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Ten Fall Indies

With the prestigious fall movie season almost underway, here are but ten (and in a few cases, relatively) independent films I’m looking forward to. Release dates are New York ones (so we might not see a few of the December releases in Boston until Jan. or beyond) and as always, subject to change.

Since I’ve missed it at two local film festivals, will some daring programmer in Boston please book a run of Lance Hammer’s acclaimed, purportedly visually stunning, self-distributed debut feature? If not, I’ll attempt to make a one-off screening with the director in person on September 29 at the Harvard Film Archive. (Oct. 1)

The plot sounds like a retread of last year’s MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, but great reviews from Toronto say otherwise—a long awaited return-to-form (and return to relatively low-budget filmmaking) from Jonathan Demme? A great role for Anne Hathaway? The triumphant return of Debra Winger? (Oct. 3)

Mike Leigh’s last two features haven’t exactly been a barrel of laughs, so I anticipate his upbeat tale of a relentlessly optimistic London schoolteacher (Sally Hawkins), and also approach it with a little caution, for Leigh’s sharpest work has only the faintest rays of hope struggling through all the gloom and dysfunction. (Oct. 10)

I missed this supposedly sweet, Swedish, coming-of-age vampire film when it played Provincetown this year, and I don’t intend to do so if it plays here again—after all the lurid, sexed-up stuff we’ve seen on the subject, this alternative take sounds refreshing. (Oct. 24)

In his directorial debut (and first film since ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND), Charlie Kaufman gives us Philip Seymour Hoffman as a theatre director building a life-sized replica of New York City inside a warehouse. Sounds like it’ll be either mind-blowing or completely inscrutable, but not boring. (Oct. 24)

Arnaud Despelchin follows KINGS AND QUEEN with this holiday-set ensemble piece that received more than a few raves when it premiered in Cannes last May. Promisingly, the cast reprises a few faces from the earlier film, including Mathieu Almaric, Emmanuelle Devos and Catherine Deneuve. (Nov. 14)

High expectations for this biopic to be the next BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN—it just might work if Sean Penn (as slain gay elected official Harvey Milk) proves his mettle while not overacting, and if director Gus Van Sant transforms the instinctual feel of his last few films into a more approachable (but not too conventional) narrative. (Nov. 26)

Kelly Reichardt’s OLD JOY suggested a lot of potential I hope her new film fulfills. It sounds like another deceptively simple but carefully constructed story, involving a woman (Michelle Williams), her dog and an impoverished economic milieu most American movies overlook or ignore. (Dec. 10)

Winning the top prize at Cannes doesn’t necessarily equate a great film. Laurent Cantet’s (HEADING SOUTH) French classroom drama will hopefully be a worthy successor to last year’s winner. (Dec. 12)

Unusual, innovative animated features that manage to find an audience always intrigue me. This Israeli film, which straddles the line between fiction and documentary and looks like a cross between WAKING LIFE and PERSEPOLIS, may be the next. (Dec. 26)

Trailers as Visual Art

Lots of little tidbits to catch up on here, but I just had to start with this one. Many Chlotrudis members have been intrigued by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's film career. He started out as a photographer, and since 1995 has also written and directed five films. The last two, CLIMATES and DISTANT, garnered quite a bit of attention stateside after winning some awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Both films told intimate, personal stories and were lauded for their stunning visuals.

Now Twitch reports that a trailer for THREE MONKEYS, Ceylan's forthcoming film which just premiered at Cannes, has been released. Ceylan is an acknowledged master at the art of filming in HD, and while I'm not usually one to gush over visuals (although you should have heard me raving about the picture quality of the Blu-Ray disc for JUNO) you've just got to take a look at this trailer. Not only is it intriguing and make me want to see the film, it's really just visually spectacular. Go take a look.

BLINDNESS Still Coming to Cannes?

After posting the announcement about the Cannes Film Festival line-up the other day, there has been some speculation among Chlotrudis members about the absence of Fernando Meirelles' BLINDNESS. There's been a lot of talk about BLINDNESS on Mewsings (here, here and here), largely because of Chlotrudis Advisory Board member Don McKellar adapting the screenplay from Jose Saramago's novel, and the general thought was that it would premiere at Cannes. Then the line-up was announced, and no BLINDNESS! While we would love to see the film premiere at Toronto in September (mainly because many of us would be there) we were left wondering why it wasn't at Cannes.

Well apparently others were wondering the same thing, and the Hollywood Reporter has a piece about that very subject. Basically, they suggest that there are still announcements to be made about the Cannes line-up, and any speculation on there absence of BLINDNESS are still premature. So while it would be great for us to see the premiere of BLINDNESS at TIFF, it would be pretty cool for both McKellar and Egoyan to strut the red carpet at Cannes.

Cannes 2008 Line-Up Announced

Twitch has the first official line-up announcement for the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, and there are some interesting films from the Chlotrudis point-of-view. ADORATION is Atom Egoyan's first film since 2005's WHERE THE TRUTH LIES. In his latest work, Atom shifts his attention to high schoolers and in a logical progression from his fascination with video, he looks at how kids' relationships are affected by the Internet. ADORATION stars Scott Speedman, Rachel Blancard, and Arsinée Khanjian. Charlie Kaufman, writer of such mind-bending films as ADAPTATION and BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, will be screening his directorial debut, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK. Other Chlotrudis-worthy directors include Nuri Blige Ceylan (CLIMATES), Arnaud Desplechin (KINGS & QUEEN), Lucretia Martel (THE HOLY GIRL), Wim Wenders (WINGS OF DESIRE), Ji-Woon Kim (A TALE OF TWO SISTERS), Jia Zhangke (THE WORLD) and Stephen Soderbergh (BUBBLE).

Here's the full list:

Nuri Bilge Ceylan - Three Monkeys (Turkey-France-Italy)
Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne - Le Silence De Lorna (France-Belgium)
Arnaud Desplechin - A Christmas Story (France)
Clint Eastwood - Changeling (US)
Atom Egoyan - Adoration (Canada)
Ari Folman - Waltz With Bashir (Israel)
Philippe Garrel - La Frontiere De L’Aube (France)
Matteo Garrone - Gomorra (Italy)
Charlie Kaufman - Synecdoche, New York (US)
Eric Khoo - My Magic (Singapore)
Lucretia Martel - La Mujer Sin Cabeza (Argentina-Spain)
Brillante Mendoza - Serbis (The Philippines)
Kornel Mondruczo - Delta (Hungary-Germany)
Walter Salles & Daniela Thomas - Linha De Passe (Brazil)
Paolo Sorrentino - Il Divo (Italy)
Pablo Trapero - Leonera (Argentina-South Korea)
Wim Wenders - The Palermo Shooting (Germany)
Jia Zhangke - 24 City (China)
Steven Soderbergh - Che (US-Spain-France)—one four-hour competion title comprised of Guerrilla and The Argentine

Out of competition
Steven Spielberg - Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (US)
Mark Osborne and John Stevenson - Kung Fu Panda (US)
Ji-Woon Kim - The Good, The Bad, The Weird (South Korean)
Woody Allen - Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Spain-US)

Special screenings
Marina Zenovich - Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (US)
Wong Kar-wai - Ashes Of Time Redux (Hong Kong-China-Taiwan)
Daniel Leconte - C’est Dur D’etre Aime Par Des Cons (France)
Marco Tullio Giordana - Sangue Pazzo (Italy-France)
Terence Davies - Of Time And The City (UK)

Midnight Screenings
Emir Kusturica - Maradona (Spain)
Jennifer Lynch - Surveillance (US)
Hong-Jin Na - The Chaser (South Korea)