they want to move it (up or down), so I am okay with that.

    Exactly. I don't like the idea of people reranking films they haven't seen, especially if non-voters are being treated as supporters of the original list. I haven't seen three of these films and likely won't have a chance before the deadline.

  15. Happy to do it, Ken. Do these rules make sense?

    1. Assign the original rank to every film you have not seen. For example, I haven't seen Silence, so I will rank it #4.

    2. Reassign the rank of all remaining films however you please. Take care to use each number (1-25) only once.

    3. We have 23 active participants in the process. We will grandfather in the original ranking for everyone who doesn't vote.

    4. New ranking will be based on average score (total divided by 23). Ties will go to whatever film was ranked higher in the original list.

  16. My choices went 10-8 and a couple of those losses hurt more than others, but obviously I can't fault any of these inclusions in the list. Great films, all of them. And if nothing else this step in the process pushed me to watch Red Beard, which is also deserving of a spot.

  17. We had 21 voters. And the winners are . . .

    • Bergman: The Seventh Seal (17-4)
    • Bresson: Diary of Country Priest (10-6-5)*
    • Dardennes: The Kid with a Bike (10-7-4)*
    • Denis: Beau travail (10-5-6)*
    • Dreyer: Ordet (11-9-1)
    • Hitchcock: Vertigo (9-7-5)*
    • Kiarostami: Close-up (9-5-7)
    • Kurosawa: Ikiru (12-6-3)
    • Malick: Tree of Life (13-8)*
    • Miyazaki: Spirited Away (11-9-1)*
    • Murnau: Sunrise (9-7-5)*
    • Ozu: Tokyo Story (9-6-6)*
    • Ray: The Music Room (10-2-9)*
    • Rohmer: My Night at Maud's (9-1-11)
    • Rossellini: The Flowers of St. Francis (8-6-7)
    • Tarkovsky: Andrei Rublev (13-7-1)
    • Varda: The Gleaners & I (9-6-6)
    • Wenders: Wings of Desire (10-8-3)

    * Second place film replaces first-round film.

    I'm so glad there weren't any ties! In fact, no result was separated by a single vote.

  18. Lynch has said often that he likes television because you get to keep telling the story. His creative approach involves latching onto strong ideas/images and then gradually discovering the connections between them. With feature films that all happens before the shooting begins, and I'm pretty sure The Return was fully scripted before they went into production (it was all shot well ahead of the broadcast), but the original Twin Peaks takes some meandering and uninteresting turns , especially in season 2. It's an actual soap opera rather than an homage to a soap opera. BUT the core concept of Laura Palmer, Dale Cooper, the red room, the black lodge, Bob, etc. is solid.

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