25 June 2009

IFC Films on DVD, Round 2 + Akerman + Petzold - Michael Jackson

Though you might have other things on your mind, I thought I'd post another DVD update. Through their new deal with MPI, IFC Films announced their second round of DVD releases after that Blockbuster/Genius drought. Unfortunately, all of their titles so far have been part of their Festival Direct package and not their theatrical releases (The Last Mistress, The Duchess of Langeais, A Christmas Tale, Hunger, Gomorrah, My Winnipeg, etc). On 15 September, look for Spiros Stathoulopoulos' single-take thriller PVC-1 and Baltasar Kormákur's White Night Wedding [Brúðguminn], which stars the Icelandic director's frequent actor Hilmir Snær Guðnason. On 29 September, Madonna's wretched directorial debut Filth and Wisdom and the Spanish thriller Fermat's Room [La habitación de Fermat] will be released.

Icarus Films has set a release date for Chantal Akerman's acclaimed, little seen From the East [D'Est] for 6 October, as well as David Barison and Daniel Ross' documentary The Ister for 3 November. Kino will release a double-feature of sci-fi/horror films from director Graham Reznick, I Can See You and The Viewer, on 28 September.

Cinema Guild will follow Project X's July release of Christian Petzold's The State I Am In [Die Innere Sicherheit] with his latest Jerichow on 27 August. And finally, it appears as if the elusive Phantasm II will make its way onto DVD on 15 September (though I can't back this up) from Universal. I know you've been waiting.

23 June 2009

Jean-Jacques Beineix on DVD (Updated)

Cinema Libre announced the first two DVD releases of their Jean-Jacques Beineix collection, Roselyne and the Lions [Roselyne et les lions] on 14 July and IP5: The Island of Pachyderms [IP5: L'île aux pachydermes] on 18 August. As Eric pointed out, the studio is re-releasing Beineix's most famous film Betty Blue, with Béatrice Dalle and Jean-Hughes Anglade, in theatres before a DVD release next year.

As for other DVD announcements, PeaceArch will release Marianna Palka's Good Dick on 1 September, as well as Valentino: The Last Emperor, on DVD and Blu-ray, 15 September. MPI is releasing Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel's Deadgirl on both formats 15 September. James Cotton's La linea, with Andy Garcia and Ray Liotta, will be out through Maya on 10 November. Facets is set to re-release Wojciech Has' trippy Saragossa Manuscript on 28 July. Oscilloscope will add Treeless Mountain to the already crowded 15 September street date. And sometime in October, Water Bearer Films will be releasing Philippe Vallois' We Were One Man [Nous étions un seul homme] for the first time on DVD in the US.

On the Blu-ray horizon, a couple of noteworthy titles have been announced. Shout! Factory will have Takashi Miike's Audition on 7 October; from Sony, The Craft on 13 October; and from Dark Sky, John McNaughton's Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer on 29 September... all in time for Halloween. That's all for now. I'll resume the Decade List soon. I've taken a needed break from it by revisiting Six Feet Under.

UPDATE: Thanks to Jeremy at, of course, The Moon in the Gutter for finding this. Cinema Libre has the dates set for all of their Beineix releases, including a box-set with all of them on 1 December. According to their site, a DVD of Beineix's Locked-In Syndrome [Assigné à résidence], a documentary about Jean-Dominique Bauby who was the subject of Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Otaku and his first short Mr. Michel's Dog [Le chien de Monsieur Michel] was released today, but I didn't find it on Amazon.com. Mortal Tranfer [Mortel transfert], also with Jean-Hughes Anglade, will hit shelves on 22 September, and The Moon in the Gutter [La lune dans le caniveau], with Nastassja Kinski, Gérard Depardieu and Victoria Abril, will be out 20 October. It also didn't dawn on me that the studio's theatrical release of Betty Blue would be the first time it's officially been shown in its full version in the US. Betty Blue will be on DVD on 17 November.

Grindhouse? Maybe?

A couple of people have suggested to me that the theatrical version of Grindhouse, with all the trailers, is coming to DVD and Blu-ray on 11 August. No official announcement has been made, so I don't know the specifics of the release. I'm pretty skeptical about any of the upcoming Weinstein Company's releases anyway.

22 June 2009

New Fever Ray Video

The new video from Fever Ray, better known as Karin Dreijer Andersson of The Knife's solo project, was released last week for "Triangle Walks," directed by Mikel Cee Karlsson. As expected, it's gorgeous, unsettling and totally fucking awesome. Enjoy!

Family Ties

Summer Hours [L'heure d'été] - dir. Olivier Assayas - 2008 - France - IFC Films

Written for Gone Cinema Poaching.

Separating Olivier Assayas' films into two camps, the "globe-trotting erotic-thriller" and the "prestige" pic, is an easy action. On a superficial level, Boarding Gate and Summer Hours couldn't be more different. However, when it comes to Assayas' work, most people choose to make the simple connections, such as the one above or noting the similarities between demonlover and Boarding Gate without recognizing their strong dissimilarities. But really, pairing one against the other overlooks the central idea that appears in nearly his entire body of work (I haven't seen any of the films that came before L'eau froide): a search for identity within changing landscapes, even if it's indirect.

In Summer Hours, the search is quite apparent. After the passing of their mother Hélène (Edith Scob), three siblings (Charles Berling, Juliette Binoche, Jérémie Renier) must determine how to deal with their family's inheritance, with special consideration for the fact that each of them live on separate continents. Like really all of the director's films, Summer Hours is almost deceptively slight. Assayas keeps the film free of teary melodrama and unwanted sentimentality, restricting his camera from the actual death of Hélène as well as her funeral. Summer Hours isn't about a family's grief; it's about the value, monetary and sentimental, of what's left behind.

Though its persistent honesty is no small feat, the strength of the film reveals itself fully in its final moments. Once it's decided to sell the family home, the two eldest grandchildren (Alice de Lencquesaing, Emile Berling) throw a party in the nearly empty house. As teenagers and loud music occupy the rooms, Assayas takes the film in a place I never expected, though maybe I should have known better as he's always placed great emphasis on his films' closing scenes, even if they seem initially puzzling. As my hands down choice for the best film to hit theatres this year, I'd be surprised to find a film as sublime as Summer Hours in the remaining months of 2009.

A Few More from Sony, Miramax Martial Arts on Blu-ray

Sony is continuing to make it their year for DVD releases. Here are a few DVD and Blu-ray releases I uncovered this weekend.


- The Buttercup Chain, 1970, d. Robert Ellis Miller, Sony, 8 September
- Crank 2: High Voltage, 2009, d. Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, Lionsgate, also on Blu-ray, 8 September
- Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing, 1973, d. Alan J. Pakula, Sony, 8 September, w. Maggie Smith, Timothy Bottoms
- Model Shop, 1969, d. Jacques Demy, Sony, 8 September, w. Anouk Aimée
- The Pursuit of Happiness, 1971, d. Robert Mulligan, 8 September, w. Barbara Hershey
- Private Century [Soukromé století], 2006, d. Jan Sikl, Facets, 22 September
- The Hanging Woman [La orgía de los muertos], 1973, d. José Luis Merino, Troma, 29 September
- Anvil! The Story of Anvil, 2008, d. Sacha Gervasi, Universal Music, 6 October


- Go, 1999, d. Doug Liman, Sony, 18 August
- Silverado, 1985, d. Lawrence Kasdan, Lionsgate, 8 September
- Requiem for a Dream, 2000, d. Darren Aronofsky, Lionsgate, 8 September
- Hero, 2002, d. Zhang Yimou, Miramax, 15 September
- Iron Monkey, 1993, d. Yuen Woo-ping, Miramax, 15 September
- The Legend of Drunken Master, 1994, d. Liu Chia-Liang, Jackie Chan, Miramax, 15 September
- Zatôichi, 2003, d. Takeshi Kitano, Miramax, 15 September
- The Prisoner: The Complete Series, 1967-1968, A&E, 27 October

19 June 2009

I Wanna Be Adored

Adoration - dir. Atom Egoyan - 2008 - Canada - Sony Pictures Classics

Written for Gone Cinema Poaching.

It seems a long time ago that Atom Egoyan, after the successes of Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter, was among the forefront of international cinema. By following The Sweet Hereafter, which garnered the Egyptian-born, Canadian-raised filmmaker two Oscar nominations, with the disappointing Felicia's Journey, we got our first indication that Egoyan might never create the magic he showed during the late '80s and '90s again. With Adoration, Egoyan returns to the style and structure that worked so well for him early in his career; unfortunately, something's missing, even if it feels like all the pieces are there.

Those familiar with the director's work will spot some of the director's trademarks of style and theme easily. Airport customs, video recorders, fragmented narrative, paternal struggles, Arsinée Khanjian, devastating loss, the nature of truth, traces of personal ancestry. All are weaved into Adoration as one might expect, so why does the film feel so minor league? Like Ararat, the only post-Sweet Hereafter film of his that I genuinely like (even though I'm in the minority), Adoration never comes off like a sad act of self-mimicry. Egoyan continues to pose fascinating, gray-area quandaries; they just don't resonate or haunt the way his films always used to.

I suspect one of the reasons why could be attributed to the fact that Adoration (as well as Ararat) addresses very specific, button-pushing issues where Exotica, The Adjuster, Family Viewing and The Sweet Hereafter tackled more abstract ideas through less particular situations (Where the Truth Lies is another story altogether). It's not that Egoyan is preaching or over-symplifying these matters; it's that, like Charles Aznavour's character in Ararat says, Adoration feels like something he always "needed" to make. This necessity and self-applied obligation to explore terrorism and the waves of ignorance that surround it restrains the director and make the film's mysteries and revelations a hell of a lot less seamless and profound.

Additionally, the importance Egoyan places on keeping Adoration from being sanctimonious gives way for some glaring surface-level problems. It never seemed to dawn on Egoyan the preposterousness of the film's main plot detail, in which high schooler Simon (Devon Bostick) presents an assignment/monologue, with the encouragement of his French teacher Sabine (Khanjian) who also teaches drama, that adopts the perspective of an unborn child whose Middle Eastern father has planted a bomb on the child's mother as she boards a flight to Israel without him. Simon asserts that the story is true, even though his parents (Rachel Blanchard, Noam Jenkins) actually died in a car accident. This "experiment" leads to more social exercises between the boy and his teacher, all of which begin to enrage the (physical and online) community. All the major plot points and subsequent disclosures never rise above their own contrivances, and you can almost see an uneasiness in the way Khanjian, Egoyan's wife and muse, plays her scenes.

Despite fantastic turns from Scott Speedman, as Simon's uncle who raises him after the accident, and Kenneth Welsh, every bit as creepy here as he was in Twin Peaks as Simon's grandfather, Egoyan can't get much out of Bostick, who plays the youthful centerpiece that's so crucial in nearly all of Egoyan's films. After eliciting such a mesmerizing performance from Sarah Polley in The Sweet Hereafter, Egoyan hasn't been able to replicate that with Elaine Cassidy, David Alpay, Alison Lohman (though she has been forgiven thanks to Drag Me to Hell) and now Bostick. In his two principle actors, we can see a glimpse of Egoyan's own admirable, but disconcerting hereafter, where everything has become a murky reflection of what once was and the pieces that once fit together no longer do.

18 June 2009

September Criterions and Other Upcoming DVD Releases

On the surface, September would seem to be a disappointing month for Criterion, with only two official releases, David Mamet's Homicide and Alexander Korda's That Hamilton Woman (on a side note, I think Criterion should really give Korda a rest, as their staff must include the world's only Korda fanboys). However, they also announced a Blu-ray of Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou, in addition to The Complete Monterey Pop Festival. And, similar to their release of Henry Cass' Last Holiday this past Tuesday, they're releasing Réné Clément's Gervaise, Marcel Carné's Le jour se lève and Anatole Litvak's Mayerling, with Danielle Darrieux and Charles Boyer, for the first time on DVD in the US as part of their Essential Art House Collection. Volume 4 of this set also includes Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood, Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's Tales of Hoffman; all six are available separately as well. I thought a prominent New York newspaper said Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire was coming in September as well, but if it is, they haven't announced it officially.

Sony will be releasing Gregor Jordan's adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' The Informers on DVD and Blu-ray on 25 August. The film's box office failure may have been one of the contributing factors to its distribution company Senator's shutting down, which came about last week; it's also worth noting that The Informers was first (and last) release from them, leaving a number of other films like the two Mesrine films in limbo. Season 3 of 30 Rock, in my opinion the best yet, will be out on 22 September from Universal; Salma Hayek, Jon Hamm, Oprah Winfrey and Alan Alda make memorable guest appearances throughout the season.

Sony announced Carlos Cuarón's Rudo & Cursi on DVD and Blu-ray for 25 August. Strand will be releasing Veiko Õunpuu's Sügisball on 22 September and Yôji Yamada's Kabei: Our Mother on the 8th. And finally, Sony will also release Steven Sodebergh's sex, lies and videotape on Blu-ray on 25 August. More catch-up soon!

16 June 2009

Cracks in My Canvas

I've just returned from my (very bittersweet) trip to Chicago to see PJ Harvey and John Parish in concert. I'll have some updates for you either tomorrow or Thursday.

12 June 2009

Peter Greenaway's Nightwatching on DVD in September

E1 Distribution announced a 15 September DVD release date for Peter Greenaway's Nightwatching, which stars Martin Freeman as Rembrandt. They will release the film in two editions; the special edition will also contain Greenaway's Rembrandt's J'accuse. Nightwatching also stars Natalie Press, Toby Jones and Jodhi May. Koch Lorber also announced Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy's Rumba for the same date.

Also, Sony announced Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's Sugar for 1 September on DVD and Blu-ray. The fourth season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia will be out 15 September. Zeitgeist is releasing Sergei Dvortsevoy's Tulpan on 22 September. And finally, Lionsgate will have 1988's Homeboy, which stars Mickey Rourke as a boxer, on 1 September.

11 June 2009

Chicken Liver Balls

I'm on my way up to Chicago to cross one of my life goals off the list: seeing PJ Harvey live. After having tickets for three of her shows that were canceled during her Uh Huh Her tour, I finally have my chance, which has been quite a long time coming. I may not update for the next couple days (then again, maybe I will). If you haven't checked it out already, I highly recommend PJ and John Parish's latest album A Woman, A Man Walked By, which ranks among the best music releases this year, along with Fever Ray's Fever Ray, Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion, Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest and Bat for Lashes' Two Suns. I'm always down for new music recommendations as well, so toss 'em my way.

09 June 2009

Field of Broken Dreams

Sugar - dir. Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck - 2008 - USA - Sony Pictures Classics

Written for Gone Cinema Poaching.

While Laurent Cantet's The Class [Entre les murs] and the fourth season of The Wire may have forever altered the tired classroom genre, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden's Half Nelson was the first, rousing sign that the days of Dangerous Minds and Mona Lisa Smile had ended. With Sugar, Fleck and Boden have aimed to do the same with another eye-rolling genre: the sports film. While a mostly admirable attempt, Sugar comes up short in a lot of the aspects Half Nelson succeeded.

Fleck and Boden were the only two people who could have got me excited about a sports film, being neither a fan of athletic competitions nor, especially, their representation on film. Following gifted Dominican pitcher Miguel (Algenis Perez Soto), or Sugar as he's known by everyone else, the filmmaking pair take a surprisingly singular approach to the usually team-oriented subject of baseball. As Sugar moves from the Dominican Republic into the American minor leagues with very little knowledge of the English language, his journey becomes a predominantly solitary one. While it's perhaps unfair to constantly compare the film to Half Nelson, Sugar lacks the astonishing dynamics of character between Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps.

Though aided by some fantastically edited game sequences and an aversion to cheap sentimentality, the temptation to descend into lame clichés isn't evaded as much as one might hope. Sugar's debut on the mount comes with a slew of expected conventions: the initial fumble, the pep talk from his sort-of mentor (Rayniel Rufino) and then the extraordinary delivery on his promise. The film takes a shift in its final third, but for those of you hoping for a scene to mirror the exhilarating climax of Half Nelson (when Gosling and Epps see each other in the hotel room while Broken Social Scene's "Shampoo Suicide" plays on the soundtrack), it isn't there.

In downplaying most of the film, Fleck and Boden provide us with something a lot more meaningful than the typical underdog story, but they also risk making Sugar as unmemorable as the films it's critiquing. I'd also like to start a petition to ban filmmakers from using any version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." From films like Basquiat and Watchmen all the way down to episodes of The West Wing and Scrubs, the song has worn out its welcome, and even using a Spanish-language cover of it, as they do in Sugar, still feels just as trite.

08 June 2009

My Sort-Of Top 10 for 2000

Over at Counting Down the Zeroes, I was asked to list my Top 10 films of 2000. I'm not totally set on the ten I chose, but I thought I'd link to it anyway. I may create a more definitive one by the end of the year.

1. Presque rien (Come Undone) [d. Sébastien Lifshitz]
2. Songs from the Second Floor (Sånger från andra våningen) [d. Roy Andersson]
3. Dancer in the Dark [d. Lars von Trier]
4. Water Drops on Burning Rocks (Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes) [d. François Ozon]
5. Code Unknown (Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages) [d. Michael Haneke]
6. In the Mood for Love [d. Wong Kar-wai]
7. George Washington [d. David Gordon Green]
8. Under the Sand (Sous le sable) [d. François Ozon]
9. La fidélité [d. Andrzej Żuławski]
10. Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV [d. Lloyd Kaufman]

07 June 2009

Silent Light Coming to DVD; You, the Living and Taxidermia Coming to the Theatre

Through Vivendi Visual, Palisades Tartan will release their first two DVDs in the US in September. Carlos Reygadas' Silent Light [Stellet licht] will finally be out on 9 Sept, along with Anders Morgenthaler's animated actioner Princess on 29 Sept. Vivendi also announced Aaron Woodley's Tennessee, starring none other than Mariah Carey, on 1 September. Additionally, Kino will be releasing Emily Hubley's The Toe Tactic and Sean Baker and Tsou Shih-Ching's Take Out on 1 September. Magnet will have Ringo Lam, Johnny To and Tsui Hark's Triangle on 15 September. And, my pick for best title of the year so far goes to Life Is Hot in Cracktown, which Anchor Bay will release on 25 August. It also is ranking on the list of strangest casts of the year (Lara Flynn Boyle, Illeana Douglas, RZA, Brandon Routh, Kerry Washington, Mark Webber and Vondie Curtis-Hall); let me know if the film is as good as it sounds.

Surprisingly, I haven't heard of really any post-Cannes acquisitions, aside from Oscilloscope's pick-up of Michel Gondry's The Thorn in the Heart [L'épine dans le coeur]. However, it looks as if Roy Andersson's You, the Living [Du levande] and György Pálfi's Taxidermia, both previously stuck in release limbo after Tartan USA died, will finally see a theatrical release this year from Palisades Tartan, who picked up most of their library, and Regent Releasing, respectively.

Music Box Films have two German films lined up for later this year, the old-people-fucking flick Cloud 9 [Wolke 9] from director Andreas Dresdon (Summer in Berlin) and music video director Philipp Stölzl's North Face [Nordwand] with Benno Fürmann and Johanna Wokalek.

In addition to Lucrecia Martel's The Headless Woman [La mujer sin cabeza], Strand also has a number of films lined up for later this year: Pascal-Alex Vincent's Give Me Your Hand [Donne-moi la main]; Pablo Trapero's Lion's Den [Leonera]; Noah Buschel's The Missing Person, with Michael Shannon and Amy Ryan; Jay DiPietro's Peter and Vandy, with Jess Weixler, Jason Ritter and Tracie Thoms; and Karin Albou's The Wedding Song [Le chant des mariées].

Regent Releasing picked up Lucía Puenzo's follow-up to her wonderful XXY, The Fish Child [El niño pez], which also stars Inés Efron, a few months ago. Regent will also release Eran Merav's Zion & His Brother, with Ronit Elkabetz, in the near future. That's all for now.

Ryko Gets a New Name + Some Other DVD Releases

I suppose this isn't official, as I couldn't find any further information, but it looks like Ryko Distribution is now Alternative Distribution Alliance... similar to Koch's switch to E1 earlier this year. I uncovered a couple of ADA titles for 29 September.

- Attraction [Nerosubianco], 1969, d. Tinto Brass, Cult Epics
- Burke & Hare, 1972, d. Vernon Sewell, Redemption
- Daughter of Darkness, 1948, d. Lance Comfort, Redemption
- Hardware, 1990, d. Richard Stanley, Severin, also on Blu-ray, w. Dylan McDermott, Iggy Pop
- Lucifera - Demonlover [L'amante del demonio], 1972, d. Paolo Lombardo, MYA
- Naked and Violent [America così nuda, così violenta], 1970, d. Sergio Martino, MYA
- New York Ripper [Lo squartatore di New York], 1982, d. Lucio Fulci, Blue Undergound, Special Edition, also on Blu-ray
- Sex and Zen, 1991, d. Michael Mak Tong-Kit, Eastern Star
- The Storm Riders, 1998, d. Lau Wai-keing, Discotek Media, Special Edition
- Until Death [Fino allo morte], 1987, d. Lamberto Bava, MYA
- Uzumaki, 2000, d. Higuchinsky, Eastern Star

There have been a few other DVD announcements:

- The Betrayal, 2008, d. Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath, Cinema Guild, 1 September
- Goodbye Solo, 2008, d. Ramin Bahrani, Lionsgate, 25 August
- In a Dream, 2008, d. Jeremiah Zagar, Indiepix, 25 August
- The Tiger's Tail, 2006, d. John Boorman, MGM, 11 August, w. Brendan Gleeson, Kim Cattrall, Ciarán Hinds, Sinéad Cusack
- Tyson, d. James Toback, Sony, also on Blu-ray, 18 August
- Full Battle Rattle, 2008, d. Tony Gerber, Jesse Moss, First Run Features, 15 September

And some new-to-Blu-rays:

- Billy Jack, 1971, d. Tom Laughlin, Image, 29 September
- Braveheart, 1995, d. Mel Gibson, Paramount, 1 September
- Child's Play, 1988, d. Tom Holland, MGM, 15 September
- Escape from L.A., 1996, d. John Carpenter, Paramount, 15 September
- Forrest Gump, 1994, d. Robert Zemeckis, Paramount, 3 November
- Friday, 1995, d. F. Gary Gray, New Line, 8 September
- Gojira [Godzilla], 1954, d. Ishirô Honda, Classic Media, 22 September
- Hot Fuzz, 2007, d. Edgar Wright, Universal, 13 October
- It's a Wonderful Life, 1946, d. Frank Capra, Paramount, 3 November
- Menace II Society, 1993, d. Albert Hughes, Allan Hughes, New Line, 8 September
- Misery, 1990, d. Rob Reiner, MGM, 15 September
- The Ninth Gate, 1999, d. Roman Polanski, Lionsgate, 11 August
- Set It Off, 1996, d. F. Gary Gray, New Line, 8 September
- Shaun of the Dead, 2004, d. Edgar Wright, Universal, 13 October

05 June 2009

Without a Paddle

The Limits of Control - dir. Jim Jarmusch - 2009 - USA/Spain/Japan - Focus Features

Written for Gone Cinema Poaching.

Though also structured around a series of vignettes, Jim Jarmusch's latest, The Limits of Control, is a welcome departure from his last two films, Broken Flowers and Coffee and Cigarettes. Bearing a much closer resemblance to Dead Man and, perhaps, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, The Limits of Control is Jarmusch at his most coded and narratively "avant garde." Setting aside his usual influences (Yasujiro Ozu and Seijun Suzuki, for example), Jarmusch opts for a strange fusion of Jean-Pierre Melville, Alejandro Jodorowsky and, even, Jacques Rivette. Using these comparisons might suggest a dismissive act of deduction, but, like so many of his other films, The Limits of Control owes everything to the familiar and mysterious world of the cinema.

Though I suspect this is how I feel about most films that would qualify, it isn't until Tilda Swinton appears onscreen that the film begins to work. With a white-blonde wig and cowboy hat, Swinton delivers the film's best line, "Movies are like dreams you're never really sure you've had." The line was taken directly from a speech Swinton gave at the San Francisco Film Festival in 2006 and ultimately serves as both the guiding light of The Limits of Control as well as the point of surrender. As the third visitor for Isaach De Bankolé, the hero of the film simply credited as 'Lone Man,' her arrival onscreen is when the viewer is forced into deciding whether or not they wish to accompany Jarmusch and De Bankolé on their strange, covert journey through Spain.

In a series of arcane, frequently misleading codes, the viewer follows De Bankolé on this cryptic quest, adorned with mostly familiar faces (De Bankolé, Swinton, Bill Murray, Alex Descas, John Hurt and Youki Kudoh have all starred in at least one other film by the director). While the partnerships with cinematographer Christopher Doyle and musicians Boris and Sunn O))) are firsts for their director, they certainly recall the directors' best visual and musical collaborations. In the end, what one takes from The Limits of Control is a matter of decision and acceptance. The film never reaches the unbeatable heights of the films it aspires to (Céline and Julie Go Boating and The Holy Mountain, to name a few), but I'd be ridiculous to slight any film that. For the patient viewer though, The Limits of Control has a lot to offer and is the most assured film the director has made in a decade.

Le mépris, Ran and Others on Blu-ray in the UK This Fall

Despite the bad news that Criterion's planned Blu-rays of Jean-Luc Godard' Contempt [Le mépris] and Akira Kurosawa's Ran were scrapped due to the loss of rights, Optimum Releasing in the UK has both, plus a bunch of other exciting titles, set for a Blu-ray release in September. The other titles include: David Lynch's The Elephant Man, Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad [L'année dernière à Marienbad], Luis Buñuel's Belle de jour, Joseph Losey's The Go-Between (which isn't even out on DVD in the US), Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter, Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta's The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum [Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum oder: Wie Gewalt entstehen und wohin sie führen kann], Luc Besson's Le dernier combat, Angel-A, Léon: The Professional, Le grand bleu [The Big Blue], Atlantis, Subway and Nikita [La femme Nikita].

In August, Optimum will be releasing Blu-rays of Mathieu Kassovitz's La haine, Alan Parker's Angel Heart and Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark; in July, Alexandre Aja's Haute tension (which is called Switchblade Romance in the UK), Roman Polanski's The Pianist, Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs, Rian Johnson's Brick, Gus Van Sant's Elephant and Stephen Frears' The Grifters. Apparently, the UK is the place for great international cinema in high def.

Also, thanks to Eric for the heads up, Artificial Eye in the UK is releasing a Jacques Rivette box-set, which includes La belle noiseuse, Secret défense and Jeanne la Pucelle I and II. This may be the first official release of the uncut version of Jeanne, but that has yet to be confirmed.

04 June 2009

You, Appearing

There will likely be a lag in my blog posts for the next two weeks or so. I'm heading out of town, and I suppose, I'm not really "feelin' it." Whatever that means. I do have a couple of contributions to other sites that will be showing up here soon, which I'll direct you to later... but for now, I'm going to live vicariously through the Fisher clan... and hope some form of epiphany arises from there.

02 June 2009

The Decade List: Albums/Singles (2003)

I suppose 2003 will best be remembered, in my mind, for the bridge pop music made to hipper-than-thou twentysomethings. Chart toppers like Outkast's "Hey Ya," Jay-Z's "99 Problems," Kelis' "Milkshake," Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" and a variety of Justin Timberlake songs from his 2002 album Justified found a fanbase as large in the 'cool kid' community as they did everywhere else... but I suppose that makes sense. It certainly wasn't the first time pop music expanded to those nether regions (Kylie's "Can't Get You Outta My Head" was probably 2002's best example), but really, some the best music in the "indie" (groan) scene was of the dance sort (see The Rapture, Junior Senior and of course The Knife).

Artistically speaking, the album Deep Cuts from the Swedish sibling duo The Knife pales, in their eyes, to 2005's Silent Shout, but that doesn't make the album any less wonderful. I have no qualms about making the claim that "Heartbeats" is the best pop song of the entire decade (and José González's acoustic cover, from Veneer the same year, is pretty great as well). The albums below are listed in vague order of preference; the singles are not.

Outkast - Speakerboxxx / The Love Below
Check It: Dracula's Wedding (with Kelis)

The Knife - Deep Cuts
Check It: Heartbeats

M83 - Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
Check It: Run Into Flowers

Kelis - Tasty
Check It: Trick Me

Breathless - Behind the Light
Check It: After All These Years

The Hidden Cameras - The Smell of Our Own
Check It: Golden Streams

Robin Guthrie - Imperial
Check It: Imperial

Jay-Z - The Black Album
Check It: 99 Problems

The Radio Dept. - Lesser Matters
Check It: Where Damage Isn't Already Done

The Microphones - Mount Eerie

Explosions in the Sky - The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place
Check It: Your Hand in Mine

Desert Sessions 9 & 10
Check It: A Girl Like Me (with PJ Harvey)

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Master and Everyone
Check It: Wolf Among Wolves

Sufjan Stevens - Michigan
Check It: Niagara Falls

Beyoncé - Dangerously in Love
Check It: Crazy in Love (with Jay-Z)

José González - Veneer
Check It: Heartbeats (The Knife cover)

Black Eyes - Black Eyes
Check It: Deformative

Songs: Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co.
Check It: Farewell Transmission

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - The Secret of Elena's Tomb
Check It: All Saints Day

Piano Magic - The Troubled Sleep of Piano Magic
Check It: Saint Marie [This is the version from the EP with Low's Alan Sparhawk on vocals instead of Glen Johnson. I prefer this version]

The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium
Check It: Cicatriz ESP

The Rapture - Echoes
Check It: House of Jealous Lovers

Kristin Hersh - The Grotto
Check It: Sno Cat

Kylie Minogue - Body Language
Check It: Chocolate

Étienne Daho - Réévolution
Check It: If (with Charlotte Gainsbourg) [Really, this song is rather silly, but I enjoy it still]

Cat Power - You Are Free
Check It: I Don't Blame You

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever to Tell
Check It: Date with the Night

Assorted Singles/Jams of 2003

Kelis - "Milkshake" (from Tasty)
Amy Winehouse - "Fuck Me Pumps" (from Frank)
Elbow - "I've Got Your Number" (from Cast of Thousands)
Metric - "Dead Disco" (from Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?)
Britney Spears - "Toxic" (from In the Zone) [Really, this song is a fucking jam; too bad the video sucks]

Girls in Hawaii - "Flavor" (from From Here to There)
Desert Sessions (with PJ Harvey, Josh Homme) - "Crawl Home" (from Desert Sessions 9 & 10)
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Y Control" (from Fever to Tell)
Benjamin Biolay - "Glory Hole" (from Négatif)
Liz Phair - "HWC" (from Liz Phair) [HWC is the acronym for "Hot White Cum;" this song is just awful. I love it]

Massive Attack - "Butterfly Caught" (from 100th Window)
Electric Six - "Gay Bar" (from Fire) [I love that the words "war" and "nuclear war" had to be censored]
Outkast - "Happy Valentine's Day" (from Speakerboxxx / The Love Below)
The Rapture - "Olio" (from Echoes)
Desert Sessions (with Josh Homme, PJ Harvey) - "I Wanna Make It Wit Chu" (from Desert Sessions 9 & 10) [PJ Harvey doesn't sing on the album version, but of course I chose the video where she does]

Émilie Simon (with Perry Blake) - "Graines d'étoiles" (from Émilie Simon)
The Hidden Cameras - "Boys of Melody" (from The Smell of Our Own)
José González - "Slow Moves" (from Veneer)
Goldfrapp - "Train" (from Black Cherry)
The Knife (with Jenny Wilson) - "You Take My Breath Away" (from Deep Cuts)

The Hidden Cameras - "Ban Marriage" (from The Smell of Our Own)
Cat Power (with Eddie Vedder) - "Evolution" (from You Are Free)
50 Cent - "In Da Club" (from Get Rich or Die Tryin')
The Knife - "Pass This On" (from Deep Cuts) [arguably one of my three favorite videos of the decade]
R. Kelly - "Ignition (Remix)" (from Chocolate Factory)

Dannii Minogue - "I Begin to Wonder" (from Neon Nights)
Goldfrapp - "Strict Machine" (from Black Cherry)
Beyoncé - "Me Myself and I" (from Dangerously in Love)
Kings of Leon - "Trani" (from Youth and Young Manhood) [I sort of feel like a douche putting this band on here, but I do like this song... unfortunately it's not about a tranny like I originally thought]
Ludacris - "Stand Up" (from Chicken-N-Beer)

Kylie Minogue - "Secret (Take You Home)" (from Body Language)
Beyoncé - "Naughty Girl" (from Dangerously in Love)
The Strokes - "Reptilla" (from Room on Fire)
Blu Cantrell (with Sean Paul) - "Breathe" (from Bitter Sweet)
Black Eyes - "On the Sacred Side" (from Black Eyes) [unfortunately I couldn't find this streaming anywhere]

No Doubt - "It's My Life" (from The Singles 1992-2003) [Talk Talk cover]
Scissor Sisters - "Laura" (from Laura EP)
Mya - "My Love Is Like... Wo" (from Moodring)
!!! - "Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story)" (from Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story) EP)
The Postal Service - "Such Great Heights" (from Give Up) [lame, I know]

Blur - "Out of Time" (from Think Tank)
The Radio Dept. - "Keen on Boys" (from Lesser Matters)
Keren Ann - "Not Going Anywhere" (from Not Going Anywhere)
Broadcast - "Pendulum" (from Haha Sound)
50 Cent (featuring Nate Dogg) - "21 Questions" (from Get Rich or Die Tryin')