19 items from 2015
Any animated feature screening in Cannes in the wake of Pixar’s universally adored “Inside Out” was bound to seem like an anticlimax. And when the movie in question happens to be an adaptation of one of the most beloved children’s novels of all time, the potential for disappointment looms especially large. But to the sure relief of armchair aviators everywhere, director Mark Osborne’s “The Little Prince” turns out to be a respectful, lovingly reimagined take on Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic 1943 tale, which adds all manner of narrative bells and whistles to the author’s slender, lyrical story of friendship between a pilot and a mysterious extraterrestrial voyager, but stays true to its timeless depiction of childhood wonderment at odds with grown-up disillusionment. Independently made (on a reported $80 million budget) by French producer Dimitri Rassam, “The Little Prince” may lack the fast pace and high-concept storytelling of »
- Scott Foundas
The KissMuch of my problem with so-called experimental cinema is a matter of language, and my marriage to it as both a viewer and a critic, despite language’s inevitable failure in the face of other forms of meaning. Some of my difficulty is based on background and affinities, some of it exposure and/or familiarity; most is plain obduracy. For whatever reason we may chose to fixate on, I have a hard time letting non-narrative films tell me how to read them beyond the sense I can put into words. After all, I am inarticulate without them.One friend says the trick is to bring the films “down” to the most fundamental ways in which they work, how the pieces may “add up”—but again this is a metaphor, which is of course the premise of language—an arbitrary equation of different things—and awfully teleological in a realm »
- Ryland Walker Knight
TwitchFilm's tiniest film reviewers continue their coverage of Tiff Kids Film Festival, currently happening at Toronto's Lightbox Cinema. Willem (age 12) and Miranda (age 10) delight in the slapstick sheep spectacle spinoff Shaun The Sheep, from the masters of claymation at Aardman Studios. TwitchFilm has been on the Internet long enough that many of its writing staff have children old enough to understand and consume media in a way that is both raw and fresh. It might even come with an inkling of consideration afterwards -- it's true that many of us fall in love with the movies when we are very young.In the past, Willem and his younger sister Miranda have discussed films ranging from Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox to Jacques Tati's Playtime to George...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
At the end of Tsai Ming-liang's modestly confident 1992 debut, seen from arm's length and from above, a clutch of sad little phone-dating cubicles looks like something out of Jacques Tati. Except instead of a mod Parisian arena for coy clowning, this is the dead end of pre-millennial Taipei malaise. Tsai isn't without mischief — one key to this film's hypnotic power is humor so subtle it's practically subliminal — but his preferred takeaway is the pathos, the still-universal frustration, of an unanswered ringtone. Also like any given Tati film, Tsai's Rebels of the Neon God is distinctly of its time but not dated: The rituals of this era's disaffected youth, set to hooky synth-bass riffs, include drilling into public pay phones and then blowin »
For Norman McLaren form is everything. That makes sense given the medium he chose to express his art. Short films are, perhaps more than any other expression of film, succinct and to the point. The story is in the form, the vision is in the form, the art is in the form. To that end many directors have spent many years trying their best to manipulate the form. Film is malleable after all, that is the most breathtaking aspect of the medium. To see something so straightforward taken and twisted until it meets the vision of the artist is akin to the definition of art.
That is where Norman McLaren enters the picture. He was a master at taking the form of the short film and twisting and turning it until it fit his vision of art. Take a film like Dots for instance. A simple red animated landscape is »
- Bill Thompson
One of the most talked about, yet infrequently seen film trilogies of all time has to be Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy -- Pather Panchali (Song Of The Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished) and Apur Sansar (The World Of Apu). You can find poor quality versions on YouTube and purchase shoddy DVD copies on Amazon and eBay, but soon these classics will be available in newly minted restored versions as Janus Film announced today the upcoming $K restoration of all three films will be begin a national re-release in New York City at Film Forum on Friday, May 8 and in Los Angeles at Landmark's Nuart Theater on Friday, May 29, followed by releases in art houses nationwide throughout the summer. Frequently listed as one of the top accomplishments in the history of cinema, the trilogy helped bring India into the golden age of international art-house cinema - but this restoration »
- Brad Brevet
Disappointing audiences and a critical bashing have made Pompidou look like a failure. But this difficult, admirable experiment deserves better
Little Britain star Matt Lucas has returned – with a big gamble that for many critics has not paid off. But that’s to miss the point. In Pompidou, he plays Pompidou P Pompidou, a brassic aristo who lives in a filthy caravan with his butler, Hove (Alex MacQueen, against type), and a bookish, bespectacled Afghan hound. Every week they try to get food or money and fail, in a world where nobody speaks intelligible English; instead, humans gabble and rhubarb gibberish. It’s a comedy pointedly unlike any other currently on TV.
Because it doesn’t have lines, Pompidou is immediately comparable to Mr Bean, Laurel & Hardy and Jacques Tati, yet the show’s funniest moments highlight Pompidou’s uniqueness. Taking away verbal sense but retaining sound means Lucas’s »
- Jack Seale
Admittedly, French filmmaker Jacques Tati doesn’t get a lot of love on this site. We’re always so focused on the future, there’s not a lot of time to look into the past. But every once in a while there’s a big, bright, beautiful reason to celebrate the history of film and today is one of those […]
- Germain Lussier
If René Clément's short collaboration with Jacques Tati in 1936 has its later development in the surprising (and political) slapstick of Che gioia vivere (1962), his technical assistance to Jean Cocteau on Beauty and the Beast pays off more rapidly with Le château de verre (The Glass Castle, 1950), starring Cocteau's beautiful beast, Jean Marais, and ice queen monstré sacré Michelle Morgan. This one came highly recommended by Shadowplayer David Wingrove, who saw in its opening sequence a foreshadowing of Last Year at Marienbad's glacial surrealism—frozen figures, somnambulent dancers, palatial surroundings. In fact, the Clément film comes with le jazz hot, and the frozen figures aren't frozen, but there is certainly an air of decadent mystery, with Jean Servais as the chess-playing husband a passable progenitor of the Resnais movie's sepulchral M.But there's more! We begin with a disembodied voice (another Marienbad trope) and open in a fabulous grotto, »
- David Cairns
Qui aime les films français ?
If you do and you live in St. Louis, you’re in luck! The Seventh Annual Robert Classic French Film Festival — co-presented by Cinema St. Louis and the Webster University Film Series begins March 13th. The Classic French Film Festival celebrates St. Louis’ Gallic heritage and France’s cinematic legacy. The featured films span the decades from the 1930s through the early 1990s, offering a comprehensive overview of French cinema. The fest is annually highlighted by significant restorations.
This year features recent restorations of eight works, including an extended director’s cut of Patrice Chéreau’s historical epic Queen Margot a New York-set film noir (Two Men In Manhattan) by crime-film maestro Jean-Pierre Melville, who also co-stars; a short feature (“A Day in the Country”) by Jean Renoir, on a double bill with the 2006 restoration of his masterpiece, The Rules Of The Game, and the »
- Tom Stockman
If you were looking for a primer on Jean-Luc Godard, you couldn't do much better than J. Hoberman's latest piece for the Nation. Also in today's roundup of news and views: Matthew Asprey Gear on the conspiracy thriller Orson Welles never got around to making, Imogen Sara Smith on Jacques Tati's Playtime, Julien Allen on Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death, Adam Nayman on George Stevens’s Shane, Robert Cashill on Richard Fleischer's Che!, Christopher Sharrett on Roger Corman's Bloody Mama, Leonard Quart on Nicholas Ray's The Lusty Men, interviews with Martín Rejtman, Andrei Zvyagintsev, Matt Porterfield, David Robert Mitchell (It Follows), Daniel Wolfe (Catch Me Daddy)—and much more. » - David Hudson »
In today's roundup of news and views: David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson on Jacques Tati's Playtime, Godfrey Cheshire on D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, Caveh Zahedi on the day he met Robert Bresson, Max Goldberg on the influence of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, Bilge Ebiri on Ousmane Sembene, J. Hoberman on Clint Eastwood and American Sniper, Gilberto Perez on Jean Renoir's A Day in the Country, Jonathan Rosenbaum on Luis Buñuel's The Young One, Howard Hampton on Nicolas Roeg and Don’t Look Now (1973), Olivier Assayas on John Carpenter’s The Fog—and lots more. » - David Hudson »
Everyone gets excited about movies for different reasons. There are plenty of times that something is announced and I look at Twitter or Facebook and see that people are going nuts for it, and I'm left cold by the news. Sometimes it's because a nostalgia button's been pushed, sometimes it's because of the creative elements involved. And there are plenty of times I put up a piece of news here and I'm thrilled about it and there reaction from you guys is a sort of deafening silence. So when I say that this is the most exciting film news that I've heard so far in 2015, I accept that my own excitement level may be pitched somewhere different than yours. But there's no way I can downplay the dopamine rush I got when I read that Leos Carax is deep into development of a new movie musical that will feature music by Sparks. »
- Drew McWeeny
Sean Penn: Honorary César goes Hollywood – again (photo: Sean Penn in '21 Grams') Sean Penn, 54, will receive the 2015 Honorary César (César d'Honneur), the French Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Crafts has announced. That means the French Academy's powers-that-be are once again trying to make the Prix César ceremony relevant to the American media. Their tactic is to hand out the career award to a widely known and relatively young – i.e., media friendly – Hollywood celebrity. (Scroll down for more such examples.) In the words of the French Academy, Honorary César 2015 recipient Sean Penn is a "living legend" and "a stand-alone icon in American cinema." It has also hailed the two-time Best Actor Oscar winner as a "mythical actor, a politically active personality and an exceptional director." Penn will be honored at the César Awards ceremony on Feb. 20, 2015. Sean Penn movies Sean Penn movies range from the teen comedy »
- Steve Montgomery
Paul Thomas Anderson learned to make movies by watching movies. Each of his films bears the ghostly fingerprints of his masters and mentors: the obsession and one-point perspective of Kubrick; the tough-guy veneers and fetid societies that sated the first decade of Scorsese’s career; the intense meditative stares of Jonathan Demme, constantly reminding us that we are, of course, watching a film—we’re immersed in it, but we are spectators, non-participants, in the hands of an artist. Anderson has never created voyeuristic or naturalistic films, never approached Cinéma vérité, and he’s never tried to feign an amateur aesthetic. He crafts films indebted to the grand ambience of New Hollywood, rendered unnaturally lucid and diligently composed. To watch one of Anderson’s films is to get a condensed lesson on the artisanship and history of American cinema.
But Anderson’s most obvious early influence—one he has name-checked, »
- Greg Cwik
I'm just slowly working my way into movie watching for the new year it would seem. Once again this more of a laid back week with only three movies watched, the first of which was showing my wife The Usual Suspects for the first time. I'm not entirely sure she was awake for the whole thing, but by the end she was like, "I knew it was him a while ago." I asked if she liked the movie, she said she did, but I was a little disappointed she didn't seem to like it as much as I did the first time I saw it... oh well. After that I saw Taken 3 and we all know how that turned out and then just last night I watched Preston Sturgess' The Palm Beach Story on the new Criterion Blu-ray coming out on January 20. I'd never seen it before and will »
- Brad Brevet
I am slowly coming out of vacation mode and it's not easy. Christmas and New Year's need to happen on Thursday every year because it really makes taking time off very easy while still allowing time to do a little work here and there. My first press screening of 2015 is still yet to happen as there wasn't a screening of Woman in Black 2 scheduled and I have yet to receive an invite to see Taken 3. The first film I'm scheduled to see is Paddington on Saturday, but there's a little thing called a Seahawks game at the exact same time and I don't think Paddington will be interfering with that. With that, the first movie I actually watched in 2015 was Jacques Tati's Mr. Hulot's Holiday as part of the Criterion Collection set I received for Christmas. It wasn't, however, the first film I watched this week as Tati's »
- Brad Brevet
Not many people can say they’ve witnessed a bank robbery, but Ruben Ostlund has. Prior to the incident in question, the provocative Swedish helmer had seen plenty of stick-ups in the movies.
“When I suddenly saw it in the street, I couldn’t use that reference at all,” he recalls. “The reality started to look surreal because I had such an expectation of what it should look like.”
Ostlund’s entire filmography could be viewed as an attempt to dismantle — or at the very least to question — how cinema shapes our view of the world. In response, the director decided to re-create the real-time scene as an 11-minute short film, “Incident by a Bank.” “I actually wanted to start a debate in the Swedish papers to discuss the way we are affected by the images we are producing,” he explains.
For that project, Ostlund set up a 5K digital »
- Peter Debruge
The two most popular posters—each with over 600 likes—that I have posted in the past three months on Movie Poster of the Day have been unfamiliar takes on very familiar movies. The stunning Italian 55" x 78" poster for Godard’s Breathless, sold by Posteritati this past fall, is strikingly different from the usual poster images of Belmondo and Seberg strolling the Champs-Elysée or smoking in bed. Instead, artist Sandro Symeoni adapts the climactic scene of the film, but gives it a much more noirish feel, with Belmondo’s petty criminal receding into the blackest of nights. Without looking at the names you’d be hard pressed to identify the film from the poster.
The Russian poster for Star Wars, below, created in 1990 for the first Russian release of the film, is even less easily identifiable: a colorful crayon-drawing »
- Adrian Curry
19 items from 2015
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