In this morning’s roundup of movie news ‘n’ notes from around the web, a fan trailer is expendable, and some tax incentives are unreachable.
Around the country and around the world, states offer tax incentives to lure film and TV productions into their localities – but producer Ted Hope says those incentives are almost always designed to benefit big-budget, major-studio productions. In New York state, for example, the rules for qualifying for incentives required films to shoot for at least one day on a “certified” soundstage. “[U]p unitl the tax incentives passed,” says Hope (“Adventureland,” “In the Bedroom,” “American Splendor”), “not one of my 60 films had ever shot on a real stage.” In the latest of his prescriptions for making the independent film business more viable, he discusses incentives and says, “The first step is convincing our communities that low budget work matters.” (Hope For Film)
The unauthorized, fan-made trailer for “The Expendables” – if you haven’t seen it, it contrasts the testosterone-heavy film with “Eat Pray Love” and implores men to take back the boxoffice, in no uncertain terms – was pulled off of YouTube after attracting hundreds of thousands of views in its first two days. But Steven Zeichik asked around and learned that it wasn’t the film’s studio, Lionsgate, that complained to YouTube about copyright infringement; instead, it was the Motion Picture Association of America, which simply couldn’t allow a phony trailer that included the MPAA’s green-band trailer rating. Since the trailer had not been submitted for rating, the banner stating that it had been approved “for appropriate audiences” was, shall we say, inappropriate. Too bad, because the fake trailer was far more entertaining than the real one. (24 Frames)
What’s the difference between Roger Ebert and Rex Reed? About four years (Reed is 71, while Ebert turns 68 on Sunday), but also a distinctly different sensibility. As we mentioned yesterday, Reed wrote an “Inception” review in which he said he had trouble understanding the movie, and because of that (and other reasons) he hated it with an all-consuming passion. Now Ebert has followed with his own review, in which he talks about how he had trouble understanding the movie … but nonetheless gives it four stars and calls it “wholly original, cut from new cloth.” Ebert also makes a very good point that I haven’t seen in any other reviews: “Here is a movie immune to spoilers: If you knew how it ended, that would tell you nothing unless you knew how it got there. And telling you how it got there would produce bafflement.” (RogerEbert.com)
On the day of an oral argument at the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York, John Horn sums up the Chevron lawsuit that seeks to obtain 600 hours of footage from the shooting of Joe Berlinger’s documentary “Crude,” which details a class-action lawsuit in Ecuador that could cost Chevron tens of millions in damages and cleanup costs. The director says his film is “fair and balanced” and deserves First Amendment protection; the oil company says it’s propaganda, not journalism, and the shooting probably captured misconduct on the part of lawyers ; and other documentarians and film-related organizations are lobbying behind Berlinger, worried about the chilling effect if Chevron succeeds. At issue is the nature of documentary film, which has often (and deliberately) blurred the line between journalism and advocacy. (Los Angeles Times) An update since Horn’s story: Brent Lang reports that Berlinger is now resigned to handing over some of the footage.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center has been busy lately: picking a new boss, assembling a list of 100 essential films, working on the New York Film Festival, and now compiling a blog roll of the top film criticism sites. From The Self-Styled Siren (Farran Smith Nehme) to Some Came Running (Glenn Kenny) to Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule (Dennis Cozzalio), the 40-odd sites cover the waterfront. indieWIRE and Ain’t It Cool News are the big names, but the fun is in the margins – and in using the list to discover, for instance, that director Paul Schrader, back in his film-critic days, panned “Easy Rider.” (Film Society of Lincoln Center)