Monday, August 13, 2007

Undistributed/Antonioni



The complete film list for the Toronto film festival will be announced next week. Like last year, I’d like to do a post around it, inviting your suggestions and recommendations. As a nostalgic warm-up, I thought I’d look back over the last 8 TIFFs and collect some less well-known, undistributed films that have tenaciously clung on in my memory. I’m not saying these are all great films (a handful of them are) but I think they are all solid and interesting items that I wish were available on region 1 DVD.

-- 1999: Rien à Faire (Marion Vernoux); Peau Neuve (Emilie Deleuze, daughter of Gilles); Carne (Gaspar Noe, 1991); Throne of Death (Murali Nair); La Lettre (Manoel de Oliveira); Tempting Heart (Sylvia Chang); Juha (Aki Kaurismaki); and three by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (License to Live [1998], Barren Illusion [1999], The Excitement of the Do-Re-Mi-Fa Girl [1985]);

-- 2000: The Long Holiday (Johan van der Keuken); Wild Blue: Notes for Several Voices (Thierry Knauff); With Closed Eyes (Mansur Madavi); Djomeh (Hassan Yektapanah, a former assistant to Kiarostami).

-- 2001: The Orphan of Anyang (Wang Chao); A Dog’s Day (Murali Nair); Loss is to be Expected (Ulrich Seidl); The Profession of Arms (Ermanno Olmi); Lovely Rita (Jessica Hausner, a former student of Michael Haneke’s).

-- 2002: La Vie Nouvelle (Philippe Grandrieux); The Last Letter (Frederick Wiseman).

-- 2003: (Sharon Lockhart); Abjad (Abolfazl Jalili); two by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, The Small Town and Clouds of May.

-- 2004: Los Muertos (Lisandro Alonso).

-- 2005: The Sun (Alexander Sokurov); The Forsaken Land (Vimukti Jayasundara); Entre la Mer et L’eau Douce (Michel Brault, 1967), which is actually playing again in the festival this year.

-- 2006: Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa); Belle Toujours (Manoel de Oliveira); Dong (Jia Zhang-ke).

In addition to TIFF, I’ve made just two other festival trips. A few films from those:

-- Rotterdam, 2000: Samar (Shyam Benegal); Le Petit Voleur (Erick Zonca); Inter-View (Jessica Hausner); Enzo Domani à Palermo (Cipri & Maresco).

-- Montreal, 2001: Après la Reconciliation (Anne-Marie Miéville); Martha…Martha (Sandrine Veysset).

If you like, please feel free to add some of your own picks of personal favorites that might’ve played festivals in the last several years (e.g. TIFF, NYFF, SFIFF, Sundance, etc.) but are unavailable on DVD here.


* * *

I watched Antonioni’s feature debut, Cronaca di un Amore [“Story of a Love Affair”] (1950) last night. Wow—a strong film, with so many of his preoccupations and strategies either already in place or showing clear traces of them in embryonic form. And Lucia Bosè, whom I’d never seen before, is an arresting presence.

Sam Rohdie, in his book on Antonioni [BFI, 1990]:

The most interesting comment on Cronaca di un Amore remains a review of it at the time in Bianco e Nero by Fernaldo Di Giammatteo; it concerns, primarily, Antonioni’s choice of a narrative position at some distance from the characters which allows the characters an independence from the ‘grip’ of the narrative, an autonomy from any encompassing knowledge by the narrator, as if the narrator was describing events and characters not which he knew but which he sought to know, which fascinated him, and which he came upon, like the detective, or the reporter of a chronicle of a film, at the moment they occurred, knowing no more and sometimes less than the characters themselves.

On the relationship of Antonioni’s films to neo-realism:

Looked at on the level of theme or meaning, many critics, especially in Italy, enjoying the warm humanism of neo-realism, found Antonioni’s work cold, depressing and, hopelessly, gloomily pessimistic. Some of this had to do with distance: an objectivity without sympathy; but mostly it related to the sense of disconnection. Even if the social environment weighed down figures in Visconti, de Sica, Rossellini, there was always hope, either for a change in the environment, or in pockets within it: faith, the family, love, affection. No matter how threatening, how awful things were, there were some eternal certainties or a political chance, love or solidarity, a retreat or a way forward. There is still Bruno and human will in Ladri di biciclette, the dog who saves the man in Umberto D, an optimistic tomorrow in Paisà and Roma, città aperta, struggles not in vain, not like in Antonioni where ends dissolve, and struggle ceases to have sense.

On the other hand, and Rossellini apart, the way ahead charted by these films was often familiar and conventional. What may have seemed grim in Antonioni’s themes, was positive, indeed exhilarating at the level of their realization; his films opened up new narrative and fictional possibilities in the very activity of dissolving what was certain and clear, in rejecting what neo-realism had made positive. And this is most evident visually: by the very fact of destabilising forms and structures, Antonioni permitted new forms to appear, hence new fascinations and new objects to make themselves felt. Neo-realism, on the contrary, and despite the attentiveness it gave to technique and to film language, was conservative, intent on declaring established, unshakeable things, certainties and orders which by the mid-50s even its greatest apologists had to admit no longer held.

A certain figuration present in Antonioni’s films, including Cronaca:

… when the attention of the camera is caught by something either peripheral to the narrative or utterly unconnected with it, and the camera simply wanders off, focuses on a pattern, or a shadow, or an extraneous event, becomes a camera-errant while the narrative is seemingly left to one side. […] What is interesting about these figures in the films — and they become more frequent in later films — is that [...] this place at which the narrative dies, at which the camera becomes distracted, is often a place at which another non-narrative interest develops: the light and tone of things, compositional frames created by doorways, beams, gates, gratings, the shifting of colour, a shimmering between figure and ground. These are places which are openly non-narrativised, of a pictorial and visual interest which suddenly takes hold, causes the narrative to err, to wander, momentarily to dissolve. They are among the most interesting places in Antonioni’s films, at which everything and nothing takes place.


* * *

Noël Burch considers Cronaca to be Antonioni’s masterpiece (or at least, given the various incarnations of Noël Burch, he did in 1969). In his classic text, Theory of Film Practice, he speaks of movements into and out of the frame, and the play with off-screen space, that occur in the film:

It has often been noted there are only two hundred or so separate shots in the entire film; most of them are very long, and all of them give proof of an absolutely unprecedented degree of visual organization. The principal structural factor in the film is movements into and out of the frame, used mainly for rhythmic effect but also serving to bring into play, in an entirely complex manner, the spatial segments immediately adjacent to the frame lines, particularly those on the right and the left. [...] Because of the camera movements and the characters' movements off screen [in the bridge party sequence], these entrances and exits always occur at unexpected places and unexpected moments. In other sequences of the film, Antonioni often prolongs an exit by having someone on screen look off screen in the direction of a person who has just left, thereby bringing that segment of off-screen space to life.


* * *

A few links:

-- Martin Scorsese on Antonioni in yesterday's NYT.

-- Sam Rohdie's words of introduction at the Hong Kong Arts Centre retrospective of Antonioni.

-- Dan Sallitt makes many astute and useful stylistic observations about post-war George Cukor.

-- Michael Sicinski on Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn and Ousmane Sembène.

-- Andy Horbal on Alfred Hitchcock.

-- The Art of Memory: "Some flares, flickers and circles of confusion from The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (long version)".

pic: Lucia Bosè in Cronaca di un Amore [“Story of a Love Affair”] (1950)

60 Comments:

Blogger acquarello said...

Heheh, I remember getting your opinion on Thierry Knauff's Wild Blue, Notes for Several Voices back in 2002! All I was eyeing on that Belgian Cinema program was Akerman's From the Other Side, but I got to see some rare Paul Meyer and André Delvaux gems in the bargain.

I wish FSLC would bring back the Central Asian cinema program that they had in 2003, they featured newish films by Marat Sarulu, Darezhan Omirbaev, Ermek Shinarbaev, Rachid Malikov, and slew of others from the former Soviet Asian republics. A lot of great discoveries there.

From NY African Film Festival, Nicolas Klotz' La Blessure and Ian Gabriel's Forgiveness never turned up again. I know I've raved enough about La Blessure, but it really is a beautiful film, certainly the most unabashedly humanist film I've seen in a long time.

Film Comment Selects also screened Grandrieux's La Vie nouvelle the same year that they screened Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Shadow Kill. The ones that I haven't seen turn up since are Desplechin's Playing 'In the Company of Men', Yorgos Lanthimos's Kinetta, and several Ruiz films, especially Love Torn in Dream and Days in the Country.

August 13, 2007 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting these hidden gems, girish! I was unaware of quite a few of them. Would you happen to know if Murali Nair's films are available on any region DVD at all? Finding good Indian films on DVD is always such a pain...

August 13, 2007 11:36 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Acquarello, I vividly recall our exchange of notes about Thierry Knauff from 2002; I also remember dashing off to you an enthusiastic email about Jia's Unknown Pleasures the day I saw it at TIFF that year. And then you saw it the following week at NYFF...

I haven't heard of any of those Central Asian filmmakers except for Omirbaev. He was featured as the "spotlight" director at TIFF the year before I started going. I've seen just Killer and The Road by him.

Anonymous, I'm not very well-informed about non region-1 DVD releases but I haven't heard of those Murali Nair films coming out on DVD. I remember chatting with him after those movies at TIFF; he works on Bollywood films (his "day job") and puts his own money into making his films. Not sure why but he's been missing at TIFF the last few years.

August 13, 2007 12:08 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I've seen four of the films you mention, girish: Juha, Los Muertos, the Sun and Colossal Youth. I saw each at the San Francisco International Film Festival either half a year before or after their appearances in Toronto, and I'd love another chance to revisit all of them. (The only ones to make a return visit to a local museum or archive since their initial SFIFF screenings have been Juha and the Sun).

Some other (mostly Asian) films I've seen at bygone SFIFFs that I'd like to see again, but that I'm not aware of being released on DVD (at least not in this region):

Rithy Panh's the Land of Wandering Souls (2001); Marie de Laubier's Veloma, Hirokazu Kore-eda's Distance (2002); Chang Tso-chi's the Best of Times (2003); Gonzalo Justiniano's B-Happy, Lee Kang-Sheng's the Missing (2004); Sumiko Haneda's Into the Picture Scroll, Amir Muhammad's the Year of Living Vicariously and Tokyo Magic Hour (2005); Raya Martin's a Short Film About the Indio Nacional, Sang Yi-Kwan's Sa-Kwa (2006); Heddy Honigmann's Forever (2007)

And, from my other favorite local festival for new films, the SF Int'l Asian American Film Festival:

Akihiko Shiota's Harmful Insect (2002); Mingmongkol Sonakul's I-San Special (2003); Im Sang-Soo's a Good Lawyer's Wife (2004); Zhang Lu's Grain in Ear, Wisit Sasanatieng's Citizen Dog (2006); Hong Sang-soo's Woman on the Beach (2007)

And finally, from the only major festival I've traveled to attend, Sundance:

Néjib Belkadhi's VHS - Kahloucha, Uli Gaulke's Comrades in Dreams, Eva Mulvad's Enemies of Happiness (2007)

Of course, acquarello's post also reminds me that the PFA and YBCA function a bit like year-round film festival venues, often showing single-evening screenings of newish films (I was out of town for last month's Bay Area premiere of Forgiveness, unfortunately). I did see some of those Central Asian films at each of the two venues.

August 13, 2007 3:56 PM  
Blogger the art of memory said...

thank you sir.

August 13, 2007 8:50 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

I liked all three Kurosawa Kyoshi films. Barren Illusion is an experimental piece, playful; License to Live is understated, at times absurd, ultimately moving, Do Re Mi Fa Girls is erotic and great fun.

If it's Toronto they had an okay assotrment of Filipino films. I recommend The Last Wish, Dead Sure, and Rizal in Dapitan. And, if they have a video copy, Scorpio Nights.

August 13, 2007 10:37 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, folks.

Noel, I caught a program of about 7 or 8 Kurosawa Kiyoshi films that year; Noah Cowan put it together. Kurosawa spoke of making Barren Illusion with his students, as part of a class he was teaching.

Brian, lots of great titles in there. I didn't put Woman on the Beach on my list because I thought it already had distribution here, but you're right, it doesn't.

I caught Chang Tso-Chi's Darkness and Light at Rotterdam and liked it a lot; I was looking forward to Best of Times in Toronto, got a ticket for it, then overslept.

Your mention of Amir Muhammad reminds me that I've never seen a Malaysian film (unless I count the last Tsai).

August 14, 2007 7:14 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

I envy you the opportunity you've had to see the early Kurosawa pieces. He's my fave rave. If I weren't so wary of throwing a party that no one comes to, I'd do a blogathon on Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and Amir Muhammed. Amir's films, by the way, are readily available on Firecracker, including the banned ones that haven't made it Bayside.

August 14, 2007 2:45 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Holy freak, Amir's gone feature length? I remember him, we talked in the Singapore film festival in the'90s, and far as I know he used to read my stuff. Nice guy, and I liked his video essays. Did not know he's made such a name for himself.

August 14, 2007 4:36 PM  
Blogger steevee said...

Amir's made 4 or 5 feature-length docs at this point, as well as 6HORTS (his shorts assembly.)

Girish cites some of my favorites - THE FORSAKEN LAND, THE LONG HOLIDAY - but I'm fond of Takeshi Kitano's TAKESHIS' (although few others seem to be) and Nobuhiro Suwa's A PERFECT COUPLE, which played TIFF in 2006 but never made it to New York screens. TAKESHIS' is out on R2 DVD, though.

August 14, 2007 10:07 PM  
Blogger steevee said...

ENZO, DOMANI A PALERMO is out on R2 DVD, by the way, along with several other Cipri/Marcesco shorts. There's a separate disc of TOTO, WHO LIVED TWICE.

I believe Facets is releasing LOS MUERTOS on R1 DVD. Also, New Yorker owns the US rights to THE FORSAKEN LAND, which played for a week at Queens' American Museum of the Moving Image last year.

August 14, 2007 10:13 PM  
Anonymous Matt M. said...

I'd grasp at the chance to see those three Kiyoshi Kurosawa pictures; I've seen nearly everything else he's done and I consider myself a major fan of his.

I absolutely love Takeshis’, though it’s the last Takeshi Kitano film I’d recommend to a newcomer of his work. It’s the most self-conscious film he’s ever directed, indeed much of its modus operandi plays at a cloying passage toward self-identification that can appear a bit purple at moments. Perhaps I’m overstating it (and it's hardly an original thought), but I feel one need be in service of an established familiarity of Kitano’s body of creative work (film, stand-up, essays, literature, art), and especially his public persona, to catch the scenic references Kitano drops like staccato ellipses—similar to his wonderfully understated editing technique—and really get behind the picture. A choice title would be Persona…?.

And the guy can resolve an image within the film frame so brilliantly that it’s scandalous. In fact, there’s not much the guy can’t do. My favorite Kitano film remains Sonatine, followed closely by Scene at the Sea and Hana-bi. I eagerly await more concrete news on his new projects as I just can't get enough of him.

And Noel, when I visit Singapore it’s always been in November/December, but I’m thinking about coordinating a trip there to allow for the Singapore International Film Festival next year. It’s a shame I’ve never really found an easy way to steep myself into the regional Southeast Asia cinema during my time there—to the uninitiated, it’s almost as if it doesn’t exist if one doesn’t know where to find it.

August 14, 2007 11:08 PM  
Anonymous jesse said...

I'm so glad you loved Cronaca di un amore, girish, I fell madly in love with it last year after getting a chance to review it for DVD Verdict. And Lucia Bose is certainly an arresting presence... I wish some of her other collaborations with Antonioni would become available.

And the other day I discovered that she's the mother of Spanish singer Miguel Bosé... (whose godather is none other than Visconti!)

-jesse

August 15, 2007 1:20 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, everyone.

Noel, Maya and Matt -- Kurosawa made these terrific, pithy introductions to each one of his films. He'd take one cinematic idea/thesis and present it clearly and allow us to figure out how to apply it to the film we were going to see. I remember that one of them was: sometimes, all the filmmaker needs to do is change the musical track (keeping the image track the same) in order to change the genre of the film.

I've been meaning to order License to Live from superhappyfun.com.

Steve -- Many of the films you mention are "ones that got away" because I end up having to miss a couple of days when I return home from TIFF to teach my classses in the middle. I missed two Suwa films (Perfect Couple and M/Other), and Takeshis' for this reason. Oddly, Suwa's H Story never played TIFF.

Jesse -- Interestingly, in Cronaca, there's a fleeting reference to Lucia Bosè's character as the "Lady of the Camellias," but I haven't seen the later Antonioni/Bosè film. I hope it gets issued on DVD here.

August 15, 2007 7:31 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Acquarello posts the New York Film Festival line-up.

August 15, 2007 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Matt M. said...

It's funny you mention superhappyfun.com, Girish, because I've been mulling purchasing License to Live from them for nearly two years now. There's an English-subtitled, all-region DVD available on eBay, though I expect it's merely a dupe of that which is available at superhappyfun.com.

Retribution is available relatively cheap at YesAsia.com now, I see. I'll rifle through my pockets and order it as soon as I can manage it.

August 15, 2007 1:29 PM  
Blogger celinejulie said...

I have seen only one film starring Lucia Bose. It is NATHALIE GRANGER (1972, Marguerite Duras). I like her in this film a lot. Both Lucia Bose and Jeanne Moreau seem to have some kind of mysterious aura around them in this film. There’s nothing supernatural happening in this extremely slow film, but somehow the presence of these two women and the atmosphere in the film seem to make ordinary world look mysterious and supernatural. That’s just my feeling, though. One of my friends also said Bose and Moreau look like witches or vampires in NATHALIE GRANGER. Bose also starred in many horror films.

One film of Bose that I would like to see very much is DEATH OF A CYCLIST (1955, Juan Antonio Bardem). I have heard that Juan Antonio Bardem and Luis Garcia Berlanga were very interesting Spanish directors. But their films are hard to find at the moment, at least in Bangkok.

I like Kiyoshi Kurosawa, too. But I have different opinions from my Thai friends because my friends seem to hate some recent films of his, but I like BUG’S HOUSE (2005) and DOPPELGANGER (2003) very much.

I also like FORGIVENESS very much. This film also makes me realize how talented Arnold Vosloo (the leading actor) is. Before I saw FORGIVENESS, I only knew him from THE MUMMY series. I think Arnold Vosloo is one of many foreign actors who should be given much more interesting roles to play in Hollywood films. Other great foreign actors who seem to waste their talents in Hollywood films include David Wenham in films like VAN HELSING, Katja Riemann in films like BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE, and Edison Chen in THE GRUDGE 2. But if I look at it in another way, I think it might be good that these foreign actors have a chance to show their faces for a few seconds in Hollywood films, if they still have time to continue doing good films in their countries.

Speaking of FORGIVENESS, I would like to add that last year I was crazy for South African films. I saw some South African films that I like very much. They are MEN OF GOLD (2006, Vincent Moloi), THE HEART OF WHITENESS (2006, Rehad Desai), DIFFERENT PIGMENT (2006, Omelga Mthiyane), WHITE MAN’S DOG (2006, Sipho Singiswa), and THE WOODEN CAMERA (2003, Ntshaveni Wa Luruli). All of them, except THE WOODEN CAMERA, are documentaries. Film about South Africa which I would like to see very much is DUST (1985, Marion Hansel), which is adapted from J.M. Coetzee’s novel.

As for this year, I think I am crazy for Malaysian films, especially the ones directed by Tan Chui Mui, Ho Yuhang, James Lee, and Khoo Eng Yow. Some of my friends call these films pretentious or fake. But I think I always enjoy films which are labeled ‘pretentious’ by others.

August 15, 2007 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Kimberly said...

Out of the films you listed I've only seen Gaspar Noe's short Carne which I would recommend as a sort of prelude to his film I Stand Alone (much like his film Sodomites can be seen as a prelude to his film Irreversible). Of course, Noe seems to seriously divide audiences so I hesitate recommending it, but I happen to really like his work a lot.

If I was going to the fest myself I would also make time to see the three Kiyoshi Kurosawa films and Frederick Wiseman's The Last Letter since I really like both directors.

August 15, 2007 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Kimberly said...

p.s. Link to a new blogger I've been chatting with and I thought you might find his posts interesting since short films from India have been his recent focus.
Broken Projector

August 15, 2007 7:38 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Yesterday I stumbled across this page in my internet excursions, and it seemed related enough to the theme of this post that I thought it might be worth pointing to, even if everyone else has seen it before.

August 15, 2007 8:56 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Matt, go visit the Singapore Festival; aside from Hong Kong or Pusan, it's one of the best festivals around, and a great way to learn about Southeast Asian cinema.

girish, those intro's you're talking about--are they special to the video copy you have, or one of those in-depth interviews that comes with the DVDs? The DVD special-feature interviews are pithy, I agree--he admits to Aldrich as an influence, and openly discusses doing genre films.

August 16, 2007 1:48 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, folks.

Noel, Matt & Jit -- Kiyoshi Kurosawa was the featured "spotlight" director at the festival back in '99 since he was unknown in the West at that time. He made all those film introductions in person at the start of each screening. The amazing and quick-on-her-feet Linda Hoagland served as his translator. (She's also done a lot of subtitle translating.)

In addition to the three I mentiond, I also saw Charisma, Eyes of the Spider, The Serpent's Path and Cure (my favorite of his films).

Kimberly, thanks for the link. I too like both Carne and I Stand Alone. But Irreversible got such mixed press that I was scared away by it. I really should see it.

Similarly, I know (and like) the first film by Noe's partner Lucile Hadzihalilovic, La Bouche de Jean-Pierre, but haven't seen Innocence. I thought the latter was distributed here but doesn't seem to have made it to DVD.

Brian, oddly enough, it was that very Film Comment Undistributed list that gave me the idea to do this post. 10 years later, the majority of those films still remain undistributed here.

As it happens, I was going to watch one of the films on that list tonight, Pascale Ferran's Petits Arrangements avec les Morts, in preparation for seeing and reviewing her Lady Chatterley for the local alt-weekly this weekend.

August 16, 2007 7:31 AM  
Blogger acquarello said...

Speaking of South African cinema, there does seem to be a renaissance of sorts in the last few years, which I'm guessing is part of the healing process of the Truth and Reconciliation hearings that Forgiveness is an outgrowth of; Teboho Mahlatsi's New Crowned Hope entry, Meokgo and the Stick Fighter is in a way a culmination of this.

There was a lot of interesting "struggle" films a few of years coming out of South Africa that never made the rounds either, like the one on Walter and Albertine Susulu (who groomed Nelson Mandela from radical to statesman), and an interesting part biographical/part autobiographical one by Rehad Desai (who celinejulie mentioned earlier) on his father, where he talks about the personal toll of devoting a lifetime to the civil rights struggle. Rather than exoticizing these civil rights pioneers as mythic figures, he paints a complex portrait of them as flawed, ordinary people motivated by conscience.

Anyway, I didn't care for the last couple of Kurosawa films that played FCS, Loft and Retribution, which came off a bit like re-hash, but supposedly his latest one is more in the off the beaten path vein like Bright Future, so I'm looking forward to it.

And speaking of FCS, I completely forgot about Mamuru Oshii's Tachigui, The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters which turned up at FCS this year but seems to still be unreleased. That one's bound to end up in my top ten list this year...unless 2007 proves to be a banner year for amazing films, that is. ;)

August 16, 2007 10:15 AM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Unrelated but newsworthy: I'm not sure if it applies to the whole batch, but it seems that the labels on the Lionsgate DVDs of Buñuel's Gran Casino and The Young One have been crisscrossed! The disc labeled Gran Casino plays The Young One and vice versa!

August 16, 2007 2:34 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Indeed, Acquarello, I haven't heard a peep about the Oshii film since the spring, which is strange. Still kicking myself for missing Paprika, which played for exactly one week here in town and then was gone.

Sad to say, but I don't believe I've seen a single South African film (unless The Gods Must Be Crazy counts, which, come to think of it, might actually be Botswanian...)

Flickhead, I just popped the Bunuels into my DVD player and you are indeed right.

August 16, 2007 3:56 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Perhaps it's Don Luis winking at us from beyond the grave!

August 16, 2007 4:18 PM  
Blogger girish said...

That's a pretty good theory!

August 16, 2007 4:37 PM  
Anonymous cinebeats said...

Thanks for sharing that tidbit about Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Girish!

I didn't know that she and Noe were married. I've been wanting to see her film Innocence for a few years now ever since I came across stills from the movie online that really looked amazing. I hope Innocence will get released on DVD in the US soon.

Ignore the critics and watch Irreversible or yourself. Just be prepared to be disturbed by it. I will mention that Senses of Cinema has a good article about the film that I read some time ago and recommend.

August 16, 2007 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Lucile Hadzihalilovic's film Innocence is indeed available on R1 DVD but in Canada only. It's been available for about a year and a half from Warner Canada.

August 16, 2007 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

I also loved Peau Neuve when I saw it at Rendez-vous with French Cinema in 2000. I could relate to a soulless office job and wanting to re-connect with being a man. Very good.

A film I saw that same year has always stuck with me, and I have never seen it again; C'est Qua La Vie. Anyone know of it?

Steevee, we had Un Couple Parfait at my festival in Sarasota, FL and I think we may have had the US premiere in March of 2006... A great film and I would love to see it again.

August 17, 2007 12:37 AM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

I suppose you must watch Irreversible girish, but I wouldn't recommend it. I Stand Alone was disturbing, I thought Irreversible was gimmicky.

I take it you haven't seen Kyoshi's Pulse, then? Much better than Nakata's Ringu, I think (according to Mark Schilling, Kurosawa and Hiroshi Takahashi had talked about the idea years before, about a ghost coming out of a machine--"Takahashi is a faster worker than I am, so he got his film made first!" Schilling thinks at least that element in Ringu arose from the discussion).

His Seance is a fascinating variation on Seance on a Wet Afternoon.

As for Oshii's fast food film, I think it beats Ratatouille up and down the block.

August 17, 2007 3:02 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Kimberly and Bill -- I admire Carne and I Stand Alone enough that I will definitely give Irreversible a try. It's good to know that Innocence is available in Canada.

Noel, re: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, I saw both Seance and Pulse at TIFF. Kurosawa said some interesting things at the Q&A about the original Bryan Forbes Seance but unfortunately I can't seem to recall now what they were...Among the ones I haven't seen are Loft and Retribution, which Acquarello mentioned, or The Guard from Underground, which came out here on DVD not long ago.

Tom, I seem to remember Francois Dupeyron's C'est quoi la vie playing at TIFF (and Cannes) in '01 or '02, but I didn't see it.

August 17, 2007 1:40 PM  
Blogger girish said...

-- At Six Martinis and the Seventh Art: "Beautiful light flares."
-- An assorted post at David Pratt-Robson's place.
-- Kimberly is interviewed at DVD Panache.
-- Ignatius Vishnevetsky is blogging from Russia.
-- Slapstick Blog-a-thon announcement at Film of the Year.

August 17, 2007 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Andy H. said...

Flickhead, you just saved at least one Film Studies professor from a few confused moments in front of his or her class! The copy I purchased for my library is similarly mislabeled. . . .

August 17, 2007 2:13 PM  
Blogger girish said...

-- Several new posts at Jim Emerson's place.
-- David Bordwell: "Unsteadicam chronicles."

Andy, I envy the library you're building (and have access to).

August 17, 2007 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Matt M. said...

I am a big fan of Pulse, having recently revisited it when it showed up on HDNET MOVIES a couple months ago. Come to think of it Pulse was the first Kurosawa film I saw, and given what I was expecting, its neutral, bleak yet understated atmosphere left me confused yet wonderfully satisfied.

Of all the Kurosawa films I’ve seen, Séance remains the least vivid in my memory, as well as the one I least enjoyed. I must have been in a foul mood when I saw it, because I began to reduce everything to a disagreement of and a frustration from the behavior of its characters. (I saw Demonlover in one such mood, and the film remains ruined to me.) When you’re locked into that frame of mind and see something developing that you dislike, it’s akin a truck without brakes going downhill—you can see it coming and want nothing more than to avoid it. It's no surprise that I simply couldn’t get into it.

My favorite Kurosawa film is Charisma; it is there that I first began to recognize Imamura-like qualities in Kurosawa’s work, specifically how no matter how ambiguous the films become, there’s a certain thematic unraveling—an unhinged cadence which resolves back unto itself—that made sense to me. It wasn’t until the quixotic Doppelganger—or rather near the end of it—that I began to feel strongly about this similarity, which admittedly may or may not really be there.

August 17, 2007 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Kimberly said...

Thanks for the tip about the Innocence DVD Bill!

And Girish, thanks for sharing that link to my interview with Adam at his blog. I'm surprised he asked me but I had fun answering the questions.

I like reading all the Kiyoshi Kurosawa chatter here. My own favorite Kurosawa films are Cure and Bright Future, but I still need to see a few more. By chance did you see that list of his 10 favorite "Artistic Films" of the 21st century that Kurosawa shared with Art It magazine? It's an interesting list with some really odd choices on it such as Spielberg's War of the Worlds.

August 17, 2007 8:26 PM  
Blogger acquarello said...

FYI, Facets is listing Innocence as being released on DVD in the US on November 13.

Anyway, speaking of undistributed TIFF films, by any chance, did anyone catch any of the Zeki Demirkubuz retrospective back in 2003? They're doing a retrospective at Walter Reade in September and the references to Camus, Dostoevsky, Bresson, and Kiarostami in the film descriptions have definitely got my attention. Yowza!

August 17, 2007 10:14 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Matt, Seance might be among my least favorite KK films. I remember liking Demonlover (especially in light of that long and interesting interview Assayas did at Cinema Scope). In general, I tend to be favorably disposed to Assayas's all-over-the-map wanderings.

Kimberly, thanks for posting that wonderful link. It's also great to see Apichatpong's list in there.

Acquarello, Zeki Demirkubuz was one of three Turkish directors featured as part of that retrospective. Instead of sampling from all three, I put all my eggs in one basket and saw everything by one of the three filmmakers (Nuri Bilge Ceylan). I'm glad I did but unfortunately it meant seeing nothing at all by the other two.

August 18, 2007 1:18 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Harry Tuttle: Rosenbaum v. Bergman, part 3.

August 18, 2007 1:23 PM  
Blogger girish said...

New releases at Netflix this morning include:
Sam Fuller's I Shot Jesse James, The Baron of Arizona, The Steel Helmet; Carlos Saura's Cria Cuervos; Lizzie Borden's Working Girls; and The Lives of Others.

August 19, 2007 7:28 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

I'm really late to this discussion, but here are a couple of my festival favorites:

TIFF 2004: Earth and Ashes (Atiq Rahimi)

SFIFF 2005: Pin Boy Ana Poliak

TIFF 2005: Marock (Laila Marrakchi), Un couple parfait (Nobuhiro Suwa)

TIFF 2006: Hamaca Paraguaya (Paz Encina), Schuss! (Nicolas Rey), Rain Dogs (Ho Yuhang)

SFIFF 2007: The End and the Beginning (Eduardo Coutinho)

August 19, 2007 11:13 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Darren, I remember having to choose between Un Couple Parfait and Garrel's Regular Lovers at a particular time slot, went with the latter but should've gone with the former, since the Garrel is now on DVD here.

August 19, 2007 5:11 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Gosh, I personally can't imagine getting what I got out of the film screening of the Regular Lovers on a DVD viewing.

On the other hand, when Un Couple Parfait played the SFIFF and I couldn't fit it into my schedule, I tried watching it on screener and gave up after a few minutes, realizing it wouldn't work so well that way either.

Ideally these "Contemplative cinema" films would find a way to make the rounds a second time, even if only to museum and gallery spaces, after their initial festival tour.

I'm sorry I missed the Poliak and Coutinho films at the SFIFF those years. Hamaca Paraguaya is the last holdout of the "New Crowned Hope" features to be announced to play a local venue, now that Half Moon is on the horizon at the Pacific Film Archive. I'm hoping this fall's Latino Film Festival might take a chance on it.

August 19, 2007 5:56 PM  
Blogger girish said...

You're right, Brian; Regular Lovers was indeed a knockout on the big screen, B&W, Academy ratio and all.

Cinematheque Ontario has a complete Garrel retro coming up, likely in the spring.

A large Fall Movies Preview post by David Hudson at Greencine Daily.

August 19, 2007 10:02 PM  
Blogger girish said...

TIFF announces its full line-up tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon. I'll be back with a post then.

August 20, 2007 7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I may be frank, this Bergman versus Rosenbaum debate is getting a bit old, maybe except for the die-hard Bergheads. Everything and its uncle has been dissected and examined left and right in the online cinephile community. Now things are starting to get petty (as per above).

In other news, that's a mighty fall line-up! And I'm glad to see Jodie Foster getting some screenwork again with an admirable talent (Neil Jordan). Now when will Scorsese recruit her again? Will Spielberg ever realize that they go together like ham and eggs?

August 20, 2007 10:27 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Thank you very much for your frank and anonymous comment! You're right, 2 weeks is archeology in (ADD) internet times. Though Rosenbaum didn't get your memo, cause he brought up generational conflicts between critics that occured 30 years ago.
Please keep us up-to-date with the Spielberg-Foster scoop.

August 20, 2007 12:17 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

And thanks Girish (without irony this time) for staying interested enough to give me a link. :)

August 20, 2007 12:22 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, folks.
You're welcome, Harry; I'm always interested in your posts.

August 20, 2007 6:08 PM  
Blogger girish said...

The Pop View on Michael Skube's op-ed on blogs in today's Los Angeles Times.

August 20, 2007 6:37 PM  
Blogger girish said...

-- Jim Emerson on film and theology.
-- Alex at Motion Picture, It's Called on Venom and Eternity.
-- Flickhead announces a Luis Buñuel Blog-a-Thon.

Back in the afternoon with the Toronto filmlist.

August 21, 2007 7:16 AM  
Blogger Sachin G. said...

Hey Girish, found this on TIFF's website:

In light of the tragic passing of our esteemed colleague and dear friend, Richard Bradshaw this week, and his scheduled funeral for next Tuesday, August 21, 2007, the Toronto International Film Festival Group has decided to cancel its launch press conference scheduled for Tuesday, August 21 at 11:00am. Press announcements scheduled for that day will now go live on the website on Wednesday, August 22. Our thoughts and condolences go out to Mr. Bradshaw's family and friends and our colleagues at the Canadian Opera Company.

The complete film list by title, Gala schedule, and Visa Screening Room Schedule will now go live on Wednesday, August 22, after 12:00pm

August 21, 2007 11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Mr. Tuttle, by old I mean that the discussion has veered away from the original intent of Rosenbaum's article and has started to get, as I say, petty. Complaining about Rosenbaum not answering your comment and cherry-picking his responses to jump to conclusions constitutes pettiness in my book.

Of course, you are thinking of "old" in physical time. I was referring to it in psychological time. I personally have had enough.

And is there anything wrong with envisioning a possible Foster-Spielberg collaboration? And don't I have a choice to remain anonymous on the Internet? I thought freedom of choice was respected in France.

Again, sorry for being frank, but I wanted to express my opinion. I would have been more enlightened and my interest in the debate would have probably been rekindled by a thoughtful response, but I guess sarcasm closes the argument so easily, doesn't it? Ah well.

August 21, 2007 11:47 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey thanks for posting that, Sachin. I guess we'll just have to wait. Geez, I had planned my entire day around this momentous event...!

August 21, 2007 12:27 PM  
Blogger Sachin G. said...

Err, Girish you are not the only one who had planned their day around this :)

August 21, 2007 12:39 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Dave Kehr in the NYT on three just-released Luis Buñuel DVDs.

August 21, 2007 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you expected a response you might have made the creative effort to come up with a pseudonym like "anonymous2007" so we can address a singular person. You could have asked a question directly on my blog. But I guess you just wanted Girish's opinion here. Sorry I didn't understand you expected a thoughtful response, but what do I know, I'm French...
If you think that Rosenbaum wasn't jumping to conclusion with petty arguments himself, we have nothing to discuss together indeed.
These are just words you know, not bullets. Go freedom-fighter! Just do like everyone else, stick your head in the sand and wait for the sweet hereafter, the storm will go away soon ;)

August 22, 2007 7:37 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Johanna - A Hungarian film about a nurse who is a bit like Joan of Arc in a weird hospital all done opera style. Saw it at Telluride in 2005. I don't believe it is on DVD in region 1.

September 20, 2007 1:16 AM  
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