Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Auteurs |

The Auteurs is a new film site that aims to be an online cinematheque / film festival, making foreign, independent and art film available on demand in high quality, full screen streaming video. In addition to a growing catalogue of films that can be screened for three bucks ($1 for shorts), there is a new "Film Festival" of specially curated films which rotates month by month. The May/June selection was extraordinary - a selection of cinematic masterpieces which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival - and the films were offered FREE, sponsored by IFC. Since it's July 1 and the films are still available, I'll highlight a few...

L'Avventura (1960, Italy, Antonioni)
A girl mysteriously disappears on a yachting trip. While her lover and her best friend search for her across Italy, they begin an affair. Antonioni’s penetrating study of the idle upper class offers stinging observations on spiritual isolation and the many meanings of love. The Criterion Collection. FREE

Cleo From 5 To 7 (1962, France, Varda)
Agnès Varda eloquently captures Paris in the sixties with this real-time portrait of a singer (Corinne Marchand) set adrift in the city as she awaits test results of a biopsy. A chronicle of the minutes of one woman’s life, Cléo from 5 to 7 is a spirited mix of vivid vérité and melodrama, featuring a score by Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and cameos by Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina. The Criterion Collection. FREE

Black Orpheus (1959, Brazil, Camus)
1960 Academy Award Winner and winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus retells the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice against the madness of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. With its magnificent color photography and lively soundtrack, this film brought the infectious bossa nova beat to the United States. The Criterion Collection. FREE

Also The Cranes Are Flying, Harakiri, Cria Cuervos, Dry Summer, The Housemaid

One of my all-time favourite films, a documentary on artist Andy Goldsworthy whose life embodies Robert Farrar Capon's idea of Oblation.

Rivers & Tides (2001, Germany/UK, Riedelsheimer)
Landscape sculptor Andy Goldsworthy is renowned throughout the world for his work in ice, stone, leaves, wood. His own remarkable still photographs are Goldsworthy’s way of talking about his often ephemeral works, of fixing them in time. With this film shot in four countries and across four seasons, and the first major film he has allowed to be made, the elusive element of time adheres to his sculpture.
Director Thomas Riedelsheimer worked with Andy Goldsworthy for over a year. What Riedelsheimer found was a profound sense of breathless discovery and uncertainty in Goldsworthy’s work, in contrast to the stability of conventional sculpture. There is risk in everything that Goldsworthy does. He takes his fragile work – and it can be as fragile in stone as in ice or twigs – right to the edge of its collapse, a very beautiful balance and a very dramatic edge within the film. The film captures the essential unpredictability of working with rivers and with tides, feels into a sense of liquidity in stone, travels with Goldsworthy underneath the skin of the earth and reveals colour and energy flowing through all things.
Riedelsheimer’s film, like Goldsworthy’s sculpture, grows into something beyond the simple the making of a object. It touches the heart of what Goldsworthy does and who he is, in much the same way that Goldworthy touches the heart of a place when he works in it and leaves his mark on it.In this film, which is Goldworthy’s work as much as Riedelsheimer’s, “you see something you never saw before; that was always there but you were blind to”. $3

Scanning the rest of their catalogue, I've dug out a batch of potential Soul Food movies, none of which I've seen yet.

Sea Of Silence (2009, Belgium/Netherlands, Coninx)
In 1969, nine-year-old Caro lives on a pig farm with her 5 siblings in a small town in Holland. She is determined to understand the mysteries around her but her Catholic father can’t explain the modern world and her mother is too busy for philosophy so Caro engages in direct conversation with God. After the heartache brought on by her father’s drinking Caro eventually learns she cannot worry about the things beyond her control. A bittersweet film on the universal quest for personal meanings in life against the self-assured dominance of wealth and science. $3

Fragments Sur La Grace (2006, France/Belgium, Dieutre)
A filmmaker and his crew try to enter the passionate world of Port-Royal and of Jansenism. Another Age of Louis XIV comes to life, the age of Pascal, Racine and of the “Friends of Truth”. An age much darker and deeper than the splendors of Versailles. Through the landscapes of Port-Royal and Paris, thanks to the reading of texts in the French language of the time, thanks to interviews with specialists and to notes, the historical quest changes into a philosophical and historical vertigo. The film itself turns into something else while it comes up against the unanswerable question of grace. $3

Kedma (2002, Israel, Gittai)
May 1948. Battles are raging in Palestine between the Jews and the Arabs. In two weeks, the British mandate will come to an end and they will leave the country. A rusty cargo ship, the Kedma, is on its way to the Promised Land. Hundreds of Holocaust survivors from all over Europe are packed aboard. On a beach in Palestine, soldiers of the Palmach – the clandestine Jewish army – wait to welcome them, whilst British soldiers intend to stop them disembarking. Nevertheless, a small group of men and women manages to escape to the hills and finds itself in the midst of the battle for the road to Jerusalem. An unconventional epic from celebrated director Amos Gitai. $3

Sacred Hearts (2005, Italy, Oztepek)
In Irene’s unscrupulous hands, the profits from the family business have grown immensely. But when two of her friends commit suicide after her buy-out of their company, her self-confidence begins to crack. She retreats to Rome, to her family residence and learns the secrets of the last years of her mother’s life. She meets Benny, a street smart little girl, who is a challenge to her life and values. Captivated by her, Irene starts to perceive the world and people around her in a new light. When she is hit by a new tragedy, Irene throws herself into charity work turning her palatial villa into a shelter for the homeless, taking this new vocation to the very limits of madness. But to find peace, she will have to harmonize her materialistic life with her humanitarian calling. $3

And this. My movie-buddy Peter is a fan of Jań Švankmajer, whose work I've not yet seen, and The Auteurs offers me the chance to tick off four titles on Peter's All Time Faves list for a total of six bucks...

Faust (1995, Czech Republic, Svankmajer)
Goethe’s classic story, Christian Dietrich Grabbe’s novel and Marlowe’s ‘Doctor Faustus’ combine in the phantasmagoric world of famed Czech animator Jań Švankmajer. In Švankmajer’s version, Faust is solicited by the devil’s assistants at a Prague subway exit. He agrees to sell his soul directly to Mephistopheles in exchange for 24 pleasure-filled years. The deal is done, but Faust gets more than he bargained for, as he is first turned into an actor and then into a puppet. This most unusual of adaptations is a highly inventive surrealist fantasy featuring surprising and imaginative clay animation combined with live-action and grotesque life-size marionettes. It is a modern myth, offering illusions within illusions that illustrate the ordinary corruption, miseries and vanities of the human soul. $3
And there are some Švankmajer shorts for a buck apiece: Flora, Food, Meat Love.

No comments: