Archive for November, 2009

Trailerama: No Distance Left to Run: A Film About Blur

November 28, 2009

There’s a case to be made that Blur are the greatest British band of the last 20 years. They certainly have an interesting story to tell, one that skirts the British art world and teenybopper acceptance. Unfortunately, this documentary appears to coast on the euphoric nostalgia of this year’s reunion. Directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace previously directed the video to Franz Ferdinand’s “Ulysses.” You can watch it below.

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Trailerama: Kenta to Jun to Kayo chan no kuni (A Crowd of Three)

November 28, 2009

There’s a lot of tension on tap in Omori Tatsushi’s new film. Fed up with their dead-end jobs, friends Kenta and Jun steal a car and light out for Hokkaido. Kenta’s older brother Kazu is serving a prison sentence there. They’ve got a stowaway in the back. Soon Kenta and Jun have somebody else to take out their misery on. With Ando Sakura (Love Exposure).

Trailerama: Beyond Ipanema – America’s Love Affair with Brazilian Music

November 25, 2009

He who is tired of Brazilian music is tired of life. When the bug bit America, it bit bad. Carmen Miranda became an international star. Orson Welles lost himself in the fleshpits of Rio. The tropicalia movement inspired Talking Heads’ David Byrne and a host of indie rockers. Guto Barra‘s documentary pays lip service to all the cultural exchange stuff, but like the best Brazilian bop, this is a film that encourages the audience to think with its hips.

Trailerama: Aisheen (Still Alive in Gaza)

November 25, 2009

The images we associate with Gaza are explosions, rubble and bullet-holes. There’s plenty of those in Swiss filmmaker Nicolas Wadimoff’s documentary. But he’s more interested in the people doggedly holding on in the face of the Israeli blockade. Interviews and on-the-ground footage show how a domestic resilience has set in. Odd moments of beauty are salvaged from the wreckage. From clowns to rappers, these people aren’t just still alive. They’re also not going anywhere. Produced by Al Jazeera Children’s Channel, whose version of Sesame Street has to be seen to be believed.

DVD Debut: Angels & Demons, Funny People

November 24, 2009

DVD Debut gives Dan Brown a puff of white smoke over at VH1.com.

The pope is dead, his four eligible successors have been kidnapped, and there’s a ticking bomb somewhere in the Vatican. Who you gonna call? Tom Hanks, of course. After making peace with the papacy, ancient manuscripts are dug up and soon he’s racing all over Rome to stop the ancient city from becoming a crater. There’s a nice surprise for audiences, too. This Da Vinci Code prequel-gone-sequel is devilishly good fun, with Ron Howard providing Grand Guignol flourishes worthy of fright-meister Dario Argento.

Trailerama: San qiang pai an jing qui (A Simple Noodle Story)

November 23, 2009

Once Zhang Yimou was the enfant terrible of Chinese cinema. Partnered with muse Gong Li, he also put the country back on the cinematic map with chromatic morality plays like Red Sorghum and Raise the Red Lantern. Then he turned his skills at mise en scene and choreography to the wushu genre and made his way back into official favor with Hero and The House of Flying Daggers. It culminated in his most lavish production—the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics.

So good on him for taking yet another left turn and remaking the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple. The Dan Hedaya character is now a noodle shop owner eking out a living at the desert fringes in Gansu. Oh, and we’re in medieval Gansu rather than contemporary Texas. Sick of being made a cuckold, Ni Dahong hires a cop to kill his adulterous wife Yan Ni (“The Queen of Charm”). Things do not pan out as planned. Will it work? Let’s just say that we don’t remember a cannon in the original.

Trailerama: Kynodontas/Dogtooth

November 21, 2009

A Greek take on The House of Bernarda Alba by way of Big Brother. Widescreen has rarely been put to such uncomfortable use. Screened at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

Trailerama: Ototo (About Her Brother)

November 20, 2009

Yoji Yamada has been making films for nearly 50 years now. His impressive CV includes the epic Tora-san series. Beginning with 1969’s It’s Tough Being a Man, the adventures of a traveling salesman who has lousy luck with the local “Madonnas” stretched to 48 films. The series only ended when star Atsumi Kiyoshi keeled over in 1996. Yojo became an art house favorite during the last decade with his thoughtful considerations of the samurai class, The Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade. His latest looks like a gentle domestic drama, with Sayuri Yoshinaga inviting her sick brother Tsurube Shofukutei to convalesce at home. The inevitable complications and reconciliations ensue.

Trailerama: Budrus

November 20, 2009

In 2003, Israel responded to the Intifada by building a wall around the Palestinian territories. That wall cut straight through the tiny village of Budrus, dividing the cemetery and leaving many citizens disenfranchised of their land. Julia Bacha’s new film looks at what happened next. A peaceful protest movement united Israelis and Palestinians, Fatah and Hamas alike. Bacha previously directed the acclaimed Control Room about al-Jazeera. We’re looking forward to her take on an always sensitive subject.

Trailerama: Plein Sud (Going South)

November 20, 2009

Sam (Yannick Renier) is driving south to find the mother he never knew. Along the way he picks up Mathieu and Lea. He’s gay, she isn’t. It could be like The Dreamera but without the revolution. However, there’s also a gun involved. And our Sam really has his mind on the road. With Lea Seydoux, who was seen in The Last Mistress and briefly in Inglourious Basterds. Hopefully she’ll be making up for that in Sebastian Lifshitz’s drama.