11 items from 2013
When Aleksei German died in February 2013, he left behind a nearly finished magnum opus, “Hard to Be a God.” With the assistance of son Aleksei German Jr. and wife and collaborator Svetlana Karmalita, the movie was completed, most likely just as the great man would have wanted. Boisterous, overstuffed, richly designed and utterly incomprehensible, “Hard” is set on a planet stuck in the Dark Ages, depicting a world of violence, filth and crudeness meant to be a metaphor for our own times. Truly impressive camerawork holds interest through the protracted running time, yet only German devotees will have sufficient patience.
The project was discussed as far back as the mid-1960s, but German didn’t begin shooting until 2000, ending in 2006. Who knows how much footage was developed; since there’s no discernible narrative, it’s easy to imagine the film running far longer than the current three hours, perhaps in »
- Jay Weissberg
The Rome Film Festival will honor late Russian auteur Aleksei Yuryevich German with its Lifetime Achievement Award, given posthumouslyn prior to the world preem of his last film “Hard To Be a God”
The award will be accepted by both Svetlana Karmalita, the director’s widow – partner in all of his most personal projects and screenwriter of the late great’s last two films – and also by their son Aleksei German Jr., the innovative director whose “Paper Soldier” scooped the Venice Silver Lion in 2008.
Aleksei German, who in February died of heart failure, aged 74, built his reputation as a master with just four films: “The Seventh Companion” (1967), “Trial on the Road” (1971), “Twenty Days Without War” (1976), and “My Friend Ivan Lapshin” (1984). He was among the last in a generation of film directors victimised by the Soviet Union’s censorship and draconian arts cuts.
“He stood by every film in his highly personal opus, »
- Nick Vivarelli
With cinematographer and 2nd unit director credits already under his belt, Adam Rehmeier burst onto the indie film scene with his feature film directorial debut, The Bunny Game (2012), in which Rodleen Getsic plays a desperate prostitute who ends up fighting for her life after hooking up with a maniacal trucker. The critically-acclaimed black and white film is somber, gritty, and saturated with panic and dread. Rehmeier's follow-up feature is something of a companion piece: Jonas (2013) is a brooding, sinister, and intelligent film that's as fascinating as the director's methods in creating it. Gregg Gilmore plays Jonas, who mysteriously washes up on a beach, then proceeds to gather an audience for "God's Big Message." Jonas will be released September 11th, and you can watch it in its entirety, absolutely free, at jonasmovie.com. Rehmeier generously took some time to discuss with FEARnet his unique films and his intriguing filmmaking tactics. FEARnet: »
- Eric Stanze
Next month, music obscurantists extraordinaire Superior Viaduct are rereleasing a fascinating gem: the soundtrack to Andrei Tarkovsky's “Solaris,” a preview of which is available right now down below for your listening pleasure. “Solaris” is a ceaselessly intriguing film, rivalling “2001: A Space Odyssey” not just for the title of best and most thought-provoking/puzzling sci-fi film ever made, but also for its deep and elaborate production backstory. Tarkovsky battled with Soviet censors and received a set visit from Akira Kurosawa himself, who liked what he saw. The film also featured a revolutionary, genuinely unique musical score, composed by experimental electronic musician Eduard Artemyev, who also worked on Tarkovsky's “The Mirror” and “Stalker”.For “Solaris,” Artemyev was initially asked for a totally nonmusical score consisting of ambient, technological sounds. But he went one better, coming back to the impressed »
- Ben Brock
Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they dive into yet another Andrei Tarkovsky movie! The man is popular, and with Stalker, he made a slow drink of water that’s perfect for a quiet summer afternoon (especially down the block from the explosion-booming megaplex). In the #29 (tied) movie on the list, three men seek an area beyond an industrial waste zone that will grant them their true desires, but the journey is perilous, and one of them isn’t being honest about »
- FSR Staff
Criterion has just posted a short video featuring Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives) in their DVD/Blu-ray closet picking up and talking about a few titles. He begins with Andrei Tarkovsky's Ivan's Childhood (read my review here), but then makes sure to mention Stalker is his favorite from the famous Russian helmer. No surprise there, I even mentioned Refn when I wrote about Stalker recently. He takes a peek at Quadrophenia, Bigger than Life, Something Wild, The Great Dictator, Insignificance, Repo Man, Things to Come and finally, Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront, which is when he tells a story of having dinner with the Kazan when he was 24-years-old in Stockholm and asked him what advice he'd give a young filmmaker. Kazan told him, "My advice to you is do it your way." Watch the full video directly below. »
- Brad Brevet
I watched Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 sci-fi Stalker for the very first time over the weekend. Set in an undated future, the film, in the simplest of terms, follows a guide (referred to as Stalker, played by Alexander Kaidanovsky) who leads The Writer (Anatoli Solonitsyn) and The Professor (Nikolai Grinko) into a forbidden area called The Zone, a cordoned off area protected by men with guns. At the heart of The Zone is The Room, where your innermost desires will come true. Like most any Tarkovsky feature, it plays slowly, focusing on imagery we're unlikely to (and possible never) fully comprehend, yet oddly important to our overall understanding nevertheless. After the three men evade the bullets and guards protecting The Zone the film moves from dark and oily toned sepia imagery to bright color as they settle down near a small stream and The Stalker says a prayer: Let everything that's been planned come true. »
- Brad Brevet
It's here, the 200th edition of the "What I Watched" column and thanks to the July 4 holiday, my week was light with theater trips limited to one -- The Way, Way Back. Happily, it's one of the better movies I've seen this year and a possible top ten of the year contender, though I suspect it will end the year as an honorable mention. At home I watched Woody Allen's Stardust Memories, Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker and four-and-a-half-hours of Criterion's Blu-ray presentation of Claude Lanzmann's Shoah, which is to say I still have another four-and-a-half-hours to go, not to mention the more than three hours that make up the three additional films in the set before I can review it. I'm on it though. I also caught the final two episodes of the third season of "Game of Thrones" and enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm particularly fascinated »
- Brad Brevet
I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July here in the States and to those of you elsewhere I simply hope you had a great Thursday. As for this weekend, my weekend watchlist is a little up in the air as I just received Woody Allen's Stardust Memories and Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker from Netflix. I expect, at the very least, to get to Allen's film, but I'm also looking to finish watching Season Three of "Game of Thrones". A couple days ago I finally saw the big "red wedding" episode everyone was talking about so I'm only a couple episodes away from finishing the season. However, this may also just end up being a weekend for relaxing... I'm not sure. How about youc »
- Brad Brevet
Sheffield Doc/Fest | Dunoon film festival | A Nos Amours | Seret – The London Israeli film and television festival
Sheffield doesn't quite have the same ring as Cannes or Venice, but in documentary terms it's a fair comparison. This is a market and a meeting place for professionals, and guests this year include Walter Murch, Jonathan Franzen, Trevor McDonald and Captain Sensible, as well as just about every British documentarian you can think of. But this is also the place to see the latest in non-fiction film: 120 films, many of them premieres, on topics ranging from Pussy Riot to Uri Geller's CIA missions, Indonesian genocide, and Bradley Wiggins.
Various venues, Wed to 16 Jun
Dunoon film festival
Edinburgh and Glasgow festivals bring world cinema to Scotland, but this inaugural festival brings Scottish cinema to Scotland, and helps put a seaside town on the cultural map. There are some recent international releases, »
- Steve Rose
Film-maker known for his dark take on post-Soviet Russia
Aleksei Balabanov, who has died aged 54 after suffering a seizure, saw himself as the "anti-establishment rock'n'roller of Russian film" with an aim to make "scandalous, harsh cinema". Many of Balabanov's films are metaphorical black comedies that gaze unflinchingly at the bleakness and violence of the last days of communism and post-Soviet society, with classic Russian rock music on the soundtrack. His first two features, Happy Days (1991) and The Castle (1994), were based on Samuel Beckett and Franz Kafka respectively, and Balabanov's nihilistic oeuvre also takes in Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Mikhail Bulgakov, whose Notes of a Young Doctor was the basis of Balabanov's Morphia (2008).
"I don't make movies with ideas. Ideas make for bad cinema," he said. "I don't make my movies for the intelligentsia, but for the people. That's why they like my films." This was demonstrated by the commercial »
- Ronald Bergan
11 items from 2013
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