Archive for the ‘2010’ Category

The Last-Minute ND/NF 2010 Preview, Part 3: The Oath to Zanan-e badun-e mardan

March 24, 2010

Don’t cry no tears. All good things come to an end. So do our tardy previews. The New Directors/New Films festival lights up the spring season by bringing to New York the best debuts from festivals like Cannes and Sundance. In the final assortment, there’s a lauded love letter to cinema from Mia Hansen-Løve, the welcome return of Judy Berlin director Eric Mendelsohn and a notable French addition to the “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” genre.

Read the first part of our New Directors/New Films preview.
Read the second part of our New Directors/New Films preview.

The Oath

Abu Jandal and Salim Hamdan are buddies who took very different routes through al-Qaeda’s militant network. Jandal now works with Yemeni youth to temper their fundamentalism. Hamdan sits in Guantanamo, notorious as Osama bin Laden’s onetime chauffeur. The latest film from My Country, My Country director Laura Poitras is another unique look at the Middle East.

Le Pere de Mes Enfants (The Father of My Children)

French film producer Humbert Balsan helped bring works by Bela Tarr and Claire Denis to the public. His life and death inspired this acclaimed new feature from Mia Hansen-Løve, partner of Olivier Assayas. It’s a fresh take on Day for Night, with an overworked producer (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) juggling family and the fact that there isn’t enough hours in the day to achieve cinematic greatness.

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The Last-Minute ND/NF 2010 Preview, Part 1: Amer to El hombre de al lado

March 24, 2010

Continuing the tradition of previews which are barely posted before the first film premieres and then go entirely unread, we present to you the first part of our New Directors/New Films survey. The annual smorgasbord, organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, cherry-picks the festivals for the best work by first-time filmmakers. What isn’t so nice is the old couple sat behind you who keep up a running commentary throughout each film. But that’s life on the Upper West Side. In the first part of our preview, we throw some alliterative phrases at dramas set in Muslim Detroit and Iran’s border, while Bill Cunningham and Candy Darling present two different views of the greatest city in the world. Hit those titles to watch trailers and more.

Amer

For their debut feature, experimental filmmakers Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani turned to the giallo thrillers of Dario Argento and Mario Bava for inspiration. This isn’t just a spooky movie, but a coming-of-age film, as Ana suffers extreme situations at three key life stages. Amer–French for “bitter”–is less about narrative than immersing the audience in a senses-shattering sexual awakening. Game on!

Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar

At Andy Warhol’s Factory, stars-in-their-minds learned how to become real works of art. So any portrait of a Superstar has a certain sideshow interest. Famed for a reference in Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” Darling turned herself from a Massapequa scamp into a blonde glamour queen who adorned Warhol’s films and even a Tennessee Williams play. Chloe Sevigny reads the late idol’s letters in James Rasin’s doc.

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The Slate: How Do You Know, Red State, Gulliver’s Travels

March 23, 2010

The New York Times tells us all it knows about James L. Brooks upcoming How Do You Know. Frankly, it’s not a lot. The recap of the softball romantic comedy, pitched around some “can a big-star rom-com score?” hand-wringing, is that Reese Witherspoon is a ballplayer, and Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson compete for her heart. But did you know that Brooks is “known in these parts as the creator of a “Panic Attack!” cheer for his daughter’s soccer team”? (Or what that means?) And when will I’ll Do Anything get a director’s cut DVD release? (NYT)

Kevin Smith’s Red State, a horror movie which he once claimed was bleaker than Requiem for a Dream, is ready to roll. That’s Kevin Smith-bleak, of course, which for all we know is an empty refrigerator. The film is inspired by right-wing firebrand preacher Fred Phelps. Expect a Dogma-tic approach (i.e., totally headscratching) to the issues. (/Film)

In literary news, Emily Blunt is apparently good enough friends with Philip K. Dick to call him by his first name. She’s also playing a ditzy Lilliputian princess in a Gulliver’s Travels that will have little to do with Jonathan Swift. Raises frightening image of what a “Swift purist” might be like. (Inquirer)

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The Slate: White vs. Hoberman, The Addams Family, The Runaways

March 19, 2010

The high point of Armond White’s Greenberg-iad is also the one statement that approaches actual criticism: “I liked Harris Savides’ image of Stiller barely swimming across a pool—possibly an homage to my joke that Baumbach was the rat at the bottom of Margot at the Wedding’s pool.” This man walks among us. (NY Press)

… and J. Hoberman shrugs the whole tirade off. Is this still fun? (VV)

In related news: “The abiding joy [of writing film criticism] comes of saying what you’ve experienced so truthfully and so well that strangers get your meaning whether they agree or not.” It’s an elusive joy, trust us. (Scanners)

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SXSW: And the Winners Are …

March 17, 2010

The SXSW Film Festival still has a few days to run, but the awards have already gone. Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture, where the filmmaker herself stars as a college grad at a loose end in New York, won the Narrative Feature competition. Look for it to turn up in a 2 AM slot on IFC sometime in the next five years. The best documentary feature was Marwencol, Jeff Malmberg’s portrait of a man who recovers from a beating by building a town in his backyard.

In the acting race, Brian Hasenfus’ incarnation of an aging party animal in Garth Donovan’s Phillip the Fossil boogied off with the Best Individual Performance award. David Robert Mitchell’s Myth of the American Sleepover received a best ensemble award for its cast of youngsters adrift in Detroit. A party will be held to celebrate David’s victory as soon as his parents leave town.

The audience had different preferences. They named Jim Bigham and Mark Moormann’s look at a band of mentally and physically challenged musicians, For Once in My Life, best documentary feature. You can fill in your own Tropic Thunder-inspired quip here before going away to be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. It was also popcorn containers in the air for Brotherhood. Will Canon’s thriller about a fraternity hazing that goes very wrong was named best narrative feature. Makes us feel better about those Greek letters branded on our butt.

The full list of winners is after the jump. Click on the titles for trailers where available.

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Fist of Film: Matt Damon’s Bottom Five

March 12, 2010

Matt Damon has enjoyed quite a ride. The game-changing Bourne trilogy transformed him from the only Oscar-winning Bruce Weber pin-up into a muscular box office behemoth. The WMD thriller Green Zone reunites Damon with director Paul Greengrass and looks set to reap further millions this weekend. It wasn’t always, thus, however. Here’s a look at the Cambridge-born star’s least profitable earners, written in the hope hidden gems will be uncovered and bitter laughs had. Box office figures are kindly taken from Box Office Mojo.

Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)
Box office: $18,635,620
A beardless Damon tags along as part of a party led by Robert Duvall, who applies his best grizzle to the role of an Indian hunter. Duvall’s white whale is the legendary Apache renegade Geronimo (Wes Studi). Released after the success of Unforgiven, the film doesn’t so much revise history as honor the facts. For Damon’s teen following, it moved with all the pace of a three-legged horse. Genre expert Walter Hill (The Warriors) directed a script from John Milius (Red Dawn) and Larry Gross.

All the Pretty Horses (2000)
Box office: $15,540,353
Pairing director Billy Bob Thornton with the 1992 National Book Award-winner seemed like a good idea at the time, as the Sling Blade star had yet to go full lunatic. The material is Cormac McCarthy, so there’s the inevitable run by a Texas teen (Damon) ‘cross the border, where he breaks some horses and falls for a simmering Penelope Cruz. It was all too elegiac for the studio, who hacked Thornton’s original three-hour cut and left the film to languish at the box office. What’s left is a great novel with palsy.

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Trailerama: Please Give

March 12, 2010

Writer-director Nicole Holofcener’s films about how the other half live have always left Squally a little cold. Her latest adds the twist of Catherine Keener’s guilt over the good life. Her antiques dealer makes a living from buying low and selling high. She and husband Oliver Platt are also waiting for their next door neighbor to die so they can expand their apartment. In the plus department, it’s always good to see Keener in a starring role. The cast is rounded out by a gaunt Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet, who flutters her eyes at Platt. So nice to hear that acoustic faux-blues riff that turns up whenever a comedy is being marketed to the Starbucks set, too.

The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: SX Fantastic

March 11, 2010

24 hours, over a hundred films, and that’s just our bloody preview. The madness finally comes to end with this perky sidebar that celebrates SXSW’s onnection with Austin’s other great film festival, September’s Fantastic Fest. The line-up might seem more selective than past years, but the program promises a “special event TBA.” So there’s always that. In the meantime, sate your mind-bending with a honorable assortment of Japanese vampires, porno actors and the usual head-fuckery.

Read our SXSW Headliners preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.
Read the first part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read the second part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read our SXSW Lone Star States preview.
Read our SXSW 24 Beats Per Second preview.
Read our SXSW SW Global preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read the third part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read our SXSW Midnighters preview.

Higanjima

Akira’s life has been marked by the prolonged absence of his brother. Then he learns that the boy has been seen on Higanjima Island. There’s a few catches. The island is said to be inhabited by vampires and no one has ever returned from its shores. Of course, that’s never stopped anybody in a Japanese horror film. South Korean filmmaker Tae-gyun Kim (Volcano High) orchestrates this manga adaptation.

Monsters

Sometime in the future, Mexico has been completely quarantined after the crash landing of an infected probe. While the military wage war with the creatures that fell to earth, a journalist and a tourist try to jump the border into the Infected Zone. Writer-director Gareth Edwards’ sci-fi film revisits District 9 territory to make some smart points about immigration amid the flying tentacles.

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The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: Midnighters

March 11, 2010

The needy, rancid, blackened heart of the SXSW beats its fearsome tattoo at midnight. That’s when the jowly denizens of the dark come out to play, eyes wide as they tap into their iphones strange messages like “Grobius’s Colon: best horror film since Maniac Cop. Need pancakes!” Will 2010 finally satisfy their baleful tweets for fresh cinematic hamburger? Among the wannabe cult objects are the usual suspects: deceptively ordinary hillbillies, goatmen, and the latest epileptic effort from mad ‘n’ bad Frenchman Gaspar Noé.

Read our SXSW Headliners preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.
Read the first part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read the second part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read our SXSW Lone Star States preview.
Read our SXSW 24 Beats Per Second preview.
Read our SXSW SW Global preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read the third part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.

Amer

A young girl’s sexual awakening is related in three discrete episodes. Amer is seen as girl, teenager and woman, navigating an uncertain world of dark houses and mysterious strangers, before a final scene that will probably blow your mind. Directors Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s story of a woman’s sexual awakening takes its cues from the giallo filmmaking of Mario Bava and Dario Argento.

Soudain le vide (Enter the Void)

Few films can clear a room faster than Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible, which puts the “god, no” into “uncompromising.” After eight years of silence, his latest film promises a hallucinogenic look into a drug peddler’s last five minutes of life. Pitched somewhere between Roger Corman’s The Trip and Tony Conrad’s The Flicker, Noé may be taking drugs to make films to take drugs to—and we like it!

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The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: Festival Favorites, Part 3

March 11, 2010

A lot of quality rounds out the section seeking to capture the best of the fests. Winter’s Bone has already attracted garlands from Sundance and could become a film of the year. Then there’s Harmony Korine’s latest atrocity Trash Humpers. The real gem, though, may well be Det røde kapel, whose trailer implies it could be the looniest caper ever set in North Korea. Skip seeing that lousy R&B band and add these to your checklist. Click on the titles for trailers where available.

Read our SXSW Headliners Preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Spotlight Premieres preview.
Read our SXSW Narrative Features Competition preview.
Read our SXSW Documentary Features Competition preview.
Read the first part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read the second part our SXSW Emerging Visions preview.
Read our SXSW Lone Star States preview.
Read our SXSW 24 Beats Per Second preview.
Read our SXSW SW Global preview.
Read the first part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read the second part of our SXSW Festival Favorites preview.
Read our SXSW Preview: Headliners here.
Read our SXSW 2010 Preview: Spotlight Premieres, Part 1 here.
Read our SXSW 2010 Preview: Spotlight Premieres, Part 2 here.

The Oath

My Country, My Country director Laura Poitras’ new doc reaches SXSW after hitting Sundance and Berlin. Poitras has taken a ride Osama bin Laden’s chauffeur and his brother-in-law. Both were former members of al Qaeda who ended up taking very different turns. In probing their choices, Poitras digs up the roots of fanaticism and hints at a future that lies beyond suicide bombings and online beheadings.

Det røde kapel (The Red Chapel)

Simon Jul Jorgensen and Jacob Nossell wanted to visit North Korea to perform their revue The Red Chapel. They invited director Mads Brügger along. He took a camera. What follows seems hardly believable, not least because one of the Korean-born comics is a spastic and everyone might be insane. Having seen the trailer, one YouTube commentator begs the question, “How did they get out alive?”

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