Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"A nanny goat????"

One of the things I value most about the films of Arnaud Desplechin is that he understands the messiness that arises when people aren’t exactly on the same page. In Desplechin’s work, there’s a tension that comes out of people’s perspectives not lining up quite right, and it’s rare to find two lives that fit together completely in a way that is largely free of this tension. In this respect, it seems almost inevitable that Desplechin would eventually make a movie about a family gathering for Christmas.

Click here to read the full review.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Criterion Watch, December 2008 (Revised 20 December)

Lately, it seems like Criterion has been slowing down their new releases. Is this because the upcoming Blu-Rays have cut into the company's resources? Who can say? Me, I'm just glad they're still fighting the good fight.

Now, this month's new announcements:

Truffaut's 1980 Occupation drama isn't exactly my favorite of his, but it's still pretty great, and nice to see Criterion giving it some love. Perhaps this means they'll be doing Two English Girls sometime in the future? Hope so. Incidentally, as a Deneuve fan of long standing, I feel compelled to go out on a limb and say that the late seventies and early eighties were probably the time in which she was at her most beautiful. By then, she was in her mid- to late thirties, having shed the girlishness of her early performance in favor of a more womanly bearing, along with a softer and more carnal presence. Or maybe it's just that she made The Hunger around this time, which naturally was a highlight of my teenage years. Anyhoo, this will be coming to Blu-Ray in March as well, along with The 400 Blows, so that's cool.

As I've written before, I have yet to fully embrace the greatness of Rossellini. So far, I've had an easier time respecting his work than truly enjoying it. Will this be the film that changes my tune?

Finally- or as it turns out, not-so-finally- the clue from the newsletter, which anyone who faithfully reads MuseMalade's blog will have no problem guessing:

I mean, duh.

Revised 20 Dec to add: So it appears that Criterion has added two more DVD releases to their March calendar, along with a new Eclipse box. For some reason, the cover art for Eclipse 15: Travels With Hiroshi Shimizu isn't uploading, so I'll just say I've never heard of the filmmaker in question, which has me intrigued. After all, if a relatively unknown director is getting the Criterion/Eclipse treatment, he must be pretty special.

Moving on, here are the new Criterions I missed:

Not the story of Angier aka The Great Danton, but Wajda's film about the French Revolution figure. This is one I haven't seen in years, but I remember really digging it back in the day. We'll see if it holds up.

Here's a Kurosawa I've yet to see, and a color one, no less. I've heard mixed things about it, but I'm curious all the same. Reviews By Request, anyone?

Friday, December 12, 2008

20 + 1 Actresses (for the Meme, don'tcha know)

Earlier this week, Nathaniel over at The Film Experience posted pics of his top 20 actresses, and since then it's become the meme sensation that's sweeping the blog-nation. As yet, nobody has officially tagged me, but I've never let that stop me before. So here's my contribution to the cause- if these aren't necessarily my "top 20", they're certainly 20 who've fascinated me and given me plenty of enjoyment as a moviegoer. And now, away we go, in rough chronological order:

Louise Brooks

Marlene Dietrich

Barbara Stanwyck

Gloria Grahame

Delphine Seyrig

Gena Rowlands

Catherine Deneuve

Vanessa Redgrave

Juliet Berto

Liv Ullmann

Hanna Schygulla

Madeline Kahn

Isabelle Huppert

Meryl Streel... er, Streep

Linda Manz

Judy Davis

Juliette Binoche

Maggie Cheung

Emmanuelle Devos

And finally, in tribute to the overpowering awesomeness of Synecdoche, New York, the Kaufmanesque doppelgangers...

Samantha Morton, and...

Emily Watson

Saturday, December 06, 2008

"I used to be a baby."

It’s not hard to see why Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York has sharply divided critics and audiences. It’s almost impossibly ambitious, yet at first glance it seems to strike many viewers as show-offy and self-indulgent, particularly given the way its sobering worldview undermines any of its potential entertainment value. Yet to dismiss the film as Kaufman getting stuck up his own ass (to quote Mike D’Angelo) is to deny just how wise and sneaky a piece of work it is.