cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

FILM DIRECTOR Mike Nichols – Where’s the catch?


Mike Nichols – A Crash Course in….

David Parkinson, MovieMail, 23 November 2014

David Parkinson is a film critic and historian who is a reviewer for the Radio Times and the Oxford Times, and a contributing editor on Empire. He has written and edited a number of books on cinema, including A History of Film, The Young Oxford Book of Cinema, The Rough Guide to Film Musicals, Mornings in the Dark: The Graham Greene Film Reader and most recently, 100 Ideas that Changed Film.

TV, radio, everywhere. But here’s 3 A4s worth with added YouTubes. Sketch with Elaine May. And 3’15” of the catch-22 of Catch-22. Might be time to watch it again. Start looking for/ordering the DVD. Frankly I didn’t know he directed half the films I see he made. Convinced myself he looked like Michael Nicholson the ITV broadcaster!

Critics might have been a bit sniffy at the time the film Catch-22 came out, and it isn’t at the top of his top 10, but you read the book, you see the film, you know the difference. Had a little sneeze of the generic, Novel They Couldn’t Make Into A Film. Right behind it, finger under nose, building, building, Read the Book, Wouldn’t Watch the Film. Jamais deux sans trois in the sneeze-of-awareness dept.: Saw The film, They say it wasn’t a Patch on The Book.

Reading the book again seems it might be worth looking at how filmically he wrote it – if the dialogue lifts out the book into the film. 354 pages of the pdf on you left, film on your right, keep those pages scrolling.

Interestingly, there was novel, stage play and film. Heller writes in Catch as Catch Can about how much he was able to pack into the play.

JOSEPH HELLER Catch As Catch Can 1

When he was first sent the script:

JOSEPH HELLER Catch As Catch Can 2

Subsequent meeting with Nichols and scriptwriter Buck Henry. Felt awkward having the writer there. But,

“I gave them my opinion there was too much dialogue, too much extraneous transitional talk, and also that the first seventy pages or so had lots of action and lots of comedy but that nothing seemed to be happening in the way of developing either the story or Yossarian’s character.”

Nicholson asked him to make a list of specific suggestions, but Heller thought better of it. Half way through the script, with his list of suggestions, he said he realised the end of Nicholson’s request had been, “I’ll get back to you.”

Brought to my attention after posting: BBC Radio 4 Bookclub did Joseph Heller and Catch-22. One member of the audience was not shy to say he thought the film was terrible. (Rotten Tomatoes 85% 76%. “A brilliant failure” seems to be as succinct as you’ll get. A telling remark from a non-reviewer: “I have not read the book, which seems to be a pre-requisite for watching this movie…”) And that’s pretty much always true when you love the book and are almost champing at the bit to decry the film before seeing it! In the R4 Prog, Heller himself responds to the remark and adds a little bit more.

Looking at the list of authors on Bookclub, 199 progs in all available, it might be interesting to check out those which involved a film to go with the novel. If nothing else running down the page is a good test of film knowledge. Hmm….speechbubblethinks…Did they make a film of The Secret History? William Boyd – well they probably made films of all his novels. Michael Ondaatje – easy-peasy.

By the way, to avoid confusion, where the author was not available, someone else stands in. George Orwell obviously wouldn’t have been able to come. Overall, the main excuse was death.

This was meant to be a post about Nicholson but as the Tralfamadorians say, So it goes.

Wiki:Catch-22 has a few points of interesting. Not guaranteed to be true or accurate, but interesting. One can’t not be true and is very shocking.

Where’s that filmography….

November 27, 2014 Posted by | Joseph Heller, Mike Nichols | , | Leave a comment

FILM VIDEO ESSAY Drew Morton’s Cross-Cut


Cross Cut


Drew Morton

Explore the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo
Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian DePalma’s BLOW OUT with this video essay entitled “Cross-Cut.” Note: This video essay originally began as a more theoretical project. The other drafts have been posted to Vimeo for the sake of pedagogy.

CROSS-CUT (AKA Cinefilea, Version .5)

CROSS-CUT (AKA Cinefilea, Version .75)

CROSS-CUT (AKA Cinefilea, Version 1.0)

What began as “A poetic introduction to the fiction film as videographic criticism that seeks to illustrate the works of Raymond Bellour and Laura Mulvey through BLOW OUT, BLOW UP, and THE CONVERSATION” eventually became a more modest experiment in exploring the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian De Palma’s BLOW OUT. This is the final version of the theoretically framed “Cinefilea” version.

Differences from Version .75: Thanks to notes from Benjamin Sampson and Adrian Martin, I’ve tried to be more evocative in the opening (hence the use of the photographs from BLOW OUT and BLOW UP). I’ve also broken up the text quotations to assist in this and the reader.

Rationale for Why This Version Was Ultimately Abandoned:

My objective was to make a video essay about video essays through these three films with three theoretical texts without resorting to voice-over. After asking a range of colleagues for notes (including Corey Creekmur, Chiara Grizzaffi, Adrian Martin, and Benjamin Sampson), it became quickly apparent that clearly did not work. I typically make video essays that are either argumentative and theoretical (and thus voice-over driven and incredibly structured according to a progression of evidence) or largely evocative and poetic pieces. I had never really tried to cross the streams before and this piece functions as an artifact of that rather contradictory impulse and the dialogue that ensued between us afterwards. To boil it down, it isn’t easy to fuse scholarship and poetry when you’re making a found footage film. When I tried to superimpose cinephilia onto these three films, their original meanings and contexts exerted too much of a hold.

Drew’s comments associated with the videos have been included in full.

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Blow Up [1966], Francis Ford Coppola, The Conversation [1974], video essay | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM EDITING How to edit [Parts 1-3]

From Redshark News 17 November 2014:

REDSHARK How to edit part 1

REDSHARK How to edit part 2

REDSHARK How to edit part 3

How to edit – Part 1

How to edit – Part 2

How to edit – Part 3

By Peter Haas

… is an award winning Brooklyn-based filmmaker and writer whose first celluloid love was “Godzilla.” Since age 9, he’s been chasing monsters and men, camera in hand. His chief inspirations are classic German Expressionist cinema, the free-wheeling creativity of Terry Gilliam, and the fog-shrouded forests of his New Hampshire birthplace. Through his films, Peter strives to unlock the experience of “ecstatic cinema” — a viewing experience that challenges, delights, and sweeps up the audience in equal measures. His work has appeared in American Cinematographer, Red Shark News, various broadcast networks, and various festivals around the world.

His most recent film “Working Horses” premieres this fall.

Working Horses

Peter J. Hass Films

November 20, 2014 Posted by | editing, film editing, film [its techniques] | , | Leave a comment

FILM PHILOSOPHY Reflections on the Death of Celluloid


——–Dave McKean Celluloid

Reflections on the Death of Celluloid

—-Thomas Wartenberg looks at philosophy literally on film.

Philosophy Now, Sept/Oct 2014

November 5, 2014 Posted by | celluloid | | Leave a comment