I found this picture of Roger Ebert standing on Dearborn Street in front of the marquee of the old Playboy Theatre. After the demise of the Playboy, the theatre was taken over and renamed the Sandburg Theatre, and then closed yet again a few years later. In May of 1979, Albert Berger and I reopened the theatre, still named the Sandburg, with a repertory policy of showing classic American films and recent foreign films.
Roger was a frequent patron of the Sandburg and a strong supporter of our programming. The Wild Bunch. Peeping Tom. Aguirre, The Wrath of God. Gun Crazy. Roger. A tub of popcorn. 35mm Technicolor prints. A lobby full of film geeks debating the auteur theory. This was the era where I spent the most time interacting with him, and how I will best remember him. Smart, funny, passionate, and crazy about movies.
Rest In Peace.
If we are lucky, we all have had that teacher or mentor who touched our core and gave us inspiration or direction or a good old fashioned kick in the butt at some crucial moment in our lives. I used to think these teachers came to us most importantly in our formative years, but as I got older and discovered life is a long journey and an unfolding mystery, that the more you know the more you find yourself just at the beginning of knowledge, I have changed my mind.
Greg Baker was an English teacher and swin coach at the Latin School of Chicago who over decades touched the lives of so many generations of students, that he was a bit like the Jimmy Stewart character in Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life" dream/nightmare sequence on steroids - it is hard to imagine what direction my own life and so so many others would have gone without him.
When he passed away ten years ago, a scholarship fund was established in his name to support opportunities for deserving and under-privileged children to get a quality education at The Latin School.
I'm excited to be having a premiere screening in Chicago on April 11 of my latest production Disconnect as a benefit for the fund. I wish that Greg could be with us to see it. But his spirit and legacy will inform the evening and hopefully this new generation of students will find something of his teachings buried in the DNA of this contemporary story.
There was something both surprising and ultimately gratifying when I stumbled across this pop culture artifact at the Japan/LA store this week - a Ryan Gosling coloring book! And lo and behold, a drawing from one of my favorite movies that I had the privilege to be part of making.
I guess seeing Lars and Bianca wind up as a line drawing in a coloring book is a testament to some kind of lasting imprint in our cultural consciousness, even if it is hard to imagine what a kid would make out of the two of them?!?
With just a hint of her wheelchair-bound status in the line drawing but nothing to really reveal to the uninitiated the plastic doll that lies underneath the wig and sweater, Nancy Oliver's brilliantly original creation and Lars' instrument of love and therapy has been reduced to this simple iconic image for posterity.
Thought you might enjoy printing it out and coloring it in - if you have the DVD of Lars and The Real Girl you can even try to match the color palette as chosen by costume designer Kirston Mann!
Being something of a post-post modernist himself, Diego thoroughly enjoyed hamming it up on his visit to New York's famous Museum of Modern Art on his recent visit for the winter holidays. With his natural delight in non-sequitors, incongruous juxtapositions, and verbal and visual puns, he felt right at home among the masters of 20th Century modernism.
Word play became part of the lexicon of modern artists, and Diego is no exception. Ever since Wall-E he has been fond of putting the emphaSIS on the last syllABLE of words, and the museum of mod-ERN art was no exception.
It was great to see him engage with so much visual input and stimulation, which can often overwhelm any of us, let alone children with autism who deal with issues of sensory integrtion and processing.
Being an artist is hard work, he decided, and he found a nice place to relax at the end of his busy tour.
Christmas was literally spectacular this year as we joined thousands of other tourists and native New Yorkers for the holiday ritual known as the Christmas Spectacular at the Radio City Music Hall.
While we were prepared for dancing Rockettes, who have been plying their trademark long legged kick for the past 85 years, we were enthralled by dancing reindeer...
...and dancing bears...
The show has a newfangled attraction to engage 21st century young ones weened on video games - part of the show is a 3D interactive video game whose visual effects showered out from the huge stage into the gasping audience. Of course Diego preferred to wear his 3D glasses (and his sound-muffling headphones) for the entire performance, so his trippy view of those dozens of dancing Santa Claus must have looked something like this...
Thanks for the memories, Radio City!
Elsa, Natalie and Diego are here to visit for winter break, and it almost snowed last night.
But Christmas is multi-colored and multi-ethnic in the vibrant village of Harlem in 2012, and the kids are having a blast riding subway trains with ragtag mariachi's singing Feliz Navidad, sidewalk poets rapping about Rudolph the red-nosed Guiliani, and Dominican fir dealers sawing pint-sized evergreens down to size for the perfect Xmas bush to fit our snug little Harlem rental apartment.
Apologies to long time readers for my peripatetic blogging efforts these last few months. It has been a "be careful what you wish for" kind of year at Wonderful Films and the Horberg household with four films in prep/shoot or post-production over the last year and change.
Life IS change and this level of activity has meant something had to give, and alas my blog posts of late have been fewer and farther between.
But I hope to keep writing and sharing new and interesting news from the frontlines of filmmaking, arts, autism, music, literature, travel and other obsessions.
Happy holidays and best wishes for a great 2013!
Our film of the same general theme and title but different story "Disconnect" does not open until April, but it was fun to see "great minds think alike" and find this disconnect/connection with an artist whose work I have always admired.
For a pretty great review of the film "Disconnect" from our Toronto Film Festival premiere click here!
Good luck to all my East Coast friends today.
Comic genius Basil Wolverton inked these images of the last biblical size storm!!
Imagine a movie about the CEO of a Big Oil company that is thrilling, political, intimate, gritty and passionate, full of ideas yet propelled by a what-happens-next urgency? Hard to believe cinema like this even exists, and yet Francesco Rosi pulled it off when he directed Il Caso Mattei in 1972 starring Gian Maria Volonte in the true story of Enrico Mattei, an Italian oil executive who died under mysterious circumstances when his plane blew up in mid-air on a flight back from Sicily.
Il Caso Mattei was one of the two best films I caught at the recent Venice International Film Festival. Both were part of a series of restorations of Venice Classics that the festival is promoting. The other couldn't have been further afield from Rosi's documentary-styled Agitprop approach.
La Decima Vittima is Pure Pop, unlike any other Italian movie of that era I have seen. The plot is a cross between The Hunger Games and Austin Powers, a super-stylized '60's variation of the classic The Most Dangerous Game trope of humans hunting other humans in a worldwide game of cat and mouse between victim and aggressor. In this case Ursula Andress has been assigned a hit on Marcello Mastroianni, a wily survivor of many such attempts, whose innate spidey-sense that has served him well in the past gets overcome by Andress' formidable powers of temptation. Directed by Elio Petri, whose much more sober and realistic Investigation of A Citizen Above Suspicion won the Academy Award for foreign language feature in 1971.
Much more interesting than the much-hyped The Master, or the disappointing premiere of a new film by another Master, Terrence Malick, these two jolts of creative and innovative storytelling made my filmgoing experience for those six days on the Lido truly "restorative"!