Archive for the ‘Distribution & Screenings’ Category

Cinema vs. Home Theater

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

There’s an interesting discussion going on at the Onion’s AV Club these days about the relative merits of watching movies in the theater or at home. Noel Murray and Scott Tobias began the discussion in a “Crosstalk” article, and that ingnited a nice little debate in the discussion area. Josh Oakhurst has weighed in on the issue, too (via FresHDV).

My partner, Ashley, manages a one-screen historic art house cinema. With the exception of 19th century costume dramas, I’ll see pretty much anything they screen. On the other hand, we also have very modest home theater setup. Just so you have the context, here’s the setup:

    – a low-end video projector
    – a movie screen bought for $10 from junk merchants that had set up shop on the side of the road near Joelton, Tennessee
    – a dvd player
    – an old home theater audio system handed down from my dad
    – home-made window blinds that completely blackout our living room when we want to screen in the daytime (unnecessary at night)

It’s not fancy, but we love it.

As for which is better, I think there are certainly pros and cons to either experience. I’m certainly not going to argue that people should give up going to the theater, nor that they should stop renting movies. De gustibus non est disputandum, as the saying goes.

These articles did get me (re)thinking the cinema vs. home theater debate. Here are a few personal observations inspired by Murray, Tobias, Oakhurst, et al.


On television: How To Eat Your Watermelon In White Company (and Enjoy It)

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Joe Angio’s How To Eat Your Watermelon In White Company (and Enjoy It) premieres tonight on IFC at 9 pm Eastern.

The film covers the life and work of Melvin Van Peebles, a pioneer of African-American cinema whose works include Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Story of a Three Day Pass.

The film’s been getting great reviews in the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and so on. I’ve not seen it yet, so that’s about all I know, but I look forward to seeing it.

Life (and Filmmaking) During Wartime

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Let this article serve to remind us that, whatever production troubles we might be enduring producing one of our films, it could be a lot rougher.

From an LA Times article about Mohamed Daradji’s Ahlaam, a fiction film shot in Iraq that is now screening at festivals:

The last straw: a chaotic 24-hour period in December 2004 when Daradji and several crew members achieved a sort of modern Iraq trifecta — kidnapped and bullied by Sunni Muslim gunmen, then kidnapped again and bullied by Shiite Muslim gunmen, and finally jailed and interrogated by American soldiers.

As inspiring as it is to read about Daradji’s attempts to make art in the face of war, sadly, the bleaker news is this, says the article’s author:

Daradji’s film may end up being the last movie to come out of Iraq for a while. The country’s artistic life experienced a brief resurgence in the year after the U.S.-led invasion, with musicians, painters and actors all striving to restore Baghdad’s legacy as one of the Arab world’s cultural capitals. That trend has died as Iraq descends into civil war, with much of the educated, artistic class fleeing the country.

When you read something like this it certainly makes even the most astounding filmmaker “war stories” (e.g., comments like Coppola’s “This movie isn’t about Vietnam. It is Vietnam”) look pretty silly.

[via GreenCine]

This Conference is Being Recorded: Discussions on Workbook Project

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Late last year Lance Weiler (Head Trauma, The Last Broadcast) started the Workbook Project, a web resource for, by, and about filmmakers. Weiler calls it a “social open source experiment” because anyone can contribute to it. Among the more interesting things Lance has been doing for the Project is a series of conference podcasts.

Lance recently asked me to participate in one of these conferences with him and Mark Stolaroff, LA-based producer and founder of the No-Budget Film School. That conversation has just been posted.

You can listen to it here.

I hope you take something away from it. I certainly enjoyed discussing do-it-yourself issues with Mark and Lance, both of whom have a lot to offer on the subject.

And while you’re visiting the Workbook Project, check out the other great conversations that Lance has offered up:

Eric Bassett, concerning the DIY release of David Lynch’s Inland Empire

Susan Buice and Arin Crumley of Four Eyed Monsters

Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films (Outfoxed, Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price)

Tommy Palotta (animator of Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly)

Scott Kirsner, author of “The Future of Web Video”

Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer of Netlfix

Matt Hanson, creator of the web film project A Swarm of Angels

2006 Edendale Shortlist

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

The initial results of AJ Schnack’s annual Edendale Shortlist poll have been released. Over fifty writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers (including yours truly), and other cultural types submitted ballots.

The Edendale Shortlist Nominees…

Children of Men
The Departed
Little Miss Sunshine
Pan’s Labyrinth

Band of Horses – Everything All the Time
Cat Power – The Greatest
Joanna Newsom – Ys
TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain
Tom Waits – Orphans

As for my ballot, it consisted of five films that didn’t end up making the cut. Eh, what can I say? I went with my heart voting for some relatively obscure titles (at least compared with the films on the list above). No regrets.

I did contribute to the balloting for The Greatest. It’s not Cat Power’s greatest (that would be, for me, You Are Free), but it’s definitely a keeper.

ADDENDUM 2/3/07: I just got home from (finally) seeing Pan’s Labyrinth. This would have made it onto my ballot, easily, had I seen it in time.