Quick takes on new films seen in the past month

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007, Kent Jones) IMDb
screened December 11, 2007 at the Walter Reade Theater, NYC

Into the Wild (2007, Sean Penn) IMDb
screened December 30, 2007 on DVD in South San Francisco, CA
Didn’t expect it to sneak up on me at the end — I wonder if they should have told the film in strict chronological order just to get Holbrook’s amazing presence in there sooner.

Persepolis (2007, Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Parounnaud) IMDb
screened December 31, 2007 at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, NY
I much prefer the graphic novels – they are more evocative and not as ingratiatingly cutesy as I found this movie to be.  Stlll I hope this film opens a lot of doors for greater understanding of Iran – boy do we need it more than ever.

The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie (2008, Mike Nawrocki) IMDb
review in Slant Magazine NO

There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul-Thomas Anderson) IMDb second viewing
screened January 7, 2008 at BAM

Jour de Fete (1949, Jacques Tati) IMDb
screened January 6, 2008 at Walter Reade Theater, NY
Saw the color print at the Walter Reade in Lincoln Center with Jonathan Rosenbaum introducing it. Not as highly touted as his later films, but I actually prefer it to M. Hulot’s Holiday and Mon Oncle, due to its inside-out knowingness of its characters and the world they inhabit, which allows it to exploit nearly every opportunity for humor and shrewd observation of social values and behavior. I suppose one could make the same argument for all of Tati’s great films, and in fact Rosenbaum has made the point that Tati’s films work together to make an epic chronology of everyday life in France in the modern era. Indeed, the pathos of this film doesn’t fully register unless you watch Mon Oncle or Playtime as a point of contrast – as a time capsule of a lost world it is quite poignant.

Still Life / Sanxia Haoren (2006, Jia Zhangke) IMDb second viewing
screened January 8, 2008 at Magno Studios, NY
Saw at a press screening in 35mm. DVD was much better – HD colors and lines really popped, on film it’s dark and muddled. Not as many subtexts blossomed out in the second viewing as I had expected, but it’s still a compelling film with some of Jia/Yu Lik Wai’s most inspired compositions, with an emerging subtext of masculinity and brotherhood not dealt with so deeply by Jia since his breakthrough Xiao Wu 10 years prior. Han Sanming is terrific in the lead.

Lake of Fire (2006, Tony Kaye) IMDb
screened January 10, 2008 on DVD in Weehawken, NJ
gutsy film – in my mind it subtly sides towards pro-choice (they seem to get the last word at every chapter in the story),but it shows more sides to the debate than any film I can think of. The last half hour is incredibly powerful, when we move past the rhetorical tug of war and get to spend time with a woman as she undergoes the procedure – and we see just how morally and emotionally conflicted an experience it is — and the sheer humanity of these scenes transcends political or rhetorical posturing.

No End in Sight (2007, Charles Ferguson) IMDb
screened January 10, 2008 on DVD in Weehawken, NJ
my only grievance is the absence of the key top-level players (no fault of the filmmakers, they tried I assume) and their account of what they were thinking (or not thinking) leaves a big frustrating chasm of accountability in this blistering narrative.

Ne touchez pas la hache / The Duchess of L’Anglaise (2007, Jacques Rivette) IMDb
screened January 14, 2008 at Magno Studio in New York, NY
last half hour is really great, but there’s a lot of stuffy costumed hemming and hawing that, while attentive to the gamesmanlike customs of the era it depicts, isn’t depicted with the singularity one would expect from a name like Rivette.

Author: alsolikelife

This is my pet project

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  • http://www.imdb.com zetes

    I saw Persepolis this morning. I haven’t read the novels, but this was definitely a film that I thought might be insufferably cutesy (in fact, every time I saw the trailer I was lumping it together with Juno), but in the end I thought it was a heartfelt and powerful movie. There’s a lot of fun to be had in it, but it’s always careful to remind us of what that fun costs. Absolutely loved this one.

  • http://rozmon.blogspot.com Michael Kerpan

    Hoping to see Persepolis tomorrow (or, if not, on Monday).

  • http://www.imdb.com zetes

    Well, kerpan, I hope you enjoy it. Honestly, I could see it going either way for you. It does remind me a bit of My Neighbors the Yamadas.

  • http://rozmon.blogspot.com Michael Kerpan

    My initial reaction to Persepolis — very interesting. I loved the grandmother, for sure.

    The film definitely uses very “limited” animation (a la low-budget anime), but does so pretty effectively.

  • alsolikelife

    zetes – good comparison – everything that’s right with persepolis exposes everything that’s fake about juno. my favorite scene was when young adult Marjane sets up that guy in the park to be arrested and her grandma gives her the verbal smackdown.

    MK – like zetes, i hope you do get your hands on the novels, they’re well worth your while. your boys would probably find them fascinating.

  • http://memoriesofthefuture.wordpress.com jesse

    The Rivette was second-to-last film at TIFF and it really gripped me–but even after all these months I’ll be damned if I know why! An essay in that month’s issues of Film Comment helped a little, and it might just be that I’m largely unfamiliar with Rivette’s filmography. I’m so glad it’s getting a US release though–there’s probably not another film from last year I’m more eager to revisit.

    Have you seen Rohmer’s latest? Because as much as I liked Rivette’s latest, that one was even better.


  • http://rozmon.blogspot.com Michael Kerpan

    How many volumes are there of Satrapi’s series — and how many are translated?

  • alsolikelife

    MEK – look her up on Amazon – the two Persepolis volumes are translated and readily available. Enjoy.

  • http://rozmon.blogspot.com/ Michael Kerpan

    I looked at Amazon — but their multiple entries were a bit confusing. Maybe the local Borders will have these in stock. ;~}

  • http://rozmon.blogspot.com/ Michael Kerpan

    Ordered from the Boston Public Library — though I expect vol. 2 might come first….

  • alsolikelife

    def. wait for vol. 1 — but then again you already saw the movie

  • http://rozmon.blogspot.com/ Michael Kerpan

    Presumably, having seen the movie, there’s no element of suspense anyway.

    I have all the suspense I need from BAE Doo-na’s latest TV series, How To Meet the Perfect Neighbor (20 episodes).

  • http://www.vidberry.com/ Naruto

    IMdb is very nice source man :)

  • ABIBA99967052

    I already diged this my firend.

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