Sunday, August 26, 2012

Episode #4 - Keith Uhlich (The Truth About Charlie)

"I feel like there's all these voices out there, and I want to keep contributing my voice…I think the way film criticism survives in this uncertain landscape is by building a community. As long as you have a strong community of people – not necessarily like-minded on the same films – but people who accept that film criticism is an art that is well worth preserving and keeping around. I’m heartened by the number of different voices I see."

For a film critic who has to keep his reviews under 250 words, Time Out New York staff writer Keith Uhlich has quite a lot to say as he joins Peter for the podcast. Keith explains how he originally got the cinephile bug watching films like Popeye and Spaceballs, as well as his frustrations in making his own films at NYU. They then dive in deep to Keith's unique writing process and spar a bit over some of his more oddball opinions (a love of The Black Dahlia, anger toward Steven Soderbergh). Keith also explains his frustrations over the current state of independent LBGTQ cinema (never have the words “Fuck you, Tom Ford” been spoken with such force). Finally, the two discuss Jonathan Demme’s The Truth About Charlie, an often maligned remake of Charade that inspires both of them for its visual appreciation of Paris and its overlooked humanism.

0:00-4:50 - Opening/Act One: Establishing Shots - Remembering Tony Scott
5:05-1:40:50 - Act Two: Deep Focus - Keith Uhlich
1:41:40-2:06:18 - Act Three: Double Exposure - The Truth About Charlie (Jonathan Demme)
2:06:20-2:08:00 - Close/Outtake

Read Keith Uhlich at Time Out New York, Slant Magazine, The House of Next Door, Senses of Cinema, and Reverse Show. Also read his haiku reviews on Letterboxd.


Friday, August 24, 2012

"Demme’s Thrilling Humanist Romance" - Keith Uhlich on The Truth About Charlie

On Monday's show, Keith Uhlich will be joining me to discuss his life as a cinephile. We also have a conversation regarding Jonathan Demme's The Truth About Charlie, his 2002 remake of Charade. I'm thankful that Keith provided me with his original review of the film, which was then written for, which became Toxic Universe and then Culture Cartel before it finally shut down. With Keith's permission, I've posted his original review (no longer online) with some very minor revisions by him. He wrote this prelude to the piece:

Clive Barker wrote, "We are our own graveyards; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were." The person that authored the words below is almost ten years gone. I'd like to slap him upside the head for his oft-clunky phrasing and stiff-necked swagger. But I also see the fire and spirit (the stalwart belief in humanity, even when confronted with the worst the species has to offer) that I continue to kindle and cultivate. Aesthetic and technical embarrassments aside, I'm happy this little shit-stirrer haunts me still. 
—Keith Uhlich, 08/24/2012

Here’s the one this year that got away.

          Jonathan Demme’s The Truth About Charlie is ostensibly a remake of the 1963 Stanley Donen comedy/thriller Charade and that alone practically guaranteed the film’s financial failure. Charade is an example, after all, of the perfect Hollywood film: attractive stars (Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn), ingenious script (by Peter Stone), memorable setting and atmosphere (using both real and make-believe Paris locations) all combine for an entertainment that fires on all cylinders. If that sounds like too mechanistic a metaphor, then perhaps you’ve caught onto what we might call the weakness of Charade – it works so perfectly that the pleasures it gives can feel like perfectly placed manipulations, cogs in the wheel of the Hollywood machine. No matter, machines can be beautiful too (and Charade is certainly one of those perfect mechanoids), but it presents a daunting challenge to the crazy bastard who wants to try his hand at revisiting the material. The obvious question: Why remake perfection?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Episode #3 - Kenji Fujishima (Fallen Angels)

"I feel like film for me is kind of a fulfillment of an ideal of an art form that has power and the ability to fuse all these previous forms of art, even before the beginnings of cinema, into one work."

           Kenji Fujishima might not have the wisdom that comes from age of Peter's previous guests, but the two have an excellent time talking about how he became a hardcore cinephile and writing for The House Next Door. Kenji discusses reading Pauline Kael at an early age, choosing to forgo his mother’s wishes to go into accounting, and becoming a consumer of arts beyond cinema. The two also chat about his blog My Life, 24 Frames Per Seconds, balancing emotion and formalism in writing, and the beauty of “cinematic recklessness.” Finally, they explore the dark beauty of Wong Kar-Wai’s Fallen Angels, which Kenji posits as the filmmaker’s most reflexive commentary on his own feelings to transition toward a new style.

0:00-5:00 - Act One: Establishing Shots - Sight & Sound Poll
5:16-52:13 - Act Two: Deep Focus - Kenji Fujishima
53:07-1:18:12 - Act Three: Double Exposure - Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-Wai)
1:18:13-1:19:50 - Close/Outtake