Filmmaking Advice from Quentin Tarantino and Sam Raimi (NSFW)

At Comic-Con 2009, some aspiring filmmakers had the chance to ask real-deal directors how to make it in the business. Sam Raimi offered some very tangible and practical advice — advice that probably any young director should take to heart. Then Quentin Tarantino followed up with some colorful recommendations (at the 2:20 mark) that may be more inspirational/aspirational than achievable. Robert Rodriguez and Guillermo del Toro also offer their thoughts….

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Demystifying the Protect IP Act

How to combat internet piracy, the daily theft of copyrighted music, films and other digital goods? Our congressional leaders think they’ve figured it out, and their solution is called the Protect IP Act. The only problem is that the pending legislation creates more problems than it solves. Kirby Ferguson, creator of the Everything is a Remix video series, explains. And The New York Times offers its own objections….

Beware the Horror of…The Gawper

Abbott and Costello meet Tim Burton in this stylish little tribute to classic horror films by the British animation team at A Large Evil Corporation. (Yes, friends, they’re people too.) The moon is full and the bell tolls two as a pair of bumbling grave robbers enter a foggy graveyard. What happens next is unspeakably silly. The computer-generated 3D film was directed by Seth Watkins and runs an epic one minute, 28 seconds.

Watch the 1953 Animation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Narrated by James Mason

Back by popular demand, and certainly the right video for today’s holiday — the 1953 animated film version of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” narrated by James Mason. Upon its release, the film was given a bizarre reception. In the UK, the British Board of Film Censors gave the film an “x” rating, deeming it unsuitable for adult audiences. Meanwhile, “The Tell-Tale Heart” was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in the US, though it ultimately lost to a Disney production. The film runs a short 7:24, and now appears in our collection of Free Movies Online.

And then we have another small Halloween treat — your favorite actor, Christopher Walken, reading another classic Poe story, The Raven. It’s now added to our collection of Free Audio Books, and don’t miss other readings by Walken right below.

Christopher Walken Reads “The Three Little Pigs”

Christopher Walken Reads Lady Gaga

James Franco Reads Short Story in Bed for The Paris Review

James Franco gave The Paris Review a hand when he jumped into bed and started reading “William Wei,” a short story published in a recent edition of the storied literary journal. Find a cleaned up audio file here, or in our collection of Free Audio Books.

Last year, the aspiring writer and Yale doctoral student also made a cameo appearance in Gary Shteyngart’s rather hilarious video trailer for his novel, Super Sad True Love Story.

A short story by Franco, “Just Before the Black,” appears in Esquire. His fiction collection, Palo Alto, can be picked up here.

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The Paris Review Interviews Now Online

Names of Paris Métro Stops Acted Out: Photos by Janol Apin

A little fun for anyone who has spent time on the Paris Métro, which carries millions of passengers through 301 often artfully-named stops each day. Shot during the 1990s by Janol Apin, this collection of photos takes the names of real stations and acts them out in imaginative ways. Enjoy the rest here. H/T @MatthiasRascher

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Bertrand Russell Explains How Smoking Paradoxically Saved His Life

In 1959, Bertrand Russell, then pushing 90, could still give a good interview. We have previously featured vintage video of Russell sending a message to people living 1,000 years in the future and also contemplating the existence/non-existence of God. Now comes more footage from ’59, and this time he tells us all about how smoking a pipe saved his life. It makes for a good anecdote (get more on his near-death experience here), though not an endorsement for taking up the habit….

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Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, a Halloween Treat

Over the years, when Roman Polanski was asked to name the film he was happiest with, his answer was surprising: The Fearless Vampire Killers.

The film was a commercial and critical flop when it was released in 1967, and Polanski was furious when MGM chopped 20 minutes out of the movie and changed the title from Dance of the Vampires to the farcical The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My NeckA reviewer for The New York Times pronounced the film “as dismal and dead as a blood-drained corpse.”

But as the years went by, Polanski professed a fondness for it. “The film reminds me of the happiest time of my life,” he told Le Nouvel Observateur in 1984. “It’s Proust’s Madeleine to the power of a thousand. All my memories come flooding back in one shot.” Polanski fell in with actress Sharon Tate while filming on a soundstage in England and on location in the Italian Alps.

Polanski also liked the film because it was unpretentious. He told Cahiers du Cinéma in 1969, “As a filmmaker who wants to show something interesting or new cinematically speaking, I made Cul-de-sac. But for those people who want to go to the cinema for two hours and have a good time, I made The Fearless Vampire Killers.”

Some viewers have protested that the film is not especially funny or scary. Polanski said his intention was to create a kind of cinematic fairy tale, a fantasy adventure. “I wanted to tell a romantic story that was funny and frightening at the same time,” he told Positif in 1969. “These are the things we like to see when we’re children. We go to the funfair, sit in the ghost train, and hope to be frightened. When we laugh or get goose-pimples at the same time it’s a pleasant feeling because we know there’s no real danger.”

The film tells the story of the eccentric Professor Abronsius (Jack McGowran) and his young apprentice Alfred (Polanski) as they venture into Transylvania in search of vampires. They arrive at an isolated Jewish inn, where a hapless proprietor (Alfie Bass) has trouble keeping tabs on his beautiful daughter (Tate).

“In the film there’s an Eastern European culture which was desolated by the Germans and that’s been killed off for good thanks to Polish Stalinism,” Polanski told Positif. “It’s the kind of thing that you can see in the work of figures like Chagall and Isaac Babel, and also in certain Polish paintings. This culture, which never reappeared after the war, is part of my childhood memories. There just aren’t any traditional Jews in Poland any more.”

There are some beautiful, dreamlike moments in The Fearless Vampire Killers. The opening scene, in which the protagonists are pursued by a pack of wild dogs, evokes the sort of childhood nightmare in which we find ourselves unable to call out for help. In another scene, a hunchback uses a coffin as a sled, gliding over the curving hills like a surreal Norelco Santa.

The Fearless Vampire Killers is good fun as long as you follow the director’s lead and don’t take it too seriously. This version (which has been added to our collection of Free Movies) runs one hour and 43 minutes. The American theatrical release ran one hour and 28 minutes, so it appears that most of the missing footage has been restored. Make some popcorn, turn down the lights and enjoy the film!

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