26 April 2010

Rise Above

The Girl on the Train
La fille du RER

2009, France
André Téchiné

When Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy came out, many people found it to be a rather telling portrait of the economic crash of 2008, though many others noted that the film was made (and even premiered) before that had happened. What was fascinating though about the label placed upon it was that the film concerned a woman in her mid-20s, played by Michelle Williams, while the media focused on those individuals who were being laid off from jobs they’d had for years. André Téchiné’s latest film, The Girl on the Train, is one of the first films to really address this age group, the students who graduated at a time when the work field was grim to say the least, with that in mind… though what’s most appealing about the film is that it never directly approaches the subject.

Twentysomething Jeanne (Émilie Dequenne) is a charming, naïve young woman who lives with her mother Louise (Catherine Deneuve) and spends most of her afternoons rollerblading through Paris. The first moment we see Louise, she’s sitting in front of a computer, looking online for jobs to which her daughter could apply. The scene comes across as rather benign, trivial moment within the film. Louise nags her daughter about finding a job, Jeanne agrees with her while trying to change the subject, Louise adds that the particular job she’s found is working for someone she used to know and offers to revise Jeanne’s résumé. At first, the scene appears to exist in order to establish the relationship between the mother and daughter, who otherwise carry on like the best of friends, but it also establishes a generational gap and places context for the film’s driving act, midway through the film.

For a filmmaker approaching 70, Téchiné has a rather astounding grasp of what it means to be young in this economy. Jeanne lives comfortably with her mother and finds distraction with her iPod and rollerblades, while still harboring a hint of shame about her unemployment, as she lies to Franck (Nicolas Duvauchelle), the boy who fancies her, about working at the job for which she interviewed and (evidently) didn’t get. The other significant youth in the film is the grandson of Samuel Bleistein (Michel Blanc), the lawyer whose secretarial position Jeanne applied for. Nathan’s (Jérémy Quaegebeur) situation is a bit different. He’s 13, approaching his bar mitzvah and consistently bossed around by his quarrelling, liberal parents (Ronit Elkabetz and Mathieu Demy) even though they happen to think their actions are in sync with their son’s wishes. Despite the age difference between Jeanne and Nathan, he’s the only one who seems to understand her situation, or at least the only one willing to lend an ear without imposing judgment upon her, another example of the miscommunications between generation.

On a purely superficial level, Téchiné cinematically captures personal exchanges via the Internet in a totally magnificent, compelling way. One of the biggest hurdles filmmakers have had to tackle in recent years is how to make an online conversation visually stimulating, and it’s an obstacle at which most have failed. Favoring online video chat over phone calls, Jeanne and Franck communicate with one another as most kids would, and without a word spoken, Téchiné manages to make their exchanges as dynamic, sexy and engaging as if they were talking back and forth in person. He even adds a surprising touch with Jeanne and Franck’s first sexual experience together happening through the video chat, which could be chalked up to avoiding the interference from Jeanne’s mother or Franck’s roommate or the comfort Jeanne feels through the impersonal medium, avoiding the likely awkwardness of first having sex with someone (or both, naturally).

Jeanne’s situation, the one that only Nathan is able to understand, is not the pangs of being young but specifically the film’s central act in which Jeanne lies to the police claiming to have been a victim of an anti-Semitic attack. Jeanne isn’t Jewish, but she’s living in a world (the film world, that is; I’m not sure whether this is true in the real one or not) where anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise. Her recognition of this fact is probably brought upon through Bleistein, a Jew who’s gained media attention for defending the victims in court. Téchiné spends a great deal of time building up to Jeanne’s act, diving the film into two chapters, “Les circonstances” (Circumstances) and “Les consequences” (Consequences). No single moment, even the apparent one, gives explanation to why Jeanne did what she did. It’s best understood as a product of realities of her life (obviously) and her struggle not to disappear. Jeanne’s entire relationship with Franck provides the biggest clue to this. On most levels, Franck doesn’t seem like the sort of guy Jeanne would normally be attracted to. He’s rough, streetwise and has a family history of crime… not to mention that Louise seems to disapprove of him (which may be one of his appeals, I’m not sure). What Jeanne finds appealing in Franck is the attention he gives her; he appears dedicated and loyal to her, even if he’s rather shady and manipulative otherwise.

Jeanne never really gives a reason for what she did, and it’s very possible that she isn’t even aware of it in the first place. She doesn’t appear to be a racist toward Jews or the North Africans she claimed attacked her. She seems oblivious to a lot of things, including her own motives. The choice of casting Dequenne as Jeanne doesn’t seem to be an accident. Jeanne shares quite a few similarities with the title character in Rosetta, the role Dequenne is famous for. Both young women feel the weight of the economy crushing them, and both have unorthodox (and morally grey) ways of surviving through it. While Rosetta’s situation is one of singularity, Jeanne’s however is a sentiment that’s, unfortunately, considerably widespread.

La fille du RER will hit DVD from Strand Releasing in the US on 18 May; it is already on DVD in Canada (from Mongrel Media) and France (from UGC Vidéo) and will be released theatrically in the UK in June.

23 April 2010

A final pre-fest update for Cannes 2010

In addition to Olivier Assayas' Carlos (I think they've dropped the Jackal in the title), seven more films have been added to the Cannes roster. In competition, Wang Xiaoshuai's (Beijing Bicycle, Shanghai Dreams) Chongqing Blues and Kornél Mundruczó's (Delta, Johanna) Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project will bring the count to eighteen films competing for the Palme d'Or. Pablo Trapero's (Rolling Family, Lion's Den) Carancho and Jia Zhang-ke's (Still Life, The World) I Wish I Knew will be screening in the Un Certain Regard section. Andrei Ujică's The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceauşescu, Lucy Walker's Countdown to Zero and an omnibus film from Brazil entitled 5xFavela will be shown out of competition.

I realized that I forgot to mention the rest of the jury members that will be (hopefully) pushing Tim Burton in the right direction. They are actors Kate Beckinsale, Benicio del Toro and Giovanna Mezzogiorno; directors Victor Erice (The Spirit of the Beehive), Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) and Emmanuel Carrère (La moustache); and Alberto Barbera, director of the National Museum of Cinema. Claire Denis will head the jury of the Un Certain Regard section.

20 April 2010

Quinzaine des Réalisateurs / Semaine Internationale de la Critique

The line-ups for both the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors' Fortnight) and Semaine Internationale de la Critique (International Critics' Week) for Cannes this year. Both schedules are dominated by first-time filmmakers and, perhaps not surprisingly, slim on American features. Of the two American films playing during the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, Cam Archer's follow-up to his lovely Wild Tigers I Have Known, entitled Shit Year, will screen. The film stars Ellen Barkin, Melora Walters, Luke Grimes and Theresa Randle. Christoffer Boe, who won the Caméra d'Or in 2003 for his (lousy) Reconstruction, has his latest, Everything Will Be Fine [Alting bliver godt igen], screening during the Quinzaine. Another short directed by actor Louis Garrel, Petit tailleur, will also be showing during the Quinzaine; his first outing as a director, a short called Mes copains, played in 2008. Frederick Wiseman's latest, Boxing Gym, will premiere at the Quinzaine as a "special screening." The feature film line-ups are below:

Quinzaine des Réalisateurs

- Algeria, d. Marina Méliande, Felipe Braganca, Brazil
- All Good Children, d. Alicia Duffy, UK
- Alting bliver godt igen [Everything Will Be Fine], d. Christoffer Boe (Reconstruction, Allegro), Denmark/Sweden/France, w. Paprika Steen
- Año bisiesto, d. Michael Rowe, Mexico
- Benda Bilili!, d. Renaud Barret, Florent de la Tullaye, France
- La casa muda [The Silent House], d. Gustavo Hernandez, Uruguay
- Cleveland vs. Wall Street, d. Jean-Stéphane Bron, Switzerland/France
- Des filles en noir, d. Jean-Paul Civeyrac (À travers le forêt), France
- Illégal, d. Olivier Masset-Depasse (Cages), Belgium/Luxembourg/France
- The Light Thief, d. Aktan Arym Kubat (Beshkempir), Kyrgyzstan
- Little Baby Jesus of Flandr, d. Gust Vandenberghe, Belgium
- La mirada invisible [The Invisible Eye], d. Diego Lerman (Tan de repente), Argentina/France/Spain
- Picco, d. Philip Koch, Germany
- Pieds nus sur les limaces [Lily Sometimes], d. Fabienne Berthaud (Frankie), France
- Le quattro volte, d. Michelangelo Frammartino (Il dono), Italy/Germany/Switzerland
- Shit Year, d. Cam Archer (Wild Tigers I Have Known), USA, w. Ellen Barkin, Melora Walters, Luke Grimes, Theresa Randle
- Somos lo que hay [We Are What We Are], d. Jorge Michel Grau, Mexico
- Tiger Factory, d. Woo Ming Jin, Malaysia
- Todos vós sodes capitáns, d. Oliver Laxe, Spain
- Two Gates of Sheep, d. Alistair Banks Griffin, USA
- Un poison violent, d. Katell Quillevéré, France
- The Wanderer, d. Avishai Sivan, Israel

Special Screenings

- Boxing Gym, d. Frederick Wiseman, USA
- Stones in Exile, d. Stephen Kijak, UK

Semaine Internationale de la Critique

- Armadillo, d. Janus Metz, Denmark
- Bedevilled, d. Jang Cheol So, South Korea
- Belle épine, d. Rebecca Zlotowski, France, w. Léa Seydoux, Johan Libereau
- Bi, dung so! [Bi, Don't Be Afraid!], d. Phan Dang Di, Vietnam/France/Germany
- The Myth of the American Sleepover, d. David Robert Mitchell, USA
- Sandcastle, d. Boo Junfeng, Singapore
- Sound of Noise, d. Ola Simonsson, Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, Sweden/France

Special Screenings

- Le nom des gens [The Names of Love], d. Michel Leclerc, France, w. Jacques Gamblin, Sara Forestier
- Copacabana, d. Marc Fitoussi, France, w. Isabelle Huppert, Lolita Chammah
- Rubber, d. Quentin Dupieux, w. Stephen Spinella, Jack Plotnick, Roxane Mesquida

Olivier Assayas' Carlos Will Be at Cannes

While it wasn't included in the competition selection, it was announced the other day that Olivier Assayas' latest, Carlos the Jackal, will play at Cannes after all. The film, about Venezuelan revolutionary Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, will be released in two formats: as a television mini-series and as a two-ish hour long feature. The mini-series is set to air in the US on The Sundance Channel at some point this year, and the shorter version will be released theatrically by IFC Films. The line-ups for both the Semaine Internationale de la Critique and the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs should be unveiled soon.

18 April 2010

DVD Coming Attractions, Part 2

Instead of sorting through what I'd already mentioned on the DVD updates, I've made it (hopefully) a little easier by dividing the notable releases by week. Some of the highlights include a Blu-ray release of Paul Verhoeven's masterpiece Showgirls in a "15th Anniversary Sinsational Edition," a surprise DVD release of Manoel de Oliveira's Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl [Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loira] from Cinema Guild in September and a number of European titles from Olive Films Opus for late 2010 and early 2011. I may be doing the same thing for Region 2 titles later this week.

20 April

DVD Only
- 200 Motels, 1971, d. Tony Palmer, Frank Zappa, Tony Palmer Films/MVD
- 35 Shots of Rum [35 rhums], 2008, d. Claire Denis, Cinema Guild
- The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela, 2008, d. Olaf de Fleur Johannesson, here! Films
- Cloud 9 [Wolke 9], 2008, d. Andreas Dresen, Music Box Films
- Ex Drummer, 2007, d. Koen Mortier, Palisades Tartan
- The Horse Boy, 2009, d. Michel O. Scott, Zeitgeist
- Knife Edge, 2010, d. Anthony Hickox, E1, w. Joan Plowright, Hugh Bonneville, Natalie Press, Jamie Harris
- Mammoth, 2009, d. Lukas Moodysson, IFC Films
- Uncertainty, 2008, d. Scott McGehee, David Siegel, IFC Films

DVD and Blu-ray
- Crazy Heart, 2009, d. Scott Cooper, Fox
- Summer Hours [L'heure d'été], 2008, d. Olivier Assayas, Criterion
- Vivre sa vie, 1962, d. Jean-Luc Godard, Criterion
- The Young Victoria, 2009, d. Jean-Marc Vallée, Sony

- The Basketball Diaries, 1995, d. Scott Kalvert, Palm Pictures
- Battleship Potemkin, 1925, d. Sergei M. Eisenstein, Kino
- Fist of Legend, 1994, d. Gordon Chan, Yuen Woo-ping, Dragon Dynasty

27 April

- The Barbara Stanwyck Collection, Universal
- The Descent: Part 2, 2009, d. Jon Harris, Lionsgate
- Dialogues of the Exiled [Diálogos de exiliados], 1975, d. Raoul Ruiz, Cinemateca/Facets
- Dinah East, 1970, d. Gene Nash, VCI
- The End of Poverty?, 2008, d. Philippe Diaz, Cinema Libre
- The Fugitive Kind, 1959, d. Sidney Lumet, Criterion
- How to Live in the German Federal Republic [Leben - BRD], 1990, d. Harun Farocki, Facets
- Milton Glaser: To Inform & Delight, 2009, d. Wendy Keys, Arthouse Films
- Possible Films, Volume 2: New Short Films by Hal Hartley, d. Hal Hartley, Possible Films/Microcinema
- Roy Cohn/Jack Smith, 1994, d. Jill Godmilow, Facets
- Surviving Desire, 1991, d. Hal Hartley, Possible Films/Microcinema
- The Unquiet Death of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, 1974, d. Alan Moorman, Facets
- The Voyeur [L'uomo che guarda], 1994, d. Tinto Brass, Cult Epics
- William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe, 2009, d. Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler, Arthouse Films

DVD and Blu-ray
- District 13 Ultimatum [Banlieue 13 - Ultimatum], 2009, d. Patrick Alessandrin, Magnet Releasing/Magnolia
- Five Minutes of Heaven, 2009, d. Oliver Hirschbiegel, IFC Films
- The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, 2009, d. Terry Gilliam, Sony
- Ride with the Devil (Director's Cut), 1999, d. Ang Lee, Criterion

- Dune, 1984, d. David Lynch, Universal
- Elizabeth, 1998, d. Shekhar Kapur, Universal
- Elizabeth: The Golden Age, 2007, d. Shekhar Kapur, Universal
- Out of Africa, 1985, d. Sydney Pollack, Universal
- Tombstone, 1993, d. George P. Cosmatos, Touchstone
- Traffic, 2000, d. Steven Soderbergh, Universal

4 May

- 9 to 5: Days in Porn, 2008, d. Jens Hoffman, Strand Releasing
- California Dreamin' [California Dreamin' (Nesfârşit)], 2007, d. Cristian Nemescu, IFC Films
- The Lost Coast, 2008, d. Gabriel Fleming, Breaking Glass Pictures
- The Muse, 1999, d. Albert Brooks, Universal
- Paper Covers Rock, 2008, d. Joe Maggio, IFC Films
- Suburbia, 1984, d. Penelope Spheeris, Shout! Factory
- Tokyo Sonata, 2008, d. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, here! Films

DVD and Blu-ray
- Chelsea on the Rocks, 2008, d. Abel Ferrara, Empire Pictures/Hannover House
- Doctor Zhivago, 1965, d. David Lean, Warner
- Dogora [Dogora: Ouvrons les yeux], 2004, d. Patrice Leconte, Severin
- Rock 'n' Roll High School, 1979, d. Allan Arkush, Joe Dante, Jerry Zucker, Shout! Factory
- Tetro, 2009, d. Francis Ford Coppola, Lionsgate

- Seven Swords, 2005, d. Tsui Hark, Dragon Dynasty

11 May

- Daria: The Complete Series, 1997-2001, Paramount
- One Deadly Summer [L'été meurtrier], 1983, d. Jean Becker, Bayview Films, w. Isabelle Adjani

DVD and Blu-ray
- Céline: Through the Eyes of the World, 2010, d. Stéphane Laporte, Sony
- Legend of the Tsunami Warrior [aka Queens of Langkasuka], 2008, d. Nonzee Nimibutr, Magnet Releasing/Magnolia

- The Edge, 1997, d. Lee Tamahori, Fox
- The Karate Kid, 1984, d. John G. Avildsen, Sony
- M, 1931, d. Fritz Lang, Criterion
- The Magnificent Seven Collection, 1960-1972, d. John Sturges, Burt Kennedy, Paul Wendkos, George McCowan, MGM
- The Man in the Iron Mask, 1998, d. Randall Wallace, MGM

18 May

- Defamation, 2009, d. Yoav Shamir, First Run
- The Disappeared, 2008, d. Johnny Kevorkian, IFC Films
- The Girl on the Train [La fille du RER], 2009, d. André Téchiné, Strand Releasing
- Oshima's Outlaw Sixties, d. Nagisa Oshima, Eclipse/Criterion
- Poliwood, 2009, d. Barry Levinson, Screen Media Films
- Sunrise/Sunset, 2008, d. Vitali Mansky, Alive Mind

DVD and Blu-ray
- Walkabout, 1971, d. Nicolas Roeg, Criterion

- 9 Songs, 2004, d. Michael Winterbottom, Palisades Tartan
- Carlito's Way, 1993, d. Brian De Palma, Universal

25 May

- All My Friends Are Funeral Singers, 2010, d. Tim Rutili, Indiepix
- Bottom Land, 1992, d. Ed Radtke, Facets
- Call Me Madame [Appelez-moi Madame], 1986, d. Françoise Romand, Microcinema
- In Desert and Wilderness [W pustyni i w puszczy], 2001, d. Gavin Hood, MGE/Facets
- Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis, 2006, d. Mary Jordan, Arthouse Films
- Kamikaze Hearts, 1986, d. Juliet Bashore, Facets
- No Orchids for Miss Blandish, 1948, d. St. John Legh Clowes, VCI
- Obscene, 2007, d. Daniel O'Connor, Neil Ortenberg, Arthouse Films
- Phyllis and Harold, 2008, d. Cindy Kleine, Breaking Glass Pictures
- Real End of the Great War [Prawdziwy koniec wielkiej wojny], 1957, d. Jerzy Kawalerowicz, Polart/Facets
- True Blood: Season 2, 2009, HBO
- Voyager [Homo Faber], 1991, d. Volker Schlöndorff, Scorpion Releasing
- What's Underground About Marshmallows?, 1996, d. Jill Godmilow, Facets
- The World of Buckminster Fuller, 1974, d. Baylis Glascock, Robert Snyder, Mystic Fire/Microcinema
- Yesterday Girl [Abschied von gestern - (Anita G.)], 1966, d. Alexander Kluge, Facets

DVD and Blu-ray
- By Brakhage, An Anthology, Volume 2, d. Stan Brakhage, Criterion
- City of the Living Dead [Paura nella città dei morti viventi], 1980, d. Lucio Fulci, Blue Underground
- The Messenger, 2009, d. Oren Moverman, Oscilloscope
- Pep Squad, 1998, d. Steve Balderson, Troma
- The Road, 2009, d. John Hillcoat, Sony
- Stagecoach, 1939, d. John Ford, Criterion

- By Brakhage, An Anthology, Volume 1, d. Stan Brakhage, Criterion
- Class of Nuke 'Em High, 1986, d. Richard W. Haines, Lloyd Kaufman, Michael Herz, Troma
- Spartacus, 1960, d. Stanley Kubrick, Universal

1 June

- Tony Manero, 2008, d. Pablo Larraín, Kino Lorber

DVD and Blu-ray
- The Red Baron [Der rote Baron], 2008, d. Nikolai Müllerschön, Monterey Video
- The Sun, 2005, d. Aleksandr Sokurov, Kino Lorber

- Absolute Power, 1997, d. Clint Eastwood, Warner
- Heartbreak Ridge, 1986, d. Clint Eastwood, Warner
- The Man With No Name Trilogy, 1964-1966, d. Sergio Leone, MGM
- The Rookie, 1990, d. Clint Eastwood, Warner

8 June

- Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 7, 2009, HBO
- Patterns Trilogy and Other Short Films by Jamie Travis, 2003-2006, d. Jamie Travis, Kimstim/Kino Lorber
- Shinjuku Incident, 2009, d. Yee Tung-Shing, Sony
- Stonewall - 25th Anniversary [Before Stonewall / After Stonewall], 1984/1999, d. Robert Rosenberg, John Scagliotti, Greta Schiller, First Run
- Word Is Out, 1977, d. Rob Epstein, Milestone Video/Oscilloscope

DVD and Blu-ray
- 180° South, 2010, d. Chris Malloy, Magnolia
- Shutter Island, 2010, d. Martin Scorsese, Paramount

- Happy Together, 1997, d. Wong Kar-wai, Kino Lorber

15 June

- Antarctica, 2008, d. Yari Hochner, here! Films
- The Blind Menace, 1960, d. Kazuo Mori, AnimEigo
- Born Into Shit [Po hlavě do prdele], 2006, d. Marcel Bystroň, Seminal Films
- Burma VJ, 2008, d. Anders Østergaard, Oscilloscope
- Collapse, 2009, d. Chris Smith, Vitagraph Films
- Happy Tears, 2009, d. Mitchell Lichtenstein, Lionsgate
- Horror Hospital, 1973, d. Anthony Balch, Dark Sky Films
- Sex Positive, 2008, d. Daryl Wein, here! Films
- Unthinkable, 2010, d. Gregor Jordan, Sony, w. Michael Sheen, Samuel L. Jackson, Brandon Routh, Carrie-Anne Moss

DVD and Blu-ray
- Mary and Max, 2009, d. Adam Elliot, IFC Films
- Mystery Train, 1989, d. Jim Jarmusch, Criterion

- Flash Gordon, 1980, d. Mike Hodges, Universal
- Showgirls, 1995, d. Paul Verhoeven, MGM
- The Stepfather, 1987, d. Joseph Ruben, Shout! Factory

22 June

- Bluebeard [Barbe Bleue], 2009, d. Catherine Breillat, Strand Releasing
- Le combat dans l'île, 1962, d. Alain Cavalier, Zeitgeist
- Invisible Adversaries [Unsichtbare Gegner], 1977, d. Valie Export, Facets
- The Maid [La nana], 2009, d. Sebastián Silva, Oscilloscope
- Night Train to Munich, 1940, d. Carol Reed, Criterion
- Part-Time Work of a Domestic Slave [Gelegenheitsarbeit einer Sklavin], 1973, d. Alexander Kluge, Facets
- Raging Sun, Raging Sky [Rabioso sol, rabioso cielo], 2009, d. Julián Hernández, TLA Releasing
- Soundless Wind Chime, 2009, d. Wing Kit Hung, TLA Releasing

DVD and Blu-ray
- Close-Up, 1990, d. Abbas Kiarostami, Criterion
- Death Race 2000, 1975, d. Paul Bartel, Shout! Factory
- Red Desert [Il deserto rosso], 1964, d. Michelangelo Antonioni, Criterion
- A Star Is Born, 1954, d. George Cukor, Warner

20 June

- Alice Neel, 2007, d. Andrew Neel, Arthouse Films
- Bass Ackwards, 2010, d. Linas Phillips, New Video
- Burning Paradise, 1994, d. Ringo Lam, Discotek Media
- Evening Primrose, 1966, d. Paul Bogart, Koch Vision
- First Love [Erste Liebe], 1970, d. Maximilian Schell, VCI, w. Dominique Sanda
- It Came from Kuchar, 2009, d. Jennifer M. Kroot, Indiepix
- Lorna, the Exorcist [Les possédées du diable], 1974, d. Jesús Franco, Mondo Macabro
- New York Confidential, 1955, d. Russell Rouse, VCI, w. Anne Bancroft
- Next: A Primer on Urban Painting, 2005, d. Pablo Aravena, Arthouse Films
- Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect, 2008, d. Markus Heidingsfelder, Min Tesch, Arthouse Films
- Return of the One-Armed Swordsman, 1969, d. Chang Cheh, Dragon Dynasty
- Say Hello to Yesterday, 1971, d. Alvin Rakoff, Scorpion Releasing
- A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory, 2007, d. Esther Robinson, Arthouse Films

DVD and Blu-ray
- The Eclipse, 2009, d. Conor McPherson, Magnolia
- Everlasting Moments [Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick], 2008, d. Jan Troell, Criterion
- The Warlords, 2007, d. Peter Chan, Wai Man Yip, Magnet Releasing/Magnolia
- The White Ribbon [Das weiße Band], 2009, d. Michael Haneke, Sony

- The Leopard [Il gattopardo], 1963, d. Luchino Visconti, Criterion
- Versus, 2000, d. Ryuhei Kitamura, Tokyo Shock

6 July

- Pornography: A Thriller, 2009, d. David Kittredge, Wolfe Video

DVD and Blu-ray
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [Män som hatar kvinnor], 2009, d. Niels Arden Oplev, Music Box Films
- Steamboat Bill, Jr., 1928, d. Charles Reisner, Buster Keaton, Kino Lorber

- Love and Other Disasters, 2006, d. Alek Keshishian, Image

13 July

- God's Offices [Les bureaux de Dieu], 2008, d. Claire Simon, Synkronized USA, w. Nathalie Baye, Béatrice Dalle, Isabelle Carré, Lolita Chammah, Nicole Garcia
- My Year Without Sex, 2009, d. Sarah Watt, Strand Releasing
- The Only Son, 1936, d. Yasujiro Ozu, Criterion
- Saving Marriage, 2006, d. John Henning, Mike Roth, here! Films
- There Was a Father, 1942, d. Yasujiro Ozu, Criterion

DVD and Blu-ray
- A Single Man, 2009, d. Tom Ford, Sony

- In Bruges, 2008, d. Martin McDonagh, Universal

20 July

- The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, 2009, d. Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith, First Run
- Nollywood Babylon, 2008, d. Ben Addelman, Samir Mallal, Kino Lorber
- A Town Called Panic [Panique au village], 2009, d. Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Zeitgeist

DVD and Blu-ray
- Black Narcissus, 1947, d. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, Criterion
- The Red Shoes, 1948, d. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, Criterion
- The Secret of the Grain [La graine et le mulet], 2007, d. Abdel Kechiche, Criterion

27 July

- Altamont Now, 2008, d. Joshua Brown, Factory 25
- Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed [Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: Ratlos], 1968, d. Alexander Kluge, Facets
- The Guernica Tree [L'arbre de Guernica], 1975, d. Fernando Arrabal, Cult Epics
- Loos Ornamental, 2008, d. Heinz Emigholz, Filmgalerie 451/Facets
- Memory of Water [La memoria del agua], 1994, d. Héctor Fáver
- Presenting Sacha Guitry, 1936-1938, d. Sacha Guitry, Eclipse/Criterion
- Viva Castro!, 1994, d. Boris Frumin, Facets

DVD and Blu-ray
- Accidents Happen, 2009, d. Andrew Lancaster, Image, w. Geena Davis


- Humanoids from the Deep, 1980, d. Barbara Peters, Jimmy T. Murakami, Shout! Factory
- Sweetgrass, 2009, d. Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Cinema Guild, 3 August

DVD and Blu-ray
- Piranha, 1978, d. Joe Dante, Shout! Factory
- Lost: Season 6, 2010, Touchstone
- Lost: The Complete Series, 2004-2010, Touchstone

- Deep Blue Sea, 1999, d. Renny Harlin, Warner

September and On

- Amer, 2009, d. Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani, Oliver Films Opus, 29 March 2011
- A Boyfriend for My Wife [Un novio para mi mujer], 2008, d. Juan Taratuto, Olive Films Opus, 39 March 2011
- Brotherhood [Broderskab], 2009, d. Nicolo Donato, Olive Films Opus, 28 December
- Dancing Across Borders, 2009, d. Anne Bass, First Run, 21 September
- Destricted, 2006, d. Marina Abramović, Matthew Barney, Marco Brambilla, Larry Clark, Gaspar Noé, Richard Prince, Sam Taylor Wood, Revolver, 7 September
- Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl [Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loira], 2009, d. Manoel de Oliveira, Cinema Guild, 21 September
- The Girl [Flickan], 2009, d. Fredrik Edfeldt, Olive Films Opus, 30 November
- Letters to Father Jacob [Postia pappi Jaakobille], 2009, d. Klaus Härö, Olive Films Opus, 22 February 2011
- The Temptation of St. Tony [Püha Tõnu kiusamine], 2009, d. Veiko Õunpuu, Olive Films Opus, 25 January 2011
- Women Without Men, 2009, d. Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari, Indiepix, 9 November

- Beauty and the Beast, 1991, d. Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise, Disney, 5 October
- Ben-Hur, 1959, d. William Wyler, Warner, 16 November
- Forbidden Planet, 1956, d. Fred M. Wilcox, Warner, 7 September
- The Goonies, 1985, d. Richard Donner, Warner, 2 November
- The Maltese Falcon, 1941, d. John Huston, Warner, 5 October
- Mars Attacks!, 1996, d. Tim Burton, Warner, 7 September
- Mutiny on the Bounty, 1935, d. Frank Lloyd, Warner, 16 November
- Three Kings, 1999, d. David O. Russell, Warner, 12 October
- THX 1138, 1971, d. George Lucas, Warner, 7 September
- The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948, d. John Huston, Warner, 5 October

DVD Coming Attractions, Part 1

Like Warner and Universal before them, MGM has jumped onto the DVD-R bandwagon, with over thirty titles to be available by the end of the month. They started rolling out films in December, with titles such as Carol Reed's Trapeze (which received a proper DVD release from MGM in the UK), Bruce Beresford's Rich in Love with Albert Finney, Jill Clayburgh, Kyle Maclachlan, Piper Laurie and Alfre Woodard, Robert Wise's Two for the Seesaw with Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine and Sidney Lumet's The Group with Candice Bergen. Since then, Gavin Millar's Dreamchild with Ian Holm, Lumt's Garbo Talks with Anne Bancroft, Morgan J. Freeman's Hurricane Streets, Hal Ashby's The Landlord with Beau Bridges and Lee Grant, Lumet's The Offence with Sean Connery and Ken Russell's Valentino with Rudolf Nureyev as Rudolf Valentino have been added. Andrzej Wajda's Man of Iron [Człowiek z żelaza], the sequel to his Man of Marble [Człowiek z marmuru] which both star Jerzy Radziwiłowicz and Kystyna Janda, will be available on the 20th. Other titles available for pre-order, though without a date, include François Truffaut's La chambre verte, re-titled The Vanishing Fiancée, which like Man of Iron (which won the Palme d'Or in 1981) and Valentino (mid-range Russell), is more deserving of a proper DVD release.

After a big month in March, the Warner Archive hasn't added anything terribly noteworthy to their collection. However, browsing through Netflix's Instant Watching titles, I noticed a handful of films still unavailable on DVD in the US: Raoul Walsh's Saskatchewan, Richard Brooks' Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Joseph Losey's The Go-Between, Bigas Luna's Chambermaid on the Titanic [La femme de chambre du Titanic] and Margarethe von Trotta's The Promise [Versprechen].

16 April 2010

Criterion in July

Criterion announced their July titles yesterday. Bowing on the 20th, restored versions of two Powell/Pressburger classics, The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus, will make their way onto DVD and Blu-ray (and with fantastic artwork as well). A two-disc set of two early works by Yasujiro Ozu, including the films The Only Son and There Was a Father, is set for the 13th. The latest in Criterion's partnership with IFC Films is actor-turned-director Abdellatif Kechiche's The Secret of the Grain [La graine et le mulet], which will be out on DVD and Blu-ray on the 27th. And finally, a quartet of films from Sacha Guitry–Désiré, The Pearls of the Crown [Les perles de la couronne], Quadrille and The Story of a Cheat [Le roman d'un tricheur]–in an Eclipse box set will finish out the month on the 27th. I'll have a big DVD round-up in the next few days.

15 April 2010

Cannes Line-Up 2010

The films have been announced, and while my suspicions yesterday were premature, I suppose the absence of Béla Tarr's latest is the only real surprise (granted it was going to be hard to surprise me as I wasn't following what was expected to be showing this year). In the Competition line-up, Mike Leigh and Abbas Kiarostami are the only former Palme d'Or winners, but many other previous award recipients, such as Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nikita Mikhalkov, Bertrand Tavernier and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, will be presenting their films. New films from Jean-Luc Godard, Manoel de Oliveira, Lodge Kerrigan, Hong Sang-soo, Radu Muntean, Cristi Puiu and one of last year's big winners Xavier Dolan will be shown in the Un Certain Regard section, and the latest from Woody Allen, Stephen Frears, Oliver Stone and Gregg Araki will also be shown out of competition. The line-ups are below.

Another Year, d. Mike Leigh, UK, w. Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton
Biutiful, d. Alejandro González Iñárritu, USA, w. Javier Bardem, Blanca Portillo
Burnt by the Sun 2, d. Nikita Mikhalkov, Russia
Copie conforme [Certified Copy], d. Abbas Kiarostami, Iran/France/Italy, w. Juliette Binoche
Des hommes et des dieux [Of Gods and Men], d. Xavier Beauvois (Le petit lieutenant), France, w. Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Roschdy Zem
Fair Game, d. Doug Liman, USA, w. Naomi Watts, Sean Penn
Hors-la-loi [Outside the Law] d. Rachid Bouchareb (Days of Glory), France/Algeria/Belgium, w. Jamel Debbouze, Roschy Zem, Sami Bouajila
Housemaid, d. Im Sang-soo (The President's Last Bang), South Korea
La nostra vita, d. Daniele Luchetti (My Brother Is an Only Child), Italy, w. Raoul Bova, Elio Germano, Riccardo Scamarcio
Outrage, d. Takeshi Kitano, Japan, w. Kitano, Jun Kunimura
Poetry, d. Lee Chang-dong (Oasis), South Korea
La princesse de Montpensier, d. Bertrand Tavernier, France/Germany, w. Gaspard Ulliel, Lambert Wilson
Tournée, d. Mathieu Amalric, France, w. Amalric, Damien Odoul
Un homme qui crie [A Screaming Man], d. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (Abouna), Chad
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, d. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand
You. My Joy, d. Sergei Loznitsa (Revue), Ukraine

Un Certain Regard

Les amours imaginaires [Heartbeats], d. Xavier Dolan, Canada, w. Dolan
Aurora, d. Cristi Puiu (The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu), Romania, w. Puiu
Blue Valentine, d. Derek Cianfrance, USA, w. Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams
Chatroom, d. Hideo Nakata (Dark Water), UK
Chongqing Blues, d. Wang Xiaoshuai (Beijing Bicycle), China
O Estranho Caso de Angélica [The Strange Case of Angelica], d. Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal
Film socialisme, d. Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland/France, w. Patti Smith
Life Above All, d. Oliver Schmitz (Paris je t'aime)
Los labios, d. Ivan Fund, Santiago Loza, Argentina
Ha Ha Ha, d. Hong Sang-soo, South Korea
Marţi, după Crăciun [Tuesday, After Christmas], d. Radu Muntean (Boogie), Romania, w. Dragos Bucur
Octubre, d. Daniel Vega
Pál Andrienn [Adrienn Pál], d. Ágnes Kocsis (Fresh Air), Hungary/Netherlands/France/Austria, w. Éva Gábor
R U There, d. David Verbeek (Shanghai Trance), Taiwan
Rebecca H. (Return to the Dogs), d. Lodge Kerrigan, USA
Simon Werner a disparu..., d. Fabrice Gobert
Udaan, d. Vikramaditya Motwane, India
Unter dir die Stadt [The City Below], d. Christoph Hochhäusler (I Am Guilty), Germany

Out of Competition

Tamara Drewe, d. Stephen Frears, UK
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, d. Oliver Stone, USA, w. Michael Douglas, Shia LaBoeuf, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin, Charlie Sheen, Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella, Vanessa Ferlito
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, d. Woody Allen, USA/Spain, w. Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins


L'autre monde [Blackhole], d. Gilles Marchand (Who Killed Bambi?), France, w. Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Melvil Poupaud
Kaboom, d. Gregg Araki, USA/France, w. James Duval, Roxane Mesquida, Kelly Lynch

Special Screenings

Abel, d. Diego Luna, Mexico
Chantrapas, d. Otar Iosseliani
Draquila - l'italia che trema, d. Sabina Guzzanti, Italy
Inside Job, d. Charles Ferguson
Nostalgia de la luz [Nostalgia for the Light], d. Patricio Guzmán, France
Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, d. Sophie Fiennes (The Pervert's Guide to Cinema), Netherlands

Their Hearts Have Gone On

Today, the 15th of April, marks the 98th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. With the Titanic sank 1500 people and the hopes and dreams of many, but through such tragedy, a single man came forward some eighty five years later to bring the ship’s sweeping grandeur to the silver screen. By coincidence, I happened to have given the epic glory of James Cameron’s vision another go last week, and it was just as exciting and loathsome as I remembered. Little did anyone know as news spread of the ship being swallowed up by the ocean that such a catastrophe would become the divine inspiration for Mr. Cameron to take his critical eye to class struggle and prejudice. If I learned anything from having to listen to Cameron speak at awards shows, it’s that the man says whatever pops in his head. And most of what pops in his head is dumb. James Cameron, the awkward acceptance speech giver, is exactly the same as James Cameron, the ignorant, dense screenwriter. Because he lacks that filter between the mind and the mouth, Titanic is littered with cringe-inducing lines of dialogue (“that Anna-steez-ya chick,” “Something Picasso? He won’t amount to a thing”), lame stereotypes (remember that Jack did a lot of his artwork in Paris because French girls are very willing to take off their clothes), laughably treacherous characters (like that asshole who planted the diamond on Jack as the ship starts to sink) and one of the shallowest head-first analyses of class… ever. The terrible dialogue (not to mention the character of Bill Paxton’s fat, hairy assistant) can never really be overlooked (the same can be said for the piss-poor performances from most of the otherwise fine actors… and I won’t even get into all that’s wrong with Billy Zane), but the earnestness of Cameron’s futile attempts to say anything intelligent about class really places Titanic into prime camp territory.

However, as both Titanic and Avatar’s box office receipts confirm, Mr. Cameron is a director of size (I joked to my friend that the ship made for a humorous, if dead-ended metaphor for Cameron), and that he operates at such a phenomenal, effective scale when dealing with all things “big” makes Titanic an absolutely bewildering film. I almost felt a bit silly getting consumed by the panic of Titanic’s second half, even as Jack and Rose illogically stagger through the bitterly cold North Atlantic waters flooding in the lower levels of the ship, but that’s because Cameron has no middle ground. He may have failed to elicit convincing performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet or to effectively develop their characters or relationships beyond the surface level, but when he gets to the sinking of the ship (also known as his A-game), I’ll be damned if I didn’t start to care for a pair of bland lovers who’d been irritating me for the previous hour and a half. It’s funny how Emanuele Crialese’s Golden Door [Nuovomondo] takes all of Titanic’s weaknesses, of which there are many, and turns them into something lovely and affecting without tarnishing any of what Titanic does well. When Rose joins Jack in the lower quarters to dance with the poor folk, I immediately thought of a comparable, superior sequence in Golden Door, but I suppose the fact that the ship in Golden Door reaches its American destination makes a close side-by-side comparison with Titanic unfair. “Subtle,” as we all know, is not a word James Cameron could ever define for us, and while that might be a condemnation for others, it is just the opposite in this case. I wonder if anyone takes any gratitude in knowing that those 1500 people didn’t perish in vain… for their memory will always be captured in James Cameron’s amazingly confounding art. Cue those flutes. Cue Céline Dion.

14 April 2010

Cannes Demain

The official line-up of the 63rd Cannes Film Festival will be announced in France tomorrow afternoon, or at the crack of dawn in the States. I haven't really been keeping up on who's got films in the can right now, but according to The Guardian, the latest from both Mike Leigh (Another Year) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (Biutiful) have been confirmed to play at the festival, though it wasn't specified as to which section they'll be screening in. Leigh and González Iñárritu have both won Best Director prizes for Naked and Babel respectively; Leigh also won the Palme d'Or in 1996 for Secrets & Lies... so it sounds likely that both of their films will end up in competition. The good news about the new González Iñárritu film is that he's finally dumped screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, who is more than likely the one to blame for the tedious interconnected narrative devices of Amores perros, 21 Grams and Babel. Other directors with films "ready to go" or close to include Abbas Kiarostami, Terrence Malick, Stephen Frears, Jean-Luc Godard, Hong Sang-soo, Julian Schnabel, François Ozon (who really seems to be churning them out lately), Woody Allen (who has always been churning 'em out), Cristi Puiu, Oliver Stone (meh) and of course Béla Tarr (who claims The Turin Horse will be his final film). As you may have read, Tim Burton will be the jury president this year, which is scary for many reasons, so we'll just hope the rest of the jury is lined with insolent artistes. We'll see what will replace genital mutilation, POV ejaculation, hip hop dancing teens and Nazi killing as the emerging trends of this year's gala. The 63rd annual festival will be underway on 12 May with Ridley Scott's Robin Hood kicking things off.

13 April 2010

Auf Wiedersehen, Werner Schroeter

German filmmaker Werner Schroeter, one of the significant queer cinéastes from Germany in the 1970s, died yesterday, just a week after turning 65. Though relatively unknown in the United States, Schroeter began making films in the late-1960s, often collaborations with another important (though still little known in the US) queer filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim. In 1980, his film Palermo or Wolfsburg [Palermo oder Wolfsburg], currently (as of February 2010) the only film of his available on DVD in the US, won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. Schroeter also appeared in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Beware of a Holy Whore [Warnung vor einer heiligen Nutte] as the cinematographer and had a brief role in Fassbinder's television mini-series Welt am Draht [World on Wires]. Since then, Schroeter worked consistently in both Germany and France. His films include the lavish, multilingual musical Der Rosenkönig [The King of Roses], a film adaptation of Ingeborg Bachmann's novel Malina (scripted by Elfriede Jelinek) with Isabelle Huppert and Mathieu Carrière, the documentary Love's Debris [Abfallprodukte der Liebe / Poussières d'amour] in which Huppert and Carole Bouquet interview some of the director's favorite opera singers and Deux, also with Huppert. His last film Nuit de chien, which stars Pascal Greggory, Bruno Todeschini, Amira Casar, Jean-François Stévenin and Bulle Ogier among others, screened at both the 2008 Toronto and Venice Film Festivals.