Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"We love tourists here in Nilbog..."

Let's just assume (like most of the world) that you've never seen Claudio Fragasso's Troll 2.

How do you describe what makes a film a cult classic? It's not like there's a tried-and-true formula to achieving such a goal (many films have tried, only to fall by the wayside). Some would say that there's at least one rabid devotee for every film that gets made (which is possible, but at least in the case of Alexander & Karaszewski's Screwed, unlikely), but even that can't account for the widespread enshrinement that this no-budget Italian-American oddity has wrought over the past couple of years.

Thankfully, the Alamo Drafthouse's superawesome Rolling Roadshow has decided to swoop in with a thoroughness that makes the trash film lover in me swoon as if stricken with the vapors. It's happening this weekend, and I can't imagine a more action-packed place to be for fans of films that go splat in the night.

You've got an insane amount of the cast and creative team (including Director Fragasso), five rare screenings, and the kind of activities (a Molotov Cocktail toss? For real?) that no rational human being could soon forget. Plus, a trip to Utah! If the Belcourt's midnight programming continues to grow and expand, perhaps someday you'll see something like The Nilbog Invasion as part of our community outreach.

Just picture it: Michael Mann's The Keep in the Carpathian Alps (or better yet, deep down in the rock quarry in Box, England where they shot all the weirdness). Slava Tsukerman's Liquid Sky on the roof of a New York building. Or maybe Evil Dead in the middle of the Tennessee woods?

TROLL 2? You're soaking in it...

Let's get Canadianaughty...

Here's a fascinating little piece from The Star (no, probably not the one you're thinking of) about onscreen sex; specifically of the Canadian variety.

I'm happy to see reference to Cronenberg, Maddin, and Egoyan, and author Geoff Pevere opens up the debate further by getting into areas of distinctly Canadian character. But more time gets spent on current controversy magnet Young People F---ing than the upsetting C-10 funding bill (which could seriously suck all the twisted, provocative exploration from Canuck cinema). Personally, I'm shocked that any serious exploration of the nasty (north of the 49th parallel) doesn't mention the most pragmatic and entertaining sexual theorist and therapist working today, Canada's own pride and joy, Sue Johansen.

So let's have at it, Nastyville... What are your thoughts on Canadian cinema sex and the role of arts funding in the process of laying bare taboos?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The best movie opening-credit sequences ever

This isn't really relevant to anything specific going on right now, but I just think it's pretty cool.


"The movie opening-credit sequence has become a lost art; so many movies today, especially action blockbusters, are content to plunge directly into the action and wait until the end to show you who made the film. Now, Screengrab has compiled a list, complete with YouTube clips, of the 12 best opening-credit sequences ever. It's a good selection of these mini-movies that expertly sets the tone for the feature that follows. A lot of credit buffs' favorites are here, including the ones for Scorsese's Raging Bull, Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, and David Fincher's Seven and Panic Room. Of course, you can't talk about film credits without mentioning the genre's master, Saul Bass, who revolutionized the opening credit sequence in the 1950s with his jazzy, fragmented-animation segments for such movies as The Man With the Golden Arm and Anatomy of a Murder. (Which gives me an excuse to embed this clip, which has been making the rounds this week, of what the Star Wars credits would have looked like had Bass designed them.)"


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Shameless Self Promotion

Those who woke early on Friday, May 23 may have caught a really cool piece on the Belcourt by the lovely Christine Buttorff during All Things Considered on WPLN. Thanks to the interweb, you can here it now at your computer. We especially like the WRATH OF KHAN scream contest getting some exposure.

Click here to hear.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Rest in Peace Stan Winston...

Reports are trickling out the the legendary creature effects creator Stan Winston has passed away. Stan had his hand in creating some of the most memorable creatures, legends and effects of the current modern era of film. Stan's work added to the pantheon of legendary film creatures like the classic Universal Monsters and the legendary creatures of Ray Harryhausen, one of Stan's personal idols. Winston won the Oscar four times for his work on Aliens, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, and AI and most recently worked on the brilliant visual effects in Iron Man creating the practical Iron Man suits. Winston was easily one of the greatest special effects and make-up visionaries to ever work in Hollywood and has created some of the most memorable special effects in cinematic history. This is truly a great loss and an incredibly sad day for Hollywood.

In addition to the four films that he won Oscars for, Winston worked on The Thing, Predator, Edward Scissorhands, The Monster Squad, Congo, Galaxy Quest, Big Fish, The Wiz, Constantine and lots more. You can see much of his fantastic work over at his studio's official website:

His legend, vision and attention to detail will be greatly missed.

Ain't It Cool News has posted several tributes to Stan from James Cameron, Jon Favreau, Jonathan Liebesman, Frank Darabont and Joe Dante.


Friday, June 13, 2008

New on Tap...

Look what that Hat brought in. As you know, or maybe you don't know, with the many "You guys serve beer?!" that we hear as soon as someone walks into the lobby of the Belcourt for the first time. But, not only do we have your regular theatre concession fare; popcorn, soda, candy, etc., but we also serve beer, wine and liquor (only to those of age of course) and we're the only theatre in Nashville to do so. One of the functions of this blog will be to keep you update on all the great new offerings we have in the concession stand and also give you a place to let us know what else you'd like to see us serve. We look forward to your comments! Let's get to it shall we?

New this week - from the magical land of Vermont - MAGIC HAT #9
From Magic Hat Brewery - "Not Quite Pale Ale - A beer cloaked in secrecy. An ale whose mysterious and unusual palate will swirl across your tongue and ask more questions than it answers. A sort of dry, crisp, fruity, refreshing, not-quite pale ale. #9 is really impossible to describe because there's never been anything else quite like it. Our secret ingredient introduces a most unusual aroma which is balanced with residual sweetness."
ABV: 4.0 Gravity 1.047 Bitterness 18 SRM 9.5 YEAST: English Ale HOPS: Cascade, Columbus MALTS: Pale, Crystal

Just passing along...Gene Hackman @ Downtown Library

This is cool: On Wed, June 25 @ 6pm, Gene Hackman and co-author Daniel Lenihan will be on hand to discuss their new book, Escape from Andersonville. More info at 862-5755 or at the Library's website.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Four (discs) to 'tango

Back in December 2006, about 100 people took a big chance on a film that we never thought we’d get the chance to show, and it wasn't until 26 reels arrived at our doorstep that the realization fully hit. Something of a holy grail for cinephiles, up there with Jacques Rivette’s OUT 1, Fassbinder’s BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ, Godard’s HISTOIRE(S) DU CINEMA by virtue of mammoth length, accomplishment and audience endurance, a rare screening of Hungarian director Bela Tarr’s SATANTANGO is something that we luckily found would even attract people from other southeastern cities willing to make the drive for a 7.5-hour slice of miserablism laid out in long, long takes. If you, the reader, were among the brave, feel free to chime in here, but I think it’s fair to say that most people found it a truly rewarding experience – one that would stay with them for some time to come.

That said, the reason for this post is that it seems that Facets is finally releasing the film on DVD on July 22 after two years of threatening to do so. I write this with baited breath, as the release date has probably been announced and cancelled more times than I can count on one hand, but Facets has recently added details regarding extras with their most recent date, which is encouraging.

For shucks and giggles and to fly in the face of previously stated viewing preferences, here’s one of the extras, PROLOGUE for the omnibus VISIONS OF EUROPE, in its entirety:

As is not necessarily evident in YouTube clips, Bela Tarr’s use of the elongated shot naturally brings the viewer to contemplate and appreciate even the smallest details of the frame. Even on the best of televisions, such things can be lost or, at very least muddied in the inherent compression of the DVD format. In addition, Facets has a history of releasing dodgy product, though it is said that the reason for the delay has been that the director has rejected previous transfers submitted to them by Facets. Having experienced the real deal myself, I'm somewhat exempt from the argument, but let us hope that this is the case. But is this the final resting place of this film, a film which for 14 years has managed to stay, at least in the US, enshrined in the cinema only?


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Indy Jones, the Wrath of God?

Opening with a CGI’d ground hog, an inexplicably recurring character introduced with Elvis’ version of “Hound Dog” (not the same animal, Steven/George), and culminating with Russian soldiers aiming their guns offscreen to a crew of prison guards that are directly in front of them (lame, guys), I knew immediately that the suspension of disbelief would be a factor in being able to enjoy INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL for what it is, which certainly needs no recounting here. And I enjoy I did, for the most part. While basking in one unlikely misadventure after another, one thinks back to RAIDERS and wonders if so many infractions of the sort, CGI aside, bogged down the first edition of Indy. I suspect not, though another viewing of Raiders certainly seems in order. But I digress… The recurring thought for me were the parallels between CRYSTAL SKULL and Herzog’s films shot in the Amazonian jungle, most obviously AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD, which screened at the Belcourt a few weekends back as part of the Herzog/Kinski Weekend Classics this month.

(very light spoiler ahead if you haven’t seen CRYSTAL SKULL)

The clear link is the shared subplot of the myth of El Dorado, the fabled city of gold located somewhere in the Amazonian jungle, arguably the main plot of AGUIRRE. Herzog’s Aguirre (Klaus Kinski) leads his Spanish expedition astray in a mad search for El Dorado. The source for AGUIRRE is inspired by a similar journey of Captain Francisco de Orellana circa 1633, a nod to which can also be found in CRYSTAL SKULL when Indiana Jones enters a tomb of mummified Spanish conquistadors who’d been unheard of since their own search for El Dorado. Indy opens one to find a perfectly enshrined rough-hewn specimen, Aguirre-like armor on his head. Did he name Orellana directly? I can’t be sure.

Also recurring are similar locations, or fake locations in the case of the CRYSTAL SKULL: Following the mummy scene, the journey diverts via plane to Iquitos, which Herzogians will recall is the main village and site of the to-be-built opera house in FITZCARRALDO (playing June 14-16). Whereas Spielberg/Lucas substituted the much friendlier environs of Hawaii to emulate Peru (and in a lowest-common-denominator moment, the world famous Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina), one has to give props to Herzog for actually shooting there rather than animating it (as will be chronicled in MY BEST FIEND, June 28-30).

One can argue that the creative team behind this edition of Indy had Herzog on the brain when plotting the details of CRYSTAL SKULL, and so it seems do others in Hollywood if we’re to believe that Werner Herzog is remaking Abel Ferrara’ BAD LIEUTENANT with Nicolas Cage. Say it ain’t so. Abel Ferrara does.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Raiders: The Adaptation...

Last Thursday night at the Belcourt we hosted the Tennessee premiere of Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. In 1982 three 12 year old boys made a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the lost ark, it took them 6 years to finish. We had the privilege of having filmmaker Eric Zala, one of those "boys" to be in attendance for the screening. The crowd was very energetic and gave Eric a standing ovation at the end of the film before his Q & A. It was a great evening, and a hilarious and an inspiring experience.

In his adult life, Eric had been working at EA sports as Quality Control Director for 10 years making 6 figures, but wasn't satisfied, so to the behest of his childhood buddy Chris, one of the other boys who did the shot-for-shot remake, he left his job at EA moved back to Mississippi and is pursuing making an independent film with his friend, they've finally finished thier script and are shopping it around next week. Also Producer Scott Rudin (No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, ect.) has bought the life rights to the boy's story of the making of the Raiders: Adaptation.

Here's a pic from the night, plus a picture of the boys as kids, a pic of me and Eric, the Raiders guys with Spielberg and the letter Spielberg wrote them after he saw a bootleg VHS copy of the film : O