film festivals

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Toronto International Film Festival's International Line-Up

While the complete film list by title won't be announced until next Tuesday, August 21, a whole slew of announcements have been made over the past several days. In fact, over at Thompson on Hollywood, Variety.com's deputy editor Anne Thompson lists the complete international film line-up (not really sure what that means) by country. It's a pretty cool list, and I'm only going to name a couple of films that I am excited about.

It's always fun to see a new film by François Ozon (SWIMMING POOL; 8 WOMEN), and his latest effort is called ANGEL. Starring Charlotte Rampling and Sam Neill, ANGEL tells the story of a young woman with incredible imagination who refuses to accept the world around her, and creates her own realities. It's been a while since we've had a new film by Danish director Lone Scherfig (ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS; WILBUR WANTS TO KILL HIMSELF), and she returns with a comedy called JUST LIKE HOME. It's good to see a new film by the always challenging Catherine Breillat (SEX IS COMEDY; FAT GIRL), and she returns with UNE VIEILLE MAÎTRESSE (pictured left), where secrets, rumors and betrayals surround the upcoming marriage between a young dissolute man and virtuous woman of the French aristocracy.

There is a whole lot more to come, and I will be returning to post about getting the tickets you want in the next few days.

NYAFF Notes

posted for Tomfish

I just got back from a weekend full of good to great movies at the New York Asian Film Festival.

Most anticipated on my must-see list is Chan-wook Park's newest film, I'M A CYBORG BUT THAT'S OK. I was a little afraid that A) My expectations were way too high and B) Park's leaving his Vengeance mode and hitting up what is being marketed as a romantic comedy would just not measure up to his past successes.

After seeing LADY VENGEANCE, I was ready to deem Park as the Greatest Living Director, but seeing he only had 4 movies under his belt at the time I figured it was a bit premature. After finishing my viewing of I'M A CYBORG (in seats that made the Ryerson seem like the fluffiest down) I will now proclaim it: Chan-wook Park is the Greatest Living Director. Shut up, Miyazaki.

CYBORG took two of my main movie peeves (romantic comedies and movies that make mental illness look cute) and turned them on their ear. Every single piece of information, every little cute quirk, every seemingly throw-away bit comes full-circle and gets neatly wrapped up before the movies end.

I guess I'll make some quick notes about the other movies I caught.

  • THE BANQUET - Wire-fu does Hamlet. Everyone dies. Zhang Ziyi pulls off Gertrude. Plus she's hot.
  • RETRIBUTION - Kiyoshi Kurasawa makes the creepiest movies you'll ever see. RETRIBUTION is a more linear story than CURE, CHARISMA or PULSE, but it still made it hard to sleep that night. I'm not sure if he likes exploring similar themes or is making references to his earlier films, but there was a scene that reminded me of his earlier moves every now and then.
  • EXILED - Johnnie To does Sergio Leone. I love cowboy movies, I love frontier justice, I love Tony Wong, I love EXILED.
  • DOG BITE DOG - This may have been one of the best over-the-top brutal violent movies ever, if only the last 15 minutes weren't so damn gawdawful.
  • DASEPO NIAUGHTY GIRLS - Nice to look at, slightly funny. No depth.
  • HULA GIRLS - There's a spate of movies in Japan right now where a ragtag group of misfits banD together and overcome adversity to finish off with a grand finale. WATER BOYS, SWING GIRLS, etc. HULA GIRLS fit this formula to a T. It's a very good movie, but someone has to break this mold soon. LINDA! LINDA! LINDA! has come the closest. The fact that this movie takes place in a coal mining town and the mother only accepts her daughter's foray into hula after watching her had me shouting "Dance, Billy, Dance!" in a brogue accent all night.

So every movie is worth a viewing, although I don't think you should lose any sleep if you miss DASEPO NAUGHTY GIRLS...

Tom

Provincetown International Film Festival Wraps

Back from the 9th Annual Provincetown International Film Festival, and I'm pleased to report it was another fun, relaxing and film-filled event. Between screenings, parties, and time spent enjoying the sun, I just didn't have enough time to provide any live reports, so you'll have to be satisfied with a wrap-up report in the next day or two. Hopefully, some of my fellow Chlotrudis members in attendance will send in their thoughts as well. Suffice it to say, the high point of the weekend was surely the hour we spent partying with Kathleen Turner. More soon.

Kurt Cobain Doc Clip Available Online

I'm sure you all remember that Chlotrudis Advisory Board member, A.J. Schnack, has a new movie out called KURT COBAIN: ABOUT A SON. The film has been on the festival circuit, most recently, and closest to home at the Newport International Film Festival. For those Chlotrudis members who haven't had the opportunity to see the film yet, you can see a clip on YouTube. Hopefully we'll get to see the film on the big screen here in Boston sometime in the future. I had been hoping for a screening at the Provincetown International Film Festival, which I leave for tomorrow, but no such luck.

SXSW Review/IFFBoston Preview

posted on behalf of Gil Cordova by Michael Colford at the O'Hare Airport in Chicago!

While some may associate the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin only with music, SXSW is actually a ten-day festival in mid-March that also includes an interactive media conference in addition to one of the top film festivals and film conferences in the country. As some of you know, Amanda and I lived in Austin before moving to Boston and we’ve been able to attend SXSW on and off for the last ten years. So this year, we were fortunate enough to travel south for a steady diet of good films interspersed with margaritas, barbecue, and warm weather.

With all that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of the films that we saw:

RUNNING WITH ARNOLD – Half-baked political doc about the action star turned California governor. Despite some great footage, the film only brushed the surface as to why California voters thought Arnold was their best option to govern the state. Due to scheduling, the film didn’t include his recent re-election which would have provided another interesting chapter of the Arnold saga. (2 ½ cats)

THE UNFORESEEN – In this documentary produced by Robert Redford and Terence Malick, Austin filmmaker Laura Dunn profiles the life of real estate developer Gary Bradley and his battles with local Austin environmentalists. The film, which includes some of the most gorgeous cinematography that you are likely to see, presents a thorough analysis of the types of sacrifices that come with economic progress. (4 ½ cats) Will be screened at IFFB.

STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME (www.stealapencil.com)–Director Michele Ohayon (Cowboy del Amor) profiles the life of Jack Polak, a young accountant who was sent to a concentration camp in 1943 with both his wife and girlfriend. Adapted from the novel by the same name, the film is both a tragedy and a love story and also noteworthy for condensing a large amount of history and personal narrative in an informative and engaging manner. (4 ½ cats)

SCRAMBLED BEER (MALTA CON HUEVO) – Odd-couple comedy from Chile about a slob who is trying to get along with his neat freak roommate. Formulaic at first, the film has some nice twists that prove original and entertaining. (3 ½ cats)

EAGLE VS. SHARK – Certain to appeal to fans of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and MURIEL'S WEDDING. A funny little comedy from New Zealand about two relationship-challenged twentysomethings. (4 cats) Will be screened at IFFB.

KNOCKED UP – the latest comedy by one of my favorite writers/directors, Judd Apatow, who directed THE FORTY YEAR-OLD VIRGIN and the cult TV shows "Freaks and Greeks" and "Undeclared." In this film, Seth Rogan plays Ben, an aimless slacker who is forced to make some mature decisions when he “knocks up” Katherine Heigl after a drunken one-night stand. As with Virgin, Apatow brings some heart and depth to a one-note premise and it is certain to be one of the better studio films that will be released this summer. (4 ½ cats)

638 WAYS TO KILL CASTRO – British filmmaker Dollan Cannell looks into the countless attempts by the CIA and Cuban exiles to kill Fidel Castro. Without doubt, the film includes some unbelievable footage, yet I couldn’t help but think that the parts were better than the whole. Still worth checking out for those thought-provoking parts. (3 ½ cats)

RUN GRANNY RUN – Documentary about 90-year-old Doris “Granny D” Haddock who was the Democratic nominee for the New Hampshire US Senate seat. Underestimated by both her opponents and allies, Granny D struck a chord with voters as she campaigned against politicians who caved in to special interests. One of the better political docs that I’ve seen and another example of the difference that one person can make. (4 cats)

MONKEY WARFARE – In this Canadian feature starring Chlotrudis faves Don McKellar and Tracy Wright, the two actors play former revolutionaries who are keeping a low profile from the authorities. As a result they are forced to work low-income office jobs and sell garage sales purchases on the Internet. When the two encounter a young woman intent on taking on the establishment, an interesting conflict develops. While McKellar is great as usual, the film is a true showcase for Wright. (4 cats) Will be screened at IFFBoston AND CO-SPONSORED BY CHLOTRUDIS.

As is the case with festivals, we could not see everything that we wanted to see. Fortunately, the Independent Film Festival of Boston (IFFB) will be screening many of the most buzzed-about films that were shown at SXSW. IFFB starts next Wednesday, April 25 and continues through Monday, April 30th. Some of the films include:

FAY GRIM - the IFFB opening night film and a follow-up to Hal Hartley’s Henry Fool

AUDIENCE OF ONE – Special Jury Award Doc Winner at SXSW about a minister who believes that God told him to make the next blockbuster biblical film

BLACK SHEEP – Peter Jackson-produced horror/comedy about genetically-mutated killer sheep

HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS – the new film from “mumblecore” filmmaker Joe Swanberg (LOL) and starring fellow “mumblecore” filmmakers Andrew Bujalski (MUTUAL APPRECIATION), Mark Duplass (THE PUFFY CHAIR) and Todd Rohal (THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE)

THE KING OF KONG – Documentary about competitors looking to break the world record score on video game classic Donkey Kong

A LAWYER WALKS INTO A BAR – Documentary about the legal world and five law school graduates studying for the bar exam

Many festival films now have their own websites and MySpace pages where you can view trailers which is the best way to get an idea as to whether you might want to see the film. If you haven’t already checked out the IFFBoston lineup (www.iffboston.org), I encourage you to check it out so you’ll be all set for next week.

Director Formerly Known as "Joe" Wows Critics

Last year one of CSIF's Buried Treasure nominees was a surreal, dreamlike film from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul called TROPICAL MALADY. Back than the director was referred to by film critics as "Joe," but with the release of his latest film, SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY the "Joe" references seem to have vanished as critics praise the work of this uncompromising filmmakers. I'm sure Chlotrudis fans of TROPICAL MALADY are looking forward to this new film. It has played at the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival, and has fortunately been picked up for U.S. distribution by Strand Releasing. Here's hoping it earns a good theatrical release. Check out some of the glowing reviews: indieWIRE, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Reverse Shot.

Independent Film Festival of Boston Announces Its Line-Up

With the kick-off just over a month away, the Independent Film Festival of Boston has announced the impressive line-up for its 5th Annual Festival. I'm truly looking forward to MONKEY WARFARE, Reg Harkema's look at aging hipsters in Toronto that stars recent Chlotrudis guests Don McKellar and Tracy Wright. In a similar Canadian vein, I can't wait to check out Sarah Polley's feature narrative directorial debut, AWAY FROM HER. Hal Hartley is back with FAY GRIM, a sequel of sorts to HENRY FOOL. As has been the case in the past, the IFFB offers an outstanding batch of documentaries as well, with PROTAGONIST leading the pack for me... that's Jessica Yu's follow up to Chlotrudis nominee IN THE REALM OF THE UNREAL. Go check out the list!

Chlotrudis Guests Don and Tracy Open SXSW

Over at GreenCine Daily, there's a report on Opening Night at SXSW which features Reg Harkema's MONKEY WARFARE, starring this year's Chlotrudis guests Don McKellar and Tracy Wright. Chlotrudis Board members Beth Curran and Nancy Campbell caught MONKEY WARFARE in Toronto, and through Nancy and Chlotrudis member Brian Tamm's efforts, we will be lucky enough to catch this film in April at the Indepedent Film Festival of Boston. With 2006 being a slight year for Canadian films, here's hoping that 2007 yields a better batch. MONKEY WARFARE also stars Nadia Litz, who won a Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actress way back in 2001 for her work in THE FIVE SENSES.

Speaking of SXSW, Chlotrudis members Ned Hinkle, Gil Cordova, and Amanda Doran are all enjoying the festival this week. Let's hope they see some terrific new films to bring to Boston!