March 28, 2007

Shorts, 3/28.

Don't Touch the Axe As Jacques Rivette's Ne touchez pas la hache (Don't Touch the Axe) opens in France today, editor Boyd van Hoeij talks with Jeanne Balibar, who "has an interesting take on what the duel between the would-be lovers really is about at a deeper, more human and less politicised level: 'This film is about sex,' she says with the sincere seriousness that only a French actress could bring to such an explanation, 'and more particularly about two people trying to reach an orgasm at the same moment. The two hours of the film are really about synchronising their simultaneous orgasms.'"

"Hildegard of Bingen, one of the most important figures of the medieval Catholic Church, will be the subject of the new film by German director Margarethe von Trotta." Scott Roxborough in the Hollywood Reporter.

In the Los Angeles Times, Jay A Fernandez talks with Jonathan Nolan about that sci-fi screenplay he'll be writing for Spielberg.

Like Michael Tully, Glenn Kenny is wondering what Sam Mendes is thinking: "One of the many things about Revolutionary Road, besides the main thing, which is that it's a freakin' masterpiece, is that it's one of the most unrelentingly grim novels of its ilk. I would be overstating the case considerably if I were to aver that it makes John Barth's not dissimilarly-themed The End of the Road look like The Code of the Woosters, but the fact that the idea of saying it occurred to me at all ought to give you an idea of just how grim it is."

"Tazza, written and directed by Choi Dong-hoon, is, like his feature film debut Big Swindle, a fast-paced crime thriller, buttressed by a fantastic cast and a complex but never confusing plot," writes Kyu Hyun Kim at, where Adam Hartzell has launched a new blog, Notes Inspired by the Film.

Rag Tag "[I]t is not the bizarre back story that marks out Rag Tag, the debut feature by Adaora Nwandu," writes Patrick Barkham. "The 29-year-old British-Nigerian director has entered territory that is still taboo in cinema: she's written and directed a story about a romance between two black men." Also in the Guardian: Stuart Jeffries asks Honor Blackman, "How did you get to be Pussy Galore?" The answer: "I was very, very hot at the time."

"Lou Ye, whose film Summer Palace was feted at Cannes last year but earned him and producer Nai An a five-year ban from making movies in China, is currently raising money to make The Last Hour," a film the Guardian describes as being about "a Palestinian who is abandoned by his wife after being imprisoned for 10 years in an Israeli jail."

In the Village Voice:

  • Rob Nelson on After the Wedding: "Playing God, on one side of the camera or another, is the essence of Dogme. What happens after the wedding comprises a full three-quarters of [Susanne] Bier's epic, whose near-Biblical twists and turns - I wouldn't think of giving them away - are enough to fill four weepies." More from Marcy Dermansky.

  • "German director Andreas Dresen (Grill Point, Willenbrock) has made an oddly buoyant little film about loneliness," writes Michelle Orange. "Part Sex in der City, part Dogme doldrums, Summer in Berlin is most affecting as a character study of two women in their late thirties, at the precise moment in their lives when, with middle age on the march, the fritterings and posturings of youth offer respite even as they throw its loss into relief."

  • "No doubt about it, The Hawk Is Dying verges on the ludicrous, but it couldn't be otherwise," writes Nathan Lee. "This half-mad cine-Icarus risks a perilous Bressonian ideal: 'The greater the success, the closer it verges on failure.'" More from Katherine Folk in the L Magazine.

"Ultimately, The Hoax seems designed to appeal to the larcenous impulse in all of us," writes Andrew Sarris in the New York Observer. "Having invented his own relationship to his shadowy subject, [Clifford] Irving anticipates today's rampaging identity thieves, but for higher stakes."

More from Jesse Hassenger in the L Magazine, where Nicolas Rapold writes, "The strategy of Black Book is blitzkrieg, for better and for worse."

"His films are too sick and mean to be guiltless kitsch and too weird to enjoy just for the laughs," writes Violet Glaze. "Let's put it this way – even ooky-kooky Tim Burton won't be making a biopic about sleazemeister [Dwain] Esper anytime soon." Also at PopMatters: Bill Gibron on Re-Animator.

Nick Schager has written a piece for SOMA Magazine entitled "From Inland Empire to Year of the Dog: The Many Reinventions of Laura Dern." Click his name to figure out how to read it.

Rolling Stone: Louise Lasser "Of all the groundbreaking shows Norman Lear developed during the 1970s, none were stranger or more gradually rewarding than the comically abstruse Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," writes Eric Henderson at Slant. "[Louise] Lasser's Mary Hartman floats through her daily trials and tribulations either slack-jawed or with a vacuous death-grin affixed to her pigtail-flanked face, like Edith Bunker on Quaaludes." Also, Ed Gonzalez on Ping Pong.

"If you're looking for a documentary about the electronic music scene filled with historical lectures, performance clips and talking heads, Headspace... The Sound of Life... isn't for you and doesn't try to be," writes Matt Zoller Seitz in the New York Times. "It's experimental rather than expository." Also: "No one can know whether Bizet, whose Gypsy opera, Carmen, is set in Spain and sung in French, would have approved of the movie musical U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha. But you suspect that he would have admired the filmmakers' gall." More on that on from Julia Wallace in the Voice.

"By the time News War concludes, the cumulative effect of watching pale-skinned men speak woefully into the camera about their deepest fears and regrets for 270 minutes is a little like polishing off an Ingmar Bergman double-feature," writes James Hughes in Stop Smiling of the Frontline series. "Fortunately [producer] Lowell Bergman continues to hunt for stories in the real world, with sources who share his air, not just his bandwidth."

Nick Pinkerton at indieWIRE: "Sacco and Vanzetti, like Michael Winterbottom's wretched Road to Guantanamo, sets out to condemn an atmosphere of hysterical, flimsily supported accusation, but finally can't resist firmly establishing that those accusations, of course, definitively aren't true, changing the subject from the pure process of accusation to the need for vindication." More from J Hoberman in the Voice.

Today's Color Me Kubrick pointer will send you to Robert Cashill: "The director, Brian W Cook, and the screenwriter, Anthony Frewin, both associates of the real Kubrick, would have us believe that the more ridiculous Conway became, the easier it was for the swindled to believe that he was the Olympian director, who lived on his own unique plain, if not the gay fantasia Conway envisioned for himself. Maybe. But I suspect they fell hard for the comic Malkovich who emerged from Being John Malkovich, and let the performer, who has an affinity for rogues, fool them into more and more improbable masquerades within the Kubrick persona."

"Mira Nair did a lovely job adapting Jhumpa Lahiri's best-selling novel The Namesake," writes Marcy Dermansky. "In fact, in one of those rare instances, the accomplished filmmaker (Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair) improved upon the book."

Joe Baltake: "For better or worse, Norbit is an authentic Jerry Lewis movie, an exhilarating throwback to the kind of movies that Lewis made, specifically the ones he made with director Frank Tashlin." Via Dave Kehr.

The Philadelphia Weekly's Sean Burns gives Blades of Glory a "D+."

Citizen Kane At Greenbriar Picture Shows, John McElwee looks back on the many ways RKO flubbed the launch of Citizen Kane.

"Given Truffaut's disdain for British cinema (excluding his beloved Alfred Hitchcock), it's surprising how excited the French now appear to be about it," writes Geoffrey Macnab in the Independent. "In recent years, French companies have been investing in every aspect of the British film business from production to distribution and exhibition. French money is paying for more and more of our most cherished British movies."

"There will never come a time when everything is available." Kristin Thompson argues that the dream of the "Celestial Multiplex," a fine name for what AO Scott, among many, have been dreaming would come to pass - won't.

Not film-related, but heavens. Time's Richard Lacayo: "Tomorrow the Hyatt Foundation will announce that this year's Pritzker Prize, architecture's most visible honor, will go to Richard Rogers, the British pioneer of high tech, designer of the furiously imagined Lloyd's of London headquarters in London and co-designer (with Renzo Piano) of the Pompidou Center in Paris."

Online browsing and viewing tip. Yahoo UK's got a fresh feature on The Bourne Ultimatum. Via Jeffrey Overstreet.

Online viewing tip #1. Bits of Incubus, the 1965 horror flick filmed in Esperanto and starring William Shatner. Via Jason Kottke.

Online viewing tip #2. At ScreenGrab, Faisal Qureshi comments on David Lynch's The Amputee.

Pull My Daisy Online viewing tip #3. At Bright Lights After Dark, Alan Vanneman finds the legendary Beat flick, Pull My Daisy.

Online viewing tip #4. The teaser for Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western; logboy explains how to see it at Twitch.

Online viewing tip #5. "Recently, filmmaker Joe Swanberg (Kissing on the Mouth, Hannah Takes The Stairs) told me he thought Demme's Stop Making Sense was as close to perfect a movie as he knows; directed by Jonathan Demme and shot by Henri Alekan, the video for New Order's 'Perfect Kiss' (1985) always struck me as a perfect film." I can't believe it. For years, I've argued that this is the best music video ever made. And not only does Ray Pride seem to agree, he's also found it.

Online viewing tips. At TickleBooth, Ajit finds clips to accompany Cinematical's list of "Seven Great Movie Conversations."

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Posted by dwhudson at March 28, 2007 2:54 PM


Demme's and Alekan's video for New Order's "Perfect Kiss" proves everything is better with less cutting and more cowbell!

Posted by: Jerry Lentz at March 28, 2007 9:38 PM