Saturday, November 03, 2012

nov 12 | big easy express | mumford & sons

Lots of Soul Food in Mumford & Sons. 
Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine
Together we can see what we will find...
Cause you told me that I would find a hole
Within the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal...
It seems that all my bridges have been burnt
But you say that's exactly how this grace thing works
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with the restart
Here's a movie they're in.

VanCity Theatre
Mon Nov 12, 8:50pm
(2012, USA, Emmett Malloy) 67 min

3 bands, 6 cities, 1 train, and thousands of miles of track… the Big Easy Express documents a cinematic musical journey. Directed by renowned filmmaker Emmett Malloy (The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights) this new film captures indie folk heroes Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Tennessee’s Old Crow Medicine Show, and Britain’s acclaimed Mumford & Sons, as they embark on a beautiful vintage train in California, setting out for New Orleans, Louisiana on a “tour of dreams”. The resulting film from this journey is nothing short of magical. “An infectiously joyful account of a whistle-stop tour…” Variety “Full of warmth, good music and good vibes that will make you feel like a part of the party while sad that you missed it.” MTV News "Scintilating." Hollywood Reporter

Thursday, November 01, 2012

the wrong man | richard brody

Richard Brody:
"In some ways, the Hitchcock film for people who don’t like Hitchcock films.
The Kafkaesque nightmare of a man who has done nothing wrong, and yet who finds himself caught in a seemingly inextricable web of trouble.
For all of its meticulous practicality, the ultimate subject of the film is metaphysical. Fate, and even God, seem to have conspired against this man. He may be innocent of the crimes of which he is accused, but he's certainly guilty of something, and he becomes aware of it very quickly. Retracing his steps in the attempt to find an alibi forces him to look at his life with an exceptional care, and find all of his flaws exposed.
In the scene where he's taken to the station house and fingerprinted, the ink on his fingers looks to an innocent man like the presence of the mark of Cain."

 excerpted from Richard Brody's New Yorker piece on The Wrong Man (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

viff | soul food options

Lots of nuns and priests and contemptible Evangelicals, but maybe not too much Soul Food among the Religion, Spirituality & Myth selections in this year's VIFF online program guide. I've flagged...

Virgin Tales - "Supplies Evangelical Christians with just enough rope with which to hang themselves..."

Apparition - "About nuns in a cloister convent. We explore this closed world, riven by manias and secrets... Less interested in questions of faith than in the issue of good governance."

Beyond The Hills - "Alina comes apart at the psychological seams, leaving the monastery’s authoritarian priest convinced that she’s possessed..."

Actually, the last of those may go beyond the obligatory Bad Priest angle: "What is remarkable about Beyond the Hills and the unexpected interrogations it awakens is the lingering sense of doubt it leaves you with.  Not merely as to the virtues of organized religion - that would be too simple - but just as much the facile condemnation of it..." (Film Comment)

And while there's not a lot to go on, these two at least catch my curiosity...

Jesus Hospital - "about a woman torn between her comatose mother, her alienated family and her secretive religious beliefs."

Consuming Spirits - "Garrison Keillor-like radio broadcasts in the rundown community of Magguson... While these three central characters may be bound by tragedy, they also possess the capacity to grant one another absolution and release.... A transcendent closing chapter."

So far, though, none of the Soul Food buzz of many previous years - though the Vancouver premiere of Jason Goode's film Late is certainly cause for celebration among Soul Foodies. Other VIFFs have had two or three really exciting SF prospects - Son Of Man and The Mill & The Cross come to mind immediately - but nothing stands out so far in this year's line-up. That said, the most interesting films from a faith perspective often don't show up on the programmers' "Spirituality" list anyhow. A scan of Jewish Interest films may reveal more of interest, for example. But what's really needed is a film-by-film close reading of the full VIFF program. I'll let you know what I find. If you promise to return the favour.

Monday, September 24, 2012

viff | late | jason goode

There's a day this past spring that Jason Goode won't forget. He was at the Cannes Festival showing his latest film when he got word that he'd been nominated for a Jessie Richardson award for his first foray into stage directing, on DANNY & THE DEEP BLUE SEA at Pacific Theatre. The movie was the beautifully filmed, poetic short film LATE, part of Telefilm's "Perspective Canada" program promoting Canadian films at the prestigious international festival. 

Two strangers struggle for an honest connection in a chance, brief, encounter at a café. Screening as part of Heartbreak, a 75 minute program of short films that take a journey into the infinite — and intricate — depths of the human heart. Ben Cotton, Sarah Deakins, Lucia Frangione, Clint Bargen.

Oct 8 9:30pm | Empire Granville 2
Oct 9 4pm | Pacific Cinematheque

DIRECTOR: Jason Goode
EXEC PRODS Rosie Perera, Jeff Benna, Nick Brampton, Chris Hansen
PROD Dylan Jenkinson
SCR Sarah Deakins
CAM Chris Dalton
ED Greg Ng
Hope of Glory Pictures

Thursday, September 20, 2012

books | the ethical vision of clint eastwood

This just in from IMAGE Update 

Though he may be controversial as a political personality, there is no doubt that Clint Eastwood is a film icon: a winner of five Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, and numerous other accolades for his work as an actor, director, producer, and composer. Yet few critics have ventured to consider Eastwood's philosophical, ethical, and artistic agenda the way film scholar Sara Anson Vaux has in The Ethical Vision of Clint Eastwood.

Bridging popular film and theology, Vaux traces Eastwood's career from Spaghetti Westerns and Dirty Harry-style shoot-em-ups to more recent films such as Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, and Invictus. "Seen along a forty-year continuum," Vaux writes, "Eastwood's movies reveal stages in an unfolding moral ontology—a sense of being in the world. They become more sophisticated and nuanced in tone and narrative exploration even if the basic motifs—justice, confession, war and peace, the gathering, and the search for a perfect world—remain the same throughout his career."

Vaux is also quick to refuse the temptation of Christian scholars (or any scholars of a particular camp) to dig through art for validation—for "endorsements of a particular religious system." The film analysis in her book is far from it. In four sections (Westerns, mysteries, war movies, and healing narratives), Vaux peels back the surface of Eastwood's films so the reader can see all the humming parts within: reccurring themes, camera techniques, Hollywood tricks and archetypes, critical reception, the whole shebang—and adds it all up to tell the story of the moral worldview that Eastwood has brought into the living rooms of millions of moviegoers.

This is a book for film critics and movie lovers, Clint Eastwood buffs and academics alike—a film-writing delight.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

viff | beyond the hills

Could so easily be yet another "Catholic = bad" film. But the Film Comment comment suggests it's maybe more nuanced than that. Here's hoping.

Beyond the Hills
(După dealuri)
(Romania, France, Belgium, 2012, 152 mins, DCP)

Oct 09 10:30 am Granville 2
Oct 11 09:30 pm Granville 7

A nun is torn between her devotion to god and her loyalty to a lifelong companion in Cristian Mungiu’s riveting follow-up to 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days. "The increments with which the screws of tragedy turn are finely calibrated."--Sight & Sound. Winner, Best Actress (shared by leads Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur), Best Screenplay, Cannes 2012.

After his race-against-the-calendar abortion thriller 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu employs a slow-burning brand of suspense in this riveting account of a nun torn between her devotion to god and her loyalty to a lifelong companion. Having found her calling at a remote Romanian monastery, Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) is taken aback by the arrival of Alina (Cristina Flutur), who insists that they flee to Germany together. When the devout nun demurs, Alina comes apart at the psychological seams, leaving the monastery’s authoritarian priest (Valeriu Andriuta) convinced that she’s possessed. As Aline’s rescue attempt cedes to the priest’s relentless efforts to save her soul, Mungiu’s technical brilliance transforms Beyond the Hills into an equally captivating and disconcerting experience. His masterful long takes not only draw us deeper into the women’s trials, they also leave us with no avenue of escape from the mounting tension of his latest provocative tragedy.

"A quintessentially praiseworthy festival film: weighty in intent, unfamiliar enough in setting, rigorously masterful in execution... But what is remarkable about Beyond the Hills and the unexpected interrogations it awakens is the lingering sense of doubt it leaves you with. Not merely as to the virtues of organized religion -- that would be too simple -- but just as much the facile condemnation of it... It is a work that forces you into the not entirely pleasant yet oddly rewarding territory of moral uncertainty."--Joumane Chahine, Film Comment

viff | virgin tales

The "just enough rope to hang themselves" inclines one to think this won't be exactly the "objective and measured examination" of the subject the blurb-writer advertises. But hey...

Virgin Tales
(France, Germany, Switzerland, 2012, 87 mins, HDcam)

Oct 04 06:00 pm Empire Granville 1
Oct 07 12:15 pm Empire Granville 5
Oct 12 03:15 pm Empire Granville 1

What little girl doesn’t grow up dreaming of attending a Purity Ball: a fairy-tale celebration that sees her don an immaculate gown, hang from her father’s arm and vow absolute celibacy until marriage? Created by Randy and Lisa Wilson in 1998, these elaborate (and unnerving) father-daughter formal events are now staged in 48 US states, with one-in-eight American girls taking a purity oath.

Visiting the Wilsons over the course of two years, documentarian Mirjam von Arx reveals them to be devotees of rituals: be it Randy’s verbose blessings, son Logan’s sword-and-scripture "manhood ceremony" or daughter Jordyn’s increasingly despondent video diaries. As her affirmations about "saying no for the greater yes" cede from righteous to rote, Jordyn emerges as a tragic figure. Ultimately, this objective and measured examination of the virtues of abstinence supplies Evangelical Christians with just enough rope with which to hang themselves...

"Von Arx manages to capture moments of pure gold--manufactured "heartfelt" confessions of familial love whose lack of spontaneity is called out by a particularly sassy daughter, or the revelation from the twenty-something daughter (who’s desperately still waiting for her husband to appear) that she didn’t go to college because it would be a "waste of money" since she just wants to be a wife and mother. If it wasn’t so infuriatingly real, the film would make for great comedy."--Basil Tsiokos, Indiewire

viff | apparition

Seems likely not to be Soul Food ("Sandoval is less interested in questions of faith than in the issue of good governance" - ooh, a civics lesson!), but one never knows...

(Philippines, 2012, 87 mins, Betacam SP)

Oct 09 05:00 pm Vancity Theatre
Oct 11 06:45 pm Pacific Cinematheque

A startling left-turn after Senorita (VIFF 11), Vincent Sandoval’s new film is about nuns in a cloister convent, like Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus and Jacques Rivette’s La religieuse. It opens with a quote from Gramsci: “The old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appears.” We’re in 1971, and the largest morbid symptom around is Ferdinand Marcos’s play for greater political power, which occurs off-screen. But little of the outside world impinges on Adoration, a convent set in secluded woods outside Manila, which sees itself as a physical and spiritual sanctuary. We explore this closed world, riven by manias and secrets, through the eyes of Sister Lourdes, a newly arrived novice. She has hardly settled in before she learns that her activist brother is missing, presumed arrested... She finds ways to venture out to Manila, where a terrible fate awaits her.

Apparition obviously reflects the fact that the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic nation, thanks to its years as a Spanish colony, but Sandoval is less interested in questions of faith than in the issue of good governance. Adoration’s Mother Superior, Ruth, knows much more about what’s going on in the outside world than she lets on. Is she a kind of Marcos, imposing her own kind of martial law?

— Tony Rayns

viff | jesus hospital

Jesus Hospital
(South Korea, 2012, 91 mins, HDCAM)

Oct 03 09:30 pm Granville 1
Oct 05 03:30 pm Pacific Cinematheque

Remember Whang Jungmin, the doting girlfriend in Save the Green Planet? She’s equally great in this heartbreaker, co-directed by woman-and-man team Shin A-go and Lee Sangcheol, about a woman torn between her comatose mother, her alienated family and her secretive religious beliefs. Whang plays Hyunsoon, a milk-delivery woman who masks her own vulnerability behind bull-in-a-china-shop aggression. Her "issues" come to the surface when her brother and sister decide that they can no longer afford hospital bills--and authorize the doctors to withdraw life-support from their mother. Hyunsoon is outraged, and convinced that their mother can yet revive... The film tangles together familial, religious and moral questions in a satisfyingly complex knot. It’s engrossing, very well acted and as punchy as a heavyweight title bout. — Tony Rayns

viff | consuming spirits

It's not immediately apparent why this film is listed among the festival's Religion, Spirituality & Myth heading, but...  I'm intrigued.

Consuming Spirits
(USA, 2012, 130 mins, HDCAM)

Oct 05 08:30 pm Granville 5
Oct 07 05:00 pm Granville 6
Oct 10 09:15 pm Pacific Cinematheque

In this spiralling animated tale, the seemingly unrelated misadventures of three down-at-heel Rust Belt grotesques gradually entangle in a single affecting narrative. Twisting its way to a transcendent closing chapter, Consuming Spirits immerses viewers in an extraordinary viewing experience. Fifteen years in the making, Chris Sullivan’s bittersweet, handcrafted labour of love is truly something to behold.

During his ubiquitous Garrison Keillor-like radio broadcasts in the rundown community of Magguson, Earl Gray’s folksy musings routinely segue into bizarre digressions, capably setting the film’s unhinged tone. However, heed Gray when he advises, "Though I ramble… All that I say is vital." As we’re introduced to lonely Gentian Violet and emotionally damaged Victor Blue--this drama’s other key players--shards of narrative and slivers of flashbacks are assembled into a cracked-mirror reflection of small-town America. And while these three may be bound by tragedy, they also possess the capacity to grant one another absolution and release.

"The stand-out aspect of Chris Sullivan’s [film] is its insanely meticulous construction... The film seamlessly combines cutout animation, pencil drawing, collage, and stop-motion animation to create the haunting atmosphere of a self-contained world... What starts off as a collage of broken characters in perfect detail evolves into a carefully woven narrative, as delicately assembled as the pinned puppet characters. "--Priscilla Frank, Huffington Post

Monday, September 17, 2012

red hook summer

"Spike Lee’s new Brooklyn-set film, “Red Hook Summer,” which is about a boy from Atlanta who spends the hot months with his grandfather, is a clear failure, yet Lee is getting at things that mystify him. He celebrates the intense joy that religion brings to the community—and seems to be asking at the same time whether repeated, emotionally overwhelming professions of faith don’t reconcile people to stasis and failure. It’s a bitter question, but not many people working in movies would have the courage even to pose it."  new yorker

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

sep 19 | william kurelek | the maze | cinematheque

William Kurelek was a Canadian painter whose Christian faith survived severe childhood trauma and resulting mental illness. His Northern Nativity is a favourite of mine: the images can be seen in this YouTube video (though the music seems ill-suited to the spare images: I'd recommend turning off the volume).

William Kurelek’s The Maze
USA 1969/2011
Directors: Robert M Young, David Grubin [Re-imagined by Nick Young, Zack Young]
Colour, Blu-ray Disc. 60 mins.

Pacific Cinematheque
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 7:30pm

Canadian painter William Kurelek (1927-1977) may be best known for his beautiful illustrations of bucolic children’s classics (Who Has Seen the Wind?, A Prairie Boy’s Winter) and his landscapes of Ukrainian-Canadian prairie life, but it is his disturbing early work and difficult upbringing that is the subject of this intriguing documentary.

Born on a hardscrabble Alberta farm, the oldest of seven children of stern immigrant parents, the sensitive, artistic Kurelek was an outsider from an early age. Bullied at school and at home, especially by his fearsome father Dmytro, William left the farm as soon as he could. Settling in London in 1952, he sought help at the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital, an institution at the forefront of the art therapy movement. Kurelek was provided not only with treatment but space in which to paint. He created terrifying works with nightmarish and surreal imagery reminiscent of Bosch and Bruegel — including, in 1953, “The Maze,” a depiction of his tortured youth.

In 1969, the award-winning American filmmaker Robert M. Young co-directed a short documentary on Kurelek and “psychotic art.” Using original interviews, a new score, and modern digital animation techniques to give Kurelek’s paintings dimension and movement, filmmakers Nick and Zack Young have remastered and expanded their father’s original film into a comprehensive and insightful portrait of the artist as a young man.

PS Van Halen used the painting for the album cover on Fair Warning (1981). There's a good article on that cover here. From that article...

"The vividly brutal imagery contained in “The Maze” is remarkably different from the paintings sequel, entitled “Out Of The Maze”, painted after the artist’s recovery. This second painting reflects a pastoral countryside, as well as an artist no longer as deeply disturbed, with his wife and children enjoying a happy family picnic. However, all is not as idyllic as a first glance might suggest. An empty, open skull in the bottom left hand corner is a reminder of the psychological prison from which the artist has escaped and the impending storm on the far right horizon hints at Kurelek’s premonition that the world was heading for a nuclear holocaust."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

viff 2012 | beyond the hills

from Cannes...

(După dealuri)

Romania/France/Belgium | Dir: Cristian Mungiu

A nun is torn between her devotion to god and her loyalty to a lifelong companion in Cristian Mungiu’s riveting follow-up to 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days. "The increments with which the screws of tragedy turn are finely calibrated."—Sight & Sound.

Winner, Best Actress (shared by leads Cosmina Stratan & Cristina Flutur), Best Screenplay, Cannes 2012.


Sept. 1 - Sneak Preview Guides Hit The Street
Sept. 10 - VIFF Advance Box Office Opens
Sept. 19 - VIFF Official Program Catalogue On Sale
Sept. 26 - VIFF Film + TV Forum Starts
Sept. 27 - VIFF Opens

Friday, August 17, 2012

living pictures passion play

Lancashire workers enjoy the ‘wakes week’ holiday in this early film from travelling filmmakers Mitchell & Kenyon.

This short film was screened up to 20 times a day in August 1901 to entertain the poorer children of Salford. The wakes week was an industrial holiday introduced in the 19th century, involving the annual closure of the workplace to allow for maintenance and leisure time for the workers. This unpaid seven–day holiday for the workers of Lancashire’s textile factories (the women workers are easily recognisable by their shawls) became a social custom. Leisure industries developed due to this increase in recreational time. Travelling fairs would visit during the wakes week to entertain the holidaymakers.

Sight & Sound

Thursday, August 16, 2012

aug 17 + 18 | the mill & the cross | vancity

extraordinary soul food. previous post from viff 2011.


vancity  aug 17 8:45 | aug 18 6:45

Poland, 2011, 35mm, 92 min.
Directed by: Lech Majewski
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Charlotte Rampling, Michael York

With creative verve, historical knowledge and aesthetic and political insight Polish artist Lech Majewski brings Pieter Bruegel’s 1564 frieze, The Way to Calvary to life. Bruegel’s canvas transports Christ’s passion to rustic Flanders. It teems with the drama of everyday life. Using computer-generated blue-screen compositing, a massive backdrop painted by Majewski himself, and marshalling dozens of actors, animals and extras, the filmmaker explores this fixed moment inside and out. Among other things, the film is a dazzling tribute to the art of painting and a deft demonstration of the camera’s capacity for time-travel.

“Transfixing… an inspiring, alluring meditation about imagery and storytelling, the common coin of history, religion and art.” —Daniel M Gold, The New York Times

“Here is a film before which words fall silent… If you see no more than the opening shots you will never forget them… A film of great beauty and attention, and watching it is a form of meditation.” **** —Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“A feat of artistry worthy of its source. Majewski takes us deep inside the Flemish’s master’s beautiful nightmare… A dazzling master class in visual composition… Coalesces into a surprisingly moving finale. After toil and terror, there can still be joy.” **** —Erik Hynes, Time Out New York

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

sight & sound | 2012 poll results

The top fifty, selected by 846 critics, academics, programmers and distributors. All the details on the once-a-decade poll can be found at the Sight & Sound website.

The big news: Citizen Kane drops from the Number One position for the first time since the inaugural 1952 poll, where the Orson Welles film wasn't among the top ten. Not a good day for Welles, with Touch Of Evil (formerly #15), The Magnificent Ambersons and The Third Man (formerly tied at #35) dropping right off the charts.

The last ten years have also been cruel to Ingmar Bergman. While Persona joins the party at #17, Wild Strawberries (#27 in 2002), and Fanny and Alexander and The Seventh Seal (previously tied at #35) have been frozen out completely. ("Fanny and Alexander and The Seventh Seal" - sounds like an adventure story for kids).

And these are the films that disappeared.

For the time being, only the top ten films of the Directors' poll are available. Again, Kane falls. The Godfather holds on better than in the Critics' poll. In general, the American auteurs of the seventies do well with this crowd: though Raging Bull dropped from the top ten, Taxi Driver and Apocalypse Now were added.

More to come;
Aug 3/4: August issue of Sight & Sound released in UK: complete list of 100 films
Aug 7: August issue available as digital download (Apple Newsstand)
Aug 15: complete critics’ poll of 846 entries in interactive form on S&S website
Aug 22: complete interactive directors’ poll online (358 entries) added

sight & sound | 2002 poll results

In about 15 minutes, Sight & Sound magazine will begin announcing the results of their once-a-decade poll of critics and directors - certainly the most significant of the cinephile lists (as opposed to more populist tallies such as IMDb).

 Advance word is that Citizen Kane has been dislodged from the top slot on one of the two lists - first time since the inaugural poll in 1952, where Kane didn't make the Top Ten.

Also worth keeping an eye on are the Godfather films: while "The Godfather and The Godfather II" placed high on both critics' and directors' polls, landing at the number three spot overall, it's hard to know how those votes were tallied. Some critics voted for the two films as a unit, others voted separately for the two films, and some voted for "The Godfather Trilogy." In 2012, the rules have been clarified: separate voting for each. Another factor is that the field of "voters" was expanded significantly this year, with 1000 critics invited to submit their lists, including many online critics not previously polled. Which bodes well for The Godfather. (And Star Wars...)

 Here's a rundown of how the films fared in the last poll (2002). I've combined the votes from critics and directors to see how the list would look without that distinction: the red and blue columns provide the placements on the two separate polls.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

higher ground | carolyn s. briggs

Higher Ground is a 2011 film that examines a woman's experiences in a slightly-post-Jesus-People church community through the seventies and into the eighties. Extremely accurately, and I feel sympathetically, observed - enough so that if you've fled that world, it will push a lot of buttons, and if you're still in that world, it will push a lot of buttons, and if you've never gone near that world, these folks will just look like loonies. I don't think any of those responses is really intended: like the book it comes from, it's a memoir, and simply aims to portray a series of experiences. Maybe I was the perfect audience member:  I only ever visited that world, and have never really stopped visiting, so it didn't rile me up - I mostly marvelled at how much they got right, and how little they condescended.  The Carolyn S. Briggs memoir was originally titled "This Dark World," which was changed to tie in with the release of the film - which is currently showing on Canadian Netflix. 

Do you have any regrets in writing This Dark World?

Sure. I wish I would have allowed for more time to pass, so that my perspective cleared a bit. I regret the book was edited in such a way that I appear to have wholly rejected my faith—which I have not ever been able to do. In writing memoir, one tells one’s story, obviously, but one also tells other people’s stories who may not want their stories told—especially from someone else’s perspective. I have wrestled with this reality and continue to as the film is released.

Where are you with your faith right now?

I could not live in a world without God. And this God is big enough to contain my doubts. Tobias Wolff says doubt is part of faith. Doubt and faith can co-exist; each informs the other. My faith infuses my doubt and my doubt infuses my faith. What else can I do but keep seeking God? Tolstoy advised a life of seeking God because that assures a life with God.

Do you consider yourself a Christian?

I understand that Christian hipsters are using the hyphenated word Christ-follower these days. I’m too old and not cool enough to be a hipster, but I love that idea. I am striving, pressing on, working out my salvation in fear and trembling. I can’t think of anyone or anything better to follow than Jesus Christ.

I titled the screenplay Higher Ground because I wanted to show Corrine as a character reaching for God, reaching for higher ground throughout her life. As Vera says in interviews, Corrine is not leaving her faith. She is leaving an impoverished faith.

from Carolyn S. Briggs' website

Friday, July 27, 2012

watching for... into the abyss

July 2012: currently showing on Canadian Netflix

Nine years after the murder of three people in Montgomery, Texas, in 2001, Werner Herzog patiently but persistently interviewed the convicted killers, as well as the victims' relatives, the chaplain who presides at the prison's executions, and a former executioner who has lost his taste for the work. As in Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," the crime itself is unimaginably stupid (two nineteen-year-old boys set out to steal a car and wound up committing the murders), and Herzog's attention moves to the pathology that produced them and the devastation left in the wake of the crime. It is yet another of Herzog's leaps into moral chaos, but there are elements of love and self-knowledge in the families of both victims and perpetrators that are extremely moving. You come out shaken by the fathomless destructiveness of idiocy and the healing powers of belief and remediation. The New Yorker, David Denby

Saturday, July 21, 2012

notes on margaret

The DVD is out, including two cuts. The one that was in theatres, of which the director approved, and a second cut by the director himself. Since the editing of the film was a big brouhaha, it adds interest to see what Lonergan himself would have done - or, in fact, has done - with the film.

It's well known that there's been endless offscreen drama with this one, leading up to production and particularly afterward. There's validity on both sides of the controversy: the studios may well have looked at a film that doesn't have a story-driven structure and wanted an edit that would pull the narrative to the fore - and who can blame them, they stood to lose millions - while the director stuck to his vision, of a different sort of film altogether. More like a novel (that's not written by Stephen King or John Grisham), with a story that meanders, takes time to simply investigate a life, spends time on scenes and events that don't add to the flow or build momentum, but are simply experiences the character has.

Ursula LeGuin proposed what she called the "carrier bag" approach to fiction, as opposed to more linear, story-driven narrative. More observational, less cause-and-effect. It's very common, as I mentioned, in literary novels. And that's how Margaret feels to me.

Lonergan is perfectly capable of the well-structured story. You Can Count On Me is terrific that way, while also being non-Hollywood, non-King/Gresham. It's just that Margaret is different.


Lots of fun actors: Mark Ruffalo (whose break was You Can Count On Me), Stephen Adly Giurgis (who wrote Jesus Hopped The A Train and The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot), Jean Reno, Matt Damon, Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller, no longer skipping class - as in Election), and of course Anna Paquin.

The Lear scene reminded me so much of Frederick Buechner's great high school English class scene in Open Heart (97-101). An important scene for Buechner: he includes the whole section in Telling The Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale (26-30). Far and away, two of Buechner's finest books.

I wonder how many films have names for titles - which aren't the name of a character in the film. Particularly effective here, and another of the touches that makes the film at least hover around the edges of Christian faith. As does You Can Count On Me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

the amazing spider-man | anthony lane

The first “Spider-Man” came out in 2002, followed by its obligatory sequels in 2004 and 2007. If you are a twenty-year-old male of unvarnished social aptitude, those movies will seem like much-loved classics that have eaten up half your lifetime. They beg to be interpreted anew, just as Shakespeare’s history plays should be freshly staged by every generation. For those of us who are lavishly cobwebbed with time, however, the notion of yet another Spider-Man saga, this soon, does seem hasty, and I wish that the good people – or, at any rate, the patent lawyers – at Marvel Comics could at least have taken the opportunity to elide the intensely annoying hypen in the title.

Peter Parker is played by Andrew Garfield, who was excellent as the hapless Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network, and he still bears the mournful traces of a smart kid who had to agree to an out-of-court settlement. If anything, he is rather too mournful. I know that years of sappy cinema have left me lachrymose-intolerant, but I really couldn’t understand why Garfield’s Bambi eyes kept glingint with a mist of tears. His closest friend is a skateboard, which I guess is a step up from Mark Zuckerberg.

The new batch of ten-year-olds, receiving their first hit of arachnomania – what will they have learned from this instructive film? One thing: if you want to grab a girl, as Peter does, you eject a strand of sticky stuff onto her from behind, then pull. Not true, kids. Don’t try it at home.

by Anthony Lane
excerpted from The New Yorker, July 9 & 16, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

jason goode + dylan jenkinson | cannes

DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA was the first full-length play Jason Goode had directed. So how's this - he received word of his Jessie Richardson Award nomination as outstanding director for that show while he was at the Cannes Festival in support of his latest short film! Not many days in a person's life are going to beat that.

Jason and his creative partner Dylan Jenkinson were profiled in Light Magazine: here are excerpts, with the full article at the web site.

Still from the film shoot of LATE
with Sarah Deakins and Ben Cotton

Christian Filmmakers showcase their talent
by Christina Crook

Dylan Jenkinson and Jason Goode’s short film Late was their ticket to the world’s most illustrious film festival – the Cannes International Film Festival. The two Christians from Vancouver made good on their supporters’ dollars and pounded the pavement, drumming up interest for their short film.

Each year the festival previews new films of all genres from around the world. Founded in 1946, it is the world’s most prestigious and publicized film festival and is an invitation-only event. So, when Telefilm Canada called to tell Jenkinson and Goode that their film was chosen for Telefilm’s ‘Canada’s Not Short on Talent’ showcase at Cannes, they leapt at the opportunity.

Late, written by Sarah Deakins, tells the story of two strangers who struggle for a completely honest connection in a brief, chance encounter at a café. Goode’s directing paired with Jenkinsons’ producing, created a stunning black and white film that showed to a sold-out crowd in France....

Jenkinson and Goode’s collaboration began three and a half years ago. “I remember talking to Jason about creating work that means something and I didn’t feel like I could do that by myself; I didn’t want to do it on my own,” confesses Jenkinson. The two traveled to a friend’s cottage on Galiano Island where they spent a day and night hearing each other’s stories. Goode had tried collaborations in the past but they didn’t seem to work, but in the case of Jenkinson, foremost a visually-driven producer, while Goode is more performance focused, they complemented one another well....

Jenkinson’s career in motion pictures began in 1998 with eight eclectic years in the physical production arena before transitioning into story development at Keystone Entertainment where he was the Development Executive for two very successful Disney DVD titles. In 2008 he attended the Producers’ Lab at the prestigious Canadian Film Centre.

Goode, whose directorial work includes the short films The Hitchhiker and the Leo-nominated The Planting, also recently directed John Patrick Shanley’s Danny and the Deep Blue Sea at Pacific Theatre in Vancouver. He holds a Masters degree from Regent College and is a dedicated stay-at-home father by day....

In the case of their feature film Numb, Goode came upon the script by award-winning screenwriter Andre Harden, a former artist-in-residence at L’Abri Canada, and resonated at once with it.

Numb tells the story of a debt-ridden couple who discover a map promising to lead them to a fortune of stolen gold. They partner with a pair of mysterious hitchhikers to enter the remote winter wilderness and recover the coins. What they soon discover is that the only thing more blinding than snow is greed.

“I love the quote from East of Eden that says: “There’s more beauty in the truth even if it is dreadful beauty. The storytellers at the city gate twist life so it looks sweet to the lazy and the stupid and the weak, and this only strengthens their infirmities and teaches nothing, cures nothing, nor does it let the heart soar,” says Goode.

Saturday, July 07, 2012


photo credit: Last Exit To Nowhere

transcendent darkness | scott derrickson | glen workshop jul 29 - aug 5

I've heard Scott talk about film - Taxi Driver, in fact - and that makes me think this would be terrific. Insightful, enthusiastic. He really loves movies - and he actually makes movies. 
Too, everybody I know who's gone to the Glen Workshops say it's a tremendous experience. (I'm talking myself into it!) What's great is that even for those of us who can't go, Mr D has provided a swell movie list, of films that may be included in the week. That REALLY is a good list...

Transcendent Darkness
Taxi Driver (1976, USA, Martin Scorsese)
Apocalypse Now (1979, USA, Francis Ford Coppola)
Blade Runner (1982, USA, Ridley Scott)
The Exorcist (1973, USA, William Friedkin)
The Shining (1980, UK/USA, Stanley Kubrick)
Breaking the Waves (1996, Denmark, Lars von Trier)
Seven (1995, USA, David Fincher)
Out of The Past (1947, USA, Jacques Tourneur)
Night of the Hunter (1955, USA, Charles Laughton)
Rashomon (1950, Japan, Akira Kurosawa)
Cries and Whispers (1972, Sweden, Ingmar Bergman)
Repulsion (1965, USA, Roman Polanski)
Films that have provided the most transcendent experiences
for Scott Derrickson as a Christian and as a filmmaker

Scott Derrickson, the director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose and the upcoming Sinister, is a connoisseur of the darker traditions of cinema and uniquely situated to speak to the significance of Christian relevance within them. His own spiritual journey—from fundamentalism through evangelicalism and beyond—has been accompanied by an artistic journey that he will share with the class. This seminar and its accompanying discussion will be unafraid to confront the grotesque in the context of grace, in the grand tradition of Flannery O’Connor. In the end, Derrickson believes, confronting the darkness in us is often not only a prelude to understanding grace, hope, and redemption, but can itself be an experience of the divine. The selection of films, from horror to film noir and more, will be a guided tour through the films that have provided the most transcendent experiences for Derrickson as a Christian and as a filmmaker.

Derrickson graduated from Biola University with a B.A. in Humanities with an emphasis in literature and philosophy, a B.A. in Communications with an emphasis in film, and a minor in theological studies. He earned his M.A. in film production from USC School of Cinematic Arts. Derrickson co-wrote and directed the film The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which was loosely based on a true story about Anneliese Michel, and won a Saturn Award for Best Horror Film and a place on the Chicago Film Critics Association list of the Top 100 Scariest Films Ever Made. Derrickson also directed The Day the Earth Stood Still starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly, written by David Scarpa. Derrickson is currently attached to write and/or direct several films, including an adaptation of Dan Simmons' Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, a remake of the Danish thriller The Substitute (produced by Sam Raimi), a supernatural suspense thriller called The Living, and an action movie about the biblical Goliath. Derrickson recently agreed to team with producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Insidious) to direct Sinister, a mystery-horror crime film starring Ethan Hawke. He is also currently working on Two Eyes Staring, a horror film starring Charlize Theron, and writing the TV pilot Thunderstruck for AMC, which is based on the Hugo and Nebula award winning short story Hell is the Absence of God.

Taxi Driver art print by Joe Taylor

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Yorker | career

"And they said my career was over after 'The Godfather.'"

Brad Stratton, Franklin, Wis.
The New Yorker, June 4 & 11, 2011

Friday, June 08, 2012

moonrise kingdom

Nothing particularly Soul Foodish about this one. But I'm in love.
After the screening, I asked Carole if she liked it. "Yes. But not as much as you did. Nobody in the theatre liked it as much as you did." My favourite Wes Anderson yet. The second of my true favourite films in 2013.

sight & sound & tree of life

Note from my movie pal Peter

Not sure whether you're that into the deca-annual Sight & Sound poll. (I certainly get excited about it, especially the 2002 version with its online database.)

For what it's worth on the soul food front, though, I've read two voters for this year's poll (results forthcoming in August, I believe) who have divulged their lists: Roger Ebert and Peter Howell. They both voted for Tree of Life.

It's exceedingly unusual for a newish movie to crack the heights of the consensus, (it's a regular beef people have with the survey that nothing new seems to score high these days), let alone a movie released the year before. And it's very unlikely that Tree of Life is going to do so. But, based on the two lists I've seen, it's already two-for-two! Interesting.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

anthony lane on the avengers

The first scene is set in an undesignated patch of outer space, where some masked moaner yaks on in a rich and threatening baritone. I couldn't understand a word until he asked, 'The humans - what can they do but burn?' If he is referring to our cooking skills, this is grossly unfair, for we can also poach, broil, gently simmer, and steam en papillote. . . .

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is a tall, well-spoken megalomaniac who bears a magic spear, although, for anyone who enjoyed Hiddleston's spry and convincing turn in Midnight In Paris, the world would appear to be at the mercy of F. Scott Fitzgerald with a monkey wrench.

One of the failings of Marvel - as of other franchises, like the Superman series - is the vulgarity that comes of thinking big. As a rule, be wary of any guy who dwells upon the fate of mankind, unless he can prove that he was born in Bethlehem. . . . I remember the joy of reading Dvid Thomson's entry on Howard Hawks, in A Biographical Dictionary of Film; the principle underlying Hawks's work, Thomson argued, was that 'Men are more expressive rolling a cigarette than saving the world.' All movies thrive on the rustle of private detail - on pleasures and pains that last as long as a smoke - and there has been nothing more peculiar, in recent years, than watching one Marvel epic after the next, then sifting through the rubble of gigantism in search of dramatic life. . . .

Come the climax, Thor tosses his mallet, Iron Man hurls energy pulses from his palms, while Captain America waves his slightly underwhelming shield, and, not to be left out, Black Widow repels invading aliens through the sheer force of her corsetry. . . .

The New Yorker, May 14, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

damsels in distress

Big Whit Stillman fan. So how is it that I completely missed DAMSELS IN DISTRESS when it played Vancouver, after so long a wait since THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO? And not a video store or second run movie house in sight. Alas. It's a fallen world.

"It may be that, as a follower of Whit Stillman, you would like your man to branch out a little, and to direct a 3-D spectacular about ectoplasmic aliens waging nuclear vendettas against the U.S. Marine Corps on the naked streets of Detroit. If so, you must wait a little longer. His new film, like its predecessors, contents itself with a closed and rarefied world - in this case, the campus of Seven Oaks college, home to a bunch of floral friends. There is Violet, heather, Rose, and Lily, and they look down with fond despair on the rest of mankind, especially the male of the species. Not much happens: lovers are acquired and dropped, aromatic soaps are sniffed, and students give voice to complete sentences of a kind scarcely heard in modern cinema. Stillman has not lost the power to bewitch; in the confident reach of his artifice, in the unembarrassed hues of his decor, and in his willingness to enroll his dweebish characters in old-style song and dance, he has delivered his most ludic and peculiar project to date." The New Yorker

ludic | playful in an aimless way: the ludic behavior of kittens 
(I didn't know either)

Friday, May 18, 2012

july 10 | margaret on dvd

In a year when I've seen so few movies, it may be no great distinction that MARGARET is far and away my favourite. But I suspect that in any movie-going year, it would still have that distinction. In spite of, and more often because of, its idiosyncratic McKee-defying structure, I was smitten with this film. I was taking a fiction course with Loren Wilkinson, and thinking about how a novel feels and works, with its "carrier bag" full of observations, diversions, side events and irrelevancies, compared to the concision and plot-centredness of plays and movies. And it struck me that MARGARET allowed itself to wander, to include things that had no real plot function, but which served to build out the world of the character, to make a wider sense of the life she was living in, with all the quotidian detail and non-consequential events that fill any real life. There was a loose-limbed quality to the film I found beguiling and enveloping. I lost myself in its expansiveness, I moved in the way you move into a new home or a neighbourhood, the way you can sometimes move into a novel.

So I rejoice find MARGARET coming to a DVD player near me. And, like Brody, I rejoice that there's an even bigger world to settle into this time around.

Richard Brody, The Front Row
(film blog of The New Yorker), May 15 2012

It’s great news that Kenneth Lonergan’s “Margaret” will be coming to DVD (and Blu-ray) on July 10th (at first available solely from Amazon), and that, in addition to the two-and-a-half-hour version of the film that was released theatrically last fall, the set will feature a three-hour-and-six-minute extended cut by the director, which will give us more of “Margaret” to love. I devoured the released version like cake, despite having the sense that some subplots that crop up toward the end of the film went by rather fast, offering less of a look at the protagonist Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin) in her intimate moments and fewer of the lyrical urban-landscape grace notes that adorn the rest of the film.

Unless one has just returned from a year in Antarctica, it’s impossible to have avoided reports about the long script that Lonergan wrote, the long cut that existed at some point, the conflicts that arose in the course of editing, and the delayed and diffident release. None of this matters to understanding the great and distinctive beauty of the film, or to its ascension to its legitimate place in the history of cinema (though of course it matters practically and, doubtless, emotionally, to Lonergan and his cast and crew, whose just recognition for making this masterwork has come unduly late), but it sets the imagination ranging in aesthetic lust for what else might be there.

I wanted “Margaret” to last longer; I simply wanted more. Yet strange things do happen when alternate versions of a movie appears. I saw Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America” the weekend it was released, in 1984—in a two-and-a-quarter-hour version, which proceeded chronologically, starting with its characters’ childhood, and which, as a result, offered one of the great coups de cinema of my experience: the decades-long leap that reveals the character called Noodles as an old man. Little did I know that Leone had shown it at the Cannes Film Festival several weeks earlier in a nearly four-hour cut that featured an intricate flashback structure. And when, several years later, I finally got to see, at MOMA, that longer version, I was thrilled by its fullness and yet dismayed that the flashbacks eliminated the late-in-the-movie leap. (Leone’s original version was even longer—two hundred and sixty-nine minutes—and this version will be premièred at this year’s Cannes festival, which opens tomorrow.)

Every version has its delights and its significance. The haste that marks the latter part of “Margaret” also conveys a sense of implacability, a feeling of experience accelerating under pressure. (And, though I’d be surprised if there should turn out to be a drastic difference in structure between the released version and the extended one, surprises are exactly what to expect from artists of Lonergan’s calibre. I interviewed him about the film earlier this year; his remarks are full of fascinating surprises.) There’s nothing to match the exhilaration of a first discovery and the affection that attaches to a film as first seen (though the story behind the released version of Jean Vigo’s “L’Atalante“—which, for its original release, was altered even unto its very title—is cautionary), yet I fully expect to revel in the longer cut of the film and to view, repeatedly, new material with gratitude and with love. Not only is “Margaret” finally coming to DVD, but thirty-six more minutes of it are en route; it’s a joy to anticipate and to announce.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

we have a pope

If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing twice.  Check out Saving Grace - not the dope-growing Saving Grace from 2000, and not the angel-redeems-jaded-cop Saving Grace TV series (2000-2010), but rather the Pope-on-the-lam Tom Conti vehicle from 1985.

We Have a Pope
(2012, Italy, Nanni Moretti)

"A new man is elected to the throne of St. Peter, but Cardinal Melville (Michel Piccoli) was hardly the expected choice, nor, it appears, does he want the job. On the contrary, he is in anguish, refusing to greet the faithful from the balcony, and thrown into a befuddled semi-silence. A psychoanalyst — played by the movie’s director, Nanni Moretti — is brought in to help the stricken Pope, although the film fights shy of that promising setup. Instead, the patient escapes, wandering Rome unrecognized, and falls in with a troupe of actors who are presenting a production of Chekhov—the implication being that performance itself can have a therapeutic effect. (On the other hand, it is precisely the prospect of a constant public role that oppresses the Holy Father.) Meanwhile, the shrink remains in the Vatican, coaching the Cardinals to play basketball; it’s too slight and charming a conceit to carry much force in the story, and some Moretti fans will be taken aback by the mildness of the whole enterprise. Yet the drama is framed with great elegance, and, in the pathos of Piccoli—an old man as harried as a child—we feel how weighty and stifling the robes of state must be. In Italian." Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

Richard Brody, also writing for The New Yorker, doesn't see the film as "mild" at all...

"The lag time in the distribution of foreign (and, for that matter, American independent) films is a matter of concern — as with Nanni Moretti’s We Have a Pope, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival last May, and is finally opening today [Apr 6] in New York and Los Angeles (and will be available next Wednesday [Apr 12] on nationwide video-on-demand). ... Melville escapes from the enclave and wanders through Rome. What he discovers is nothing special — a world full of ordinary people doing ordinary but noteworthy things. Beneath its silken cloak, Moretti’s film is a wildly anarchic, furiously radical criticism of the Catholic Church. There’s no criticism of any particular church doctrine or mandate; rather, Moretti takes on the church as an institution, suggesting that it’s grotesquely hypocritical, even a betrayal of Christian faith, to run a church without being in the habit walking in the street and getting dog shit on your shoes. He challenges the notion of a church that is run from a palace and that functions like a regressive corporation that, with its arcane and rigid laws, does everything possible to keep its highest officials insulated from the world to which they presume to minister." Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Monday, May 07, 2012

paul rudnick | the ultimate french film

"French culture remains unmatched. Our films include rollicking farces, searing documentaries, and quietly explosive investigations of family life. In these films, to avoid vulgarity, nothing happens, and none of the actors' faces ever move. French filmmaking has recently reached a peak with the almost entirely silent Oscar-winning movie The Artist. True cineastes say that the ultimate French film will be a still photograph of a dead mime."

from Vive La France
by Paul Rudnick
The New Yorker, March 26, 2012

Saturday, May 05, 2012

may 10 | an encounter with simone weil

One soul foodie spotted this flick among the multitudinous doxa festival offerings.

An Encounter with Simone Weil
Julia Haslett, USA, 2010, 85 mins
Thursday May 10 | 3:45 PM | Pacific Cinémathèque
doxa web page

"After losing her father to suicide when she was 17 and subsequently witnessing her brother’s depression, filmmaker Julia Haslett develops a curiosity for French writer Simone Weil (1909 – 1943). Weil’s cause of death at age 34, listed as self-imposed starvation at the height of World War II, remains as controversial as her political writings today. Haslett is struck by this line written by Weil: “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” It resonates deeply with her and becomes a catalyst for her actions. With 24-hour news reporting on the worsening political and economic conditions of millions around the world Haslett’s curiosity soon turns into a life-changing obsession. She journeys out to the places that Weil lived and worked, searches out key people in Weil’s life and even conjures up an actress to play Weil’s alter ego. Haslett pieces together a picture of who Weil was and the reasons that led to Weil’s loss of faith in revolutionary politics and, ultimately, in life itself. As her brother’s depression worsens, Haslett’s search becomes even more urgent. This critically acclaimed film melds contemporary and historical references, the personal and the universal, into an astonishing story about what it means to bear witness to suffering, both near and far." smiley films

"An Encounter with Simone Weil tells the story of French philosopher, activist, and mystic, Simone Weil (1909-1943) -- a woman Albert Camus described as "the only great spirit of our time." On her quest to understand Simone Weil, filmmaker Julia Haslett confronts profound questions of moral responsibility both within her own family and the larger world. From the battlefields of the Spanish Civil War to anti-war protests in Washington DC, from intimate exchanges between the filmmaker and her older brother, who struggles with mental illness, to captivating interviews with people who knew Simone Weil, the film takes us on an unforgettable journey into the heart of what it means to be a compassionate human being."

Weil's wikipedia entry provides a sense of her spiritual life:
"Weil was born into a secular household and raised in "complete agnosticism". As a teenager she considered the existence of God for herself and decided nothing could be known either way. In her Spiritual Autobiography however Weil records that she always had a Christian outlook, taking to heart the idea of loving one's neighbour from her earliest childhood. Weil became attracted to the Christian faith from 1935, the first of three pivotal experiences for her being when she was moved by the beauty of villagers singing hymns during an outdoor service that she stumbled across during a holiday to Portugal.

While in Assisi in the spring of 1937, she experienced a religious ecstasy in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli—the same church in which Saint Francis of Assisi had prayed. She was led to pray for the first time in her life as Cunningham (2004: p. 118) relates: "Below the town is the beautiful church and convent of San Damiano where Saint Clare once lived. Near that spot is the place purported to be where Saint Francis composed the larger part of his Canticle of Brother Sun. Below the town in the valley is the ugliest church in the entire environs: the massive baroque basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels, finished in the seventeenth century and rebuilt in the nineteenth century, which houses a rare treasure: a tiny Romanesque chapel that stood in the days of Saint Francis—the Little Portion where he would gather his brethren. It was in that tiny chapel that the great mystic Simone Weil first felt compelled to kneel down and pray."
She had another, more powerful, revelation a year later while reciting George Herbert's poem Love III, after which "Christ himself came down and took possession of me" and, from 1938 on, her writings became more mystical and spiritual, while retaining their focus on social and political issues. She was attracted to Roman Catholicism, but declined to be baptized; preferring to remain outside due to "the love of those things that are outside Christianity". During World War II, she lived for a time in Marseille, receiving spiritual direction from a Dominican friar. Around this time she met the French Catholic author Gustave Thibon, who later edited some of her work.
In 1942, she travelled to the United States with her family. Weil lived briefly in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. She is remembered to have attended daily Mass at Corpus Christi Church there, where the Columbia student and future Trappist monk Thomas Merton was later to be received into the Roman Catholic Church. Long believed not to have sought baptism, there is now evidence, including a claim from a priest who knew her, that she was baptized shortly before her death.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

zona | stalker

Zona, by Geoff Dyer (Pantheon). In Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 film "Zona" (better known in English as "Stalker"), an outlaw-cum-shaman known as Stalker escorts two men, named Writer and Professor, through an uncanny, Chernobyl-like Aone in order to reach The Room, where innermost wishes are supposedly granted. Dyer's characteristic blend of fitful but astute scholarship, witty irreverence, and autobiographical digression (in footnotes that creep up the page) is here devoted to "summarizing the action of a film almost devoid of action." Cavorting from Wordsworth to "Where Eagles Dare," Dyer enacts in his light-footed prose what he considers to be "the most distinctive feature of Tarkovsky's art: the sense of beauty as force." Long asides on his own as yet unfulfilled wishes (for a threesome, for more literary accolades) will perhaps test the indulgence of even loyal fans."

The New Yorker, April 30, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Missed this when it played the Fifth Avenue last week. Hoping it comes back to International Village.

"Joseph is an unemployed widower with a drinking problem, a man crippled by his own volatile temperament and furious anger. Hannah is a Christian charity shop worker, a respectable woman who seems wholesome and happy...."

Premiered at the 2011 Sundance International Film Festival, winning the World Cinema award for Directing, and Special Jury Prizes for the breakout performances of Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman.
"This film begins with one of the most viciously gut wrenching 'scar openers' in recent memory. Joseph (Peter Mullan) is a man beset with a furious temper and upon leaving the bookies in an apparent fit of blind rage, he delivers a brutal and what turns out to be fatal, kick to the ribs of his own poor barking dog. It's a brave directorial decision for Considine, risking the alienation of the audience to introduce his main character in this manner, revealing him as a nasty and violent drunkard who deserves no sympathy. From there, this devastating film doesn't ever really become anything close to an easy watch, but it remains an immensely captivating one..." Bonjour Tristesse
...thanks for the tip, Steph

Friday, March 02, 2012

mar 4/7/12 | george washington

I didn't see a ton of films last year. My hands-down favourite was GEORGE WASHINGTON, made by David Gordon Green in 2000 - which by the way has only a poetic connection with the dead president. There are comparisons with Malick, mostly in the very loose narrative style, the pre-eminence of image, and voice-over narration that evokes DAYS OF HEAVEN in a blend of naivete and insight that amounts to poetry. But where Malick is epic, Green is quotidian: where Malick's films are rural, Green turns his camera on the detritus and abandoned structures of industry in a faltering American town.

Don't go expecting TREE OF LIFE. It could be argued that the Malick film is his greatest (though I prefer DAYS OF HEAVEN), but in any case, it is the expression of a major film-maker in his maturity. GEORGE WASHINGTON was a film school project - though it may be the only film school project to be added to the Criterion collection.

I love this movie.

Pacific Cinematheque
Sunday, March 4, 2012 - 6:30pm
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 8:10pm
Monday, March 12, 2012 - 8:10pm

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

feb 9 | sister rosetta tharpe doc @ vancity

The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe
(2011, UK, Mick Csaky, 60m)

VIFC VanCity Theatre
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Doors 6:30; show 7
Tickets: $20.00

During the 40s, 50s and 60s Sister Rosetta Tharpe played a highly significant role in the creation of rock & roll, inspiring musicians like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Little Richard and Chuck Berry. Her fans include Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant to name a few.

She may not be a household name, but this flamboyant African-American gospel singing superstar, with her spectacular virtuosity on the newly electrified guitar, was one of the most influential popular musicians of the 20th century.

This exciting evening will include live music from Vancouver blues and gospel guitarist Chelsea D.E. Johnson.