Friday, January 01, 2010

Beg, borrow, and... okay, maybe not steal...

Most of you will recall that a few weeks ago I voiced my feelings about my need to be selective when playing catch-up with movies during Muriels voting season. But while I won’t even attempt to match the volume of movies I have in years past, I nonetheless have a number of glaring holes in my viewing for 2009, at least some of which I should probably patch up prior to filling out my ballot.

Naturally, there are a handful of movies that I’ll be able to catch on the big screen before the ballot is due at the end of January, some of which are currently occupying theatres nationwide. Chief of among these is Avatar, which even if it doesn’t pose a serious threat to my Muriels favorites, is the kind of pop-culture phenomenon which I really ought to see just to keep abreast of what the kids are up to nowadays (a la Titanic). Likewise, Up in the Air could be a contender- Jason Reitman is a fairly solid director, Clooney’s a reliable indicator of quality in movies that don’t involve goats, and it’ll be nice to see Anna Kendrick get a good role again. And if I get the chance to see The Road and even Precious (a movie I’ve more or less resigned myself to watching sooner or later), so be it.

Of course, the local distributors don’t simply stop opening movies in Columbus once the first of the year arrives. From now until the end of January, certain titles of interest will filter into local cinemas, beginning with the January 8 release of Bronson at the newly-revamped* Gateway Film Center. January 22 brings a pair of Best Actor contenders (on top of Bronson’s allegedly revelatory Tom Hardy) to the Drexel: Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, and Colin Firth in A Single Man. And even if the critics haven’t been kind, as a long-standing fan of Peter Jackson I feel compelled to check out The Lovely Bones when it drops here mid-month.

But as any non-pro critic and awards voter can attest, a great deal of awards-season catching-up is done not in theatres but on DVD. I’ve kicked my Netflix membership up a few notches for the occasion, in the hopes of squeezing in some interesting “smaller” titles that skipped local venues. Of particular interest are a pair of movies featuring comedians in somewhat darker roles- Patton Oswalt in the blue-collar football-obsessive tale Big Fan, and Robin Williams in Bobcat Goldthwait’s allegedly acerbic comedy World’s Greatest Dad. Likewise, Spike Lee’s Passing Strange may be little more than a filmed stage production, but with Lee’s name attached that’s enough for me. However, I’m also looking forward to catching up with a handful of titles that I somehow overlooked in local release. The one that sticks out for me is Lynn Shelton’s Humpday, which has been riding a crest of great buzz since Sundance. Also of interest: Greg Mottola’s 80s-era comedy Adventureland, Sam Rockwell in Moon, and the crowd-pleasing heavy metal doc with the incredibly redundant name, Anvil!: The Story of Anvil.

But unfortunately, some of the most egregious holes in my viewing have yet to get a DVD release. Because of this, I’m trying to chase down screeners of them in time for them to make the ballot. Of the titles that I still need to see, these are my top 10:

1. 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis) – this one particularly hurts, since it played a few days at the Wex in October, but the only screening I could have possibly made coincided with the local beggar’s night. And I couldn’t in good conscience miss out on spending time with my son for Halloween. Do I regret this decision? Heck no. I guess it’s just annoying that I live in a city that tries to act like a teeming metropolis, but can only manage two nights for a critically feted new release from one of world cinema’s most celebrated filmmakers. I mean, I love the Wexner Center, but some of those limited engagements can be difficult for those of us with lives to catch. Anyway, I see that this is coming to the Gateway sometime in the future, but no firm date is set on the site, and I really don’t want to take a chance on not seeing this prior to voting.

2. Still Walking (Hirokazu Kore-eda) – Kore-eda’s a favorite of mine, and I’ve heard great things about this, the only movie in the Movie Nerd Top 10 of 2009 which I have yet to see. I noticed that this is streaming on Netflix, but I’m not sure my crappy computer is up to the task.

3. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke) – I mean, come on. Besides, even if it does suck, chances are that the black and white cinematography should be gorgeous.

4. Night and Day (Hong Sang-soo) – Honger goes to Paris. Based on that pitch alone, it sounds like it’s right up my alley.

5. Afterschool (Antonio Campos) – D’Angelo has been raving about this one since NYFF last year, and I’m sort of sick of being out of the loop.

6. Black Dynamite (Scott Sanders) – This one played locally as well, but I have a pretty good excuse for missing this one, since it had a whole four showings, all of them at 11 PM. Still, felt bad missing what was supposedly an awesome blaxploitation homage.

7. Home (Ursula Meier) – Because no awards ballot of mine is complete without at least one nomination for Isabelle Huppert.

8-10. Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar), My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (Werner Herzog), The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Terry Gilliam) – Three reliable directors. Mixed buzz on their latest works, but I’m curious all the same.

Honorable mention: Bright Star (Jane Campion), La Danse: Paris Opera Ballet (Frederick Wiseman), House of the Devil (Ti West), Mammoth (Lukas Moodysson), Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu), Red Cliff (John Woo), Ricky (François Ozon), Storm (Hans-Christian Schmid), Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa).

So how will I manage to see these? This, friends, is where you come in. If you know of somewhere I might procure a screener of any of the above titles, let me know in the comments section or shoot me an e-Mail. Really, any help you can give will be greatly appreciated, and I’d be happy to reimburse you for shipping. Besides, the Muriels get more interesting when the voters see more diverse movies. And as much as I dig The Hurt Locker, it’s time to give another movie a chance to win, don’t you think?

* The Gateway (which began its life as a Drexel before becoming a Landmark) recently acquired new management, and one of the first acts of the new regime was to strike a deal with the Film/Video department at the Wexner Center for the Arts. The deal basically entails that the Wex will program two of the Gateway’s screens per week with arthouse fare. This is, of course, good news for those of us who have been decrying the often-paltry selection of non-Hollywood fare in Central Ohio, as well of those of us who love the Wex but can’t always make it on Friday and Saturday nights. This new arrangement should prove ideal both for titles that would otherwise skip Columbus (e.g. The Girlfriend Experience, Julia, most of the above list), plus movies that prove to be audience favorites in their limited Wex runs. Also, being able to get the Members’ discount for Gateway screenings will be awesome.


Scott W. Black said...

AFTERSCHOOL is the only one I need to procure before the Muriels deadline. (And, maybe, MY SON, MY SON, WHAT HAVE YE DONE?) There must be some kind soul out there who can help. Like you, I would happily pay shipping costs.

Scott W. Black said...

Oh, and A SINGLE MAN, too!

Steve C. said...

Fuck. If you guys had maybe asked a moth ago, I coulda gotten AFTERSCHOOL off IFC on Demand for you both.

(Regardless, I can still help you with a couple titles, Paul. I'll drop you a line.)

Jason_alley2 said...

Dude, I could send you a burned DVD of Passing Strange I recorded off of On Demand if you want. It's really a spectacular film.

I've got the DVD proper pre-ordered from Amazon, so I wouldn't need it back or anything.


If you have a region free DVD player, 35 SHOTS OF RUM can be had on for around $25 U.S. with the shipping. I don't know why it slipped my mind when I was ordering my last batch!


Also -- both RED CLIFF and HOUSE OF THE DEVIL can be downloaded in's Video on Demand for $6.99 each.

I'm assuming Steve can help you with the ones that are still on IFC OnDemand on cable.

BTW said...

I wish I could help but I don't have any of those. Revanche is my one big regret this year. And I'd say you pretty much know what you're going to get with both Humpday and Broken Embraces if you've seen The Puffy Chair or any recent Almodovar. If you're a fan of those seek them out - if not you're not going to be swayed.

Paul C. said...

Thanks for the info, everybody. I've contacted a number of the distributors of the films I listed, so hopefully that will get me some results.

Also, Jason- Passing Strange is in my Netflix queue right now, so I think I'll be OK on that one. Thanks anyway though.

Scott W. Black said...

Paul, let me know what happens. I haven't had any luck, even on the internet "black market."

noone said...

I've thought of a slogan for the Muriels: "THE ONLY FILM AWARDS THAT MATTER."

jahs34 said...

You must see Black Dynamite, you life is not complete until you see Nixon fighting with presidential sealed nunchucks.