Monday, December 29, 2014

"It's The Pictures That Got Small" Lines on lInes

The Happiest Couple in Hollywood--lines on lines

"It's the Pictures That Got Small" is a Joan Crawford line quoted by Joey Arias in the drag musical Christmas with the Crawfords; it's also the title of a book consisting of diary entries by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder's writing partner, reviewed by Frederic Raphael in the week-end edition of The Wall Street Journal Books section that I read just now courtesy my neighbor proscratinating to do the laundry but that I can't forward on FB since I don't have an online subscription. If the 422-page book is as spicy as the review it's well-worth putting a hold on at your local public library. As well as an assessment of a stellar collaboration, as you might expect it's full of historical tidbits about the partnership, the films they worked on and the social none too politically correct Hollywood climate of the times. Writes Frederic Raphael when he met Billy Wilder in person: "His apartment on Wilshire Blvd was filled with an art collection that testified to a refinement not always evident in his conversation." He probably saved his best lines for his scripts. LB

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas with the Crawfords [After the Final Curtain]

Connie Champagne as Judy Garland Photo Liza Béar

Flotilla Debarge as Hattie McDaniel Photo Liza Béar
           Christmas Eve 1944 at the Crawfords Set Designer Andrea Purcigliotti Photo Liza Béar

Friday, December 19, 2014

Two Days One Night: Dardenne Brothers Interview

Typically working with new or non-professional actors, in their latest film, Two Days One Night,  Belgian filmmaking brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne cast an international star, Marion Cotillard, as Sandra, a working mother just fired from a solar energy plant. A recent management scam has placed the onus of downsizing on workers, who are offered a bonus if they vote to operate with one less employee, resulting in Sandra’s dismissal. As might be expected,  with her customary precision, Cotillard delivers an astute, nervy performance that oscillates between anxiety and determination as she tries to get her job back.  
While, in a very different context, unemployment was also the focus of Rosetta, the Dardenne's break-out film—it reportedly aided  the passing of a labor bill, Rosetta’s Law, to protect young people—Two Days One Night tersely dramatizes  the issue of worker solidarity in a toxically competitive world. In 1999, Rosetta won the Palme d'Or by unanimous vote at Cannes. 
Interview, introduction, transcript and translation by Liza Béar.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A dialogue with Agnes Varda: Interview Magazine

Never mind the ravages of time. Filmmakers seem to be exempt. In her winsome, haunting self-portrait, The Beaches of Agnès, which is released theatrically on July 1, French director Agnès Varda has retained all the vitality, humor, and sheer cinematic inventiveness that has marked her films since 1954's seminal La Pointe Courte, which she made on a shoestring budget at the age of 25. She'd always wanted to sail to Paris-well, in Beaches, she does. We see her coolly navigating a small dinghy under the Pont Neuf along the Seine. She treats the film as an opportunity for playful wish fulfillment as well as for analysing her life experiences, her filmic hits . . . and the odd miss.Hailed as a precursor to the Nouvelle Vague, La Pointe Courte, her black-and-white debut feature, was a neorealist love story with parallel subplots set in a Mediterranean fishing village. She revisits that location in the new film, providing a moving tribute to the locals who, in acting out their life stories, had helped launch her career. The appreciation is mutual. In Sète, they've named a street after her.

Introduction, interview, transcript, translation and edit by Liza Béar.
Pitched to and assigned by then-editor Glenn O'Brien

(c) copyright Liza Béar 2009 All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sonic Weapon Used on Peaceful Protesters Today

Happening NOW: The NYPD just used a LRAD sound cannon, which can cause permanent hearing damage, to disperse a small group of peaceful protesters on 58th Street. SHARE to spread their SHAME!
via US Uncut

Saturday, December 6, 2014

VIDEO: Reckless Police: Grief and Anger

Filmed in Times Square on November 25 after Grand Jury verdict on Michael
Brown, 18,  Ferguson  and on December 4 on Bleecker Street and Bowery, New York City, 
after Grand Jury verdict on Eric Garner,  43, Staten Island. Both juries returned
non-indictments in the death by rank-and-file police officers of unarmed black citizens engaged in low-grade misdemeanors. In neither case did the jury consider a charge, de minimus, of reckless endangerment. Why on earth not? Filmed by Liza Béar.