Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Watching for... HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS

Peter Chattaway, filmchat: "Eagle Eye co-writer Travis Adam Wright has been hired to write the script for Warner Brothers' adaptation of Here, There Be Dragons, a novel that casts real-life authors C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams as heroes in a fantasy adventure of their own. When I first mentioned this project nearly four years ago, it was going to be produced by Harry Potter producer David Heyman and The Dark Knight scribe David Goyer, but the only producer named in the current news story is Rick Porras, a co-producer and second-unit director on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings adaptation (2001-2003)."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mike Dacko, "Lightheaded"

A Peter Chattaway recommendation from the 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Brody on Rossellini

Malcolm Brody has a notable film blog at The New Yorker. In this recent post, he considers GERMANY YEAR ZERO from Rossellini's war trilogy...

“Germany Year Zero” is part of Criterion’s boxed set featuring Rossellini’s “War Trilogy,” which I recently reviewed in the magazine; I also reviewed two other Rossellini sets last year. But there’s one, a natural to compile, that doesn’t exist, and its absence from home video is perhaps the single most grievous cinematic blind spot in the marketplace: the five features and one short film that he made with Ingrid Bergman (whom he married in the course of their collaborations), between 1949 and 1955.
Exactly. No sooner had I ordered my copy of the War Trilogy than I began wishing Criterion would come out with Stromboli, Europa '51 and Voyage To Italy - the Rossellini films (apart from Rome, Open City and Paisan) that I've always been most eager to see. Someday...

There've been a couple other previous Soul Food posts on Rossellini, one concerning the War Trilogy that includes some nice links, James Quandt's notes on the Cinematheque Ontario's retrospective, and a transcription of Martin Scorsese's comments in his tribute to Italian film My Voyage To Italy - which is available, along with the War Trilogy and Flowers Of St Francis, at Videomatica

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kurosawa-san

Over at Filmwell, Andrew Spitznas posted a nice tribute for Kurosawa's 100th birthday.
The formative event in his own childhood occurred when, in the immediate aftermath of the devastating Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, his older brother dragged him around Tokyo and forced him to gaze upon massive scenes of death and conflagration. As young Akira attempted to turn away from the carnage, his brother sternly told him, “If you shut your eyes to a frightening sight, you end up being frightened. If you look at everything straight on, there is nothing to be afraid of.” These words became a lifelong motto for Kurosawa, as he pushed himself and his audiences to stare directly at human wrongs and tragedies, whether war, poverty, child abuse, or class discrimination.

Nonetheless, Kurosawa succeeded (most of the time, anyway) in representing moral dilemmas to his audience, rather than preaching about them. In viewing his films, I feel moved to become a better person. . . .

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Now Playing! PLEASE GIVE

A few years back, much fuss - mostly deserved - was made over THE LIVES OF OTHERS, and everybody saw it. (Perhaps because of the irresistable Austrian-ness of the tyro director's handle -- Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Yes, I think that's why.) The only pity was that the mob response to that pretty darn fine foreign film completely overshadowed an even finer foreign film playing at precisely the same time, AFTER THE WEDDING. I never understood how one made it into everybody's datebook, while the other slipped past uncelebrated.

If you haven't seen WEDDING, you ought to. Screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen seems to be Denmark's most prolific: he's got Dogme credits, and his outrageous ADAM'S APPLES is an all-time favourite. A frequent collaborator with director Susanne Bier and actor Mads Mikkelsen, both of whose work on the picture in question is marvellous.

All of which is a long way of getting to the point of this post. The essential concern of AFTER THE WEDDING was philanthropy. (How many charity flicks can you name? It's something I think about a great deal, but it doesn't make it into a lot of fiction. Odd. I guess people find car chases more relevant to their personal lives.) PLEASE GIVE takes up similar themes, if on a smaller scale. And sounds like a film not to miss. Here are excerpts from David Denby's May 3 New Yorker write-up.

From scene to scene, PLEASE GIVE, a radiant comedy of middle-class mores, depends on observations so acute that the movie, even as it borders on satire, is intensely sympathetic. Writer-director Nicole Holofcener (Lovely & Amazing, Friends With Money) is a virtuoso of awkward domestic scenes in which conversation goes absurdly awry. Bu she's ambitious too, and among the deftly launched jokes, PLEASE GIVE explores such large and grave matters as the nature of benevolence and the exhausting but inescapable necessity of family loyalty. . . . A finely wrought short story, all but perfect. l l l
A New Yorker by birth, she spent time as a teenager on Woody Allen's sets. (Her stepfather, the late Charles Joffe, was Allen's longtime producer.) In PLEASE GIVE, she inhabits a slightly downscale version of Allen's worried and self-conscious Manhattan. . . .

Kate and Rebecca, a set of paired characters, act as if they were always living under scrutiny. Holofcener's touch with these two glum urban saints is gently comic: Rebecca Hall just slightly parodies this wallflower's need to always be good. Her Rebecca is not quite as forlornly conscience-stricken, however, as Kate, who can't walk down the street without slipping five bucks to a homeless person. Kate's philanthropy is underoing a frenzied crisis. Oblivious to everything but her own guilt, she begins helping people who don't need help. . . .

Not much happens: a couple of love affairs, one trivial, one perhaps serious; some moments of pleasure. . . The trouble with life-goes-on movies is that they don't electrify the senses. This one doesn't, either, but it does stimulate moral imagination. . .

. . . funny, irresistibly convincing and appealing.

PLEASE GIVE is at Tinseltown - a nifty double bill with this year's Exotic Lingo Oscar nabber, THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES, which is also at the Fifth Avenue