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  • The Lost Boys
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    The Dutch Approach To Combating Gay Bullying

    I just so happen to be in Holland right now staying with some very lovely distant relatives and experiencing Rotterdam for the first time - the city my grandparents and some uncles and aunts were born and raised. In the midst of this ancestoral discovery session I came across this Dutch PSA against gay bullying...

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  • Shadow and Act
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    "Cutting Horse" And The Need for More Black Westerns

    Black cowboys aren’t often portrayed in American film, even though they played an integral role in the development of the Western frontier. This is one of the reasons I decided to see Larry Clark’s Cutting Horse (2002) on Sunday night, screened as part of the UCLA L.A. Rebellion Film Series at the Hammer Museum. Described as a “revisionist” version of the classic western, it centers on a family of black and Latino cowboys who train horses to instinctively keep certain cows from returning to the herd, also known as “cutting horses.” Their land suddenly faces environmental threats and a foreclosure by neighboring chemical company clan, the Stones. Tyler, played by actual horse trainer Albert Harris, returns to the Livermore Ranch in the midst of an ensuing family war involving a past sexual assault on his former lover Rosa, and a family battle over a horse named Dark Knight. Silent and expressionless throughout most of the film, Tyler works to train the horse, who embodies the family’s sole chance at economic and financial survival.

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    More: Reviews
  • The Lost Boys
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    Introducing "Lost Boy" Derek Marchewka

    Derek is the latest addition to this blog's list of contributors, with one or two more expected within the next week... Read more about this blog's recent evolution here.

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  • Press Play
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    In creating "Blind Love: In Memory of Steve Jobs," Illusionist Paul Gertner wonders how humans will process emotions in a digital realm

    Look, I don't mean to come across as crass or insensitive, but I'm officially tired of hearing about Steve Jobs' legacy. I'm not saying he wasn't the visionary, creative genius we've been reading about or that the changes he brought to the human world aren't remarkable. But there are only so many words one can read and only so many lazy documentaries one can watch on this one guy. (Besides, I’ve read tens of thousands of words by writers famous, infamous and unknown, and none come closer to explaining Jobs' purpose, personality and legacy than the commencement speech that he himself delivered at Stanford University.) So, when my friend Rich sent me a link to a Steve Jobs tribute video by a magician named Paul Gertner, I will admit to a little eye-rolling – that is, until I saw the video.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    AFI FEST: Mumblecore Maestro Swanberg Tips Exit

    During a recent three-night stand at AFI FEST in Los Angeles, micro-budget indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg suggested that he's ready to move on from mumblecore-style dramas toward films on adult topics-- perhaps to explore the type of free-form transmedia content spawned by the Internet. Selected as the festival’s Spotlight section director, Swanberg screened a trio of new films from his “Full Moon” trilogy -- "Silver Bullets and Art History," which debuted at Berlin earlier this year, as well as the world premiere of "The Zone." Adopting a loose creative process, Swanberg frequently works with just an outline rather than a finished script, with the actors improvising much of their dialogue. Performers often play themselves or close facsimiles, frequently opposite Swanberg, appearing as an indie filmmaker shooting a low-budget feature. Despite the typically slim narratives and narrow thematic scope of his movies, Swanberg has said that he considers himself a director of “meaningful art films.”His digitally shot features often incorporate handheld camerawork or alternatively a “press record” aesthetic, with a fixed camera that’s switched on when takes begin so that he can appear in the frame shooting his actors for a film-within-a-film scenario. Other production values are equally basic and sometimes downright murky, with slight attention to formal considerations. Swanberg frequently produces, shoots and edits on his own or with minimal collaboration. Emotional and relationship dynamics dominate the three new films, along with issues of artistic creativity and the cinematic process. During Q&As following each of the three screenings, he responded to a wide range of questions in what amounted to a summation of where he stands now regarding the themes and no-budget format of his substantial mumblecore catalog. Making art films: While studying film production at Southern Illinois University, Swanberg was inspired by the types of writer-director-driven productions championed by the Sundance Film Festival. Disillusionment gradually crept in as the budgets and star casting of independent films accelerated during the 90s. “Once celebrities started acting in art films they were no longer art films,” Swanberg complained. “Now I feel most of the independent films I see are Hollywood films on a low budget.” A documentary aesthetic: Swanberg explained that Southern Illinois University has a strong documentary program and that he expected to make docs following graduation. After deciding to take the feature-directing route, he adapted his university training for short, intense shoots, shaping a personal visual style that mixes loose, handheld camera techniques with fixed, static shots. “The films I’m directing now incorporate that process,” he observed. Art History for instance was filmed in just four days: “We started with shooting a very loose idea of what the film would be – it was very intuitive.”  Let’s talk about sex: “It’s really confusing to me that sex is still a taboo subject in filmmaking,” Swanberg commented. “Early in my career I was focused on depicting sex realistically,” he recalls. “I was attempting to find a more middle ground to portray sex the way I was experiencing it,” he said, rather than adopting the allusive approach of mainstream movies or the explicitness of porn. “But I found out it was complicated,” he acknowledged. The three films are in part about “finding out where we draw those lines and why we draw those lines [about sex],” he asserted. Moving on from mumblecore: Now that he’s married and the father of a young son, Swanberg is talking about refocusing on films about parenthood, as well as further exploring the online space, as he sees the proliferation of unscripted and documentary-like content created on iPhones or streamed online. (He’s already made several web series and some of the scenes in "The Zone" were shot on Apple’s versatile phone.) “I often still wonder why I’m making these small movies,” he mused. “In general I don’t know how the films are making the world a better place,” he said of his digital features. “I hope I’m part of a tradition of art filmmaking that started in France in the 50s,” Swanberg continued, and although he likes the idea of “carrying the torch forward for art films,” he noted that “filmmaking is almost becoming a connoisseur experience.” He went on to say that “The really interesting stuff is happening online and on Facebook,” noting that he’s looking more at non-narrative forms and structures of storytelling, although he conceded that “as long as there are performers there will be a need for directors.”

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  • Leonard Maltin
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    music review: Boardwalk Empire - Volume 1 (Elektra)

    Nothing evokes a period more vividly, or instantaneously, than music, and the producers of the HBO Prohibition drama 'Boardwalk Empire' have made canny use of vintage songs, both on-camera and off-, since their series began. Now some of the best selections have been gathered in a delightful CD (also available for download on iTunes) that features my favorite band, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, and a number of supremely talented singers who manage to vocally capture a bygone musical era.

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  • Caryn James
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    TV's Big Interviews: Giffords and Husband, Cain's Deluded Wife, Penn State's Scandal

    You needed more than one DVR to keep track of the three high-profile interviews appearing at the same time last night, each irresistible for wildly different reasons, each dramatic enough to sound like a long-running series. There was Gabrielle Gifffords’ remarkable, touchingly partial recovery shown in all its tough reality and hope, as she and her husband, Mark Kelly, talked to Diane Sawyer on ABC’s 20/20. Meanwhile, loyal Gloria Cain appeared with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News to deny those sexual-harassment charges against her husband, Herman. And NBC’s magazine Rock Center had its first major coup with the kind of interview that makes you want to scream and run as much as watch: Bob Costas did a tough, stomach-churning phone interview with Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State coach accused of molesting small boys amid a devastating university coverup.

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  • The Playlist
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    David Gordon Green Returns To Romance, Will Write & Direct 'Q'

    David Gordon Green Returns To Romance, Will Write & Direct 'Q'

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  • Shadow and Act
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    Niecy Nash Lands Docu-Series On TLC Network

    Looks like Niecy Nash's televised wedding on the TLC network, Niecy Nash’s Wedding Bash, paid off royaly for her.  The actress/comedienne just landed an 8 episode docu-series that will chronicle Nash and her new husband Jay Tucker’s life together as a blended family with Niecy’s three teenage children and her mother along with Jay’s son according to Deadline.

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  • Shadow and Act
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    Omar Sy - French Black Movie Icon?

    Courtesy of Africa Is A Coutry, penned by French novelist, essayist, academic Abdourahman Waberi:

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    More: Profile