Thursday, September 20, 2007

COMING SOON: Big & Small Screens

Soul Food(ish) and other notable films on their way (sooner or later) to your local cine 'matheque or 'plex, or your very own living room!
Updated Sep 20 2007

Of course the Vancouver International Film Festival is coming soon (Sep 27 – Oct 12), and I’m finding more and more to get excited about there. The Fest has its own Soul Food post, but I’ll just say I’m hungriest for ONE HUNDRED NAILS (the final film from Ermanno Olmi?), THE MONASTERY: MR VIG & THE NUN, Bela Tarr’s THE MAN FROM LONDON, the Dardenne-produced MADONNAS, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO and YOU, THE LIVING, by the director of the ultra-odd SONGS FROM THE SECOND FLOOR.

Apart from the VIFF, here are films I’m glad we’ll get to see before too long...
THE DARJEELING LIMITED (Sep 29 wide release)
ADAM’S APPLES (dvd release Oct 2007)
BLADE RUNNER: Final Cut (Oct 5 limited release, Dec 18 dvd)
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (Nov 9 limited release, Nov 21 wide)

And no word about when Vancouverites will get to see the following but, like the truth, they’re out there somewhere, and Soul Food is on the case!
THE TEN (limited release Aug 3)
SEPTEMBER DAWN (limited release Aug 24)



Blackest possible, utterly droll Scandanavian comedy either taunts or exults in the folly of the Christian faith, might even be my favorite film this year. Available from Film Movement in October!

Oct 5: LA/NY Limited Release
Dec 18: Fancy schmancy DVD box sets
Lots of hoohaw over the years about the various edits of this film. Ignoring the detail, let it be said there’s much excitement among BLADE RUNNER fans over a special limited release big screen run and follow-up DVD package of the new “Final Cut” of this eighties sci fi landmark, which is loaded with God Stuff. I personally don’t find the religious bits compelling in this one, but many do, and what I do love is the kinetic cyber-punk-meets-Raymond-Chandler milieu – great looking, great energy.

Film Movement launches big screen distribution with this Norwegian film that’s caught my interest. “Forty-year-old Andreas arrives in a strange city with no memory of how he got there. He is presented with a job, an apartment - even a wife. But before long, Andreas notices that something is wrong. Andreas makes an attempt to escape the city, but he discovers there's no way out. Andreas meets Hugo, who has found a crack in a wall in his cellar. Beautiful music streams out from the crack. Maybe it leads to "the other side"? A new plan for escape is hatched.” No Canadian showings yet, nor dates for DVD, but I’ll let you know when anything materializes.

Doug Cummings: "Ron, you simply have to see DARATT (DRY SEASON) if it comes your way. Think of it as a Chadian LE FILS ... The one film I saw at the Los Angeles Film Festival this week I would unequivocally recommend to everyone here is a film from Chad called "Daratt" ("Dry Season"). It won the Jury Prize at Venice last year, and it's part of the excellent New Crowned Hope series commissioned for Mozart's 250th anniversary. Building off the theme of vengeance and forgiveness in the composer's "La clemenza di Tito," the film is set immediately after the civil war when official amnesty was declared...taking the law into his own hands, an elderly man who lost his son in the war asks his grandson to avenge his death, and the determined teenager travels to a nearby village to assassinate the murderer. As the boy is devising his plan, the murderer--now a 60 year old baker--offers him a job.
“I don't want to say more, because this is a highly nuanced story that focuses on this strangely volatile, yet potentially positive relationship, and its myriad details and tensions in a way that is highly reminiscent (and I say that complimentary-wise) of the Dardenne's "The Son." The filmmaker, Mahamat Saleh Haroun, has said he was inspired by Mozart's violin concertos to make a make a film that evoked their minimalist power, resulting in a film with strong visual rhythms, a highly observant camera, and terrifically underplayed, simmering performances. I loved it."

Sep 29: Wide release
Wes Anderson’s new one opened the New York Film Festival: “As exquisitely poignant and emotionally nuanced as movies get. One year after the accidental death of their father, three estranged brothers (Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Anderson-newcomer Adrien Brody) board the Darjeeling Limited train and travel across India on a self-proclaimed spiritual journey. They make all the appropriate stops along the way but their jealous (often hilarious) bickering and one-upmanship displace any possibility of enlightenment. And then, something happens. Anderson is, as always, surprising, prodigiously inventive, and utterly masterful in his daring modulation of tones and emotions. He has achieved something quite magical and astonishing here: a grand pageant, a vibrant portrait of a place and a people, a quietly intricate look at sibling love and rivalry. Above all, a Wes Anderson film—and a great one at that.”

The Coens return to non-goofy territory with another study of crime and consequence, which was a Centrepiece film at the New York Film Festival: “The Coen Brothers’ magisterial adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s laconic, haunting story of a Texas drug deal gone bad, with brilliant performances from Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones.”

Hollywood Reporter: "A love story set against the 19th century massacre of a wagon train of settlers in Utah at the hands of a renegade Mormon group. Voight plays the leader of the renegade Mormon faction, while Davidovich is a member of the wagon train who stands up to Voight's threats." Check the Soul Food post for excerpts from (and links to) responses from Mark Moring and Peter Chattaway.

Sep 26, Fifth Avenue
Fictionalized account of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, head of the U.N. mission to Rwanda who watched, nearly helpless, as that country’s terrible genocide took place. A committed Catholic Christian, Dallaire was later asked if he believed in the devil: “Of course. I shook his hand.”

Wow. Not for the faithful who are filmically faint of heart, director Carlos Reygada is fascinated with both Christianity and sex. (I mean, lots of us are, but we don’t necessarily put them both in the same movie. Which presents problems for some.) His third picture is set among old order Mennonites in northern Mexico. NYFF: “The world’s first talking picture in the medieval German dialect called Plautdietsch. SILENT LIGHT is set in Northern Mexico’s ascetic, self-contained Mennonite community and cast almost entirely with Mennonite non-actors. Building in emotional intensity, this elemental tale of love and betrayal is at once an ethnographic documentary and a quasi-remake of Carl-Theodore Dreyer’s Ordet. Reygadas too makes spirituality seem material, not least in the extraordinary, wide-screen landscape shots that bracket the action. With this, his third feature, he has secured a place in the forefront of contemporary film artists.” I had hoped it would be at the VIFF, but alas.

Aug 3: Limited release
An episodic comedy, ten short pieces each riffing on one of the commandments. Not exactly Kieslowski or deMille, but it could be funny. Tagline, “If He'd meant the commandments literally, He'd have written them in stone.” Cute. The trailer features way too many body part gags – is this for grade eights or grown-ups? - but I still reckon I’ll give it a try if it ever opens in Vancouver. (Even if I never see it, I’m glad it was made, if only for this headline at Christianity Today: “Christian ventriloquists say no to THE TEN.” Linking to this at the New York Times:
The Kid Quits the Picture
July 29, 2007, Sunday
by Allen Salkin

CLAPPY'S people decided to pass. After seeing a synopsis of a film script for ''The Ten,'' a comedy based on the Ten Commandments, they decided the part he was up for was not right for him. They did not think Clappy ought to appear in a sex scene...”

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