Archive for March, 2011

‘Source Code’ Director’s Surprising Parentage

Director Duncan Jones is, in the parlance of Hollywood, hot. His movie “Moon,” which earned raves at Sundance and won a BAFTA Award, put him on the radar of just about every agent and executive in town. This weekend, Jones’ star will likely rise even higher with the release of the big budget sci-fi thriller “Source Code,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

Of course, Jones is no stranger to the limelight. His father is David Bowie. Yes, Mr. Ziggy Stardust himself. Born Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones, he was the only child from Bowie’s first marriage with the American model Angela Barnett. His father famously dubbed him Zowie Bowie, a moniker that Jones quietly shed in his teens.

As a youth, Bowie, who made it a point of reading to his son two hours a night, turned him on science fiction novels. Soon Jones was devouring the works of such mind-bending authors as J.G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick. “My upbringing was pretty weird, anyway,” Jones told the New York Times, “so it was maybe less of a jump for me.”

The influence of these books clearly left their mark on Jones. Both of his feature films are the sort of smart philosophical sci-fi movies that Hollywood used to produce regularly but now sadly seem to get crowded out in favor of big dumb movies about alien robot cars. Continue reading ‘‘Source Code’ Director’s Surprising Parentage’

Julian Schnabel’s Controversial Movie ‘Miral’

“I make portraits of people. I don’t like it when people say I make biopics because I don’t,” Julian Schnabel said to me this week. “The question is, does a Palestinian girl get to have her portrait painted?”

As an artist, Schnabel is no stranger to controversy. His paintings — big, brash, imposing affairs — have elicited some wildly divergent opinions. Yet as a filmmaker, none of the handful of movies that he’s made, including the Oscar-nominated “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” has generated quite as much controversy as his latest movie, “Miral.”

When the film had its US premiere earlier this month at the United Nations building, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee slammed the movie, calling it “blatantly one-sided” arguing that it portrayed Israel in a “negative light.” And the AJC has not been shy about lambasting the movie on other occasions. During its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, the AJC wrote: “Without exception, the IDF [Israeli Defence Force] is stereotyped as an army of inhumane villains…. It is worthy to note that no one seems to be aware that civilians are simultaneously being blown up on Israeli streets by Palestinian ‘activists.'” Continue reading ‘Julian Schnabel’s Controversial Movie ‘Miral’’

Nothing’s Sacred in Terrorist Comedy ‘Four Lions’

Making a comedy about a cell of suicide bombers might seem like an unlikely prospect, but it’s all par for the course with filmmaker Chris Morris. That name might draw blank stares on this side of the pond, but in Britain he’s something of a legend. Part satirist, part surrealist prankster, part deadly serious media critic, Morris first made his name as the writer and star of the landmark TV show “The Day Today” — a spot-on parody of the nightly news that predated “The Daily Show” and Stephen Colbert by a half decade.

He followed that with the fake newsmagazine series, “The Brass Eye.” Taking the guise of a self-important TV reporter, Morris managed to inveigle gullible celebrities, including singer Phil Collins, into making PSAs about the dangers of a fictitious drug called Cake. He even managed to convince one hapless MP into making a speech on the Parliament about the fake substance. But Morris gained true notoriety with his show’s lacerating take on the media’s hysteria over pedophilia. Channel 4 received a record number of complaints about the episode and it caused the Daily Mail to dub him, “Most Hated Man in Britain.” Continue reading ‘Nothing’s Sacred in Terrorist Comedy ‘Four Lions’’

March 2011

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