- SXSW YouTube Channel
If you're attending SXSW Film this year, you can check out a ton of trailers on their newly-created YouTube channel. Which is great, because the video player on the SXSW site is annoyingly slow.
- ABC Orders Pilot For No Heroics
Apparently, ABC will be producing an American version of the not-even-a-season-old British sitcom No Heroics, which looks completely awesome, but which I haven't yet seen (those damned Brits won't let me stream it from The States! I'm willing to pay, even!). Looks like a much hipper, more grown-up version of Fox's short-lived live-action version of The Tick.
- The Making Of Wrestle Jam: The Wrestler’s Unsung Hero
A fun piece on "Wrestle Jam", the old-school wrestling game played in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler (via John Merriman: http://twitter.com/jmerriman/status/1252264955).
- Critical Vision: An Interview with James Gray
A very good interview with director James Gray, whose new film (Two Lovers) I caught at AFF this year. Gray also gave a very interesting Q&A at the fest–and Two Lovers will definitely leave you with a lot of questions.
- Joan Didion on "The Panic in Needle Park"
Novelist Joan Didion talks to IFC's Aaron Hillis about the re-release of a film she co-adapted with her husband in 1971, "The Panic In Needle Park".
- Watch Online: The Vanishing (1988)
Apparently, the original version of the Dutch thriller The Vanishing–which is supposedly fantastic–has been available for a while now through Criterion. I've been wanting to see it, but didn't think it was out on DVD. You can also watch it (along with select other films) for $5 through the criterion website.
- Get Your War On: The Definitive Account
Though David Rees' fantastic comic Get Your War On is officially over, you can get the almost complete collection in book form.
- Crips and Bloods: Made In America
Stacy Peralta's now retitled "Crips & Bloods: Made In America" is opening soon in select cities. Hopefully, it'll swing through Austin before its DVD release this spring.
If you’re a frequent user of Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” feature, you might have noticed that a big chunk of movies went offline at the beginning of this month (probably because the digital distribution rights expired).
And now, a month later, another batch of righteous rights are expiring. And unfortunately, a long list of Herzog films are on the chopping block for February 1st (2009). The list includes: Even Dwarfs Started Small, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Woyzeck, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Lessons of Darkness, Fitzcarraldo, Cobra Verde, Stroszek and Land of Silence and Darkness.
Bummer. Looks like I’ll have to have some kind of Herzog-a-thon this month, before they disappear. (I’m being dramatic, of course–they’ll still be available via DVD.)
It’s also worth noting that Sam Peckinpah’s brilliant 1971 thriller Straw Dogs will become unavailable on the same day. Watch it while you can. Don’t worry though, Peckinpah’s other 70s masterwork, Convoy, is safe for now.
It’s a pretty fantastic wrap-up of the year, covering all the bases from awards to box office earnings to “notable deaths” (I had no idea Michael Crichton OR Brad Renfro died this past year). What’s great, though, is the simple, chronological list of films that came out in ’08. Even better–there are similar pages for nearly every year since the 1870s. Of course, the pages get less detailed as you go further back, but they’re still fun.
In the year I was born, films released included The Last Waltz, Animal House, Days of Heaven, The Deer Hunter, Pretty Baby, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Grease, Battlestar Galactica, Halloween, Superman, Up In Smoke, Watership Down and Revenge of the Pink Panther.
- Wolves In The Throne Room EP and Full-length This Spring
This spring, Washington-based black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room will release a new EP along with (finally) a new full-length called Black Cascade, both through Southern Lord. If you're into black metal, and haven't yet heard these guys, you need to check out their 2007 Two Hunters EP. It's stellar.
- Tufte Comes to Austin
Data visualization rockstar Edward Tufte will be teaching a one-day course in Austin at the end of this month. Cost is $380 per person, and includes copies of all four of his books.
- NIN’s Best-Selling, Creative Commons Licensed Album
Over at the CC blog, Fred Benenson asks why so many people paid for a Nine Inch Nails record they could have legally downloaded for free.
- Porn Industry Seeks Federal Bailout
If I didn't hate Joe Francis so much, this would be really funny.
- Cinephiliac’s Best of 2008
Critic, filmmaker, and DVD label owner Aaron Hillis has posted a list of his favorite films for 2008. Some I've seen, some I now want to see. Hillis has recently taken over duties as postmaster at the highly awesome Greencine Daily blog, while longtime GC overlord David Hudson has moved to IFC.com.
- First Trailer For Romero’s …OF THE DEAD
Twitch has the first trailer for George Romero's new zombie flick "…Of The Dead". It's a lame title, to be sure. But it might be good. Question Mark?
- In Slightly Better Horror News, Universal Sells Rogue for $150 Million
In contrast to the recent mainstreaming of Lionsgate, Rogue Pictures (who've released some solid original genre flicks like Shaun of the Dead and The Strangers) were just purchased by Relativity Media, who apparently think the company has some value. Fingers crossed.
- Will We Be Able to Watch Watchmen?
Twitch Film's Rodney Perkins has some fantastically detailed coverage of the ongoing lawsuit between Fox and Warner over the upcoming big-screen adaptation of the popular graphic novel Watchmen. If you ask me, this case is a perfect example of our need for sweeping copyright reform.
The trailer for Gary Hustwit’s new industrial design documentary Objectified is up at Gizmodo, and it looks great–kind of like a filmic Design of Everyday Things (but suspiciously lacking an appearance by Don Norman).
Though Hustwit’s name isn’t on the website yet, he’ll be appearing in some capacity at this year’s South By Southwest, and I’ll be surprised if Objectified isn’t screening as well.
If you’re a big fan of Gary’s, and if you’ve got some money to throw around, you can get your name in Objectified‘s credits (plus a whole bunch of other fun swag) for a cool $500 donation to the film, which is currently in post-production.
In case you think that a documentary about industrial design is boring, keep in mind that Hustwit is the man behind the hugely entertaining typeface doc Helvetica. He’s also one of the principals at Plexifilm, arguably the best documentary DVD label in North America.
UPDATE: Objectified will indeed be screening at SXSW this year. I’m going to get in line right now.
Apparently, I haven’t done a link roundup since October. I hate myself. Anyhoo–here’s the first roundup of the new year.
- Revolutionary Road Ain’t All That, Apparently
This review of Sam Mendes' upcoming drama Revolutionary Road reminds me why I love reading Nick Schager.
- Sorry, Thanks
A new film starring Austin's own Wiley Wiggins. Check the trailer.
- Why Lionsgate Is Abandoning Horror
Lionsgate (the studio behind genre flicks like Shadow of the Vampire, The Descent, The Devil's Rejects and Midnight Meat Train) is transitioning away from horror. Which is bad news for fans of original (meaning non-remake), English-language genre films.
- Netflix To Stream Movies From Starz
Netflix has just added significant value to its Watch Online service–maybe it's finally time to buy a Roku.
Done! 2.7 update went surprisingly smoothly, except that my Nextlifx plugin no longer works. But that’s okay… I’ve been thinking about rolling my own for a while now. This is a good excuse.
This essay by Alex Cox (Director of many brilliant and underrated flicks like Repo Man and Walker) has got me really, really interested in seeing Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel, which unfortunately won’t be released on DVD until February. I’ve had Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie floating near the top of my Netflix queue for a long time now, but I know embarrassingly little about the famed Spanish director. Time to fix that.
My major point, though, is that I love it when criticism is done right. Most people (wrongly, I think) tend to think of criticism as opinion–as two thumbs up or two thumbs down. But when done well, criticism is barely opinion at all; it’s part of a conversation about art, and about life. And when it’s underpinned by a passion for either one of those things, it can be just as important as the films themselves. Maybe even more important.