Help Independent Filmmaker Shiphrah Meditz Finance Her First Feature

 As a young, self-proclamed, film critic myself I know how it is hard to follow and live our dreams. Sometimes we need a little hands up and other times just a little something more. This is why I would like to pass the microphone to the next generation of talented directors. Without them and their dreams the movies we watch, discuss, review, and love just wouldn't be. Well, please take a moment to read, promote, and donate. I invite other young filmmakers to get in touch with me and I will be pleased to give you some space here on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque.

Here's the message that this young and promising filmmaker wrote to me:

I'm an independent film director from Austin, Texas.
This October, I'm producing and directing my debut feature film, "The Dying Eye," a psychothriller set in Edinburgh, Scotland. I'm employing local crew and actors for the entire production and shooting around internationally-famous locations such as the Royal Mile.
To learn more about "The Dying Eye," see:
My Campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/TheDyingEyeMovie
Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmAIZIHFlvA&feature=my_liked_videos&list=LL5HqyrT6HsMQ8Ji-G2STxPQ
Production Blog: http://meditzproductions.wordpress.com/
This film needs donations to happen. Please help me. Spread the campaign on your blog! I'll give you insider info in the making of the film, free of charge.

There are also great prizes for donators, from special edition DVDs, to tickets to the exclusive world-premier/after-party. Donators can also be a virtual crew member, and help make online decisions in the production, helping choose extras, costumes, and even locations!
Partial proceeds from the film campaign will go to a local Edinburgh children's charity.

If you would like to know further about my career as a 21 year old filmmaker, I am very happy to answer questions. To see my past film experience, visit my LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?trk=hb_tab_pro_top
Only 5% of film directors are women. Please help me change this statistic.


Shiphrah Meditz
CEO & Founder of Meditz Productions


Movie Watching Goals For the Rest of the Year… Redux

Since I put my hand on Andrew SarrisThe American Cinema : Directors and Directions 1929-1968, my interest for completing a list I’ve been rambling about over and over here at the good old LMdC (short for Le Mot du Cinephiliaque), is TheyShoot Pictures Don’t They? 1000 Greatest Films of All Time is became my priority. To me and many others, Kevyn Knox for instance @The Most BeautifulFraud In The World, this is the ultimate cinephile’s reference.



Disclosure (Barry Levinson, 1994)

A computer specialist is sued for sexual harassment by a former lover turned boss who initiated the act forcefully, which threatens both his career and his personal life.

Originally this project was supposed to be directed by Academy Award winner Milos Forman, but he left the project and it was then offered to Barry Levinson and Alan J. Pakula. Levinson was still hot from his Oscar win of Rain Man, a Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman vehicule that is probably overly sentimental but very entertaining. Pakula another Oscar winner for All the President’s Men had his best films out and, let’s say, didn’t really had much gas left in the tank. So the job went to Barry Levinson who did an OK job with a script that proved to be a very successful box office wise movie. Let’s say that it was one of the first times that sexual harassment was showcased as direct as this. It is also interesting because it happened on the job and that it is one of the common places of sexual harassment since men are more subject to receive promotions and have the power.

The set up of the story on the merge of a multinational company and the ambitions of power between the sexes was a film of its time. The company, making Compact Disc players and specialized in computers and technology must have made people dream about the possibilities of the first emails. Well, when technology is displayed in movies it quickly becomes outdated since the communications have been exploding since the last twenty years.

The portrait of Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas), the ambitious computer specialist who thought would received a promotion while it’s his former girlfriend Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore) who got it. The night she got promoted they get together and Tom decides to stop before anything can happen because he is now married and it would be wrong. The next day he receives a complaint of sexual harassment that would change his relationship with everyone around him, his wife (Caroline Goodall), his boss (Donald Sutherland), and his assistant. Until he discovers that it is all about a question of power and control that lies beneath this situation.

While widely playing on the sex appeal of Demi Moore, the film is filled with many flaws that goes from the uneven pacing of the story that seemed to be filmed in episodes. There is also the useless browsing into the database made in 3D to impress the viewer and that is very useless because who would want to be in a virtual environment to consult his records about an assembly line? 

The biggest mess of the film is the conclusion that unties every bows in less than five minutes and in a way that even Michael Douglas’ character seem to be unconvinced and denatured. The Film Noir elements of Disclosure seem to have fade away and the commercial issues have taken the control of the ending of the movie. Sadly, it lets a bitter aftertaste and the overly sticky simplified conclusion of Levinson’s film of 128 minutes seemed to have been faulty on purpose. The unilateral writing of Demi Moore’s character gives a misogynist perception in Disclosure. Every woman, pictured is one note and even the lawyer Catherine Alvarez portrayed by Roma Maffia, is a strong woman but still fell into the cliché of the strong woman.

It is very clear that Disclosure was a sure investment for the studios with Michael Douglas who have been into similar thriller, the beauty of Demi Moore, and the subject matter of a woman who wants to manipulate a man would get a great reception. However, it is a film that reduces its viewer to a simple story full of stereotypes and that didn’t effloresce the subject it would have had to if it didn’t had had the commercial greed it clearly had and received. Moreover, the need to explain every bit of story is pretty annoying since the plot is not that complicated after all.


12 Angry Men

12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 1957)

A dissenting juror in a murder trial slowly manages to convince the others that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court.

The first feature film directed by Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, The Verdict) is one of the greatest huis clos dramas to ever be put on film. Starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, and eight other angry men. They are the twelve jurors who need to decide if a young Spanish-American is guilty or not of murder on his father. They are in the jury room for almost the entire film and the evolution of their decision is the center of the story. Adapted from a play by Reginald Rose, 12 Angry Men is a masterpiece of mise en scène and pacing.

At first, Fonda’s character is laid back and studies the opinions and reactions of his peers. But when he decides to get into the action he mesmerizes them one by one. This is not only a meditation on American justice, but also a human laboratory on human forces of power and influence on opinions.

It also works where Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat film fails to be the perfect huis clos, the tension and the interactions between the characters is never slowed down for a plot detail or a camera setup. Lumet’s sober mise en scène becomes the best tool he has to tell this risky story. However, he masters it like the great storyteller he is. Just look at his film Network to understand how he knows to bring controversial material to the big screen without falling into the easiness of his subjects. 

The late American critic Andrew Sarris in his book The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968  labelled Sidney Lumet in the category Strained Seriousness. It represents “talented but uneven directors with the mortal sin of pretentiousness. Their ambitious projects tend to inflate rather than expound.” What works with 12 Angry Men, is the fact that it is an ambitious project made with honest and very humble means.

All in all, 12 Angry Men might be Lumet’s masterpiece: a film that still holds its guard more than fifty years after it was made is the sign of real talent. Plus, it is a movie that has a great entertainment value and a keen story. Highly recommended.


High Noon

High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952)

A marshall, personally compelled to face a returning deadly enemy, finds that his own town refuses to help him.

Marshall Will Kane (Gary Cooper) is on his way to retire from his duties and get married to the love of his life Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly), but he learns that his worst enemy is returning on the noon train. The soon to be married couple has to wait to leave and Kane must stay and face his enemy Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald). The Marshall goes out and asks for help from his fellow citizens but got no help at all. He must go against Miller and his gang alone.

Fred Zinnemann’s film is a beautiful black and white Western that launched the revisionist Westerns with a more social oriented approach than the traditional paternal Westerns of John Wayne. High Noon also fuelled a debate about how a man of courage, a marshall in this case, should take care of his duties like a professional and not ask help from non-professionals. The nay-sayers of High Noon were John Wayne and Howard Hawks who hated the film and even remade it with their own interpretation of the story with great success with Rio Bravo.

Despite the controversy from the right-wing of Hollywood of the 1950’s, the pace and the action of High Noon are well handled and there is no low moment in the film. The storytelling is pretty classic and the technique of Zinnemann has never been so good. It is no surprise that it got seven Oscar nominations and won four most notably for Gary Cooper as the Best Actor in a Leading Performance.

As a matter of fact, High Noon written by Carl Foreman (screenplay) is a metaphor on the current blacklist and “witch hunt” of Senator McCarthy. Foreman was a blacklisted screenwriter and the tale of the marshall of asks for assistance to the people is how the American people were ready to give away any mark men in the 1950’s just to not get involved with people completely innocent. This also might be one of the main reasons why Wayne and Hawks were strongly disapproving the films’ themes.

However, this is one of the Westerns that proved to pass the test of time with great brio. The pacing, the cinematography, and the presence of Gary Cooper justifies my rating of five stars. Every Western enthusiast should discover this wonderful masterpiece.


The Fisher King

The Fisher King (Terry Gilliam, 1991)

A former radio DJ, suicidally despondent because of a terrible mistake he made, finds redemption in helping a deranged homeless man who was an unwitting victim of that mistake.

Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) is a radio DJ and the man of the city. He is about to become the star of his own sitcom. Everything is doing fine for him and his influence on the air is even as big as his ego. His world falls apart when a man influenced by his answer on the air does a monstrous act that lets the blame on Lucas. Three years later, we follow a depressive/drunk/suicidal Lucas living in what could have been his life if he didn’t blew it. Still as self-centered as the yuppie he was and just like Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, Lucas meets Perry (Robin Williams), a strange almost crazy man that is connected with him. Trying to even things with the greater power Jack tries to help Perry the best he can. In the way, both men are helping each other to get out of their own miseries.

Former Monthy Python director Terry Gilliam, sinks his teeth in a film that is more human and less fantasy than his masterpiece Brazil. Even if Perry’s quest is of Arthurian grandeur, the setting of early 1990’s New York City and the human drama that it represents seem to be harder themes for Gilliam. They only seem, because the personal approach to the whole thing might feel a little Fellinian or unsettling but the use of uncommon camera angles and the transitions between fantasy and reality are well handled. Just like the best films from Federico Fellini, a clear influence on Gilliam. At first, this directing feels a little disconnected and even outdated but once you get pass it, it’s a part of the charm. 

On the acting side of things, Jeff Bridges is brilliant, well is he ever been less than brilliant? His length and complex composition perfectly fits for this widely uncommon human drama. Plus, he is paired with one of the most obvious moment stealer: Robin Williams. The later is one heck of an actor when he can be mastered and well directed to concentrate his energy and huge tendency to improvise and be the clown. Portraying a mentally ill man was one of the best personification he must have been asked to do. He feels right for the role and even he later in his career he seems to be cast to play the same trick every time here he brings something to Perry that few actors could have achieved.

Often overlooked, The Fisher King is a poignant film that reminded me of the early 1990’s and represents a way to make movies like only one man does: Terry Gilliam. With great performances and actual themes, I recommend this film.

The review of this film is dedicated to the victims and families of the tragedy that occurred in Aurora, Colorado on July 20 2012. The subject matter of the film might not treat directly to what sadly happened but deals with some elements that occurred. Our thoughts are with you.


My new feature for Anomalous Material

The superb folks at Anomalous Material gave me a white card and a mic. It wouldn't be long that I would use this speaker to spread the love for movies, films, pictures, talkies. Well, call them anyway you want but I now have a new place to write and it's been pretty inspiring my dear friends.

Here have a look at my Top 10 films of 1968 list.

Top Films of Lars von Trier by LMdC

Large Association of Movie Blogs

With a late contribution to the LAMB’s Director Chair, I wanted to make a post about this Enfant Terrible of World Cinema, but since I moved in my first house I have less time to work on posts and regular blogging. I thought I had seen more films from von Trier but it is clear that I need to catch up on the man and his movies. 

1. Dancer in The Dark (2000) 
This top is succinct, but also meaningful. The number one, represents how von Trier’s directing and the use of Dogme 95 can be successful and despite its pretentious ambitions, well being a little pretentious never hurts, it is a very powerful film. 

2. Antichrist (2009)
The number two spot, is by far one of the greatest Freudian Horror films I’ve never seen. It has everything you want, graphic sex, incredible close ups of tortures, misogynist themes, and a wonderful cinematography. 

3. Dogville (2003)
My last but far from being the least film, Dogville, revealed, to me, the immense talent of Nicole Kidman. It is also the most ambitious adaptation of Brecht’s mise en scène and theories. It is almost experimental while having a coherent and very meaningful story. 

Films I want to see: Europa (1991) Breaking the Waves (1996) Manderlay (2005) The Boss of It All (2006) Melancholia (2011) 

What does your list looks like? How do you feel about the buzz around von Trier?


Artificial Intelligence : AI

Artificial Intelligence : AI (Steven Spielberg, 2001)

A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother.

Written by Stanley Kubrick and directed by Steven Spielberg, AI has divided diehard fans of Kubrick and Spielberg aficionados in two distinct camps. Many did not liked the reinterpretation of the Kubrick vision by Spielberg. Being a diehard fan of everything Kubrick, AI isn’t such a disaster as many stated.

Set in the future of our society, mankind has been replacing and fulfilling its needs with artificial humanoids. In a family where the son is ill they decide to substitute their son with David, an artificial boy capable of feelings and especially an endless love towards his mother. However, when the ill son comes back when a cure is found the life of David takes a unexpected turn of events.


Top Films of Robert Zemeckis by LMdC

Those are films of my childhood from this Steven Spielberg protégé. Did I mentioned that Marty McFly was one of my childhood heroes? Well, this explains why.

1. Back to the Future trilogy (1985-1990)
2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
3. Forrest Gump (1994)
4. Death Becomes Her (1992)
5. The Polar Express (2004)
6. Cast Away (2000)
7. Contact (1997)

What do you think about the top? What would be the number one of your list? Should I watch any other Robert Zemeckis movie?
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