Wednesday, January 17, 2007

À Bout De Souffle

The new semester is off to a breathless start. I'm teaching a demanding quant methods class I haven't taught in years (forecasting, queueing theory, linear programming, etc). I have to write two conference articles, travel and present them. And I have to take care of my faculty advisor duties. On the other hand, to be honest, it's probably no worse than most other semesters, so I hope to (eventually) locate the groove....we'll see.

The '07 film-a-day resolution hasn't fallen down so far, although I've had to lean on a few shorts to keep it standing. I'm resolving to blog once a week, and post early in the week if I can, to keep the rest of the week free of blogging pressure...

* * *

-- Jim Emerson announces a Contrarianism Blog-A-Thon for Feb. 16-18, and Lucid Screening is hosting a White Elephant Blog-A-Thon on Apr. 1.

-- There's a new issue of the amazing Rouge.

-- Just discovered these three Jonathan Rosenbaum essays at DVD Beaver: (1) "A Dozen Undervalued Movie Satires" (2) "Ten Neglected Science Fiction Movies" (3) "Ten Overlooked Fantasy Films on DVD".

* * *

Back with a post next week. Memo to myself: early next week!....


Blogger girish said...

--Discovered this amazingly exhaustive Robin Wood bilbiography, one of those Internet labors-of-love. (It was put together by DK Holm.)

--Michael Guillen: "Attending the Palm Springs International Film Festival has been a welcome respite from the self-imposed tyranny of film blogging; but, after seeing thirty-some films, it's time to get to work!"
An interview with Milena Andonova follows.

--Michael Z Newman: Notes on the Web Video Form.

--Quiet Bubble's favorite comics of '06.

January 18, 2007 8:04 AM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

Yee haw! Colossal Youth at FCS!

January 18, 2007 10:37 AM  
Blogger girish said...

A. ~ Also noticed that on the first page of the new Film Comment, there's an ad for Film Society of Lincoln Center upcoming events for Jan/Feb, and they have a still from Colossal Youth marked FCS...

And that looks like a fine program (with the Straub-Huillet)...

January 18, 2007 10:45 AM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

Shazzbot! I still don't have my Film Comment magazine. :( Anyway, I just bought my tickets online, and it looks as though I'll be doing two weekends, one for the Costa and Kurosawa, then the next for the Straub/Huillet, Benning, and Aldrich. Psyched! :)

January 18, 2007 10:58 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Loaded schedule...!

January 18, 2007 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meanwhile Colossal Youth which was expected in a January release in France, has been cancelled due to obscur TV legalize... :(
Apparently it's a TV movie (Arte) and can't get an opening in theatre like other films.

January 18, 2007 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boston is having an almost unbearably rich run of films. More Rivette coming; a new European films series starts tomorrow and includes the new Oliveira, new Kaurismaki, plus Colossal Youth; The Case of the Grinning Cat opens tomorrow for a week; and there's a Korean series coming that includes 2 Hong Sang-soo films, The Host, new Kim Ki-duk, and more. Even the films in the regular theaters are appealing - Pan's Labyrinth and Letters From Iwo Jima seem quite promising. It's a bit overwhelming.

January 18, 2007 7:47 PM  
Blogger girish said...

I can see how that would be overwhelming, WeepingSam. I've never actually lived in one of the large cinephilia-friendly cities, but I often wonder how many films I'd end up casually passing on, films that I'm craving to see right now....

--Jim Emerson attends an Inland Empire screening and Q&A With Lynch.
--Just discovered this group blog: NewCritics: "Web-based criticism in literature, music, television, film, technology, theater and art from a diverse group of bloggers."
--Upcoming DVD releases, courtesy of Acquarello.

January 19, 2007 8:39 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

Heh. What's absolutely horrible is when you have to pass up on films you want to see because you have to blog about films you've already seen. It must be true: there is no God. Or if there is, He's busy blogging about his last creation.

January 19, 2007 9:04 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh that's hilarious...

So, Michael, how was Palm Springs? Any favorites among the films you saw? And did you get to do some socializing? (Knowing you, the matchless social butterfly, that was a rhetorical question, but perhaps you could answer anyway...)

January 19, 2007 9:11 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

Girish, I had a great time in Palm Springs. Though I know most folks are focusing on all the new fare coming out of Park City, I was happy to be catching up with the best of the last year. Palm
Springs boasted 55 official submissions to the foreign language category at the Oscars and a dynamite Cine Latino series, let alone the U.S. premieres of Verhoeven's The Black Book (which really should have just been called Nazi Whore) and von Trier's The Boss Of It All, both of which I caught.

Got to watch an archival print of Marketa Lazarova with Doug Cummings and, yes indeed, had a great time socializing even though I avoided the galas. My favorite discovery was probably the Spanish film DarkBlueAlmostBlack, which I found thoroughly entertaining. My favorite interview was with the talent from Brazil's Cinema, Aspirin & Vultures. I had already spoken with German actor Peter Ketnath on the phone so it was a genuine delight to meet him in person. He introduced me to the director Marcelo Gomes and fellow actor Joao Miguel (who won best acting awards in Brazil and Gudalajara for his performance), as well as producer Sara Silveira (who has likewise produced Carlos Bolado's Solo Dios Sabe). She took a shine to me and offered to keep me updated on all the new Brazilian talent she adds to her roster. They showered me with gifts: the CD for the film, a dvd copy for both Cinema and Solo, and a wonderful press booklet. It was a just truly wonderful conversation with the whole team for one of my favorite films of last year.

I had a great time and have every intention of returning next year. You should come!! The senior crowds make you feel like a KID!

January 19, 2007 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Wow ... I see by Acquarello's list that Resnais' Muriel is coming to DVD in March. Can't wait for that. Looks as if Koch Lorber is releasing it; they often have awful transfers, so I'll keep my fingers crossed about this one.

January 19, 2007 12:36 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Muriel being the most densely edited of all the Resnais I've seen, it'll surely be a pleasure to have it for close re-viewing (and convenient rewinding and fast-forwarding) on DVD....

Maya, that sounds like a fabulous time.
I'll have to give Palm Springs serious thought next year, for two reasons in addition to the ones you mention: (1) It falls during the inter-semester break; most film festivals take place during the academic year; and (2) Flying away during peak bone-chilling Buffalo winter to southern California...

January 19, 2007 12:59 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Ah, good news. The Siren not only has a post on Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole, she's now also blogging at the group blog NewCritics that I linked to above.

January 19, 2007 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Girish, I haven't been to Palm Springs in many years (and so Maya or Doug Cummings would be better sources than I for this), but it's probably an ideal time to go, given that it's not excessively hot there in January (as opposed to summer, when 120 isn't uncommon), and it's not overly crowded with teenagers on spring break. Could be a nice, leisurely way to catch a lot of films. Had I not had professional commitments, I likely would have joined Maya and Doug there.

January 19, 2007 5:00 PM  
Blogger girish said...

That's good to know, Michael. I've never been to Southern California, only to the Bay Area. (My sister used to live there until she moved back to India.)

January 19, 2007 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been to Palm Springs (and nearby Palm Desert), and the reality of the phrase "like an oven"--even in Florida--never hit home until I'd been. It was mid-summer and opening the door from an air-conditioned house was literally like opening the door to an oven: a wave of dry heat hits you in the face and quite literally takes your breath away. Yet around town you can see people going about their daily business, including jogging. I guess that if you live there long enough you acclimate a bit, but for me it was a bit of a shock. I thought I had experience of heat; this made me rethink it.

January 19, 2007 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Yeah, the heat can be absolutely unreal, and the nights bring some relief from the intense sun, but they too can be brutal (95 degrees at midnight). The nice thing about having the festival in January is it's often, from what I understand, in the 70s and 80s in the winter, with fairly cool nights (in the 40s and 50s). But the summers? No thanks!

January 19, 2007 11:51 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa & Michael -- Madras (my native city) being only a dozen or so degrees north of the equator, the heat is powerful and relentless (since equatorial-style weather changes little throughout the year). I never did get used to the heat, and always craved cool weather. Thus, Buffalo. And snowstorms excepted, I think I still prefer (oddly enough) winter to hot, muggy summers.

January 20, 2007 8:26 AM  
Blogger girish said...

--Mike Newman at Zigzigger points to an interview with Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars. (I love this show.)

--Maya's Palm Springs post is hilarious: "Since returning to San Francisco, I've been having difficulty weaning away from pushing intersection buttons to cross the street. I keep hunting for them. They're all the rage in Palm Springs. They even talk to you. I've woken up screaming hearing: "El Segundo, walk sign is on the cross, El Segundo. Ten … nine … eight … seven …." In my more cruel moments I imagined adding the sound of a car crash or an explosion after that countdown purposely to alarm the blind. I know, I know. I'll burn in hell."

January 20, 2007 8:32 AM  
Blogger girish said...

And here's a page at Facets with many interesting top 10 lists. e.g. James Quandt: Stromboli, Au Hasard Balthasar, Two or Three Things I Know About Her, Playtime, On Dangerous Ground, Moonrise, Woman of Tokyo, Flowing, The Rose King, There's Always Tomorrow. (Thanks, Zach.)

January 20, 2007 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a brief anecdote about language on the set of Lynch's Inland Empire.

January 20, 2007 4:46 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Ah, still waiting for Inland Empire. It's nowhere to be seen around these parts.

--Matt Soller Seitz on the classic documentary Salesman.
--Via David Hudson, Ken Chen at Film International on Eugène Green.

I have tickets for Straub-Huillet's These Encounters of Theirs in Toronto today but alas, will need to stay home and get ready for the week's classes instead...

January 21, 2007 9:31 AM  
Blogger girish said...

David Bordwell on TCM and Ted Turner:

"Some day Ph. D. students will be writing dissertations on the contribution of Turner Classic Movies to US culture. I’d argue that Ted’s baby is as important to our collective sense of cinema history as the establishment of the Museum of Modern Art Film Department was.

"As a movie fan, I’m overwhelmed by the chance to see so many of my favorites for the cost of monthly cable. As a film researcher, I find myself feeling as if a film archive dumped a dozen movies on my front lawn every morning. In 1990, my colleagues and I would’ve killed for the opportunity to see this stuff, and now it’s whizzed to us at home.

"[...] Controversial as he is, Ted Turner has proven a generous mogul, both politically and cinematically. Forget colorization! That was a bogus issue, and anyhow, for every colorized title a spanking fine-grain positive was made for archival preservation. Turner has done more than any single person to sustain and publicize the American film heritage, and he’s made it available to everyone within reach of cable."

Bordwell also has specific notes on this month's screenings, e.g.

"Jan. 23: A cornucopia. I’ll just keep the recorder going all day for:

The Black Book (1949): As oddball a film as Anthony Mann ever made, with John Alton’s pitch-black scenes turning the French Revolution into a noir nightmare. Forget the commercial DVD, evidently ripped from a 16mm print; the TCM version should look better.

Gangster Story (1959): Walter Matthau starred and directed this NYC low-budgeter.

The Guilty Generation (1931): From Rowland V. Lee, endless supplier of B’s.

The Criminal Code (1931): Excellent Hawks with Karloff. Bogdanovich paid tribute to this in Targets.

A string of Boston Blackie films, from 1941-1942: I remember this popular B series from TV syndication in my childhood. Fast-paced and punchy, with direction by Robert Florey, Edward Dmytryk, Michael Gordon, and the prolific Lew Landers.

Angels over Broadway (1940; on right): Mostly shot in one nightclub set (in the Astoria studio?), a murky drama signed by Ben Hecht and Lee Garmes. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Thomas Mitchell, and a young Rita Hayworth fill out sober long takes.

The King Steps Out (1936): Hard-to-see von Sternberg."

The whole post is fun reading...

January 21, 2007 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also on TCM: Robert Aldrich's kitschy The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968), Monday Jan. 22 at 12pm EST. As far as I know, it's not on DVD or VHS.

January 21, 2007 12:40 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

Thanks for the plugs, Girish, and especially for the pointer to Bordwell's TCM assessment, with which I have to concur 100%. My "Now Playing" guide is one of the things that I scour when it arrives in my mailbox and there's always something of note. For example, the other day, taking a break from writing, I watched an old 1930s screwball comedy In Caliente with Dolores Del Rio. I watched it as a study in Hollywood's attitudes towards Mexicans at the time. Such a pity that in Mexico Delores Del Rio was doing incredible work like in Maria Candelaria and here in the States she was reduced to a hot-tempered sexpot in a two-piece bathing suit.

I've very much enjoyed speaking with both Molly Haskell and Robert Osborne from TCM. Both have been absolutely warm and forthcoming and if I ever get to be the anchor of a cable television network, I'm going to be just like them. Heh.

I'm actually considering attending a festival workshop organized and moderated by Osborne in Athens, Georgia in late March at their local school of journalism. I've decided it's about time I learned how to write or, at the least, it's about time I learned a little bit about film.

January 21, 2007 1:13 PM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

Hey G, have you ever traveled to Toronto using Amtrak's Maple Leaf route? Amtrak's been my primary mode of transportation from DC to NYC since you can keep working uninterrupted during the trip and it's a lot faster than driving (not to mention that you don't have to worry about where to park your car in the city). Anyway, just a suggestion. That way, you can catch Straub/Huillet and still work on your lecture materials. :)

January 21, 2007 9:19 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Flickhead, thank you for the Aldrich tip.

Maya, I'm constantly amazed by your boundless energy. You're the AARP poster boy for early retirement! And I look forward to your reports from Georgia if you make the trip...

A. ~ Thanks for the suggestion and link! I'd never even thought of that, even though there's an Amtrak station a 10 minute drive from my house. I've never traveled by train in the US, but did it all the time in India. (We have a large and extensive network of train lines in the subcontinent.)

Amtrak would be ideal. I could travel without guilt and (as you point out) get my work done while I do so...Thanks again for the idea...

January 21, 2007 10:53 PM  

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