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Songs from the Second Floor, 2000.
Written and Directed by Roy Andersson.
One evening, a series of strange events with no apparent logic take their course. A clerk is made redundant; an immigrant is violently attacked; a magician makes a disastrous mess of his routine. One person stands out in this collection of characters – it’s Karl, and his face is covered in ash. He’s just put a match to his furniture store in order to cash in on the insurance. No one gets a wink of sleep that night…
Amidst this year’s eclectic collection of retrospectives, Leeds Film Festival offered audiences an opportunity to view an apparently under-sung modern Swedish classic on the big screen. Writer-director Roy Andersson’s long-awaited A Pigeon sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, currently drawing rave reviews on the festival circuit, »
- Gary Collinson
"Comedy is the summit of logic," French filmmaker Jacques Tati once remarked. It’s not the most typical (or warm) statement about the construction of comedy, but it epitomizes, in his own eccentric way, the director’s singular method: a subtly peculiar, but charming, style of nuanced absurdist gags choreographed with meticulous, almost architectural precision. An amalgam borne of the tradition of silent film comics like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Laurel & Hardy, vaudeville, variety shows, pantomime, and parlor tricks, Tati synthesized these influences to create the world of Tativille; a deadpan, wry milieu of physical comedy with an emphasis on image and sound. Through his absentminded and awkward Monsieur Hulot alter ego, the leisure-inclined Tati would gently poke a satirical finger at the encroaching modern world, with its dehumanizing, de-personalizing ideals of progress, consumerism, materialism, and more. But if his slapstick and pratfalling was »
- The Playlist Staff
In today's roundup of news and views: Adrian Martin on Robert Bresson, Sarinah Masukor on Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Luscri on Jacques Rivette, Jonathan Rosenbaum on Bertrand Tavernier, Erich von Stroheim and Emile de Antonio, J. Hoberman on Chris Marker and Léon Poirier, Jesse Barron and John Semley on Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice, Michael Wood on Jacques Tati, Michael Atkinson on Monte Hellman, Agata Pyzik on Walerian Borowczyk, Sean Axmaker on Orson Welles, Erich Kuersten on Werner Herzog, Robert Moeller on Harun Farocki and much, much more. » - David Hudson »
With only six feature films to his name, four of which featured his iconic onscreen alter ego, the cinema of Jacques Tati remains an island of unique delight despite his influence on decades of filmmakers since and comparative efforts of peers from his own period (considering Marguerite Duras’ critique, now widely accepted, concerning the taken-for-granted stylistic likeness between Tati and Robert Bresson, a director whose subject matters were a bit less pleasant or comical). Without Tati and his bumbling character Monsieur Hulot, sputtering about memorably in a series of some of the most well-crafted moments of ingenious, highly organized chaos ever put to celluloid, we’d be without latter day influences, like Roy Andersson, Otar Iosseliani, several Peter Sellers characters, and even Rowan Atkinson’s similarly crafted Mr. Bean.
- Nicholas Bell
It’s not uncommon to see a filmmaker essentially break out with a hit film (in baseball lingo this wasn’t a home run, but an ernest double) at Sundance, and then, for a multitude of reasons both known or unknown, not strike while the iron is hot. Her Frenchie-Americano rom com featuring quintessential indie starlet Parker Posey was with all its warts and quirks played excellently for a certain demographic and midway this year, she queued up a sophomore film that is a little more grown-up. Featuring Alexia Landeau in the lead with a cast that includes Cheyenne Jackson, Eddie Izzard, Melanie Griffith, Bellamy Young, Vincent Kartheiser, Ione Skye, Alessandro Nivola and Brooke Smith, Day out of Days received some coin in late 2013, and could follow the path to Sundance as her short Men Make Women Crazy Theory (2000) and Broken English before it. Look for a pragmatic and potentially »
- Eric Lavallee
While we have some new titles to look at this week, I want to point out to you that Barnes & Noble is having its 50% off Criterion sale right now and I've already posted a massive article offering a look at several titles I would personally recommend, including The Complete Jacques Tati and Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman as well as a selection of favorites and new 2014 titles to consider... Here's a snippet of that: A Selection of My Absolute Favorites Persona Breathless 8 1/2 Seven Samurai Yojimbo and Sanjuro The Battle of Algiers The Seventh Seal Sweet Smell of Success The Wages of Fear The Night of the Hunter New Recommendations for 2014 2014 offered plenty of new titles to consider from top directors and classics in desperate need of a proper upgrade. Here are a few of my favorites. New David Lynch and David Cronenberg Eraserhead Scanners read my review here New Federico Fellini »
- Brad Brevet
It's that time of year again and it's time to update the list for the second half of 2014 as Barnes & Noble has just kicked off their 50% off Criterion sale and as impossible a task as it is to cut things down to just a few titles, I have done my best to break Criterion's titles down into a few categories. Hopefully those looking for box sets, specific directors or what I think are absolute musts will find this makes things a little bit easier. Let's get to it... First Picks I was given the Zatoichi collection for Christmas last year and being a collection that holds 25 films and another disc full of supplementary material it is the absolute definition of a must buy when it comes to the Criterion Collection. It is, once again, on sale for $112.49, half off the Msrp of $224.99, and worth every penny. I spent the entire year going through it. »
- Brad Brevet
On Saturday evening, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will bestow three Honorary Oscars, and one Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. The reception will be held at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland. In just a few years, the ceremony has transformed from an interesting experiment to one of the highlights of awards season.
The four recipients also represent the Academy’s push to better represent global filmmaking: Of the four, only Harry Belafonte was born in the U.S.
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Harry Belafonte has been an activist for his six-decade career, working with Martin Luther King Jr., advocating Ethiopian famine relief, fighting South Africa apartheid and recently speaking out on behalf of Trayvon Martin and demonstrators in Ferguson, Mo. He’s faced heavy blowback for a number of his positions, yet Belafonte says the costs of speaking out were far less onerous »
- Variety Staff
★★★★★Certain cinematic experiences pander to repeated sittings. Eventually maturity brings with it enlightenment and the secret passages that spark the conscious through sheer luminosity. Jacques Tati’s observation satire Playtime (1967) is one such événement and one can both envy and pity a first time viewer as they take their seat and prepare for the unexpected. To coincide with the BFI Southbank’s Tati retrospective (continuing throughout November) we can all now revisit, or in many cases awaken from the cinematic slumber that is not having seen Playtime thanks to Park Circus who have brought Tati's masterpiece back to life in a stunning 4K restoration.
- CineVue UK
David Cairns, writing for Criterion: "You can consider gags as decoration—little nuggets of entertainment dispensed on the way through a story—or you can view them as architecture, structural elements that tell the story using action. Or you can see them as Jacques Tati did, which has very little to do with story at all." Also in today's roundup of news and views: Cate Blanchett remembers former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam; the CIA and Animal Farm; Thomas Heise's Städtebewohner; remembering Renee Asherson; a discussion Fritz Lang's The Big Heat; and Jamie Foxx will join Benicio del Toro in Harmony Korine's The Trap. » - David Hudson »
Certain filmmakers occupy a space where their films cannot be said to resemble those of any other directors. They are the progenitors of their own idiosyncratic style, the authors of their own work as much as a director can be. Werner Herzog, Jean-Luc Godard, Seijun Suzuki, Ken Russell, Spike Jonze, and Wes Anderson all fall into this category, and none of their films can be said to resemble each other except in the way that they are wholly and singularly unique. Jacques Tati is another filmmaker who belongs in this elite group. Playful and merciless, irreverent and graceful, Tati’s films play our emotions like music, manipulating the senses, creating dizzying, orgiastic vibrations in the viewer achievable through no other medium than cinema. His films are almost impossible to describe on a literal or linear level, yet there is simply nothing like them. In his pictures, Tati creates his own »
- Nicholas Laskin
In honor of the Criterion release of The Complete Jacques Tati, David Cairns looks at the building blocks of the auteur’s visual gags in PlayTime, his finely choreographed exploration of technology and the modern era. In particular, Cairns examines Tati’s use of reflections and mirror images, as well as the illusion of space, which all play into the rigidity of the film’s expansive set pieces and its fractured narrative. »
- Sarah Salovaara
Above: continuing their series of digital anthologies, Film Comment has a new one on Jean-Luc Godard that collects everything the magazine has published on him since 1962 (!). These Goodbye to Language GIFs are just for fun: For Cinema Scope Online, Angelo Muredda takes down Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman:"While the film is ostensibly an angry manifesto stumping for artistic integrity in the face of a pablum-peddling culture industry that’s traded Raymond Carver for Stan Lee—as well as an illiterate critical class unwilling or unable to cultivate its technical competency—Birdman’s squawk is all but neutralized by its tepid bite. Though it is self-righteously mean in its broad strokes (as all polemics inevitably are), Birdman is also—this being an Iñárritu joint—an overeager, conspicuously crafted art object whose virtuosity is matched only by its digestibility. Snottily sniping at everyone but the exact sort of people who will »
It appears the following video may not actually be a part of Criterion's new The Complete Jacques Tati set, a set I will most certainly be keeping my eye on once Barnes & Noble's 50% off Criterion sale kicks off in November. That said, for any of you unfamiliar with Jacques Tati and his films, this is a great little primer to get you comfortable with just how much is going on in any one scene, especially when it comes to PlayTime, the second half of which is a free for all of gags. »
- Brad Brevet
Orson Welles's legendary uncompleted final film, The Other Side of the Wind, featuring John Huston, Susan Strasberg, Lilli Palmer, Dennis Hopper and Peter Bogdanovich, will finally see the light of a projector, reports the New York Times. Also in today's roundup of news and views: Jonathan Rosenbaum on Jacques Tati and Abbas Kiarostami and Reverse Shot and The Believer on Martin Scorsese. Plus: Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Volker Schlöndorff, Margarethe von Trotta, Michael Haneke, Tom Tykwer, Nina Hoss and Christoph Waltz are among the more than 60 filmmakers and actors who have signed an open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel protesting proposed cuts to the German Federal Film Fund. » - David Hudson »
The Complete Jacques Tati (Criterion Collection) Every year Criterion seems to put together a collection of films that stands above the rest. Last year it was the Zatoichi collection of films, this year they celebrate Jacques Tati with a collection of his six feature films -- Jour de fecte, Monsieur Hulot's Holiday, Mon oncle, PlayTime, Trafic and Parade -- along with seven Tati-related short films. Unfortunately I was not sent a review copy, but once the Barnes & Noble, 50% off Criterion sale rolls around next month I think I'll have to add this one to my Christmas request list the same way I did with Zatoichi last year. As for my thoughts on the films, I personally love Hulot's Holiday and PlayTime, the latter of which you can read my review of the previous Criterion Blu-ray edition here, though as DVD Beaver has already shown, the transfer on this new release looks much different. »
- Brad Brevet
In today's roundup of news and views: James Quandt on Jacques Tati; Jonathan Rosenbaum on sexism in the French New Wave, plus an exchange with Bill Krohn regarding Orson Welles; Girish Shambu on Sergei Loznitsa's Maidan and Lisandro Alonso's Jauja; an excerpt from a new book on Woody Allen; D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus are looking to archive their work; Clayton Dillard on Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; Ilsa Leaver-Yap on Derek Jarman's Blue; an hour with Paul Thomas Anderson; plus lists of top horror movies and more. » - David Hudson »
At a loss for what to watch this week? From new DVDs and Blu-rays, to what's streaming on Netflix, we've got you covered.
New on DVD and Blu-ray
If you're a fan of "American Horror Story: Freak Show," you'll want to get to know sideshow stars Daisy and Violet Hilton. Leslie Zemeckis writes and directs this doc about the world-famous conjoined twins.
This is the first time that Clive Barker's original cut has been released, with 40 minutes of fresh footage. The limited edition release comes with the theatrical cut, as well as a third disc of extras, but it's already sold out. Still, the regular release has the long-awaited director's cut, Barker audio commentary, and some other goodies that make it a worthwhile investment for fans.
The Complete Jacques Tati
This seven-disc Criterion set comes with Tati's six features, plus »
- Jenni Miller
Written and directed by Quentin Dupieux
Presented as part of the Temps O’s Fnc program, Réalité is reminiscent of great names of absurd oneiric cinema, the most obvious influence being David Lynch. The movie also alludes to French surrealism in cinema and novels, such as novelists Andre Breton or Boris Vian. Dupieux’s delightful and hilariously neurotic film producer Bob Marshall could have been in a Jacques Tati movie or Boris Vian’s L’écume des jours. The film’s overall absurdist yet calm atmosphere makes it a strong example of the movement.
The image is bright, sunny and yet has a particular color and ambiance to it that makes the line between reality, dreams, and other parallel realities blur. As they all blend in this same photography and the same music, Philip Glass’s hour long song “Music with Changing Parts”, puts doubt in our minds »
- Anne-Myriam Abdelhak
Ok, so they’re not movie posters, but I’m making an exception for these marvels. The Criterion Collection has fostered many rewarding pairings of illustrators and filmmakers over the years—I’m thinking especially of Adrian Tomine’s Ozus and Daniel Clowes’ Sam Fullers—but the union of David Merveille and Jacques Tati was a match made in heaven long before Criterion commissioned this series of covers for their new box set.
Merveille is a Belgian children’s book illustrator who has been drawing Tati, or rather Monsieur Hulot, for years. In 2006 he published a wordless book of Hulot-inspired scenarios, Le Jacquot de Monsieur Hulot, which was followed by Hello Monsieur Hulot in 2010 and Monsieur Hulot s'expose in 2012. In the preface to the Us edition of Hello Mr Hulot, published last year, he writes that “It was in the year 2004 that I caught Hulot-fever. I had a drawing of »
- Adrian Curry
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