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by Bill Gibron

10 Jan 2010

Nothing is more fulfilling than the creative process. Nothing is more tormented, either. Usually, the ends justify the means, the art produced (or in some case, the crass product manufactured) validating all the fears, flaws, and failures. This is especially true in film, where so many collaborative elements have to successfully come together to form the final vision. One sour facet, and forget it. On the other hand, if the vision at the center can’t stand up to scrutiny, no amount of artisanship can supplant it. Indeed, for many, art is all about imagination and inspiration first, it’s competent realization second. 

For Federico Fellini, one of the greatest director’s of all time, insight comes from the strangest places. After the worldwide embrace for his seminal La Dolce Vita, the maestro became enamored of Carl Jung’s focus on the “extrasensory perceptions” of his own intuitive muse. Call it gut feeling over preplanned sensitivity. Incorporating said dream logic and imagery into his already established neorealistic style, the resulting “experiment”, the brilliant , (meta-named for the number of films Fellini had “directed” up to this point in his career) would signal the beginning of an amazing run of self-referential, collective unconscious masterworks. It also explained how art not only imitates life, but frequently fuses with and redefines both.

by Bill Gibron

7 Jan 2010

Diablo Cody is rapidly becoming a one note joke in the eyes of many film fans. Forget the Oscar, the split personality Showtime series (United State of Tara, for those who don’t know), and the recent big screen debacle of Jennifer’s Body. This is one writer who is manipulating her muse in such a deliberate, limited way that all Jason Reitman infused Juno joy aside, she’s dangerously close to becoming a parody of herself. One need look no further than the aforementioned Megan Fox vehicle (new to Blu-ray) to see the signs of potential self-spoof, as well as what might be her ultimate saving grace.

Granted, many of the problems facing this uneven genre romp come directly from the frequently aggravating ironic-ditz speak substituting for meaningful dialogue crafted by Ms. Thang Cody. The storyline centers on the title character, the local hot chick in a one horse town. Her best friend is uber-nerd Needy, and together they are the yin and yang of high school clique chic. While Jennifer enjoys being the cock-tease titan, her shy if still socially acceptable pal hangs out with sensitive band boy toy Chip. One night, the gals attend a concert by a lame act named Low Shoulder. One onstage mishaps and raging inferno later, and Jennifer is MIA and Needy’s entire world is shaken to the core.

by Omar Kholeif

5 Jan 2010

In an interview on the DVD Extras for the outstanding documentary ‘Billy the Kid’, director Jennifer Venditti discusses how a review by Variety’s John Anderson made her question the motives for making the film. Anderson’s scathing and misguided commentary insinuated that the filmmakers had been ‘exploitative’ in their pursuit of Billy’s story (LINK). But in the end, the director believes that this event, in a sense, empowered her to stand by the film’s original story.

Billy The Kid, at 84 minutes long, is the debut documentary feature from casting director turned filmmaker, Jennifer Venditti. Shot in a Verité style, the picture follows a skinny and awkward tenth-grader called Billy Price. Billy lives in rural Maine in a trailer with his mother and his less than enthusiastic stepfather. Despite his modest surroundings, Billy feels different from most kids his age. He is volatile, foul-mouthed, and overtly passionate about things; he is obsessed with rock music, serial killers, and sports a rattail. We follow this unlikely hero as he masquerades through the banal humdrum of adolescent life. Through these observations, we become privy to the difficulties that face the protagonist. “I was born different from others, different in the mind!’ he professes near the beginning of the film.

by Bill Gibron

30 Dec 2009

While it seems like they’ve been battling forever, the line in the sand between DVD and Blu-ray reached a No Man’s Land kind of clash in 2009. From content exclusives on the newest digital medium to packaging that wisely provided both, the mainstream met the enemy, and then rolled over and showed its soft commercialization underbelly. Indeed, DVD hasn’t truly given up, but you can sense its exit strategy in the air. As more and more major studios embrace the notion that cheapness equals choice (player prices are now down into the double digits - DOUBLE DIGITS) and regulations railroad the notion of home HD into every household, it’s inevitable that instead of being “almost” blu, we are about as cobalt as we can get, entertainment wise.

by Bill Gibron

29 Dec 2009

We’ve said it over and over again - making ‘worst-of’ lists is a heck of a lot harder than making ‘best-of’ determinations. The explanation for why may seem specious at first, but follow along anyway. You see, something good stands out for numerous reasons – brilliant direction, monumental acting, a quick and brainy script, an approach to a subject that is fresh and dynamic. Even when that story seems similar and the elements reek of the routine, energy and mood, tone and treatment can all aid in a film’s final aesthetic determination. But with the bad, the facets are sadly familiar – boring execution, non-existing cinematics, lame, ludicrous writing and performances that range from problematic to pathetic. These aggravating aspects never change, they never alter their underachieving patchiness. A crappy effort is a crappy effort, each one feeling similarly unworthy and unacceptable.

//Mixed media

Indie Horror Month 2016: 'Downfall' Explores Depression, Bulimia, and Suicide through Horror

// Moving Pixels

"Downfall finds horror in helpfulness.

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