Sunday, November 05, 2006

COMING SOON: Small Screens

Caught somewhere in the no-man's-land between big screen and small, or between narrow release and wide, between festival and distributor, or...
Anyhow, we're watching for them to turn up on DVD

Updated Feb 19 2007


Played UK in fall 06, but goes straight to DVD in North America with a Feb 20 release date. Surprisingly, the usually reliable Sight & Sound gives it pretty good press, including this; "The story of spiritual rebirth is supported by various tactfully handled religious allusions, including a citation of the Lord's Prayer that manages to avoid mawkishness..."


COLD LIGHT (Iceland)
Doug Cummings: "Submitted to the Oscars in 2005... extremely impressive."
Official site

Was supposed to have a spring 2006 release in North America
"Nominated for Best European Director, 2005 European Film Awards, Roberto Faenza, the producer of Life is Beautiful, directs this true story of Father Pino Pugliesi's plight to help the large number of underprivileged children in Palermo, Sicily. However, in his battle against widespread corruption and his determination to find justice, he drew attention to himself, leading ultimately to a brutal confrontation with the local Mafia."

Fall release, doesn't appear to have played Vancouver. A couple movie pals who saw it in the states consider it laughable, so it has to be filed in the "long shot" folder for now. "Stuart Sawyer and Nicole Reilly meet through mutual friends on a blind date and experience a magical evening in a local diner on a rainy evening in April, 2000. Stunning courtship... reversal of fortunes... Though sexually compatible, their disparate family backgrounds and the religious chasm between them inform their selfishness, their naivete, and their destiny."

Almost silent 160 minute film documents life inside the Mother House of the Carthusian monastic order. Few films are more deserving of the "see this on a big screen" caveat. Nonetheless, since that ain't gonna happen for many people, its good news that the DVD comes available April 3 2007 in North America. You've got two options: join the monastery yourself, or make friends with someone who hasn't taken any vows of poverty and has a whopping big video screen.
Official site
Press kit

Nov 2005: Limited one-week run in L.A. Fifth Avenue Vancouver: spring 2006?
Official Site: After years of living abroad with her American missionary father, Lana (Michelle Williams) returns to the United States to begin her studies. But instead of focusing on her education, Lana sets out to find her only other living relative - her uncle Paul, her deceased mother’s brother. A Vietnam veteran, Paul is a reclusive vagabond with deep emotional war wounds. A tragic event witnessed by the two unites them in a common goal to rectify a wrong, and takes them on a journey of healing, discovery, and kinship."
Doug Cummings: "Wim Wenders' latest soul-searching film captures the landscape of Los Angeles and the desert near Palm Springs with admirable polish as an idealistic young woman and her paranoid uncle express a cultural schism in post-9/11 America.... The main character is an evangelical Christian, sympathetically portrayed."
Official site

VIFC: "The winner of virtually all of 2005's Australian Film Awards, director/animator Sarah Watt's popular debut feature has a typically Australian blend of wry humour in the face of darkness. The animated sequences of random acts of death are marvellously lovely in their morbidity, whether it's a drowning figure surrounded by sharks, or medical illustrations of malignant cancers rampaging through the body. Death is walking beside us all the time; how we choose to look at it is the question the film asks. “ Look Both Ways is always intelligent, perceptively observed and deeply felt. It's a rare film that's so unafraid to ask the biggest of big questions—and ask them so entertainingly.”—Michael Adams, Empire
Sight & Sound: "It's hard to avoid giving prospective viewers the impression that Sarah Watt's feature debut will constitute a depressing 100 minutes. It begins with Meryl, a greetings-card illustrator in her early thirties, returning home from her father's funeral. Within minutes of stepping off the train, she witnesses a fatal accident, which brings her into contact with press photographer Nick, recently diagnosed with cancer. Not the most propitious beginning for a romantic comedy... Interrupting the live-action drama with hand-drawn and computer-generated depictions of Meryl and Nick's most morbid fears... Meryl imagines scenes of destruction - earthquakes that swallow her up, trains that crash into tunnel walls - through deceptively childlike cartoons. Nick views the progress of his disease as a terrifying, accelerating montage of metastasizing cells. Yet there's a wry humour and a touching delicacy to this film that resist the pull towards gloomy melodrama. The hesitant romance that develops between Meryl and Nick and their slow attempt to overcome their fears and get on with life make for a strangely affirming movie."
Played VIFC: November 2006.

Arty-looking big screen treatment of Jesus birth. The casting of the marvelous Keisha Castle-Hughes (WHALE RIDER girl) as Mary and Shoreh Aghdashloo (HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG wife) boded well, but many found it bland, and I couldn't work up the enthusiasm to go see it at Christmas. Look for a Christmas 2007 release. All the background you can stand at CT Movies.

Played Vancouver early January 2007. I saw it the same day as I saw CHILDREN OF MEN, made a great and intense quasi/queasy-SoulFood double bill. For my money, PERFUME was the much more interesting film, and I was disappointed to see COM hog the spotlight. Still not entirely sure whether PERFUME mightn't be just another horror/depravity/murder/thriller picture, but oh my gosh it's stunning to look at! Tom Tykwer at the helm, and the biggest-ever European budget explains that. (More here)

SHOOTING DOGS (2005, UK/Germany, Michael Caton-Jones, David Wolstencroft screenplay, Richard Alwyn & David Belton story)
Coming soon on DVD, possibly under the title BEYOND THE GATES, which is the title under which it's being big screen released south of the border. Sort of a HOTEL RWANDA with priests. Tells almost exactly the same story, and it's hard to imagine it can be as strong a film (remember Don Cheadle?), but Rwanda's are stories we dare not forget, as hard as they may be to watch, and I'm curious to know what spiritual angle this one might offer. I believe there's something about it in maybe the May Sight & Sound? If I find anything, I'll let you know. Here's the earlier blurb...
Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Starring: John Hurt, Hugh Dancy, Claire-Hope Ashitey
"An emotionally gripping and powerful story from the 1994 Rwandan genocide, based on real events and filmed at the location where the actual events took place, L’École Technique Officielle, in Kigali, where more than 2,000 Tutsi men, women and children sought refuge from the killing frenzy. The film features John Hurt as a priest who finds it difficult to hold fast to his faith when confronted with the region's cycles of violence and High Dancy as a young teacher, both forced to confront the depths of their faith, the limits of their courage and, ultimately, to make a choice: to remain with their people or to run away." Played Vancouver: summer 2006


Anonymous said...

Shooting Dogs is in a league of its own with respect to the telling of the tale of the Rwandan Genocide.

It depicts clearly the failure of the United Nations and its soldiers and highlights the lack of intestinal fortitude of the UN army high command to do what was right and stay the course.

Perhaps that's why it was never released on the big screen in Canada?


Ron Reed said...

Thanks for posting your endorsement. I think maybe I'm ready at last to pull this one off the shelf and watch it. HOTEL RWANDA sent me into a bit of a spiritual tailspin - heck, it was nearly a year before I pulled out of that. But I think now would be a good time to check out this one - thanks for the reminder!

Actually, the film was released in Canada, long before it saw the light of day south of the border under the kinder, gentler title BEYOND THE GATES. Here in Vancouver it ran last August - at The Ridge, I believe it was.