11.29.2012

José Carioca


It was just about two years ago after a screening of The Black Cauldron that I vowed to see or revisit every single Disney animated film. It has been a slow process but the time has almost approached, with only Make Mine Music left standing in the way.

Above all . . . moreso than The Sword & the Stone's delightful love of science, the Don Bluth-iness of The Rescuers, Lilo & Stitch's ability to make me tear up upon every viewing, or the unfathomable awfulness of Home on the Range . . . what struck me the most through this experience was José Carioca.

A Brazilian parrot who remains quite popular in Brazil, José first appeared in 1943's Saludos Amigos in order to improve the U.S.'s relations with South America during World War II. After re-appearing in Three Caballeros with Donald and Panchito Pistoles, he was featured again in 1945's Melody Time. His sightings since have been few and far between, making cameos in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Alice in Wonderland and taking part in Epcot's Mexican Pavillion's Gran Fiesta Tour where he's voiced by the great Rob Paulsen.

José's segment in Saludos Amigos in particular is one of the most amazingly animated pieces in Disney's history, standing proudly alongside Fantasia's deleted Clair De Lune. It is a shame that he is not utilized more in the States and that all of his shorts are thrown together with vastly inferior sections in Disney's compilation film phase of the 1940s.

11.27.2012

DIY kino

I find myself as a member of DIY Kino, a new movement in independent filmmaking. My own personal philosophies and methods matched up quite nicely with their manifesto, so it was an easy decision. Tonight, We Stay Indoors is one of the first three films under this movement's banner, and has undergone a new International Cut to be part of an official DVD release in the near future. My next feature, Brooklyn Center Travelodge **, is tentatively scheduled to also be part of the DIY Kino festivities.

THE DIY KINO MANIFESTO

The primary goal of this manifesto is to clearly define the borders of acceptability for any given production within the movement. The originators were highly inspired by Dogme 95 creators, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. Unfortunately, the tenants of Dogme 95 or the "Vow of Chastity" is now too far removed from the present state of independent filmmaking to be a beneficial to the contemporary filmmaker. While the DIY KINO Filmmakers manifesto too contains a set of tenants for the filmmaker to abide by, our goal is to limit our effect on the creativity of the artist while maintaining a consistency between our films.

THE FOUR KEY BELIEFS ABOUT FILM:

ONE.
Flexibility of the medium.

Society is flexible, and filmmaking is a reflection of society. It is an impossibility to predict new variables that will change the way filmmakers create their art. A strict lifespan of 5 years is placed on this manifesto, in which time it must either be updated or fall into obscurity. Only Films completed between 2012 and 2017 may qualify.

TWO.
Deviation and Innovation.

We see the current state of film in an unhealthy state of flux. We openly reject the Hollywood standard. Emulation and imitation are expressly forbidden except in cases of parody or satire. Our belief is that the primary goal of the filmmaker is to deviate in form, content or visual aesthetic; to bring the viewer a truly original piece. Genre pieces, with the film openly categorized as only one major genre, is expressly forbidden. Genre blending, or the use of more than one film category to describe your film to an audience is acceptable.

THREE.
Accessibility.

We believe that all people have the right to create within DIY without the social limitations of the "budget." It is our aspiration that DIY KINO (in association with film) will gain a greater acceptance of a more limited budget with the artistic integrity of the film. In no circumstance can the film's cost exceed 10,000 USD.

Fundraising - Anyone contributing funds (apart from the filmmaker) must not have any creative control of the film. You may not sacrifice vision for financing (ex. no advertising within films). The filmmaker must acknowledge financiers of the film in the film's credits (unless the film contains no credits). The complete budget (excluding any distribution fees or insurance) must not exceed 10,000 USD. This assumes a minimum running time of 45 minutes.

FOUR.
Power of the Artist.

We believe that while Film is naturally a collaborative art, the filmmaker's intimate attachment to all aspects of the production is necessary to keep the "vision" of the Film consistent with the "vision" of the filmmaker. If there is a change from script to first cut in form, structure, or story, then the change should originally resonate within the filmmaker. We then believe all DIY KINO Films should maintain an artist that writes, directs, and edits his or her work.

The filmmaker must contribute to the roles of writer, director, and editor. In some circumstances, co-writer/director/editor would be acceptable. In the case that any of these roles don't exist in your film, they wouldn't need to be contributed to.

11.17.2012

bond


I imagine it must be rare to insert characterization into a role that has remained absent of it for close to fifty years. There are few film series' where this would even be possible. Godzilla maybe, or Zatoichi. And perhaps Dracula, Frankenstein, and other literary creations.

Perhaps M has a sense of personality in Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. I am not sure, as I have not read them except for You Only Live Twice, which is weird. What I do know, however, are the movies. Bernard Lee played the role from the get-go, lasting until Moonraker in 1979. While a staple of the James Bond mythos, his appearance was never a highlight. In fact, the only memory I have of old Ms was during the tenure of his replacement, Robert Brown. He only lasted four films, but the scene in License to Kill where he revokes Bond's double-0 license remains in my head.

Interesting trivia: Robert Brown previously played Admiral Hargreaves in The Spy Who Loved Me and it is widely (perhaps not too widely) thought that the character is one and the same, having been promoted after the death of the previous M.

I would say that M was never a substantial character until Judi Dench stepped into the role, but this would be untrue. She fell right along in the insubstantial route throughout all of the Pierce Brosnan entries, and even in Casino Royale.

But then something happened, and it was called Quantum of Solace. It stands as the most underappreciated Bond of them all, and was also the basis for one of the few articles I ever wrote on Switchblade Comb that actually caused a bit of commotion (the very slightest bit, but still). The idea was brought up to have M show more of a maternal role for Bond, and the result is the best Bond/M relationship in the series' wide history, even considering Skyfall.

But oh, Skyfall. Bringing Roger Deakins into the cinematography fold for the 50th anniversary was a stroke of genius and Javier Bardem is good goofy villainy (but not best goofy villainy, that would be Moonraker's Michael Lonsdale), but the highlight is finally seeing M front and center.

Halfway through Skyfall there is a particularly tremendous scene - one of the best in the series' long history - where M speaks her mind to a tribunal, and I am trilled that we as an audience are able to witness it. A character so deeply engrained in cultural mythology rarely has the opportunity to make a grand something out of nothing, but here it is in all its improbable glory.

I am excited to see what new directions the Bond series will go from here, considering the rights to Blofeld and SPECTRE are back in their well-deserving hands. But moreso, I am excited that we already have the last two entries. It makes me proud to be a Bond fan. I have spent the months awaiting Skyfall by mulling over 'Best of/Worst of' lists for the series. These things sometimes seem trite though, after a while. So.

The Spy Who Loved Me is the best. Die Another Day is the worst. I will staunchly defend Quantum of Solace, License to Kill, Moonraker, and The Man with the Golden Gun. And I don't know who the best Bond is.

chocodiles


I had a Chocodile once, only once.

A chocolate-covered twinkie concocted by the Hostess Brand, these have been quite rare outside of the West Coast due to freshness issues and fragile shipping conditions. They have just become rarer still now that Hostess is closed, inwardly destroyed by a Baker's Union strike which I'm sure would make a watchable musical based in the 1920s. Baking operations have been suspended at all plants, and bakeries will stay open only for a scant few days to sell already-baked goods.

Sno balls, Twinkies, and Cup Cakes will live on. They are too entangled in consumer culture to suddenly disappear. But I fear for Chocodiles.

There is an single article on the internet that I can point to as one that stands above all the rest. It can be found on the now-defunct X-Entertainment and documents the elusive search for Chocodiles across the country. It was such an inspiration that the finding of these became a major goal next to seeing remnants of the World's Fair on a years-ago trip to Seattle. The hunt was a success, thanks to a random gas station whose name has escaped me. It became a touchtone of that trip alongside the Hurricane Cafe and a road trip to Bend, Oregon. I still even have the wrapper.

Thought to be long gone already, I can't imagine the actual demise of Chocodiles will be largely mourned. I myself have only vague fleeting memories of the taste. There is no final package to snap up at the grocery store, no opportunity for a final glimpse at this novelty treat on the verge of extinction. It must just be accepted.

This is a strange sort of melancholy.

So now I will take part in a nostalgic VHS film festival in two days time. Alongside RC Cola, there will be Cup Cakes. There will be Twinkies. There will be Sno Balls.

But there will be no Chocodiles.

There will be no Chocodiles.