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With so many films released on the run up to Halloween it’s been hard to keep up with reviews, so we’re going to play catch-up with another review round-up looking at some recent releases in brief. This time round we have reviews of Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari, Saints & Soldiers: The Void, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and The Pigman Murders.
Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari
Synopsis: At a local carnival in a small German town, hypnotist Dr. Caligari presents the somnambulist Cesare, who can purportedly predict the future of curious fairgoers. But at night, the doctor wakes Cesare from his sleep to enact his evil bidding…
- Phil Wheat
The Digital Era: Real-time Films From 2000 To Today
40 years before, in 1960, lighter cameras enabled a cinéma vérité-flavored revolution in street realism. By 2000, new digital cameras suggested a whole new set of promises, including telling stories that would have been unimaginable within minimum budgets for features even ten years before. In 2000, film purists warned that digital still didn’t look as good as celluloid, but that didn’t stop at least three innovative filmmakers from boldly going where no filmmaker had gone before. Mike Figgis’ Timecode (2000) was the first star-supported (Salma Hayek, Stellan Skarsgard, Holly Hunter, among many others) single-shot project since Rope, underlining that earlier film’s timelessness. If Run Lola Run could do one story three times, then Timecode would do three or four stories one time: the movie is four separate ninety-minute shots shown all at the same time, each in one quadrant of the screen. Where do you look? »
- Daniel Smith-Rowsey
Sidney And The Sixties: Real-time 1957-1966
Throughout the 1950s, Hollywood’s relationship with television was fraught: TV was a hated rival but also a source of cheap talent and material, as in the case of the small-scale Marty (1955), which won the Best Picture Oscar. These contradictions were well represented by the apparently “televisual” 12 Angry Men (1957), which began life as a teleplay concerning a jury with a lone holdout who must, and eventually does, convince his fellow jurors of the defendant’s innocence. Its writer, Reginald Rose, persuaded one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Henry Fonda, to become a first-time producer of the film version. Fonda and Rose took basement-low salaries in favor of future points, and hired a TV director, Sidney Lumet, for next to nothing because Lumet wanted a first feature credit. Technically, there’s an opening bit on the courtroom steps that keeps this from being a true real-time film, »
- Daniel Smith-Rowsey
Perched at the top of this week’s flock of specialty film debuts is Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance), a possible Oscar contender starring Michael Keaton. Though it’s a limited release, Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s complex film about a fading action-hero trying to reclaim his mojo on Broadway nevertheless combines elements of a superhero franchise that could tap fans well beyond the art house.
It’s part of yet another big flock of specialty film debuts coming this weekend, including the controversy-minded Sundance award-winner Dear White People, William H. Macy‘s directorial debut Rudderless, Kristen Stewart‘s Camp X-Ray, Jason Schwartzman‘s Listen Up Philip, The Golden Era, Summer Of Blood, and one great revival, Alain Resnais’ 1959 landmark Hiroshima Mon Amour.
To get a sense of Fox Searchlight’s ambitions for Birdman, the film closed the New York Film Festival last weekend to strong reviews, but then »
- David Bloom
Have you ever wondered what are the films that inspire the next generation of visionary filmmakers? As part of our monthly Ioncinephile profile, we ask the filmmaker (in this case American independent writer-director Zachary Wigon) to identify their all time top ten favorite films of all time. Wigon’s The Heart Machine (see pic of actor John Gallagher Jr above) receives a limited theatrical and VOD release on October 24th via the Film Buff folks. This top 10 is a countdown folks. Drum roll please!
“The deep pathos of pretending to be someone you’re not so that you may win over your love is taken, here, to heights alternatively comic and tragic, with the greatest closing shot in all of cinema.”
9. Goodbye, Dragon Inn – Tsai Ming-liang (2004)
“The loneliness of being a person, the desire to connect to each other through our behavior and through art, »
- Eric Lavallee
Reviewing Hill of Freedom at Filmmaker, Vadim Rizov notes that the tone of Hong Sang-soo's work "has swerved from potentially inconsequential farce (Like You Know It All, In Another Country) to the recent dourness and cyclical/purgatorial futility of The Day He Arrives, Nobody’s Daughter Haewon and Our Sunhi…. The degree of tonal difference and emphasis is refracted and clarified by each subsequent work." The New Yorker's Richard Brody argues that Hill is Hong's "gloss on Resnais’s first two features, Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year at Marienbad." We've got more reviews, the trailer and a clip. » - David Hudson »
Directed by Alain Resnais
Alain Resnais is inarguably one of the most prolific directors to come out of the French New Wave, with nearly 50 films under his belt, including his masterworks Hiroshima, Mon Amour, Last Year at Marienbad, and Night and Fog. Undeterred by age, he seemed to have been working up until the day he died, with his swan song Life of Riley being presented posthumously at this year’s New York Film Festival. Those only familiar with his Nouvelle Vague work will be in for a pleasant surprise: Life of Riley is perhaps more fun that it deserves to be.
Based on the play by Alan Ayckbourn, the film follows two (or three, depending on how you count) couples in the midst of rehearsals for a play, as the news of their friend’s »
- Kyle Turner
Thanks to some oddly unbidden aggregate restoration-licensing phenomenon, we are suddenly awash with the cinema of noveau roman pioneer–slash–Bdsm obsessive Alain Robbe-Grillet. Famous here only for self-autopsying novels like Les Gommes, The Voyeur, In the Labyrinth, and Project for a Revolution in New York, and for the radically unsignifying screenplay for Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad, Robbe-Grillet was also a late-coming adjunct to the French New Wave, doubling down on his avant-garde literary fame and making a series of psychosexually nutty meta-movies that eat their own tails so lustily they make Godard’s contemporaneous work look orthodox. Almost. Robbe-Grillet, whose first six films are now »
10. Altered States (1980)
Directed by: Ken Russell
Is it a horror film? Many of Ken Russell’s films could be argued as such, but there’s enough in Altered States that makes it less horror and more science fiction/psychological thriller. Based on the novel by Paddy Chayefsky, Altered States introduced the world to William Hurt (and also featured the film debut of Drew Barrymore). Edward Jessup (Hurt) is studying schizophrenia, but branches out into sensory deprivation experimentation with a floating tank. Eventually, he travels to Mexico to visit a tribe that provides him with an extract which he begins to take before his trips into the flotation tank, resulting in bizarre imagery and eventual physical devolution, once to a primitive man and to a near primordial blob. Side effects start to occur, causing Edward to suffer from episodes of partial regression even without the hallucinogenic drug. Russell’s direction shifts »
- Joshua Gaul
Diplomacy director Volker Schlöndorff: "This movie for me is less about the Second World War but about French German relationships." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
Volker Schlöndorff talks Diplomacy (Diplomatie) with Niels Arestrup as his German General Dietrich von Choltitz and André Dussollier as Swedish consul-general Raoul Nordling. The connection between Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour and the story of the orders to destroy 1944 Paris in Diplomacy chillingly rings true. Schlöndorff was hired to work with Alain Resnais on [film]Last Year In Marienbad[/ilm] (L'Année Dernière à Marienbad) after being an intern on Louis Malle's Zazie Dans Le Métro and he says Marguerite Duras "knew what she was talking about."
Based on Cyril Gély's play Diplomatie, which starred Arestrup and Dussollier on stage in Paris, Schlöndorff shows us an intimate portrait of two men at odds, dueling with more than their lives at stake.
- Anne-Katrin Titze
Performer-turned-writer/director Paul Mazursky, who was Oscar-nommed five times and helmed hit movies including “Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice” and “An Unmarried Woman,” has died. He was 84. Mazursky died of cardiac arrest Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
While his most significant films as a director came several decades ago, he returned to acting on TV in later years, playing Norm on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and appearing on “The Sopranos” and on ABC drama “Once and Again” as Sela Ward’s father.
Mazursky at his best captured the spirit of the late ’60s and the ’70s, when the American moral climate was turned on its head. His films entertainingly explored such weighty issues as marital fidelity, the merits of psychological therapy and modern divorce: “Bob and Ted,” starring Robert Culp and Natalie Wood as a “liberated” married couple; “Blume in Love,” starring George Segal and Susan Anspach »
- Richard Natale
★★★★☆The key scene in Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet's cherished cinematic collaboration Last Year at Marienbad (1961) which was cut from the script was one of sexual violence, leaving the film with a lurking possibility of menace but nothing explicit to challenge its 'U' certificate. Sadism and particularly sexual sadism was to be a theme that Robbe-Grillet would increasingly explore in his solo efforts, but it would also put the handbrake on his reputation as an auteur - with many of his films unavailable due to this. This BFI collection of six of his beautifully remastered works comes as a timely corrective and will, for many, prove a revelation for one of the lesser-seen French directorial talents.
- CineVue UK
The Classic French Film Festival celebrates St. Louis’ Gallic heritage and France’s cinematic legacy. The featured films span the decades from the 1920s through the 1980s (with a particular focus on filmmakers from the New Wave), offering a comprehensive overview of French cinema. Je T’Aime, Je T’Aime will screen as part of the festival at 6pm Saturday, June 28th at Webster University’s Moore Auditorium.
Recovering after a suicide attempt, Claude Ritter (Claude Rich) is obviously the perfect guinea pig for an anonymous corporation’s tentative attempts at time travel. What could go wrong? After all, the mouse came out Ok. And maybe, when he goes back a year, he can re-live one particular minute. Resnais’ switch into science fiction continues his theme of time (“Hiroshima Mon Amour,” “Last Year at Marienbad”) as Claude’s memories – thanks to the obligatory unaccounted-for glitch – flip back and forth in »
- Tom Stockman
The more classics on the big screen the better. Rialto Pictures, a specialty distributor who has re-released other films like Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless and Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad, has announced that the next classic they will be re-releasing this year is Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour starring Emmanuelle Riva (who was Oscar nominated for Amour) and Eiji Okada. First released in 1959, Rialto will be re-releasing the restored 4K version of the film, which originally debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and Locarno Film Festival last year. So while it has been showing, it's getting a theatrical release in October. Thanks to IndieWire for the news. Here are two early trailers for Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour: Glad to see this getting re-released, just hoping it can build enough buzz to get some audiences in theaters. "Known as a major influence on the French New Wave movement, »
- Alex Billington
It all begins with a freeze frame of a dirt road somewhere in Yorkshire county, lined with trees whose lush foliage converges above in an arch. What could it be if not a portal? The movie itself, meanwhile, has not even started as we watch the opening credits, encased in large old-fashioned frames, slowly fade away—a device consistently favored by Alain Resnais who opened each of his 19 features likewise, holding off the films themselves until the screen no longer contained any visual surplus. The freeze frame comes to life as the camera pans farther down the road; then we find ourselves in a theatrical set.
We have been here before, of course. Resnais' Smoking/No Smoking, also based on a play by British playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn, is set in Yorkshire as well. Life of Riley (Aimer, boire et chanter) borrows from the five-hour diptych its theatrical setting, one »
- Boris Nelepo
Three weeks before Alain Resnais died this past March, he had premiered his newest film, Life of Riley, at the Berlin Film Festival, which he completed at the age of 91. Resnais enjoyed a uniquely prolific streak of filmmaking in his later years that laughed at the prospect of retirement or death. For a moment it seemed possible that Resnais himself would continue to exist as ceaselessly as the memories that preoccupy his characters; thankfully, with his incredible body of work, Resnais is etched into eternity. Resnais continued to experiment with the limits of cinematic form over fifty years after his career-defining work on Night and Fog, Hiroshima mon amour, and Last Year in Marienbad. The past decade of his career proved that age is no excuse for artistic resignation or repetition – while not nearly as well-known, more recent works including Private Fears in Public Places, Wild Grass, and You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet! challenged »
- Landon Palmer
(Cannes – May 15th) The press were treated to their first 8:30 a.m. Grand Lumiere screening and were taken back to the late seventeen hundredths London (among other places) in Mike Leigh’s historical biopic on a painterly individual. At the press conference, Timothy Spall who had been pitched the project several years ago and picked up the brush for a good two year period alongside a professional, found that one of the dwellings in his own personal family history (dating not that long ago) matched one of Turner’s actual known addresses – a rather remarkable coincidence in my books. One journo also asked Mike Leigh how the Secrets & Lies stamp came about (check out the news piece).
The festival’s sidebar (Un Certain Regard) and parallel sections Directors’ Fortnight and Critics Week got off to a rowdy start. Ucr opener Party Girl (by directing team comprised of Marie Amachoukeli, »
- Eric Lavallee
Cannes Directors’ Fortnight had already decided to honour the French filmmaker before his death in March.
The French Film Directors’ Guild, which runs Directors’ Fortnight, will pay tribute to late filmmaker Alain Resnais, by posthumously feting him with its Carrosse d’Or (Golden Carriage) award on the opening night of the parallel Cannes section.
“Last January, directors of the guild unanimously decided to give this prize to Alain Resnais, who died in March,” the body said in a statement.
Directors’ Fortnight will screen Resnais’ 1958 short La Chant du Styrène, a 13-minute documentary in praise of plastic commissioned by French manufacturer Péchiney, and his 1977 feature Providence, starring Sir John Geilgud, on May 15.
There will be a tribute to the filmmaker at the opening ceremony of Directors’ Fortnight attended by Jean-Louis Livi, the producer of his last three films, and the filmmaker’s long-time assistant Christophe Jeauffroy, who worked on productions such as Life of Riley, You Ain’t Seen »
Over the past three months of Movie Poster of the Day, the two most popular posters by far were two beautiful (each in their own very distinct way) posters that I posted in memoriam of two dearly departed auteurs: Alan Resnais and Harold Ramis. And two other posters among the most popular (i.e. most liked or reblogged) were those posted in celebration of Philip Seymour Hoffman, including Chris Ware’s lovely 2007 design for The Savages, one of my favorite posters of last decade. So, if nothing else, Movie Poster of the Day has recorded the saddest losses of the year. (Not forgetting the adorable Swedish poster I posted for Shirley Temple which didn’t make the Top 20.)
I’m happy to see a number of new posters here: a very popular Dutch Wolf of Wall Street, »
- Adrian Curry
It's hard to believe it has already been more than three years since I first saw Ingmar Bergman's Persona. The first Bergman film I saw was The Seventh Seal back in 2007 and I was immediately hooked. I quickly followed that up with Wild Strawberries and have since come to own many of the iconic Swedish director's films, and as much as I never believed anything he directed could effect me as much as Seventh Seal, Persona is a whole new level of filmmaking. I've been asked before if a film can still be enjoyable even if you don't entirely understand it. Persona is evidence that the answer is a resounding yes. The film came about after Bergman fell ill in 1959 as he was planning on beginning work on a film with Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson titled The Cannibals. That film never came to fruition. While recovering in the hospital, »
- Brad Brevet
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