Indiewire’s Press Play currently hosts my Raising Cain Re-cut project: a personal attempt to approximate Brian De Palma’s original vision of Raising Cain, before the director chose to compromise its structure in post-production. The re-cut uses all of the scenes in the theatrical release and puts them back in the order they were intended, giving rise to a dramatically different viewing experience. The project includes a 12-minute video essay written, edited and narrated by yours truly. Enjoy!
One day I was visiting the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Needless to say, there were pretty Golden Age paintings all over the place, but something was missing in most of them. Then I turned a corner and was completely awe-struck by a shadowy portrait I’d never seen before. No matter how modest in size, this little piece of canvas blew away everything I had seen up to that point. When I moved closer to read the sign below, it said it was a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn.
That experience proved to me that, most of the time, true mastership is easy to spot.
Fast forward to yesterday evening. I’m thumbing through Flipboard on the iPad; a personalized magazine which compiles online content to your interest and presents it out of context. Suddenly, I come across a very brief article, so insightful and eloquently written that I caught myself thinking: Whoever wrote this has instantly become my new favorite film critic. Only then did I check the author of the piece–which turned out to be old favorite Matt Zoller Seitz.
Case in point: Seitz’s Underacting Hall of Fame write-up on Catherine Deneuve.
True mastership. There it is.
Since its completion in 2009, a lot has happened to Out of Sync. After premiering at Indies for Indies in Pittsburgh, it hit the global festival circuit. I’ve already posted about my visit to Rutger Hauer’s I’ve Seen Films International Film Festival in Milan, where Out of Sync received a Special Mention Prize, but the film also screened at Palm Beach International Film Festival in Florida, Choice Cuts Short Film Festival in London and the brand new Lewiston-Auburn Film Festival in Maine.
Interestingly enough, the short achieved its greatest success online. A few weeks after a hi-res version was uploaded and added to the website, Out of Sync was picked up by Vimeo Staff Picks and featured by MUBI Garage, resulting in a total of 58,000 views (and counting). A quick glance at Vimeo’s comment section will give you an indication of how well it’s been received.
Besides LA-based Dennis Cozzalio, who gave a glowing review at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, other critics have chimed in. This is what former New York Times critic and House Next Door founder Matt Zoller Seitz had to say:
“This is a terrific movie. Formally adventurous and technically impeccable but with soul and a point. A rare combination of aspects. The story is told in a very intricate, borderline too-clever manner, toying with literary POV techniques yet somehow never losing track of the basic feelings of the couple and the issues that complicate their relationship. The style is very cognizant of film history, but not a slave to it. Gelderblom’s got his own voice, and it’s rich and assured.”
Meanwhile, Movie Geeks United regular Dean Treadway posted a detailed review at his blog Filmicability:
“It’s the shapes, the rigid color palette, the horizontal lines battling with the verticals, the close-ups wrestling with the long views (with birds sizzling precisely along a flowered horizon at one point), and it’s the disconnect between the sound and image in the first half of Peet Gelderblom’s too-short Out of Sync–these are the facets that rivet us most. (…) The haziness of a weekday morning is palpable, and the gentle tans of the woman’s cosmos clash with the gunky greys of the man’s. (…) A promising exercise for a promising new director.”
Brazilian film critic Pablo Villaça (Cinema em Cena) wrote the following:
And back in Pittsburgh, Sam Ippolito at the Pittsburgh Indie Movie Examiner put it like this:
Last Friday night, my short Out of Sync received a Special Mention award at Rutger Hauer’s I’ve Seen Films International Film Festival in Milan. The film screened together with 249 other works from 72 countries, selected from a total of 3,482 submissions. Since I hadn’t been able to attend earlier screenings in Florida and Pittsburgh, the chance to visit this festival in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I called up my old friend Mick, who used to be my best buddy back when we were studying Graphic Arts, and invited him to come along. The two of us hadn’t seen each other in about eight years, so this seemed like an ideal opportunity to catch up.
Out of Sync screened Thursday evening, October 7th, at Gnomo Milano Cinema. Mick and I took an early flight and planned on visiting the Blade Runner Q&A at IULM University first. Unfortunately, our plane was delayed and we couldn’t make it in time. Bummer! We settled for a late lunch instead, before watching Out of Sync in digital HD with a crowd that seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.
The Gala Award Ceremony, presented by Bill Bristow, took place in a fully packed Eight Column Hall of Milan’s Royal Palace, right next to the enormous Duomo cathedral (“impressive” doesn’t begin to describe it). Rutger Hauer handed the awards in person and, oddly enough, I was the first to be called on stage. A memorable moment, for sure, although it was over before I knew it. As I walked back to my seat, a Dutch lady on the first row congratulated me. I made a mental note to meet up with her later that evening.
As soon as I got the chance, I walked over to Anton Corbijn and complimented him on his stunning second feature The American. (Funny that it takes a movie called The American to make you feel proud of being European.) Corbijn expressed his surprise that the film didn’t open well in Italy, despite George Clooney’s popularity, the Italian setting and a cast of well-known local actors. We talked about the pressures of working within the Hollywood system (“It forces you to come up with creative solutions–not unlike a celebrity photo shoot”) and about digital versus analog cinematography. Obviously, Corbijn is a sucker for the grainy imperfection of good-old celluloid (which cinephile isn’t?), and he rather enjoys the magical wait between shooting and seeing your footage. I told him about my experiences with the RED camera and recommended the Brittish Wallander series with Kenneth Brannagh as an exquisite example of stylish digital cinematography. Corbijn claimed to know nothing of light, by the way (yeah right), eventhough he composed nearly every shot in The American himself.
Mick and I drank prosecco with a few of the other winners: director Sil van der Woerd and singer Anouk de Groot (who won Best Music Video and Best Music Performer respectively) and Maria Heidemann (who also won a Special Mention that evening). Meanwhile, we caught up with the Dutch lady on the first row, who turned out to be Rutger’s wife Ineke!
It didn’t take long before Roy Batty himself joined us. I thanked him for his acknowledgement of Out of Sync (“Yeah, of course, my pleasure!”) and told him how much I was looking forward to Hobo With A Shotgun. “It’s a very, very strange movie,” Hauer told me. I assured him the speech in the trailer felt like vintage Hauer. The man looked at me, pinched his eyes and smiled his trademark smile…
Well, a date has finally been set:
On March 13th, 15th and 16th, my short Out of Sync will have its world premiere in Pittsburgh, USA, as part of Indies For Indies. The festival will screen the film – which curator Lucas McNelly calls “the best film of 2009, regardless of length” – at the Hollywood Theatre, where it will accompany the full-length feature Hell Is Other People. I’m really excited to have it shown at this particular event, even if I won’t be present myself. For those of you who live in the area, go check it out and make sure to report back!
In case you guys missed it, Dennis Cozzalio wrote a glowing review of Out of Sync at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. An excerpt:
“Peet’s light-footed achievement as a writer-director is to cast himself as a kind of seductive force, leading the audience to form conclusions based on what we know and what we think we know about this married couple based on how the images and sound are juxtaposed. It’s a breezy, often visually ambitious (though not ostentatious) and funny film that packs a lot of influences into its brisk 10-minute running time—De Palma, Chabrol, the brothers Coen and Dardennes, even a touch of the airy visual elegance of Vincent Minnelli make themselves known as threads in the fabric that Peet weaves into his own audacious blend.”
People who know me realize I’m not much of a list-maker. My peculiar taste is suspiciously mood-specific and based on private obsessions that are ever-evolving (just like everyone else’s, for that matter), so numbering favorites is about as pointless to me as, say, a Stephen Sommers remake of Howard the Duck to mankind. Then again, what is life but a string of silly excercises?
I started making this list just to see if I could. I do not claim to have seen every worthwhile film this decade. I do not claim to have the authority to tell you what you should like. I do not believe in objective valuation and it doesn’t think highly of me either. But I might be the guy to convince you to see something you may have dismissed or overlooked. In any case, beware of superlatives.
1. Birth (2004 | Jonathan Glazer): An endlessly thought-provoking journey into the mystery of the heart. Kubrick with compassion. Massively underappreciated, so see it with an open mind.
2. Mulholland Dr. (2001 | David Lynch): David Lynch’s ultimate celluloid fever dream and about as sensual as the medium gets.
3. There Will Be Blood (2007 | P.T. Andersen): Never has a picture so relatively modest in scope felt so tremendously epic. I was thoroughly immersed in its sense of place and mesmerized by Daniel Day Lewis’ all-consuming personification of capitalist America.
4. Adam’s Apples (2005 | Anders Thomas Jensen): A Danish gem that balances an amazing tightrope between biting satire and heartfelt allegory.
5. Children of Men (2006 | Alfonso Cuarón): Quite possibly the most astonishingly choreographed cinematic experience of the decade.
6. The Incredibles (2004 | Brad Bird): Leave it up to Pixar to deliver a gorgeously designed kid-friendly gut-buster that kicks more ass than any Bond movie before it. Beyond the belly laughs, it manages to profoundly touch upon the disillusions of maturity and the strenghts of family bonding. How’s that for incredible?
7. Zodiac (2007 | David Fincher): The nature of obsession was never studied this, uh, obsessively. Digital cinema finally came of age in Fincher’s latest magnum opus (nevermind The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).
8. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001 | Steven Spielberg): An achingly beautiful fairy tale for adults with a final section that disappointed me the first time, but has proved curiously rewarding since.
9. In The Mood For Love (2000 | Wong Kar Wai): Lyrical filmmaking at its finest. It is doubtful that adultery will ever get a more glorious excuse.
10. No Country for Old Men (2007 | Joel & Ethan Coen): The Coens rarely disappoint, of course (I loved The Man Who Wasn’t There and haven’t even seen A Serious Man). This felt like a classic from the first moment I laid eyes on it.
11. Sexy Beast (2000 | Jonathan Glazer): The other movie made by my favorite director this decade, with truly breathtaking performances by Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley. Its title pretty much covers it, even if it does feature Fatty Ray in Speedos.
12. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003 | Peter Jackson): The epitome of world-building. So passionately operatic that it repeatedly had me convinced I was dreaming with eyes wide open.
13. Waking the Dead (2000 | Keith Gordon): This romance between two torn idealists broke my heart. Billy Crudup’s breakdown at a family diner is one of my favorite scenes of the last ten years, for sure.
14. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004 | Michel Gondry): Another complicated love story sans Hollywood glamour told in a deliriously inventive way, capped with the finest bittersweet ending you’ll ever see.
15. Elephant (2003 | Gus Van Sant): Deeply moving to some, appallingly empty to others–depending on what you bring to this moving Rorschach test.
16. Memories of Murder (2003 | Bong Joon-ho): A serial killer flick/police procedural as you’ve never seen before. (Long live South-Korean cinema: I could just as easily have put Old Boy, A Tale of Two Sisters or The Host at this spot. See also number 18.)
17. Femme Fatale (2002 | Brian De Palma): This is just too close to my cinematic erogenous zones to not be part of this list. De Palma’s still the most seductive filmmaker on the planet, if he’s not too busy pissing people off.
18. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring (2003 | Kim Ki-duk): I had to fit one Kim Ki-Duk film on here and this impressionistic Buddhist allegory stayed with me the most.
19. Punch-Drunk Love (2002 | P.T. Andersen): A stunningly original romantic comedy that puts the rest of the genre to shame.
20. Reprise (2006 | Joachim Trier): An evocative portrait of two competitive friends fueled by literary aspirations, cut to the quicksilver rhythm of thought.
21. Inglourious Basterds (2009 | Quintin Tarantino): Quite possibly the most powerful wish-fantasy ever put on film.
22. In Bruges (2008 | Martin McDonagh): Without a doubt the sharpest written feature on this list.
23. Bronson (2008 | Nicolas Winding Refn): A cinematic ode to a horribly violent man who spends a lifetime in jail as some cruel piece of performance art. Oddly fascinating stuff.
24. The Prestige (2006 | Christopher Nolan): An ideal night at the movies. Massively entertaining and refreshingly smart.
25. Hero (2002 | Yimou Zhang): Just for the sheer poetry of its colors, movement, art direction and cinematography. Zhang Yimou tried to top himself later, but I believe he raised the bar a little too high with his Wuxia debut.
Among the many films I couldn’t get to fit on this list, in no particular order: Fernando Meirelles’ City of God, Nanouk Leopold’s Guernsey, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 Weeks Later, Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others, Sean Penn’s Into the Wild, Henry Selick’s Coraline, Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, Zack Snyder’s 300, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, Takashi Miike’s The Great Yokai War, Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book and about a hundred others I’m currently forgetting. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you this was a silly exercise.)
Fresh from celebrating his fifth anniversary as a model film blogger, my good pal Dennis Cozzalio at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule prepared another one of his impossibly difficult quizzes for the holiday. It’s taken me close to another five years to complete.
Here are my answers:
1) Second-favorite Coen Brothers movie.
With Fargo, The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men ex aequo on number one and Anton Chigurh holding a gun to my head, I’ll probably go for The Man Who Wasn’t There.
2) Movie seen only on home format that you would pay to see on the biggest movie screen possible? (Question submitted by Peter Nellhaus)
Vertigo in VistaVision.
3) Japan or France? (Question submitted by Bob Westal)
Catherine Deneuve? Jean Seberg? Brigitte Bardot?
Isabelle Adjani? Emanuelle Béart? Julie Delphy?
That settles it, then.
I’d have to say France.
4) Favorite moment/line from a western.
The lip balm scene in ¡Three Amigos!
Here it is (use your imagination to fill in the blurred-out facial expressions):
5) Of all the arts the movies draw upon to become what they are, which is the most important, or the one you value most?
The brilliance of the cinematic art form is how it combines the best of possible worlds.
You can’t force me to choose, dammit!
6) Most misunderstood movie of the 2000s (The Naughties?).
Jonathan Glazer’s Birth, although the tide seems to be turning.
7) Name a filmmaker/actor/actress/film you once unashamedly loved who has fallen furthest in your esteem.
Based on his latest film alone: Michael Mann…
It pains me to say this, but as far as I’m concerned he’s gone creatively senile in record time. Public Enemies was an epic disappointment in nearly every respect, but the little it had going for it (expensive production design, a fascinating historical setting and an all-star cast) was completely ruined by the very element Mann usually excels at: the cinematography.
A looser aesthetic? History shot through the digital lens of immediacy? My ass! This movie’s capital U ugly.
I sure didn’t see it coming… Collateral and Miami Vice had proven Mann to be one of the most exciting filmmaking pioneers working in the digital realm, but Public Enemies throws all his finely calibrated sensibilities out of the window. Literally millions of dollars per minute are flushed down the toilet by an unceazing parade of burned-out highlights, smears of digital motion-blur, inconsistent lighting, dialogue shot in earthquake-cam and incomprehensibly edited action sequences.
Mise-en-what? Who shot who from where?
And, by the way, why should we care?
8 ) Herbert Lom or Patrick Magee?
9) Which is your least favorite David Lynch film (Submitted by Tony Dayoub)
Wild at Heart. A typical case of too much of a good thing.
10) Gordon Willis or Conrad Hall? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
I’m going to act contrarian here and vote for Connie, the less obvious Prince of Darkness. Look no further than Road to Perdition (trailer below) to see how expertly Hall arranges his compositions in vertical planes – frequently columns of three – using different shades of luminance to seperate foreground from background. This man truly understood how to paint with light.
13) Which DVD in your private collection screams hardest to be replaced by a Blu-ray? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
Jacques Tati’s Play Time… and it’s only available in a region imcompatible with my current player. AAARGH!
14) Eddie Deezen or Christopher Mintz-Plasse?
15) Actor/actress who you feel automatically elevates whatever project they are in, or whom you would watch in virtually anything.
John Lithgow. Deliciously expressive, endlessly believable.
Will he play Gargamel in the upcoming Smurfs movie?
16) Fight Club — yes or no?
The movie: yes. The reality: no.
I was asked once by a relative to join an actual fight club, taking place in the basement of a hip restaurant in Amsterdam. I politely declined and told the dude to knock himself out on my behalf.
17) Teresa Wright or Olivia De Havilland?
18) Favorite moment/line from a film noir.
Juliet Forrest: “What are you doing?”
Rigby Reardon: “Adjusting your breasts. You fainted and they… shifted all outta whack.”
–Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
19) Best (or worst) death scene involving an obvious dummy substituting for a human or any other unsuccessful special effect(s)—see the wonderful blog Destructible Man for inspiration.
The decapitation by elevator in Dick Maas’ original De Lift. Great cinematic idea spoiled by the worst-looking dummy head in movie history.
20) What’s the least you’ve spent on a film and still regretted it? (Submitted by Lucas McNelly)
Around three euros for a shitty-looking letterboxed transfer of The Ninth Configuration. Not my cup of tea, after all, eventhough I quite like Blatty’s The Exorcist III.
21) Van Johnson or Van Heflin?
22) Favorite Alan Rudolph film.
I didn’t even make it through the title sequence of Mortal Thoughts.
23) Name a documentary that you believe more people should see.
The Master and His Pupil. A spellbinding documentary by Sonia Herman Dolz about the great Russian conductor Valery Gergiev giving a masterclass on the subject of art, the creative process and – best of all – charisma (yes, it can be taught!). Highly recommended!
24) In deference to this quiz’s professor, name a favorite film which revolves around someone becoming stranded.
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.
25) Is there a moment when your knowledge of film, or lack thereof, caused you an unusual degree of embarrassment and/or humiliation? If so, please share.
Every freaking time Dennis posts a quiz.
26) Ann Sheridan or Geraldine Fitzgerald? (Submitted by Larry Aydlette)
27) Do you or any of your family members physically resemble movie actors or other notable figures in the film world? If so, who?
If I squint my eyes tight enough, my wife’s a dead ringer for Michelle Pfeiffer.
28) Is there a movie you have purposely avoided seeing? If so, why?
Paranormal Activity. Ghosts in a naturalistic setting freak me out.
29) Movie with the most palpable or otherwise effective wintry atmosphere or ambience.
Andrei Konchalovsky‘s white-knuckle ride Runaway Train.
30) Gerrit Graham or Jeffrey Jones?
This is going to surprise those who know me as a De Palma evangelist, but the face of Jeffrey Jones never fails to make me giggle.
31) The best cinematic antidote to a cultural stereotype (sexual, political, regional, whatever).
32) Second favorite John Wayne movie.
33) Favorite movie car chase.
The French Connection. Not the most original answer, I know, but look at it:
34) In the spirit of His Girl Friday, propose a gender-switched remake of a classic or not-so-classic film. (Submitted by Patrick Robbins)
Beauty and the Beast.
35) Barbara Rhoades or Barbara Feldon?
36) Favorite Andre De Toth movie.
House of Wax.
37) If you could take one filmmaker’s entire body of work and erase it from all time and memory, as if it had never happened, whose oeuvre would it be? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)
38) Name a film you actively hated when you first encountered it, only to see it again later in life and fall in love with it.
Scarface (1983), first seen on an extremely crappy pan-and-scan VHS.
39) Max Ophuls or Marcel Ophuls? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)
40) In which club would you most want an active membership, the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, the Cutters or the Warriors? And which member would you most resemble, either physically or in personality?
The Deltas. I’d be whoever Dennis Cozzalio played.
41) Your favorite movie cliché.
“It’s quiet here. Almost… too quiet.”
42) Vincente Minnelli or Stanley Donen? (Submitted by Bob Westal)
Donen, I guess.
43) Favorite Christmas-themed horror movie or sequence.
44) Favorite moment of self- or selfless sacrifice in a movie.
River Phoenix’s parents in Running on Empty, finally letting their boy go.
45) If you were the cinematic Spanish Inquisition, which movie cult (or cult movie) would you decimate? (Submitted by Bob Westal)
I say HANG the 1970s Bavarian sex comedy! Burn, hairy bums in Lederhosen, burn!
46) Caroline Munro or Veronica Carlson?
Caroline Munro, ’cause I just Googled her and I’m drooling.
47) Favorite eye-patch wearing director. (Submitted by Patty Cozzalio)
48) Favorite ambiguous movie ending. (Original somewhat ambiguous submission—“Something about ambiguous movie endings!”– by Jim Emerson, who may have some inspiration of his own to offer you.)
The sick Julianne Moore, safely (?) locked away from her environment, repeating “I love you” to her mirror image in Todd Haynes’ Safe.
49) In giving thanks for the movies this year, what are you most thankful for?
A second Golden Age of Animation happening as we speak.
50) George Kennedy or Alan North? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
As enjoyable as the Naked Gun features are, George Kennedy’s Captain Ed Hocken can’t hold a candle to Alan North’s in the original “Police Squad!” series, yielding the blankest stare known to Man.
The official Out of Sync website is up! Spread the word! Link away! Share, text, tweet, spam! Climb the rooftops and ring the church bell!
Here’s the link:
The behind the scenes video below was shot by my colleague Sacha van den Boogerd. Equipped with the worst MiniDV camera in Amsterdam, he managed to document some pretty cool stuff nevertheless. Sacha was only on set for the first day of shooting. Footage from the second day was shot by sound man Wim Geuzendam using my son’s Camileo.
Be sure to watch it in full screen. Enjoy! (Spoiler-free)
Spot the difference:
Cameron Diaz in Richard Kelly’s upcoming The Box (2009)
Nancy Allen in Brian De Palma’s Blow Out (1981)