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Archive for July 14th, 2009

rotk 1

by Sam Juliano

After Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King won eleven Academy Awards to tie the all time record with Ben-Hur and Titanic, the film, inevitably was doomed to widespread backlash, which has persisted to this very day.  It is fashionable for film snobs to now dump on the film, and the trilogy it concludes, but truth be said the most telling award of all won by the film was announced in December of 2003, when the New York Film Critics Circle in a rather shocking decision named the film best of the year.  The Gotham scribes rarely give their biggest prize to mainstream fare, opting for small independents and art house films.  The year before, in 2002, they named Todd Haynes’s Far From Heaven the year’s top film.  The artistic validation bestowed on the film in the Big Apple was duplicated throughout the nation with critics’s group after critic’s group giving their top award to Peter Jackson’s film.  In any case The Return of the King, against all odds is the best of the three films in the trilogy, and the one that blends all the elements of the others films-ferocious battles, epic conflicts, ethereal landscapes and an operatic sweep that elevates the film to level of emotion and exhilaration that nears spirituality.  While the first film The Fellowship of the Ring, introduced the hobbits and the magical characters that were essayed in the subsequent installments, and The Two Towers was in large measure a prolongation battle, the third delivered the emotional payoff, and was the defining coda of the long journey that for its staggered release was actually filmed in one continuous stretch. (more…)

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celine 1

by Allan Fish

(France 1974 192m) DVD2

Aka. Céline and Julie go Boating

One, two, three, eagle-eye and blockhead

p  Barbet Schroeder  d  Jacques Rivette  w  Eduardo de Gregorio, Jacques Rivette, Juliet Berto, Dominique Labourier, Bulle Ogier, Marie-France Pisier  stories  Henry James  ph  Jacques Renard, Michel Senet  ed  Nicole Lubtchanksy, Chris Tulio-Altan  m  Jean-Marie Senia  art/cos  none

Juliet Berto (Céline), Dominique Labourier (Julie), Bulle Ogier (Camille), Marie-France Pisier (Sophie), Barbet Schroeder (Olivier), Philippe Clevenot (Guliou), Nathalie Asnar (Madlyn), Marie-Thérése Saussure (Poupie), Anne Zamire,

If there is one director of the nouvelle vague who has drawn as much exasperation as admiration, it has to be Jacques Rivette.  Many of his films stretch beyond the absolute limit of human endurance.  Not just in their length, but in the way he tries to justify that length by the movie itself; even his greatest film La Belle Noiseuse, clocks in at four hours and this – his most famous – at over three.  Yet Céline is referred to by many as one of the masterpieces of the cinema, with David Thomson exclaiming it as simply “the most innovative film since Citizen Kane.”  So what is it that makes Céline so magical to so many?

            In truth it’s that indefinable something that is the magic of Céline in itself.  I love the film, but I am also maddened by it, irritated by it, puzzled beyond belief.  It’s a film that sometimes you literally have to take a break from and come back to, which makes it perfect for home viewing.  There are influences abound, from Jean Cocteau and Marcel Proust to Lewis Carroll and Chytilova’s Daisies (and a touch of Monty Python at their most intellectually baffling).  Based very loosely on a couple of tales by Henry James, and with a script virtually entirely improvised by its actors and director, it’s a film in a million. (more…)

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