Blu-Ray Review: Day for Night – Criterion Collection

Director: François Truffaut
Screenplay: François Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, Suzanne Schiffman
Starring: Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Léaud, François Truffaut, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Valentina Cortese
Country: France, Italy
Running Time: 115 min
Year: 1973
BBFC Certificate: 15


Films about filmmaking always tend to be popular with critics and I must say I’ve always been a fan of them myself. From the razor sharp satire of The Player, to the noirish brilliance of Sunset Boulevard, to over the top daft takes on the genre like Bowfinger, there’s a lot to enjoy from the film industry poking fun at or shining a mirror on themselves. French new wave legend François Truffaut turned his hand at making a film about making a film back in 1973, Day for Night. It was hugely popular at the time, winning numerous awards, including the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and The Criterion Collection have chosen it as their latest release on Blu-Ray in the UK. I haven’t seen it since I was a teenager, but I had fond memories of it, so was keen on giving it a rewatch.

Day for Night charts the production of ‘Meet Pamela’, a soapy-looking drama about a young woman who’s torn between her fiancée and his father. Truffaut plays the on-screen director who tries to keep the machine rolling during a shoot fraught with problems. The cast are divas, the crew are getting off with each other left-right and centre and little goes to plan. Mid-production things start to level off, but several disasters towards the end lead to some wild compromises.

It perfectly captures the madness of making a film – the problems; major and minor, the fakery and the beauty. Despite so much going wrong during the fictional production, it still made me desperate to get out on set, being a filmmaker myself. This is a testament to the great balancing act Truffaut pulls off between poking fun at the industry’s inherent absurdity and writing it a love letter at the same time. A closing bit of dialogue perfectly sums it up, when a reporter asks the prop-man (the only person willing to talk to the press) if the shoot was difficult, and he answers “no, it went fine and we hope audiences enjoy watching it”, despite the multitude of catastrophes they went through.

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Not At Odds #3 – This Ep Is Overrated!

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This week on NOT AT ODDS Jandy and I discuss our distaste for the term “overrated” and how we shouldn’t be using it in our discussion of film, or any media for that matter. Join us, won’t you?

 

 

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Review: Nine

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Director: Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha)
Screenplay: Michael Tolkin & Anthony Minghella
Based on: “Nine,” a Broadway musical by Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston, based on 8 1/2 by Federico Fellini
Producers: Rob Marshall, Marc Platt, John DeLuca, Harvey Weinstein
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, Fergie
Year: 2009
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 110min.


 

When you make a movie inspired by Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, you’ve already got a lot more to live up to than most filmmakers are willing to take on. When you’re Rob Marshall and only have two other feature films on your directing resume, it takes some guts to embark on a project like Nine, even if you did manage to win a Best Picture Oscar for your directorial debut Chicago (an award that many film critics strongly disagree with, incidentally). On the other hand, Marshall comes from a musical/Broadway/choreography background, which gives him a leg up on Nine, which has a Broadway musical sitting between it and 8 1/2. So this could really have gone either way. But I have to say, with a cast like this one (which includes three of my girlcrushes as well as the always solid Judi Dench and often incredible Daniel Day-Lewis), I was really hoping it would work. And generally, it does, though admittedly with much less subtlety than Fellini’s original.

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Film director Guido Contini (Day-Lewis) is known for a string of great successes early in his career, but is just coming off a couple of major flops as he’s supposed to be beginning another film, the one he and his supporters hope will be his comeback. But he’s unable to come with a solid story, much less a script, and shooting starts in ten days. He’s got his producer, his costume designer (Dench), and his leading lady (Nicole Kidman) all after him to get moving, but all he can manage to do is escape to a spa and fantasy versions of all the women in his life – from his mother (Sophia Loren) to the prostitute he remembers paying to dance at age 9 (Fergie) to his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), current mistress Carla (Penélope Cruz), and a fashion reporter (Kate Hudson). As Luisa points out to Guido, it’s “no wonder you’ve got no script, you’re too busy inventing your own life.” These fantasies become the musical numbers in Nine, each of them intercut with what’s going on in real life.

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Cary Fukunaga Talks About the Making of Sin Nombre

I loved the look of Cary Fukunaga’s feature film debut Sin Nombre and Jandy confirmed the film’s awesomeness in her review. Though the film has yet to open around these parts, and likely won’t until much later this year, I’m excited to see it and after peeking at a recent interview with the director, the excitement level has been raised a little more.

Fukunaga is a fresh voice which many of us have never heard of, never mind seen in action, so big thanks to FilmInFocus for posting a short (five minutes) video interview with the director on the making of Sin Nombre. The interview features some beautiful stills from Fukunaga’s short film Victoria Para Chino which was the inspiration for the full length feature, as well as a discussion on the process of researching and shooting the project.

Sin Nombre is currently playing in limited release.


Jarmusch’s Rules for Filmmakers

Jim JarmuschWhen I posted the trailer for Jim Jarmusch’s upcoming The Limits of Control, it was instantly clear that there’s a whole lot of love in Row Three land for the director. He’s not afraid to work outside the “system”, consistently making great films that twist and bend expectations.

Movie Maker recently gave Jarmusch free reign and asked him to share some information on his method of directing and result is five “rules” which read like a handbook for guerrilla filmmaking as well as a sort of simplified bible for filmmakers. Above all, it also sheds a bit of light into the director’s process and how he makes films.

In short form, here are Jarmusch’s rules for directors:

1) There are no rules.
2) Don’t let the fuckers get ya.
3) The production is there to serve the film.
4) Filmmaking is a collaborative process.
5) Nothing is original.

Jarmusch expands on the rules over at Movie Maker; it’s a short article well worth a read.

Big thanks to Peter Marshall for the heads up.

Deathrace Technique: Camera Smash

Despite the poor (ok, downright shitty) reviews that the updated version of Deathrace 2000 is getting, I’m still a bit intrigued with the idea of the Mad Max style vehicles in a super race with the speed and the “real” mash-ups, devoid of any special effects… and of course the hotties. Throw in Joan Allen, Jason Statham and “Deadwood’s” Ian McShane and yeah, I’ll go see it eventually.

Then I read an interview today with director Paul W.S. Anderson in which he talks a little about the making of the film and how they managed some of the cool smash-em-up scenes. It’s all real crashes and real guns. No models or crappy CGI. This was the real deal. In the interview, there are references and inspirations to everything from Mad Max to Two Lane Blacktop to Bullitt to Black Hawk Down and more. This intrigues me further.

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But how they get some of the shots is by actually running over and smashing some of the cameras:

I wanted to get the cars to drive into the cameras at high speeds, so we built one of my favorite rigs. We built a rig that had a camera and was completely ringed with basketballs. So it was this big giant ball. We stick it in the middle of the road, and the cars would drive at it. There is a shot in the very first race, when the original Frankenstein drives, where the car slides around the corner, and it looks like it hits the camera, and it does. And then the continuation of that is really funny because the camera just rolls away, bounces away, and it hits the wall.

Cool.

Read the full article over at io9.com [via Gizmodo]