Wednesday, May 30, 2007

NOW PLAYING: Big Screens (May 30)

Currently (or very soon to be currently) on screen at Vancouver-area theatres

Updated May 30 2007

Summer's here, and movie-wise, the livin' ain't easy. Inevitably disappointing sequels of sequels, a deluge of blockbusters (did no one tell these people that a blockbuster is a bomb?). Thank goodness for video, where most of the interesting stuff from late 2006 / early 2007 is now on the shelves.

Of course, I exaggerate - that's the essence of my prose style, dontcha know? There are interesting things at the indie theatres, if little of it with a specifically spiritual angle - though AMAZING GRACE, the story of William Wilberforce’s struggle to outlaw the slave trade, holds on at the Towne Cinema Centre in Abbottsford.

The film I'm most excited about is one I heard profiled on the NPR Movies podcast two weeks ago, a Dublin-set sort-of romance between a street musician and a young immigrant from Eastern Europe. Glen Hansard, lead singer of The Frames ("Lay Me Down" is a favourite tune of mine), plays the guy, Marketa Irglova plays the girl, and they wrote and perform all the tunes in the show. But don't go (or stay away) expecting CATS: The Village Voice writes "Hansard sings like Cat Stevens performing Damien Rice's songs for a Coldplay crowd as James Blunt forlornly looks on wishing that were him at the mike."Here's Stephanie Zacharek at Salon; "Although there's plenty of music, and plenty of joy, in "Once," it's ultimately a quiet, wistful picture: In its tone and mood, in the way it shows us young lovers wandering through a city and making it part of their story, it reminds me very much of Richard Linklater's quiet masterpiece "Before Sunrise." "Once" has a rare and buoyant generosity of spirit: The guy's elderly dad (played, wonderfully, by Bill Hodnett) doesn't look like much of a pop-music fan, but when his son plays him a tape of his music, he beams with pride, assuring his son how great it sounds."Check out Kenneth Turan's review for the Los Angeles Times. Date movie?

Saw THE AURA at Tinseltown this past weekend and really liked it, an utterly unpredictable story about a South American man who goes on a hunting trip and becomes involved in things way outside his experience. I knew nothing about the film going in, and would highly recommend the same to you: I didn't know if this was gritty realism, thriller, supernatural horror, caper / con movie, psychological study... And in fact it feints in most of those directions, and delivers on several. Absolutely its own film, and I was gripped throughout. Saw it as a double feature with JINDABYNE, that tells the story of four Australian men who go on a weekend fishing trip, find the dead body of an aboriginal girl in the water, and wait to report the death until the end of their trip - and follows through to observe the effect of these events on the men, their marriages and families, and their community. Very effective expansion of Raymond Carver's brilliant short story "So Much Water So Close To Home." By the director of the equally intriguing LANTANA, with which it bears comparison.

AWAY FROM HER is by all accounts very fine: the acting is particularly noted. Several of my movie friends have been quite affected by WAITRESS.


Perhaps it was that I'd been hanging out with some Jews, learning about their prayers and traditions and practices and language as we prepared REMNANTS (now in its second-last week!) for the stage, perhaps I absorbed something of the fierce pride they take in their Judaism, and the militant exception they take to people who are disrespectful toward God or their faith, but whatever it was, I was in no mood for Paul Verhoeven's ham-handed and sometimes downright mean-spirited caricatures of Christians and their faith in BLACK BOOK. It could have been a fine almost classic film about the moral complexities of people involved in the Dutch Resistance in WW2 if it weren't for his unfailing practice of portraying the Christian characters as idiotic or vile. Okay, I was feeling touchy, but man... Is there a Christian B'nai Brith?


And in case I don't manage to update this any sooner than the three months that passed since my last update (!), keep your eyes on the Pacific Cinematheque for an extraordinary line-up of titles from Janus Films, including three soul food classics clustered for us June 15-18;

The Seventh Seal
Friday, June 15 – 7:30 pm
Saturday, June 16 – 9:30 pm
Sunday, June 17 – 7:30 pm

Day of Wrath
Friday, June 15 – 9:20 pm
Saturday, June 16 – 7:30 pm
Monday, June 18 – 9:20 pm

Wild Strawberries
Sunday, June 17 – 9:20 pm
Monday, June 18 – 7:30 pm

Monday, May 21, 2007

movies about grief

A friend emailed me asking for films that deal with grieving. He had come up with the top two on the following list: the rest come from friends at Arts & Faith.

In The Bedroom
Moonlight Mile
The Son's Room
The Sixth Sense
The Son
In America
Tender Mercies
The Guys
Finding Neverland
To Gillian On Her 37th Birthday
21 Grams
The Big Chill
Truly, Madly, Deeply
TV: Dead Like Me
TV: Six Feet Under

And films I haven't seen, or which I have seen but don't remember well enough to confirm the grief component;
Moonlight Mile
Schultze Gets The Blues
The Fisher King
We Are Marshal
Corrina, Corrina
Mrs. Brown
Sansho The Bailiff'

And a few more...

What Dreams May Come
About Schmidt
Ordinary People

Sunday, May 06, 2007

MoMA: Rossellini & Kiarostami

Week before last, my first trip to New York City! Amazing. Great company, great theatre, great food, great galleries, great music, great city.

Last day I visited MoMA, the principal draw for me being a couple film-related shows. "Rossellini On Paper" was a collection of photos, posters and documents relating to the Rossellini Retrospective that recently played (how I wish that would come to Vancouver!).
Rossellini on Paper
November 15, 2006–May 7, 2007

Titus Theater 1 Lobby Gallery, T1
Titus Theater 2 Lobby Gallery, T2

This exhibition of posters, family photographs, and correspondence documenting the career of Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini draws from the collections of Martin Scorsese, Wesleyan University, and the Museum's Department of Film and Media. It surveys the graphic presentation of his work internationally, and provides a rare glimpse into his creative process and offscreen life. Rossellini on Paper is held in conjunction with the film exhibition Roberto Rossellini.
Here are a few of the posters;

Also, an installation by Abbas Kiarostami.
Abbas Kiarostami: Image Maker
March 1–May 28, 2007

The Yoshiko and Akio Morita Media Gallery, second floor

Abbas Kiarostami's (Iranian, b. 1940) gallery installation Five (2004)—a canny and sublime work which will also be screened as a single theatrical projection during the retrospective of the artist's entire moving-image oeuvre—beautifully mines the potential of digital imagery and sound while playfully investigating the fluid limits of documentary art practice. Alternatively titled Five Dedicated to Ozu, the work was acquired by MoMA after its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, and this is its first presentation in the U.S. as a media installation. This meditative work, which focuses on the ebb and flow of the tide at a beach, comprises five segments projected in a continuous and synchronized loop onto five separate partitions dividing the gallery space, with the audio component of each screen blending slightly together.

I'd love to tell you more about the installation, but my time is short. Here are a few (very poor) images...

Yours briefly, surreptitiously,