3 items from 2016
Salt and FireDear Danny,Funny you mention genre, as A Quiet Passion would seem to belong to my least favorite one: the biopic. Or not really, for directors create their own genres, great ones do, and Terence Davies is among the greatest now at work. His Emily Dickinson, splendidly embodied by Cynthia Nixon, is no genteel figurine reciting favorite verses but a sharp and unyielding intelligence twisting in a severe body and a severe era. Right from the start, refusing to move to one side or another when her seminary is divided according to faith, she will not give an inch. (“You are alone in your rebellion,” snaps the headmistress, crucifix looming in the background.) At her Massachusetts family home, words—not just the budding poetess’ stanzas, but bon mots, barbs, any curlicues of witty verbiage—are cherished cracks in staid domesticity, like the songs in Meet Me in St. Louis. »
As an supplement to our Recommended Discs weekly feature, Peter Labuza regularly highlights notable recent home video releases with expanded reviews. See this week’s selections below.
The American Friend (Criterion)
“What’s wrong with a cowboy in Hamburg?” Wim Wenders’ ode to American crime films of the ’50s remains his most idiosyncratic work, teetering between absurdist comedy and strained psycho-drama. Bruno Ganz stars as an art framer — a metaphor for the impossible boundaries he can no longer contain — tempted by the opportunity of earning money for murder, a profession he has no experience in. It’s hard to know when to take Wenders seriously — Ganz’s trip to Paris begins with a conspiracy-ridden doctor’s visit that sets up the film for more absurdist laughs than a “state of the continent” manifesto (the target is noted as an “American Jew”). But the film’s murder in a Paris metro »
- Peter Labuza
Rome – Fernando Di Leo, the late Italian exploitation-pic maestro exhumed from oblivion after Quentin Tarantino started citing his works as inspiration, is getting a first remake with plans underway for a contempo redo of his violent 1980 noir “Madness,” about an escaped con seeking to retrieve some loot from under the floorboards of an isolated cottage.
“Madness” (pictured) which starred Andy Warhol alumnus Joe Dallesandro (“Flesh,” “Trash,” “Heat”) as multiple murderer Joe Brezzi, is a lesser-known title by Di Leo whose titles comprise 1970’s gangster pics “Wipeout!,” (Aka “The Boss”) – known to be among Tarantino’s favourite grindhouse movies – “Mister Scarface,” and “Italian Connection.” It’s also being touted as the first of a trio of planned Di Leo remakes.
“We are starting with this one, which is considered a minor Di Leo work, in order to be humble and not put too much pressure on the director,” said Gianluca Curti, »
- Nick Vivarelli
3 items from 2016
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