Star Wars: The Premake (2015) | By John D’Amico | 118 min.
A couple years ago when John D’Amico first told me he was planning on doing this, it of course sounded awesome, but it seemed to me like it might become a Synecdoche, New York-esque endeavor that would take over his life for decades. I just couldn’t fathom it ever actually being completed, even a rough cut. But then again, we’re talking about the guy behind Shot Context—if anyone were going to do this, and do it without growing old and grey, it’d be him. His encyclopedic knowledge of film, and ability to pinpoint homages, ripoffs, and coincidences throughout all of film history, never ceases to amaze me.
Continue reading Star Wars: The Premake – All Of ‘A New Hope’, Recreated Shot-By-Shot From Pre-1977 Media
Cría Cuervos (1976)
Written and Directed by Carlos Saura
Very mild spoilers ahead.
When I was seven, my mom made a home movie of me walking around a mulberry bush surrounded by purple and white flowers, picking them and humming to myself quietly. Even though I had bossed her incessantly before she hit record to follow me with the camera as I carefully timed my pauses and expressions, she did what moms in the 90’s with fanny packs and Hi-8 cameras did instead—she began to narrate it in the most sarcastic, dorky voice possible: “This… is… Chloe…”
At the time, I didn’t know that I was trying to direct. I didn’t even know what directing was, nor had the concept of moviemaking ever occurred to me. And to this day, although I want to make movies, I haven’t done anything serious—I’ve only been daydreaming, just as I had been doing on that day, when her seemingly oblivious voice interrupted me and made me feel embarrassment that I’d been caught, and as though a special moment had been robbed of me. I angrily ran up to her and yelled at the camera, “Mom, erase it! Erase it!”
My mom must not have been as oblivious as she acted though, because after that, she made our main way of interacting watching and analyzing movies together. And she instilled in me, not just a love for movies, but a certain idealism about life that has stubbornly remained and kept me alive to this day, long after she’s been gone.
One might assume that it’s easier to write about movies that strike us deeply in our souls. However, this is the most challenging piece I have ever written—not because I have little to say about the film (I have so much to say about it) but because it takes a lot of discipline not to go on and on about my entire life story over the course of explaining why I was so deeply affected by it. Cría Cuervos is basically a movie about my childhood—and the reason I watched it was that someone who knows me very well said, “Watch Cría Cuervos, it’s the most Chloe movie ever.” They were right—I had to pause it several times in order to not blur the frames with my tears.
Continue reading Cría Cuervos: The Most Chloe Movie Ever
I don’t really get into my political leanings here at Smug Film, for the obvious reason of this being a site about movies, not politics, but also because I hate creating arbitrary ‘dividing lines’ in my work. It’s petty, and I can’t stand when others do it. For instance, I’m a huge Woody Allen fan, I think he’s our greatest American filmmaker, but I cringe whenever he peppers little jabbing jokes against the Right in his films when the story doesn’t even call for it. Those sort of winks to the audience take you out of the film momentarily, whether you agree with them or not. It’s distracting and wholly unnecessary. So rest assured, people who disagree with me politically—there will be no lazy digs, or insults, or other ‘playing to the base’ bullshit in this post whatsoever.
This list will be of particular interest to libertarians, that’s a given, but even if that ain’t your particular alignment, it should at least be a unique window in the the sort of things we, or at least I, care about, both politically and philosophically. And don’t worry, there are no propaganda docs on here; these are simply great movies, many of which (hell, probably all of which) aren’t even made by libertarians. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, they just so happen to contain, within their myriad elements, certain elements that we get a kick out of. Enjoy!
Continue reading 10 Films Every Libertarian Should See
If you like The Social Network, fine. I don’t, at all, but fine. It does nothing for me—partly due to the fact that it’s so intensely fabricated, and partly because I find it aesthetically unappealing. But it’s not the kinda movie where if you like it, I need to pick an argument with you. Or the kind of movie I even feel compelled to write a review of—especially now, three years after it came out. Even people who liked it haven’t thought about it in years, and wouldn’t write about it now. It’s just kind of a forgettable movie.
However, there is one tiny aspect of it that has endured in my mind all this time and that I seriously think about here and there, and that is its absolute radio silence on any and all of the possible philsophical or metaphysical ramifications of Facebook. It’s actually kind of appalling and unnerving. Watching The Social Network is like watching a movie about the development of the atomic bomb and Hiroshima and Nagasaki not being mentioned whatsoever. Facebook has hugely changed the way we communicate, and the way we think about those around us, and the way we think about ourselves. It’s a seismic fucking thing. But you watch this movie and it might as well be about a guy who created any ol’ doohickey. The whole film is a giant sleight of hand, distracting audiences from the elephant in the room which has taken over us all for better or for worse.
Luckily, there’s a film out there which does explore these aspects of Facebook, if only allegorically, and most likely, unintentionally. That film is Charlie Kaufman’s magnum opus, Synecdoche, New York.
Continue reading ‘Synecdoche, New York’ Is More Of A Movie About Facebook Than ‘The Social Network’
Black comedy, something like: Arsenic and Old Lace, Dr. Strangelove. Or, some with dry British humour like Kind Hearts and Coronets. – Bawuk R.
Cody Clarke: I’m blanking on older black comedies besides what you mentioned. But hell, you didn’t specify old, so fuck it, here’s some non-old black comedies that are great:
Editor’s Note (12/4/14): We no longer answer movie questions through our advice column. We answer them in the mailbag segment of our podcast. Send them to Cody@SmugFilm.com and we will answer on the show!
Continue reading Advice Column #2 (3/25/13)