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Witty, self-deprecating writer with a passion for cinema whose work shone 'like sparklers in the autumn gloom'
In Gilbert Adair's And Then There Was No One (2009), the third of his pastiches of Agatha Christie's detective stories, a writer called Gilbert Adair is lacerated thus by a reader: "The point, Gilbert, is that you've always been such a narcissistic writer. Which is why you've never had the popular touch … Postmodernism is dead … Nobody gives two hoots about self-referentiality any longer, just as nobody gives two hoots, or even a single hoot, about you. Your books are out of sight, out of sound, out of fashion and out of print."
Such self-referential gambits have exasperated some readers, but in Adair's staunchly postmodern, self-deprecating hands, the manoeuvre was disarming. Adair, who has died aged 66 of a brain haemorrhage, had often enjoyed playfully rehearsing his own literary erasure. In the 1990s he »
- Stuart Jeffries, Ronald Bergan
"Ready, Set, Fund," is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects. Contact us if you've got a film fundraising project going on you'd like us to know about.
If you weren't in Austin in the late 80s or missed the Live Your Cinema! Austin Media Arts documentary that screened during the 2010 Austin Film Festival, then you may not know about the significance of Austin Media Arts. This cramped space above Quackenbush's Coffee Shop on the Drag was the first venue that Austin Film Society (Afs) actually owned and operated. Formerly a psychedelic ice cream parlor, Austin Media Arts was the screening room of Afs founder Richard Linklater and Lee Daniels as they projected eclectic and diverse films by Ingmar Bergman, Michael Snow, Stan Brakhage, Michelangelo Antonioni and Jean-Luc Godard for eager film fans.
Austin Media Arts is long gone, but its spirit »
- Debbie Cerda
If you are a fan of the Criterion Collection, I have some good news for you. A select few of the films from the collection have begun to appear on the iTunes movie page. iTune availability is starting out small, only 46 titles are available which is fewer than the 150 films that Hulu Plus started out with. Don't worry you can watch the classics like Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, or Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. You can rent films for $2.99 or buy for $14.99.
The only downside is that there are no special features on iTunes. The whole reason for me having my Rushmore Criterion collection is the extensive special features. Special features could easily be made available on iTunes, but there are no plans at this time to do so. Out of my extensive DVD collection I only own one or two Criterion discs. »
 You can already access the Criterion Collection on DVD, on Blu-ray, or through Hulu -- and now, as of this month, you can also get some of its titles through iTunes. With very little hype, the Criterion Collection has quietly started to appear on the iTunes movie page, as you can see in the image above. The initial offering is comprised of just a few dozen of the hundreds of films from their library, but it's a decent start. Besides, I'd imagine that enough consumers seem interested, the selection will begin to expand. More details after the jump. Criterion has put up just 46 of their titles at present, compared to 150 at the start of their deal with Hulu Plus . The films that are available seem to be some of the catalog's best-loved classics, including Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, and Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows. »
- Angie Han
Jean-Luc Godard 1968 French black comedy with satirical twist, new 35mm print
Plays Nov 25 – Dec 1, 2011 at Nuart, Los Angeles
Weekend is a black comedy film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Mireille Darc and Jean Yanne, both of whom were mainstream French TV stars. Jean-Pierre Léaud, iconic comic star of numerous French New Wave films including Truffaut’s Les Quatre Cent Coups (The Four Hundred Blows) and Godard’s earlier Masculin, féminin, also appears in two roles. Raoul Coutard served as cinematographer. In Weekend, a bourgeois French married couple. Roland (Yanne) and Corinne (Darc), both have secret lovers and are both planning each other’s murder. They set out by car for Corinne’s parents’ home in the country to secure her inheritance from her dying father, by murdering him, »
- Melissa Howland
This week Clip joint looks at characters that talk through the camera to the audience. You know what we mean, don't you?
You lookin' at me? If you're a character in a film, you shouldn't be. You're supposed to be unaware that you're participating in a work of fiction.
Alas, this is not always the case. Breaking the fourth wall – the embrace of reality that occurs when characters acknowledge their own fakeness – has been around for a long time and adopted by a number of directors to great effect.
The most common use of this technique is the direct-to-camera audience address: a startling concession that dislodges viewers from their comfort zone and is guaranteed to provoke a reaction. It's a trick that can be used to distance or compel; it can be funny, shocking, irritating or even patronising but, in blowing apart the painstaking artifice of "the cinema", it's always »
Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula. Island of Lost Souls. The Most Dangerous Game. The Night of the Hunter. The Blob. For a company perhaps best known for releasing pristine editions of international arthouse classics, The Criterion Collection certainly has a healthy amount of cult films in its repertoire. Cult cinema is often a difficult beast to recognize, for such films avoid the roads best travelled in their journey towards recognition and renown. Unlike seminal films in the collection including The 400 Blows, 8 ½, or Rashomon, cult films aren’t typically met with immediate cultural or institutional recognition upon release, aren’t made by internationally-recognized talent, and don’t always have an immediately traceable history of influence. That is, however, what makes cult films so interesting and so valuable: they emerge without expectation or pretense and signal the most populist and anti-elite means by which a film can gain recognition, pointing »
- Landon Palmer
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
While watching the opening images of the Dardenne Brothers’ latest film, The Kid with a Bike, there’s no mistaking the reverence to their cinematic ancestors; the images of a child running confusedly in a world he cannot understand are instantly reminiscent of the chilling final shot of Antoine’s desperate plea to the audience in François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, while the central device of this film, a bike, feels like a sure nod to Vittorio De Sica’s masterful Bicycle Thieves.
Cyril (Thomas Doret) is an 11 year-old boy who has been left in a children’s home by his father for what he believes will be only a temporary period of time. When his father moves out of their apartment, and more disturbingly to Cyril, sells his prized bike, he sets out on a quest to find him, for he cannot believe his »
- Shaun Munro
Barbara Loden's 1970 road movie about a housewife who goes on the run has been saved from the scrapheap and restored
Barbara Loden's life story is a scriptwriter's dream. A poverty stricken childhood, which she escaped first via modelling, then television and Hollywood stardom. Tempestuous marriage to On the Waterfront director Elia Kazan during which in 1970 she wrote, starred in and directed the movie Wanda. Finally, there was the fight to follow up on her impressive directorial debut, cruelly denied when she died 10 years later aged just 48, at precisely the time her remarkable film was finally gaining long overdue recognition.
Wanda's reputation continues to grow and perhaps the key to its deep resonance, which BFI London film festival audiences can experience at two rare screenings this month, is that its source is so personal to Loden.
Her extraordinary performance as the acquiescent and emotionally blank Wanda is part »
- Tony Paley
No less a source than Wikipedia refers to Les Cousins as a French New Wave film; a bold claim (that they probably actually did get from a reputable source, such as the back of the box here), considering that it came out in 1959, the same year as The 400 Blows, generally considered the key that ignited the movement. If not the full-tilt revolution in picture and sound that that film and its compatriots were, it does point the arrow squarely in the direction that European art cinema spent the next 15 or so years going. Though Fellini's La Dolce Vita and Antonioni's L'Avventura are certainly more famous films, even they do not provide a more vacuous look at the banality of Europe's moneyed class.
- Anders Nelson
This is not the kind of film I expect from Jean-Pierre Melville based on the films of his I've seen. Taking place in Nazi-occupied France, who would've ever thought Melville would present a "life during wartime" drama and seemingly focus so little on the war? Instead, he focuses on a woman (Emmanuelle Riva) and her relationship with a local priest played by Jean-Paul Belmondo (Breathless). The film serves as a lesson in tension, building as Melville explores the growing sexual attraction this woman has for a man she cannot have. Embedded in the narrative the audience is also left to question the priest's motivations. Is he just messing with her? Does he know the effect he has on her and her friends? Religion obviously plays a role and the war isn't as forgotten as you may initially believe, but to look at the film on a surface level you'd hardly »
- Brad Brevet
Photo by Tommy Lau
Sad news this morning from the San Francisco Film Society. Graham Leggat, who stepped down as Sffs executive director just last month, died yesterday after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 51.
Announcing his resignation in July, the Sffs noted: "During the period of Leggat's leadership, the Film Society has grown from the producer of the annual 15-day San Francisco International Film Festival into a year-round cultural institution celebrating film culture in all its forms, with its staff and annual operating budget each increasing threefold from 2005 to 2011." In a farewell message, Leggat wrote, "The recent announcement of the September launch of the San Francisco Film Society | New People Cinema marks a huge milestone in our 54-year history: for the first time we have a year-round home in which to present an increasingly diverse and vital range of programs. With this crucial addition, the Film Society rightfully »
One could date the start of the American independent film movement with the release in France in 1959 of a picture that heralded the beginning of the French New Wave: François Truffaut’s first feature--made when he was 27--and one of the classics of humanist cinema, The 400 Blows (available on DVD). The original French title is Les Quatre Cents Coups, which literally translated means “the 400 dirty tricks,” but is understood idiomatically as “raising hell,” which is quite a different thought than the English understanding of it as being “the 400 blows one endures in life.” Either meaning can represent… »
One could date the start of the American independent film movement with the release in France in 1959 of a picture that heralded the beginning of the French New Wave: François Truffaut’s first feature--made when he was 27--and one of the classics of humanist cinema, The 400 Blows (available on DVD). The original French title is Les Quatre Cents Coups, which literally translated means “the 400 dirty tricks,” but is understood idiomatically as “raising hell,” which is quite a different thought than the English understanding of it as being “the 400 blows one endures in life.” Either meaning can represent the film, since the leading character both plays dirty tricks and receives 400 blows. »
While the Bible may admonish us to “put away childish things,” we revere filmmakers who have remained in touch with their childhood selves enough to tell stories through a young and inexperienced set of eyes. J.J. Abrams’ new film Super 8 pays homage to the kids-in-suburbia movies directed and produced over the years by Steven Spielberg, and the film’s evocation of a world as it is experience by pre-adolescents brought to mind other classics that do the same thing. Many more than eight examples leapt to mind – talk it out in the comments, fans of Stand by Me and The 400 Blows – but all of the following are ones we really admire…
I stumbled upon a list of 41 of Woody Allen's favorite films over at This Recording, which were actually pulled from Allen's 2007 biography written by Eric Lax titled "Conversations with Woody Allen: His Films, the Movies, and Moviemaking" which you can buy from Amazon for $16.47.
Allen comments on the lists, of which he breaks up into different categories, saying, "My tastes seem to me unremarkable except in the area of talking plot comedies where I seem to have little tolerance for anything and certainly not my own films."
Unfortunately, he's pretty much right as I would bet most avid movie watchers will have seen the majority of the films he lists and then when he does get to talking plot comedies he waves a white flag in fear of looking foolish saying, "[My] taste is eccentric and there are any number of comedies I love that would make me seem foolish or should I say, »
- Brad Brevet
In a pivotal scene of The 400 Blows, sweet-tempered Antoine, forever and unjustly underfoot, discovers Balzac while smoking a rollie on his parents' sofa. Everything in Antoine's home belongs to his parents, and they rarely let him forget it, but Eureka! -- Balzac might be his alone. Inspired by "A Sinister Affair" to write an essay about his grandfather's death for a class assignment, Antoine finds himself accused of plagiarism, and indeed at least one verbatim Balzac passage made it onto the page. He runs up against the limits of influence as definitively as he does those of authority and ultimately the inhabitable earth, bound itself by the sea. »
Each week within this column we strive to pair the latest in theatrical releases to the worthwhile titles currently available on Netflix Instant Watch.
As super-powered mutants do battle in multiplexes across the nation, a trio of indies will open in limited release, unleashing tales of love, acceptance, and protest. To take the heart-pounding, mind-broadening, soul-warming and/or consciousness-awakening experience home, try our selected picks from the libraries of Netflix’s streaming features.
In this prequel to Bryan Singer’s genre-resurrecting X-Men, director Matthew Vaughn leaps back to 1963, where Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is just beginning to lay the groundwork for his school, with the help of his best friend, Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender). Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, and Kevin Bacon co-star.
- Kristy Puchko
The Criterion Collection will release The Complete Jean Vigo on Blu-ray and DVD on Aug. 30 for the list prices of $39.95 and $29.95, respectively.
A collection of all four films made by the French cinema legend before he died of tuberculosis in 1934, at the way-too-young age of 29, The Complete Jean Vigo marks the first time the filmmaker’s entire canon has been compiled in one collection.
Film scholars will tell you that Vigo helped to establish French cinema’s poetic realism movement of the 1930s and 1940s, a swell that yielded such masterpieces as Renoir’s Grand Illusion and Carne’s Children of Paradise. And later on, Vigo’s work was the spark that ignited the artistic explosion that became known as the French New Wave. What I can tell you is that you don’t need a film class to enjoy Vigo’s final movie, 1934’s L’Atalante, a sensual »
Last month, in the course of reviewing Hiroshi Shimizu’s The Masseurs and a Woman, I impulsively committed myself to review “next week” another 1930s Japanese film by Kenji Mizoguchi, in order to complete the sampler I’d started with recent articles on Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse from that same era. Of course, I followed up on that commitment seven days later with an article on The Rise of Catherine the Great, from the Alexander Korda’s Private Lives Eclipse set. And then last week I postponed my Journey through the Eclipse Series altogether, opting instead to write a column on Ten Criterion Films for Mothers Day.
So I didn’t really know which “next week” I was referring to, until now, when it’s finally time to make good on my promise. I guess it’s only fitting, after offering my thoughts on one of the most powerful »
- David Blakeslee
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