31 July 2009

The Decade List: Some More Honorable Mentions (2002-2004)

While there are some stylistic and genre connections between some pairs of films below, the most unifying characteristic of all the films below is a certain boldness that makes them stand apart and above most of their peers. This boldness comes in many different forms but is commendable all-the-same. They are in no particular order.

Dahmer - dir. David Jacobson

Thinly utilizing small facts surrounding the infamous cannibal murderer Jeffrey Dahmer as a guide (I'm still convinced the screenplay shifted to specifics of Dahmer's case for broader appeal), Dahmer the film plays more like an Off-Off-Broadway play. Restricting most of the action to one location, Dahmer's apartment, director and co-writer David Jacobson molds Dahmer like a wordy character study and powerplay between a seductive killer (Jeremy Renner) and his prey (Artel Kayàru). I couldn't find anything to support this, but I was told, when the film was released theatrically in 2002, that positive reaction to the film dug it out of its direct-to-video hole (still then with its negative connotations), despite complaints from the victims' family members who objected to the portrayal of Dahmer as a sympathetic character. I suspect the unspoken objection was a result of the sexiness Renner brings to the character, his creepy intimacy and erotic taunting sure to make many people uneasy. Dahmer isn't a grand success by any means, but it's provocative enough to stand above the subsequent trend of serial-killer-sploitation flicks, including a Ted Bundy dud from the director of Freeway, that once invaded the once popular video rental stores.

With: Jeremy Renner, Bruce Davison, Artel Kayàru, Matt Newton, Dion Basco, Kate Williamson, Christina Payano, Tom'ya Bowden
Screenplay: David Jacobson, David Birke
Cinematography: Chris Manley
Music: Christina Agamanolis, Mariana Bernoski, Willow Williamson
Country of Origin: USA
US Distributor: Peninsula Films

Premiere: 21 June 2002 (Los Angeles)

Intolerable Cruelty - dir. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Unfairly regarded as a lesser effort from the brothers Coen, Intolerable Cruelty sits just beneath No Country for Old Men on my ranking of the filmmakers' ouevre this decade. With fiery performances from both George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Intolerable Cruelty is the madcap black comedy I (maybe unfairly) kept wishing The Ladykillers and Burn After Reading would be.

With: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Geoffrey Rush, Cedric the Entertainer, Edward Herrman, Richard Jenkins, Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Adelstein, Julia Duffy
Screenplay: Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, story by Ramsey, Stone, John Romano
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Music: Carter Burwell
Country of Origin: USA
US Distributor: Universal Studios

Premiere: 2 September 2003 (Venice Film Festival)
US Premiere: 30 September 2003

She's One of Us [Elle est des nôtres] - dir. Siegrid Alnoy

Edited from my earlier review: Fitting perfectly into a triple-feature of Werner Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser and Rolf de Heer's Bad Boy Bubby, the "heroine" of She's One of Us, Christine (Sasha Andres), just can't fit in with the world. She's a social cripple and, like our two other friends, likes to mimic dialogue and experiences from others and pull them off as her own. It's her only way of successfully communicating outside of her world of temp jobs and solitude. Eventually, she becomes one of "us"... or, more specifically, them. The collective "us" is always a "them," as she conforms to both office and social politics -- turning from wide-eyed and creepy to cold and cruel, and eventually finding herself a man (Eric Caravaca). Though Alnoy's first feature beams with an admirable eerieness, she composes several shots to be blatantly "arty" (see above), though her cool plasticity and use of the ugliest hue of red you'll ever see stylistically work through the rest of the film. Christine has a fascination that's quite comparable to Kaspar and Bubby, yet while Kaspar's story is tragic and Bubby's is darkly humorous, Christine's is coldly French.

With: Sasha Andres, Carlo Brandt, Eric Caravaca, Pierre-Félix Gravière, Catherine Mouchet, Mireille Roussel, Jacques Spiesser, Geneviève Mnich, Dominique Valadié
Screenplay: Siegrid Alnoy, Jérôme Beaujour, François Favrat
Cinematography: Christophe Pollock
Music: Gabriel Scotti
Country of Origin: France
US Distributor: Leisure Time Features/Home Vision

Premiere: 16 May 2003 (Cannes)
US Premiere: 10 April 2003 (Philadelphia International Film Festival)

Awards: Direction, Special Mention - Siegrid Alnoy (Thessaloniki Film Festival); FIPRESCI Prize - Siegrid Alnoy (Stockholm Film Festival)

Monster - dir. Patty Jenkins

Biopics like Monster aren't rare, no matter which way you swing. Monster is, all at once, an ordinary true-life (crime) drama, a parable of murder that searches for humanity within cruelty and a platform for a then-underrated actress to shine. You can see examples of all three in the above-mentioned Dahmer, but I've seldom seen an actor as vigorous as Charlize Theron is here. We all recognize how much Hollywood and the Academy love a gorgeous woman in ugly make-up; seven of the last ten Best Actress Oscar winners have been awarded to portrayals of famous women of the past century, all of which by actresses significantly more attractive than their subjects. Theron's performance haunted me more than any of the others (though Helen Mirren, Marion Cotillard and Hilary Swank were just as deserving of their trophies) and forced the possibly prosaic film into my thoughts for the days following.

With: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern, Lee Tergesen, Annie Corley, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Marco St. John, Marc Macaulay, Scott Wilson
Screenplay: Patty Jenkins
Cinematography: Steven Bernstein
Music: BT
Country of Origin: USA/Germany
US Distributor: Newmarket Films

Premiere: 16 November 2003 (AFI Film Festival)

Awards: Best Actress - Charlize Theron (Academy Awards); Best Female Lead - Theron, Best First Feature (Independent Spirits); Best Actress, Drama - Theron (Golden Globes); Best Actress, Silver Bear - Theron (Berlin International Film Festival); Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role - Theron (Screen Actors Guild)

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead - dir. Mike Hodges

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead is a subtle noir in plain clothes, quietly smoldering beneath the surface. Seeking to find answers for his brother's suicide, Clive Owen travels through familiar corridors, for us and, of course, for him. The four central actors do what they do best: Owen brooding, McDowell hamming, Rhys Meyers posing and Rampling looking slightly too classy for her role. Everything comes together magnificently in Owen's final discovery, a wonderfully nasty monkey wrench typically found within other films' subtext.

With: Clive Owen, Charlotte Rampling, Malcolm McDowell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jamie Foreman, Ken Stott, Sylvia Sims
Screenplay: Trevor Preston
Cinematography: Michael Garfath
Music: Simon Fisher-Turner
Country of Origin: UK/USA
US Distributor: Paramount Classics

Premiere: 16 May 2003 (Cannes)
US Premiere: 18 February 2004 (Portland International Film Festival)

Anonymous - dir. Todd Verow

Few filmmakers are as consistently multifarious in their productions as Todd Verow, the Maine-born director best known for his terrible adaptation of Dennis Cooper's Frisk. As a friend of mine would say, if you throw enough pieces of meat at the wall, one is bound to stick. In Anonymous, Verow plays a character named Todd, a movie theatre manager whose lack of ambition is being hustled by the ticking clock of age. Still physically desirable, Todd substitutes professional enterprise with sexual ardor, cruising online and in bathroom stalls behind his lover's back. Anonymous is more effective a portrayal of a homosexual ignoramus than Lionel Baier's Garçon stupide. Both films transpire with an aggressive sexuality, but Verow's realism trumps Baier's attempts to mirror the digital revolution.

With: Todd Verow, Dustin Schell, Jason Bailey, Shawn Durr, Sophia Lamar, Craig Chester, Philly, Noah Powell, Lee Kohler, Florian Sachisthal, Elliott Kennerson
Screenplay: Todd Verow
Cinematography: Elliott Kennerson
Music: Jim Dwyer
Country of Origin: USA
US Distributor: Bangor Films

Premiere: February 2004 (Berlin International Film Festival)
US Premiere: 27 April 2004 (Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival)

A Tale of Two Sisters - dir. Kim Ji-woon

Is it just me? I'm often of the mindset that when it comes to J- or K-horror (or whatever one likes to call Korea's answer to Japanese ghost yarns) explanation is of little necessity. I don't know if missing the answers to all my questions is a result of not understanding some of the cultural implications of what's happening, but I always find myself puzzled near the end. Unlike the other Asian ghost flicks that were remade into lame(r) American ones that I've seen, Kim Ji-woon's A Tale of Two Sisters really doesn't appear to give a shit whether I (or anyone else, I hope) follow the course of action. And unlike the others, it doesn't really matter; it's spooky and strange enough to exist without needing to justify itself. Please let me know if I'm alone in these sentiments, which is entirely possible.

With: Lim Su-jeong, Moon Geun-Young, Kim Kap-su, Yum Jung-ah
Screenplay: Kim Ji-woon
Cinematography: Lee Mo-gae
Music: Lee Byung-woo
Country of Origin: South Korea
US Distributor: Tartan Films

Premiere: 13 June 2003 (South Korea)
US Premiere: 16 April 2004 (Philadelphia International Film Festival)

Awards: Best Picture (Screamfest)

Autumn [Automne] - dir. Ra'up McGee

Like the dapper cousin of I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, American director Ra'up McGee's French crime noir Autumn takes a more virile approach to the genre. Some may regard McGee's unwavering stylization and plotting as a fault, but he's thoroughly consistent. And sometimes that alone gets you points in my eyes.

With: Laurent Lucas, Irène Jacob, Benjamin Rolland, Dinara Drukarova, Michel Aumont, Samuel Dupuy, Denis Menochet, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Didier Sauvegrain
Screenplay: Ra'up McGee
Cinematography: Erin Harvey
Music: Cyril Morin
Country of Origin: France/USA
US Distributor: Truly Indie

Premiere: 10 September 2004 (Toronto International Film Festival)
US Premiere: 15 April 2005 (Filmfest DC)

Tony Takitani - dir. Jun Ichikawa

It was a safe choice for the first Haruki Murakami story to be adapted onscreen to be one of his lesser known short stories. While the decision was safe, Jun Ichikawa, who sadly passed away last year, composes Tony Takitani with an impressive delicacy, a trait that would be paramount in taking on any of Murakami's works.

With: Issei Ogata, Rie Miyazawa, Shinohara Takahumi, Hidetoshi Nishijima
Screenplay: Jun Ichikawa, based on the short story by Haruki Murakami
Cinematography: Taishi Hirokawa
Music: Ryuichi Sakamoto
Country of Origin: Japan
US Distributor: Strand Releasing

Premiere: 11 August 2004 (Locarno Film Festival)
US Premiere: January 2005 (Sundance)

Awards: Special Prize of the Jury, FIPRESCI Prize - Jun Ichikawa (Locarno Film Festival)

Calvaire [The Ordeal] - dir. Fabrice Du Welz

Fabrice Du Welz showcases a number of traits that seem to have disappeared in the horror genre. He's certainly a commendable visual artist, and with Calvaire and the later Vinyan, he appears well-versed in the traditions of American and European horror which makes Calvaire a much, much better reworking of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre than both the putrid official remake and Xavier Gens' vacant Frontière(s). Gens seems preoccupied with the nastiness of Massacre, which is such a common mannerism that it seldom, if ever, works when there's nothing to substantiate the grizzly malevolence. Thankfully, Du Welz focuses on Massacre's absurdist qualities, and this is what makes Calviare the tastier descendent.

With: Laurent Lucas, Jackie Berroyer, Brigitte Lahaie, Philippe Nahon, Jean-Luc Couchard, Philippe Grand'Henry, Gigi Coursigny
Screenplay: Fabrice Du Welz, Romain Protat
Cinematography: Benoît Debie
Music: Vincent Cahay
Country of Origin: France/Belgium/Luxembourg
US Distributor: Palm Pictures

Premiere: 18 May 2004 (Cannes Film Festival)
US Premiere: 11 August 2006 (New York City)

You, the Living, Finally in the US

You, the Living [Du levande] - dir. Roy Andersson - 2007 - Sweden/Germany/France/Denmark/Norway/Japan - Palisades Tartan

Over two years after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Roy Andersson's astounding You, the Living, a sequel of sorts to Songs from the Second Floor from 2000, finally makes its official US premiere in New York this week after being left in limbo after Tartan Films USA closed its doors. For those familiar with Songs from the Second Floor, You, the Living is a continuation of Andersson's vibrant style and bizarre humor, chronicling moments in the lives of a selective group of a Sweden city.

While Songs from the Second Floor was shrouded in a grim, apocalyptic tone, most of those who've seen You, the Living have agreed that what separates the two is the latter's beaming serenity. One sequence in particular, involving a young newlywed couple in a moving house, is one of the most spectacularly incandescent scenes I've seen in a really long time. You, the Living is just one of the amazing films from some of the most dazzling filmmakers from around the world that will make its US premiere, after dangling in distribution oblivion, this year. Keep your eye out for György Pálfi's Taxidermia in August from here! Films and Ulrich Seidl's Import/Export, also from Palisades Tartan.

The Decade List: Awards (2004)

There's maybe too much to say about the year 2004 in regard to its various film festival and industry awards, but I'll keep it brief. 1.) Tropical Malady was the best film to play at Cannes in 2004, hands down, so was it the fact that Quentin Tarantino was head of the jury that it only nabbed the Prix du jury? I'd venture to say yes. Although Isabelle Huppert's jury also quite liked Park Chan-wook's Thirst, so... 2.) Hilary Swank wins her second Best Actress Oscar, and for some reason, I don't mind, if only because Annette Bening gives me a raging headache. 3.) 2004 was the douche-iest year for the Independent Spirit Awards. A Sideways sweep? Best first film: Garden State? Best film made for under $500,000: Mean Creek? Best documentary: Metallica: Some Kind of Monster? I think I was happier with the Oscar picks. 4.) Fuck the Razzies. I still do not understand what it is they're trying to convey by giving George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Britney Spears "awards" for their roles in Fahrenheit 9/11. Someone please explain what it was they were trying to say to me with that. 5.) I still haven't seen Vera Drake, but I'll always think fondly of it as it was the punch-line of one of my favorite moments of Ricky Gervais' Extras.


Palme d'Or: Fahrenheit 9/11 [d. Michael Moore]
Grand Prix: Oldboy [d. Park Chan-wook]
Prix du jury: Tropical Malady [d. Apichatpong Weerasethakul]; also Irma P. Hall - The Ladykillers, for her acting
Best Director: Tony Gatlif - Exils (Exiles)
Best Actor: Yûya Yagira - Nobody Knows
Best Actress: Maggie Cheung - Clean
Best Screenplay: Agnès Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri - Comme une image (Look at Me)
Technical Grand Prize: Éric Gauthier - Clean; Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)
Camera d'Or: Or (My Treasure) [d. Keren Yedaya]


Golden Lion: Vera Drake [d. Mike Leigh]
Grand Special Jury Prize: Mar adentro (The Sea Inside) [d. Alejandro Amenábar]
Best Actor: Javier Bardem - Mar adentro
Best Actress: Imelda Staunton - Vera Drake
Career Golden Lion: Manoel de Oliveira, Stanley Donen


People's Choice Award: Hotel Rwanda [d. Terry George]
Discovery Award: Omagh [d. Pete Travis]
Best Canadian Feature: It's All Gone Pete Tong [d. Michael Dowse]


Golden Bear: Gegen die Wand (Head-On) [d. Fatih Akin]
Best Director: Kim Ki-duk - Samaritan Girl
Best Actor: Daniel Hendler - El abrazo partido (Lost Embrace)
Best Actress: (tie) Catalina Sandino Moreno - Maria Full of Grace; Charlize Theron - Monster
Jury Grand Prix: El abrazo partido [d. Daniel Burman]
Outstanding Artistic Achievment: Om jag vänder mig om (Daybreak), to its outstanding cast
Honorary Golden Bear: Fernando E. Solanas
Teddy (Feature): Wild Side [d. Sébastien Lifshitz]
Teddy (Documentary): The Nomi Song [d. Andrew Horn]


Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic): Primer [d. Shane Carruth]
Grand Jury Prize (Documentary): DiG! [d. Ondi Timoner]
Director (Dramatic): Debra Granik - Down to the Bone
Director (Documentary): Morgan Spurlock - Super Size Me
Special Jury Prize (Dramatic): (tie) Rodney Evans - Brother to Brother; Vera Farmiga - Down to the Bone, for her performance
Special Jury Prize (Documentary): Catherine Tambini, Carlos Sandoval - Farmingville
Cinematography (Dramatic): Nancy Schreiber - November
Cinematography (Documentary): Ferne Pearlstein - Imelda
Audience Award (Dramatic): Maria Full of Grace [d. Joshua Marston]
Audience Award (Documentary): Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids [d. Ross Kauffman]
Audience Award (World Cinema): La grande séduction (Seducing Dr. Lewis) [d. Jean-François Pouliot]
Audience Award (World Cinema Documentary): The Corporation [d. Jennifer Abbott, Mark Achbar]

Academy Awards

Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby [d. Clint Eastwood]
Best Director: Clint Eastwood - Million Dollar Baby
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx - Ray
Best Actress: Hilary Swank - Million Dollar Baby
Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman - Million Dollar Baby
Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett - The Aviator
Best Original Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor - Sideways
Best Cinematography: Robert Richardson - The Aviator
Best Documentary: Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids [d. Ross Kauffman]
Best Foreign Film: Mar adentro (The Sea Inside) [d. Alejandro Amenábar]
Best Animated Feature: The Incredibles [d. Brad Bird]
Honorary Award: Sidney Lumet


Best Film: The Aviator [d. Martin Scorsese]
Best Director: Mike Leigh - Vera Drake
Best British Film: My Summer of Love [d. Pawel Pawlikowski]
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx - Ray
Best Actress: Imelda Staunton - Vera Drake
Best Supporting Actor: Clive Owen - Closer
Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett - The Aviator
Best Original Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor - Sideways
Best Cinematography: Dion Beebe, Paul Cameron - Collateral
Film Not in the English Language: Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries) [d. Walter Salles]

European Film Awards

Best Film: Gegen die Wand (Head-On) [d. Fatih Akin]
Best Director: Alejandro Amenábar - Mar adentro (The Sea Inside)
Best Actor: Javier Bardem - Mar adentro
Best Actress: Imelda Staunton - Vera Drake
Best Cinematography: Eduardo Serra - Girl with a Pearl Earring
Best Screenplay: Agnès Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri - Comme une image (Look at Me)
Best Documentary: Darwin's Nightmare [d. Hubert Sauper]
Discovery: Certi bambini (A Children's Story) [d. Andrea Frazzi, Antonio Frazzi]
Screen International: 2046 [d. Wong Kar-wai]
Audience Award (Actor): Daniel Brühl - Was nützt die Liebe in Gedanken (Love in Thoughts)
Audience Award (Actress): Penélope Cruz - Non ti muovere (Don't Move)
Audience Award (Director): Fatih Akin - Gegen die Wand
Life Achievement Award: Carlos Saura

Independent Spirit

Best Feature: Sideways [d. Alexander Payne]
Best First Feature: Garden State [d. Zach Braff]
Best Director: Alexander Payne - Sideways
Best Male Lead: Paul Giamatti - Sideways
Best Female Lead: Catalina Sandino Moreno - Maria Full of Grace
Best Supporting Male: Thomas Haden Church - Sideways
Best Supporting Female: Virginia Madsen - Sideways
Best Debut Performance: Rodrigo De la Serna - Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)
Best Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor - Sideways
Best First Screenplay: Joshua Marston - Maria Full of Grace
Best Cinematography: Eric Gautier - Diarios de motocicleta
Best Documentary: Metallica: Some Kind of Monster [d. Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky]
Best Foreign Film: Mar adentro (The Sea Inside) [d. Alejandro Amenábar]
John Cassavetes Award (for features made for under $500,000): Mean Creak [d. Jacob Aaron Estes]
Someone to Watch Award: Jem Cohen - Chain

Golden Globes

Picture (Drama): The Aviator [d. Martin Scorsese]
Picture (Comedy/Musical): Sideways [d. Alexander Payne]
Director: Clint Eastwood - Million Dollar Baby
Actor (D): Leonardo DiCaprio - The Aviator
Actress (D): Hilary Swank - Million Dollar Baby
Actor (M/C): Jamie Foxx - Ray
Actress (M/C): Annette Bening - Being Julia
Supporting Actor: Clive Owen - Closer
Supporting Actress: Natalie Portman - Closer
Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor - Sideways
Foreign Film: Mar adentro (The Sea Inside) [d. Alejandro Amenábar]
Cecil B. DeMille Award: Robin Williams

Césars Awards

Best Film (Meilleur film): L'esquive (Games of Love and Chance) [d. Abdel Kechiche]
Best Director (Meilleur réalisateur): Abdel Kechiche - L'esquive
Best Actor (Meilleur acteur): Mathieu Amalric - Rois et reine (Kings and Queen)
Best Actress (Meilleure actrice): Yolande Moreau - Quand la mer monte... (When the Sea Rises...)
Best Supporting Actor (Meilleur acteur dans un second rôle): Clovis Cornillac - Mensonges et trahisons et plus si affinités
Best Supporting Actress (Meilleure actrice dans un second rôle): Marion Cotillard - Un long dimanche de fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement)
Most Promising Actor (Meilleur espoir masculin): Gaspard Ulliel - Un long dimanche de fiançailles
Most Promising Actress (Meilleur espoir féminin): Sara Forestier - L'esquive
Best Screenplay (Meilleur scénario): Abdel Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix - L'esquive
Best Cinematography (Meilleure photographie): Bruno Delbonnel - Un long dimanche de fiançailles
Best Foreign Film (Meilleur film étranger): Lost in Translation [d. Sofia Coppola]
Best European Union Film (Meilleur film de l'Union Européenne): (tie) Ae Fond Kiss... [d. Ken Loach]; Život je čudo (Life Is a Miracle) [d. Emir Kusturica]
Best First Film (Meilleur premier film): Quand la mer monte... [d. Yolande Moreau, Gilles Porte]
Honorary César: Micheline Presle


Worst Film: Catwoman [d. Pitof]
Worst Director: Pitof - Catwoman
Worst Actor: George W. Bush - Fahrenheit 9/11
Worst Actress: Halle Berry - Catwoman
Worst Supporting Actor: Donald Rumsfeld - Fahrenheit 9/11
Worst Supporting Actress: Britney Spears - Fahrenheit 9/11
Worst Screenplay: Theresa Rebeck, John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris, John Rogers - Catwoman
Worst Remake/Sequel: Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed [d. Raja Gosnell]

30 July 2009

New Denis, Rivette, Ferrara, Chéreau, Akin, Sequels to Repo Man, Tetsuo at Venice 09

The official Venice Film Festival line-up was announced today in Italy with some very exciting prospects, not least of which the latest from Claire Denis and Jacques Rivette. The fest will show their national spirit by opening with (groan) Giuseppe Tornatore's latest Baarìa (in other Tornatore news, did you know Miramax remade Everybody's Fine with Robert De Niro, Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore and Kate Beckinsale? It'll be out later this year). A number of the films announced will also screen at this year's Toronto. I suspect Toronto might have been waiting for Venice's announcement to add the final details to their roster. My long-shot of a hope that Sébastien Lifshitz's Plein sud would premiere there didn't happen (its release has also been moved to December in France), but otherwise, 2009 has been a pretty promising year at the big festivals. If that's only by name and/or prestige, I can't say... But can we at least expect an Abel Ferrara/Werner Herzog showdown in Venice this year?

In Competition

- 36 vues du Pic Saint-Loup - d. Jacques Rivette - w. Jane Birkin, Sergio Castellitto, Jacques Bonnaffé, André Marcon
- Accident - Cheang Pou-Soi (Dog Bite Dog)
- Baarìa, la porta del vento - d. Giuseppe Tornatore - w. Monica Bellucci, Raoul Bova, Ángela Molina
- Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans - d. Werner Herzog
- Between Two Worlds - Vimukthi Jayasundara (The Foresaken Land)
- Capitalism: A Love Story - d. Michael Moore
- La doppia ora - d. Giuseppe Capotondi (directorial debut) - w. Filippo Timi
- Il grande sogno - d. Michele Placido (Romanzo criminale) - w. Riccardo Scamarcio, Laura Morante
- Lebanon - d. Samuel Maoz
- Life During Wartime - d. Todd Solondz
- Lourdes - d. Jessica Hausner - w. Sylvie Testud, Bruno Todeschini, Léa Seydoux
- Mr. Nobody - d. Jaco van Dormael (Le huitième jour, Toto le héros) - w. Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger, Rhys Ifans
- Persécution - d. Patrice Chéreau - w. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Romain Duris, Jean-Hughes Anglade
- Prince of Tears - Yonfan (Bishonen)
- The Road - d. John Hillcoat (The Proposition) - w. Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Robert Duvall, Michael K. Williams, Molly Parker, Garret Dillahunt
- A Single Man - d. Tom Ford (yes, the designer) - w. Julianne Moore, Colin Firth, Matthew Goode, Gennifer Goodwin
- Soul Kitchen - d. Fatih Akin - w. Birol Ünel, Moritz Bleibtreu
- Lo spazio bianco - d. Francesca Comencini (Visions of Europe) - w. Margherita Buy, Salvatore Cantalupo
- Survival of the Dead - d. George A. Romero - w. Kenneth Welsh, Devon Bostick (really, in competition?)
- Tetsuo: The Bullet Man - d. Shinya Tsukamoto
- The Traveller - Ahmed Maher
- White Material - d. Claire Denis - w. Isabelle Huppert, Isaach De Bankolé, Christopher Lambert, Nicolas Duvauchelle
- Women Without Men - d. Shirin Neshat

Out of Competition

- [REC] 2 - d. Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
- Anni luce - d. Francesco Maselli (L'amore in città)
- Chengdu, I Love You - d. Fruit Chan, Cui Jian
- The Hole - d. Joe Dante (Gremlins, The 'burbs) - w. Bruce Dern, Teri Polo
- The Informant! - d. Steven Soderbergh
- The Men Who Stare at Goats - d. Grant Heslov (HBO's Unscripted) - w. Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Stephen Lang
- Napoli Napoli Napoli - d. Abel Ferrara
- L'oro di Cuba - d. Giuliano Montaldo (Sacco & Vanzetti)
- Prove per una tragedia Siciliana - d. John Turturro, Roman Paska
- Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story - d. Yousry Nasrallah (La porte du soleil)
- South of the Border - d. Oliver Stone
- Yona Yona Penguin - d. Rintaro (Metropolis)

Midnight Movies

- Brooklyn's Finest - d. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) - w. Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes, Lili Taylor, Ellen Barkin, Will Patton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Brian F. O'Byrne
- Delhi-6 - d. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
- Dev D - d. Anurag Kashyap
- Gulaal - d. Anurag Kashyap
- Valhalla Rising - d. Nicolas Winding Refn (the Pusher series) - w. Mads Mikkelsen, Jamie Sives


- 1428 - d. Du Haibin (China)
- Adrift - d. Bui Thac Chuyên (Vietnam)
- Buried Secrets - d. Raja Amari (Satin Rouge, Tunisia)
- Il colore delle parole - d. Marco Simon Puccioni (Riparo, Italy)
- Cow - d. Guan Hu (China)
- Crush - d. Pyotr Buslov, Aleksei German Jr., Boris Khlebnikov, Kirill Serebrennikov, Ivan Vrypayev (Russia)
- Engkwentro - d. Pepe Diokno (Philippines)
- Francesca - d. Bobby Paunescu (Romania) - w. Luminita Gheorghiu
- I Travel Because I Have To, I Come Back Because I Love You - d. Marcelo Gomes (Cinema, Aspirinas e Urubus), Karim Ainouz (Brazil)
- Insolacao - d. Daniela Thomas, Felipe Hirsch (Brazil)
- Io sono l'amore [I Am Love] - d. Luca Guadagnino (Melissa P.) - w. Tilda Swinton
- Judge - Liu Jie (China)
- The Man's Woman and Other Stories - d. Amit Dutta (India)
- Once Upon a Time Proletarian: 12 Tales of a Country - d. Guo Xiaolu (China)
- The One All Alone - d. Frank Scheffer (Netherlands)
- One-Zero - d. Kamla Abou Zekry (Egypt)
- Paraiso - d. Héctor Gálvez (Peru)
- Pepperminta - d. Pipilotti Rist (Switzerland) - w. Sabine Timoteo
- Repo Chick - d. Alex Cox (U.S.)
- Tender Parasites [Zarte Parasiten] - d. Christian Becker, Oliver Schwabe (Germany)
- Toto - d. Peter Schreiner (Austria)
- Tris di donne e abiti nunziali - d. Martina Gedeck (Italy)
- Villalobos - d. Romuald Karmakar (Deutschland 09, Germany)

There were a few more events named, including some stuff from Werner Herzog, Aleksandr Sokurov, Tinto Brass and Phillip Haas. There was also a New Italian Cinema Trends side-bar that I didn't post -- but you can get the titles via Variety. I'll post more when I hear of it.

29 July 2009

DVD Release Update, 29 July: Buñuel, Jarmusch, Egoyan, Claudette Colbert

Luis Buñuel's Death in the Garden will make its DVD premiere on 27 October from Tranflux Films; dates have also been set for Atom Egoyan's Adoration, on DVD and Blu-ray, and Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control, only on DVD it seems. Universal also announced a box-set entitled The Claudette Colbert Legacy Collection, with six films new to DVD, including Mitchell Leisen's No Time for Love and Ernst Lubitsch's Bluebeard's Eighth Wife.

- OMG/HaHaHa, 2007, d. Morgan Jon Fox, Water Bearer Films, 29 September
- Adoration, 2008, d. Atom Egoyan, Sony Pictures, also on Blu-ray, 13 October
- Every Little Step, 2008, d. Adam Del Deo, James D. Stern, Sony Pictures, 13 October
- Jack Brown Genius, 1994, d. Tony Hiles, Lionsgate, 13 October, w. Martin Csokas
- Death in the Garden [La mort en ce jardin], 1956, d. Luis Buñuel, Transflux Films, 27 October, w. Simone Signoret, Michel Piccoli
- Five Element Ninjas, 1982, d. Chang Cheh, Tokyo Shock, 27 October
- The Narrows, 2008, d. François Velle, Image Entertainment, also on Blu-ray, 3 November, w. Vincent D'Onofrio, Kevin Zegers
- Say Anything..., 1989, d. Cameron Crowe, 20th Century Fox, 20th Anniversary Edition, also on Blu-ray, 3 November
- Franklyn, 2008, d. Gerald McMorrow, Image Entertainment, also on Blu-ray, 17 November, w. Eva Green, Sam Riley, Ryan Phillippe
- The Limits of Control, 2009, d. Jim Jarmusch, Focus Features, 17 November

The Claudette Colbert Legacy Collection, Universal, 3 November

- Three-Cornered Moon, 1933, d. Elliott Nugent
- Maid of Salem, 1937, d. Frank Lloyd
- I Met Him in Paris, 1937, d. Wesley Ruggles
- Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, 1938, d. Ernst Lubitsch
- No Time for Love, 1943, d. Mitchell Leisen
- The Egg and I, 1947, d. Chester Erskine

More from Toronto: Pippa Lee, Bad Lieutenant, Michael Moore, Coens and Danis Tanovic

Sorry for the delay, but Toronto unveiled another crop of films playing in September the other day. They include a new offering from the Coen brothers, Werner Herzog's not-remake of Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant, Michael Moore's latest, Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, Danis Tanovic's English-language debut and the North American premiere of Rebecca Miller's The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.

- Dorian Gray - d. Oliver Parker - w. Colin Firth
- The Private Lives of Pippa Lee - d. Rebecca Miller - w. Robin Wright Penn, Alan Arkin, Winona Ryder, Mario Bello, Shirley Knight, Keanu Reeves, Blake Lively, Julianne Moore, Monica Bellucci
- Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans - d. Werner Herzog - w. Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer, Eva Mendes, Jennifer Coolidge, Fairuza Balk, Brad Dourif, Xzibit, Irma P. Hall
- Capitalism: A Love Story - d. Michael Moore
- Harry Brown - d. Daniel Barber - w. Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer
- Perrier's Bounty - d. Ian Fitzgibbon - w. Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy
- A Serious Man - d. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen - w. Adam Arkin
- Triage - d. Danis Tanovic - w. Christopher Lee, Colin Farrell, Paz Vega, Kelly Reilly, Juliet Stevenson, Jamie Sives
- Whip It - d. Drew Barrymore - w. Ellen Page, Barrymore, Alia Shawkat, Juliette Lewis, Kristen Wiig, Marcia Gay Harden, Zoe Bell, Eve, Ari Graynor

The Decade List: Albums/Singles (2004)

As I've threatened to change a few things up with The Decade List, I've begun by making some stylistic changes with the Music section. There are a few changes to the "Assorted Jams," which I'll mention below. So, 2004? In doing some research, I discovered that, unlike in the film world, 2004 was a pretty lame year for music. While I love everything I've listed below, they didn't seem like enough. Maybe it was that my darling PJ Harvey released what I consider to be her weakest album, Uh Huh Her (or at least the one I listen to the least). Despite that, Ms. Harvey had a busy year, writing (or co-writing) five songs off Marianne Faithfull's wonderful Before the Poison (which also features tracks from Nick Cave and Damon Albarn) and lending her voice to three tracks on Mark Lanegan's excellent Bubblegum. In all honesty, I started listening to most of the bands whose albums are listed below after 2004 (Grizzly Bear, Sufjan, Animal Collective, Blonde Redhead), but without them, I'd have a pretty shabby list. The albums are ranked in loose order of preference; there are 18 to be exact as I needed a round number (sorry Magnetic Fields).

Grizzly Bear - Horn of Plenty
Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans
Marianne Faithfull - Before the Poison
Mark Lanegan Band - Bubblegum
Animal Collective - Sung Tongs
Feist - Let It Die
Blonde Redhead - Misery Is a Butterfly
Kanye West - The College Dropout
PJ Harvey - Uh Huh Her
Tom Waits - Real Gone
Bethany Curve - Flaxen
Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse
Lanterna - Highways
Junior Boys - Last Exit
Jens Lekman - When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog
Arcade Fire - Funeral

Assorted Jams from the Year 2004

For a change of pace, I decided to shift things a bit. By mere chance, I came up with 75 songs, many of which by duplicate artists, and instead of suffering through the task of ranking them all, I singled out the 15 best and, like the albums, placed them in descending order based on vague preference. Numbers were omitted for reasons of uncertainty. I'm sure if I organized them next week, they'd change in some form. 13 of the 15 below are all-time stunners, while 2 of them (namely, "Float On" and "Rich Girl") were the hot tracks of their respective seasons (summer for Modest Mouse, winter for Gwen and Eve) and will always take me lovingly back to those fine days (even if they were only fine in retrospect). And, really, isn't "Rich Girl" such a baffling oddity? Ms. Stefani appears to still be auditioning for the role of Tank Girl in the video, where Eve, returning the favor after "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," joins her on the gayest pirate ship I've ever seen (which thankfully has a special golden harem room for Gwen's Japanese girl accessories). And what about the song itself? A reworking of a tune from Fiddler on the Roof, produced by Dr. Dre? I don't see how you can resist.

For the more rousing tunes ("Leaf House," "Hit the City," "Make It Rain," "Jesus Walks," "The Mystery of Love" and "Future") I would much rather you hear them for the first time in their highest quality (with headphones, preferably, though blaring them in your car would work as well), as I don't think one can get the full experience from the various streaming links I provided. The consecutive 60 are not in any special order. I'm moving the film music to another section for now.

The Top 15

Animal Collective - "Leaf House" [from Sung Tongs]
Grizzly Bear - "Don't Ask" [from Horn of Plenty]
Mark Lanegan Band featuring PJ Harvey - "Hit the City" [from Bubblegum]
Sufjan Stevens - "To Be Alone with You" [from Seven Swans]
Tom Waits - "Make It Rain" [from Real Gone]
Feist - "Let It Die" [from Let It Die]
Kanye West - "Jesus Walks" [from The College Dropout]
José González - "Hand on Your Heart" [from Stay in the Shade EP] (yes, it's a Kylie cover)
Blonde Redhead - "Misery Is a Butterfly" [from Misery Is a Butterfly]
Marianne Faithfull - "The Mystery of Love" [from Before the Poison]
Kylie Minogue - "I Believe in You" [from the I Believe in You single]
The Soft Pink Truth - "Confession (Nervous Gender)" [from Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want The Soft Pink Truth?"]
Gwen Stefani featuring Eve - "Rich Girl" [from Love. Angel. Music. Baby.]
Cut Copy - "Future" [from Bright Like Neon Love]
Modest Mouse - "Float On" [from Good News for People Who Love Bad News]

Les autres

PJ Harvey - "Shame" [from Uh Huh Her]
Françoise Hardy "Sur quel volcan?" [from Tant de belles choses]
Lanterna - "Canyons" [from Highways]
Auburn Lull - "Deterior" [from Cast from the Platform]
Bethany Curve - "The Automatic" [from Flaxen]
Jens Lekman - "If You Ever Need a Stranger (to Sing at Your Wedding)" [from When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog]
DeVotchKa - "You Love Me" [from How It Ends]
The Magnetic Fields - "I Don't Believe You" [from i]
Arcade Fire - "Rebellion (Lies)" [from Funeral]
Sonic Youth - "Unmade Bed" [from Sonic Nurse]

Junior Boys - "Bellona" [from Last Exit] (Couldn't find this one, sorry)
Elf Power - "The Cracks" [from Walking with the Beggar Boys]
Marianne Faithfull - "Desperanto" [from Before the Poison] (Unfortunately, I couldn't find this streaming either)
PJ Harvey - "The Darker Days of Me & Him" [from Uh Huh Her]
Sufjan Stevens - "The Dress Looks Nice on You" [from Seven Swans]
Franz Ferdinand - "Michael" [from Franz Ferdinand]
Ciara featuring Ludacris - "Oh" [from Goodies]
Björk featuring Kelis - "Oceania" [from the Oceania single]
Blonde Redhead - "Doll Is Mine" [from Misery Is a Butterfly] (I'd prefer you watch the entire 15 minutes of Betrand Bonello's short Cindy, the Doll Is Mine with Asia Argento as Cindy Sherman, instead of cutting out the segment where the song is used)
Animal Collective - "Kids on Holiday" [from Sung Tongs]

French Kicks - "One More Time" [from The Trial of the Century]
Rilo Kiley - "I Never" [from More Adventurous]
Cut Copy - "That Was Just a Dream" [from Bright Like Neon Love]
Grizzly Bear - "Deep Sea Diver" [from Horn of Plenty]
PJ Harvey - "You Come Through" [from Uh Huh Her]
George Michael - "Freeek!" [from Patience] (thanks, Mike!)
DeVotchKa - "How It Ends" [from How It Ends]
Moonbabies - "You Know How It Is" [from The Orange Billboard] (you can listen to it streaming here, but I can't directly link to it)
Sufjan Stevens - "All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands" [from Seven Swans]
Autolux - "Here Comes Everybody" [from Future Perfect]

Pinback - "Soaked" [from Summer in Abaddon]
Mark Lanegan Band - "Methamphetamine Blues" [from Bubblegum]
Annie - "Heartbeat" [from Anniemal]
Sonic Youth - "I Love You Golden Blue" [from Sonic Nurse]
90 Day Men - "Too Late or Too Dead" [from Panda Park]
Usher - "Confessions, Part II" [from Confessions]
Grizzly Bear - "La Duchess Anne" [from Horn of Plenty]
Crime Mob featuring Miss Aisha - "Stilletos (Pumps)" [from Crime Mob] (um, yes, we rockin' stilletos, ho!)
Efterklang - "Swarming" [from Tripper]
Destiny's Child featuring T.I. and Lil Wayne - "Soldier" [from Destiny Fulfilled]

The Walkmen - "The Rat" [from Bows + Arrows]
Sia - "Breathe Me" [from Colour the Small One] (for the obvious reason, right?)
Stereolab - "Margerine Melodie" [from Margerine Eclipse]
Franz Ferdinand - "Take Me Out" [from Franz Ferdinand]
Ambulance LTD - "Heavy Lifting" [from LP]
Feist - "Inside and Out" [from Let It Die]
Ciara featuring Missy Elliott - "1, 2 Step" [from Goodies]
Elliott Smith - "Twilight" [from From a Basement on a Hill]
Björk - "Triumph of a Heart" [from Medúlla]
Trick Daddy featuring Ludacris and Cee-Lo - "Sugar" [from Thug Matrimony - Married to the Streets]

PJ Harvey - "Uh Huh Her" (this was never released the album it was named after, nor any of its singles, but you can find a good studio version of it on 'iTunes Originals - PJ Harvey')
Feist - "Mushaboom" [from Let It Die]
The Magnetic Fields - "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend" [from i]
Destiny's Child - "Girl" [from Destiny Fulfilled] (ignore the lame Sex & the City video, and think of it as an after-school special sung... and it's fantastic!)
Neko Case - "If You Knew" [from The Tigers Have Spoken]
Phoenix - "Holdin' On Together" [from Alphabetical]
Interpol - "Evil" [from Antics]
Iron and Wine - "Naked As We Came" [from Our Endless Numbered Days]
Ashanti - "Only U" [from Concrete Rose]
of Montreal - "Disconnect the Dots" [from Satanic Panic in the Attic]