Bret Wood's Efforts and Exploits

An updated guide to film and DVD work.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Billy Wilder Speaks

Warm up your VCRs, Tivos, what have you. Tonight at 8 (EST) Turner Classic Movies will air Billy Wilder Speaks.

Director Volker Schlondorff (The Tin Drum) shot hours of interviews with legendary writer/directory Billy Wilder. In 2001 he assembled this material into a three-hour documentary for British television.

Turner Classic Movies commissioned a feature-length version of the documentary, and so it fell to me to re-assemble the documentary in a 71-minute package. This "International Version" is organized by theme (rather than chronologically), is enhanced with photos, posters, scripts and other graphics to make it more friendly to a TV-viewing audience.

This is probably the only opportunity you'll have to view it. When it is released on DVD later this year, it will be the three-hour cut.

For anyone not familiar with Billy Wilder, this is a must-see documentary. He is an amazing filmmaker and storyteller and casually tosses off incredibly funny anecdotes and brilliant insights into the filmmaking process. And it includes scenes from his films (Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Double Indemnity, etc.).

It's a good sampler of Wilder's wit and wisdom... a hearty appetizer before you dig into the three-hour edition (which I'm now working on as well, fine-tuning).

After Wilder speaks, TCM will air several of his films: Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Sabrina, A Foreign Affair, Sunset Blvd. and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

Monday, June 19, 2006

RAPTURE online

RAPTURE, our entry into this year's 48 Hour Film Project (Atlanta) is now online at the official Illustrated FIlms website.

We won Best Acting, Best Cinematography and Best Sound. Scored second place in Screenplay, Editing and Musical Score. Third place for Best Film and Direction.

If you have trouble playing it on the Illustrated Films site, look for it on iFilm and YouTube, where it has also been posted (links forthcoming).

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Prelude to 6/16 screenings

Tomorrow night, Friday, June 16, Psychopathia Sexualis finally comes home (to Atlanta). It screens at 9:30pm as part of the Atlanta Film Festival.

Bob Longino of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed me for the occasion and a very nice article resulted: Exploration of Sexual Taboos Goes Its Own Way

Warning: You may have to register on the Access Atlanta website to view the article. I know, I know.

Tickets are still available HERE.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Critics' Quotes

For those who don't have time to click'n'read the entire reviews, I've pulled some of the more savory selections and am presenting them here in tidy bite-size morsels.


"An impressively tense recreation of a notorious work."

-- NEW YORK MAGAZINE


"Trapping his kinky material in a cage of Victorian propriety, the writer and director, Bret Wood, mimics the visual style of silent cinema, complete with wooden tableaus and ornate intertitles."

-- Jeannette Catsoulis, THE NEW YORK TIMES


"Wood has a strong, atmospheric visual style--something abundantly displayed in his work as editor, graphic artist and producer on the excellent Kino silent-movie DVD sets devoted to German expressionist masters F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang, as well as American greats D.W. Griffith and Erich von Stroheim. "Psychopathia," shot to look like a talkie color version of something noirish by Lang or Murnau, is as good-looking a film as its minimal budget allows."

-- Michael Wilmington, CHICAGO TRIBUNE


"Every film festival needs this kind of ultra-indie wake-up call. Low budget. Experimental. Daring. Local filmmaker Bret Wood accepts the challenge of making a film about Richard von Krafft-Ebing's 19th-century case studies of sexual perversity -- and delivers."

-- Bob Longino, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION


"A FINE ACHIEVEMENT! Not only does Wood evoke the look of the turn-of-the-century era in a believable way, but he also captures the claustrophobic mood of a repressed society...Wood injects a spooky, knowing series of dream sequences and flashbacks that recall the work of German Expressionism."

-- Eric Monder, FILM JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL


"Heavily stylized...Generating suspense with similarly bleak sarcasm, Psychopathia Sexualis is part horror, part exploitation and part ensemble comedy...Wood wields derivative devices with a knowing wand."

-- Eric Kohn, NEW YORK PRESS


"Like his documentary HELL'S HIGHWAY: THE TRUE STORY OF HIGHWAY SAFETY FILMS (2003), Bret Wood's dramatically stylized visualization of cases from 19th-century Austro-German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing's notorious, groundbreaking taxonomy of sexual variation is a window into bygone morals and mores....Despite the film's low budget, Wood's images are extraordinary and evocative...The atmosphere is consistently doom-haunted and depressed."

-- Maitland McDonagh, TV GUIDE MOVIE GUIDE


"The roll call of sexual perversions and fetishes promised in the title are duly displayed, but Bret Wood's film is hardly exploitation. Wood's elegantly shot period piece is ostensibly an introduction to psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing's pioneering treatise on sexual deviance and perversity, illustrated by gracefully restrained set pieces that evoke the cinema of the 1920s and with dry objective medical descriptions in narrative counterpoint....the moods and moments are crafted with kinky grace."

-- Sean Axmaker, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER


"One can idly imagine audience members decked out in the make-up and costumes of their favorite characters, much like devotees of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show.'"

-- Joe Leydon, VARIETY

"German psychoanalyst Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902), a pioneer in the study and treatment of abnormal sexuality, titled his 1886 book of case studies Psychopathia Sexualis, using Latin to put off prurient readers. Atlanta writer-director Bret Wood takes a reverse tack and titillates us with neo-Victorian peeks at perverts."

-- Bill Stamets, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES


"Dutifully and handsomely crafted." -- Jay Carr, AM PM


"What Wood achieves in his arch, velvet-cushioned vignettes is a sense of the subjects being reduced to symptom and diagnosis - in the same way as were Kraft-Ebbing's patients - their pain and innocence brushed away in preference for a belief in sexual evil. Kraft-Ebbing's legacy still is with us in many ways, and while Wood makes that clear, it isn't without a healthy dose of derision."

-- John Anderson, NEW YORK NEWSDAY, AM NEW YORK

"Bodily fluids are consumed, wealthy johns are whipped and stomped by fin de siècle Bettie Pages, lavender love is variously expressed and repressed—all to the sultry sounds of somber string arrangements and scientific voiceover."

-- Melissa Anderson, TIME OUT NEW YORK

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Case Histories

One of the most frequently asked questions at the New York screenings of Psychopathia was "How faithful is the film to the book?" Most people assume it is completely fictionalized, but (with the exception of the "Divertissement" section of the film, Psychopathia follows Krafft-Ebing's original text fairly closely.

Below is a breakdown of the film, by sequence, with a listing of the case history that inspired that portion of the movie. The case numbers reflect Wet Angel's book Psychopathia Sexualis: The Case Histories, as well as any unabridged edition of the book published later than 1912.


Opening Sequence: The Blood Couple
Case 48: Sadism (i) Sadism in Woman

Introduction: Vacher, the Ripper
Case 18: Sadism (a) Lust-Murder (Lust Potentiated as Cruelty, Murderous Lust Extending to Anthropophagy).

J.H./Jonathan
Case 31: Sadism (c) Injury to Women (Stabbing, Flagellation, etc.)

The Beleaguered Prostitute: Phony Priest
Sadism (b) Mutilation of Corpses*

The Beleaguered Prostitute: The Chicken Crib
Case 46: Sadism (h) Sadistic Acts with Animals

The Beleaguered Prostitute: Ceremonial Abuse
Case 33: Sadism (d) Defilement of Women

The Beleaguered Prostitute: The Captain and the Leeches
Sadism (c) Injury to Women*

The Masochist
Case 59: Masochism; Passive Flagellation and Masochism

Xavier
Case 99: Fetichism
Case 169: Antipathic Sexual Instinct Acquired Through Masturbation
Case 170: Antipathic Sexual Instinct

Divertissement: The Necrophilia Shadow Play
Case 23: Sadism (b) Mutilation of Corpses

Lydia and Annabel
Case 155: Congenital Sexual Inversion in Woman (Homosexuality)
Case 158: Congenital Sexual Inversion in Woman (Homosexuality)

* Not included in Wet Angel's condensed edition of Krafft-Ebing’s text.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

PSYCHOPATHIA Reviews

Here are links to the publications that have reviewed Psychopathia Sexualis. I've tried to include everything -- in no particular order. As we open in other cities, I'll update this entry. Once I've got some rest and had some time to organize my thoughts, I'll post a report on the New York opening.

FILM JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL, Eric Monder

VARIETY, Joe Leydon

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Jeannette Catsoulis

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE, Michael Wilmington

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, Bill Stamets

ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION, Bob Longino (capsule)

TV GUIDE MOVIE GUIDE, Maitland McDonagh

BOSTON GLOBE, Ty Burr

CHICAGO READER, Jonathan Rosenbaum

NEW YORK NEWSDAY / AM NEW YORK, John Anderson

THE SEATTLE TIMES, Ted Fry

THE BOSTON HERALD, James Verniere

SEATTLE WEEKLY, Molly Lori

THE VILLAGE VOICE, Benjamin Strong

THE NEW YORK PRESS, Eric Kohn

THE NEW YORK POST, V.A. Musetto

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, Sean Axmaker

TIME OUT NEW YORK, Melissa Anderson

NEW YORK MAGAZINE

THE STRANGER (Seattle), Bradley Steinbacher (capsule)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Night Before

The night before a film opens. It's the best... and the worst. On one hand, you're excited to see your film getting national attention -- and are looking forward to seeing it with an unbiased audience that isn't related to you or didn't work on it. The poster is hanging in the lobby. The ads are in the paper. You can almost smell the popcorn.

But you can't really enjoy it. Your stomach is tied in knots. You're not sleeping. You're constantly combing the internet looking for reviews in various cities, experiencing relief and euphoria when you get one that encapsulates everything you hope a viewer will see in the film. Then you bang your head against the keyboard when a reviewer totally misses the point and dismisses it with a shrug.

I know it's bad form to respond to reviews but I am amazed at how many critics complain that Psychopathia isn't fun. Or that it isn't titillating enough. Okay, let me just say... the title is in Latin. That should be your first clue. Also, the movie is based on a Viennese medical textbook from 1886. That should be clue number two. Does every movie with sex in it have to be "fun"... or else a Sharon Stone vehicle? You think I'm kidding? Check it out...The New York Times... not "fun" enough... not "Sharon Stone" enough. Hoo boy.

But let's not dwell on the negative. Let's look at a guy like Eric Kohn of New York Press. He wrote about the film at some length and did an amazing job at characterizing the film's peculiar charm and philosophical intentions. It's the kind of review every filmmaker hopes they will get...after pouring their heart, soul and bank account into a film.

So what does a filmmaker do... at 11:00 pm... to deal with the stress? Jump in the car, drive over to Hapeville, go to the Dwarf House and order up a plate of country ham 'n' eggs and grits. You sit there on the stool and you take the good with the bad and you start scheming your next production.

Eric Kohn... if you ever come to Atlanta... you... me... the Dwarf House. I'm buying.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Profile in Creative Loafing

Can't resist posting this very cool article from Creative Loafing. For those outside the metropolitan area, that's Atlanta's alternative weekly newspaper.

PEEP SHOW:
Homegrown film may be quintessential film festival fare


Curt Holman makes some great observations and offers a pretty accurate record of my worldview.... as accurate as you can get in 350 words.

Here's a taste:

Psychopathia Sexualis -- in its quirky aesthetic, its heady, kinky themes, and its shoestring budget -- may be quintessential film festival fare. The 30th Atlanta Film Festival contains dozens of similarly creative and provocative labors of love and/or obsession, and the locally produced Psychopathia Sexualis qualifies as both a representative example and one of the strangest among this year's lineup.

slings, arrows and bull's-eyes!

When you make a movie and the reviews start to roll in, you brace yourself for the worst (click here if you must). But all the negative reviews in the world don't hurt a bit as long as someone out there gets the film... and embraces the film for what it was meant to be. I'm taking a few punches to the kidneys (click here to twist the knife), but it doesn't hurt a bit when I read the enthusiastic review written by Thomas Roche.

On his blog, he grabs the visitor by the collar and says, "If you pay attention to me only once in your god damned life, pay attention to me on the small matter of director Bret Wood's new film Psychopathia Sexualis. This is one of the most ambitious, disturbing and gorgeous movies I've ever seen, and its concept is as improbable as it is inspiring."

The review itself is posted at eros-zine.com

Monday, June 05, 2006

Excess bloggage

Just wanted to post a few links to some of the more interesting blog-sites that have given Psychopathia its share of e-ink.

One of the first people to see the film was Tony Comstock.

It never hurts to appear in Filmmaker Magazine

The Austin Underground Film Festival

Even Germany is talking about Psychopathia at The Crime in Your Coffee. Note: This page is translated from German by an automated translator, so it's a little quirky. But I gotta say, I love the sentence, "Wood a good Händchen for new talentierte actors has." Can I put that on a poster?

fleshbot.com

Sunday, June 04, 2006

RAPTURE screening and distribution panel

We just got word that Rapture was selected among the top films of the recent 48 Hour Film Project in Atlanta... and will therefore be screened at the Atlanta Film Festival. The screening is Saturday June 17 at noon... at Cinefest (located in the GSU Student Center). Buy tickets here: www.brownpapertickets.com

Stick around after the screening for a panel discussion in which I will be participating: "Distribution Advice." It starts at 2:30 pm, also at the GSU Student Center. Buy those tickets here: www.brownpapertickets.com.

And don't forget Psychopathia Sexualis screening Friday June 16 at 9:30 pm. Tickets: www.brownpapertickets.com.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

PSYCHOPATHIA playdates

THEATRICAL DATES


NEW YORK
TWO BOOTS PIONEER THEATER
Two Week Engagement begins Thursday, June 8, 2006
155 East 3rd Street (between Avenues A and B)
(212) 591-0434

CHICAGO
GENE SISKEL FILM CENTER
Opens Friday, June 9, 2006
164 North State Street
(312) 846-2600

SEATTLE
GRAND ILLUSION CINEMA
Opens Friday June 9, 2006
1403 NE 50th Street
(206) 523-3935

PORTLAND
CLINTON STREET THEATER
Opens Friday June 16, 2006
2522 SE Clinton Street
(503) 238-8899

ATLANTA
ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL
Friday June 16, 9:30 pm
Georgia State University
Speakers Auditorium
Student University Center

BOSTON
BRATTLE THEATRE
Return Engagement
July 14-17, 2006
40 Brattle Street, Harvard Square
(617) 876-6837

LOS ANGELES
LAEMMLE'S FAIRFAX 3
Opens Friday August 4, 2006
7907 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, 90048
(323) 655-4010

SAN FRANCISCO
ROXIE CINEMA
Opens August 25, 2006
3117 16th Street
(415) 863-1087

Friday, June 02, 2006

PSYCHOPATHIA in Atlanta

I think we're going to get a fair amount of local press surrounding the screening of Psychopathia Sexualis at the Atlanta Film Festival. So this will be a catch-all post in which I provide links to the local ink.

Here's a link to our page at the Atlanta Film Festival. Friday, June 16 at 9:30 pm at the Speaker's Auditorium at the GSU Student University Center. It's a very large house, and it's going to be a very enthusiastic crowd... so this will be the best place to view it.

Okay... press...

The first piece to appear on the radar is an interview with producer Tracy Martin and myself, that appears in the local trade publication CinemATL

Thursday, June 01, 2006

RAPTURE Production Diary

Alright, this is really cool. The local trade publication Southern Screen Report assigned one of their writers, Spencer Moon, to visit the set of "Rapture," the piece I wrote and directed as part of the 48 Hour Film Project. The article has just been published in the online edition of SOUTHERN SCREEN REPORT.