At Wired News, Fiona Morgan interviews law professors Keith Aoki, James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins, who co-wrote and produced "Bound By Law? Tales From the Public Domain," a must-read for any documentary filmmaker, as it lays out intellectual property laws, including the boundaries of fair use and public domain, in clear and charming comic book form (you can read it online here).
WN: Why did you decide to focus on documentary film in this book? What is it about that art form in particular that makes it an especially good topic?
Jennifer Jenkins: First of all, documentaries are incredibly important records of our history and culture. They’re visual histories, and they’re increasingly based on copyrighted culture. Our book describes several instances in which the telling of that history has been thwarted by permissions issues. An example is Jon Else having to pay $10,000 for a four-and-a-half-second clip of "The Simpsons" playing in the background of his film ("Sing Faster: The Stagehands’ Ring Cycle"). The makers of "Mad Hot Ballroom" had to pay that same amount to EMI because a cell phone rings in the background of one of the scenes, and the ringtone is the theme from "Rocky." These examples really resonate with people. They understand that these are instances where copyright is not working the way it’s supposed to.
At the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw complains about bloated runtimes and how many blockbusters have acquired a three-hour span just to testify to their own grandeur and epic qualities. He runs through some of history’s great butt (or in England, "bum") numbing flicks, and we have to appreciate this bit about Erich Von Stroheim‘s 540 minutes 1925 silent film "Greed":
Anything we could have lived without? What a tactless question. When his masterpiece was hacked down to two hours by the studio, Von Stroheim first wept and then punched mogul Louis B Mayer. Most of the remaining seven hours of film was destroyed, but the bastardised two-hour version was still hailed as a masterpiece. A four-hour version was cobbled together later, but it wasn’t the same.
Film Threat‘s Phil Hall compiles the "Top 10 Unfinished Films of All Time" (and there’s that "The Day the Clown Cried" at number 9), while the Onion AV Club offers up their list of "Classic Movies It’s Okay To Hate": we vaguely feel that we’ve seen both of these lists in some form before, but the AV Club offers an interesting turn of allowing another staff member to rebut each choice.
We might be somewhat obsessed with "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" (though we haven’t actually managed to see it or anything) â€” at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Kimberly Chun‘s nice catch:
[T]he absolutely weirdest quirk that Lin brings to "Tokyo Drift" is the fact that he has "Better Luck Tomorrow"‘s Sung Kang reprise his role as the honorable teen grifter, Han, in the film. "Tokyo is my Mexico," Han says mysteriously at one point, referring to the Wild West gunfighters who’d run for the border. Han’s character bleed, it’s implied, might be attributed to a flight from "Better Luck"’s black market of cheat sheets. It’s fitting then that Kang strides into his initial frames of "Tokyo Drift" like Sergio Leone‘s Man With No Name or Seijun Suzuki‘s Tokyo Drifter. As if we’re supposed to know who he is. I loved "Better Luck," but I still didn’t get it till I checked Internet Movie Database. If only Han had a classier vehicle, one that wasn’t built for a quick buck.
At LA Weekly, John Payne and Caroline Ryder talk "Wassup Rockers" with Larry Clark and Jonathan, Kico and Milton (a.k.a. Spermball), the South-Central Latino skaters Clark found to play South-Central Latino skaters in the movie.
"Wassup Rockers" is a "quintessential" L.A. story, as they say, and possibly of more interest now with the success of "Crash," which deals with some of these issues in much cornier and less true ways.
At the Japan Times, Mark Schilling interviews Ryuichi Hiroki, who got his start in softcore "pink" films before breaking into the mainstream (2003’s "Vibrator" made the international festival rounds, but never found a US distributor). Schilling also reviews (and likes) Hiroki’s new film, "It’s Only Talk," here â€” the film, about a depressive blogger (oy) screens at the New York Asian Film Festival on Saturday.
+ Battling the Copyright Monster (Wired News)
+ Are you sitting comfortably? (Guardian)
+ OUTTA GAS – FILM THREAT’S TOP 10 UNFINISHED FILMS OF ALL TIME (Film Threat)
+ The Eject Button: Classic Movies It’s Okay To Hate (Onion AV Club)
+ TOKYO DRIFT-ER (SF Bay Guardian)
+ Pretty Punk (LA Weekly)
+ Having a laugh with Ryuichi Hiroki (Japan Times)
+ Desperately seeking solace (Japan Times)