Monday, November 29, 2010

Todd Hunter's "Summer Blink": A Review

By Lars Trodson

Tana Sirois
The factors that make truly independent cinema so thrilling are wholly on display in Todd Hunter’s recently released feature film, “Summer Blink.”

“Summer Blink” is thrilling because you’re able to watch new talent emerge, and to see how smart filmmakers ingeniously overcome the obstacles of a budget that doesn’t allow for extravagant locations or huge extra-filled scenes. Thrilling also because its a high-wire act during which the audience can sometimes see the artists wobble -- only to have them recover and walk triumphantly over to the other side.

Hunter, who wrote and directed “Summer Blink”, has created a mature work. He’s a theater director making his first venture into film, and he has assembled a great cast that he handles with astonishing dexterity. I say mature because Hunter not only shows a remarkable affinity for the unique demands of film, but also because his film treats issues such as sex and wanderlust without the fawning romanticism you see in most American movies. 

Haven't Seen 'Bighorn'? Check It Out Right Here

Our friend Freddie Catalfo's short film "Bighorn" continues to make the rounds at festivals and generate buzz. Wondering what it's all about? See it right here. Catalfo describes "Bighorn" as "a 15-minute, supernatural historical fantasy based on a true fact: that General Custer's bandmaster, Felix Vinatieri -- an Italian immigrant and the great-great-grandfather of Super Bowl-winning kicker Adam Vinatieri -- was ordered to stay behind at the 7th Cavalry's Powder River camp and missed the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The story takes place in 2002 and 1876. BIGHORN is the latest from award-winning filmmakers Alfred Thomas Catalfo (writer/director of the internet hit “The Norman Rockwell Code” and winner of 21 major screenwriting competitions) and Glenn Gardner (producer of Cannes Film Festival Palm d’Or winner “Sniffer”). The renowned Steve Alexander, recognized by the U.S. Congress as the world’s foremost Custer living historian, portrays Custer. Native American and adopted Lakota Bill Watkinson portrays the Lakota Medicine Man. The NFL graciously granted the filmmakers permission to use footage from the 2002 Super Bowl."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson and James Franco Should Team Up To Make Jack Kerouac's “On The Road”

By Lars Trodson

“I hope you get where your going and be happy when you do.”

It sounds like an Irish blessing, something that has come down to us over the years, something that is said when people get married, have a drink, consecrate a death, or begin a journey. “I hope you get where your going and be happy when you do.” How much more simple and beautiful can you get?

But it isn’t an ancient blessing. It’s a throwaway line in Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” -- appearing on page 134 of the scroll version, and it's said by an old hobo called Mississippi Gene that’s hitching a ride on the back of a truck out in the midwest. (The spelling used in the phrase is Kerouac's.) It’s good, practical advice, something that sounds right coming out of the American mid-west at night, and I suppose this is what made me think of Clint Eastwood, and made me think that if there was anyone on the planet that could turn “On The Road” into an honest movie it would be him.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Great Gatsby: Is It Filmable?

By Lars Trodson

Turning “The Great Gatsby” into a movie comes down to a central question: how well can you dramatize a single line of prose?

That single line is: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

Gatsby is a great novel without much a plot. It’s a long lament. It’s a memory drifting away in the hot summer sun. But that line is a real thumper -- it knocks everybody out when they first come across it -- and it may be the one line everybody remembers aside of the very last beautiful line of the book.

In the 1974 film version, Sam Waterston plays Nick Carraway, and he delivers it in that halting, sideways style of his that dissolves all the power from it. And if you don’t get that line of the book right you don’t have the movie. Jack Clayton directed that version, and it starred Robert Redford as Jake Gatsby. We know it it all turned out.