The idea of two men directing a documentary about a summer camp for pre-teen girls might inevitably raise some red flags. But Arne Johnson and Shane King use their outsider status to craft an incredibly thoughtful and creative film about the Portland-based Rock'n'Roll Camp for Girls. The result, Girls Rock!, is a moving portrait of (to quote the luminous philosopher, Madonna) what it feels like for a girl, holding equal appeal for documentary film lovers, parents, fans of rock'n'roll and anyone who grew up as a weird kid in a town without pity.

Girls Rock! focuses on four girls attending the camp for the first time. Over the course of one week campers create bands, learn instruments, write songs and then perform for a sold out crowd. Because the concept of Rock'n'Roll camp grew out of a third wave feminist ethos, the campers are also taught basic media literacy, self-defense and how to communicate feelings of isolation or frustration that young people (especially girls) are often told to squelch. Erin Donovan spoke to Arne Johnson before he headed off to the True/False documentary film festival in Columbia, MO.

Girls Rock! opens in select cities March 7th.

Page 03/05/2008 - 3:23pm

Ramin Bahrani By David D'Arcy

Ramin Bahrani has followed up his widely acclaimed Man Push Cart with Chop Shop, and we've been watching the accolades pour in at GreenCine Daily. Currently screening at New York's Film Forum through March 11, this "low-budget vétériumph" (David Edelstein, New York) will make its way throughout the country over the next several weeks.

David D'Arcy talks with Bahrani about Abbas Kiarostami's admiration for the film, how it differs from the Dardenne brothers's work, nailing the sound of New York and about why kids could get just as much out of the movie as adults.

Blog entry 03/01/2008 - 5:22am

By Sean Axmaker

Tommy Lee Jones Cormac McCarthy is "our best living prose stylist," Tommy Lee Jones tells Sean Axmaker. And he'd know. After all, the Oscar-winning actor graduated from Harvard with a degree in literature. What's more, he's sure McCarthy's Blood Meridian "would make a terrific movie."

For now, though, following his widely praised performance in In the Valley of Elah, Jones is starring in an adaptation of another McCarthy novel, the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men. And planning to direct an adaptation of another great writer, too.

In the Valley of Elah is now out on DVD. And Jones has been nominated for an Oscar for the role.

Blog entry 02/19/2008 - 9:28am

Jay Jonroy

By David D'Arcy

Jay Jonroy's David & Layla, currently playing in New York, has been tickling audiences in various US cities since it launched its tour of theaters last July.

David D'Arcy introduces his interview with the director: "Jonroy's feature debut is a romantic farce with an American Jewish man and a Kurdish refugee of the Halabja gas attacks of 1988 as its protagonists. The script is based on a true Jewish-Kurdish romance, and the real David and Layla are happily married in Paris. In Jonroy's version, David (David Moscow, who played the child in Big) is a neurotic Jewish guy whose fitness-addict fiancéis predictably more interested in kick-boxing and stretching than in sex. He encounters Layla (Shiva Rose) on the street while filming for a cable show, and the ball gets rolling, with lots of meals and discourses on food and sexual pleasure. It will do wonders for your appetite."

Blog entry 02/19/2008 - 8:19am

By Francine Taylor

Coa Hamburger

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation takes place in Brazil in 1970, when the country was ruled by a military dictatorship and its national soccer team, led by Peléa>, was making its way toward the finals of the World Cup," writes AO Scott in the New York Times. "Accordingly, sports and politics both play parts in this film, directed by Cao Hamburger, which filters the tumult and trauma of Brazilian history through the perceptions of a 12-year-old boy named Mauro."

"[T]his warmly engaging film benefits from its understated approach (it suggests rather than spells out the political turmoil), and its light, comedic tone never mitigates the drama of the central story," adds Jean Oppenheimer in the Voice.

Francine Taylor talks with Hamburger about working with kids and getting the look and sound of 70s-era Brazil just right.

Blog entry 02/17/2008 - 9:20am

Tony Gilroy

By Michael Guillé

Tony Gilroy had been writing screenplays and watching directors turn them into movies for about a decade when he wrote Michael Clayton. For six years, the project simply would not get up off the ground. Then along came Jason Bourne. With the help of, among others, George Clooney, Sydney Pollack and Steven Soderbergh, he was finally able to get Michael Clayton made - and direct it himself.

The film was well-received when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival and lauded in Toronto. But when it hit theaters... well, you may have missed it. Now's your chance. It's out on DVD next week, just in time for the Oscars. It's been nominated for seven of those, including Best Picture. And Gilroy's been nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay. Michael Guillé/a> spoke with him on the eve of its theatrical run.

Blog entry 02/11/2008 - 12:17pm

Robert StoneBy David D'Arcy

"The central and most persuasive interview [in Oswald's Ghost] is with the late Norman Mailer, author of Oswald's Tale, who died on November 10," writes David D'Arcy, introducing his latest interview. "Although I'm a fan of Robert Stone's work, especially his hallucinatory doc, Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst, I was skeptical at first, not about the notion of a film that might put conspiratorial explanations of the JFK assassination to rest, but about the idea that there was anything left to be said about the shooting of JFK and the search for a 'mastermind.' I can recommend Oswald's Ghost to skeptics like myself, and to anyone else."

Oswald's Ghost is now out on DVD.

Blog entry 01/15/2008 - 1:47am

3:10 to Yuma "Andrew Sarris once wrote about the 'bread-and-butter' Western and the 'blue ribbon' Western," writes Jeffrey M. Anderson at his excellent site, Combustible Celluloid. "The latter, ultra-serious example tried to make the Western more important by adding outside elements, but at the same time it sapped all the fun and very nearly killed the genre. Now James Mangold has brought it back with this strapping 'bread and butter' example."

Not only does Jeffrey give the new 3:10 to Yuma [official site] 3½ stars out of 4, he also tips his hat to one of its stars, Peter Fonda, whose The Hired Hand is "one of the best Westerns of the 1970s." Here, he talks with Mangold and Fonda about their lively takes on the genre.

3:10 to Yuma is now out on DVD.

Blog entry 01/08/2008 - 2:55pm

Gregg Araki "After Mysterious Skin, which was so dark and serious and heavy, I was really looking to do something that was completely different," Gregg Araki tells David D'Arcy. That's when he remembered "the funniest script that I ever read," Smiley Face.

But the stoner comedy would rise or fall on the performance of an actress front and center of nearly every frame. And Araki found her in Anna Faris: "There are so many beautiful 20-something ingées out there, but I think she has a comic gift. In terms of her abilities and the way she uses her face and her body, she's totally unique, like a Carole Lombard or a Lucille Ball."

Smiley Face is out on DVD on January 8.

Blog entry 12/30/2007 - 2:54am

John Sayles By Cathleen Rountree

"From his home base in New Jersey to Louisiana, Texas, Alaska and Florida, novelist-turned-hyphenated filmmaker John Sayles has crisscrossed the country weaving sprawling stories in such films as City of Hope, Passion Fish, Lone Star, Limbo and Sunshine State," writes Kevin Crust in the Los Angeles Times. "Unique among his peers, Sayles travels his own road dramatizing an Americana streaked with social realism and a touch of the magical.... Changing times are a dominant theme in Sayles' work and most of his films put forth very specific social issues, but in Honeydripper, these matters are mostly percolating beneath the surface. The film evocatively charts a time and place where change has been a longtime coming and buoyantly imagines a turning point where, at least musically, anything is possible."

Looking back on her September conversation with Sayles, Cathleen Rountree notes "he displayed his impressive encyclopedic knowledge of music, expounded on 'comic book movies' and border politics, and shared a liberal's fears about the final days of the Bush administration."


Blog entry 12/29/2007 - 5:54am

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