a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Hastily organized update

* Da Weekly. Only Rep this go-around, with the only powerhouse screenings being Ron Fricke's Baraka and a showing of The Passion of Joan of Arc accompanied by the Voices of Light score found on the Criterion disc. Next week has a review of the inert Italian period piece The Voyage Home, words on Red Scare movies (including Godard's 1970 British Sounds), and still more words on Ousmane Sembene's old school comedy The Money Order, which is almost the equal of Xala on the Sembene front.

* Hitchhiker's. First review out of the gates: Winter. Not so hot sounding; fearing geek recriminations; doubly fearing a culture where the source is less respected. At least she says nice things about Mos Def, a casting stunt that has always made me leery. Then again, so did the casting of Sam Rockwell and Zooey Deschanel, two non-Brits reciting some of the most British lines not written by Pythons, Wilde, or Wodehouse. Most disastrous sounding development? Sacharrine love between Arthur and Trillion. Truly wtf? of the highest order.

* Primer, and the deciphering thereof. It will happen. One viewing down, infinite more to come, perhaps with excessive note-taking. Even scanned the first commentary track (by Shane Carruth), which was mostly concerned with production, and by "mostly" I mean 95%. (Still helpful in a different respect and expanded my respect for Carruth. This has to be the first movie in five years that has made me want to run out and make a movie myself.) As for the second commentary track, featuring Carruth and a round table of participants -- far too chummy and not too illuminating. In fact, I'm listening to it as I type this.

* Stephen Chow. Amazing. Elaborations en route.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Shamless plugs, plus yet another film fest

Still recovering from the crator-sized hole left in my head following the PFF. In the meantime:

* This issue of the Weekly includes the following penned-by-me articles: a review of the PFF player Music From the Inside Out, starring the Philadelphia Orchestra; and Rep, the stand-outs of which are a screening of the doc The Concrete Revolution, about Beijing's bizarro-world reconstruction, the awful-yet-essential Bob Dylan-directed Eat the Document, and two consecutive nights of Velvet Underground footage held by the Secret Cinema.

* I'm surely the last to mention the Cannes Film Festival lineup, announced today (or yesterday, adjusting for time zones). Excited about: the new Cronenberg, Dardennes, Egoyan, Haneke, Jarmusch, Van Sant, Von Trier, Suzuki (out of competition). Skeptical about: well, all of them, but especially the Van Sant, the Von Trier, the Wenders, and, most especially, the first Tommy Lee Jones. Want to finally get: Hou. There's another one?: the W. Allen. The Emir Kustirica-led jury: sure to be interesting, particularly in the face of so many rigid, oft-icy stylists. Seriously, what's up with that? It's like there's no new blood -- only the already-tested, maybe already-ran. Let's hope not all of them lay eggs (with absolutely nothing to back this up, I'm betting on les Dardennes).

Monday, April 18, 2005

PFF: Days 8 - 12

Managed to fall off in the last couple days, partially because of work, partially because I made the decision that, as I was on "vacation," I should do a bit of lazy stuff with friends. Besides, my grand total, including stuff I reviewed, is somewhere around 50 -- more than par for coure for any fest attendee. Of course, there went my chances of testing out more films, most of which won't ever see the light of day. (I hit all the heavy-hitters, though.) My Insatiable Cineaste card is in the mail.

This, I believe, unless I snap during tomorrow night's "Festival Favorites," is it, and sad it is. The days compressed, without all that silly "ambiance" and "themes" nonsense:

Day 8

Palindromes (Todd Solondz, USA)
Shame Solondz isn’t above escaping that tidy metaphor either. More of the same from the most bitter misanthrope out there, whose prickly worldview is unleavened by genuine wit -- only an insatiable need to poke and prod. As usual, Solondz has little insight into human nature and next to no empathy past a thick layer of pathos that slips too uneasily into condescension. That’s Ed, his equal-opportunity-offender style does occasionally hit: once mutating-girlie hits the road with Stephen Adly-Guirgus’ hesitant pedophile, the film finds a screwball-in-hell scenario that peaks now and then. That Solondz -- who is decidedly no philosopher -- is now stuck playing to the rafters (“Freedom Toast!”) is more sad than anything in this ostensibly sad film. Grade: C

Day 9

Clean (Olivier Assayas, France/UK/Canada)
Was tempted afterwards to text my fest volunteer friend a hyperbolic missive along the lines of “Olivier Assayas ees Cinema.” (That’s in Louis Garrell dialect.) The embarrassing thing is, it’s true. It’s not that he subverts the clichés of the inarguable Lifetime plot; the clichés are, by and large, there. It’s that he breathes life into them, just as he breathes life into every single frame.

Thanks to Ryan for providing the link to Kent Jones’ article on Assayas (specifically this here film), far and away the most full-bodied defense of this acquried taste that’s yet come down the pike. (And I too hate Maggie Cheung’s frizzled hair.) What’s so exciting about Assayas is the way he captures life on the fly, particularly the way he stands outside his characters and gets us trying to pin-point what’s on their mind. The Brian Eno scenes are far and away the highlights of the film: Cheung barrelling down the stairs to get a joint and then smoke it outside, with “Spider and I” abruptly creeping onto the soundtrack; both of the son-centric scenes featuring “Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy”; Cheung anxiously waiting for Tricky, her nervousness made still more crazed by “Third Uncle”; etc.

But what really sold the deal for me was the finale, so far categorically misinterpreted as a mushy epilogue. (Spoiler alert, natch.) When Cheung starts her crying jag, it could be about any number of things. She’s getting her kid back, so it could be happy tears that she’s on the road to recovery. My pick, though, goes back to a scene in the beginning of the film, where her soon-to-be-boyfriend is whining on and on about how difficult it is to maintain artistic talent over the long haul. No doubt Cheung feels this way (and honestly, her songs rather stink up the place, David Roback production or not) -- she has to be told by two people that the song is good, and she still doesn’t look convinced. As she heads outside, to view that San Francisco landscape (neatly, perhaps too neatly, contrasting with the Canadian industrial landscape with which the film began), her body movement suggests she’s temporarily brightening up. Assayas’ movies are all about these kinds of moments: the way emotions are impulsive, set off by surroundings, stations in life, and whatever the hell else. Call it an “Assayas TV movie” if you want to, and mean well by that if you can. But classifications only serve to distract from what Assayas's films, at their best, do for an audience.

Couldn’t fit this in: Nick Nolte is, no joke, career high here. Grade: B+

Day 10

Woman is the Future of Man (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)
I’ve only seen two Hongs to date (including, um, this one), but there’s already a case of diminishing returns setting in. The Rohmer for shallow Korean men, Hong’s capabilities with the medium are still in full effect: his long static takes are like no one else’s -- deceptively plain, replacing the majesty of a Tarkovsky or Ceyland with idle chatter that every now and then rewards mightily. Not much to say after a first watch: it’s a mite too minor for me, the only thing worth getting excited about is Hong’s usual bag of tricks, as well as a future of more of his slices to dig into. Doesn’t Turning Gate just rule? Grade: B

Lipstick & Dynamite (Ruth Leitman, USA)
Merely solid work, if a bit too much of an auto-doc for my tastes: all Leitman had to do was find a bonkers topic, earn the subjects’ friendship, and find some solid clips, all of which she does. (Actually, there’s an unhealthy shortage of the last one, but those in front of the lens are comfy and ribald enough to partially make up for that one.) Leitman hits it enough that there’s a passable post-feminist vibe to it, but you can’t help feeling that Leitman let some insights fall by the wayside; she prefers to make friends instead of comb the depths. Grade: B

Genesis (Mari Nuridsany & Marie Pérennou, France/Italy)
Let’s try to keep these astonishingly beautiful nature docs a little simple, shall we? Needless to say, 80 minutes is far too short to scrape the surface of evolution, which it treats with the kind of mysticism that gradually grates on my nerves. Thing is, it’s really just so gorgeous, maybe the most exquisitely shot film that’s not a Wong Kar-Wai. You can get lost in those long takes without really caring if it adds up to much. Almost. Fun story of the day: an hour in, the next reel comes up upside down and backwards, a phenom I haven’ t encountered since the infamous advance screening of Hollow Man at the Riverview circa 2000. At least the projectionist turned it off right away this time. Grade: B-

Evilenko (David Grieco, Italy/Russia)
“The stuff about Communism may fly over your head,” Grieco announced at the screening before, 45 minutes later, a pyschiatrist-cum-junior-profiler erupted into a pat dissection of Communism’s erosion throughout the ‘80s. If only it were a case of the obviously translated dialogue (“You will get him, my love,” sez the poorly ADR-d wife to husband Marton Czokas, aka The Other Russell Crowe), or yet another is-it-inspired-or-the-pits turn from Malcolm McDowell as a party member who, just like that, decides to kill and eat children for years and years. But it’s also a perfect specimen of why it’s a bad idea to interpret anything strictly from a socio-economic position. Grieco’s too clumsy a writer/director to make it sing, or make it the least bit recognizeably human, though McDowells enough of a ham to sink in and bite. “The ‘eating the lion’ line -- I had no idea what he was talking about,” McDowell said during the Q&A...but it turns out Czokas kind of sort of liked it so back in it was, ready to furrow the brows of packed festival theaters the globe wide. Embarrassing. Grade: C

Day 11

There was no Day 11.

Day 12

Lonesome Jim (Steve Buscemi, USA)
Hmm. Didn’t know you could make indies like this anymore. While Shane Carruth proves the financially feeble can use celluloid and budding auteurs continually discover new ways to make this DV technology its own thing, Buscemi hasn’t gotten memo 1: it’s all video-for-film shot, sad sack guys moping about Hemingway, and takes that barely cut together. Largely amiable -- and “sweet!” -- it’s essentially Garden State rewritten so it makes sense, though Liv Tyler’s presence pushes it into nauseous Jersey Girl territory. Buscemi nails the Midwestern pace and mindset without ever condescending to it -- no small feat -- though only the occasional appearances from Mark Boone Junior and Kevin Corrigan breathe any unique life into the strangely audience friendly proceedings. Please, indie makers, stop throwing around Cassavetes’ name. Grade: C+

End of the fest -- awards, closing night party, et al. -- still on the way. The PFF ain't over yet, motherfuckers.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Oh dear, I almost forgot

In yesterday's Weekly, here's what I penned:
* An A-list (fourth down) on IFC's travelling Ultimate Film Fanatic, which stops in Philly for the month of April in a play-at-home version that's doubtless less noxious than the televised version.
* Like, 10 or 11 capsules for the second week of the PFF, including raves for Kings and Queen, This Charming Girl, and the Ozu-esque Quiet Summer. Sidetrack: we finally got mentioned on Greencine Daily. A phyrric victory, that. The fruits of my labors are found here and here and in future entries till the fest ends on the 20th.
* Rep. Highlighted: Brady Lewis' Pittsburgh horror pastiche Daddy Cool and a screening of the demented '30s propaganda film Child Bride (which shows on a double bill with Apt Pupil).

PFF: Days 4 - 7

Trekking on...

Day 4

Ambiance: It has been sunny, breezy and very much Spring for the last week. Today is no exception. The fourth day of the fest and my second day of going to it has been an insurmountable struggle against the elements: namely, lovely sitting weather, friends heckling me about same, and, of course, food. Regardless, the screenings are largely packed. Glad to see other people have priorities.

/I Know Where I'm Going! (1945, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, UK)
Several good reasons for nixing other quality pics in favor of this Powellen Pressburger [sic] trifle: hadn't seen it in ages; had never seen a P&P on the big screen; Thelma Schoonmaker would be present. A quickie made in between heavy-hitters, Going! isn't as densely layered as any other P&P, but that's a high standard to live up to. The two litter the film with regional touches: Gaelic is sporadically spoken; Roger Livesey refuses to enter a castle as none of his ancestors have; stray references to WWII. But the film flounders in the middle section and Wendy Hiller -- with her prominent upper cheek bones that jut off the screen -- is never given much of a character arc. It's no Local Hero is what I'm saying, though it's frequently more lovely. Grade: B

Murderball (Henry-Alex Rubin & Dana Adam Shapiro)
I might have responded to this fluff piece on the world of quad rugby a little better had it come out two years ago. But after Spellbound, it's hard not to look at it as the latest in a new doc trend: the focus is on being entertaining rather than insightful, where the mix should, given the subject, ideally be about half and half. Rubin and Shapiro keep nothing but the funny and/or sentimental moments; why these men feel compelled to take part in a violent, belligerent sport is entirely ignored. Strong moments are littered about, but I wound up getting the usual case of the queasies, particularly anytime the American defector ("I'm not Bennedict Arnold. His betrayal resulted in the death of many people.") was popping veins. Quick! Someone write a paper on how reality television is seriously dilluting documentary cinema! Grade: B-

The Holy Girl (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina)
Hard not to flash to Michael Sicinski's opening sentence on this evocative mood piece. ("What a subtle film!") A good deal less ostentatiously mannered than La Cineaga, Martel's turning into an auetur on the level of Wong Kar-Wai, making films that stroke your face lightly, even when viewing its subject from a respectable distance. Her frames -- faces off-kilter, much play with background/foreground, hazy light -- bewitch, even if the substance never elicits more than casual interest. Bits involving air fresheners being sprayed suggest she could be our next Richard Lester, if that's what she's into. Grade: B+

Izo (Takashi Miike, Japan)
"Miike's 8 1/2" is how a fellow film cricket described it immediately once the credits ended. Sorry, can't top that. Luckily, the inspired redundancy -- putting to shame Survive Style 5+ -- leaves much time for other interpretations to bounce around in the cranium, leaving room to wonder if our time-travelling, serial murdering samurai is a virus, a nihilist's wish-fulfilment fantasy or, every fest writer's favorite notion, a Metaphor For Man's Cruelty Throughout the Ages. (Or simply a piece of sadism on par with Don Hertzfeldt, seeing how our anti-hero grows more ragged throughout.) In any case, great fun and, bizarrely enough, my first forray with Miike the Goofy Violent Guy, which might explain the high grade. Takeshi Kitano hilariously wasted. Grade: B+

Today's Vague, Inadvertent Theme? Exhaustion will fuck you in the end.

Day 5

Ambiance: Same, only most people are at work. Really nice out and I keep running into people who want to talk shop. Very unusual.

L'Amant (Ryuichi Hiroki, Japan)
Happily doesn't dip into the sex-as-equivalent-of-knife-stabbing nadir, but its gradual humanism can get icky: big explanation towards end never really takes hold seeing as the X, Y and Z seem more than happy to get at our forlorn Japanese schoolgirl. Not as perverse as it thinks but Hiroki's plangent pacing is ingratiating. Probably overrating it as, only days later, I have little memory of it. Obviously, right? Grade: B-

The 10th District Court, Moments of Trials (Raymond Depardon, France)
Depardon's semi-cryptic claim at the beginning -- "The director has chosen the scenes shown here: we feel you should know this" -- sets you up for some good time interpretation, but it just seems like he got a solid cross-section of Paris, even if almost all are found guilty. Pretty hilarious at first, morally tangled in the middle, and triumphantly venge-filled towards the end -- we grow from liking our unflappable Judge Judy to nearly loathing her, without barely noticing our identification shift. Never less than entrancing, though, if just not exactly Frederick Wiseman. Grade: B

Lakeside Murder Case (Shinji Aoyama, Japan)
Surely not the best place to start with Eureka's Aoyama (on why this one's not "arty": "That's what the producer wanted," sez he), but it's an auteuristical thing: the thing's slick, but with open spaces and a tangled moral quandary clearly laid-out. Middle section's the best, with a body-disposal sequence for the ages, but the plot mechanics are rickety and the finale turns into canned lines and talking points that made me more fidgety than Wednesday's Henri Langlois doc. Grade: C+

One Missed Call (Takashi Miike, Japan)
Unless the rumors about The Three turn out to be true, the best giant meta- joke in ages. Excepting a girl being torn apart, it's impossible to find Miike in this straight-faced J-Horror entry, and what's more, he doesn't seem to be kidding. It's no Cellular. Grade: C+

Today's Vague, Inadvertent Theme? Try harder next time, bud.

Day 6

Ambiance The. Sun. Won't. Stop. Shining.

The World (Jia Zhang-ke, China/France/Japan)
Wears out its perfect-symbol-for-globalization with over an hour to spare, except that Jia's not that pat: his film lets you wallow in the claustrophobia, mostly ditching trips around the Epcot-Center-only-bigger and gawdy international Vegas shows for cramped spaces and dimly lit scenes. Fun story of the day: no doubt aggravated by the increasing randomness and lack of storyline, patron started bolting with ten minutes to spare, one couple of which came back in no doubt after seeing the clock. Grade: B

Oldboy (Park Chan-wook, South Korea)
Thanks, Armond White*. Luckily, Park's such a whiz with ratchetting up the tension that even knowing Le Grand Twist did nothing to dispel my permanent state of cat-like readiness. Calling South Korean films nutty and tonally restless has become a cliché by now, but the sometimes aimless plot maneuvers and strokes of dark comedy make it all the more unique, and Park's knack for not indulging in graphic close-ups seems less hypocritical than it did in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the complexity of Vengeance: our villain's too smugly cackling to get behind, even when his backstory's complete, and there's not enough of a compare-and-contrast with Choi Min-sik's pre-imprisoned self and his crazed one. Hallway scene not at all a let-down, though I'm still on the fence over Choi's Pacino-level implosion towards the end. Grade: B

Today's Vague, Inadvertent Theme? The bigger picture rarely comes into sharp relief.

Day 7

Ambiance I'm late for everything, and yet nothing's ready for me when I get there. Late for speaking about life post-Temple University at Temple University. Late getting to Monk's afterwards. Late for Henri Langlois. Late for The Big Red One. Also I overslept in the morning. The sun should stop.

Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinémàtheque (Jacques Richard, France)
A better 3 1/2 hour survey than the Cassavetes-centric A Constant Forge, if only because Langlois is, at least in the first half, used as more of a jumping off point, a way to explore the way he spread cinephilia throughout the land. Great stories, too -- love the one about the guy who pleads till M is shown, then complains when the print turns out to be Losey's version, only to be greeted with "It's the Losey version?! I've always wanted to see that!" -- though the last hour seriously drags, the rambling interviewees hitting the same talking points finally exhausting all patience. (No less because I had to be at The Big Red One shortly -- very shortly -- after it ended.) Obligatory gripe: obliquely mentioning Langlois' homosexuality with five minutes left is dumb on two counts. Grade: B

The Big Red One [Corliss' "Reconstruction" cut] (1980, Samuel Fuller, USA)
Doesn't so much add depth as just add more, though it's really a case of pacing: Fuller's episodic WWII picture has zero forward thrust, so it's really about getting into its rhythm. I did, and as such further appreciate it as one of the more unique WWII pics, refraining from most of the usual sentiments and tropes and simply throwing out kernels of truth, as well as great yarns. Hitler, the Holocaust, et al. are simply things Lee Marvin's troop wanders by; most of the time, it's about surviving, which in most cases means living with the knowledge that you've committed horrible deeds. Entirely avoid self-importance, nor tries to be the Definitive Anything, except that it's the definitive portrait of Fuller's time in the war. As usual, his generosity is wide, and I miss his abrupt cuts to close-ups of faces, as well as his way of spinning a great tale. Fun story of the day: roughly an hour in the theater's fire alarms went off, but the Ritz -- the Ritz! -- neglected to stop the movie. This persists for ten minutes, during which half the audience stays in their seats, covering whichever ear is closest to the alarm while trying to make out what's happening around the kerfuffle. When this stops, the film finally stops too, and the City Paper's Sam Adams can be heard screaming seriously pissed profanities at the theater's unusual lack of logic. Ten minutes later, the film springs back up but this time without sound, causing some audience members to provide their own. We laugh, though I wonder if the alarm -- with its deafening sound and strobe lights -- would have actually helped had it occurred five minutes later during the D-Day sequence, thus allowing us to truly experience Fuller's claim that the only way to accurately portray war would be by shooting at the patrons from the wings. See? Fun.

Today's Vague, Inadvertent Theme? Mini-stories that add up to a very tasty pie.

* The ever-self-righteous Mr. White decided he'd spoil the twist because...oh, who knows? Not linking to it, as I don't want anyone getting stung by the curiosity bug. Of course, even mentioning the review in question means being stung by said bug.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

PFF: Day 3

Please -- *stretch* -- give me -- *crack* -- a mere -- *deafening sigh* -- second. Okay. Spent the previous three days doing very little but watching celluloid projected on a white screen, and if that doesn't sound tiring, you're not taking into consideration a) cramped seating positions and/or b) how rabid attention spans exhaust over the long haul. (Plus, walking. Plus, subsisting on hot dogs and Milky Ways.) I have a couple minutes before rushing off to The World, but here's a summary.

Skipped the first two official days, as Opening Night was Opening Night, and Day 1 was a Friday and, thus, didn't start till 5ish. (Did make it to Sin City, for those counting, rather than sit through the predictably allegedly dreadful House of D.) So far, things are mostly going well: projection problems largely ceased after Day 3 and the crowds have gotten used to packing into sold out showings. Only quibble: can audience members, like, calm down when a director who Doesn't Speak Our Native Tongue has to be filtered through a medium? Or, failing that, not ask questions on the level of the one posed to L'Amant director Ryuichi Hiroki, namely "I can't figure out why the Japanese schoolgirl would agree to be the fuckslave to three older men for a year, which by the way is the elusive thing the whole movie hews on. So, why does she do that?"

Breaking it down, quick-style, now:

McDull, prince de la bun (Toe Yuen, Hong Kong)
Part retread, part expansion, Yuen's sequel to My Life as McDull works many of the same back alleys, the most notable being that bizarro tone, which mixes suffocating tweeness with a dark undercurrent of melancholy. Once again, McDull the Piglet is a dim but imaginative lad awash in a culture of similarly dim (but not imaginative) people, and Yuen traces this back to the history of his father, whom Yuen pointedly has McDull playing in a fanciful series of lax misadventures. Hong Kong kid humor can be a touch too regional -- the first twenty minutes went straight over my head -- but once it finds a pace, it's hard to resist things like a Sancho Panza with a pizza for a head. Sadder than the first, too, and also less depressing. Grade: B

Somersault (Cate Shortland)
I notice some of my colleagues walked out on this tale of a wayward Aussie teen bonking her way into an independent lifestyle, but rest assured: it does settle down. Comparisons to Morvern Callar are mostly accurate -- Abbie Cornish is a barely formed human, with no grasp on her actions; Shortland uses long-lenses and hand-held to create a sensory feast -- but it's a Callar with a happy ending, even if it demonstrates a nifty way of setting us up for bleak-o-rama then cutting it short at the last second. (You expect the friend's dad to rape her when he drives her home, but he just wants her to stay away from her daughter.) Cornish will undoubtedly become the exported star, but it was Sam Worthington who really impressed, mixing subtle menace with melancholy: you keep waiting for him to explode, even if you know that won't happen. Grade: B-

5 X 2 (François Ozon, France)
(Impossible to discuss without spoilers, so skiddaddle if you have to.) I'm still not sold on Ozon, but his gimmicky structure is at least subtle. You expect the film -- which, yes, shows five key scenes from a marriage, in backwards order -- to fall neatly into place by the end, which, as per the meandering final installment, it doesn't. My interpretation? Ozon wants us to think it will be about a woman accepting her husband's emotional incompetence, then goes off the tracks at the end, as if to chide us for thinking you could boil a relationship down so patly. Penultimate segment is obviously about how Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (magnificent) is as much to blame as Stéphane Freiss: he falls asleep during the honeymoon, she has needs she can't quite control. But the final segment goes off the track, showing instead how incompatible they are.

Survive Style 5+ (Gen Sekiguchi, Japan)
The first of many crazy Japanese movies, and this is just in the first three days. An impromptu decision, former commercial director Sekiguchi's debut is appropriately a lark -- a series of blackout scenes that suggest the director was simply trying to get rid of old notebooks. The structure -- essentially setting us up with five jokey stories, then hitting infinite replay -- can be understandably exhausting, but every ten minutes Sekiguchi comes up with something absolutely leftfield (and, more often than not, absolutely inspired) that reins you back in. Best moment: school teacher offers casual dismissals of her single digit students' drawings of their fathers. ("Oh, I see what you were going for here. Yeah, I don't like it.") Vinnie Jones gets old fast, but his interpreter steals the show anyway. Besides, I'll always cherish it for making me realize who Tadanobu Asano is -- i.e., the brooding guy from Bright Future, Zatoichi, Last Life in the Universe and Café Luminere.

More on the way when I have more time.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Le Festival de Philadelphia Commence

Philly's own festival de film begins tonight with its best opening night film since 2000 honored Jesus' Son, namely Ferpect Crime. Granted, that's a relative comment: 2003 kickstarted with the Mamet knockoff Confidence while 2004 boasted the Confidence knockoff Shade. Still, Alex de la Iglesias works some busy bee magic on the familiar murder-and-blackmail proceedings, while Guillermo Toledo knows how to do the Alfie schtick.

Day-by-day coverage will begin late Saturday (I'll be forgoing titles like House of D, David Duchovny's breathlessly anticipated auteuristical debut, in favor of finally catching Sin City), but till then the first barrage of reviews, including many from me, can be found here. Also be sure to consult Sam Adams and company at the City Paper.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

weekly egocentric plugs

Loads in today's Weekly:
* A loose "On the Radar" about my recent, regrettable purchase of 2046 (and other non-regrettable purchases) from DVDAsian.com. Thoughts on 2046 en route eventually, but I'm still working on...
* ...the Philadelphia Film Festival. Thirteen (13) blurbs (I think) littered here, there, and everywhere, including modest praises of Mysterious Skin and Bear Club, on-the-fence stuff re: Marebito and de la Iglesias' awesomely titled Ferpect Crime, and disses of Land of Plenty and the dullsville Uno. More next week, too.
* Improbably, and against reason, the presence of the PFF has not quelled the Rep scene one solitary lick. One of the most jam-packed weeks in memory, its centerpiece is the Holocaust Film Series, which game me a chance to see the postively embarrassing The Aryan Couple. (Sample dialogue I had to snip from the blurb: Martin Landau, a Jewish aristocrat buying his way out of Germany, asks Himmler (over dinner, no less) why he must exterminate all the Jews. Himmer snickers, smiles smugly, then replies, "Well...not all of them." I hope those dastardly Nazis get it in the end, man.)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

public service announcement

Was asked to spread this around the best way I could: If you happen to be going to Exhumed Films' screening of The Man With the Screaming Brain, Bruce Campbell's auteuristical project, then know that you don't have to schlep out to Jersey to do so. Turns out the Pittman Theatre has been forclosed upon, meaning the screening has been quickly relocated to West Philly's International House. Here's the pertinent info:

Sunday, April 3, 2005
Doors: 10 PM
Film: Midnight
Admission: $12
NEW Location: The International House,3701 Chestnut Street,
Pennsylvania, 19104, Tel: 215-387-5125 • Fax: 215-895-6535

Did I mention Campbell himself will be there? No, I didn't.