Scorsese’s on-screen artistry: more than a cameo

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Martin Scorsese’s acting, Jessica Chastain’s stalker, Spinal Tap 2 and a talking tree.

Let’s go!


SCORSESE’S ON-SCREEN ARTISTRY

Martin Scorsese loves to act.

It’s why he was absent from last night’s Gotham Awards.

He’s so infatuated with the cinema-making process that he has no hesitation about jumping in front of the camera. So, during Robert De Niro’s diatribe last night (video), Scorsese was off in Venice, Italy, acting in the upcoming film In The Hand of Dante (dir: Julian Schnabel).

In an interesting coincidence, Schanbel’s last film, Eternity’s Gate, revolved around Vincent Van Gogh, a role Scorsese played in Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams in 1990. (Scorsese as Van Gogh clip).

Scorsese discusses acting for Kurosawa:

“I just followed his guidance, you know, and if it meant on the third line of dialogue, look to your left, I was going to do it. And I memorized it, I knew. But also, it was the nature of what he felt about trying to make movies or trying to be an artist and how he wrote the part of Van Gogh is really what I found moving and heartening to.”

Scorsese connected with Van Gogh’s impassioned ideas about art:

“All of nature has its own beauty, and when that natural beauty is there, I just lose myself in it…I devour it completely and wholly, and then when I’m through, the picture appears before it complete.”

Although Scorsese has had cameos in a majority of his films, it wasn’t until an actor dropped out last minute of Taxi Driver that he filled in. From there he’s acted in upwards of twelve films.

Scorsese’s on-screen performances transcend mere cameos; it’s as if his presence creates an on-screen magnetism that buzzes. This is evidenced even in his lighter role during the finale of Killers of the Flower Moon.

When Scorsese steps in front of the lens, he exerts dual control as both auteur and actor.

In doing so, he reminds us that at the heart of every great film is not just a great director but a passionate artist who is willing to lose themselves in the pursuit of their art.

For More:

Scorsese’s iconic Taxi Driver scene with De Niro.

All of Scorsese’s on-screen cameos.

Watch Martin Scorsese act and direct in Curb Your Enthusiasm.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Netflix director blows $55M on crypto and cars. Netflix won an 8-studio bidding war for Carl Rinsch’s (dir: 47 Ronin) sci-fi epic Conquest, which centered on artificial humans. After Rinsch took the money, he spiraled into addiction, spending large sums on Rolls-Royces and cryptocurrency, even claiming to have prescient knowledge about lightning strikes. Conquest never made it into production and now Netflix and Rinsch are locked in a long arbitration.

The next giant video game adaptation set to conquer streaming is Prime Video’s Fallout. Jonathan Nolan (Westworld) has directed the first three episodes. The series centers on post-apocalyptic Fallout shelters opening back up to the now irradiated wastelands in LA. All sorts of adventures await in an eternal battle for survival. The world is surreal and oftentimes filled with dark humor (one of the writers on the show, Graham Wagner, wrote for Portlandia).

No reviews as of yet, but if it holds a candle to The Last of Us, there may be even more incentive to adapt the video games to prestige TV.

The show’s first images have just been unveiled.

Paul Greengrass is the captain now. Greengrass (dir: Captain Phillips, United 93, and three of the Bourne films) is set to direct Drowning.

Warner Bros. synopsis reads:

A plane crashes in the Pacific Ocean six minutes after takeoff and is flooded after an explosion during evacuation. 12 survivors sink in a sealed part of the aircraft as it perches on an undersea cliff 200 feet below the surface.

The film seems pitch-perfect for Greengrass’ gritty, big-budget psychological thriller sensibilities. No word on the production start date.

We won’t hold our breath.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

LaKeith Stanfield is trying to be Jesus. In The Book of Clarence, he plays a trickster in Roman times who performs fake miracles to win personal fame. The trailer is an energetic balance between Stanfield’s unshakable hunger and charisma. A blend on display in his heavenly ascent from indie to big-budget:

The film also features a soundtrack of hip-hop Olympians, including Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and Kid-Cudi.

Worldwide theatrical release on Jan. 12, 2024.

Jessica Chastain explores the crippling weight and joy of caretaking. In Memory, she plays a social worker and single mom who is stalked by a man (Peter Sarsgaard) whose life has been gutted by dementia. The film, which played at TIFF and Venice, looks bleak, but the lightness that Chastain brings to the final moment of the trailer is a welcome respite.

It’s a tough role for Chastain to play, navigating scenes opposite a character who is both present and vacant. But we’re confident the Academy Award-winning Chastain will sustain the film.

US limited release (Dec 22) and wide release (Jan 5). No word yet on the UK release date.

Barry Keoghan becomes a leading man. Before starring in Saltburn Keoghan, brought a methodical yet detached verisimilitude to a slew of co-starring roles:

The Saltburn star is self-effacing in a recent interview. He discusses how he used to rattle off a list of directors (Nolan, Lanthimos, Zhao) in interviews to use the law of attraction to be cast in their films.

It worked:

“So, I’ve got to make a feckin’ new list, man. I really do.”

He dived into his process steps for preparing for his first leading role:

“[For Saltburn] I split my character into five pieces; like character one, two, three, four, and five. One would be the start of the movie. Two, would be halfway through the start through to the middle. Three, would be the middle. So, I was giving myself an arc. I was playing five different characters almost.”

Keoghan can next be seen in the Spielberg EP’d series Masters of the Air, a new film by Andrea Arnolds (American Honey), and a new film by Trey Edward Shults (It Comes at Night).


FESTIVALS

Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn screenplay is available for free. Her dark, satirical thriller follows Oliver (Keoghan), an Oxford student, through a transformative summer with the wealthy Catton family. Set in mid-2000s England, this stylish and idiosyncratic film explores themes of desire and the fetishization of beauty.

Read it here.

The International Film Festival Rotterdam opens with Head South, a semi-autobiographical music drama by Jonathan Ogilvie. Set in 1979, New Zealand, the film follows Angus, a schoolboy navigating the post-punk scene amidst personal challenges, capturing a key moment in New Zealand’s cultural history with a vibrant post-punk soundtrack. The lettering in the first image of the film looks indicative of the Clockwork Orange font.

The International Film Festival Rotterdam runs January 25 – February 4. Tickets become available in mid-January.

Pixar Internship free info session. Sign up here. The Zoom will begin today at 3 pm EST. If you get accepted, send us a selfie with the giant lamp.


TECH SECTION

Oppenheimer editor Jessica Lame cut the movie on AVID while an army of technicians mirrored her digital cuts on 65mm film:

“Usually, when you’re cutting digitally, you can do a lot of fancy tricks on the computer. But when you have a film team literally making slices, you can’t do those things. And if I cut off two frames by accident while making a quick cut in the computer, then someone on the film crew is going to physically [replicate] that. It’s actually really lovely to have that heightened awareness.”

Lame’s previous credits include:

She gave a rare interview about how she ensured that Oppenheimer‘s meticulous pacing carried from script to screen.

David Fincher’s The Killer has more VFX than you could ever imagine. Watch a VFX breakdown of the first scene here. It speaks to Fincher’s infatuation with digital tools and his need for ultimate control. It’s frightening and inspiring to understand the arsenal of digital tools at a filmmaker’s disposal to create new dimensionality in existing locations.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

This goes to 11… again. Music Mockumentary This is Spinal Tap returns with a sequel with Rob Reiner set to direct. The original was a hilarious look into rock music culture with countless quotables:

Despite initial confusion at its premiere in Dallas, Texas, This Is Spinal Tap eventually gained a cult following and critical acclaim (read the original review). Spinal Tap 2, set to film in February, is rumored to star the original cast plus Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Garth Brooks.

Prestige International Sales Agent FilmNation appoints Robin Schwartz as the new President for TV. Over the years, FilmNation has operated as a production company for:

Their first TV project was Derek Cianfrance’s I Know This Much Is True.

Schwartz has an equally impressive pedigree, heading up TV divisions for NBC, Regency, and Big Beach.

She said:

“I have long been an admirer of FilmNation and the kind of storytelling to which it has always been committed: accessible and elevated, daring and commercial, unpretentious and utterly unafraid… I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to a legacy in progress and to extend this formidable brand’s reach into the television space.”

There are a lot of new TV projects for her to sink her teeth into. Notably, FilmNation’s Conclave directed by Edward Berger (All’s Quiet on the Western Front), starring Ralph Fiennes and Isabella Rossellini.

Mark Williams, co-creator of Ozark, is directing a new TV series Safe Harbor. Night Train Media’s synopsis reads:

Tobias, a gifted hacker and his ambitious best friend Marco, intent on cracking into the tech billionaires club. They are plunged headfirst into the chaos of organized crime when they cross paths with the Irish mob.

The genius of Williams’ Ozark was the ability to transform a seemingly ordinary accountant (Jason Bateman), who cowered in fear from his Mexican Drug Cartel bosses, into a brutal strategist hell-bent on protecting his family.

Williams shared more about Safe Harbor:

“At the core of this exciting, edge-of-your-seat series is a family of friends who find themselves in dangerous, life-changing situations with some very bad players who force our heroes to challenge themselves and each other to grow as people.”

Sounds a little too press-junket ready but we’re in for it.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

On Body and Soul captured the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2017. The trailer is surreal, beautiful, and, frankly, the most interesting one in today’s edition of the newsletter. That film was directed by the Hungarian Ildikó Enyedi, who just secured €500,000 for her new film, Silent Friend. Her new movie is told from the point of view of an old tree in Marburg’s Botanical Gardens.

The concept seems daunting, but her previous films give us confidence it’ll be well executed.

Enyedi’s film was one of twenty-nine to receive co-funding by Eurimages Project Evaluation. The full list of projects can be found in this press release.

Netflix’s Director of Acquisitions Strategy for Europe, Lina Brounéus, revealed that the streaming giant owns less than 25% of its European content’s IP, highlighting a strategic shift from ownership to diverse partnerships:

“There are no set limitations on how we do things. We want to build relationships that are win-win.”

At Content London yesterday, Brounéus showcased Netflix’s evolution in dealmaking, including local acquisitions and co-productions, and advocating for policies that foster innovation and fair market practices.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan, master Turkish director, won the 2014 Palm d’Or for Winter Light. His new film, About Dry Grasses, captured the best actress award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Janus Films’ description reads:

Samet, a young art teacher, is finishing his fourth year of compulsory service in a remote village in Anatolia. After a turn of events he can hardly make sense of, he loses his hopes of escaping the grim life he seems to be stuck in. Will his encounter with Nuray, herself a teacher, help him overcome his angst?

The trailer is poignant and engrossing. It has been compared to Nabokov’s Lolita in its narrative style, a well-suited analogy given Nuri Bilge Ceylan “novelistic” style.

The film is set to release on the Feb 23rd, 2024.


ON THIS DAY

1945. The Lost Weekend (Academy Awards Best Picture 1946), directed by Billy Wilder premieres in Los Angeles.


Happy Tuesday.


Written by: Gabriel Miller and Spencer Carter..

 

 

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