January 31, 2007
Thought for the day

"Directors Carol Reed and David Lean once bumped into each other in the bookshop Foyle's on Charing Cross Road in London. Both men were gazing at the packed shelves of novels before them, eyes scanning every title; speed reading sections, wondering about their potential as films. Lean turned to Reed and sighed, 'It's infuriating. I know Iím five feet away from my next picture but it will take me months if not years to find it.'"

--Starter for Ten director Tom Vaughn

January 27, 2007
Absolutist

My latest piece for the Washington Times is a review of a documentary about avant-garde stage director and playright Robert Wilson:

One of Robert Wilson's earliest plays created a stir in his hometown of Waco, Texas. Locals called the work performed by learning-disabled boys "sick." His father went even further: "Son," he said, "not only is it sick, it's abnormal."

Mr. Wilson's story is a familiar one -- shy child with a small-town religious upbringing blossoms into an artist in the Big Apple -- and it's chronicled with some insight in a new documentary, Absolute Wilson...

Not runway ready

You can't say I'm not versatile. My "On the Edge" column for Friday's Washington Times asks whether the era of the supermodel is finally over:

Naomi Campbell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault last week for striking her maid in the head with a cell phone... She likely won't lose much magazine work over the incident, however. Fashion magazines rarely put models on their covers anymore.

There was a time when making the cover of Vogue meant a model had finally arrived. No longer.

Of Vogue's 2006 covers, a model appeared on only one of the 12...

January 20, 2007
Foreign film

Agustin Diaz Yanes' film Alatriste leads Spain's Goya Awards, with 15 nominations. But it's Pedro Almodovar's Volver that is Spain's official entry to the best foreign language category of the Academy Awards. My latest piece for the Washington Times looks at how countries choose their submissions.

"There's definite politicking going on," reports Anthony Kaufman, a freelance writer on foreign film for Variety, indieWIRE, and the Wall Street Journal online. "There are two opposing things going on in these voting bodies. One is they want a film which represents what they like about their country, putting their best face forward. And then there's the politics of nominating something they think Americans will like."

Emperor of strange

I spoke with director David Lynch while he was in DC earlier this month. My piece was published in yesterday's Washington Times:

"David Lynch is one of the greatest American filmmakers working outside the studio system. So it might come as a surprise to hear him speak favorably of the milieu he seems to avoid.

'I just love all of Hollywood and the studios and the kind of dream of it," he says during a recent visit to the District. "That golden age of cinema is alive in the air in L.A. It's just fantastic to me. And I like ideas and stories that come out of that...'"

My review of his latest film, Inland Empire is here.

January 15, 2007
Mysteries galore

I had four pieces in Friday's Washington Times:

  • My piece on Idiocracy has some inside scoop:
    The biggest movie mystery of 2006 wasn't whether audiences would forgive "Apocalypto" director Mel Gibson -- they did -- or whether Daniel Craig would make a good James Bond -- he did.

    It's why a filmmaker with a successful track record had his latest film ignominiously dumped by the studio with which he's worked for years.

    Such is the puzzling fate of Mike Judge's Idiocracy...

  • I interviewed Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro, Babel director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Children of Men director Alfonso Cuaron and found out how these three friends collaborate in a competitive industry:
    "Guillermo went to Alejandro's cutting room and Alejandro went to Guillermo's cutting room and they cut 10 minutes out of each other's films."

  • I also reviewed Pan's Labyrinth, the most imaginative film of the year and one of the best.

  • Finally, I have a review of Inland Empire. I interviewed director David Lynch over the weekend here in DC. Expect my piece in this Friday's paper:
    If you thought David Lynch's Mulholland Dr. was too linear, you'll love Inland Empire.

    The director's latest film begins with a john and an endangered prostitute -- or is it merely a couple playing those roles? Their faces are obscured. Throughout this strange and somehow life-affirming film, murky images come slowly into focus. But don't expect that every mystery will be solved.

    Inland Empire's tag line is "A woman in trouble." That simple summation would work for many of the films of this singular filmmaker...

January 14, 2007
Thought for the day

"When writers admit to failures they like to admit to the smallest ones - for example, in each of my novels somebody 'rummages in their purse' for something because I was too lazy and thoughtless and unawake to separate 'purse' from its old, persistent friend 'rummage'. To rummage through a purse is to sleepwalk through a sentence - a small enough betrayal of self, but a betrayal all the same. To speak personally, the very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life."

--Zadie Smith