CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 28, 2014 |
David Koff, a filmmaker and union activist whose investigation of a campus construction project profoundly changed the Los Angeles school system, has died. He was 74. He committed suicide March 6 in Hastings, N.Y., his family said. Koff was the indefatigable researcher who, in the 1990s, took on the Belmont Learning Complex, turning it into a symbol of civic dysfunction as it became the nation's most expensive high school. Outside Los Angeles, Koff was best known as a talented documentary filmmaker who took uncompromising stands.
March 27, 2014 |
It's not only biblical prophets who have visions, movie directors have them too. And when a filmmaker like Darren Aronofsky bring his very personal perspective to the ancient story of Noah and the flood, moviegoers will have to hang on tight to avoid getting washed overboard. Grandiose, improbable, outlandish and overwrought, "Noah" is the kind of simultaneously preposterous and dead serious movie that has become Aronofsky's specialty. As much a fantasia inspired by the Old Testament as a literal retelling of that tale, "Noah" manages to blend the expected with the unexpected and does it with so much gusto and cinematic energy you won't want to divert your eyes from the screen.
March 25, 2014 |
Dressed in his usual dark shirt, suit jacket and matching denim pants, singer Matt Berninger of Brooklyn, N.Y.'s the National is peevishly hammering a beach umbrella into the ground with his dress shoe. As he settles into a camp chair in a sun-drenched Brooklyn park, an offscreen voice cheerily tells him to relax before peppering him with questions: "On tour, it's day in and day out - does that ever make you sleepy onstage? … Have you ever woken up, in a nightmare, on the bus because of the movement?"
March 21, 2014 |
Although it is an unapologetic celebration of its subject's remarkable life, Showtime's new documentary about Geraldine Ferraro is rimmed with sadness. Some of this is understandable enough. Ferraro died two years ago, after battling blood cancer for more than a decade. "Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way," which premieres Friday, is clearly a labor of love by her daughter, filmmaker Donna Zaccaro. But more than that is the "lest we forget" tone that infuses the documentary. In 1984, former vice president and Democratic nominee Walter Mondale's decision to name then Congresswoman Ferraro as his running mate was nothing short of revolutionary.
March 13, 2014 |
Director Roger Michell and writer Hanif Kureishi were on a worldwide promotional tour for "Venus," the 2006 film that earned Peter O'Toole his last Oscar nomination, when the two collaborators' seemingly nonstop travel schedule hatched the concept for a new film. "We had lots of airplane flights and came up with this idea of a couple going to Paris for 48 hours as a very easy and beautiful structure," Michell said. He and Kureishi decided to take their own 48-hour trip to Paris to outline the characters and the plot.
March 7, 2014 |
Robert Rodriguez helped ignite an independent film movement in the 1990s with his film "El Mariachi," shot for a mere $7,000, before moving on to blockbuster fare such as "Sin City" and the "Spy Kids" franchise. Now the restless filmmaker, 45, is trying to revolutionize the small screen with the recently launched cable network El Rey, targeted at a young, English-speaking Latino audience. It's available on Time Warner and DirecTV, among other outlets. You've had a lot of success in films.
March 7, 2014 |
American filmmakers have tried some neat formal tricks lately - think J.C. Chandor and the frantic silence of "All Is Lost" - but few have the brio Godfrey Reggio displays in his new work "Visitors. " The black-and-white film, which is just wrapping a three-week theatrical run in Los Angeles before heading to VOD this spring, continues the director's pattern of experimental documentary. Focusing on faces, largely though not strictly human, as well as assorted other images, “Visitors” is essentially a montage set to music (a Philip Glass score)
March 6, 2014 |
Damien Chazelle's “Whiplash” was the toast of this year's Sundance Film Festival, sweeping top prizes that set it up for a potentially nifty commercial and awards run when it hits theaters later this year. Now its writer-director, first-timer Damian Chazelle, is looking to capitalize on the heat with a new project, titled “La La Land,” according to a person familiar with the project who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about it publicly. Described as a romantic musical set in L.A., the script centers on an aspiring actress and jazz musician who fall in love but see their relationship tested by the high-stress environment of the city's arts and entertainment community.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 5, 2014 |
BEIJING - In the mid-1980s, Wu Tianming's star was on the rise. With China opening up to the world after the Cultural Revolution and Mao Tse-tung's death, he had found success as director of movies including "Life" and "The Old Well" and as the head of the Xi'an Film Studio. Under his guidance, daring and innovative filmmakers like Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige were bursting onto the international scene with pictures like "Red Sorghum" and "King of Children. " Wu was making a name for himself for his willingness to shake up an ossified state-run studio - and was raising eyebrows for calling out Communist Party bureaucrats who meddled in the arts.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 2, 2014 |
Alain Resnais, the French filmmaker whose intellectual experiments with time, memory and imagination yielded such celebrated films as "Last Year at Marienbad," has died. He was 91. Resnais was editing drafts of his next project even from his hospital bed, his longtime producer, Jean-Louis Livi, told the Associated Press. Resnais, who died Saturday, was renowned for reinventing himself during each of his full-length films, which included the acclaimed "Hiroshima Mon Amour" in 1959 and most recently "Life of Riley," which was honored at the Berlin Film Festival just weeks ago. In France, he won two Césars, the French equivalent of the Oscars, and, in 2009, received a lifetime achievement award at the Cannes International Film Festival.