El Chupacabra Michael Moore vs. Big Pharma
Late December 2004 movie news include the announcements that a) documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has become the early 21st century's El Chupacabra, b) a reconstructed version of Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 classic Battleship Potemkin will be screened at the Berlin Film Festival, c) producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. has taken issue with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' arcane eligibility rules.
Let's begin with El Chupacabra Michael Moore: U.S.-based pharmaceutical industry leaders are afraid that Moore will depict them and their products in his upcoming documentary Sicko in the same way he depicted U.S. President George W. Bush and his products in this year's blockbuster Fahrenheit 9/11.
Employees of some pharmaceutical companies have been warned that El Chupacabra from Flint, Michigan, may come and get them any day now. The Los Angeles Times quotes Rachel Bloom, executive director of corporate communications at AstraZeneca, based in Wilmington, Delaware, as saying, “We have six business centers nationwide, all of which report 'sightings.' Michael Moore is becoming an urban legend.”
'Battleship Potemkin' at Berlin Film Festival
From El Chupacabra to Sergei Eisenstein: Considered one of – if not the – greatest motion picture ever made, Battleship Potemkin was originally commissioned by Russian communist leaders to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Odessa uprising, during which mutinous sailors rioted at the Ukrainian port. Eisenstein's portrayal of the massacre of protesters on the Odessa Steps continues to be shown in film schools the world over as a classic example of montage – the art of editing used for greater dramatic effect.
A team led by film historian Enno Patalas worked on the reconstruction of Battleship Potemkin, which includes sequences cut by Soviet censors at the time of the film's release. The print to be shown at the Berlinale is supposed to be as close as possible to Eisenstein's original cut.
Pro-proletariat message irked right-wing censors
The Soviet government's more fanatical left-wing ideologues may not have thought so, but Battleship Potemkin's pro-proletariat message was deemed so effective that, at some time or other, the film was banned by equally fanatical right-wing rulers in numerous countries, from Brazil to South Korea.
Battleship Potemkin will be presented on Feb. 12 and 13 at the Volksbühne theatre on Rosa Luxemburg Platz. The German Film Orchestra Babelsberg will accompany the screenings, playing a revised version of Edmund Meisel's original score.
Samuel Goldwyn Jr. vs. the Academy's arcane rules
From the 1925 Soviet classic Battleship Potemkin to the 2005 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar: Veteran producer and Academy member Samuel Goldwyn Jr., whose credits range from the 1958 Alan Ladd-Olivia de Havilland drama The Proud Rebel to the 2003 Oscar-nominated Peter Weir-Russell Crowe collaboration Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, isn't happy with the arcane laws governing the selection of the Oscars' Best Foreign Language Film submissions.
“The system doesn't work. The Academy's job is to pick the best foreign-language picture of the year. But what happens when two of the best pictures of the year are made in France? Or suppose you had Italy's The Bicycle Thief [a.k.a. Bicycle Thieves] and La Dolce Vita in the same year. It would be criminal if you could only pick one.”
About a decade ago, Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors: Red, officially submitted by Switzerland, was disqualified because the French-Polish-Swiss co-production wasn't deemed “Swiss enough” by the Academy's Foreign Language Film Committee.
This year, among the well-received non-English-language releases not in the running in that Oscar category are Pedro Almodóvar's Bad Education, Walter Salles' The Motorcycle Diaries, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement.
See below a few more late 2004 movie news bits.
Harrison Ford in 'The Battle of Falluja'?
Veteran actor Harrison Ford (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Working Girl) will reportedly join the Iraq War by way of The Battle of Falluja, a film adaptation of correspondent Bing West's upcoming book No True Glory: The Battle of Falluja.
The titular battle officially left more than 800 dead, the vast majority of them Iraqi civilians.
'A Legendary Love' in Singapore
Saw Teong Hin's A Legendary Love, the most expensive Malaysian movie ever made and a cause for deep embarrassment at the 2004 Venice Film Festival, became the first film from Malaysia in three decades to be screened in neighboring Singapore, where it opened on Dec. 15.
Malaysia's submission for the 2005 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, A Legendary Love stars Tiara Jacquelina as a 15th-century Javanese princess who falls in love with a Muslim warrior (M. Nasir) from the Malacca Sultanate.
Rehoboth Beach Film Society vs. puritanism
Sanity prevails: Delaware State Police and the state's Attorney General have declared that the Rehoboth Beach Film Society did not violate any state obscenity laws during its November 2004 film festival.
A woman had complained to authorities that the festival had screened three films – Miguel Albaladejo's Bear Cub (Cachorro); John Palmer's Sugar; and Vladimir Vitkin's X, Y – purportedly containing explicit gay sex scenes while children were present in other parts of the cinema complex.
The films, however, were shown in an area apart from the main complex; admission to those screenings was also kept separate.
James Cromwell vs. animal abuse
“They have no straw with which to root, which is what they do instinctively,” Cromwell explains, “so we have managed to frustrate every bit of instinctive and genetic behavior that they have developed over eons. All because we reduce animals to commodities and individuals who buy it into consumers.”
Amitabh Bachchan named AIDS awareness ambassador
Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan has been appointed a 46664 Special Ambassador. Clarification: 46664, the prison number of former South African president Nelson Mandela, is an AIDS awareness campaign spearheaded by Mandela himself.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world.
Rehoboth Beach Film Society website.
El Chupacabra a.k.a. Michael Moore image: Lionsgate Pictures / The Weinstein Company.
Josh Hartnett and Harrison Ford Hollywood Homicide image: Miramax Films.
“El Chupacabra Michael Moore vs. Big Pharma + Battleship Potemkin Is Back” last updated in January 2019.