Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trailer Roundup: TIFF Preview Edition

Today marks the kickoff to this year’s Toronto Film Festival, and once again I won’t be able to go. The simple reason is money, or lack thereof- sadly, it’s looking more and more like my 2007 trip to the fest was a one-time thing, or at least something that won’t be repeated for some years yet. Still, it’s fun to imagine that I’ll be going back again this year- I even took the time to sketch out a purely hypothetical schedule for myself. And even though I won’t be making the trip myself, you can bet that I’ll be following those who do, including such SLH faves as Scott and Noel at the Onion AV Club, Mike D’Angelo, Victor Morton, Girish, and many more. Oh, and some guy named Roger.

For those playing at home, here are a few trailers and videos from some of my most-anticipated films of the fest. In no particular order:

L’Enfer d’Henri-Georges Clouzot (Bromberg/Medrea, Real to Reel)

Antichrist (Von Trier, Masters)

Face (Tsai, Visions)

La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet (Wiseman, Mavericks)

A Serious Man (Coens, Special Presentations

Enter the Void (Noe, Vanguard)

Vincere (Bellocchio, Masters)

The Time That Remains (Suleiman, CWC)

The Informant! (Soderbergh, Special Presentations)

The White Ribbon (Haneke, Masters)

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? (Herzog, Special Presentations)

Mother (Bong, Special Presentations)

And of course…
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Herzog, Special Presentations)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Everything's better with fried plantains on the side.

Ever since I moved in with Angela back in July, there have been some incidental changes that have taken some getting used to on my part. For one thing, while I once lived more or less in the city, Hilliard (my new stomping grounds) is fairly suburban, and naturally this means a lot more driving. Most of my regular destinations (work, school, my movie theatres of choice) tend to be a twenty minute drive or more, which may not sound like much to those of you who are used to New York/L.A. commutes, but is much more than I’m used to. Still, it’s not all bad- how could it be, when I’m with Ang and the offspring full-time now? In addition, Hilliard offers some unique amenities of its own, beginning with one of my favorite restaurants in town, the Starliner Diner.

Situated comfortably atop a hill on Cemetary Road just west of a set of railroad tracks, the Starliner is an unassuming little storefront operation. But once you’re inside, the place reveals its true character. Its walls are covered with murals and trinkets- one wall is devoted almost entirely to retro clocks- but it’s hardly the designer bric-a-brac that lines your local Applebee’s. At Starliner the surroundings are more than background noise- they’re indicative of the off-kilter quirkiness of the joint, and provide easy conversations starters to first-time visitors. This isn’t your father’s greasy spoon, that’s for sure.

But of course the real draw of Starliner is the food. Rather than sticking to the traditional diner fare of middle-of-the-road sandwiches and soups, Starliner delivers a distinctively Latin flair with its menu. So while you can still get a burger’n’fries, there’s plenty to satisfy more adventurous diners. Sandwich-wise, I highly recommend the Cajun Chicken Melt (loaded with bacon and cheese, plus veggies that include a slice of avocado) and the classic Cuban Sandwich. The latter is a dead-pig-lover’s delight, piled high with both flavorful pork and just-salty-enough ham, plus the requisite cheese, yellow mustard and pickles- though if you’re like me, you’ll want extra pickles.

And the goodness doesn’t stop there, since Starliner has a wide array of sides and appetizers. Most meals come with fries or tortilla chips, but I recommend substituting (for a small fee) the addictive fried plantains or the sweet potato fries, which are complemented perfectly by the Starliner’s chipotle Ranch dressing. And if you’re really hungry, start off your meal with an order of the black bean nachos- the order’s big enough to share, and they’re so flavorful that adding meat would be overdoing it. The Starliner also makes tasty burritos, pastas, and entrees, all with their trademark pizzazz.

It wasn’t until more recently, however, that I managed to discover Starliner’s tasty breakfast menu. I’ve quickly become a fan of their Huevos Rancheros, served with either home fries or black beans, although you can ask for half-and-half. Even better are their pancakes, which are- no exaggeration- some of the best I’ve ever tasted. These plate-filling flapjacks are cooked to a pleasing shade of golden brown, and are fluffy without being doughy- no mean feat, that. Starliner’s menu also offers banana pancakes, which I highly recommend- the fruitiness nicely offsets the sweetness of the pancake batter and the table syrup. Sometimes they also offer chocolate chip or blueberries with the pancakes as well, and while the chocolate (which I haven’t tried) seems like it would be overkill, the plump, fresh blueberries make the already tasty ‘cakes even better. Their breakfasts are so comfort-food addictive that it’s probably a good thing that they keep wonky breakfast hours- open at 9 AM, after most of us are at work.

Like any good diner, Starliner offers a good selection of daily specials to complement their menu, and they’re almost always intriguing enough to make me second-guess my meal choice- for example, on my last breakfast visit they offered a fascinating pairing of crab cakes and eggs. But really- you can’t go wrong with anything at Starliner, at least not in my experience. I’ve tried a good number of their dishes, and everything I’ve tried I’d recommend. So if you ever find yourself up in Hilliard, drop in at Starliner. Heck, drop me a line and I’ll be seriously tempted to join you.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


In last month's Criterion Watch, I commented on the announcement of the upcoming releases A Christmas Tale and Gomorrah by saying, "these are both IFC Films releases, as is Che, which the newsletter hinted at a while back, so that makes me think that maybe Criterion has struck a deal with IFC to release some of their recent stuff on DVD for the benefit of those who would prefer not to set foot inside a Lackluster Video." Sometimes, it feels good to be right.

According to ScreenDaily,

"IFC Films has signed a deal with The Criterion Collection licensing the prestige DVD label sell-through home entertainment rights for select IFC titles.

Under the terms of the deal, Criterion acquires the rights to distribute select IFC Films’ titles on DVD in the US and will release sell-through special editions of each film."

Not to toot my own horn, but I also predicted such titles as The Secret of the Grain and Hunger. The article also states that Criterion will be pressing some older titles such as Y tu mama tambien (guess I'll have to double-dip that one) and Following along with the newer stuff.

I'd say this is good news for both of the companies, with Criterion getting some solid recent titles and IFC getting some more DVD clout. The only drawback I can see is that Criterion will need to make the DVDs extra special- plenty of features, etc.- or else sales could suffer due to people recording the movies when they play on-demand. Then again, this being Criterion, it shouldn't be too big a deal.

And since Criterion is all about making deals, they should try to go ahead and snap up some other distributors' catalogs. I can think of a few now-defunct companies I'd like to see better-represented on DVD in general and as part of Criterion in particular. As I've mentioned before, there are some greats lying in wait in the old USA Films catalog, and I can see plenty of potential in Lot 47 Films (The War Zone, The Fast Runner, Trouble Every Day) as well. And if Criterion can find it in their hearts to snap up some old Miramax Zoë rereleases (Belle de Jour, Young Girls of Rochefort, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf), that would be awesome. After all, it's not like Disney is doing anything with 'em.