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Archive for the ‘Directors’ Category

tim-burtonYes, it might seem obvious, “Oh, Tim Burton is directing Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” — how sweet.  At mediateacher.net, we’ve explored Mr. Burton’s beguiling cinescapes before.

The powerful inspiration that Mr. Burton’s works have given to many young (and not-so-young) people for over a generation seems to renew its promise with this new feature.  And here is an answer to the “not phoning it in” title above:  The Making of a Film Fablean article by Mekado Murphy.

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the-white-stripes-city-lights-video-640x470Michel Gondry, one of the most inventive and utterly unique motion picture wizards of our time, has delivered again.  In an original gesture, he went and made a video on his own for the White Stripes song “City Lights” as a gift to Third Man Records (having made a number of legendary music videos together, including the Lego classic “Fell in Love with a Girl” and the Meg White-inspired masterstroke “The Hardest Button to Button“).  Lessons to learn from his music videos in general: a hefty dose of vision; planning, then planning and practice and planning; and execution.  And throw in a few dashes of visual and sonic magic.

mondo_microbe_and_gasoline_1600x1200_86d7a1ee-2ea0-4e41-a3b3-8990a90e4185_1024x1024Gondry’s book The Be Kind Rewind Protocol is great food for thought for filmmakers and educators alike, and of course there are his movies, notably that one featuring Mos Def, Jack Black, and Danny Glover; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, his exceptional collaboration with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (and which I feel gets even better with age); The Thorn in the Heart, a documentary that grew out of a family story; an episode of Flight of the Conchords; and the mix of music videos, shorts, commercials, and odds and ends that have made up his twisting and turning career.

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I am guessing that THIS will be the Seven Samurai reference (okay, it's six, but go with it) that will be remembered from this year.

I am guessing that THIS will be the Seven Samurai reference (okay, it’s six, but go with it) that will be remembered from this year.

The new trailer for Star Wars: Rogue One debuted during the Olympics coverage yesterday, and it looked pretty amazing.  (And it was even more enticing than the initial teaser, which already had fans energized.)  Just one point that I feel needs to be made for teachers gearing up for a new year of media literacy: Kurosawa.

The foremost acknowledged influence on Star Wars is Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden FortressAny student of moving images or educators who wish to explore the vital contemporary Star Wars universe is well advised to explore the singular power of director Akira Kurosawa and his influence on George Lucas.  For me, there appears to be some major inspiration from the universe of the Japanese cinematic master in the trailer for Rogue One (directed by Gareth Edwards), except in this case the references are to The Seven Samurai.  Whatever the inspirations, things appear to be looking good for the realm of Jedi, Force, and Dark Side.

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In the beginning… (Mondo Poster for Jaws)

It’s beach time again!  Every summer, mediateacher.net has featured discussions of the ever-evolving — or oh-so-static — world of the summer blockbuster and the ways in which movie studios work lots of angles to prop up their tent poles, for better or worse.  We have discussed super-hero fare and Soderbergh talks, studio pitches, summer classics, and evolving tastes with tech and fx, among many other topics.

The ingredients...

The ingredients…

As students think about how stories are constructed and how studios approach the moviemaking process, for this month we recommend a revealing article that discusses Why Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass Couldn’t Quit Jason Bourne.”  One of the high priests of jump cut acrobatics, director Paul Greengrass, and the versatile actor / writer / producer /etc. Matt Damon have returned to the Bourne series after it had begun so many years ago with Doug Liman at the helm. (Hey! You should click that Doug Liman link — it’s an exceptional interview about Edge of Tomorrow and he also talks about The Bourne Identity.  Great reading about his work as a director and working in Hollywood.  And Limania.)

 

 

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Soderbergh shooting handheld from a dolly

Soderbergh shooting handheld from a dolly

In an earlier post — Soderbergh Raids the Ark — I shared Steven Soderbergh’s very revealing experiment in which he turned Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark into a black & white silent movie.  Right now I would like to highlight two recently published articles about these two very different and undoubtedly masterful directors.  In Steven Spielberg on the Cold War and Other Hollywood Front Lines, Spielberg discusses his new historically based movie, Bridge of Spies, and many other topics with Cara Buckley of the New York Times.  In The Binge Director (in New York magazine), Matt Zoller Seitz visits with Soderbergh on the set of his show The Knick.  There are many interesting points for young filmmakers and media literacy educators in both of these superb articles.

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Khadija-Al-SalamiOne of the featured films for study in Chapter 6 of Moving Images is the short A Stranger in her Own City by filmmaker Khadija Al-Salami (who, when contacted about using an image from her movie for Moving Images, graciously offered it gratis since it was for an educational publication).  This exceptional short documentary portrays Nejmia, a 13-year-old girl in Yemen who does not feel she should wear a veil, as she walks freely about the capital city of Sana’a and interacts with other children, various men who harass her for her choices and behavior, and the imam of the great mosque of Sana’a, who embraces and supports her.  The movie is available on issue 3 of the DVD magazine Wholphin.  Since making that movie, Al-Salami, who lives in Paris and has received the Légion d’Honneur, has made a number of other documentaries, including Killing Her Is A Ticket To Paradise, about a female journalist who displeases hardline fundamentalists, and The Scream, about women’s roles in the 2011 uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen.

Al-Salami recently won a major award for her feature I Am Nujoom, Age 10 And Divorced, about a Yemeni child bride, which won the top prize at the Dubai International Film Festival, whose jury was headed by American director Lee Daniels.  Here is an interview with Al-Salami about this movie and her work as a female filmmaker working in France and the Middle East.

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As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the news of Orson Welles’s The Other Side of the Wind, it is worth posting news of a contemporary movie that shows the fragile state of film and the highly volatile and transitory condition of motion picture media that has continued to build over the past two decades.  David Riker, the director (The Girl) and writer (Dirty Wars) who is the featured Close-Up interviewee of Chapter 5 of Moving Images, has recently initiated a Kickstarter campaign to bring his universally praised first film La Ciudad back into circulation.

Director David Riker, third from right, working with garment workers to develop La Ciudad

Director David Riker, third from right, working with garment workers to develop La Ciudad

In only 15 years, this important movie that features a series of stories about undocumented immigrants in the United States – “a treasure,” according to Roger Ebert, “simply a great film,” from the Washington Post, and compared with neo-realist classics by Variety – became virtually unseeable, with a few worn prints in circulation and the DVD release out of print, its company having folded.  This particular story is a highly valuable one for media educators and students to explore, because it touches on many issues of great importance to 21st century mediamakers: newly developing funding resources and methods, direct pitches to audiences, film preservation, and social issues addressed in movies. Another important corollary to this story is that it ties in with one issue that media teachers have to deal with constantly: reminding students of the necessity to carefully preserve and archive their own work.  Are you making copies and keeping track of them?  Do you control the formats and have access to them?  I find that often enough, the answer is no.  Students often do not pay enough attention to this, and from time to time, former students contact me asking if I have copies of their work.  “Well, I’ll be happy to check,” I say, wanting to add, “and do you remember the first things I went over when we started class?  And telling you that there’s a decent chance you will be creating treasures that will be priceless to you in years to come…”

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