Visual-effects makers: How’s that ramen tasting?

Hollywood bosses gloat over exorbitant movie profits while visual-effects makers subsist on cheap instant noodles, in the latest, tart comment on the state of the visual-effects business from the mordant-loaded brush of artist Jesse Mesa Toves, whose robust revival of the editorial cartoon delivers its satirical punch with dramatic visual storytelling.

Eleven billion polygons? I can’t count that high,” says a boss, standing over a harried visual-effects artist, who is eating at his workstation, trying to slurp up a cup of instant noodles. In the foreground, a chart shows projected boxoffice for 2014 rocketing past eleven billion dollars, to twelve. “Wait. Actually I think I can.” Toves adds: “Congratulations Hollywood, that $12-billion year looks like a given … ?”

A look back at UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME | A MAN AND A WOMAN by Claude Lelouch

BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Of course it’s pure pop — but done with deceptively simple, even casual technique, and the kind of light touch that comes from tremendous self-assurance. One is tempted to remark that its images seem to have been plucked from advertising, except that — such was the influence of the film — the advertising of the era may have been inspired by the film, rather than the other way around.

Making love, winning the audience

The real “killer” moment in this picture — which otherwise seems so insubstantial as to be hardly a movie at all, but a daydream of a movie — is the scene in which the man and the woman make love. At the time it was an extraordinary, even audacious moment in a movie. Here’s why.

In the midst of lovemaking, the man senses — from a nearly imperceptible change in the woman’s demeanor — that something is wrong. He stops: She is thinking of her late husband.

This was — and still is — one of the very few moments in cinema wherein a scene of lovemaking advances the story, rather than interrupting it. Most scenes of lovemaking are completely unnecessary, because the significance is merely the fact it occurs at all; not in the details of how it is accomplished.

Sex and the storyteller

It is not a solecism to show a sexual act in a movie, but it does present a serious, technical, narrative problem for movie makers: After a spectacle of sexual congress has completely distracted an audience, the story will have stopped dead in its tracks. How to get a movie started again, after that? That is a trick that requires finesse — and a storyteller’s cunning, of which writer-director Claude Lelouch and screenwriter Pierre Uytterhoeven have an abundance.

Detail and sensitivity

This part of the story shows a level of detail and sensitivity which rarely occurs in cinema inside or outside the bedroom.

Success and Influence

I don’t think American cinema was ever the same after this movie was shown. It was a hit in art-house theaters in the USA; it took two Academy Awards: Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Writing, Story, and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen; but what made it not only successful but vastly influential, was that the ABC Television network showed the movie in prime time, to an audience far larger than what it could have gained in theaters — embedding it — and its candid, casual use of intimacy — into popular taste.

And of course, there is that amazing, light, but elegant theme by composer Francis Lai! It makes American pop movie scores seem turgid and overbearing.


American Film Market 2010 Favorite Film Pitch contest for filmmakers November 6-9

American Film Market diary BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Movie makers who attend the 2010 American Film Market (AFM) in Santa Monica, California, will have an opportunity to pitch their movie ideas to the fans of an American television awards pageant, “The People’s Choice Awards.”

“Imagine the winner telling a producer, The public voted my project the film they most wanted to see get made. That’s powerful,” said AFM Managing Director Jonathan Wolf.

The 2½-minute pitches will be recorded on a set in the AFM Filmmakers Lounge at Le Merigot Beach Hotel. An AFM pass will not be required — a contestant can just show up November 6 – 9, between 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM, fill out an entry form, and make her pitch. Information and contest guidelines.

Five finalists will be selected by a panel of movie business experts. Each will receive one Full Market pass to the 2011 AFM, including tickets to all conferences and seminars.

Finalists’ pitches will be posted to the The People’s Choice Awards Web site after the broadcast of the pageant in January 2011, on the American TV network, CBS. Fans will vote online to determine the “Favorite Film Pitch” award winner.

The winner will receive full access passes for two to the 2011 American Film Market, hotel accomodations, and scheduled meetings with producers and distributors.

The 2009 winner, David Minnihan, will be presented his People’s Choice Award during the 2010 AFM Pitch Me! seminar on Saturday, Nov. 6. He will also shop his winning project, “Father John,” during meetings with producers and distributors throughout the market.

The “People’s Choice Awards” pageant is produced by Procter & Gamble Productions, a subsidiary of the eponymous household packaged-goods giant, whose productions of daytime melodrama broadcasts in the twentieth century — such as As the World Turns — were known as soap operas.

The AFM is produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance, which represents the world’s producers and distributors of independent motion pictures and television programs.