31 August 2009

The Decade List: Awards (2005)

For the sake of not going on a tirade about you-know-what, I'll just leave the awards section without any commentary. So here it is.

Cannes, held 11-22 May 2005

Palme d'Or: L'enfant [d. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne]
Grand Prix: Broken Flowers [d. Jim Jarmusch]
Prix du jury: Shanghai Dreams [d. Wang Xiaoshuai]
Best Director: Michael Haneke - Caché
Best Actor: Tommy Lee Jones - The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Best Actress: Hana Laszlo - Free Zone
Best Screenplay: Guillaume Arriaga - The Three Burials of Mesquiades Estrada
Technical Grand Prize: (tie) Leslie Shatz - Last Days (for the sound design); Robert Rodriguez - Sin City (for the visual shaping)
Camera d'Or: (tie) Me and You and Everyone We Know [d. Miranda July], The Forsaken Land [d. Vimukthi Jayasundara]

Venice, held 31 August-10 September 2005

Golden Lion: Brokeback Mountain [d. Ang Lee]
Grand Special Jury Prize: Mary [d. Abel Ferrara]
Best Director: Philippe Garrel - Les amants réguliers (Regular Lovers)
Best Actor: David Strathairn - Good Night, and Good Luck.
Best Actress: Giovanna Mezzogiorno - La bestia nel cuore (Don't Tell)
Best Screenplay: George Clooney, Grant Heslov - Good Night, and Good Luck.
Career Golden Lion: Manoel de Oliveira, Stanley Donen

Toronto, held 8-17 September 2005

People's Choice Award: Tsotsi [d. Gavin Hood]
Discovery Award: Look Both Ways [d. Sarah Watt]
Best Canadian Feature: C.R.A.Z.Y. [d. Jean-Marc Vallée]

Berlin, held 10-20 February 2005

Golden Bear: U-Carmen [d. Mark Dornford-May]
Best Director: Marc Rothermund - Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl: The Last Days)
Best Actor: Lou Taylor Pucci - Thumbsucker
Best Actress: Julie Jentsch - Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage
Jury Grand Prix: Peacock [d. Gu Changwei]
Outstanding Artistic Achievment: The Wayward Cloud [d. Tsai Ming-liang]
Honorary Golden Bear: Fernando Fernán Gómez, Im Kwon-taek
Teddy (Feature): Un año sin amor (A Year Without Love) [d. Anahí Berneri]
Teddy (Documentary): Katzenball [d. Veronika Minder]

Sundance, held 20-30 January 2005

Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic): Forty Shades of Blue [d. Ira Sachs]
Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema): O Herói (The Hero) [d. Zézé Gamboa]
Grand Jury Prize (Documentary): Why We Fight [d. Eugene Jarecki]
Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema Documentary): Shape of the Moon [d. Leonard Retel Helmrich]
Director (Dramatic): Noah Baumbach - The Squid and the Whale
Director (Documentary): Jeff Feuerzeig - The Devil and Daniel Johnston
Special Jury Prize (Dramatic): (tie) Rian Johnson - Brick; Miranda July - Me and You and Everyone We Know (for originality of vision); Amy Adams - Junebug; Lou Taylor Pucci - Thumbsucker (for their performances)
Special Jury Prize (World Cinema): (tie) Jorge Gaggero - Cama adentro (Live-In Maid); Maren Ade - Der Wald vor Iauter Bäumen (The Forest for the Trees)
Special Jury Prize (Documentary): (tie) Jessica Sanders - After Innocence; Geoffrey Richman, Conor O'Neill - Murderball (for the editing)
Special Jury Prize (World Cinema Documentary): (tie) Simone Bitton - Mur (Wall); Sean McAllister - The Liberace of Baghdad
Cinematography (Dramatic): Amy Vincent - Hustle & Flow
Cinematography (Documentary): Gary Griffin - The Education of Shelby Knox
Audience Award (Dramatic): Hustle & Flow [d. Craig Brewer]
Audience Award (Documentary): Murderball [d. Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro]
Audience Award (World Cinema): Brødre (Brothers) [d. Susanne Bier]
Audience Award (World Cinema Documentary): Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire [d. Peter Raymont]

Academy Awards, held 5 March 2006

Best Picture: Crash [d. Paul Haggis]
Best Director: Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
Best Supporting Actor: George Clooney - Syriana
Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
Best Original Screenplay: Paul Haggis, Robert Moresco - Crash
Best Adapted Screenplay: Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana - Brokeback Mountain
Best Cinematography: Dion Beebe - Memoirs of a Geisha
Best Documentary: La marche de l'empereur (March of the Penguins) [d. Luc Jacquet]
Best Foreign Film: Tsotsi [d. Gavin Hood]
Animated Feature: Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit [d. Steve Box, Nick Park]
Honorary Award: Robert Altman

BAFTAs, held 19 February 2006

Best Film: Brokeback Mountain [d. Ang Lee]
Best Director: Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
Best British Film: Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit [d. Steve Box, Nick Park]
Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
Best Supporting Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
Best Supporting Actress: Thandie Newton - Crash
Best Original Screenplay: Paul Haggis, Robert Moresco - Crash
Best Adapted Screenplay: Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana - Brokeback Mountain
Best Cinematography: Dion Beebe - Memoirs of a Geisha
Film Not in the English Language: De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) [d. Jacques Audiard]

European Film Awards, held 3 December 2005

Best Film: Caché [d. Michael Haneke]
Best Director: Michael Haneke - Caché
Best Actor: Daniel Auteuil - Caché
Best Actress: Julia Jentsch - Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl: The Last Days)
Best Cinematography: Franz Lustig - Don't Come Knocking
Best Screenplay: Hany Abu-Assad, Bero Beyer - Paradise Now
Best Documentary: Un dragon dans les eaux pures du Caucase (The Pipeline Next Door) [d. Nino Kirtadze]
Discovery: Anklaget (Accused) [d. Jacob Thuesen]
Screen International: Good Night, and Good Luck. [d. George Clooney]
Audience Award (Actor): Orlando Bloom - Kingdom of Heaven
Audience Award (Actress): Julia Jentsch - Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage
Audience Award (Director): Marc Rothemund - Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage
Life Achievement Award: Sean Connery

Independent Spirit, held 4 March 2006

Best Feature: Brokeback Mountain [d. Ang Lee]
Best First Feature: Crash [d. Paul Haggis]
Best Director: Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
Best Male Lead: Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Best Female Lead: Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
Best Supporting Male: Matt Dillon - Crash
Best Supporting Female: Amy Adams - Junebug
Best Screenplay: Dan Futterman - Capote
Best First Screenplay: Duncan Tucker - Transamerica
Best Cinematography: Robert Elswit - Good Night, and Good Luck.
Best Documentary: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room [d. Alex Gibney]
Best Foreign Film: Paradise Now [d. Hany Abu-Assad]
John Cassavetes Award (for features made for under $500,000): Conventioneers [d. Mora Stephens]
Someone to Watch Award: Neill Dela Llana, Ian Gamazon - Cavite

Golden Globes, held 16 January 2006

Picture (Drama): Brokeback Mountain [d. Ang Lee]
Picture (Comedy/Musical): Walk the Line [d. James Mangold]
Director: Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
Actor (D): Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Actress (D): Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
Actor (M/C): Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
Actress (M/C): Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
Supporting Actor: George Clooney - Syriana
Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
Screenplay: Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana - Brokeback Mountain
Foreign Film: Paradise Now [d. Hany Abu-Assad]
Cecil B. DeMille Award: Anthony Hopkins

Césars Awards, held 25 February 2006

Best Film (Meilleur film): De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) [d. Jacques Audiard]
Best Director (Meilleur réalisateur): Jacques Audiard - De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté
Best Actor (Meilleur acteur): Michel Bouquet - Le promeneur du champ de Mars (The Last Mitterrand)
Best Actress (Meilleure actrice): Nathalie Baye - Le petit lieutenant
Best Supporting Actor (Meilleur acteur dans un second rôle): Niels Arestrup - De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté
Best Supporting Actress (Meilleure actrice dans un second rôle): Cécile De France - Les poupées russes (Russian Dolls)
Most Promising Actor (Meilleur espoir masculin): Louis Garrel - Les amants réguliers (Regular Lovers)
Most Promising Actress (Meilleur espoir féminin): Linh Dan Pham - De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté
Best Original Screenplay (Meilleur scénario original): Radu Mihăileanu, Alain-Michel Blanc - Va, vis et deviens (Live and Become)
Best Adapted Screenplay (Meilleur scénario adaptation): Jacques Audiard, Tonino Benacquista - De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté
Best Cinematography (Meilleure photographie): Stéphane Fontaine - De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté
Best Foreign Film (Meilleur film étranger): Million Dollar Baby [d. Clint Eastwood]
Best First Film (Meilleur premier film): Darwin's Nightmare [d. Hubert Sauper]
Honorary César: Hugh Grant, Pierre Richard

Razzies, given 4 March 2006

Worst Film: Dirty Love [d. John Mallory Asher]
Worst Director: John Mallory Asher - Dirty Love
Worst Actor: Rob Schneider - Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
Worst Actress: Jenny McCarthy - Dirty Love
Worst Supporting Actor: Hayden Christensen - Star Wars: Episode III - The Revenge of the Sith
Worst Supporting Actress: Paris Hilton - House of Wax
Worst Screenplay: Jenny McCarthy - Dirty Love
Worst Remake/Sequel: Son of the Mask [d. Lawrence Guterman]

26 August 2009

R.I.P. Dominick Dunne

Though his contributions to cinema fell second to his journalistic accomplishments, Dominick Dunne acted as producer on three significant films from the 70s: adaptations of his sister-in-law Joan Didion's novels Panic in Needle Park and Play It As It Lays, as well as William Friedkin's The Boys in the Band. His daughter Dominique was the victim of a notorious murder scandal shortly after completing her work in the mythically cursed Poltergeist. He was 83.

25 August 2009

Cinema Guild to Release L.A. Without a Map, Plus Other DVD/Blu-ray Announcements

Cinema Guild has announced Mika Kaurismäki's L.A. Without a Map, their first non-theatrical DVD release since the re-formation of their home video branch after New Yorker's closure, for 10 November. Based on the novel by Richard Rayner, the film, which premiered at the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival, boasts a huge cast which includes Vincent Gallo, Julie Delpy, David Tennant, Vinessa Shaw, Saskia Reeves, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Monte Hellman, Joe Dallesandro, Amanda Plummer, the Leningrad Cowboys, Andre Royo, Jerzy Skolimowski, James LeGros, Robert Davi, Anouk Aimée and Johnny Depp in an uncredited role. Also note that Cinema Guild and Project X's release of Christian Petzold's Ghosts [Gespenster] has been pushed to 3 November.

I went back through the previous DVD release updates to check the status on a couple of films and noticed a few cancellations and a number of date changed. Warner took their Blu-ray release of The Exorcist off their release slate, and Paramount postponed the Centennial Collection of (surprise) The African Queen and Anatole Litvak's Sorry, Wrong Number indefinitely. All of the other date changes, for both DVD and Blu-ray, are listed below the newly announced titles of their respective format.


- Homicide: Life on the Street, The Complete Series, 1993-2000, A&E, 29 September
- Children of the Corn, 2009, d. Donald P. Borchers, Anchor Bay, 6 October
- The Sunchaser, 1996, d. Michael Cimino, Warner, 13 October, w. Woody Harrelson, Jon Seda, Anne Bancroft
- Orphan, 2009, d. Jaume Collet-Serra, Warner, also on Blu-ray, 27 October
- Enlighten Up!, 2008, d. Kate Churchill, New Video, 10 November
- L.A. Without a Map, 1998, d. Mika Kaurismäki, Cinema Guild, 10 November
- Spread, 2009, d. David Mackenzie, Anchor Bay, also on Blu-ray, 10 November
- Moon, 2009, d. Duncan Jones, Sony Pictures, also on Blu-ray, 17 November
- The Open Road, 2009, d. Michael Meredith, Anchor Bay, also on Blu-ray, 17 November, w. Jeff Bridges, Justin Timberlake, Harry Dean Stanton, Mary Steenburgen, Lyle Lovett
- The Rebirth, 2007, d. Masahiro Kobayashi, Facets, 24 November
- Superstar, 2009, d. Tahmineh Milani, Facets, 24 November

DVD Date Changes

- Valentino: The Last Emperor, Phase 4 Films, 8 September
- Chinatown, Centennial Collection, Paramount, 6 October
- The New Hollywood Box Set, Sony, 20 October
- Night of the Creeps, Sony, 27 October (also on Blu-ray, which wasn't initially announced)
- Rashevski's Tango [Le tango des Rashevski], Menemsha Films, 27 October
- The Sam Fuller Collection, Sony, 27 October
- Ghosts [Gespenster], Project X/Cinema Guild, 3 November


- Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1966, d. Chuck Jones, Ben Washam, Warner, 6 October
- Galaxy Quest, 1999, d. Dean Parisot, DreamWorks, 17 November
- The Way of the Gun, 2000, d. Christopher McQuarrie, Lionsgate, 24 November

Blu-ray Date Changes

- Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Sony, 6 October
- Wolf, Sony, 6 October
- Easy Rider, Sony, 20 October
- Ichi the Killer, Tokyo Shock, 20 October
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacaction, Ultimate Collectors Edition, Warner, 3 November
- Chasing Amy, Miramax, 17 November
- Clerks, Miramax, 17 November
- Fight Club, 20th Century Fox, 17 November

Pick Your Favorite Siren: More Great Moments in Bad Cover Art

Since I know a number of you already traded in your month-old Criterion discs of Repulsion in favor of Koch's exquisitely packaged "Cinema Sirens" edition, I thought you might like to collect some of your other favorite silver screen ladies, crudely photoshopped into always-appropriate beach attire. My personal favorite you can find above. Vittorio De Sica's Two Women [La ciociara] was a landmark film, introducing American audiences to the imitable Sophia Loren, who became the first actor to win a Best Actress Oscar for a performance not in the English-language with this film. A devastating WWII-era drama about a mother's attempts to keep her daughter safe from the bombings in Rome deserves some classy artwork. So what better than the beautiful Loren in fishnet stockings and clown make-up looking like she's ready to lay an egg? Wasn't there a horrific rape scene in Two Women? I guess that's really beside the point.

All of these ladies know a good bikini is only as good as the high heels you pair with them... which is why Ava Gardner on the cover of The Snows of Kilimanjaro is by far the weakest. Those ankle-strapped low heels are not what I expect out of a Cinema Siren... and why did Koch choose Gardner over the film's star, Miss Susan Hayward? She doesn't even get a mention on the box, and you know mauve is her color! I could complain about the choice of Jayne Mansfield over Phyllis Diller on the box for The Fat Spy, but they didn't even bother to ask Phyllis how she prefers to spell her name. I think I like the extra S; the extra hiss sounds more appropriate for her. Mansfield and Brigitte Bardot must have both asked for the Blondie comic strip hue at the salon. That color is always à la mode. Sadly, I couldn't find a decent-looking cover for a belly-dancing Gina Lollobrigida in Bambole, but you can get a glimpse of it here. The cover touts "Three Italian Bombshells in Four Comedic Vignettes; Also Starring Elke Sommer and Verna Lisi;" I guess that means Monica Vitti isn't a bombshell, Virna Lisi changed her name and Elke Sommer is no longer German. So which siren will you be taking home with you??

Attention Saint Louis Area Cine- and/or Francophiles

Cinema St. Louis and Washington University's Program in Film and Media Studies are presenting their first French Film Festival this coming weekend, 28-30 August. Screening this year are Rialto's restored prints of Jean-Luc Godard's Made in U.S.A. and Max Ophüls' Lola Montès, as well as a trio of contemporary films: Phlippe Ramos' Captain Ahab [Capitaine Achab], with Denis Lavant, Jacques Bonnaffé, Dominique Blanc, Jean-François Stévenin and Lou Castel; Serge Bozon's La France, with Sylvie Testud and Pascal Greggory; and Pascal Thomas' Towards Zero [L'heure zéro], with François Morel, Danielle Darrieux, Chiara Mastroianni, Melvil Poupaud and Laura Smet. For full descriptions of the films, as well as screening times (they will all play at Washington University's Brown Hall Auditorium), check out Cinema St. Louis' website.

23 August 2009

Great Moments in Bad Cover Artwork

Inspired by the hideousness that is Lionsgate's cover for John Huston's The Dead, I've been tempted to possibly start a new feature on the blog which will highlight some of the worst DVD covers to surface in the twelve or so years the format has existed. Anyone who has ever worked at a video store or a movie theatre (as I have) could probably spot off at least five awful clichés that plague the world of poster and DVD artwork ("Floating Heads" being the most pervasive, irritating offender). If this does turn into a regular thing on my blog, expect themed posts, such as "Good Films, Bad Covers," "Did you hire your brother to put this together on Microsoft Paint?," "Ethnic Girl Shrugging Her Shoulders," "Offensive Photoshopping," "From Asia, With Love," "Just Because Julia Roberts' Head on a Model's Body Worked on the Poster for Pretty Woman Doesn't Mean It Does Here," as well as a few tributes to the studios who've consistently released ugly covers (Lionsgate, Sony, Koch Lorber, The Weinstein Company/Miramax) and to the gay direct-to-DVD market, who've never ceased to amaze me with their contributions to bad package art. So here are 10 dreadful examples of DVD cover "magic."

1. Repulsion, d. Roman Polanski, Koch Vision, as part of their "Cinema Sirens" Collection, 2001

Probably the most notorious of Koch's "Cinema Sirens" series, which also includes some former public domain flicks starring Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Ava Gardner, Jayne Mansfield, Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot. With a simple cut and paste, Koch rendered Roman Polanski's terrifying, claustrophobic nightmare into a bargain-bin clunker. One of the worst parts about this cover is that they obviously recognized that what they were releasing was a quality motion picture ("Roman Polanski's psychological masterpiece"), but unfortunately the best way to sell it was with Catherine Deneuve's head on a blurry, purple with polka-dot bikini with matching towel(?) and high heels. Remember that great scene on the beach in Repulsion? Neither do I, but as any fashionable woman knows, never break out the bathing suit without your matching heels.

2. Beatific Vision, d. Sountru, Ariztical Entertainment, 2009

Oh boy! Keep in mind that Ariztical, who specialize in no-budget, nudity-filled gay flicks with the exception of the unfortunately popular Eating Out series and a pair of exceptional films from Tennessee-based filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox, has released Beatific Vision with two different covers: "Mainstream Art" (for Blockbuster, I'd assume) and "Alternative Art" (for the online buyers). What you see above is the "Mainstream Art" (the "Alternative Art" has a pair of male lovers locked in embrace with a sliver of an ass crack), and it is certainly the preferable of the two. The floating image is featured on both covers, but this version really caters to a tamer crowd, who enjoy wearing scarves that match Catherine Deneuve's bathing suit and dressing their pug in leather harnesses. If you were wondering what sort of people were still keeping Blockbuster in business, look no further.

3. Don Juan, d. Jacques Weber, Koch Lorber, 2005

It would seem a difficult task to make an aesthetically displeasing cover when you have Penélope Cruz and Emmanuelle Béart in period attire to work with, but leave it to Koch Lorber to prove me wrong. There's a storm brewing on the beach as Don Juan, played by the director, rides his horse across the tide, but as we all know, Ms. Cruz's beauty can part the most treacherous of cloud formations for the sun to shine upon her. Sadly, Ms. Béart's looks do not have the same powers. Both actresses' eyes are drawn outside of the frame, which would make sense as there's nothing striking going on inside of it, but I get the feeling Cruz's disheveled dress is revealing a little more than just her bare shoulders. Just look at the way Béart gazes downward, lips pouted and hair tussled. As if we needed any indication that what we want to be looking at can't be found in this cover.

4. Federal Protection, d. Anthony Hickox, Lions Gate, 2002

Hello, sexy! Glamourous girls with guns has always been an eye-catcher, but none have gotten my attention as strikingly as the headless, diamond-neckless-wearing lady in Federal Protection. Was this cocktail dress a part of Alexander McQueen's fall collection? I would die and go to fashion heaven if I ever saw Victoria Beckham in this number. With his lips puckered just a little bit and his hair slicked back, Armand Assante's face will be the wave of haute couture fashion, mark my words.

5. Poker in Bed [La signora gioca bene a scopa?], d. Giuliano Carnimeo, Televista, 2009

While one can find plenty of reasons to bitch about Televista, a company who issues unauthorized, VHS-to-bootleg-quality versions of Euro flicks, their cover artwork is especially noteworthy. While I typically wouldn't be the person to ask about which of Edwige Fenech's erotic farces are the best, I'd be silly not to at least mention Poker in Bed, which, if we're going by the cover, features a naughty scene in which Fenech wins the game with her Royal-Flush-from-between-the-legs trick. I also had no idea the Algerian-born actress was blessed with upside-down heart-shaped nipples, and that alone makes Poker in Bed a must-have!

6. Spooky House, d. William Sachs, Studio Works, 2003

Another possible theme for bad covers: Slumming Actors. Featuring not one, but two Oscar winners (Ben Kingsley and Mercedes Ruehl), Spooky House could never be mistaken for simply a bad DVD cover; it is refreshingly honest about everything you need to know about the film. Check out VideoDetective to see the official trailer and marvel at the accuracy in which the cover flaunts its state-of-the-art visual effects. If The Pagemaster was too animated for all you Ben Kingsley fans, Spooky House is the film for you. Side note: Someone needs to teach me how to rip scenes from movies off DVDs, because I searched far and wide, with no avail, for a clip of the theme song that was composed for this gem's title sequence.

7. Partner(s), d. Dave Diamond, Lions Gate, 2005

There's not much more to say about the cover for Partner(s). Just look at that photoshopping! Do you think Michael Ian Black is playing a homosexual? If a picture tells a thousand words, this one lays out the entire screenplay. Why would you even need to rent it? Is it just a coincidence that the film sort of shares a title with one of Hollywood's most notoriously homophobic ventures, which also has winning package art?

8. The Lost Steps [Los pasos perdidos], d. Manane Rodríguez, Agua Verde Audio Visual/TLA Releasing

This might be acceptable for the cover for a slideshow your cousin made for his parents' 50th anniversary, but not for anything else. In fact, I may even compliment your cousin if his skills had advanced to this level, but for a movie studio of any level, this shouldn't even suffice for the cover sheet of a press kit.

9. Five, d. Arch Oboler, Sony Pictures, as part of their Martini Movies, 2009

Thanks a lot Seven for making every film with a number that could maybe pass as a letter in the title the standard. While every single one of Sony's "Martini Movies" are the victims of heinous packaging, 5ive is my favorite offender. You've got a Mount Rushmore line-up of the actors, a screaming baby in one corner and a skeleton's face appearing in some sort of mushroom cloud explosion in the other. Mad props!

10. Thunderpants, d. Peter Hewitt, The Weinstein Company, 2007


The Decade List: Funny Ha Ha (2002)

Funny Ha Ha - dir. Andrew Bujalski

It's so secret that the state of young American independent filmmaking is in sorry shape. The digital revolution hasn't yielded the surge of artful low-to-no-budget paragons the more optimistic film lovers had hoped. But in every trash heap, there's something of value to be extricated. For me (and many others), Andrew Bujalski's films are the salvageable ones. Lumped alongside young filmmakers of significantly less aptitude, Bujalski captures his generation with a rare skill. His subjects, the alienated lot of twentysomethings, stem from a very American cinematic tradition, one that's already grown tired thanks to some of Bujalski's peers. While his first film, Funny Ha Ha, doesn't reach the heights of his later Mutual Appreciation, it establishes Bujalski's vision in a cogent manner, which reaches further than most young filmmakers' admirable first exertions.

All of the filmmakers associated with the so-called "mumblecore" movement situate their characters within the same concurrent universe, but unlike most of the others (I'm sure you know who I'm specifically referring to), Bujalski is celebratory in the numbing mind state of his post-collegiates, acknowledging the humor of their seemingly overwhelming despair and ennui. In both Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation, every evening arrives like a box of mystery, laced with the possibility for excitement. In Funny Ha Ha, Marnie (Kate Dollenmayer), a girl both awkward and charming in her own right, stumbles upon a party of some guys she mistakenly thinks are friends of another friend's girlfriend, gets trashed, wakes up miserable and repentant. That misery dissipates because within this world the following day always holds that desirable potential. Watching Bujalski’s films unfold is like a small revelation, finding beauty in the confused path of his characters and allowing their misery to transpire, if only because it makes for brilliant humanity and, sometimes, exquisite comedy.

With: Kate Dollenmayer, Christian Rudder, Myles Paige, Andew Bujalski, Marshall Lewy, Lissa Patton Rudder, Justin Rice, Vanessa Bertozzi
Screenplay: Andrew Bujalski
Cinematography: Matthias Grunsky
Country of Origin: USA
US Distributor: Wellspring

Premiere: September 2002 (Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival)

Awards: Someone to Watch Award - Andrew Bujalski (Independent Spirit Awards)

DVD Release Update - 23 August

I just have a few release updates this time around, including 5 from IFC for November. They are in descending order of release.

- Before the Fall [Tres días], 2008, d. F. Javier Gutiérrez, IFC Films, 3 November
- Dark Mirror, 2007, d. Pablo Proenza, IFC Films, 3 November
- Lemon Tree, 2008, d. Eran Riklis, IFC Films, 3 November, w. Hiam Abbass
- Where God Left His Shoes, 2007, d. Salvatore Stabile, IFC Films, 3 November
- Egon & Dönci, 2007, d. Ádám Magyar, Strand Releasing, 17 November
- Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution [Nos enfants nous accuseront], 2008, d. Jean-Paul Jaud, First Run, 17 November
- How to Be, 2008, d. Oliver Irving, IFC Films, 17 November, w. Robert Pattinson
- Riot on 42nd Street, 1987, d. Tim Kincaid, Code Red, 17 November
- Deadline, 2009, d. Sean McConville, First Look, also on Blu-ray, 1 December, w. Brittany Murphy, Thora Birch, Marc Blucas

21 August 2009

Venice, Toronto, NYFF 09 in Posters, Round 2

Here's the second wave of posters from Venice and Toronto 2009; I've also included posters for a few of the films screening at this year's New York Film Festival: Catherine Breillat's Bluebeard, Andrzej Wajda's Sweet Rush, Andrey Khrzhanovsky's Room and a Half, Sabu's Kanikôsen and Maren Ade's Everyone Else. The first round can be found here.