24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Video

Los Angeles Film Festival: L.A.-based movies take center stage

June 16, 2011 |  4:28 pm

 The Los Angeles Film Festival kicks off Thursday night with "Bernie," Richard Linklater's quirky faux documentary about an effeminate mortician played by Jack Black. That film's setting is a small town in eastern Texas. But many of the movies that will play in the festival's coming 10 days are shot and set in Los Angeles, from the Ryan Gosling-starrer "Drive" to Amber Sealey's marital drama "How to Cheat" to Chris Weitz's gang-inflected "A Better Life" to Nicolas Ozeki's Latino family tale "Mamitas."

The L.A. Times is a presenting sponsor of the festival and on Friday at 12:30 p.m., we kick off our series of free lunchtime talks at the downtown festival's Filmmaker Lounge by discussing some of these hometown movies with their directors. (You can watch the chat live on The Times' website.) Ozeki, Sealey and Kat Coiro ("L!fe Happens") will talk about their films and L.A. cinema in a discussion moderated by The Times' Steven Zeitchik. Free lunchtime panels about documentaries, family films, gay themes and other topics will be held throughout the festival; please visit this section of the LAFF website for more details.

Below, a clip from Coiro's "L!fe Happens," about a group of young Silver Lake women (Krysten Ritter, Rachel Bilson and Kate Bosworth) who decide to raise a baby after one of them gets pregnant.

L.A. Film Festival highlights
Photos: 'Bernie' premiere with Jack Black
Festival will welcome stars Guillermo del Toro, James Franco and more

Hockey movies: The Stanley Cup meets Hollywood

June 15, 2011 |  4:47 pm


Hollywood and hockey have a relationship as complex as this year's battle between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup championship, which will culminate in Game 7 on Wednesday after a series filled with injury-inducing hits, spectacular offensive plays, verbal taunts and a biting incident. (Sounds like a typical day in the movies blogosphere, if you ask us.)

Though the industry is full of hockey fanatics -- Hockey-promoproducers Jerry Bruckheimer and David E. Kelley, filmmaker Kevin Smith and actors such as Kiefer Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, Mike Myers and Cuba Gooding Jr., to name a handful -- there aren't many high-profile hockey movies. The projects that are well-known, such as 1977's "Slap Shot" starring Paul Newman and the "Mighty Ducks" movies of the 1990s, can inspire mixed feelings among hockey and movie aficionados alike. Somehow, the action on film never quite matches up with its on-ice inspiration.

And yet, there are more hockey-related movies than one might think: "Miracle." "Mystery, Alaska." "Sudden Death." "Wayne's World" features Stan Mikita's Donuts, named in homage to the Chicago Blackhawks great, and a cop named Officer Koharski, a sly reference to onetime National Hockey League referee Don Koharski, who was once assailed by a coach screaming at him, "... you fat pig. Have another doughnut!" John Wayne even starred in a hockey film, 1937's "Idol of the Crowds," in which he is coaxed into playing in the NHL to pay for an expansion of his chicken farm.

To see a gallery of memorable hockey movies, click on one of the images above. And to see the Duke himself take some awkward steps on the ice, watch the video below.



Hockey movies: Our Stanley Cup runneth over

What if you went to a film premiere and a hockey musical broke out?

Kevin Smith talks 'Red State,' Wayne Gretzky and why he's ready to leave filmmaking

-- Scott Sandell

Photo: Michael Ontkean, left, and Paul Newman in the movie "Slap Shot." Credit: Universal Pictures.

Cannes 2011: A video examination, Part 5 -- The biggest misconceptions about the festival

May 19, 2011 |  5:37 pm

The Cannes Film Festival isn't easy to explain to people who haven't been to it. In fact, it isn't easy to explain to people who have, either. A mix of world-class directors, celebrity glitz, hard-core cinephiles and general mayhem, Cannes yields as many misconceptions as it does truths. The Times' Kenneth Turan and Steven Zeitchik and the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips run down some of the things they find least understood about the world's most prominent cinema gathering.


 Cannes 2011: In interview, Lars von Trier says he doesn't deserve a Palme d'Or

Cannes 2011: A video examination, Part 3

Cannes 2011: The six festival films you'll soon be hearing about

Cannes 2011: A video examination, Part 3

May 15, 2011 |  6:57 pm

One of the biggest crowd-pleasers of the Cannes Film Festival thus far has been "The Artist," a silent film about, well, the silent-film era. But although many in the media liked it, others had their reservations. The Times' Steven Zeitchik and the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips offer the reasons to embrace and question the black & white period tale.



 Cannes 2011: A video examination, Part 1

Cannes 2011: A video examination, Part 2

Cannes 2011: A video examination, Part 1

May 12, 2011 |  5:57 pm

Woody Allen took some at the Cannes Film festival by surprise with his "Midnight in Paris," a whimsical romantic comedy in which Owen Wilson travels back to 1920s Paris. After more middling responses to his recent Cannes entries, the "Manhattan" filmmaker opened this year's festivities with a love letter to the City of Light that drew a wave of favorable reviews -- and the approval of the local audience. The Times' Steven Zeitchik and the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips break down his Woody-ness.


Cannes 2011: Festival fetes Woody Allen and 'Midnight In Paris'

Cannes 2011: 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' a triumphant return for festival stalwart

Cannes 2011: 'Sleeping Beauty' has disquieting effect on festival crowds


'Immortals' tries to give a worn genre new life [Video]

April 27, 2011 |  2:02 pm

The success of “300” four years ago could have ushered in a new era of artistry for swords-and-sandals tales, or simply a new era of knockoffs. Judging by what’s come since, it’s getting harder to argue the former.

“Immortals,” which shares producers with “300” and follows a trio of films similarly themed with honor and epic battle (“Clash of the Titans,” “Prince of Persia” and “The Eagle”), begins its pre-release campaign with a new teaser trailer released Wednesday.

Tarsem Singh (“The Fall”) brings a sense of style to the material, which this time around takes on the battle of Thesus (Henry Cavill) against King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, trying out a new villainous accent). But amid the flaming arrows and leaping swordsmen is a generic story of honor and gods and battles, and a somberness that can border on the comic. The earnest disrobing from the likes of Freida Pinto doesn't help, nor do the "Eyes Wide Shut" masks, or the boilerplate dialogue. (“Today we are offered something we would never have. Today we fight for honor.”)

When it was first developed three years ago the action movie, now scheduled for November, looked like it would compete in the marketplace with “Clash of the Titans.” In fact, Warner Bros. contemplated buying the script on which it’s based for use in developing “Titans," so closely related were the pair. “Immortals” is now sandwiched between that movie and its sequel next March, which may or may not give it enough breathing room.

Sandal-philia aside, the interesting question is how “Immortals” will affect Cavill’s stock -– the film will be closely watched by Superman lovers to see what kind of hero chops Cavill demonstrates.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Mickey Rourke in "Immortals." Credit: Relativity Media


'Fast Five,' Steve Zaillian's latest work [Video]

April 27, 2011 |  1:14 pm

Jon Stewart used to have kindergarteners read transcripts of cable-news punditry. This Onion video, if you haven't see it, uses a 5-year-old to describe the plot and scenes in the screenplay for "Fast Five," which said 5-year-old of course wrote. The trenchant part is that his mumbled wonderment actually captures the Academy Award-worthy mise-en-scene of the Vin Diesel franchise strikingly well. I wanna cars drive fast and some of them explode, indeed.

Today Now! Interviews The 5-Year-Old Screenwriter Of "Fast Five"

-- Steven Zeitchik


Mr. Brainwash: Banksy could come to the Oscars [Video]

February 27, 2011 | 11:49 am

There were few people more colorful on the award season circuit than Mr. Brainwash, a.k.a. Thierry Guetta, the star of Banksy street-art exploration "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

A very hirsute-looking Guetta continued his surrealist tour with a series of comments from the podium at the Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, when "Exit" won best documentary and he used the opportunity to indulge in some free-associative exuberance.

Among the gems:

"Where I come from and where I am now, even the plane cannot take you."

"It's like a comic strip and it's not real but it is real, I'm real and my movie is real" (a reference to the allegations that some of "Exit," and Guetta himself, is manufactured).

"I had a speech but I left it at the hotel" (despite the fact that, um, doesn't he live in Los Angeles?).

Guetta also spoke on the red carpet before the event (see below), marveling at the fact that some still don't believe his movie is real. (The Times last week cross-referenced his story against public records and found that it mostly checks out.)

"No, there is some people who still doesn't believe it. Even they get the fact left and right, they still like, 'Is it real? You make it up?' So I guess some people keep going, keep don't understand that it's real. We said the fact that it's real. "

As for why there was so much skepticism about th emovie, he had a concise -- or is it utterly head-spinning -- explanation. "It's so real that it looks fake," he said.

The big question as of Sunday morning remained whether Banksy himself would show up to the Oscars. On the red carpet before the event, Guetta engaged in some playfulness. "We'll see. This is like the movie: Can we explain the movie? No. Can we know that the movie is real or not? No. Can we know if he's going to show up? I don't know."

But then he also said that, indeed, he and the reclusive street artist could have a plan. "Maybe, maybe not. I don't know," he said, offering a coy smile.

When we caught up with him inside the Spirits after he won and asked him about the Oscars, the artist gave a characteristically Zen, did-that-just-happen response. "Tomorrow is tomorrow," he said. "Let's worry about today."

--Steven Zeitchik and Amy Kaufman



Photo: Mr. Brainwash at the Independent Spirit Awards. Credit: Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images

'Thor' trailer promises full brunt of Chris Hemsworth's strength, Marvel's postproduction budget [video]

February 21, 2011 |  5:19 pm

"The battle comes to Earth," the intertitles in the new "Thor" trailer promise, though how enthusiastically Earth will want to watch remains an open question. The marketing spot for Kenneth Branagh's Marvel movie begins with some "Harry and the Hendersons" moments (most of them played with Natalie Portman as the straight woman) as Chris Hemsworth's brutish visitor from another planet adjusts to American customs like drinking out of a mug. Then it gets to the real business at hand: CG monsters threatening a planet that Hemsworth's armor-wearing Thor, cast away from his own planet, will (presumably) come around to save. There are explosions, and plenty of disaster-movie dialogue -- "these people are innocent" and "I have no plans to die today" -- and some more explosions. The movie hits on May 6.


-- Steven Zeitchik



Dead Island: The best trailer in years? [Video]

February 16, 2011 |  7:28 pm

Movie studios spend millions of dollars every year trying to get us to pay attention to their upcoming films by carefully cutting and distributing trailers. But for all the money and time spent, sometimes the most compelling cinematic material doesn't come from the studios at all.

That's what this fan-made trailer for "The Expendables" proved last year. And on Thursday, when a trailer for a previously little-known video game titled Dead Island started blowing up Twitter, it seemed to happen again. (The game is being developed by Techland and will be published by Deep Silver; there was no release date coming into Wednesday, but we have a feeling that will change pretty soon.)

The trailer, as you'll see below, is a marvelously ambitious work, essentially a short film in all but name. It takes a melancholy piano score and runs it under a battle between a family on vacation and the zombies who have taken over their resort. Apart from the piece's sharp visual style and emotional impact (the father-daughter moment at the end is heartbreaking), the most impressive aspect may be the trailer's structure. It's tough enough to weave in elegant flash-forwards and flashbacks in a full-length feature; the "Dead Island" trailer does it all in about three minutes.

One can only hope one of the zombie movies that studios have in the works is half as good. Or, better yet, someone in Hollywood should drop whatever branded reboot they're working on and develop this as a film.

-- Steven Zeitchik


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