March 19, 2007

Shorts, 3/19.

"I was in Rome in 1960 just as La Dolce Vita was happening and met [Federico] Fellini, Alberto Moravia, [Luchino] Visconti and [Paolo] Pasolini. Then I went to model in New York in 1963 and hung out with Andy Warhol and all the Pop artists, and met the Beat poets. And then I went to Paris."

Pallenberg / Jagger

The release of Performance on DVD gives Anita Pallenberg ample opportunity to tell the Independent's Chris Sullivan a few stories about its making.

Doug Cummings on Roberto Rossellini's India: "Godard once mentioned it in the same breath with Eisenstein's Que Viva Mexico, Murnau's Tabu, and Welles's It's All True; like those works, it's a loving tribute to a foreign land by a traveling artist."

The Telegraph's John Hiscock talks with Danny Boyle about Sunshine.

Ghibli World's reporting that Hayao Miyazaki's next film will not be an adaptation of the Chinese story I Lost My Little Boy, but instead Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on a Cliff), due in Japanese theaters in the summer of 08. Via Scott Green at AICN.

David Bordwell revisits "my two favorite B film series," the Charlie Chan and Mr Moto films, in part "to trace some changes in the ways movies were made across the 1930s."

"Ignoring the sophomore slump that was Love Talk, there is remarkable progression in Lee [Yoon-ki]'s writing and directing between This Charming Girl and Ad Lib Night, and I'm both curious and excited as to where Lee will go next," writes Filmbrain. "Ad Lib Night is a tremendous film that positions Lee as one of the most absorbing directors working today."

First Snow Eric Henderson: "A fate-obsessive film that would nearly register as existential were it not so resolutely low-key, First Snow is the directorial debut of Mark Fergus, one of the quintet of screenwriters Oscar-nominated this year for Children of Men (another of the five, Hawk Ostby, co-wrote this one as well)."

Also in Slant: Ed Gonzalez on U-Carmen and Fernando F Croce on The Earrings of Madame de....

And at his own site, Nick Schager: "For those who dug Shaun of the Dead, rest assured that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's forthcoming follow-up Hot Fuzz is pretty kick-ass." More from Kurt at Twitch: "Hot Fuzz is comfort food of the highest caliber - both for fans of the both the Buddy Cop picture and British cinema in general. The ability to have many laughs at the expense of what you love while simultaneously reveling in it is a tight line to walk. Wright, Pegg and Frost do it very, very well."

Brigid Grauman meets Werner Herzog in a Brussels restaurant for an interview for the Financial Times.

It's "Back to Blogging" for Anne Thompson, only now for Variety: Thompson on Hollywood.

Zarah Leander would have been 100 on Thursday. Kate Connelly remembers "an unlikely heroine for the Third Reich" and "one of the first gay icons of the screen."

Also in the Guardian:

  • "Mammoth advertising budgets enable distributors to swamp billboards and public transport with hyperbolic endorsements - can't they leave the blogs to the readers?" Evidently not. But Ryan Gilbey's readers know a plant when they smell one.

The Family Friend
  • Peter Bradshaw on The Family Friend: "The spirits of Michelangelo Antonioni and Ben Jonson come together in this terrifically stylish, angular, enigmatic new movie by the Italian writer-director Paolo Sorrentino, who showed us the same weird and captivating elegance in his 2004 film The Consequences of Love." More from the Observer's Philip French.

  • Marco Bellocchio will direct a film "about a woman whom Italy's fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, tried to airbrush out of history," reports John Hooper.

  • "[Woody] Allen has shown only a stilted understanding of the English and England. Can he fare any better in Spain?" wonders Mark Ravenhill. "I doubt it."

  • Paul Arendt: "I'm a magical historian as well as a magician, so I suspect that I got more enjoyment out of The Illusionist than the general public, because the history of magic is built into the story."

  • "So what happens when you cast a good-looking, multi-million-dollar Oscar contender, to play a real-life subject with a face like a bag of spanners?" A list from Shane Danielsen.

  • John Patterson calls for a presentable Martin Luther King Jr biopic.

  • Ancient Greece, A to Z, via the movies: Stephen Moss; also, Joe Queenan on 300. Related: Neal Stephenson in the New York Times: "Lefties can't abide lionizing a bunch of militaristic slave-owners (even if they did happen to be long-haired supporters of women's rights)... Our so-called conservatives, who have cut all ties to their own intellectual moorings, now espouse policies and personalities that would get them laughed out of Periclean Athens." At any rate, "Lack of critical respect means nothing to sci-fi's creators and fans. They made peace with their own dorkiness long ago."

  • Ed Pilkington interviews Tim Robbins.

  • The Guardian Review's running a previously unpublished essay by Susan Sontag and a remembrance by her son, David Rieff. Also, Samuel West on acting alongside Harold Pinter in one of his plays.

"I was in London the week that Adam Curtis's The Power of Nightmares documentary appeared on the BBC," Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, tells Stop Smiling's James Hughes. "He and I had dinner and he went so far as to deny the existence of Al-Qaeda. I said, 'Adam, I've got the foundation documents for Al-Qaeda in my briefcase.' And he didn't ask to see them. For me, that was a very telling moment." Related: k-punk on Curtis's The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom.

Subarnarekha "Ritwik Ghatak's films are deeply haunted by the specter of the Partition of Bengal in 1947, and this sense of dislocation and self-inflicted human tragedy created by artificially imposed social division casts a pervasive sentiment of despair, instability, and perpetual exile through all the rended families and uprooted ancestral communities of Subarnarekha," writes acquarello.

In Journey Into Russia, "the one flaw [Laurens] Van der Post notes in the instinctual bullshit detector he ascribes to Russian citizens is in regard to their attitude toward America, which was entirely unbalanced: 'They admired America more than any other country in the world and at the same time they envied, disliked and feared it,'" quotes Robert Horning in PopMatters. "Animated Soviet Propaganda helps shed some light on why this might have been." Also, Michael Buening on the Cuban Masterworks Collection.

"[Pavel] Ruminov's new movie, Dead Daughters, is - partly by hype and partly by the vestiges of a former Soviet system that eschewed slasher meditations - arguably Russia's first true horror movie," writes Jeffrey Fleishman. "Ruminov's tale of three murdered sisters who rise from the grave with wicked vengeance is a dense, sometimes erratic whirl of morality, inner banshees and deadly darts that swarm across the screen like a hard silver rain."

Also in the Los Angeles Times:


  • Anthony Kaufman has a backgrounder on Jafar Panahi's Offside: "'At this particular time, he's one of the only filmmakers who is daring and not afraid to protest,' said Jamsheed Akrami, a film scholar who has made several documentaries about Iranian cinema. 'His films are direct attempts to expose inequality and injustice throughout Iranian society.'" In a blog entry, Anthony adds further quotage from Panahi and Abbas Kiarostami and notes: "Both filmmakers seem sincerely worried that the US will attack Iran, and they also both lament their own president for not fulfilling promises he has made to reinvigorate Iran's economy and help the poor." Related: Michael Koresky at indieWIRE: "[N]ot only does Offside's very contemporary look at Iranian youth culture act as a nuanced corrective to Zack Snyder's conveniently 'unintentional' Iran invasion propaganda (known before the mid-Thirties as, you guessed it, Persia) but also both films are literal calls to action - Offside for young women to assert their independence in a hideously patriarchal society that's ever so slowly evolving due to burgeoning youth activism; 300 for Americans to stomp, slice, and hack their way through anything, or anybody, of a different color. The choice should be simple."

  • "Like the stages of grief, there are four steps to accepting one's fate as a top screenwriter," proposes Rachel Abramovitz in a piece on this year's batch of writers' directorial debuts. Related: Paul Cullum on Scott Frank and The Lookout.

  • "The boozehound reputation and endless quotability of WC Fields have ensured his place in pop culture history," writes Dennis Lim. "But that outsize persona and those cherished wisecracks, divorced from the context of his movies, tell only part of the story. Seen today, Fields's best films prove that time has not in the least blunted the originality and complexity of his comedy."

  • A concept of "the immigrant experience" based on American movies "may be slightly behind the times," argues Carina Chocano.

  • "It would be a mistake to dismiss the drama Beyond the Gates simply because it is another instance of telling an African narrative through white protagonist," argues Kevin Crust.

"Nick Broomfield's Ghosts, about the fate of undocumented Chinese workers in the UK, is a powerful work," writes Robert Stevens for the WSWS, noting that Broomfield has told the London Times, "I wanted to do a film about modern slavery. It's ironic that, 200 years since the abolition of slavery, there are more slaves than there ever have been, just in a different form."

"The Burmese Harp and Fires on the Plains make a fascinating matched pair." David Austin elaborates at Cinema Strikes Back.

Three quick reviews from Matt Zoller Seitz:

  • Dead Silence's [site] "playfully self-aware touches (like a grand old theater named the Guignol) distract from its leaden pacing, three too many final twists and various behavioral idiocies." More from Ed Gonzalez and Mark Olsen in the LAT and from Scott Weinberg at Cinematical.

Adam's Apples
  • Adam's Apples [site] "is one of the latest examples of the post-Pulp Fiction bloody comedy. It's also one of the weirdest, mixing glib humor with dead-serious spiritual inquiry."

  • My Brother's [site] "earnest tone, moving orchestral score (by John Califra) and strong cast... carry it past the rough patches."

Also in the NYT:

  • "If ever the premise for a movie sounded like a satirical article from The Onion, it would be Air Guitar Nation," suggests David Browne. Says one of the contestants featured in the film: "People think, 'OK, for the next 90 minutes I'm going to be subjected to stoners and idiots playing air guitar.' But one of the things I learned is that while it's a joke, it's one you have to take very seriously."

  • Dana Kennedy traces Tatum O'Neal's most recent struggles to get "back in the game."

  • For Neil Genzlinger, while Nomad: The Warrior comes from Kazakhstan, it "looks and feels like an old-school American western." More from Kevin Thomas in the LAT.

  • Jeannette Catsoulis on Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon: "If Christopher Guest ever turned his attention to psycho killers instead of folk singers and dog breeders, this is exactly the sort of movie he would make."

  • Stephen Holden: "The sloppy, absent-minded Premonition is a giant step backward for [Sandra] Bullock."

"Spencer Nakasako gets the credit (or blame, if you like) for starting the still-cresting wave of first-person camcorder documentaries back in 1995, but he claims it was largely an accident." Michael Fox talks with him for SF360.

Dennis Cozzalio's "Professor Irwin Corey's Foremostly Authoritative Spring Break Movie Quiz" has already drawn dozens of comments.

"[A]s with all great films, it's not the story itself that matters in Climates," writes Charles Mudede. "[W]hat matters is the approach, the style, the telling - the colors of the clothes and skin, the arrangement of furniture in a room, the rhythm of the editing.... Climates is a portrait of the kind of life we must in the end admire and desire."

Also in the Stranger: Annie Wagner on The Namesake, "a perfectly subtle story that stiffens with each new visual gimmick," and Michael Atkinson on a sampling of video "elegies" by Alexander Sokurov, "one of the modern age's most restless and uncompromised cinematic powerhouses."

"If you question why Hollywood actors get involved in politics, Mike Farrell can give you a whole book full of very persuasive answers." Dean Kuipers talks with him about "his engaging new memoir, Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist." Also in the LA CityBeat: Andy Klein on Jodorowsky's El Topo and The Holy Mountain.

Kathy Brewis on Ingrid: A Personal Biography: "The director George Cukor told [author Charlotte] Chandler that Ingrid had 'a great sense of fantasy. Sometimes this works in her favor - in the films and on the stage. In real life, it may have been her undoing.'" Also in the London Times: Wendy Ide meets Andrew Bujalski (related: Ryan Gilbey in the New Statesman on Funny Ha Ha) and Anil Sinanan with the latest from Bollywood.

Blume in Love "I'd forgotten how good it was. I'm being very honest with you. I was shocked at how good Kris Kristofferson was." John Clark talks with Paul Mazursky about Blume in Love for the San Francisco Chronicle. Via Movie City News.

The Gothamist interviews James Urbaniak.

Jens Balzer interviews Jung Ji-hoon (aka Rain) for the Berliner Zeitung - and signandsight translates.

Boyd van Hoeij talks with "European Shooting Star" Halina Reijn at

"Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar joined tens of thousands of people in a march through the Spanish capital on Saturday to protest the war in Iraq and to demand the closure of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." Ciaran Giles reports for the AP.

Jim Emerson posts a few passages from Luis Buñuel's My Last Sigh.

Cathleen Mcguigan profiles Vanessa Redgrave for Newsweek.

Spiegel Online has the full list of nominations for the German Film Awards. The Lolas will be handed out on May 4.

The AP: "Cate Blanchett is in negotiations to star opposite Harrison Ford in the long-awaited fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series, her publicist confirmed Saturday."

Jeremiah Kipp on all things Christopher Walken at the House Next Door.

"The 1975 'blaxploitation' action comedy Dolemite will get to fight another day," reports Carolyn Giardina for Reuters. "The title character - created by comedian-writer-producer Rudy Ray Moore - is an ex-con who joins forces with a squad of 'kung-fu fighting girls' and other allies as he tries to regain control of his nightclub. Moore will executive produce and might have a role in the remake."

Peter Bogdanovich makes an unflattering appearance at the Smoking Gun. Eriq Gardner has the story for Reuters. Thanks, Jerry!

Online reading tips. Zach Campbell collects a few.

Online fiddling around tip. "In 1983 and 1984, bpNichol used an Apple IIe computer and the Apple BASIC programming language to create First Screening, a suite of a dozen programmed, kinetic poems." Via wood s lot.

Online listening tip. Jason Solomon and "an illustrious panel" discuss the Observer Music Monthly's list of the "50 Greatest Soundtracks."

Online viewing tip #1. Alfred Hitchcock's The Working Class.

Online viewing tip #2. Can We Kiss?. Via Coudal Partners.

Online viewing tip #3. John Coulthart finds Moonlight in Glory.

Online viewing tip #4. Tom Sutpen at Bright Lights After Dark: "Gunvor Nelson's My Name is Oona emerged as one of the loveliest works in American cinema of the late 1960s (a time when you could use such terms as 'poetic' and 'cinema' in the same sentence and still maintain a straight face), and remains so to this minute."

Online viewing tip #5. Joao Ribas introduces Das Kleine Chaos (1967): "Rainer Werner Fassbinder's second 16mm short - made while still a theatre director in Munich - shows the young filmmaker clearly under the influence of the French nouvelle vague (complete with a poster of Juliette Greco), yet already hinting at the recurring themes of his mature work."

Online viewing tips. Thomas Groh watches Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Zizek. Right next to that last one: Zizek on how Hollywood wants you thinking about sex.

Bookmark and Share

Posted by dwhudson at March 19, 2007 12:18 PM