Friday, November 27, 2009

Nov 28: The Karamazovs, European Union Film Festival

There are those who consider The Brothers Karamazov the great Christian novel. This looks like an interesting treatment...

THE KARAMAZOVS ("Karamazovi")
(2008, Petr Zelenka, Czech Republic / Poland)

Saturday, November 28 | 8:45 PM

European Union Film Festival
Pacific Cinematheque

The latest from New Czech Cinema luminary Petr Zelenka — director of Buttoners, Year of the Devil, and Wrong Side Up (screened in our 2006 EUFF) — was the Czech Republic’s official submission to this year’s Academy Awards. “A film that examines the relationships between lives on both sides of the proscenium, Zelenka’s The Karamazovs finds a Prague-based theatrical ensemble arriving in Krakow, Poland, where its members prepare to mount a stage production of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. The central catch behind this unusual production is the locale: the play will be conducted at the local steelworks. Zelenka’s central narrative crisscrosses two spheres of reality - the documentary-like sphere of the actors playing the characters, and the more traditional cinematic narrative involving the characters in the play itself. Soon, distinct, haunting parallels between the two begin to emerge. Then, an unexpected tragedy arrives” (Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide). “The phenomenal legit performances are alone worth the price of admission . . . The interplay among the different levels of text (novel, play, film, ‘real life’) is one of the most sophisticated in Euro cinema since Pedro Almodóvar’s Bad Education” (Boyd van Hoeij, Variety). Colour, 35mm, in Czech and Polish with English subtitles. 110 mins.

Official website + trailer

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I hereby officially declare the next seven days the Soul Food International Film Festival. (Well, maybe not so official. It only just occurred to me around 5:00 this morning, and it kind of already opened. Make that The First Non-Annual Unintentional Soul Food International Film Festival of Vancouver. Catchy title, eh?)

The Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975, Russia)

What's wrong with me? I wrote up my NOW PLAYING post a few days ago and completely forgot about the Soul Food Double Feature that's been written in my datebook for a month! This Thursday night at Pacific Cinematheque, Andrei Tarkovsky's THE MIRROR shows at 7:15, followed by Douglas Sirk's THE MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION at 9:15.

The Magnificent Obsession (Douglas Sirk, 1954, USA)

The films are also showing separately on other nights this week (see the above links for specific times), but Thursday is the one night that offers an opportunity to view them back to back.

(Seraphine, Martin Provost, 2009, France/Belgium)

That's an opportunity you may want to take advantage of, given that SERAPHINE is running Tuesday through Thursday at The Hollywood (9:15 nightly) and MUNYURANGABO plays Friday through Monday at the VanCity (various screening times).

Munyurangabo (Lee Isaac Chung, 2007, Rwanda)

Toss in viewings of A SERIOUS MAN (and maybe even IT MIGHT GET LOUD and GENTLEMEN BRONCOS?) and you'll have yourself a soul-satisfying cinematic smorgasbord the like of which is unlikely to be seen again. (At least not until we launch our own rather more intentional Soul Food Film Festival...)

A Serious Man (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2009, USA)

For showtimes and venues for all films, check the always helpful Cinemaclock

PS Oh, and my buddy Bryan Coley writes "Go see THE BLIND SIDE to see Sandra Bullock portray one of the best Christian characters ever put on film. Great movie!"

Monday, November 23, 2009

NOW PLAYING: Munyurangabo!!!

Jeffrey O told us to see SERAPHINE, but he insisted we see MUNYURANGABO, his favourite film of the year. And guess what: it's playing the VanCity this coming weekend - as soon as SERAPHINE closes at the Hollywood, in fact. Never rains but it pours.... (Not funny.)

Check out our coverage at Filmwell...

Retrospectives: an essay by Lee Isaac Chung, director of Munyurangabo

A Cinema of Listening and Looking: A Filmwell Conversation with Lee Isaac Chung, Part One

A Cinema of Listening and Looking: A Filmwell Conversation with Lee Isaac Chung, Part Two

M. Leary Review

Thanks for the tip, Mr Chattaway.

Vancity Theatre Screenings
USA, 2007, 97 min, 35mm
Directed By: Lee Isaac Chung

Friday, Nov 27 at 6:30 pm
Saturday, Nov 28 at 8:30 pm
Sunday, Nov 29 at 4:45 pm
Sunday, Nov 29 at 8:30 pm
Monday, Nov 30 at 6:30 pm

A decade after the genocide that ripped apart Rwanda, how are the children of that country to move forward with their lives? That is the question at the heart of this remarkable debut feature from Lee Isaac Chung, a Korean-American from Arkansas who studied medicine at Yale before he decided to make films.
Ngabo (Jeff Rutagenwa) and Sangwa (Eric Ndorunkundiye) leave Kigali and journey to the home Sangwa left three years prior – they agree to tell his parents they are on a journey looking for work. In fact, they have another, more troubling objective in mind. Sangwa's resolve weakens as he is accepted by his family, but they remain suspicious, even hostile towards his friend, a Tutsi whose parents died in the conflict.

Shot in just 11 days while Chung was teaching filmmaking at a relief mission, with three orphans of the genocide playing key roles, Munyurangabo begins as an apparently straightforward immersion in a specific time and place, but develops into more complex and moving inquiry about the chances for reconciliation.

"Intense empathy courses throughout Chung's first feature, but more remarkable is his ability to foster great kinship between viewer and subject, his largely handheld cinematography generating forceful intimacy with his story's two teenage protagonists [...] as well as a tactile sense of environment. Both qualities run deep in this piercing, authentic, and condescension-free tale." - Nick Schager, Slant Magazine

"Like a bolt out of the blue, Lee Isaac Chung achieves an astonishing and thoroughly masterful debut [...] by several light years the finest and truest film yet on the moral and emotional repercussions of the 15-year-old genocide that wracked Rwanda." - Robert Koehler, Variety

NOW PLAYING: Seraphine! Worse Lieutenant, Serious Man, Ed, Gents, Loud, Wild

Jeff Overstreet said to see Seraphine, sounds like a candidate for Soul Food flick of the year. It's at Videomatica and other local shops, but today's great news is from N.W. Douglas, who tells us it's playing at The Hollywood this week! Best theatre in town, like a time-travel trip to the days of Bogart and Bacall - with prices to match. Thanks, N.W.!

(The random-firing letter scrambler in my brain read
"in French with English subtleties."
Balancing that distinctively French tendency to overstatement, I suppose...)

If you were thinking of taking in Werner Herzog's BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS because you saw or heard about Abel Ferrara's BAD LIEUTENANT - which, however foul it may have been, was also completely preoccupied with Christian redemption... Don't rush out to buy tickets. The Guardian reports that "Herzog’s remake jettisons the Catholicism and is lighter in tone.” New at Tinseltown

A SERIOUS MAN continues at 5th Avenue, and continues to stick in my mind. I've posted a Fuller review of this Job-fashioned tale of sixties suburbia from a theology buddy of Robert K. Johnston. (Here's a link to my post-movie musings...)

AN EDUCATION continues at Fifth Avenue and Tinseltown. Director Lone Scherfig did ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS. I'm told this one involves a tour of C.S. Lewis sites in Oxford as a seduction strategy. Hmmm...

Most wouldn't rush to GENTLEMEN BRONCOS for its theology, but The New Yorker might. Granville 7.

IT MIGHT GET LOUD is about guitar heroes, including The Edge. Denman, daily at 2:30.

And I don't know that WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is in any particular sense a Soul Food movie, but I'm starting to think it's bumping UP from the top slot on my 2009 roster. Utterly unique, with monsters rendered as a sullen clique of just-barely-teen-agers, slipping back and forth between unfettered kidness and terrified pseudo-adulthood.

And coming next weekend: Jeff Overstreet's 2009 favourite, MUNYURANGABO. Thanks for the tip, Mr Chattaway!

Eugene Suen on A SERIOUS MAN

Watching the Coens latest, I thought it would be a fine double feature with CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS - or a triple-bill with the big screen version of JOB VS ECCLESIASTES, if it ever gets remade. Which made me think of Robert K. Johnston, whose marvelous "Useless Beauty: Ecclesiastes through the Lens of Contemporary Film" was the focus of a course he and his wife led at Regent College a few summers ago. Hoping to get his take on the film, wisdom literature dude that he is, I emailed the guy, but he hasn't seen the film. In lieu, passed along this review from the student paper at Fuller Seminary. Eugene Suen co-directs Reel Spirituality with Rob, and is a film producer in his own right. I myself am not convinced that the film is nihilistic, but am also convinced that the film doesn't allow us to readily determine its perspective - a mark of real art, in my opinion. (And actually, I'm not sure Suen exactly agrees with himself on that point, either. It's that kind of movie. Kind of like Solomon...)

A Serious Man - Coen Brothers’ Gravely Serious Comedy

Can we be sure that God is benevolent? Larry Gopnik, the patriarch in Coen Brothers’ compelling new film A Serious Man, wishes he knew the answer. A perfectly ordinary man whose only desire is to lead a perfectly ordinary life, Larry has a house in a pleasant, if bland, suburban community in the Minnesota of the 1960s, a nuclear family of four with a son who is about to have his Bar Mitzvah, and a respectable job as a physics professor that is under review for tenure. All is well until, suddenly and inexplicably, a series of troubles begin to pile up, escalating to a boiling point that sees his life completely falling apart. The desperate Larry is confused and helpless, his fate mirroring that of his many forebears in the faith who, in times of great calamity, struggle to comprehend God’s will and the meaning of the universe.

Naturally, many reviewers have compared the film to the Biblical book of Job. Unlike that ultimately hopeful story, though, A Serious Man offers no consolation about God’s sovereignty, no hopes for a better future, and no comfort about the intrinsic purpose of human existence. Despite its appearance as an absurdist comedy (yes, it is often very funny), the Coens’ tale is bleak through and through, continuing the nihilistic vision from their last two films- the great No Country for Old Men, and the not-so-great Burn After Reading.

There is something profoundly unsettling and powerful about their articulation of a universe ruled by chaos, where clueless people run around like laboratory rats trying to make sense of their predicament when there is none to be made. In the world of No Country for Old Men, humanity has forever lost touch with its more decent impulse; in Burn After Reading, a group of buffoonish characters are caught up in a web of intrigues full of sound and fury that in the end signifies nothing. Tracing back to their earlier films, that same sense of dread about a universe gone awry is also found in works like Blood Simple, Fargo, Big Lebowski, and the eccentric but utterly brilliant Barton Fink (possibly one of the best films about the artistic process ever made. Put it in your Netflix queue now!). As New York Times film critic A.O Scott has observed, the consistency of the Coens’ bleak vision is matched in American cinema only by Woody Allen. While the brothers are formally impeccable- every one of their film has an O.C.D-like precision about them, the universe of their creation is decidedly lacking in a controlling order.

Yet there is also something strangely cathartic about A Serious Man. Having spent their career playing with different genres and geographical settings, the Coens, who grew up in suburban Minneapolis in the 1960s, have finally come home, making a film that is not only sociologically faithful to the environment of their childhood, but one that is also firmly rooted in the Jewish tradition of their upbringing- a tradition that has evidently shaped their sensibility in fundamental ways. A Serious Man, like the works of Woody Allen, thrives on a sense of wry, self-deprecating humor, its worldview unmistakably that of a people who have been outsiders, who know what it feels like to be in exile and persecuted (by others and, seemingly, by God) Moreover, the dry wisdom of the film, which could probably be best summarized by its opening quotation “Accept with simplicity everything that happens to you”, offers for people of faith not a fatalistic resignation to the ostensibly arbitrary course of life, but an acceptance of our finitude. After all, God’s ways are higher than our ways; some things are simply beyond our comprehension. We live and move and have our being in him; he gives, he takes away, and may his name still be praised.

This, however, does not mean one’s suffering will be eased in the meantime. What makes A Serious Man compelling is its ability to evoke a sense of helplessness that all of us have surely experienced at some point in life. Larry’s guttural cry for answers, his desire to comprehend his circumstance, resonates in a world filled with mysteries and injustices. The Coens have often been accused by detractors as cold, analytical misanthropes, but whether or not their new film’s pessimism is an epistemologically warranted position, or merely another case of personal neurosis blown to cosmic proportion, is beside the point. As it stands, A Serious Man is an impeccably made comedy that offers some gravely serious reflections on what it means to be human. In the presence of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, sometimes you can’t do anything except have a sense of humor.

Eugene Suen is a film producer and the Co-Director of Reel Spirituality Institute, the center for theology and film at Fuller Theological Seminary

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

THE RAPTURE (1991, USA, Tolkin)

Rapture (rap' chur) 1. ecstatic joy or delight. 2. a state of extreme sexual ecstasy. 3. the feeling of being transported to another sphere of existence. 4. the experience of being spirited away to Heaven just before the Apocalypse.

This bizarre shaggy dog story is as sexually and spiritually explicit a film as you're likely ever to see. Mimi Rogers (in what may be the performance of her career) portrays a telephone information operator whose off-hours sexual adventures can no longer mask an agonizing spiritual emptiness. When she overhears the secretive lunch-room whisperings of some drably religious co-workers, this desperate, hungry woman begins to be drawn toward a potentially authentic Christian conversion in the context of a cultish end times sect.

Early in the film Sharon tells a casual sex partner that if she has any limits, she hasn't found them yet. Perhaps that's just as true of director / writer Michael Tolkin, who adapted this uncompromising film from his own novel – he never flinches in following this bizarre, compelling premise to its inevitable, utterly unpredictable conclusion. And the route he follows in getting there is as idiosyncratic as the story he's chosen to tell – just when I thought this thing was a cross between a Shannon Tweed direct-to-video sex flick and a Jack Chick evangelistic tract, I began to wonder if it wasn't going to end up in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS territory, with a bit of Ingmar Bergman and Joel Schumacher thrown in for good measure.

In saying that, I don't mean to be dismissive about the film. Its stylistic excesses come from an abundance of ambition and imagination rather than a poverty of taste or craft. Bear in mind that this movie comes from the same mind as the morally searching CHANGING LANES, the similarly audacious "lets take this idea to its absolute limit" novel that begat Robert Altman's masterful and sophisticated film, THE PLAYER, or the go-for-broke satire of THE NEW AGE.

Given that the film opens with explicit sexual material, it will be no surprise that it doesn't feel obliged to end up in any particularly orthodox theological place. But the films apparent heterodoxies are in tension with the authenticity of this woman's spiritual search, however psychologically troubled she might be. And however church-skit embarassing I found some of the evangelistic dialogue – though I'd suggest that these dichotomies are the film maker's primary strategy,k to constantly confront us with unsettling and dissonant elements that both provoke and confound our preconceptions.

However rambling the film's structure, it ultimately seeks the very core of the Christian faith, asking blunt questions about the only question that matters: the love of God – our love for him, and his for us. I found the film's final assertion unsatisfying due to what I took as a self-congratulatory lack of nuance, patting itself on the back for asking Big Questions while implying only Small Answers. Until it occurred to me that the untenable situation the character finds herself in is almost entirely of her own making. So just what is this Michael Tolkin guy saying, anyway?

I can think of only two other explicitly religious films that are quite this strange, and only one that has anything like its earnestness of purpose. GOD TOLD ME TO is equally quirky, but is finally nothing more than a confused Godsploitation flick. Brian Moore charts equally strange spiritual waters with serious intent in COLD HEAVEN, but that film is seriously marred by grotesquely bad acting. It seems THE RAPTURE stands at the pinnacle of its provocative genre – however small and eccentric that genre may be.

Available at Videomatica

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nov 10-24: 50% off Criterion disks

Starting November 10, all Criterion Collection titles will be 50% off the list price at Barnes & Noble, both in stores and online. This special promotion encompasses all titles and will run until November 24. (NOTE: Titles on preorder with street dates after 11/23 are not eligible for the discount.)

And if you're wondering what to buy, you could do worse than starting with the newly-released WINGS OF DESIRE. Here's an essay by director Wim Wenders, written after the making of the film. (Beware spoilers)

Nov 21 25 26: Tarkovsky's THE MIRROR at Cinematheque!

THE MIRROR (Zerkalo)
USSR | 1974 | Andrei Tarkovsky
35mm PRINT!

Pacific Cinematheque
Saturday, November 21, 2009 - 7:15pm
Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - 9:35pm
Thursday, November 26, 2009 - 7:15pm

Cinematheque: Andrei Tarkovsky’s visually sumptuous fourth feature is the great director’s most personal and poetic (and Proustian) film. The Mirror offers an idiosyncratic history of twentieth-century Russia, in the form of a poet’s fragmented reflections on three generations of his family. The poems used in the film were written and read by the Tarkovsky’s own father (the poet Arseny Tarkovsky); Tarkovsky’s mother appears in a small role as the protagonist’s elderly mother. In a dual role, actress Margarita Terekhova is both the protagonist’s wife and his mother as a younger woman. “The Mirror is Tarkovsky’s central film, and his most personal one, although it might be better described as a transpersonal autobiography. Dreams and memories of an individual protagonist (who is never seen on screen) blend with dreams and memories of the culture. The generations of one family mingle. The Mirror achieves something which is uniquely possible in cinema but which no other film has even attempted: it expresses the continuity of consciousness across time, in a flow of images of the most profound beauty” (Amnon Buchbinder). Colour and B&W, 35mm, in Russian with English subtitles. 106 mins.

"Profoundly intimate . . . one of the rare completely achieved films of autobiography." Mark Le Fanu
"Perhaps Tarkovsky’s greatest work." Film Society of Lincoln Center
"An essential film, an extraordinarily beautiful movie." Village Voice

THE MIRROR is available on DVD at Videomatica

Friday, November 06, 2009


Lloyd C. Douglas was a pastor at a series of Lutheran, Congregational and United churches before starting a prolific writing career at the age of 50 with The Magnificent Obsession (1929), the first of several of his novels to eventual reach the silver screen. The most notable film treatment of a Douglas story is Douglas Sirk's 1954 Technicolor extravaganza, which was recently released on DVD by Criterion. (Director Todd Haynes pays tribute to Sirk's fifties "weepies" with the extraordinary 2002 film FAR FROM HEAVEN.) Now OBSESSION plays the big screen in all its magnificence: thanks, Cinematheque!

Pacific Cinematheque
Tuesday, November 17 - 1pm
Friday, November 20, 2009 - 9:35pm
Sunday, November 22, 2009 - 7:15pm
Thursday, November 26, 2009 - 9:15pm

Director: Douglas Sirk
Cast: Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Agnes Moorehead, Barbara Rush, Otto Kruger

VanCity: Douglas Sirk described Magnificent Obsession as the "craziest" of his stylish, sumptuous, subversive melodramas. The film’s delirious plot has Rock Hudson as an irresponsible playboy who indirectly causes the death of a doctor and blinds the dead man’s widow, played by Jane Wyman. Sirk's Magnificent Obsession was the director's first big commercial success, and a remake of the 1935 melodrama of the same name, which was based on the 1929 novel by pastor Lloyd C. Douglas. "It was the most confused book you can imagine," said Sirk. "My immediate reaction to Magnificent Obsession was bewilderment and discouragement. But still I was attracted by something irrational in it. Something mad, in a way — well, obsessed, because this is a damned crazy story if there ever was one."

More VanCity: Douglas Sirk’s extravagant 1950s melodramas — All That Heaven Allows, Written on the Wind, Imitation of Life et al. —constitute one of the most piercing critiques of American society to be found in classic Hollywood cinema – an achievement largely unappreciated by “serious” critics of the day because it came in the form of a much derided (but popular) genre: the “women’s picture,” or “weepie.” Sirk described Magnificent Obsession as the “craziest” of his films, and even that might have been an understatement. The film’s delirious plot has Rock Hudson as an irresponsible playboy who indirectly causes the death of a revered philanthropic doctor, blinds the dead man’s widow (played by Jane Wyman, the former Mrs. Ronald Reagan) in another accident, and then becomes a world-renowned surgeon in an effort to restore her sight — falling in love with her, of course, in the meantime. Magnificent Obsession was Sirk’s first big commercial success, and the first in the series of gloriously stylish, over-the-top, colour-drenched melodramas on which the bulk of his enormous critical reputation rests. The film demonstrates “Sirk’s daring, his willingness to take on the most outrageous material and work on it with the deep irony which was one of the most important gifts he brought with him to Hollywood” (Jon Halliday). “Extraordinary . . . Sirk’s films are something else” (Chris Petit)

THE MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION is available on Criterion DVD at Videomatica

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A SERIOUS MAN: Questions For Further Study

1. What is that quote at the start of the film? From a non-Jewish source? How does it shed light on the Jewish world of the film? Specifically, how does it relate to the theology of the first rabbi?

2. How does the Dybbuk story relate to the rest of the film?

3. What is the signifcance of the story of the goy’s teeth? Do you have anything written on the inside of your teeth?

4. Gopnik is dismissive of the stories / fables used to illustrate the principles of physics which he teaches. He claims not to understand the stories, but to put all his faith in the mathematics. How does this relate to the mysterious fables related in the film: the dybbuk, the goy’s teeth?

5. What’s the difference between Gopnik’s blackboards full of formulae, which don’t seem to help him to much, and Uncle Arthur’s notebook full of formulae, which seem to get him in serious trouble? Did anybody else think of A Beautiful Mind?

6. Do the three rabbis correspond to Job’s comforters?

7. What is the Grace Slick quote? What is its function: to undermine the rabbi as a source of wisdom, or to affirm something about popular culture? How does it relate to the warm affirmations of the son’s bar mitzvah, which are oblivious to the son’s actual state of mind? Is all that stuff cynical? Is the film cynical? Is Solomon cynical?

8. What was that science fiction TV show, with the brain in the vat?

9. Think about the recurring phrase “a serious man.”

10. What is the significance of the simultaneity of the two car accidents?

11. Why do critics say there’s no God in this film apart from the film-makers, and they are a cruel God? Is the God of the film cruel? Is He any different than the God of biblical wisdom literature? What does Robert K. Johnston think?

12. One rabbi contrasts a Jewish notion of the afterlife – “Abraham’s bosom” – with the Christian idea of heaven, which he compares to Canada (thereby showing great wisdom). Gopnik sends Uncle Arthur to Canada in a canoe. Or tries to. Significance?

13. If Canada is heaven, is North Dakota hell, Vanity Fair, the place of temptation and damnation? Isn’t Fargo in North Dakota? What would Marge Gunderson say about this?

14. Did this film make anybody else think of Crimes and Misdemeanors?

15. If you had a neighbour’s wife like Mrs. Samsky, would you covet her? Would you be more or less inclined to adjust the TV antenna whenever your son complained about poor reception? Did you like F Troop when you were a kid? I did.


16. Think about the variations on the phrase “I didn’t do anything.” A protestation of Gopnik’s innocence: “I don’t deserve this, I didn’t do anything wrong”? A perhaps unconsious confession of sins of omission? How does this assertion relate to Gopnik’s dreams? Is he a good man for not having actually had sex with his neighbour’s wife, though clearly he was tempted? Is he a bad man for not having actually taken his brother to Canada, sending him off with an envelope of cash? How good are we for not doing the wrong we dream of doing? How bad are we for not doing the good we dream of doing?

17. What’s the difference between using the bribe money to bless his brother, or using it to pay his legal bills? Does the apparent choice to do the latter somehow lead to the bad things that happen to this “good” man? Or is it foolish to look for cause and effect in this? Does this relate to Gopnik’s lectures on uncertainty, etc?

18. How does the tornado relate to the flood at the end of O Brother, Where Art Thou? Both seem “acts of God”, the latter clearly an affirmation of the validity of faith (as represented by the blind prophet) and a refutation of the “wisdom of men” (as embodied by Everett), the former seemingly a reversal of the apparent restoration of divine blessings which would more closely parallel the resolution of the biblical Job story.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NOW PLAYING: Wild Loud Serious Education

THE BIG LEBOWSKI tonight only at the VanCity, 7:30.

Carol, Max, KW

2009: the year of the Amazing Kids' Movie? I just saw WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, and that's one unpredictable, substantial, exotic piece of work: Spike Jonze, Dave Eggers, flings itself with reckless abandon on the same wide-eyed year-end pile as UP. My WILD enthusings evoke insistences I see CORALINE: eager to comply. Awaiting frantically FANTASTIC MR FOX: great extended profile of director Wes Anderson in Nov 2 New Yorker whets the appetite further. And I'm told CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS is fun. Nothing wrong with fun. In a sometimes weary grey autumn, I'd pay fifteen buck for fun.

Look what Jeff Overstreet says about AN EDUCATION, from the director of my beloved ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS: "The rising buzz about Carey Mulligan’s star-making performance, not to mention the compliments paid to the great Alfred Molina for his supporting role, have made me impatient to see Scherfig’s new film. The fact that it’s about a teenage girl from suburban London being baited by an older man (Peter Sarsgaard) into a wild new life on the promise that he’ll give her a C.S. Lewis sightseeing tour of Oxford makes it seem that much more intriguing."

Plenty of critics are dismissive of A SERIOUS MAN, but it seems to me most Coen brothers flicks get chilly receptions, then grow on us. And many of my Soul Food-ish movie pals hail this Job story set in Midwestern Jewish subculture, c. 1967.

Soul Foodies are often U2 fans (you should have seen my facebook news feed a week ago!): note the daily 2:30 Denman matinees of IT MIGHT GET LOUD, a guitar rock-doc featuring The Edge.

Also at the Denman for the time being, JULIE & JULIA (one of my '09 faves) 4pm daily, and 500 DAYS OF SUMMER (which I liked a lot) 7:00 nightly. J&J also a double feature at the Hollywood with the intriguing DISTRICT 9 Tue/Wed, the latter with a couple shows daily at Granville 7.