Archive for July 6th, 2010

Guess the pic

Courtesy of Bob Clark

The winner can submit their screen-cap to movieman0283@gmail.com. Do not include film title in file name so I can participate as well! (Give a day or two for the new picture to go up)

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by Joel

#72 in Best of the 21st Century?, a series counting down the most acclaimed films of the previous decade. This review contains spoilers.

Whose name should open this review – Roald Dahl’s or Wes Anderson’s? Roald Dahl, of course, wrote Fantastic Mr. Fox in 1970. As embodied by Dahl’s droll, devilishly nasty (though less than usual) prose and Quentin Blake’s trademark sketchy, jagged illustrations, Mr. Fox is a cunning, boastful, and rakish chicken-thief who, trapped in his hole by farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, digs tunnels directly into their territory. As the farmers guard the hole, hoping to starve out their quarry, Mr. Fox pays a visit to Boggis’ chicken coop, Bunce’s store room, and Bean’s cider cellar, assembling a great feast for all the animals who have been rooted out of their forest homes by the vengeful humans, forced underground but provided for by Fox’s expert thieving. Dahl tells the story methodically but crisply, employing repetition as children’s authors do but imbuing his narrative with a subversive sensibility, humorous character touches, and gruesome details (“[Bean’s] earholes were clogged with all kinds of muck and wax and bits of chewing-gum and dead flies and stuff like that”). The story is minimally ornamental – a simple narrative decorated with Dahl’s trademark touches. Anderson, on the other hand, is known to fetishize the smallest details – something the film’s animation allows him to do with greater care than ever before. He accumulates ephemera at such a rapid clip that it becomes the very substance of his work – more importantly, the whiffs and whisps of association clinging to his stylistic flourishes, filmic and pop cultural references, and imaginative set design and color coordination cohere into an overhanging mood of wistful romanticism and melancholy, on which his best films float and his weaker films coast. The character of Mr. Fox and the contours of the story he inhabits will always belong to Dahl. But the movie in question is so saturated with Anderson’s vision that it could easily be called “Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.” (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Scorching heat and humidity have descended on the Northeast, and weathermen are predicting the NYC area will be recipient to 100 degree temperatures by week’s end.  With 4th of July barbeques, seashore respites, (and indoor relaxation to escape the discomfort) the summer is certainly in full throttle for those of us residing in the Northern Hemisphere.

The WitD 2000’s countdown has really hit the home stretch, with a little over two weeks remaining, and some of the most contentious threads ever greeting some of Allan’s recent high-profile choices.  Voters who are waiting till the final weeks to enter ballots are urged to commence with the process, though it is normal practice to allow six days extra after Allan’s #1 choice is unveiled.

With the elimination of Italy, the US, England, Brazil, and Argentina, World Cup fans must now decide whether to root for Holland (who reached the finals twice in the 70’s) the mighty Germans, or the marginal favorites, Spain.  (there can’t be any serious Uruguay fans out there now, right?)

I’ve had the most torrid moviegoing week ever, as a result of the Film Forum’s Anthony Mann Festival, which I’ve been attending regularly.  Hence, in theatres I’ve seen fifteen films this week:

Wild Grass  ****   (IFC Film Center)  Saturday evening

I Am Love  **** 1/2  (Montclair Claridge Cinemas)  Saturday afternoon

Dr. Broadway *** 1/2  (Anthony Mann)  Monday evening

Moonlight in Havana *** (Anthony Mann) Monday evening

The Bamboo Blonde ***   (Anthony Mann) Monday evening

The Heroes of Telemark ****  (Anthony Mann) Tuesday evening

Devil’s Doorway  ****   (Anthony Mann)  Wednesday evening

Border Incident  ****   (Anthony Mann) Wednesday evening

God’s Little Acre  *** 1/2  (Anthony Mann)  Thursday evening

The Last Frontier ***   (Anthony Mann)  Thursday evening

The Man from Laramie  *****  (Anthony Mann)  Friday evening

Man of the West  *****   (Anthony Mann)  Friday evening

Cimmaron     ***               (Anthony Mann)  Monday, 7/5, afternoon

Bend of the River **** 1/2        (Anthony Mann)  Monday, 7/5, evening

Thunder Bay    ****    (Anthony Mann)   Monday, 7/5, evening

I will withold further commentary on the Mann films, as I am planning a comprehensive post on the entire festival about a week after it concludes.  I am aiming to watch all 32 films as it now stands.  I will say, however, that as expected (as as already known from television and DVD and video viewings over the years) that both The Man from Laramie and Man of the West are supreme masterpieces, with the former still my choice as Mann’s greatest film.  Even Sammy and Danny loved watching those two!

Resnais’ Wild Grass amply demonstrates the great director still possesses some uncanny skills, and this stylistic mind-beder that stirs the emotions while challenging the intellect with a consideration of the depth of feelings.  The Italian I Am Love is an unabashed tear-jerker crafted exquisitely with a soaring operatic intensity and an unforgettable performance by Tilda Swinton.  My WitD colleague Bob Clark mentioned yesterday that he did like I Am Love considerably.

So what did you all do over your three-day weekend? (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Hong Kong/China/USA 2007 157m) DVD1/2

Aka. Se, jie

Appointment at Chandi Chowk Jewellers

p  William Kong, Ang Lee  d  Ang Lee  w  James Schamus, Hui-Ling Wang  story  Eileen Chang  ph  Rodrigo Prieto  ed  Tim Squyres  m  Alexandre Desplat  art  Lai Pan  cos  Lai Pan

Tony Leung (Mr Yee), Wei Tang (Wong Chia Chi), Joan Chen (Mrs Yee), Wang Lee-Hom (Kuang Yu-Min), Tou Chung-Hua (Old Wu), Chu Chih-Ying (Lai Shu-Jin), Kao Ying-Hsien (Huang Lei), Ko Yue-Lin (Liang Jun Sheng), Su Yan (Ma Tai Tai), Yuen Johnson (Mr Mak),

On its release in the west, and especially in the US, Ang Lee’s film received what can only be described as faint praise.  It was seen as too sedate, too cold in its narrative to the point of analytical, and, of course, there was the sex, that biggest of no-nos to middle-class WASP Americans. Needless to say, these same self-righteous bodies were waiting to tear to shreds any offering from that cursed director, who made the unholy film about gay love, Brokeback Mountain.  Not only shameful but a crying shame, for Lust, Caution is a rare film indeed, and one of the best and most underrated films of its decade.

            In Shanghai in 1942, a young woman, Wong, thinks back on the events that brought her to this moment, beginning in 1938, during the initial war between Japan and China just prior to World War II.  Abandoned by her father who has escaped to England, she becomes involved in the political factions of her student body while becoming the leading lady of a drama troupe.  Not long after, she is coerced by a local underground leader to play the leading role in a plot to assassinate one of the chief collaborators with the Japanese, Mr Yee.  Wong at first reluctantly takes up the challenge, but when it requires her intimacy with Mr Yee, things take a turn to the dark side. (more…)

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