Tag Archives: movies

Shameless Self Promotion Vol 3

21 Mar

It’s my yearly self promotion post… yeah, yeah, exciting I know. Much more food and film on the way in the following weeks, I promise, if you will have patience with me for the moment!

First, if you haven’t taken a look, I’d love to know what you think of the relaunch of my professional website, cinema language.org.

Second, we also have another Cinema Language seminar upcoming on May 10th and 11th.

Cinema-Lang-11.16.Rose's-Baby

The seminars have been growing with each round and are a blast. I show tons of clips and stills from the best movies ever made, there are a lot of smart people discussing movies… it’s a fun and informative weekend. One of the best editors in town came last year and had this to say:

“As a film editor, I am in constant search of ways to grow my art. Tom Provost’s brilliant dissection of every aspect of story telling for the screen opened me to a new and greater understanding of my craft, and the filmmaking process as a whole. I highly recommend this weekend to filmmaking professionals and newcomers alike.” - Sean Albertson, A.C.E  (Warrior, Rocky Balboa, The Killing Season, Rambo)

(BTW, if you have not yet seen Warrior, you are missing out. It is easily one of the best films of the last 10 years. Incredible.)

This round we already have people flying in from Connecticut, NYC, Colorado and even the UK! My good friend Janet Batchler, one of the best writers in town, is also doing her amazing ‘How To Pitch’ lecture as part of the weekend. Her lecture relates not only to pitching your product and yourself in the most effective way possible, it relates generally to a very interesting and provocative way to approach life.

Perhaps the best thing for me about these seminars is that, after doing them for a few years, we’ve had a number of people take the class and then go out and make a great movie. We’ve even had people meet in the class, form a production team, and make a movie together. It’s awesome.

These seminars are for film professionals and movies lovers both. We’ve had many people who don’t work in the industry and simply love movies come and have a great time. So if you know anyone in Los Angeles you think would enjoy it, or if you yourself work in the business or love movies and want to come, post a comment or send me a message, I have great deals for the readers of the blog! More information about the weekend and purchasing is here:

http://cinemalanguage.eventbrite.com

Stay tuned for some great posts, thanks for the patience and, as always, thanks much for reading the blog and for the support!

Cinema Language Logo

For the movie nerds…

26 Apr

I’ve been working on, and finally finished, an ‘Open’ to my weekend seminar. It turned out so well my business partner wanted me to make it into a bit of a promo. Whatever the use, I think many of you who follow the blog will enjoy this. It uses clips from many of the movies we cover in class:

Technicolor Dreams

17 Aug

As those who visit this site regularly are aware, I have a few passions. Um, obsessions, Tom, obsessions… Potato, po-TAH-to, whatever. Earlier this year I wrote of my justice issues, centering around the brilliant, seminal, devastating Chinatown. I promised then to write about another passion… um, Tom, it’s an… that’s enough, you. So today I give you Technicolor Dreams.

In the summer of 1977 a movie with a wookie was unleashed on the world and became the obsession – there, I said it – of many a cineaste, including a zillion teenage boys. I was one of these and saw Star Wars 6 times in the theatre. What can I say? As much as George Lucas seems to be trying to kill any love anyone might have for the first three films through his revisions and desecrations of the original texts, Star Wars was and is a wonderful movie. Later that year, though, in November of 1977, another outer-space movie was released to high acclaim. Radically different from Star Wars, this movie took place on the home front, dealing not with galaxies far, far away but with what might happen were aliens from another planet to come to earth.

Movies and books had been exploring alien invasions for many years, of course. H. G. Wells wrote what is perhaps the godfather of such tales. In 1898 (1898!) he wrote War of the Worlds (free download!), a terrifying depiction of what might happen were we invaded by Martians. Orson Welles famously adapted this for radio in 1938, presented mostly as a news bulletin, which anecdotally caused some people to believe the broadcast was true. This was followed by a host of terrific, frightening films about alien invaders, particularly in the 1950′s when the potential invasion by communists was a deep seated fear of many Americans.  Just about every plot involving space aliens coming to earth was a dark, terrifying tale. Until that November 1977 release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Click here to keep reading and see the rest of the movies

A Great Movie You’ve Probably Never Seen, Vol. I

21 Apr

“I’m sure you’ll find this amusing, but I’m afraid of the dark.”

                                      Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda) in Klute, 1971, dir. Alan J. Pakula

Anyone working in movies has influences. I certainly have quite a few. Spielberg and DePalma, for instance, both had an enormous effect on me when I was younger. While I’d loved movies all my life, it was after seeing JawsClose Encounters and, particularly, Dressed to Kill that I started to become aware of the camera, of film grammar (English was already my favorite subject so this was not a huge leap) and the other ways these storytellers went about their craft. Spielberg continues to be an influence, of course, the guy continually blows my mind. And there are many other directors who have had an effect, from Hitchcock to Nolan, Wyler to Nichols, Hawkes to Polanski, David Lean. My biggest influence, though, is Alan J. Pakula.

One of the most vivid movie memories I have is going to see Pakula’s adaptation of All The President’s Men with my mom one evening at the Park Plaza Twin Cinema, about which you’ve heard before. I wasn’t old enough to care about Watergate when it was actually occurring, so when I saw the movie a couple of years later, most of what I saw was new to me. The depiction of the Washington Post newsroom is legendary; the movie apparently caused a huge upswing in applications to journalism school. But more than anything, I was transfixed by the style of the movie and how the filmmaker was able to take something that should have been pretty boring and not only rivet me, but at times really scare me. It was my first experience with Pakula.

All The President’s Men (1976) is the third in Pakula’s “70′s paranoia trilogy”, the others being Klute (1971) and The Parallax View (1974).  I saw these in reverse: President’s Men in the theatre, Parallax a couple of years later on TV and Klute many years later in film school. President’s Men, among many other great achievements, has one of the best screenplays ever written. William Goldman deservedly won an Oscar for the film and I am continually amazed, each time I watch the movie, by both the film and the screenplay. Parallax is a weird, creepy, unsettling film starring Warren Beatty, essentially Pakula’s riff on the Kennedy assassination. It’s terrific. And then there is Klute, one of the best films of all time.

Click here to dive into ‘Klute’!

Justice Issues and “Chinatown”

30 Mar

 “You see, Mr. Gittes, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of anything.”  Noah Cross 

 

We all have archetypes that spur us individually. Our backgrounds, our struggles, our loves, loyalties and rivalries combine to create passions, positive and negative, that charge us. These are passions that energize rather than enervate. Because of these personal experiences and passions, each of us have genres that are intensely meaningful, story types to which we return again and again.

I have two. One is “The Joseph Story” which is any story that follows loosely the account of Joseph from the Old Testament. Favorites that fall under this particular archetype are Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Field of Dreams, Heaven Can Wait (1978 version)andDisney’s Beauty and the Beast. Each of these four, while wildly different movies, follows a similar storyline concerning a dreamer with a vision. In the face of events that drag the character further and further from this vision ever being achieved, the vision miraculously comes to fruition in the end, albeit in an often different way than imagined. It’s a wonderful archetype I’ll write about at a later date.

The second story type that drives me revolves around justice. 

There are a couple of therapy sessions we need not explore here that would explain why I am obsessed with justice…. not particularly for myself but for the people around me and others I encounter in the world. Consequently, movies that explore justice are some of my favorites of all time, movies I will watch again and again and again. Examples here include Erin Brockovich, In the Name of the Father and Norma Rae. (There are quite a few others I could list.) Each of the movies mentioned are splendid movies even apart from my justice obsession. Erin Brockovich is a wildly entertaining movie, more fun than any such movie has a right to be, a movie that cemented Steven Soderburgh’s status as one of the best directors in Hollywood, and a film that plays out in highly original ways while still being very much a crowd-pleaser. In The Name of the Father is simply one of the best movies of the 90′s and would have swept the Oscars in ’93 had it not been for a juggernaut called Schindler’s List. Norma Rae is a surprisingly gritty, wonderful film that holds up beautifully even today. I love these movies passionately and will show them to anyone, anytime. Yet there is one ‘justice movie’ I return to more than any. It’s a movie that had one of the biggest influences on my life; it is also one of the top 5 movies ever made. That movie is Chinatown.

 

I was twelve years old the first time I saw Chinatown…

Click here to keep reading!

The Greatest Decade for Movies

16 Mar

Is there a better decade for film than the 1970s? Feel free to try to convince me otherwise, but I doubt you’ll have much luck. Taken as a whole, the films of the 70s combine into a dazzling, divergent whole that challenges and delights, devastates and uplifts, while also remaining extremely relevant many years later. 

 

We don’t call “On Food And Film” hyperbolic for no reason. 

 

I’ll admit I fell in love with movies during the 70s. My parents, thankfully, loved movies and we often went to the theatre as a family. In my early childhood, there were three main theaters in my hometown. My favorite was The Village Theatre on Gulfway Drive, which sat over 1100 people! It was a huge, wonderful theatre with an enormous screen. It even had a balcony, which we loved as kids…. and loved even more as high-schoolers. Also a great theatre was The Park Plaza Twin Cinema, which was our town’s first double theatre. The Park Plaza had two theaters flanking a giant lobby with crystal chandeliers and a beautiful concession area. The theaters themselves were large and long, sloping beautifully down to very wide screens. Finally, we had a double drive in, Don’s Drive In, which was classic to a drive-in in every sense. My brother and I loved the drive-in but it was harder to convince my parents to venture there. I did have my first experience with James Bond at Don’s Drive In, a reissue double feature of Goldfinger and Thunderball. I’ve been a Bond addict ever since. And Don’s was where I saw the original King Kong for the first time, an incredible experience on the ginormous drive-in screen.

  Click here for the remainder of the post!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,262 other followers