Sunday, November 05, 2006

COMING SOON: Big Screens

Soul Food(ish) films on their way (sooner or later) to your local cine 'matheque or 'plex
Updated Feb 19 2007

Feb 23 (US release): AMAZING GRACE
Mar 2, 7: THE UNFORGIVEN (Vancity)
Mar 19: THE NUN (Cinematheque)
Mar 23 (Vancouver opening): AMAZING GRACE
Mar 30 - Apr 2, Apr 5: ADAM'S APPLES (Vancity)
Mar 31: OPAL DREAM (Cinematheque)
Apr 4: JEANNE LA PUCELLE Part 1 (Cinematheque)
Apr 5: JEANNE LA PUCELLE Part 2 (Cinematheque)
Apr 13-14: CACHE (Cinematheque)
Apr 14-15: CODE UNKNOWN (Cinematheque)
Apr 22-23: TIME OF THE WOLF (Cinematheque)
Note: A gorgeous restoration of BECKET is currently touring American cities: see below

Soul Food(ish) flicks that have supposedly been released but haven't (to my knowledge) shown up in Vancouver yet...


Fri Mar 30, 9:00
Sat Mar 31, 7:00
Sun Apr 1, 9:00
Mon Apr 2, 7:00
Thu Apr 5, 9:00
No idea what to make of this, but its got one heck of a tantalizing description!
Vancity: "Fresh from prison, middle-aged neo-Nazi atheist Adam (Ulrich Thomsen) is sent to live in a country church for a stint of community service. Ivan (Casino Royale supervillain Mads Mikkelsen), the priest charged with his reform, maintains a delusional optimism as a defense against darker truths in his past and all around him. Asked to set a goal for his stay, Adam nonchalantly sets the bar pretty low: he’ll bake an apple cake. But when the church’s beloved lone apple tree is beset, in short order, by crows, worms and lightning, and fallen bibles keep opening to “The Book of Job,” it’s clear that the thunderclouds above the parish have blown in straight from the Old Testament, and a test of faith is at hand. The pitchest of black comedies, Anders Thomas Jensen’s wickedly funny film reverberates with profane dialogue, appalling behaviour and strategic use of the Bee Gees, as Adam only somewhat maliciously sets out to dismantle Ivan’s sunny armour... Assuredly filmed in frosty blues and suitably stormy weather, Adam’s Apples is a sly religious parable by a writer/director with a bracing talent for dark, astringent humour. Steve Mockus, San Francisco Film Festival"

A friend phoned me from L.A., where this William Wilberforce biopic was showcased at a Jim Wallis / Richard Rohr / Anne Lamott conference in Fall 06: he was ambivalent, mostly because the film felt more like propaganda than art in the context of being used to stir up political consciousness about modern day slavery. So I lost some interest in the flick. But checking out the TIFF listing, turns out it's directed by Michael Apted! So it's the real deal. Now I can't wait. And I've since learned that the screenplay is by Steven Knight, who penned DIRTY PRETTY THINGS - an extreme favourite of mine. (I was assigned to review it for Christianity Today Movies, but when it looked like the Canadian opening might be later than the American, they assigned it to another reviewer who could cover it stateside. Dang. More here, and a special section on the film at CT Movies.

ANGEL-A (France 2005. Director: Luc Besson)
Played the 'teque in December, slated for commercial release in May.
Cinematheque: "Marks the much-anticipated return to the director’s chair of French high-concept stylist Luc Besson... hadn’t helmed a movie himself since 1999’s The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc). ...A chic hybrid of It’s a Wonderful Life and Wings of Desire." (More here)

The story of Saint Thomas A Becket is one of the classic Soul Food movies, a fitting companion to A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, unavailable on DVD, the hard-to-find videotape muddy and muffled. But there's been a painstaking restoration, and some of the pristine prints are touring to American cities. Details about the restoration plus a screening schedule can be found at Steven Greydanus's Decent Films website.

Pacific Cinematheque
Fri Apr 13 7:15
Sat Apr 14 9:30
Notes about the Michael Haneke retrospective here

Pacific Cinematheque
Sat Apr 14 7:15 - CODE UNKNOWN
Sun Apr 15 9:20 - CODE UNKNOWN
Notes about the Michael Haneke retrospective here

I'm nervous about this one. Was supposed to go into limited release November 10, but I've still heard nothing about it, and begin to suspect the worst. Remember all the delays for the promising BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY, or ALL THE KING'S MEN - neither of which ended up keeping their promises?
This one's the fictional story of a young woman who lands a job copying musical scores for Beethoven near the end of his life. Beethoven wonders if he should send the woman away, or see her as a sign from God. "I'm starting a new chapter in my life. New forms, a new language. And now this woman is sent to me at this very moment. Suppose it's a sign.That it's time for me to join with him." Directed by Agnieszka Holland; THE THIRD MIRACLE, EUROPA EUROPA, TO KILL A PRIEST, scenario for THREE COLOURS WHITE and BLUE, and MAGNIFICAT (in production). More on COPYING BEETHOVEN here

JEANNE LA PUCELLE (Joan the Maiden, 1994)
Pacific Cinematheque - Wed April 4, 7:30pm (part 1); Thu April 5, 7:30pm (part 2)
"The two great intimidating films about Joan of Arc, by Dreyer and Bresson, are purely poetic," director Jacques Rivette has said, "Whereas I was aiming for a more narrative approach - although I hope there are poetic moments."

Pacific Cinematheque - Wed Apr 18 7:30pm
Peter Chattaway picked this as the most spiritually significant film of the past year, over L'ENFANT, PAN'S LABYRINTH, SOPHIE SCHOLL or SON OF MAN (for example). Remember Jim Jones? Back in the decade of the cults. The Kool-Aid mass suicide in Guyana? This is the story of the quasi-Jesus People church that started out so good - social conscience, community, all that - and came to such a bad end.

Variety: "Quietly magnificent tale of readjustment by young Jews who survived the horrors of WWII... "Houses of hope" were established to lend a semblance of continuity to the lives of youngsters orphaned by the war... Conflicts are keenly portrayed between the initial residents (who lean toward secular Jewish pride) versus the boys and young men who survived the camps. Latter feel obliged to assert the faith of their exterminated fathers and revive their rituals... Momentous historical events are contrasted with the smaller but equally momentous events at the chateau."
Details here.

THE NUN (1966)
Pacific Cinematheque - Tue Mar 19, 7:30
Not precisely Soul Food, but of interest to Christians with an interest in important cinema. Jacques Rivette's "most conventional film" - though banned for a year because of its attacks on the Church. "Lurid in subject matter but austere and cloustrophobic in style... A young woman is forced by her family to enter a convent. The cruel Mother Superior abuses her; at a second convent, the lesbian Mother Superior lusts after her, until Suzanne escapes with the aid of a priest - who then tries to rape her." Hmmm. Think I may just skip that one.

Pacific Cinematheque - Sat Mar 31, 2:00
CT Movies editor Mark Moring's a big fan of this family-friendly Aussie indie about an imaginative little girl whose family become outcasts in a rough outback mining town. I like to be more the appreciator than the critic, so I'm a bit stuck here, as I was underimpressed by the movie, but Mark's endorsement lets me know there are plenty of folks who would enjoy this uplifting tale. Certainly an alternative to the commercial fare dished up for kids in ever-mounting heaps by the American studios. By the director of THE FULL MONTY.

Pacific Cinematheque
Sun Apr 22 9:25
Mon Apr 23 7:15
Notes about the Michael Haneke retrospective here

Fri Mar 2, 7:00
Wed Mar 7, 9:45
It's this film that leads Robert Jewett to start spelling out his thoughts on "the American monomyth" (calling it a false "other gospel," with reference to Galatians 1) in his very fine volume "Saint Paul Returns To The Movies: Triumph Over Shame." He doesn't buy the line that UNFORGIVEN undermines that super-heroic might-is-right myth, but I did, and many do. Certainly it's fascinating - and important, I think, in this day when American foreign policy seems shaped by TOMBSTONE and SHANE - to consider the arguments of the formidable Jewett. But whether you read UNFORGIVEN as a repudiation or a resurrection of that myth, there's plenty here that matters - about the weight of the past, about vengeance, about the limits of forgiveness. A fine movie. Clint's finest.

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