Thursday, March 13, 2014

Was Your Script a Finalist in the NaFF's Inaugural Screenwriting Competition?

Posted by on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 1:18 PM


This week's Scene spotlights some of the changes coming to the Nashville Film Festival April 17-26 in Green Hills, where the long-running fest will celebrate its 45th year. Besides a new downtown outpost at Walk of Fame Park across from the Country Music Hall of Fame, the biggest addition is a screenwriting competition that put entries in the hands of judges such as Harmony Korine, former Universal Pictures chief Tom Pollock, veteran casting director Laray Mayfield, and Nicole Kidman's production company Blossom Films.

Today the NaFF announced the 76 finalists who'll be competing for cash and prizes totaling $55,000. Submitted scripts numbered 1,511 international entries; according to competition manager Michael Wood, 130 of them came from Tennessee screenwriters (roughly 70 from the Nashville area). The competition covers an unusually high number of genres and categories, from features to shorts and TV pilots, and the dramatic feature category alone drew 328 entries.

The winning scripts will be announced April 24 at the festival awards ceremony. Below, the full list of finalists from the NaFF's release.

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Penn & Teller Put Art to the Test in Delightful Doc Tim's Vermeer

Posted by on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 8:24 AM


Essential viewing for anyone interested in art history, the scientific method, or just observing a recreation of one of the most important moments in the evolution of the artistic process, Tim's Vermeer would fit perfectly with The Belcourt's current “Science on Screen” series. It's not what one would probably expect from the first feature to be directed by Teller (and yes, Penn Jillette is along for the ride as narrator), but it's a fun, perceptive look at how the human mind solves problems.

When Video Toaster inventor/philanthropist Tim Jenison became fascinated with 17th century Dutch painting, he noticed representational aspects that didn't correspond to how the human eye works. With his background in optics, he kept digging deeper until he found the Hockney-Falco Thesis: namely, that Vermeer employed a camera obscura construction. If this were the case, shouldn't anyone using the same set-up be able to produce a work as photorealistic as Vermeer's?

Being a person with the means and spare time to give it a shot, Jenison proceeded to recreate the working and light conditions of the 17th century Netherlands in an attempt to prove his thesis. The result is a taut, funny and revelatory 80 minutes — and an absolute must-see for anyone with the capacity to be wowed. Tim's Vermeer opens Friday at Green Hills.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why Eva Green — and Kinky Sex in 3D — Almost Save 300: Rise of an Empire

Posted by on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Let's talk about Eva Green. Some may know her from Bertolucci's The Dreamers, where she and Louis Garrel managed to present a united force in sexual everything, making a film sexually irresistible to all. Some may know her as Vesper Lynd, the Bond Girl who kickstarted the James Bond reboot with style, class, and the kind of effortless sensual dynamism that was previously thought to have vanished somewhere near France in the late '60s. Some may even know her as Serafina Pekkala, the witch queen from the tragically underrated film of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass.

The thing is, everybody knows Eva Green from something, because she is an actress who makes an impression that doesn't easily fade. This brings us to 300: Rise of an Empire, a film that aims to encompass its seven-year senior progenitor from before, after, and simultaneously, filling in many of the gaps surrounding Thermopylae as regards Greece's battles with the Persian Empire. With the vast majority of 300's characters dead, the new film shifts focus to the Athenian General Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and his travails while battling the Persian forces, building to the epic throwdown at Salamis.

While the original 300 was a monster of a hit — in addition to being incredibly stupid, sexually fascist, equally homophobic and homoerotic, ignorant about actual classical-era behavior and philosophies, and sexist — it didn't really do much besides the same thing, over and over again. So let's give the filmmakers behind the new film a little bit of credit, for introducing two elements that immediately distinguish Rise of an Empire from the first 300: water and women.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Attention Marshmallows! Belcourt Will Be Only Nashville Theater to Play Veronica Mars, Starting March 28

Posted by on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 4:29 PM

Sorry if you already booked a hotel in Atlanta or scenic Evansville, Ind. — two of the closest cities this weekend that will be showing the long-awaited, Kickstarter-boosted film version of the cult favorite TV series Veronica Mars. The movie opens Friday at 270 AMC Theatres, which leaves Nashville out of luck.

Or is it? Minutes ago, The Belcourt announced that due to popular demand, it will give the movie a one-week run starting Friday, March 28 — meaning that if you can wait just two weeks, you won't have to drive 173 miles this weekend to Benton, Ill. Here's the synopsis from the theater website:

Veronica Mars has put Neptune and her amateur sleuthing days behind her on the eve of graduating law school. While interviewing at high-end law firms, Veronica gets a call from her ex-boyfriend Logan who has been accused of murder. Veronica heads back to Neptune just to help Logan find an attorney, but when things don’t seem right with how Logan’s case is perceived and handled, Veronica finds herself being pulled back into a life she thought she had left behind.

Tickets available here.

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If You Like Saul Bass' Title Sequences, Imagine What His Only Feature Looks Like

Posted by on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 3:25 PM

Saul Bass, the renowned graphic designer and artist who created the title sequences for some of Alfred Hitchcock and Otto Preminger's most notable movies (including Vertigo, Psycho, North by Northwest, and The Man With the Golden Arm), also directed his own films. Most of these were visually striking experimental shorts — one of them, 1968's "Why Man Creates," even won him an Oscar. Bass' one feature, 1974's Phase IV, lies somewhere in the middle between avant-garde whatsit and old-school genre filmmaking: It's a monster movie shot like a science experiment. And it is unnervingly beautiful.

It begins with a cosmic event in outer space bathing the Earth in energy waves that cause colonies of desert ants to become hyper-intelligent and set aside their differences. Utilizing remarkable microphotography, Bass shows us the world of the insects up close, burrowing in their holes and following them around as if trying to understand their purpose. Even in these early scenes, Phase IV treads a fine line between narrative and abstraction. We sense the ants communicating with one another, even though we don't quite know what they're saying; we are strangers in their world, a fact that will be borne out ominously by the rest of the film's narrative.

By the time the humans show up, we may be forgiven for our surprise; it seemed, for a while, that the movie was going to be entirely about ants. The film's main characters are two scientists — the mercurial Dr. Ernest Hubbs (Nigel Davenport) and his more practical assistant James Lesko (Michael Murphy) — and a little while later a young survivor named Kendra Eldridge (Lynne Frederick). As Hubbs and Lesko conduct studies on the ants, trying to figure out what these mysterious insects are up to, the tension between them grows.

Read the entire article here. As part of The Belcourt's "Science on Screen" series, tonight's 7 p.m. screening of Phase IV will be followed by a talk via Skype by Deborah M. Gordon, head of the Gordon Lab at Stanford University and author of Ant Encounters and Ants at Work. Biology professor Gordon will discuss her research on ant colonies' collective behavior and its implications on systems as diverse as the Internet, the immune system and the brain. Tickets are $9.25.

Below: a montage of 52 Bass title sequences, including several you probably didn't know were his (Big!).

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Hey Kids! Watch Birds, Then Learn More at Belcourt's Saturday Morning Winged Migration Screening

Posted by on Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 5:52 PM

The Belcourt's "Science on Screen" series blasted off Wednesday night with a sold-out screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey and a visit from the movie's science advisor Frederick I. Ordway III — though afterward, much of the talk in the lobby was about the winning pre-film introduction by Tracie J. Prater. A former Belcourt regular and recent Vanderbilt Ph.D., she described how a childhood obsession with the movies Apollo 13 and October Sky led her to a career at NASA in Huntsville as an aerospace engineer. Her enthusiasm was as infectious as it was inspiring, and it bodes well for the series as it gets underway this weekend.

At midnight tonight and tomorrow is Total Recall — not the dunderheaded recent remake but the kinky, splattery, devious Paul Verhoeven original with Arnold Schwarzenegger. At 10 a.m. tomorrow, as part of its Saturday-morning entertainment for kids, the theater hosts a screening of Jacques Perrin's hypnotically watchable avian-flight documentary Winged Migration. On hand will be representatives from the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center to share information on the area's birds.

More information on the series available here.

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All Hail Electric Larry! The Lost Rock ’n’ Roll Classic Get Crazy Screens This Weekend at Logue’s

Posted by on Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Take the late, great Lou Reed playing “Bob Dylan,” Malcolm McDowell playing “Mick Jagger,” Lee Ving as “Iggy Pop” and Bill Henderson as “Muddy Waters.” Add in Howard Kaylan, John Densmore, Daniel Stern, Mary Woronov, and a trio of villains played by Ed Begley Jr., Bobby Sherman and Fabian. Mix with absurdist humor, kilos of old-fashioned dope jokes, and wrap it all up into a tribute to the legendary rock theater, the Fillmore East, and you must surely have a rock ’n’ roll classic.

Director Allan Arkush’s 1983 film Get Crazy is exactly that. A followup of sorts to his previous cult classic Rock ’n’ Roll High School, Get Crazy never garnered the acclaim or audience it deserves thanks to rock ’n’ roll’s oldest and most powerful enemy — corporate money-men. Arkush explains the sad tale himself in the above video, posted instead of the usual trailer since, as Arkush points out, Get Crazy had one of the worst trailers ever made.

Don’t miss a chance to see this obscure classic. It’s showing tonight only, projected from video, at the Cult Fiction Underground beneath Logue’s Black Raven Emporium — at both 8 and 10 p.m. It’s part one of their special rock ’n’ roll cult film weekend, with Arkush’s Rock ’n’ Roll High School showing tomorrow night at the same times.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

See the Trailer for Philip Glass-Scored Visitors

Posted by on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 4:30 PM

VISITORS Official Trailer from Cinedigm Online Screening Room on Vimeo.

Scene contributor Bilge Ebiri called Godfrey Reggio "a director incapable of creating something that's not beautiful." In Visitors, his latest wordless opus, the maker of the epochal Koyaanisqatsi — again in tandem with composer Philip Glass, who'll be performing here in a few months at OZ Nashville — examines man's relationship to technology through 74 black-and-white "moving stills," many of human faces or hands reacting to devices digitally erased from the frame.

The cinematic essay opens Friday at The Belcourt, which offers Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall midnight Friday and Saturday and holds over the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club for more shows. Also opening this week in theaters: 300: Rise of an Empire and Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

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No Ferret Is Safe from Tomorrow Night's Found Footage Festival

Posted by on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Between them, Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, buddies since sixth grade, have a string of assorted credits that includes The Onion, Late Night with David Letterman and Mystery Science Theater 3000. But it's as connoisseurs of video dumpster-diving that they've altered the cosmos. Since 1991, they've scoured Goodwill stores, yard sales and other treasure troves for bizarre VHS artifacts. Now they pass along their finds via the Found Footage Festival, celebrating its 10th year with a Nashville stopover 9 p.m. Thursday at The Belcourt.

Previous years have featured anything from an accidentally homoerotic music video featuring mall-haired ’80s Memphis wrasslers The Fabulous Ones to industrial-safety films and Jazzercise clips the world forgot — all best enjoyed with a rowdy crowd, concession-stand brews, and the hosts as your WTF tour guides. Here's all we'll say in anticipation of the grab bag they're opening tomorrow night: shaken ferrets.

Admission is $12.

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Cahiers du Coco: Jules and Jim

Posted by on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 12:46 PM

[Join Ettes leader and Fond Object founder Coco Hames as she moves through the Janus Films Essential Art House DVD box set one film at a time.]

Running time: 105 minutes
In French with English subtitles

Writing about my all-time favorite movie is daunting for me, which is why I put it off and this has taken so long to deliver and post! I'm sorry! Jules et Jim is the film (along with The 400 Blows and all things Antoine Doinel) that turned me on to cinema, so not only is it an awesome film, it is a treasured gift in and of itself. I honor you, movie. Namaste.

Jules et Jim is, I guess, a crazy love story. Not an amour fou love story, just a unique one. Jules (played by my forever imaginary boyfriend, Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre) are best friends, and the film begins with them as wild young men in bohemian Paris. We watch them meet Catherine (Jeanne Moreau, the best actress ever, Orson Welles agrees with me), who becomes Jules' wife.

War separates the two best friends and pits them against one another; Jim is French, while Jules (like Werner) is from Austria. Catherine and Jules have a daughter, Sabine, and after the war live in a quiet, remote chalet in the Black Forest. Jim visits. Things get weird.

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