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Doug C

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Everything posted by Doug C

  1. "Pretty anesthetized and tame in comparison"! That's frightening to even think about. I've just started going through the Farocki DVDs this week, so I'm intrigued by your comparison. I'll try to give Inland Empire a whirl this week if I can. I'm very intrigued by your description of Camden 28, partly because I've been wanting to see Investigation of a Flame (2001), an acclaimed documentary that was just released on DVD; it focuses on an earlier draft board raid by the Catonsville 9, a similar group of Catholic leftists who were convicted of destroying government property by judges who insisted that opposition to the war could not be used as a defense. The Camden 28 trials apparently reversed that trend.
  2. Thanks, acquarello--I'm so excited to see the Kon, Ruiz, and Serra films (I'll get to see the latter next week). Inland Empire is showing here in L.A., but my track record with Lynch has been so spotty at best that I haven't made room in my schedule for it. Knowing me, would you recommend it? I'm also undecided on Our Daily Bread, which I appreciated for its formal austerity, but it almost seemed too schematic for me. Certainly, the slaughter scenes were excruciating to behold, but I'm not sure how else its form improves on its content. Did you see Fast Food Nation? I'm unfamiliar with these--any further comments? Darren, I'm kicking myself for having missed In Between Days--did you see it at TIFF?
  3. Film Comment chimes in: BEST FILMS OF 2006 (Released theatrically in the U.S.) 1. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, U.S.) 2. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, Romania) 3. Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville, France/Italy) 4. L
  4. Doug C

    For Tarkovosky fans

    Thanks Elen and Thom, for highlighting this. I've had it on my Christmas list for a while now, so I'm hoping it'll appear under the tree in a few days. I'm very much looking forward to hearing it. Thom, when your review is up, be sure to post a link.
  5. Doug C

    Trailer Alert!

    This is not a particularly good trailer, but it was one of my favorite films of the year: Jafar Panahi's Offside.
  6. By far the best list I've seen in terms of titles and critics voting: IndieWIRE Critics Poll. "A total of 107 leading North American film critics participated in the first indieWIRE Critics Poll, surveying the best in film for 2006. Dennis Lim, who conducted the VIllage Voice poll from 1999 to 2005, was joined by Anthony Kaufman to poll critics for indieWIRE in nine categories and voting was conducted online during the first half of December." 1 The Death of Mr. Lazarescu 2 L'Enfant 3 The Departed 4 Inland Empire 5 Army of Shadows 6 Three Times 7 Old Joy 8 United 93 9 Children of Men 10 Half Nelson 11 The Queen 12 Climates 13 A Scanner Darkly 14 Pan's Labyrinth 15 Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan 16 A Prairie Home Companion 17 Volver 18 Battle in Heaven 19 Letters From Iwo Jima 20 Mutual Appreciation
  7. Doug C

    Pan's Labyrinth

    Saw this last night and loved it. For me, it was a strong corrective to Children of Men in so many ways: the violence was never a thrill ride but always a moral issue; the film contains warm and inspiring human characters as well as neutral or dark and destructive ones; the film's warfare is rooted in actual human existence (in this case, the historical battle between Facists and the Reds) involving real issues; it's a multilayered and superbly constructed double narrative with a thematic depth that only grows the more you think about it afterward. And its performances and technical credentials are just as stellar as CoM. In short, if you want to see a thoughtful fantasy film by a hugely talented Mexican filmmaker this year, this is the one to see. Absolutely. If Saving Private Ryan is the model for CoM, Schindler's List could be the model for this one; both are historical dramas about power and oppression that focus on true-to-life life monsters. And yet I would contend that this film has a lot more to say about blindly following rules and orders, and forgetting one's humanity, than Spielberg's film ever musters. Absolutely. The aesthetic goes back to comments I've made in the Ordet thread and elsewhere about the value of physical and real-world aesthetics in imaginative or supernatural films. Like Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, that only made the fantasy seem that much more real to me. Jeff, how can you say that the film is a "rather simplistic picture of Catholics and Fascists versus Communists" or is "heavily sympathetic" toward the Communists? I don't follow...it shows the Facists co-opting Catholic ritual in one scene, just as they historically did. Religious rhetoric and oppression often sadly go together; Franco didn't invent it.
  8. It was elegible last year as a foreign language title only. Every country can only submit one film for Oscar consideration; typically there are about 50-60+ submissions and from that list, the Academy selects their five nominees, based on poorly-attended member screenings. So last year, L'Enfant was submitted but didn't make the nomination; this year it's up as a new commercial release in Los Angeles. I suppose if it had been nominated for the Foreign Language category last year, it wouldn't be elegible this year, but who knows.
  9. Apparently it is (it played commercially in Los Angeles for over a week). It was also Belgium's submission to the Oscars last year, but it was ignored. I'm not holding my breath.
  10. Toronto Film Critics: BEST PICTURE: "The Queen" BEST PERFORMANCE, MALE: Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" BEST PERFORMANCE, FEMALE: Helen Mirren, "The Queen" BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE, MALE: Michael Sheen, "The Queen" BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE, FEMALE: Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal" BEST DIRECTOR (TIE): Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, "L'Enfant"; and Stephen Frears, "The Queen" BEST SCREENPLAY: Peter Morgan, "The Queen" BEST CANADIAN FILM: "Manufactured Landscapes," directed by Jennifer Baichwal BEST FIRST FEATURE: "Thank You for Smoking", directed by Jason Reitman BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: "Happy Feet," directed by George Miller BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: "L'Enfant," directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: "Manufactured Landscapes," directed by Jennifer Baichwal
  11. Variety wonders if our current crop of Boomers are film criticism's "greatest generation."
  12. I agree, and noticed Sony will be releasing it on DVD on January 9.
  13. Weird, I hadn't notice that--I was just impressed by their Satoshi Kon interview! I'm writing some liner notes for an upcoming Ozu CD, and browsed their site again this week. Their Guide to New Japanese Film is pretty decent, too, although it seems like you're focusing more on Golden Age films?
  14. If you haven't already read it, Andrew, you really should check out Bordwell & Thompson's Film Art. There isn't a better introduction to film studies anywhere. (And speaking of websites, you've probably already come across it, but you might check out Midnight Eye for its coverage of Japanese film.)
  15. In terms of reviews, there are certainly critics writing for dailies who offer consistently solid writing (Kenneth Turan, A.O Scott, Manohla Dargis, Michael Wilmington, Dave Kehr), but alt weeklies (J. Rosenbaum and crew at the Chicago Reader, J. Hoberman and crew at the Village Voice, etc) and some magazines traditionally have more space, commercial freedom, and a less frequent publishing schedule that permits them to be more selective and in-depth about the films they write about. (Though the sad and unfortunate recent shake-up at the Voice is being mourned by many cinephiles.) The best widely distributed English film magazines continue to be Cinema Scope, Cineaste, Film Comment, and Sight & Sound. You can also find in-depth, intelligent criticism at internet sites like Senses of Cinema, Rouge, Bright Lights, Jump Cut, or Reverse Shot, various listserves, online cinematheques, and increasingly, very fine bloggers (including David Bordwell!). To be honest, I'd just go to GreenCine Daily and start going through their permanent links on the right hand column (and as we noted above, GCD offers an exceptional summary of current film dialogue on a daily basis in the left hand column). You really can't go wrong there. Still, of course, this is mostly writing poised somewhere between popular reviews and academic studies. For the latter, you'd have to dig in to a lot of books...or enroll in a program somewhere.
  16. BTW, I loved Kristal, too--that Wavelengths #2 screening was spectacular (minus the Kiarostami), yes?
  17. Darren, Magic Mirror is quintessential Oliveira: An aristocratic woman distraught by her husband's inability to impregnate her begins to doubt her material privileges and finds herself increasingly drawn to speculations about the Virgin Mary, turning to religious scholars (including one played by Michel Piccoli, who assures her of Mary's wealth!) for comfort. Meanwhile, some ex-cons try to stage a faux Visitation. The film is stately, novelistic (it was based on The Soul of the Rich), and very talky...until the end, when it suddenly becomes quite formally agressive and evocative. I thought the ending was its highlight, but in retrospect it was fascinating throughout; you'd probably enjoy it.
  18. Canada's top ten (selected by the Toronto International Film Festival Group) can be found here.
  19. Dark City incorporates telepathic technology, which is definitely "futuristic" for us, so I'll keep it on my list. I did think of an overlooked gem that has dated somewhat but is still pretty thought provoking, The Lathe of Heaven (1980), based on a novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. It was a made-for-TV PBS film (its first) that was only broadcast once due to rights issues. The video master was then subsequently lost and copies could only be seen on bootleg VHS tapes for nearly a quarter century until a faded remaster was finally released on DVD in 2004. It's worth chasing down, especially for fans of the genre. It was remade with James Caan in 2002 for A&E (and it's also on DVD), but I haven't seen that version.
  20. You say that because you haven't seen Lazarescu. (I'm a big fan of Army of Shadows, too, but Puiu's film is probably still my favorite film of the year.)
  21. A report on the silliness over at the New York Film Critics Circle: "Actually, even closer was the vote for Best Animated Film, which wound up going to HAPPY FEET on what amounts to a technical foul. Miller's penguin-fest beat out A SCANNER DARKLY by a mere two points, but no sooner had this result been announced than Andrew Sarris, who has taken a bathroom break a few minutes earlier, revealed that (1) he had neglected to submit his ballot for this round of voting, and (2) he would have cast his top vote for the Linklater, giving it the victory." "ARMY OF SHADOWS basically won Foreign Film thanks to a recurring fourth-ballot phenomenon that tends to occur when two rival camps actively dislike the other's favorite. On the fourth ballot, you can only vote for the five top vote-getters on ballot #3, which in this case were THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU, VOLVER, ARMY OF SHADOWS, PAN'S LABYRINTH and I think the last one was DAYS OF GLORY. Anyway, the category was a death-match between LAZARESCU, which led on ballots two and three, and VOLVER -- presumably you can see how these two films' partisans might not have a whole lot in common. What often happens once we reach ballot #4 is that everyone names their champion first (for three points), and then gives second place (two points) to whatever film they consider least threatening. And then what happens is that a film that nobody loves gets every second-place vote in the room and winds up the surprise winner. That's exactly what happened with ARMY OF SHADOWS, which did have a few ardent supporters, but which could never have won if not for the pitched battle between Almodovar (VOLVER) and Puiu (THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU)."
  22. Incidentally, it occurs to me that some of my films wouldn't be called "futuristic," but they do use speculative technology or phenomena.
  23. Ha. "Future events such as these will affect you in the future..."
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