Saturday, May 18, 2013
While not an auteur in the approved sense, David Lean had two great talents as a director, in essential aspects of the art of film – editing, and staging action in space for the camera (whether confined space of a room or endless space of desert or steppe). Overcoming the prohibitions of his strict Quaker parents, passing up college and quitting a job with his father’s accounting firm, Lean developed a passionate awe for cinema and went to work at a movie studio, working his way up from “tea boy” to film cutter, and that background marked his entire career.
In 2008 Anthony Lane wrote a great centenary remembrance of David Lean in The New Yorker, and quoted Lean’s own account of his cinematic annunciation: “I would look at that light as a pious boy might react to a shaft of sunlight in a cathedral. I still find it a slightly mystical experience. Something to do with forbidden and secret things.”
(Here is link to Lane on Lean article, if you have subscriber access. And while I’m at it, here’s link to Netflix listing of the films discussed below. Click through to read my summary of all the director’s films.)Read more »
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Not making any “Best of 2012” lists, here are some other recent films I’ve watched lately, again ranked in rough order of my enthusiasm, from a couple of sleeper recommendations down to a shrug of the shoulders.
Never on a bicycle -- certainly not a fixed-gear, steel-frame, no-brakes bike – but I have in my time enjoyed the rush of battling taxis, trucks, and pop-up pedestrians, to get from here to there on the streets of Manhattan, so I was primed for Premium Rush (2012, MC-66, NFX), a velocipede comedy-thriller of sorts, directed by David Koepp and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s a champion bike messenger, who is assigned a package labeled as in the title, and has to get it from Upper West Side to
Lower East Side, while competing with
a Black rival and for a Chica girlfriend who is also an expert rider. Meanwhile he is being chased by a drug-crazed
bad cop (Michael Shannon, in full bug-eye mode) in a patrol car, leading to a
chase under the El that pays homage to The French Connection, with the
ironic twist of the bike managing to outrace and outmaneuver the car. JGL does an amazing amount of his own riding
canyons in real traffic, but there are four different stunt riders who astonish
with all the things they can do on a bike.
I particularly liked the visualization of on-the-fly calculations of
routes, from aerial maps to frozen moments at intersections that diagram the
possible outcomes of different routes through the melée. Fast and furious fun, as far as I’m
concerned, this movie (in the most kinetic sense) is a premium rush indeed. Manhattan
Despite some over-obvious plot twists that verged on soap opera, Yaron Zilberman’s first feature film, A Late Quartet (2012, MC-67, NFX) certainly snowed me with its inside view of the Lincoln Center-Julliard-Central Park lives of a group of musicians. Touching all the high cultural bases, the title alludes to late chamber pieces by Beethoven and T.S. Eliot, but refers specifically to the four string players who’ve been performing together worldwide for 25 years. Are they entering a late phase, or are they already late, in the sense of defunct? Christopher Walken plays the eldest (and wisest!?!) of the four, a cellist whose medical difficulties set off the collective crises of the group. Second violinist Phillip Seymour Hoffman is married to viola player Catherine Keener. First violinist Mark Ivanir was long ago in love with Keener, but his ultimate, fanatical devotion was always to his own instrument. Throw in the couple’s ripe young daughter, a violinist who studies with the other members of the quartet, and you have the makings of bedroom farce played with a straight face. None of that mattered to me because the four players seemed so real, inhabiting a world I’ve been in proximity to but never part of, both the realms of music and musicianship, and of uptown
. Walken is superb in an uncharacteristically
gentle and sane role, while Hoffman and Keener are reliably fine, and the other
players are plausible enough to paper over the script’s flaws. Manhattan
Yet another Jarecki, this time Nicholas rather than brothers Andrew and Eugene, makes his feature film debut with Arbitrage (2012, MC-73, NFX), a glossy glimpse inside the world of high finance. Richard Gere certainly looks the part of a big money guy, sleak as a shark, comfortable on TV or the cover of Forbes, really comfortable on his private jet, even more comfortable at his sixtieth birthday party with extended family and wife Susan Sarandon. Not quite so comfortable with the young mistress he leaves the party for. His Madoff-maneuvering to salvage a big bet gone bad is soon overshadowed by greater crimes, but our anti-hero barely breaks a sweat or creases his suit. The feel is right, the look of this particular world, but the twists of the story don’t necessarily carry us along. Handsome all right, but is it handsomely done? My reaction was positive, but not enthusiastic enough to urge upon viewers not naturally attracted. Simply put, it’s not something you gotta see, but something you might want to see.
Turning up on my Netflix queue on some forgotten recommendation, I wondered at first whether The Wise Kids (2012, MC-74, NFX) was just a mistake, some sort of amateurish evangelical production, but soon twigged to the personal authenticity of the story, about growing up gay in a Southern culture where that made you a child of the devil. The film’s look may suggest a decades-old tv show, but the sentiments are raw and real, and the acting is fine. Writer-director Stephen Cone plays a youth director at a church in
whose companionable marriage is tested by his attraction to one of the boys in
his Easter pageant. The boy, played with
spirit and appeal by Tyler Ross, seems to be based loosely on Cone’s own
experiences. He’s in the last semester
of high school, headed for NYU, and best friends with two girls, a pastor’s
daughter who is beginning to have doubts, and another who remains an
eager-beaver believer (“Jesus is just awesome!”) shocked by revelations from
her friends. Molly Kunz and Allison
Torem are young actresses I would definitely like to see more of. And the youth director’s yearning wife is
well-played by Sadieh Rifai. It’s a
world that may seem backward in time to us blue-state sophisticates, but its
authenticity is vouched for by its low budget.
The cast stayed in the director’s parents’ house, and shot scenes there. It’s a perspective not often seen in the
movies, and presented with humor, conviction, and breadth of sympathy. Charleston
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is definitely the best reason to watch James Ponsoldt’s slight but honest Alcoholics Anonymous drama, Smashed (2012, MC-71, NFX). She’s a lively young second-grade teacher, whose nighttime carousing with husband Aaron Paul intrudes in the classroom when she drunkenly barfs in (or near) a wastepaper basket. Nick Offerman (Ron of Parks & Recreation) is a sympathetic vice principal who introduces her to AA meetings. Winstead’s character is from a hardscrabble background, with bad habits acquired from her mother, whom we see in only one scene, but
Mary Kay Place makes it count. Her husband comes from money, which allows
him to get by as a music reviewer, attending concerts and partying nonstop, so
he’s not inclined to follow her into sobriety.
Olivia Spencer becomes her AA sponsor, and after a relapse when her past
behavior catches up with her, she winds up staying sober one day at a time. It’s really the plain (though pretty)
freshness of Winstead that takes this film out of the realm of the familiar and
Michael Winterbottom turns out at least one film a year, and moves on to the next, always looking for a different subject or approach. Sometimes the result is superlative, and sometimes it’s merely interesting. Trishna (2012, MC-57, NFX) interests on several levels. It’s his third adaptation of a Thomas Hardy novel, this time Tess of the D’Urbervilles (previously Jude and The Claim, a McCabe-like Western based on The Mayor of Casterbridge). Always exploring exotic locales, he sets the story in contemporary
and one acute pleasure of the film comes from the location shots in Rajasthan,
Jaipur, and Mumbai. Ever the avid
absorber of divergent cultures, Winterbottom works in a lot of Bollywood
scenes. It’s not entirely clear that
Freida Pinto can act, but ye gods, she’s so beautiful one is happy to watch her
just stand or walk. Maybe the same holds
with Nastassi Kinski in Polanski’s Tess,
a film I’m always happy to re-watch, and another interesting point of
comparison to this adaptation. (The book
I don’t remember well, since I read it as a teenager, well before I could
understand it.) The story’s two
principal male characters are combined in one, which makes for a bit of muddle
and some arbitrary shifts in personality, and the final third of the film lacks
tragic conviction. Less the hand of fate
than the forced hand of the screenwriter.
So the film feels longer than it is, petering out instead of rising to
climax, but well worth watching along the way. India
More exotica is on view in Chicken with Plums (2012, MC-70, NFX), Marjane Satrapi’s follow-up, both as graphic novel and film, to her wonderful
(also co-drected with Vincent Paronnaud).
This one is more live-action than animated, but does retain much of the
visual magic of graphic panels. It’s the
story of a melancholy violinist in 1958 Persepolis ,
played with silent comedy wit by Mathieu Amalric. His violin is broken as well as his heart, so
he decides to die and takes to bed to wait out the end. There are flashbacks and flashforwards,
fantasies and visual fillips, some of which soar and some of which fall flat,
in this fractured fairy tale. It doesn’t
hang together or finally satisfy, but it does have marvelous moments of visual
Of an inter-related group of three recent offbeat rom-coms, I liked best Your Sister’s Sister (2012, MC-72, NFX), largely because the sisters in question are Rosemary DeWitt and Emily Blunt. The guy who comes between them is Mark Duplass, as his standard would-be-lovable lunkhead. Lynn Shelton puts these three together in a picturesque
Puget Sound vacation cabin, and
puts them through their paces, frequently improvised. The results sometimes feel fresh and true,
sometimes funny, and sometimes forced and evasive, like the ending.
Duplass is crackpot as well as lunkhead in Safety Not Guaranteed (2012, MC-72, NFX). He places a classified ad in a
paper, seeking a partner in time-travel (with the proviso of the title), and
three journalists at a hip magazine go in search of a satirical story behind
the ad. One of them is Seattle
(April of P&R), who in the way of such things, falls for the subject
of their investigation, and gets drawn into his fantasies(?). Colin Trevorrow’s film is cute enough, but
not believable enough to make me care. Aubrey Plaza
The involvement of Rashida Jones (Ann Perkins of P&R) was sufficient to get me to watch Celeste & Jesse Forever (2012, MC-59, NFX), but not enough to make me enjoy it. She co-wrote the script as well, but the proceedings strike me as too fey (and not in the Tina way). I still like Rashida Jones too much to bash her earnest and well-meaning efforts here.
Monday, March 11, 2013
This is the season of the year when I try to catch up with all the best films of the prior year, as determined by annual polls of critics, notably from Film Comment and Indiewire. Some pictures on these Top 50 lists are better than Oscar’s “Best” and some are worse, but all have merits for those with eyes to see. I list them according to my own level of enthusiasm, in descending order.
The Loneliest Planet (2012, MC-76, NFX) was a film I wanted to see from the time of its forecast in a New Yorker summer preview as about “a young couple who confront life-changing dangers while backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains,” just a couple of weeks before my son and his girlfriend were about to be backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains. Thankfully, Nat and Nicole returned without confronting life-changing dangers, but this film had the extrinsic interest of showing me just where they had been. The picturesque is all well and good, but the surprise came in the brilliance of Julia Loktev’s film, which turns on a blink-of-the-eye sequence halfway through. What comes before and after is pretty much the same, the couple and their guide hiking though a remote landscape in long, slow shots, but completely different, in a way that is described with an absolute minimum of dialogue. Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg are excellent as the couple, and their guide is appropriately strange and unreadable. Admittedly I had an extra involvement in the material, but I found this film stunningly structured and cannily captured, despite its leisurely and seemingly haphazard progress.
Oslo, August 31st (2012, MC-84, NFX) snuck up on me in several ways, vaguely familiar through intriguingly different. After the fact, I realized that I had seen the work of director Joachim Trier and his lead actor Anders Danielsen Lie in an earlier film, Reprise, which I reviewed here. The set-up was reminiscent of Silver Linings Playbook, but with an entirely different emotional color – a thirtysomething guy is released from an institution (in this case, drug rehab) and goes back to all the things that drove him crazy in the first place, while trying to win back the love of his life. The story is based on the same novel from which Louis Malle made The Fire Within. The Oslo setting gradually emerges as a character in its own right, a hip place to be young and smart. The main character is bright, having made an early name for himself as a writer but then flamed out. Now his world is dark with wasted opportunity and ruined relationships, and nothing can revive the spark of life within him. Through a long day and night he tries to find a reason to go on, a way to connect with his former life, old friends and lovers, without running into the same old dead ends. It’s a highly sympathetic passage through purgatory, but with no purging in sight. Then the dawn of the dateline comes inexorably, for the character and the place.
This is not a review of This is Not a Film (2012, MC-90, NFX), because I take the title as literal description, and not a thought-provoking conundrum on the order of Magritte’s painting, “This is not a pipe.” Jafar Panahi is under a six-year prison sentence and 20-year ban on filmmaking for what the Iranian government considers sedition. This message in a bottle was smuggled out on a flashdrive hidden in a cake, and shown at Cannes. It’s a significant document, bravely defiant, a day in the life of an artist under house arrest in a turbulent society, filmed by another cameraman and his own cellphone. Panahi is certainly to be supported, and light thrown on his situation, but let’s be honest here, this is not much of a movie. The most dramatic thing in it is a pet iguana climbing up a bookcase in an upscale Tehran apartment. You’d be better off watching one of Panahi’s real films, Offside or The Circle, which portray the position of women under fundamentalist rule, as does the film he was stopped from making, and here tries to relate verbally, until he gives up in frustration.
An odd little number that does its business and moves on, Craig Zobel’s Compliance (2012, MC-68, NFX) starts from real events to get inside the story of a twisted prankster, who calls fast food joints impersonating a police detective and induces the manager and staff to hold one of them as a robbery suspect, subjecting her to prolonged interrogation and sexual harassment. In the vein of the infamous Milgram experiments, how far will ordinary people go in humiliating and hurting a subject at the behest of a remote authority? Pretty far, according to this film, which plays as impossible bad dream for the characters and as real-life horror story for us. Well-acted by (crucially) unknown actors in a documentary-like chain-restaurant setting, this movie remains about as tasteful and thoughtful as it could be, given the subject of a teenage girl being molested and tormented. Makes for a close call, but it remains on the better side of provocative, however violently reactions may diverge.
In Cosmopolis (2012, MC-58, NFX), master of the macabre David Cronenberg adapts a Don DeLillo novel set mostly in the stretch limo of a young titan of finance, as he tries to cross Manhattan to get a haircut, while he is losing hundreds of millions on speculation in the yuan. Robert Pattinson is suitably vampire-like as the megalomaniac tycoon, and through the day a variety of others spend time in the limo with him, including his art dealer/sex partner Juliet Binoche, his theoretical guru Samantha Morton, and eventually his nemesis, disgruntled ex-employee Paul Giamatti. There are other encounters with underlings and enemies in amusing cameos. By the time it reached gunplay, this film had lost me, but up till then I appreciated the phantasmagoria of the novel’s creepy prescience about the financial meltdown of 2008, and the truly horrific characters behind it.
On rare occasions a science fiction film breaks through my indifference to the genre, but Looper (2012, MC-84, NFX) is no Gattaca. Clever and well-made, with a Terminator-like set-up involving time-traveling hit men, this is the kind of thing I would rarely bother to see. Looper does have a bit of indie credibility since it reunites the Brick team of director Rian Johnson and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but the obligatory descent into bloodbath was not to my taste. JGL (with disconcerting fake nose) and Bruce Willis play the same character at different ages, brought face to face by time machine – who will wipe out the other, with what mind-blowing consequences? There are some good supporting roles -- Jeff Daniels as head of the hit men, Emily Blunt as the mother of an effectively spooky young boy, who may grow up to be the “Rainmaker” -- and some credible design of a dystopian future, plus a plausible switcheroo ending. But the best I can say is that the movie is okay, if you like that sort of thing.
You can time-travel in the other direction with Farewell, My Queen (2012, MC-67, NFX), Benoît Jacquot’s evocation of three days at Versailles in 1789. Obviously shot on location, with great attention to styles of dress and décor, peopled with lovely and effective actresses, the film lacks some element of vital engagement, so we get less sense of this Marie Antoinette than we got from Sofia Coppola’s. Here it’s Diane Kruger with the porcelain glow of a Fragonard figure, while Léa Seydoux is watchful and adoring as her servant reader, and Virginie Ledoyen is imperious as her lover and confidante. Told from the point of view of the servant girl, the film covers the fall of the Bastille from a downstairs perspective, until it swaps with upstairs as the world gets turned upside down. It’s all very watchable, but not very involving.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
This year’s Oscar nominees for “Best Picture” are a varied and impressive group, and I’m seen more of them than usual before the awards ceremony, thanks to Images Cinema’s reliably fine programming and recently-enhanced projection capability. So here I will run down four films I esteem, three for which I share little enthusiasm, and two I may see sometime but do not envision as candidates for my favor.
Nothing was likely to dislodge
as my favorite film of the year, which I reviewed here, but Silver Linings Playbook (2012, MC-81, NFX) came closer than expected. I loved pretty much everything about David O. Russell's exceptionally intelligent, seriously screwball rom-com -- two main characters who dance their way into our hearts, supporting characters who create a community and complete a world, a witty script and flawless direction, tremendously evocative music and embedded movie memories, and above all, a deeply personal touch. Bradley Cooper was so much better than I expected after limited familiarity (i.e. The Hangover), using his own Philadelphia Italian family experience to make a very plausible bipolar patient acting out his family’s dysfunction. He’s just been released from the hospital to re-enter life, with the mission of winning back his estranged wife. Jennifer Lawrence is equally troubled, and equally fine, as a young widow who enlists him as dance partner for a ballroom competition. His parents are deliciously portrayed by the great Jacki Weaver (of Animal Kingdom) and Robert DeNiro, going far beyond his late-career roles as comically volatile dad, to find real feeling behind the manic front. For him, as well as for David Russell, having dealt with children with similar mental disorders, the personal experience shows through. (Russell’s own son has two hilarious walk-ons in the film.) Funny and heartfelt, ashamed of neither feeling nor intellect, this movie delivers on all levels. Clearly Russell as director is part of the dance, working closely with actors, cameraperson, and location to wring meanings out of passionate process. Famously volatile himself, he has refined his working method into a calm determination to tell the story of characters who could go off at any minute. Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook led me back to a series of earlier film treatments of mental disorder. Robert Rossen’s Lilith (1964) features Warren Beatty as a trainee attendant at a tony psychiatric residence (reminiscent of McLain’s), where Jean Seberg, an arty and lovely young patient, seduces him into madness. Appropriately strange in approach, this film, like Lilith herself, tantalizes but does not satisfy. I remember David & Lisa (1962) from high school, when I definitely identified with Keir Dullea as the semi-autistic young man reaching out of his isolation to the schizophrenic girl played by Janet Margolin. Frank and Eleanor Perry’s adaptation of Theodore Rubin’s case study is not sophisticated, but remains a reasonably effective independent film. In The Three Faces of Eve (1957), a young Joanne Woodward cashed in on the Oscar-bait role of a southern woman who shuttles between three distinct personalities. She’s fine, and so is Lee J. Cobb as her therapist, but the earnestness of Nunnally Johnson’s film is betrayed by Alistair Cooke’s “it’s all true” narration.
Michael Haneke’s Amour (2012, MC-94, NFX) ranks close behind my two favorites. Haneke always wants to take an unblinking look at the horrific, but here the violence is subtler though the torture is every bit as real. An octogenarian lady has a blocked artery, then a stroke, then another, every faculty whittled away, as her husband cares for her, keeping a vow never to send her back to the hospital. She dies, and then he dies, end of story. A fine evening’s entertainment, you think? Well, maybe not, but a transcendent cinematic experience nonetheless. Start with the two leads, Emmanuele Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, profoundly moving not just in their fine-tuned enactment of old age but in our memories of their youth in movies of four or five decades ago. Haneke’s direction is reminiscent of Ozu in making a whole world out of domestic interiors, in a film where nothing much happens but everything is connected, in ways that broach questions rather than offer answers. It’s surprising that such a rigorous, confrontational filmmaker has achieved such broad general response, must be the most unusual Best Picture/Best Director nominations in Oscar history. Increasingly Haneke is not just implacable, but astrigent, with enough authentic personal emotion to engage, if not to coddle, an audience.
I found a lot of things to like in the audience-coddling Argo (2012, MC-86, NFX), but not in a class with the three above. Ben Affleck’s witty well-made thriller, based on historical events, starts with even-handed and convincing depictions of events in
leading up to the seizure of the American embassy in 1979. Then it brings in a crazy but true scheme to get six would-be hostages out of the Canadian embassy by masquerading them as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a Star Wars ripoff, opening the way to a lot of Hollywood satire, focused on delightful performances by Alan Arkin and John Goodman as producers happy to turn make-believe into spycraft. Releasing its own hold on reality, the film then builds suspense as the band of pretenders make their escape, through airport checkpoints to the over-the-top finale of jeeps full of militia chasing the plane down the tarmac as it takes off. Affleck himself is effective in an unshowy way as the CIA agent who comes up with the plan and then executes it, and his film is a crowd-pleasing entertainment without being stupid, which does historical service without falsifying too much, though it slights the actual Canadian contribution to the “exfiltration.” Apparently this is the odds-on favorite to get the nod from the Academy, which always loves a movie about movies, and there are certainly worse that have been deemed Best Picture, but there are definitely better choices this year. Iran
I would have been glad to be more impressed with Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012, MC-86, NFX), which is certainly an admirably collaborative independent effort from young director Benh Zeitlin, marked by a charmingly fierce performance from tiny Quvenzhané Wallis. But it follows too closely and not effectively enough The Whale Rider playbook for audience appeal, making a young girl the savior of an anthropologically-quirky and mythically-oriented culture. There are moments of magic and deep feeling, but fewer of emotional truth or narrative plausibility. The Bathtub is an isolated community on the Louisana coast, threatened with destruction by flood (as well as prehistoric beasts released from melting icecaps), where Hushpuppy lives with her father in a multiracial community that lives in poverty, but for celebration. With some sparkling moments, and with its heart in the right place, this film fails in the end to convince or enlighten, beyond its modest appeal. My reaction was more “Now wait a minute” than “Oh wow.”
Zero Dark Thirty (2012, MC-95, NFX) offers none of the things I go to movies for – characterization, understanding, emotional connection. It’s all story and action, everything else you have to supply for yourself, and apparently most people do, or at least most critics, but not I. I did not find the film thrilling or involving in any way, however competently made, and would have felt unclean if I did get into it. Kathryn Bigelow’s film is a blank sheet on which to inscribe your own views on torture and “counterterrorism” in general. I did not find my own views either challenged or confirmed. Though I have been enchanted by Jessica Chastain in other roles, I saw nothing deep or moving here. It may be arbitrary of me, but where in Lincoln I felt grounded by the sight of actors familiar from other contexts, here I was thrown out of the action by seeing Tony Soprano as Leon Panetta or Andy from Parks & Recreation as a member of Seal Team Six, not to mention Coach Taylor as a CIA station chief. I have to say I went into this film with an open mind, despite being no big fan of The Hurt Locker, but found my mind closing as the film went on, winding up with a stony refusal to be moved or enlightened.
Speaking of feeling unclean, I was stunned at the audience’s vocal approval of Django Unchained (2012, MC-81, NFX), and also the respectful commentary on the film’s depiction of Southern slavery by two Williams professors at the Images Cinema screening I attended. To me this was a historical film that had no interest in history but only in movies, and mostly movies I have not seen or do not like. As someone utterly immune to the appeal of Quentin Tarantino, Django was not for me. I could see some good things in the film, but my visceral rejection of the Tarantino aesthetic of cartoonish, self-referential violence prevented me from enjoying any of it. Christoph Waltz and Leonardo di Caprio deliver engaging performances, as the good-natured bounty hunter and the flamboyantly evil slaveholder respectively, but Jamie Foxx and Samuel L. Jackson sound only one note each, as the avenging slave seeking to liberate his wife and the insidious Uncle Tom who surreptitiously runs the plantation. And the lovely Kerry Washington is utterly wasted as the abused wife. This film lost me with its opening caption setting the action in 1858, “two years before the Civil War,” and blasted away any conceivable interest with its concluding bloodbath. Sure there were a few good jokes and some pretty pictures in this mash-up of spaghetti Western and blaxploitation, but nothing to compensate for stomach-turning revulsion.
I’ll probably take a look at the other two Best Picture nominees, but can’t imagine either will appeal to me much, neither the film adaptation of the long-running musical, Les Misérables (MC-63), nor the CGI animal fable of Life of Pi (MC-79). I wrote most of this omnibus review before the Academy Award winners were announced, but the surprising choice of Ang Lee as Best Director (along with the equally surprising omission of Ben Affleck for the otherwise-honored Argo) suggests there might be more to Life of Pi than I expect.. I’ll be back soon with further comment on that and other films of the past year that I like better or worse.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Film club update
Greetings, film friends. Here are the coming attractions:
Friday 2/15: No films scheduled.
Friday 2/22: 1:00 Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959); 3:00 My Night at Maud’s (1969).
Emmanuele Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant are drawing raves playing the old couple in the Oscar-nominated film Amour, concurrently playing at Images Cinema. (See: http://www.imagescinema.org/films/amour ) I’m guessing many of us would be moved to see them in their signature films of four or five decades ago, two classics of the French New Wave, directed by Alain Resnais and Eric Rohmer respectively. These films ought to bring home with particular force the theme of aging in the new film.
Saturday 2/23: 2:00 The Deer Hunter (1978, 182 min.) Part of Widescreen Wonders film series at the Clark. (See: http://www.clarkart.edu/visit/calendar-of-events-category.cfm?CID=4 )
Monday 2/25 (at Images Cinema): After 2 pm screening of Amour (2012), I plan to lead a discussion on Michael Haneke and his acclaimed new film starring Riva and Trintignant.
Friday 3/1: 1:00 Heaven’s Gate (1980, 216 min). Michael Cimino followed Oscar haul for The Deer Hunter with this notoriously expensive flop that derailed his career. Continuing to tie Cinema Salon into Widescreen Wonders, we will give this epic Western -- starring Kris Kristofferson, Isabelle Huppert, and many other well-known faces -- the reevaluation it deserves, in a newly-released hi-def director’s cut.
For various reasons, there will be no more Cinema Salon screenings in March. Check back for coming attractions in April.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Sometimes I detour from my usual auteurist bent -- more attuned to directorial vision on film than to the players who come and go – and really focus on an actor’s career. A while back I fixated on Barbara Stanwyck, and lately I’ve been buddying up to Paul Newman, hanging out with him night after night. Quite a guy, always fun to be with, pretty to look at, quite the craftsman but not too serious about himself.
Making my way through Newman’s five-decade filmography is not just a longitudinal study of his illustrious career, but also the phases of Hollywood moviemaking, touching all the various genres as they wax and wane. Mr. Newman’s presence is no guarantee of a film’s quality – as a bankable star he appeared in a lot of tinseltown cheese – but his personality is always appealing, even in its darkest shades or flimsiest vehicles.
[click through for mini-reviews of three dozen Paul Newman films]
Read more »
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Film club update
In quick summary, with links to further information, here are our coming attractions:
Friday Jan. 18: In the Clark auditorium, I will show a double feature of Hitchcock films, 1:00 pm Strangers on a Train (1951) and 3:00 pm Rear Window (1954), to tie in with Images Cinema screenings the previous week of new docudrama Hitchcock.
Sunday Jan. 20: After the 3:00 pm screening at Images Cinema, I will lead a discussion of David O. Russell’s new film, Silver Linings Playbook.
Friday Jan. 25: For a Cinema Salon screening at the Clark, I'll show William Wyler's post-WWII epic The Best Years of Our Lives (1946, 170 min.) at 1:00 pm.
Saturday Jan. 26: At 2:00 pm the Widescreen Wonders film series continues at the Clark with Wyler’s 1959 blockbuster Ben-Hur.
Friday Feb. 1: For Cinema Salon at the Clark, I'll show a double feature of classic David Lean adaptations of Charles Dickens, 1:00 pm Great Expectations (1946) and 3:00 pm Oliver Twist (1948), in anticipation of Widescreen Wonders screening of Lawrence of Arabia on Sat. Feb. 9 at 2:00 pm.
Friday Feb. 1: For Cinema Salon at the Clark, I'll show a double feature of classic David Lean adaptations of Charles Dickens, 1:00 pm Great Expectations (1946) and 3:00 pm Oliver Twist (1948), in anticipation of Widescreen Wonders screening of Lawrence of Arabia on Sat. Feb. 9 at 2:00 pm.