29 December 2012
Over the past month, I've had to put movie-watching and -writing on hold, as I've been assisting in a lot of post-production shenanigans for the film Interior. Leather Bar. (formerly known as James Franco's Cruising and James Franco's 40 Minutes). The film, directed by Travis Mathews and James Franco, will be making its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in the New Frontier section and its international premiere at the Berlinale in the Panorama section. I never thought I'd be returning to the realm of film production again, but the world works in mysterious ways, I guess. I'm incredibly honored to have been a part of this production, and I'm really proud of everyone who worked on the film... because the film is actually really fantastic. You can probably expect a number of updates regarding the film, screenings, and possibly new projects in the coming months. For now, here's the trailer.
INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR. trailer from Travis Mathews on Vimeo.
14 November 2012
It's really hard to imagine jokes with a tranny punch-line showing up in films these days, but then again, I'm not really spending my time watching whatever the Ace Ventura or Naked Gun equivalents of today are. Perhaps one day, Hollywood will reflect upon Jim Carrey's vomit and tears and realize they are as offensively backward as seeing white people in black-face.
09 November 2012
04 November 2012
24 October 2012
French Cinema Now continues Thursday, October 25, with Elie Wajeman's Aliyah (Alyah), which also premiered at this year's Quinzaine des Réalisateurs. French dreamboat Pio Marmaï plays a man in his late 20s in Paris considering moving to Tel Aviv to open a restaurant with his cousin but must first deal with his increasingly complicated family situation . Filmmaker Cédric Kahn (L'ennui, Red Lights), Adèle Haenel (House of Tolerance), Guillaume Gouix (Nobody Else But You), and Michaël Abiteboul (Belle épine) also star. Anne Fontaine's latest romantic comedy My Worst Nightmare (Mon pire cauchemar), which stars Isabelle Huppert and Benoît Poelvoorde as a pair of polar opposites whose sons happen to be friends, follows Aliyah.
On Friday the 26th, a trio of films are screening. On first, writer/director Stéphane Robelin's star-studded comedy All Together (Et si on vivait tous ensemble?) follows a group of aging friends who decide to move into a house together instead of being forced into a retirement home. Pierre Richard, Claude Rich, and Guy Bedos are joined by French-speaking American actresses Jane Fonda and Geraldine Chaplin, as well as German actor Daniel Brühl as an anthropology student studying the group. All Together is followed by Mobile Home, the feature directing debut of François Pirot, co-screenwriter for Joachim Lafosse's Private Property (Nue propriété) and Private Lessons (Élève libre). This Belgian road film, which played in competition at the Locarno International Film Festival, stars Arthur Dupont (One to Another) and Guillaume Gouix, who can also be seen in Aliyah, as a pair of childhood friends who tire of being unemployed and living with their parents and decide to hit the open road. And finally, a medium-length feature (or moyen métrage), A World Without Women (Un monde sans femmes) from short filmmaker Guillaume Brac, finishes up the night. Though running close to an hour, A World Without Women was nominated for a César earlier this year for Meilleur film de court-métrage (Best Short Film); for further reference, the French consider anything under 60 minutes a "court-métrage" with moyen métrage filling some gray area between short and feature. It screens with Brac's previous short Stranded (Le naufragé), which follows the same central character of Women, Sylvain (Vincent Macaigne); Adélaïde Leroux (Bruno Dumont's Flandres, Ursula Meier's Home) and Julien Lucas (Regular Lovers, You Belong to Me) also star in Le naufragé.
Bruno Dumont's latest Hors Satan screens on Saturday, the 27th; the film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Sunday continues with one of the highlights of last year's Critics Week at the Venice Film Festival, Cyril Mennegun's Louise Wimmer. And Ursula Meier's Sister (L'enfant d'en haut), Switzerland's official Oscar submission, will close the program on Tuesday, the 30th. Sister features Léa Seydoux and Kacey Mottet Klein (the youngest child in Meier's Home) as a pair of siblings at a Swiss ski resort. Gillian Anderson, Martin Compston, Jean-François Stévenin, and Yann Trégouët (Artemisia, Born in 68) round out the cast. All of the films, excluding Sister, play twice over the seven days at the Embarcadero Center Theatre.
For those curious as to which films already have U.S. distribution: Adopt Films opened Sister in New York earlier this month, with it expanding throughout the country currently. Hors Satan will be released by New Yorker Films in the near future. My Worst Nightmare opened in New York City last week from Strand Releasing, as did All Together from Kino Lorber. And Film Movement will release both Aliyah and Louise Wimmer sometime in 2013. The San Francisco Film Society will be putting on a similar program for Italy in the early part of November. Stay tuned for that.
20 October 2012
11 October 2012
10 October 2012
October 11 - 21: The Arab Film Festival opens with Sameh Zoabi's 2010 comedy Man Without a Cell Phone at 7:30 pm at the Castro Theater. The traveling film festival, now in its sixteenth year, moves onto additional California locales in San Jose, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Other films screening at the festival include the French comedy Top Floor, Left Wing (Dernier étage gauche gauche), winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at last year's Berlinale; Faouzi Bensaïdi's heist drama Death for Sale, which will represent Morocco for the Best Foreign Language Film at next year's Oscars; Khalid Al-Haggar's Lust, which was Egypt's Oscar submission last year; Namir Abdel Messeeh's inventive documentary The Virgin, the Copts, and Me (La Vierge, les Coptes et moi...), which played at both this year's Berlinale and Tribeca Film Festival; and the Dutch road movie Rabat (pictured above). All screenings, except for the opening night gala, will be held at the Embarcadero Center Cinema.
October 11, 13, 14: Chantal Akerman's latest film, Almayer's Folly (La folie Almayer), comes to the Yerba Buena Center for a three-day run. The film is adapted from the novel of the same name by Joseph Conrad and reteams the director with her La captive star Stanislas Merhar.
October 12 - 14: At New People Cinema, the Film Society of San Francisco presents Taiwan Film Days, which will showcase seven Taiwanese films over its three days, including Edward Yang's classic four-hour epic A Brighter Summer Day, which is still MIA on DVD. Yang's widow is expected to be in attendance.
October 12 - 19: Sure to attract a lively crowd, the Castro Theater will present another of its popular sing-a-long events to the film that began Walt Disney Animation's financial resurgence in the late 80s/early 90s (if you aren't counting The Rescuers Down Under), The Little Mermaid. I'd be willing to bet every plus-size drag queen within the city limits will be making at appearance as Ursula for (at least) one of the nightly screenings over its week run.
October 13: Midnites for Maniacs have programmed a rather impressive triple-feature for October: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2; and Clive Barker's original Hellraiser. With a strange cast that joins Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne, and Zsa Zsa Gabor with the leftovers of the first installment Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon (missing from the puzzling, gay panic second film), Dream Warriors is, without question, the best of the entire Elm Street series. In another unusual sequel to a hugely popular horror film, Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel, made twelve years after the original, has Dennis Hopper on the hunt for the murderous family. All three films are shown on 35mm, starting at 7:30 pm at the Roxie Theater.
October 13: If the above triple-feature doesn't suit your fancy, you can always go to the Clay Theater for a midnight screening of one of the "great" San Francisco films, Tommy Wiseau's The Room.
October 15: At the Roxie, Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1932 silent classic Vampyr will be screened with live score by Siouxsie and the Banshees co-founder Steven Severin. Screenings are at 7pm and 9:30pm.
October 19 - 25: Andrea Arnold's stunning adaptation of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights begins a week-long run at the Opera Plaza Cinema. Expect a review from me sometime soon.
October 20: To celebrate its 20th anniversary just in time for Halloween, Peaches Christ will present a screening/event of/for Robert Zemeckis' Death Becomes Her. Over the past year or so, I've seen Peaches screen/perform Showgirls, Ken Russell's Tommy, and Silence of the Lambs, and this will be the debut run of Death Becomes Her, with Peaches as Madeleine Ashton (Meryl Streep) and Heklina as Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn).
27 September 2012
For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, the 17th annual Berlin & Beyond Film Festival began this evening with an opening night gala of Christian Petzold's Barbara, which took home the Silver Bear for Best Director at this year's Berlinale, in addition to being selected as the official 2012 German submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar. Presented by the Goethe Institut, the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival showcases the latest in German, Swiss, and Austrian cinema, as well as German-language films from the rest of the world in the case of Aleksandr Sokurov's version of the oft-told and -filmed legend of Faust, which screens Friday, September 28th, at 9pm at the Castro Theatre.
The latest film from director Veit Helmer (Tuvalu, Absurdistan), Baikonur will screen as the festival's centerpiece selection on Saturday, September 29th, at the Castro Theatre, and the festival closes on Thursday, October 4th, with Marten Persiel's East German skater documentary This Ain't California.
Other notable films at this year's festival include Achim von Borries' (Love in Thoughts) WWII drama, 4 Days in May (4 Tage im Mai); Dagmar Schultz's documentary about lesbian poet Audre Lorde, entitled Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992; Maggie Peren's Color of the Ocean (Die Farbe des Ozeans), which played at last year's Toronto International Film Festival and stars Sabine Timoteo and Spanish actor Álex González; David Wnendt's tale of neo-Nazi teen girls, Combat Girls (Kriegerin); Christian Schwochow's backstage drama Cracks in the Shell (Die Unsichtbare), which won the Best Actress prize for Danish actress Stine Fischer Christensen at last year's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival; Anno Saul's The Door (Die Tür), starring another renowned Danish actor, Mads Mikkelsen; Hans-Christian Schmid's Home for the Weekend (Was bleibt), which played in competition to mixed reviews at this year's Berlinale; and Hendrik Handloegten's Summer Window (Fenster zum Sommer), with actors Nina Hoss and Lars Eidinger, who can be seen elsewhere at the festival in Barbara and Home for the Weekend, respectively.
Switzerland and Austria are both represented by three films each this year. The Swiss line-up includes two documentaries, Nicolas Steiner's Battle of the Queens (Kampf der Königinnen), which chronicles the traditional cow fights in the south of Switzerland, and Martin Witz's The Substance: Albert Hofmann's LSD, which traces the discovery of LSD in the early 1940s. The Swiss trio is rounded out with The Foster Boy (Der Verdingbub), a period drama from television-director Markus Imboden, starring Katja Riemann and newcomer Max Hubacher. This year's Austrian selection includes actor Karl Markovics' acclaimed directorial debut Breathing (Atmen), which premiered at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at the Cannes Film Festival last year; Julian Pölsler's The Wall (Die Wand), starring Martina Gedeck and recipient of the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at this year's Berlinale; and Michael Glawogger's documentary about prostitution in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Mexico, Whores' Glory.
In addition to the contemporary films at this year's festival, there will be a tribute to Mario Adorf with four of the actor's films playing over the course of the week: Volker Schlöndorff's The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel), Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Lola, Georg Tressler's Ship of the Dead (Das Totenschiff), and Lola Randl's The Rhino and the Dragonfly (Die Libelle und das Nashorn). Please visit the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival's official site for showtimes and any other information you might need.
A friend of mine who just finished school asked me if I could suggest some films for him to watch on Netflix Instant. Here are five more recommendations. Each of the films below were available on Netflix Instant in the USA at the time this was published.
Oslo, August 31st
Oslo, 31. august
Joachim Trier's second film, following the marvelous Reprise (also available on Instant), readapts Pierre Drieu La Rochelle's novel Le feu follet (famously made for the screen by Louis Malle in 1963, as well as a little-seen made-for-French-television version in 1994), updating it to modern day Norway, chronicling roughly twenty-four-or-so hours in the life of recovering drug addict Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) who is given leave from rehab for the first time in what appears to have been a while to interview for a job. Intimate and heartbreaking without being too austere, Oslo, August 31st is an assured, exceptional sophomore effort from the distant cousin of Lars von Trier and certainly one of the better films of 2011.
With: Anders Danielsen Lie, Hans Olav Brenner, Ingrid Olavs, Øystein Røger, Malin Crépin, Tone B. Mostraum, Kjærsti Odden Skjeldal, Johanne Kjellevik Ledang, Petter Width, Renate Reinsve, Anders Borchgrevink, Emil Lund, Andreas Braaten
The late, great Ken Russell's own description of The Music Lovers as a film about a homosexual who falls in love with a nymphomaniac does accurately summarize this loose biopic of Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky (Richard Chamberlain), but The Music Lovers is so much more. I was lucky enough to have seen a beautiful print of the film at the Castro Theater earlier this year, which is truly the ideal way to watch any of Ken Russell's films (up to a point), but don't let that stop you from watching it at home. Following Tchaikovsky and his wife Nina (brilliantly played by Glenda Jackson), Russell surrounds these two individuals with a number of impossible love affairs, each of them branching off their own doomed marriage, which was unsuccessfully consummated in a riveting sequence on a train. Along with The Devils, The Music Lovers is one of the finest examples of Russell's signature style: frenzied, operatic, dazzling, cinematic decadence (at its finest).
With: Richard Chamberlain, Glenda Jackson, Max Adrian, Christopher Gable, Izabella Telezynska, Kenneth Colley, Maureen Pryor, Sabina Maydelle, Andrew Faulds, Bruce Robinson
Paul Verhoeven has only made one bad film in his entire career, and that was Hollow Man. So if anyone says that Showgirls, RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, or Starship Troopers are bad films, rest assured that they're just plain wrong. Starship Troopers has everything you need in a film. It's enormously entertaining, weirdly erotic, intentionally hilarious (I've heard people try to say otherwise... again, they're wrong), kind of gross, and "secretly" really smart, which accurately describes all of Verhoeven's best work. Take for instance Rue McClanahan as an eye-patch-donning biology teacher, or Denise Richards as the good-girl brainiac Carmen Ibanez (all of the film's main characters come from a futuristic Buenos Aires where everyone is as American as they come, though still retaining Spanish names).
With: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Patrick Muldoon, Neil Patrick Harris, Jake Busey, Clancy Brown, Michael Ironside, Marshall Bell, Rue McClanahan, Seth Gilliam, Brenda Strong, Lenore Kasdorf, Amy Smart
Love and Death
In my personal favorite Woody Allen film, Stardust Memories, Allen's character is hounded by a bunch of annoying fans, one of whom complains that they preferred his "older, funnier movies." Love and Death is the best of Allen's actual "older, funnier movies," a hysterical farce about a bumbling coward (played by Allen), in love with his slutty cousin (Diane Keaton), who joins the Russian army to try to defeat Napoleon. It's a great mix of visual humor, common in his early works, and the quick wit he's best known for.
With: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Olga Georges-Picot, Harold Gould, Tony Jay, Jessica Harper, Henri Coutet, Despo Diamantidou, Féodor Atkine, Alfred Lutter, James Tolkan
It's no easy feat trying to depict the essence of adolescence on film without seeming too distant or nostalgic. Céline Sciamma's Tomboy does a rather exceptional job capturing the spirit of being a child, somewhere on your way to puberty. The French have always had a knack for this, from François Truffaut (not my favorite filmmaker by any means, but I still admire the way he films "la jeunesse") to films like Jacques Doillon's Ponette. In Tomboy, ten-year-old Laure (played by Zoé Héran, who already looks like a haute-couture runway model), a tall, lanky, androgynous girl, moves to a new town where she is mistaken for a boy by the neighborhood children and decides to invent a new identity for herself as Mikaël. Tomboy is considerably more interesting when it shows the interactions between the children; both its story and its lesson, while neither of them as obvious as you may think, are secondary.
With: Zoé Héran, Malonn Lévana, Jeanne Disson, Sophie Cattani, Mathieu Demy, Yohan Ventre, Noah Ventre, Cheyenne Lainé, Ryan Bonbeleri, Jeanne Dison
22 September 2012
19 September 2012
A friend of mine who just finished school asked me if I could suggest some films for him to watch on Netflix Instant. Here are five additional recommendations. I've previously written about a few of these films and included links to the past reviews of them. Each of the films below were available on Netflix Instant in the USA at the time this was published.
On paper, Fish Tank sounds rather pedestrian: Mia, a teenage girl from the projects, tries to escape her grim existence by winning a dance competition. But on the screen, it's anything but, thanks to Andrea Arnold's spectacular vision and a dynamic central performance from Katie Jarvis. While the film is consistently breathtaking, there are at least two individual sequences that are just about heart-stopping. Older Post about Fish Tank: Down... on the Ground
With: Katie Jarvis, Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Rebecca Griffiths, Harry Treadaway, Sydney Mary Nash, Jason Maza
A fine example of the stellar films coming out of Hollywood during one of its richest periods, during the 1970s, Network is a brilliant satire that only feels more relevant today in our world of reality programs and trash television. On one hand, it's sad to see how far we've fallen from a time when a TV station would be creating a news show following a group of political terrorists, but on the other, I could cite plenty of examples of how the television narrative as evolved. You take the good with the bad, I guess. Faye Dunaway (and the rest of the cast) is impeccable.
With: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Wesley Addy, Ned Beatty, Beatrice Straight, Bill Burrows, Jordan Charney, Kathy Cronkite, Ed Crowley, Jerome Dempsey, Conchata Ferrell, Ken Kercheval, Ted Sorel, Lane Smith, William Prince, Sasha von Scherler, Marlene Warfield, Lee Richardson
A surprisingly tender and whimsical film following two separate pairings of gender dissidents: one a hermaphrodite who goes on something of a road trip/hometown-discovery-adventure with one-half of a couple who have undergone cosmetic surgery to look like one another, the other an FTM transsexual who ends up pregnant after having sex with a cute boy he meets at a show. I've never seen a film handle gender like this; it's honest, unique, and, well, open. Winner of the Teddy Jury Prize at the 2010 Berlinale.
With: Gaea Gaddy, Tempest Crane, Morty Diamond, Daniel Luedtke, Jendeen Forberg, Jill Sweiven
Easily one of the greatest horror films of all time, Don't Look Now follows an American architect (Donald Sutherland) and his wife (Julie Christie) who relocate to Venice after the death of their young daughter. While Donald Sutherland works on restoring a crumbling church, Julie Christie meets a pair of sisters, one of whom claims to have psychic visions of the dead girl being close-by. Nicolas Roeg used the city of Venice masterfully and created not only one of the great what-the-fuck finales but the greatest sex scene ever committed to film. Older Post About Don't Look Now: Boo!
With: Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie, Hilary Mason, Clelia Matania, Massimo Serato, Renato Scarpa, Giorgio Trestini, Leopoldo Trieste, David Tree, Ann Rye, Nicholas Salter, Sharon Williams, Bruno Cattaneo, Adelina Poerio
Thom E. Eberhardt
One of my personal favorite apocalypse films, Night of the Comet finds the population in jeopardy when a comet hits earth and turns nearly everyone to dust, except for a duo of sassy teenage sisters from the Valley. Where so many films like it fail, Night of the Comet does a good job balancing its intentional and accidental cheese; it has just enough awareness of itself to keep things playful and annoyingly/hilariously trendy.
With: Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Robert Beltran, Sharon Farrell, Mary Woronov, Geoffrey Lewis, Peter Fox, John Achorn, Michael Bowen