August 3, 2007

Into the weekend shorts.

Bill Cody: Kurdistan "I first visited Kurdistan a year and a half ago, to film a documentary called Thank You for My Eyes about the Iraqi constitutional referendum," writes Bill Cody in the Stranger. "Then, in May, a Kurdish filmmaker named Jano Rosebiani sent me an email asking if I wanted to teach a filmmaking workshop in Iraqi Kurdistan. (Rosebiani won a director's prize at SIFF in 2002 for his film Jiyan.) The workshop - sponsored by Rosebiani's film company, Evini, and the Kurdish government - started in June. I said yes."

"Most of my colleagues consider Killer of Sheep to be [Charles] Burnett's greatest film to date, but I'm not so sure," writes Jonathan Rosenbaum. Don't get him wrong: he's still giving the film the four-star "masterpiece" rating in his Chicago Reader review. But: "My own favorite, which appeared on my last all-time ten-best list in Sight & Sound, is When It Rains (1995), a 13-minute short made for French TV. It has shown in Chicago more than once, but since it isn't on DVD or VHS, it's barely known. By the end of this year, when Milestone finally brings out its long-promised Burnett box set, this extraordinary film celebrating both jazz and community, made as a kind of respite and liberation after Burnett finished directing The Glass Shield for Miramax, will finally be available."

Epitaph "Epitaph has a convoluted (but currently fashionable) multiple flashbacks-and-time lag structure, but does not devolve into a confusing mess, which is a huge relief," writes Kyu Hyun Kim. Also at Koreanfilm.org, Darcy Paquet finds the North Korean film A Schoolgirl's Diary "eye-opening viewing in several respects."

Jim Emerson's Opening Shots Project picks up again with Andy Horbal's take on the opening of Melville's Army of Shadows.

Chris Cagle's 1947 Project carries on being great, even without the snaps.

Dr Plonk "Can't say I saw this coming," writes Todd Brown. "[A]fter the international critical success of his Ten Canoes - a film much loved by the Twitch-y folk when it played the Toronto International Film Festival - Rolf De Heer has returned to give us Dr Plonk, a comedy about the end of the world shot in the style of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. No kidding. Yeah, it's a total gimmick but it looks fantastic." Also at Twitch: Blake Ethridge talks with filmmaker and Blue Underground prez Bill Lustig.

At european-films.net, Boyd van Hoeij previews The Last Legion, "a completely fictional story set at the end of the Roman Empire [which] stars Colin Firth, Aishwarya Rai, Thomas Sangster and Ben Kingsley."

"Named after Alain Resnais's essay film on the abandoned landscapes of postwar Auschwitz that bear silent witness to the tragedy of the Holocaust, Night and Fog in Japan, Nagisa Oshima's fictional deconstruction of the left movement in the aftermath of the ratification of the second US-Japan Security Treaty (Anpo) in 1960 is also a caustic and pointed cultural interrogation into personal and collective accountability that, as implied by Resnais's film, have been (consciously) obscured by the fog of guilt and memory," writes acquarello.

"[T]he Tokyo of Love & Pop is devoid of teenage boys, leaving the girls alone in sea of older male predators," writes Filmbrain. "It succeeds as a quasi-experimental work, but only just. However, if you're interested in learning a thing or two about the problems of contemporary Japanese youth, there are far better alternatives."

Eddie Muller, the "Czar of noir," has just shot his first film in a while, a short called The Grand Inquisitor, and Andy Spletzer's assisted.

Transylvania "A movie like Transylvania is long overdue," argues Louise Doughty. "From my experience of writing novels about Roma people and my own English Romany ancestry, I know the frustration of seeing works pigeonholed by their characters' ethnicity."

Also in the Guardian:

Steven Shaviro on Guy Maddin: "Even in the earlier films, campy exaggeration and ludicrousness don't only work as modes of disavowal; they are also, in a strange way, direct enablers of emotion, in that they serve as a medium of expression for feelings that 'dare not speak their name.' But in Maddin's most recent work - Cowards Bend the Knee, and now, Brand Upon the Brain! - even a further transformation is at work. This has to do with modes of display, or of what I can only call (somewhat oxymoronically) a self-conscious obviousness."

Reviewing Sunshine, Geoff Manaugh asks, "Was there something about the premise itself - total absorption by a featureless, golden void - that forced [the filmmakers] to retreat, and to insert something that they and, they hoped, the audience could recognize?" More from Robert Cashill and Craig Phillips.

Le Doulos It's not just Le Doulos. Rialto Pictures has been rattling the New Republic's Stanley Kauffmann with its reissues for some time now: "Of course one cannot be surprised that the opinion of 1967 was not the opinion of 2007, but it is uncomfortable to realize that the earlier opinion has been on mental file for decades. Then a grim fact looms large: absolutely every opinion of earlier works that is stored in the noggin does not truly represent what the latter-day person thinks."

"Why does Buñuel's work endure?" asks Adrian Martin in the Australian. "In the 21st century, when MTV has exhaustively recycled the originally shocking opening of Un chien andalou - a razor slicing an eyeball - and the art-house scandals generated by Catherine Breillat (Romance) or Gaspar Noe (Irreversible) go far beyond any sexual scenario that Bunuel ever hinted at, shouldn't his films seem quaint, fussy, tame? Nothing could be further from the truth." Via Girish.

Dan Sallitt on Warren Sonbert's Carriage Trade: "The appeal of the film for me comes, not only from the beauty and serenity of the compositions, but also from the bit of mystery that comes from so many shots having a minute, self-sufficent quality of narrative representation."

Alex Ross dwells for a moment on "a minor footnote to the annals of Schoenbergiana": What did Irving Thalberg hear and when did he hear it?

In the New York Times:

Punk's Not Dead
  • Neil Genzlinger on Punk's Not Dead: A "segment in which punk types debate whether having their sound turn up in car commercials is a sign of selling out - a discussion mainstream rock beat to death years ago - makes them seem positively behind the curve. But the footage of first-wave punk rockers in action, shown alongside interviews with them today, is amusing in a bittersweet way."

  • Matt Zoller Seitz reviews No Reservations, the Hollywood remake of Mostly Martha: "What's unexpected and gratifying... is the film's enlightened attitude toward parenthood and work, which the movie's publicity campaign conspicuously glosses over, even though it's the story's driving force." More from Carina Chocano in the LAT and Stephanie Zacharek at Salon.

  • Jeannette Catsoulis: "In their no-frills documentary, Out of Status, Pia Sawhney and Sanjna N Singh examine the actions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service after 9/11 and the devastating repercussions for America's Muslims."

  • AO Scott: "Hot Rod might be called the poor man's Eagle vs Shark if Eagle vs Shark were not already the poor man's Napoleon Dynamite."

  • Charles Simic is the US's 15th poet laureate, reports Motoko Rich. "Simic is an inspired choice," blogs Dwight Garner. "His poems are cerebral, surreal and uncanny, yet they are defiantly plainspoken. They are not, most of them, beyond the grasp of non-subscribers to Poetry magazine. Read them, if you haven't."

"In [March of the Penguins], the filmmakers showed a simple story that left the indelible impression that the Arctic is not just a cute place for adorable creatures but also the heart of our planet's life force; in [Arctic Tale], audience members get told about the consequences of global warming in a Walt Disney dichotomy that sometimes condescends, even to its young audience," writes Justin Berton in the San Francisco Chronicle.

A Skin Too Few Damon Krukowski reviews "Jeroen Berkvens's impressionistic documentary," A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick Drake: "Interviews with family and professional colleagues help fill out the story, but this remains a film about an enigma."

Also in the Boston Phoenix:

Mark Pilington interviews Alejandro Jodorowsky for the Fortean Times. Thanks, Jerry, also for sending a pointer to Matthew Singer's story for the VC Reporter on tracking down the ghost of "Gaston Méliès, the older, less famous brother of pioneering French filmmaker Georges. Méliès was involved, one way or another, in the production of dozens of motion pictures beginning in 1903."

"Broken Blossoms is a film worthy of its great reputation," writes Daniel Garrett at the Compulsive Reader.

Claire Litton at PopMatters on The Passion of Joan of Arc: "While strong with French nationalistic sentiment, it was made by a Danish director and a German designer, but its powerful message speaks to people of all nations."

"Irvin Kershner is not a famous director, but you probably know at least a few of his films. He directed George C Scott in the minor 1967 hit, The Flim-Flam Man, Richard Harris in The Return of a Man called Horse (1976), Faye Dunaway in Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), Sean Connery in his return to the role of James Bond in Never Say Never Again (1983) and most famously, the cast of Star Wars in The Empire Strikes Back (1980). But most people have never heard of his best film." Jonathan Lapper on The Luck of Ginger Coffey.

"[San Francisco Bay Guardian] film critics Matt Sussman and Jason Shamai have a few things they wanna say about the new film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Let's listen in!"

"Again I must, against my natural instincts, join with the roaring crowd," sighs Michael Atkinson, "this time about Once, John Carney's tiny, modest little-Irish-movie-that-could, which thoroughly bewitched me with its simplicity, its grown-up assumptions about adult behavior and history, and most of all the music, which had a sincere, keening urgency to it that I'd never encountered in a musical before, or even rarely on Fordham's WFUV. It may be a film that's impossible to dislike, despite the fact that it's formally and visually the cruddiest movie released to American screens since Chuck & Buck."

"The space into which The Sopranos inducted us had the messy picaresque randomness of the real world, yet every detail - every tune heard in passing, every remark overheard at the next table, every artifact glimpsed in the background of a crowded room - glistened as if singled out with obsessive mindfulness," writes Geoffrey O'Brien in the New York Review of Books.

La Dolce Morte "What is of interest in [La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film] is [Mikel J Koven's] heory of vernacular cinema," writes Peter Nellhaus. "Koven discusses how many of the gialli were made to be shown in what were called terza visione (literally third vision) theaters. Playing to a primarily working class audience before television finally decimated the filmgoing habit, going to the neighborhood theater to get out of the house and socialize was more to the point than actually paying close attention to what was happening on the screen. Koven argues that what has been criticized as weak narratives is besides the point, and that the audience cares more about the set pieces, in this case the various acts of murder that take place on screen."

Michael Guillén talks with Brian Cassidy, Aaron Hillis and Jennifer Loeber about Fish Kill Flea.

James Mottram talks with Lauren Bacall for the Independent.

"David Shaw, a prolific writer from television's golden age who also wrote the film If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium and Broadway plays, has died. He was 90," reports Valerie J Nelson.

Also in the Los Angeles Times:

"A minor effort in Aki Kaurismäki's filmography, Lights in the Dusk still manages to intoxicate," writes Kathy Fennessey at the Siffblog.

Recently in Slant:

First up to bat as pinch hitters for the Reeler: IFC executive vice president and general manager Evan Shapiro and Pioneer Theater programmer Ray Privett.

Christopher Walken Paul Matwychuk and Matthew Halliday "debate whether Christopher Walken is ruining his reputation as an actor by appearing in so many movies that require him to do nothing more than trot out his familiar 'Christopher Walken' routine."

At PopMatters, Patrick Schabe considers "Harry Potter's Place in Popular Culture."

Just out: Volume 8 of the Journal of Short Film.

Dennis Cozzalio and Jon Swift comment on that list: "The Online Film Community's Top 100 Movies."

The latest clip-laden ScreenGrab list: "The Greatest Running Scenes in Movie History," parts 1 and 2.

Adam Ross's interviewee this week: Emma.

"Mastered the Knee Plays recordings for a re-release this fall (October)," blogs David Byrne. "Last week we dug into the archives to see what was available as bonus tracks and unseen visual materials - there's a truckload of stuff. My hoarding pays off!" Excellent. At any rate, "Can there be such a thing as a narrative that emerges, by itself, from a seemingly random or chaotic structure or series of events?"

George Tabori At the WSWS, Stefan Steinberg remembers playwright George Tabori, 1914 - 2007.

Online browsing tip. The work of Julia Fullerton-Batten. Via popnutten.

Online listening tips. Leonard Lopate talks with Considering Doris Day author Tom Santopietro; and Michael Moore.

Online viewing tip #1. Aegis Breakmix at DVblog.

Online viewing tip #2. Zeppelin vs Pterodactyls, via Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing.

Online viewing tip #3. Drawn!: "In this fantastic video, Steve Martin interviews one of my favourite cartoonists, Roz Chast. The two pore over her somewhat new collection, the mammoth hardcover Theories of Everything, which remains my favourite book I purchased in the last year."

Online viewing tips, round 1. Machine Child and City of Good, both via Anthony Kaufman at the Daily Reel.

Online viewing tips, round 2. "More than ten years' worth of reviews from Siskel & Ebert, beginning in 1985, are now available online," notes Vince Keenan.



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Posted by dwhudson at August 3, 2007 4:40 PM

Comments

Doesn't the death of Isidore Isou make the cut for GreenCine Daily's target audience? RIP :(

Posted by: HarryTuttle at August 4, 2007 11:01 AM

It certainly does. Many thanks, Harry. I hadn't heard, and even now, can't find an obit in English. So again: thanks.

Posted by: David Hudson at August 5, 2007 4:36 AM

you're welcome. Thanks for the tribute.
I thought you paid attention to Girish's hub. I mentionned it there a couple days ago.

Posted by: HarryTuttle at August 5, 2007 6:26 AM