Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Check out this review of BAD NEWS BEARS by the “man who brought auteurism to America,” Andrew Sarris:
“[…] why am I leading off this week’s column with a movie, the subject and genre of which I have found singularly unappetizing for all of my adult life? The answer involves a resurgence of my auteurist inclinations. Since I decided recently that I was going to live forever, I figured that I had enough time to update The American Cinema, Directors and Directions 1929-1968 to the 21st Century, beginning with Richard Linklater, whom I am tentatively placing in the category ‘The Far Side of Paradise’.
“Still in his 40’s, Mr. Linklater may have a stab at making my pantheon of English-language auteurs, which takes in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the British Isles. Among the other recent auteurs I am following (though sometimes from a great distance) are: Robert Altman, Harold Becker, Robert Benton, the Coen Brothers, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Clint Eastwood, the Farrelly Brothers, Peter Jackson, Jim Jarmusch, Ken Loach, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Michael Mann, Errol Morris, Mike Nichols, David O. Russell, John Sayles, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Gus Van Sant and Terry Zwigoff … but I am still very early in my research.”
All this in a piece on Richard Linklater.
Our gain, wouldn’t you agree? Kent Jones, in an amazing piece from Film Comment, declared Sarris the victor in the “Sarris-Kael imbroglio”.
It’s refreshing to see that an American critic will attempt to break a trend that’s lasted almost 7 decades, and to which figures like Ferguson, Agee and Sontag eventually succumbed. It consists of the unfortunate scene in which an influential tastemaker slips into nostalgic mode, into “spiritual paralysis,” lamenting the films and the film cultures of the past at the expense of the vibrant present. Nostalgia does have its place in recouping films long forgotten or overlooked, but this has almost always been done by American critics as a bankhanded shot at the movies of today. One more feather in Sarris’ cap.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
SYNOPTIQUE 10 is ONLINE
Guest edited by Owen Livermore, SYNOPTIQUE 10 is devoted to Asian Cinemas. It features:
Hou Hsiao-hsien and the development of a Pan-Asian style, KUNG FU HUSTLE, Wong Kari-wai’s Hong Kong (x2), GHOST IN THE SHELL, Copyright law and Anime culture, Fantasia Festival 2005 Report, Hollywood Orientalism revisited, Tomoko Matsunashi, “Squalid Infidelities” Part 4, a review of IZO, and splinter reviews.
And the layout by Marcus Benigno is incredibly beautiful. Worth a serious look.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
FANTASIA 2005 Film Festival Report #2
At FANTASIA the other evening I ran into some young friends of mine, avid cinephiles every one, and they were uniformly shocked to hear that I intended to meander home to get something to eat instead of attending the final screening of LOW LIFE, the latest film by important Korean writer/director Im Kwon-taek. For what is food-based sustenance compared with the cinematic variety? Well, with all due respect to Important Films, a good meal would have been more satisfying. Even my co-viewers—those who had assured me that LOW LIFE Could Not Be Missed—had to admit that it was rather uninspiring. My friend deemed it basically a revisiting of CASINO, transplanted to Korea in the tumultuous decades post WWII; I was thinking much the same, though it must be said that LOW LIFE is not as derivative as all that. But, despite many energetic and bracing scenes, the epic nature of the story—the sort-of rise and sort-of fall of an “honourable” thug, set against the historical fluxes that alternately help and hinder him—suffers from the biopic syndrome of too much, too glancingly touched upon.
LOW LIFE just felt far too stuffy and irrelevant after the Korean romantic comedy that screened just before, PLEASE TEACH ME ENGLISH (dir. Kim Sung-su), a remarkably winning little number that is giddy and goofy in all the right ways. The ingénue is pretty but bespectacled. A common trope to be sure, however, unlike many an American teen-nerd-girl-gets-makeover genre flick, wherein the path from geek to chic is an insultingly short one (“ugly duckling” takes off glasses, lets down hair and VOILA! she’s a stunner), this gal is truly an awkward dork—all the while that I was growing to love her I also wanted to smack some self-possession into her. The stakes are surprisingly high in a romantic comedy that features a triad of annoyingly self-centered and/or hopelessly clueless leads, and actually manages to make them all lovable. The film is jam-packed with fantasy scenarios, all cute references to a hyper-mediated daily life that, contrary to prevailing opinion, here seems to actually encourage the flowering of a romantic imagination. So adorable that describing it—as one inevitably must—as postmodern doesn’t hurt the film one bit.
(Last scheduled screening is today, Tuesday July 12, 7:35 at the De Seve Theatre.)
Friday, July 08, 2005
FANTASIA 2005 Film Festival Report #1
First night of the film fest that seems to last all summer—FANTASIA. A late start, which I’ve been told is classic Fantasia shtick, but such tardiness works particularly well with my personal schedule, so I’m not complaining. It means I actually made it into the “6:30” screening of ASHURA, with some time to spare. Show was sold out and the Hall theatre packed, but thankfully a friend/colleague rescued me from an especially rickety seat off in the corner wedged between strangers. (Oh, I want to officially state that my friend was robbed of the door prize—he answered the skill-testing question a good 5 mins. before someone closer to the front finally did. Our section was outraged. Well, by that I mean that a few of us meekly called out, “Hey! He already said that!”)
But on to the movie:
ASHURA is big, splendid, fantastical, sparkly, goth, kabuki-informed, myth-inspired, sword-fight driven, period extravaganza, at turns emotionally over-wrought and knowingly, comically cheesy. But of course it all comes down to love. The star-crossed lovers are that and then some; what’s worse, they’re demon-crossed. This is one of those films wherein the virgin—so troubled and pure, so gamine and sportive—can lick the blood from her about-to-be-lover’s wound, and yet seem no less virginal. The final climax is a long time in coming: I kept thinking they were setting us up for a sequel before I realized that, no, we were in it for the long-haul this time around.
Nonetheless, I was glad I stuck around to see how those crazy kids sorted out their particular cosmic brand of demon-slayer devoted to newly-minted-uber-demon-goddess (who seems determined to have him killed for, well, for popping her cherry, basically) problems. We’ve all been there…
- For any one interested, ASHURA was only scheduled for the opening night, but it seems that it will be screened for the second time today, Friday July 8—at 5:15…or did the sign say 5:45? Sorry I don’t recall with certainty, but it’s sometime in the 1700 hour block…
ASHURA’S web site: http://www.ashurajo.com/
Friday, July 01, 2005
PICK OF THE WEEKEND
Well, clearly, this weekend it’s going to be Spielberg’s second installment into what is shaping up to be a trilogy of post 9/11 exploits of the pop-unconscious. We got the airport safety reclamation project THE TERMINAL in 2004, and now, in every theatre you can find, we have the WAR OF THE WORLDS, a sobering study of the United States’ lack of military preparedness in the event of intergalactic warfare. And, coming soon, we’ll see what the IMDb is calling UNTITLED 1972 MUNICH OLYMPICS PROJECT: Spielberg’s Tony Kushner scripted exploration of guilt-ridden Mossad hitmen going after the Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes at the ’72 Munich games.
There’s a good NY Times article that says all this even better (you need to suffer the indignity of registering for free):
But just to maintain the credibility of this blog: if you’ve never seen J.P. Melville’s LE CERCLE ROUGE, this weekend you get a rare chance at Cinema du Parc. Melville is most famous for BOB LE FLAMBEUR, which suffered a dopey yet fitfully entertaining remake by Neil Jordan called THE GOOD THIEF. Expect hard-boiled dialogue by an aristocratic thief, witty cinematography, and ironic Americanisms of the sort that only a French Americaphile like Melville can pull off. See it before John Woo remakes it.
Le Cercle rouge [2:20]
Fri, Sat, Sun, Thu: 5:00
Mon, Wed: 8:30
Upcoming Silent Cinema Conference
Last year, at around this time, a number of Synoptique staffers were involved with the 3rd INTERNATIONAL WOMEN AND THE SILENT SCREEN CONGRESS.
A special SYNOPTIQUE edition followed that September, featuring dazzling recreations of panel presentations given by silent cinema gurus Tom Gunning, Christine Gledhill, and Concordia professor Rosanna Maule.
So, now, we’re more than happy to announce information on the 4th international WSCREEN conference, held next year in sunny Guadalajara, Mexico:
Please join us for the Fourth International Women and the Silent Screen Conference which will be held at the University of Guadalajara in the beautiful colonial city of Guadalajara, Mexico June 7 through June 10, 2006. Following the first Women and the Silent Screen Conference, held in Utrecht in 1999, the second in Santa Cruz, CA in 2001, and the third in Montreal in 2004, the Guadalajara conference will include scholarly panels and workshops that advance research on historical and theoretical issues related to women and silent cinema from 1898 through 1937. The Call for Papers in English and Spanish will be published shortly.
The WWSC co-directors
Patricia Torres San Martin
University of Guadalajara
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Friday, June 10, 2005
CQ: Programmation pour l’automne 2005
Aperçu de la programmation pour l’automne 2005 de la Cinémathèque Québécoise
Agnes Varda, Sokourov, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Gianluigi Toccafondo, Zbigniew Rybczynski, Les Sommets du cinéma d’animation
Crater, une installation de Lynn Marsh en collaboration avec le Mois de la photo
L’Appel de Paris ou l’avenir du patrimoine audiovisuel en collaboration avec l’Institut national de l’audiovisuel (INA)
Thursday, June 09, 2005
New Canadian Film Review Site for the People
A new film review site! For why, you say? The happy band of film reviewers (including SYNOPTIQUE alumni Collin Smith) at ThatMovieSite.com (http://www.thatmoviesite.com) explain it like so:
“Our goal at That Movie Site is to provide moviegoers with honest unedited and uncensored reviews of movies. Our reviewers write what’s on their mind, and their content is only edited for spelling and grammar. We are not accredited or affiliated with any film studio or production company. Therefore our reviews are genuine, uninfluenced and most of all honest. Readers will get “the real deal” at That Movie Site.“
They’re off to a good start. Pleasing design, “brainwaves” and rants, no ads. Plus, an innovative rating system split between film quality and “entertainment value”. Check out the multi-reviewer review of SIN CITY for an idea of how That Movie Site could really shine.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Soyez Jury au FFM
Le Festival des Films du Monde a toujours pu compter sur l’enthousiasme du grand public. Afin de célébrer cette longue association, le Festival des Films du Monde organise un concours pour choisir un représentant du public comme membre du jury du prochain Festival des Films du Monde qui aura lieu du 26 août au 5 septembre 2005.
5 finalistes seront retenus parmi lesquels un juré sera sélectionné. Ils recevront chacun 2 laissez-passer leur permettant de participer au Festival des Films du Monde. La personne choisie fera partie du jury et bénéficiera des mêmes droits et avantages (hébergement à l’hôtel, repas, participation aux visionnements et discussions, etc.)
- Link : Formulaire de participation
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Jimmywork - Projection Bénéfice
Jimmywork à l’Outremont
1248, avenue Bernard ouest, Outremont
Mardi le 21 juin à 20h30
Les profits de la projection seront remis à un membre de la production qui nous est très cher et qui lutte présentement contre un cancer. Les fonds recueillis l’aideront à traverser cette rude épreuve.
Nous vous remercions de votre générosité.
Pour acheter vos billets, laissez simplement vos coordonées (nom, téléphone, courriel) à l’adresse qui suit. Nous vous contacterons très bientôt.