Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Spike Lee on Newsnight

Spike Lee and Jeremy Paxman on BBC2's Newsnight discuss race and politics in the US as Do the Right Thing plays behind them.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Archive favourites (6)

Trailer for Jean Cocteau's magical Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la bête, 1946), starring Jean Marais and Josette Day. Christian Bérard contributed to set and costume design.

Beauty and the Beast (1946) - The Criterion Collection

Ruth Carter and Spike Lee

Ruth Carter's designs for Malcom X (1992)

The costume designer for Do the Right Thing was Ruth Carter, who collaborated regularly with Spike Lee during the 1980s and 1990s.

Spike Lee's in town

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Spike Lee's in London for events to celebrate Do the Right Thing, his legendary movie of the late 1980s:

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Mira Nair's Maisha film lab

In 2005 Mira Nair founded Maisha Film Lab, a training and resources centre for East African and South Asian film-makers. Based in Uganda, Maisha organises regular workshops. Among those on its advisory committee are Sofia Coppola and Spike Lee.

An extract from Maisha's mission statement:

MAISHA (meaning "life" in Kiswahili) provides new screenwriters and film directors from East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda) and South Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) with access to the professional training and production resources necessary to articulate their visions. Maisha aims to preserve, cultivate and unleash local voices from these regions, and to become one of the first targeted programs to offer structured and accessible resources to these emerging filmmakers. MAISHA is motivated by the belief that a film which explores the truths and idiosyncrasies of the specifically local often has the power to cross over and become significantly universal.

Amelia (2009)

Hilary Swank 2006. Photo by Larry Truett.

Amelia Earhart c. 1935

The production designer for Ballad of Little Jo was Stephanie Carroll, who has worked on several Mira Nair films, including the biopic Amelia, starring Hilary Swank as aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

♫ Ballad of Little Jo ♫

Suzy Amis as Josephine Monaghan in Maggie Greenwald's remarkable revisionist western Ballad of Little Jo (1993). You can listen to and download David Mansfield's haunting music for the film here:

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

♫ For a few dollars more ♫

Ennio Morricone's influential music for the 1965 spaghetti western For a Few Dollars More (Per qualche dollaro in più), starring Clint Eastwood, directed by Sergio Leone.

Archive favourites (5)

View snapshots of the gloriously decadent Salome (1923), adapted from Oscar Wilde's one-act play, starring Alla Nazimova, directed by Charles Bryant, scripted and with sets and costumes by Natacha Rambova:

Costume design for 'Aelita'

The costume designer for Aelita (1924) was Alexandra Exter. An example of her extraordinary artwork for the film can be viewed here:

Good and bad reviews for 'Rage'

Conflicting reviews for Sally Potter's Rage from Leslie Felperin in Variety (negative) and Sophie Mayer in Little White Lies (positive).

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Archive favourites (4)

Clip from extraordinary Soviet fantasy/sci-fi film Aelita (1924) , directed by Yakov Protazanov from a novel by Alexei Tolstoy. A costume extravaganza. Available on DVD from:

DVD disk “Aelita” - R · U · S · C · I · C · O - Russian Cinema Council 

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Archive favourites (3)

Clip from what remains of The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), reputed to be one of the earliest feature-length films. Restored by and available from Australia's National Film and Sound Archive:

National Film and Sound Archive

Archive favourites (2)

First full-length feature in three-strip Technicolor, and a remarkable adaptation of William Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair. Because of its age, the colour is unstable. See the entire film at: Internet Archive: Free Download: Becky Sharp

Enjoy this celebration of a very modern heroine!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Archive of the month (September)

Online digital archive used in research for Baz Luhrmann's Australia (2008).

Picture Australia

Archive favourites

The Toll of the Sea (1922)

Anna May Wong in early two-strip Technicolor film

(Before District 9) District B13

District B13 (2004) from Luc Besson's EuropaCorp.

Check out the brilliant website:

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


The news that Rage, Sally Potter's new film about the fashion world, will have a multi-platform release on DVD, satellite, online and via mobile phone leaves me breathless. All credit to the film-makers for exploiting the potential of new technologies -- no doubt iPhone and iPod sales will rocket.

Rage | Babelgum

My current top nine

Canons change minute-by-minute, but here's my list of the films that have most intrigued or moved me recently (in no particular order).

1. The Hurt Locker (2009). I have mixed feelings about many of Kathryn Bigelow's films, and this one is no exception. But once again she pushed the boundaries, and that's why I like her work.
2. Australia (2008). Over-hyped, but Baz Luhrmann's challenging treatment of his country's history lived up to his motto 'A life lived in fear is a life half lived'.
3. Inglourious Basterds (2009). I'm not a big Tarantino fan, but this one was inspired.
4. Vals im Bashir (Waltz with Bashir) (2008). Profoundly moving, and one of the best anti-war films I've ever seen.
5. Marie Antoinette (2006). Much maligned and misunderstood reinvention of the historical bio-pic with lashings of style and more than a little attitude.
6. The Wrestler (2008). Welcome back Mickey Rourke.
7. Waitress (2007). An inventive update on romantic melodrama from talented writer/director/actress Adrienne Shelly, who is greatly missed.
8. Entre les murs (The Class) (2008). Revealing and disturbing insight into classroom experience from both sides of the fence.
9. Two Lovers (2008). Poignant in many ways, not least by featuring what may be the final screen role for a great actor, Joaquin Phoenix.

Welcome to filmtalker

Welcome to my new blog, where I'll post my personal opinions about events, developments, books and films in world cinema. The scope will be wide-ranging, covering as much as possible of the contemporary scene and the changes affecting the ways in which we produce, distribute, exhibit and receive audiovisual media, and transmit knowledge about it. The blog is dedicated to creativity in all its forms, and to the idea that images, sound and music often tell us more than the written word.