April 21, 2007

Weekend shorts.

Annie Hall Edward Copeland looks back on Annie Hall as it turns 30 - and sets off a string of fine comments.

Thaicinema.org reports that Apichatpong Weerasethakul is receiving support from some considerable heavyweights in the Thai political and cultural scene in his bid to see the law changed not just so that Syndromes and a Century can screen in its homeland but for the sake of other Thai filmmakers - and audiences - as well. Thanks, Peter! Earlier: "petition" and "Syndromes."

Anne Thompson notes that reviews of Spider-Man 3 by Todd McCarthy and Michael Rechtshaffen (Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, respectively) are up; you'll find a couple more here.

Ed Gonzalez in Slant: "Though the film is mostly interesting as a tour of the cliquey art world and [Allan] Stone's relationship to it, The Collector still feels redundant of documentaries like Who Gets to Call It Art? that have been all the rage in the past few years."

Barry Lyndon Daniel Kehlmann, author of Measuring the World, "my novel about [Carl Friedrich] Gauss and Alexander von Humboldt and their endeavour to quantify and survey the world, about Enlightenment figures and sea monsters, and about the grandeur and comedy of German culture," reflects on daring to place a fiction in the past. For a moment, too, he lingers on Barry Lyndon, "which reconstructs a lost world in intricate detail. It does so by focusing not on what has survived from that period, but on its most ephemeral moments, and by choosing to highlight not the things that we still have in common with that era, but precisely that which separates us from it."

Also in the Guardian:

John S Rad, née Yeghanerad, the accidental auteur of the cult film Dangerous Men, has died," announces Paul Cullum in the LA Weekly. "The film itself defied description: Ostensibly a generic revenge drama begun in 1985, then modified with new characters and plot elements in 1995, the final product - released 20 years after its inception - was governed by a supremely eccentric vision and an aesthetic sensibility somewhere between David Lynch and Ed Wood.... Learned and soft-spoken, Rad was deferential to a fault, while remaining resolute in his personal vision."

"[P]eople who look upon cinema as an art don't necessarily share the same conceptions of what kind of art it is," writes David Bordwell, gently warning that what lies ahead in that entry "will be a bit more theoretical than most. Don't let that scare you off, though; I'm trying for clarity, not murk."

Meanwhile: "[A]lpha fans are enjoying an unprecedented era of influence, through blogs, podcasts and movie-news sites that have become trusted sources of movie information for millions of filmgoers," writes Time's Rebecca Winters Keegan. "And not just on casting decisions. 'They're the new tastemakers,' says Avi Arad, a producer behind this summer's Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. 'Hard-core fans represent a small piece of the viewing public, but they influence geek culture, journalists, Wall Street. You don't want them to trash your project.'"

Adds Richard Corliss: "To [Variety editor Peter] Bart, who once was a Paramount Pictures executive, and to other Hollywood sachems, the ascent of the fanboy critics must be like manna falling from above. They rose from the culture they speak to, they're as obsessed with horror films and special effects as the industry currently is, and they love nearly everything they see. Whereas the mainstream critics - they're so damn critical." What's more, they've never made smash hits; what they can do, he argues, is launch films like Pan's Labyrinth "into the public conversation" and "put films in context."

Triad Election In Triad Election, "the portrait [Johnnie] To paints of relations between Chinese state capitalism and Hong Kong organized crime, a decade after the former British colony was returned to mainland control, could scarcely be bleaker," writes Andrew O'Hehir in Salon.

In the New York Times:

  • "The fascinating documentary Alice Neel - a biography of this influential, emotionally troubled painter by her grandson Andrew Neel - could easily have been titled 'Form Follows Function,'" writes Matt Zoller Seitz. "It achieves the documentary format's basic goal of illuminating history while also demonstrating, through filmmaking choices, how an artist's style reveals his or her personality." Also, "A Dios Momo, directed by Leonardo Ricagni, is to melodrama as corn syrup is to sweeteners: efficient but crude."

  • "A hackneyed melodrama partly redeemed by a cast convinced that it's performing Tennessee Williams, Downtown: A Street Tale follows a bunch of stereotypically damaged people in an abandoned building in New York," sighs Jeannette Catsoulis.

Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader on Offside: "[Jafar] Panahi becomes more of a master with every movie, combining fiction with documentary so adroitly that we can't tell which is which. In this respect he remains the sharpest of Abbas Kiarostami's disciples."

Ray Pride: "Interminable, morally and psychologically incoherent, it is a soulless bore. Brightly lit, bluntly framed and criminally dim, Year of the Dog is Todd Solondz light, as infuriating as a stone in a shoe on a 90 minute walk somewhere you wouldn't want to go."

"A shameless rip on Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale, The Condemned unseats Slow Burn as the most hilariously inane film of 2007," writes Ed Gonzalez at Slant.

"Thus the Western world was saved, at least for a while, from what the film calls 'mysticism and tyranny.' Mysticism? That's what you call fanaticism when you're trying to be creepy rather than dogmatic." Michael Wood in the London Review of Books on 300. Related: "Why is genocide dampening crevices and stirring pocket-linings in a cinema near you?" asks Lenin's Tomb. And John Powers in Art Threat: "300: Racist War Propaganda with Septic Timing."

Death Proof "If anything, Death Proof proves Tarantino incapable of making a film, however derivative the source material or expansive his scholarly, esoteric film memory, that doesn't directly address the realm of his personal obsessions and aesthetic motifs. He is an auteur," writes Brandon Harris. "His film, despite its modest aims, is a by turns uproarious, disquieting and completely satisfying revenge cartoon."

Matt Bartley inducts James Stewart into the Hollywood Bitchslap/EFilmCritic Hall of Fame.

"By encompassing the social, political and economic conditions that caused the problems associated with alcohol addiction and national prohibition, The Wet Parade is markedly different from pictures like Little Caesar that typically don't bother looking at causes at all," writes Thom at Film of the Year.

"Despite [Erich] von Stroheim's dismay at the forced cut of Greed from nine hours to two, the end product is superlative," writes Billy Stevenson.

"[T]he lasting intrigue of The Haunted Strangler remains [Boris] Karloff's villain, how his transformation deprives him of judgment and bestows him with adrenaline-fueled strength," writes Rumsey Taylor. Also at Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Thomas Scalzo: "[W]here the slew of alien- and creature-centric sci-fi/horror movies of the 50s focused largely on external terrors, here we have a film [First Man Into Space] presaging the stories of internal torment that would come to dominate the horror genre in years to come - a film centered on a monster that is also a man, an Other that is also us."

Online browsing tip #1. "Italian movies. Posters and publicity." Via Rashomon. Related: Coudal Partners' "Posterpalooza," parts 1, 2 and 3.

Online browsing tip #2. Fun with movie posters and Photoshop at Worth1000. Via Movie City News

Online viewing tips. ScreenGrab's top 10 this week: "The Most Historically Inaccurate Films Ever Made." Parts 1 and 2.

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Posted by dwhudson at April 21, 2007 3:42 PM