8.February.2012: Experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison’s latest found footage piece, The Miners’ Hymns, opens tomorrow at New York’s Film Forum. New Yorker music critic Alex Ross praises Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s “brooding ambient score,” while Manohla Dargis gives due to Morrison as the “real deal” in found footage: “A miner himself of a type, Mr. Morrison has dug into the archives of the likes of the British Film Institute to cull primarily black-and-white images so rich, so alive with dirty faces, shadows and the occasional pit pony that they resurrect a world that for many has long been lost to history.” Nick Bradshaw published an extensive interview with the filmmaker and composer for BFI affiliate Sight & Sound more than a year ago after the piece had been performed live at Durham Cathedral, of the same northeastern province as the footage.” I feel I’m able to flex different muscles within the context of archival footage,” said Morrison. “And then of course I have a great romance with decay and footage that becomes something else before your eyes.”
The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday that Verizon and Redbox are forming a partnership to develop a new video on-demand streaming and download service. The move is characterized as a bid to challenge Netflix’s market share, with Verizon controlling 65 percent of the operation. Less predictably, Gawker passes along a rumor that “sources close to the situation” have said that “Amazon plans to roll out a small, boutique store in Seattle in the next few months as a test of whether physical stores could be profitable.”
Several writers are looking over this year’s Oscar-nominated shorts in advance of several compilation programs around the country. “For sheer inventiveness, though, nothing holds a candle to the animated nominees,” writes Tim Grierson for The Village Voice. Indiewire’s Christopher Campbell names Pixar entry La Luna as his favorite of the animations: “It’s the most basic, timeless and magical kind of storytelling, and cinematographically, with its blend of computer animation and watercolor/pastel backdrops, it’s the one short among these nominees that I wish I’d seen on the big screen.” Slant’s Eric Henderson likes Hallvar Witzø’s “wryly crepuscular” Tuba Atlantic in the live action category. Writing for The L Magazine, Benjamin Sutton gathers together the “strongest contenders” in live action, animation and documentary under the umbrellas of death and family.
Those interested in surreptitious subway photography and the philosophy of film editing will want to check out an extended excerpt of an interview artist Josh Melnick conducted with the ever-perspicacious editor Walter Murch (The Godfather, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now) for the Paris Review. The intro explains that Melnick “used a scientific research camera to film portraits of New York City subway riders in slow motion—very slow motion, about a hundred times slower than normal film speed.” Murch holds court on the subjects blinking, silence and slow motion in film, and the domain of the editor: “As film editors, that’s what we study—the frame level. On some level, we know actors better than anyone else—better than the actor knows himself. We spend fourteen hours a day for a year watching certain actors. We know intuitively that he always does that before he does this.”