February 20, 2007

Shorts, 2/20.

Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema "Since 1948, Palestinians have not only occupied the painful position of many oppressed peoples who are systematically displaced, disenfranchised, denationalized, brutalized and murdered; they have also been put in the awkward, even tragicomic, position of having to convince the rest of the world of their very existence," writes Alexander Provan for Stop Smiling. "This problem of visibility lies at the heart of Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema, an illuminating, if incomplete, anthology of essays on the efforts of Palestinians to represent themselves to the world and to each other."

Sunday night's bombing of the Samjhauta Express that killed 66 passengers, mostly Pakistani traveling from India to Pakistan, lends a gruesome but immediate relevance to Rahul Dholakia's Parzania. The story hinges on the 2002 riots in Ahmedabad, India, sparked by another attack on a train that killed mostly Hindus. In the New York Times, Somini Sengupta reports that the film is being well-received: "But in Gujarat, the director's home state, theater owners have said it is too controversial and have refused to show it."

"Alain Resnais's Private Fears in Public Places was voted best Gallic film of 2006 by the French Union of Film Critics on Monday night," reports Lisa Nesselson for Variety. "The awards, first given in 1946, are voted on by the 200-plus members of the nationwide org."

Ray Pride points to Fionnuala Hannigan's interview for Screen International, downloadable as a PDF, with Harmony Korine in which he talks about the possible Cannes contender, Mr Lonely. Also, the Chicago Tribune's Mark Caro talks with Francis Ford Coppola about Youth Without Youth.

The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair In Vanity Fair, Michael Tucker, who's directed The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair with his wife, Petra Epperlein, tells the chilling, and frankly, infuriating story behind the doc, the story of Yunis, a journalist arrested in Baghdad (you may remember the scene in Gunner Palace) and held in Abu Ghraib for eight months on a charge that was never substantiated.

"In the film called Brazil, Michael Palin is the torturer as the civil servant who might conceivably have been doing something else, such as selling life insurance. In the country called Brazil, the same role was usually played by a psychopath." In Slate, Clive James probes the true nature of torturers, Palin's character as Tom Stoppard would have written him vs the character Terry Gilliam insisted on.

Three essays scored honorable mentions in the 2006 Frank Capra Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Film Criticism, and Film International is running them online: Dustin Griffin on "Isolationism in Dead Man Walking," Daniel Bulger on "Queer Cowboys: Alternative Space in Brokeback Mountain" and Katie Zerwas's "Two Takes on The Postman Always Rings Twice."

"Combining an immaculate, compartmentalized mise en scène with some of the most ambivalent and acid characterizations of human behavior, Elegant Beast is a knock-it-out-of-the-park winner that ought to prompt a [Yuzo] Kawashima retrospective were anybody in fact paying attention," writes Travis Mackenzie Hoover at the House Next Door.

Fires on the Plain Kon Ichikawa's "Fires on the Plain breathes death, and yet is tasteful enough not to rely on simple sleights of hand to invoke the horrors of war," writes Jeff Larson at the Six-Reel Shuffle.

Ron Dreher has a provocative piece in the Dallas Morning News on what the Bush administration could learn from Marshall McLuhan and The Queen. Via Metaphilm.

Nathan Lee in the Voice on The Wayward Cloud: "Sad to say, but the only thing more unfortunate than a Tsai Ming-liang film that fails to get a theatrical release is one that eventually does and sucks dick." Also: Ghost Rider and The Number 23, plus David Chute on The Royal Guard and Ella Taylor on Amazing Grace.

The AV Club's Noel Murray redefines the "good" in "a good movie."

In the Guardian, Richard Jobson interviews Ed Norton, Christopher Reed remembers movie songwriter Ray Evans, 1915 - 2007, and Haresh Pandya remembers composer Omkar Prasad Nayyar, 1926 - 2007.

Bob Thomas for the AP: "Janet Blair, the vivacious actress who appeared in several 1940s musicals and comedies, then turned to television and stars like Sid Caesar and Henry Fonda, has died. She was 85."

Online reading and viewing tip. Michael Agger's guide to machinima at Slate.

Online viewing tip #1. Bob Mitchell at the Silent Movie Theatre.

Online viewing tip #2. Victor Solomon's The Narrator. Via the Daily Reel.

Online viewing tip #3. James Longley at Zoom In Online - where Annie Frisbie talks with Criterion Technical Director Lee Kline and Paul Robeson box set producer Abbey Lustgarten (audio only on that one).

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Posted by dwhudson at February 20, 2007 3:05 PM