December 13, 2006

Shorts, 12/13.

Claire Denis "Recall any single film by Claire Denis, or any aggregate image of the mood and texture of her work as a whole: every thing, every body, is in motion." That's Adrian Martin in the new issue of Screening the Past, which is just enormous, featuring dozens and dozens of book reviews alone.

"[T]he influence of postmodernism was a major factor in resurrecting the American horror film during the last decade, and it continues to play a vital (and controversial) role." David Church's survey of the past 15 years or so is one of five essays in the new horror-themed issue of Offscreen.

Like the universe, David Bordwell's site is expanding: "I'm archiving here a set of articles that seem to me worth preserving." Also, The Boss of It All: "In tone, the film is as mixed as most [Lars] von Trier works, hovering between sympathy for idealistic underdogs and a sour realization that they will always be victims.... And don't believe what he says about surrendering to chance; the cuts are often very careful."

Kevin Roderick at LA Observed: "A quartet of Hollywood old hands - Patrick Goldstein and John Horn of the LAT and Sharon Waxman and Laura Holson of the NYT - agreed last night at Z�calo's event downtown that blogs and the Internet have sped up the entertainment news cycle, that the New Yorkers won the Pellicano story and that The Envelope and other naked grabs for Oscar ads are an unfortunate trend." And that's just for starters. Via Sheigh Crabtree at the Risky Biz Blog.

El Topo El Topo is surely as important as a mythical midnight miracle as it is as a film, probably more, and that's the tale J Hoberman tells in his must-read. Aaron Hillis at the Reeler: "Think of this as the pastel-bright hippie grandfather to David Lynch's hipper gloom-child Inland Empire, more timpani and brass than Nina Simone and Beck."

Also in the Voice:

  • "Despite (or rather, because of) its self- consciously retro qualities, The Good German is one of Soderbergh's more experimental movies - but the pizzazz is mainly visual," writes Hoberman. "The movie is lovingly framed, carefully lit, and fatally insipid."

  • "It is said that a great actor or actress can 'bring down the house,' but before I saw (and heard) the 25-year-old American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson in the film version of the 1981 Broadway musical Dreamgirls, I can't recall the last time I truly feared for the architectural stability of a movie theater," writes Scott Foundas. Nonetheless, "it pains me to say that, on some crucial level, Dreamgirls falls short of expectations." More from Andrew Sarris in the New York Observer, Johnny Ray Huston in the San Francisco Bay Guardian and Nick Schager.

  • Nathan Lee: "Less Prestige Picture du Jour than Movie of the Week, Home of the Brave is visually and psychologically scaled for small, intimate, predictable effects."

  • Ed Gonzalez on Jules and Jim: "Fran�ois Truffaut's whirling dervish remains an ageless beauty."

  • For Robert Wilonsky, The Pursuit of Happyness "is too emotionally slick to work, too visually glib to have an impact, made by people who think grit is something that's brought in by the prop department."

The Good Shepherd In a review laced with quotes from Robert De Niro, Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, ST VanAirsdale has considerable praise for The Good Shepherd, which "shreds spy-movie convention in favor of a more existential view of espionage; Eric Roth's script implies that great spies are made, not born - an allusion in part to [title character Edward] Wilson's incorruptible responsibility to his nation and a direct challenge to a film like Shepherd's origin-story contemporary Casino Royale."

"There are two ways of defending Children of Men as the best film of 2006," suggests Pablo Villa�a at Movie City News: "passionately" and "from a more rational, cold and detached point of view." More from Edward Copeland.

Nathaniel R really, really doesn't like Miss Potter: "If the tinkly music and biopic creakiness doesn't annoy you... Ren�e sure will."

"'Yes, it is strange,' Eastwood says of having two movies released within two months of each other, each potentially competing against the other for ticket sales and awards. 'But I've never made a Japanese film either. So everything is different.'" John Horn talks with him for the Los Angeles Times.

"With the right role, a morose [Sarah] Polley performance is a particular joy to watch," writes Marcy Dermansky. "This is the case in The Secret Life of Words."

Ed Gonzalez on Charlotte's Web: "[T]he film's storybook charm remains irrepressible." Also at Slant, Nick Schager: "Juan Carlos Rulfo's In the Pit is a documentary defined by symbiosis, its melding of musical instruments with construction site sounds (clanging jackhammers, crunching iron, screeching machinery) a sonic reflection of its portrait of men becoming intimately, inextricably associated with their artificial creation."

Michael Verhoeven will be the recipient of what basically amounts to a lifetime achievement award at the Bayerischer Filmpreis ceremony in January.

Scott Eyman in the New York Observer: "Lulu Forever exists for its art, and on that score it delivers magnificently: I'd never seen fully half of the images in the book. There are scene stills, candids, snapshots, everything documenting the deadly lure of Lulu. Oddly, there are no pictures of [Louise] Brooks as a ravaged old woman in a small apartment in Rochester - that would violate the masturbatory fantasia the book seeks to evoke." Heavens.

Early in The History Boys, the tone implies that [Alan] Bennett's purpose is specifically anti-Wellington," writes Stanley Kauffmann in the New Republic. But in the end, it "fills the traditional bill. Wellington would probably not be too upset by it."

Jonathan A Knapp finds that it's an "unapologetic approach to the police and their work - ultimately rooted in character and atmosphere - that distinguishes Le Petit Lieutenant from its peers." Also in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Cheryl Eddy: "[Elizabeth] Reaser's Independent Spirit Award�nominated performance is reason enough to give Sweet Land your consideration."

"With its burning intensity, ghastly visions and general air of relentlessness, Apocalypto is most thrilling whenever it feels like the ravings of a lunatic," writes Sean Burns. Also in the Philadelphia Weekly, Mike McKee remembers The Harder They Come director Perry Henzell.

Old Boy "Tsuchiya Garon and Minegishi Nobuaki's Old Boy manga has an almost second-cousin like relationship to Park Chan-wook's adaptation." Scott Green opens his 6th anniversary column at AICN.

"[W]hy did a set like Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection take all this time?" wonders Max Goldberg at SF360. "Regardless, it's here, and it's an embarrassment of riches."

It's "the most glaring motif in the current cinema." What would a few of the classics of film history look like, wonders Mick LaSalle, with more barfing?

Prospect has "asked a range of contributors to nominate their "most overrated and underrated books of 2006'." Among the overrated is Mihir Bose's Bollywood, plucked from the crowd by Mark Cousins pegs: "Contains the line, 'he was so nervous that he was a bundle of nerves,' which, when I read it on the train, made me laugh so much that people got impatient." Via the Literary Saloon.

Online viewing tip #1. Roman Polanski talks about Chinatown. Via Coudal Partners.

Online viewing tip #2. Daniel Martinico's 24 second psycho (remake), riffing on Douglas Gordon's 24 Hour Psycho and beating Gordon's own One Minute Psycho to the punch.

Online viewing tip #3. lonelyterrorist15 at the Daily Reel. By The Geniuses.

Online viewing tips. That Little Round-Headed Boy has a theory concerning R.E.M.

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Posted by dwhudson at December 13, 2006 12:07 PM