Archive for April, 2012

by Jaime Grijalba.

a.k.a. Romancing in Thin Air

(China/Hong Kong, 111 min)

For some reason we’ve been having a surge of ‘known’ asian directors that have released films in early 2012 (if at this time can be called early), I’m talking about the action-cop film director Dante Lam and our last entry on this series: ‘The Viral Factor’ (2012), and now this, from the director Johnnie To, famous for his films about mafia, crime and detectives, we have… a romantic film. Even though it’s not his first foray into this genre, last year he made the romantic film ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ (2011), co-directed with his usual collaboratorKa-Fai Wai. But this one is something of another kind, as it mixes both comedic and melodramatic elements into the plot, as well as incorporing some meta-elements, as a film is made inside the plot of the film, and we actually get two parallel storylines inside one movie, and I’m guessing that’s why the film seems to have a numerical number in its original title (the ‘II’ at the end of the title is not a chinese word), as if we were grateful we got two stories by the price of one, when what we actually want is one good strong story, not a back story that turns into some kind of confusing side-story that makes up for almost 45 minutes of the runtime and then go away and try to combine both of the plotlines trying to make some sense of the connection, giving us an unsatisfying sappy ending.


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Rachel Mwanza as lead in Canadian filmmaker Kim Nguyen's "War Witch" the sole five star movie shown at Tribeca and the Festival's clear masterpiece.

by Sam Juliano

As I write this brief lead-in at 11:40 P.M. on Sunday evening, April 29th, I will admit being bushed and completely spent after a torrid week at the Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan, a venture that once and for all has cast serious questions about my sanity.  Still it was a time I entered the portal to world cinema with a hands on resolve and a determination to see all the feature films that had received the most sterling word of mouth, glowing anticipation, and ultimately the awards given by the Tribeca jury and the audiences.  With Lucille in tow for most (and Broadway Bob for some) I took in 18 feature films over this past seven-day period, making for a grand total of 28 for the festival.  With only a very few exceptions, I managed to watch just every must-see, and feel qualified to post a list of what I felt were the 10 Best Films of the TFF, a venture that will be up at the site tomorrow morning.  I had intended on posting it today over the diary, but I spent most of Sunday cleaning up at Tribeca, seeing some vital films that had won awards, and weren’t negotiated in the hectic schedule proper over the past nine days.  I have much to say, and WitD readers will get the full report and the top ten with capsule reviews in the morning.

At The Movie Projector R.D. Finch inches closer to his upcoming William Wyler Blogothon, which will surely get the world-class treatment in the hands of the passionate and gifted movie writing veteran.  At Wonders in the Dark, Dee Dee’s sidebar interview with European poet Claudia Schonfeld has been enormously popular with readers.  The site regulars, including Bob Clark with a terrific piece on Daren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, Jim Clark with a stupendous essay on the Japanese Teshigahara classic Woman in the Dunes, Jamie Uhler with another extraordinary posting in his ‘Getting Over the Beatles’ series, and Allan Fish with an utterly-engaging piece on the screen legend Jane Greer, has all kept the site moving along full throttle. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

again, straight to it…

Best Picture Modern Times, US (12 votes)

Best Director Charles Chaplin, Modern Times (10 votes)

Best Short I Love to Singa, US, Tex Avery & Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor, US, Dave Fleischer (2 votes each, TIE)

Best Actor Charles Chaplin, Modern Times (7 votes)

Best Actress Greta Garbo, Camille (6 votes)

Best Supp.Actor Humphrey Bogart, The Petrified Forest & Paul Robeson, Show Boat (4 votes each, TIE)

Best Supp.Actress Helen Morgan, Show Boat (5 votes)

Best Score Charles Chaplin, Modern Times (8 votes)

Can I just repeat how much I hate ties.  LOL.  At least in acting categories.

and my choices


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By Bob Clark

In the modern film age, it’s possible for projects that began and failed to find a foothold in the movie industry gain a new life in any number of other ancillary markets. Projects that began as major motion pictures have found themselves resurrected in any number of forms, particularly as comics, where the shared visual components of each medium help ease the transition somewhat while providing a creative vehicle a little less bound by the restraints of time, money and competing egos. Some filmmakers have even found whole secondary careers in the realm of comics, with talents as disparate as Alejandro Jodorowsky to Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon penning scripts for mainstream superhero narratives and groundbreaking sci-fi epics that could never be told in the confines of film or television without breaking bank somewhere in the world. Furthermore, given the number of films both mainstream and indie alike whose roots begin as comic books, repurposing a screenplay as a graphic novel can just as easily wind up a mere detour back to the original destination of a feature film in the first place, in much the same way that John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men boomeranged from script to novel and back to script again. As such, it’s interesting to chart the development of Darren Aronofsky’s third film, The Fountain, from its roots as a prospective mainstream studio effort starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, to its second wind as a graphic novel illustrated by Kent Williams, and then back to its ultimate cinematic form starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, not only to observe its creative development through the channels of contemporary Hollywood, but moreover to be thankful that we wound up getting anything of value at all.


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by Allan Fish

It was in a casino, somewhere on the East Coast, if memory serves.  Kathy Moffat is round the roulette table and has just squandered a fairly large amount in one spin of the wheel.  Her lover Jeff Bailey observes dryly “that’s not the way to win.”  She looks back at him quizically; “is there a way to win?”  “There’s a way to lose more slowly” he replies.

In Hollywood’s roulette game, there were stars who you knew were there for the long haul; Stanwyck, Crawford, Davis, even Hepburn, in between being declared box office poison at her actual peak.  Others just came to the table, put everything on either black or red and kept doing so until they lost.  Then they’d pick up their bag, make for the exit and never be seen again.  Some never really gave a proverbial fig.  Others were pre-destined it seemed to roar through the sky like a comet and ne’er be seen again.  (more…)

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Copyright © 2012 by James Clark

This widely recognized to be surreal film (from 1964) less widely but no less magnificently reveals an Impressionist infrastructure about its climb toward the “more real.” It does so, right from the first frames, first coming to microscopic and delicate focus upon the skeleton of an insect and then a cluster of grains of sand of various shapes, shadings and textures. Then it gives us a universe of sand, a tidal roll of sand dunes, caught from various perspectives and in various intensities of sunlight, some of them melding land and sky into a radiant void. The steep ridges and their gentle patterns drawn by winds through the eons tease us toward some species of regal sufficing. (more…)

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Not a full post as I was intending as I have been too ill for the last couple of days, but a quick alert to the 100th birthday of Japanese director Kaneto Shindo on Sunday.  While he may not quite figure in the absolute front rank of Japanese postwar directors, the likes of Children of Hiroshima, Naked Island, Onibaba, Kuroneko and Edo Porn – often featuring his last wife, Nobuko Otowa – remain essential viewing for cineastes while his Eulogy from 1972 remains one of the unseen masterworks, seemingly under lock and key and unseen by anyone.

What’s less known is his contribution as a screenwriter to other directors, not least Yasuzo Masumura, whose Manji and Irezumi, to name two, were founded on his incisive scripts.  He also wrote the multi-layered adaptation for Kozaburo Yoshimura’s masterpiece The Ball at the Anjo House and his later A Tale of Genji, as well as for Fukusaku’s Under the Flag of the Rising Sun.

We trust he had a great day and thank him for his contribution to our enjoyment over the past sixty years or so.


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