Sunday continued the trend of bright sunshine and balmy weather. After catching a program of short films in the late morning, Scot and I met Bruce to walk west on Queen St. to the Robert Bulger Gallery to attend the Opening Reception for Don McKellar’s art installation, IMAGINARY LOVERS. As we strolled down Queen Street, we serendipitously ran into Gil and Amanda who had arrived the evening before and invited them to come along. After a lengthy and surprisingly warm walk, we arrived at the Gallery (formerly Atom Egoyan’s Camera) and joined the party. Tracy introduced us to her good friend Caroline Gillis, with whom she has worked on stage (most notably the Off Broadway run of Daniel MacIvor’s play, ‘A Beautiful View’). Caroline would be recognizable to fans of ‘Twitch City,’ ‘Slings & Arrows,’ or MONKEY WARFARE. Don’s installation was comprised of a series of short films shot on cell phone featuring women all over the world sending message telling their boyfriends they missed them. Some Chlotrudis members might remember a pair of Don’t films, PHONE CALL FROM AN IMAGINARY GIRLFRIEND: INSTANBUL and PHONE CALL FROM AN IMAGINARY GIRLFRIEND: ANKARRA bookending one of our short film festivals. After complete the two initial films, Don continued to make these shorts during his travels, including stops in Wellington, New Zealand, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Regina and Montreal. The films are strangely touching and haunting, and utilize Don’s trademark humor to good effect. They are visually arresting, despite the limitations of shooting on cell phone. It was great to be able to see them as part of this installation.
The other non-film highlight of the day was my chance to finally meet the delightful Paprika Steen (who as you may recall was scheduled, but unable to attend our Chlotrudis Awards Ceremony earlier this year). I introduced myself after the screening, and she said she’d recognized me in the audience. (She gives a great Q&A!) We spoke for a few moments before she was rushed off, and she invited us to the APPLAUS party (which, if you can believe it, we were too exhausted to attend!) My hope is we are able to bring Paprika to Boston for Chlotrudis sometime in the future. She would be a terrific guest. Congratulations on your outstanding performance Paprika!
And now, on to the reviews!
Short Cuts Canada Programme 2
75 EL CAMINO
director: Sami Khan
director: Sonya Di Rienzo
OUT IN THAT DEEP BLUE SEA
director: Kazik Radwanski (pictured right with Guy Maddin)
director: Guy Maddin
director: Ryan Mullins
director: Richard Kerr
SNOW HIDES THE SHADE OF FIG TREES
director: Samer Najari
Contrary to what you might think, I didn’t elect to see this program of short films because the new Guy Maddin short was featured (although that certainly was an added bonus). I really wanted to see the third film by Kazik Radwanski, Chlotrudis Short Film Festival alum. His debut short film, ASSAULT was a Chlotrudis selection in 2008. I’m always a little wary of the short film programs, because there are usually a couple of gems, and a couple of bombs, with some mediocrity filling out the rest. I am pleased to report that this year’s batch was the best selection of short films that I have seen in Toronto! Sami Khan’s 75 EL CAMINO is a moving film about getting older and the nostalgia of an old car and what it represents. In THE TRANSLATOR, Sonya De Rienzo subtitles the thoughts of various people on a subway ride, including a young couple who find themselves drifting apart. Kazik Radwanski completes his trilogy begun by ASSAULT and followed by PRINCESS MARGARET BLVD. with OUT IN THAT DEEP BLUE SEA, a poignant examination of middle age and the conflict between doing what you need to do and what you want to do. Guy Maddin is wacky and I just love him. In NIGHT MAYOR Guy invents an imaginative history for a real life friend, weaving humor, social commentary and Canadian history into a seamless fantasia. VOLTA by Ryan Mullins, explores the disappearance of the movie theatre, and what that means for a social life in this documentary about a little village in Africa. Richard Kerr’s DE MOUVEMENT is a visual collage of images plucked from historic trailers. The program ended powerfully with Samer Najari’s fantastic portrait of the immigrant experience in the snowy streets of Montreal in the film SNOW HIDES THE SHADE OF FIG TREES.
In a tour de force performance, Danish actress, and Chlotrudis honoree Paprika Steen unleashes a powerful and fiery performance as an actress recovering from alcoholism. Thea’s addiction led to her divorce and loss of custody of her two young sons. Now on the road to recovery, Thea takes hesitant steps toward being a part of her children’s lives again. Her ex-husband is trying to help, but Thea’s impatience causes her to lash out in frustration, needing things to move more quickly because as she notes, she doesn’t drink anymore. As she feels her life spinning increasingly more out of control, she relies heavily on her caustic wit and biting intelligence. She lashes out in one moment, and then submits to logic and calm the next. It’s exhausting to watch, giving the viewer an idea of what it must be like to live it. The narrative is intercut with scenes of Thea playing Martha in ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’ on stage – scenes of Paprika actually performing the role in Denmark. The juxtaposition allows for insight into Thea’s character, and provides us with a nice twist at the film’s end.
While first time solo director Martin Pieter Zandvliet does a good job keeping things tightly focused on Thea, shooting her in unflattering lighting and in tight close-up as an unforgiving witness, he and his collaborator Anders Frithiof August fare less well with the screenplay, which doesn’t allow for much of a dramatic arc. That said, this film is all about Paprika Steen and her unflinching, exhilarating performance. Awarded the best actress award at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, this is a sure contender for a Chlotrudis award if it gets released in the U.S. While I would give Paprika’s performance 5 cats, the film as a whole gets 3 ½ cats.
director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
cast: Du-na Bae; Arata; Itsuji Itao
One day an inflatable air doll, a substitute for sexual pleasure, wakes up to find she has a heart. She is self-animated, self-aware, and filled with wonder as she discovers the world around her. On a meandering sojourn around the neighborhood she wanders into a video rental store and gets herself a job, carefully concealing the fact that she, in fact, made of plastic and filled with air. She returns home each night before her owner arrives from work, but soon grows tired of the sexual acts he performs with her and becomes more fascinated by the parade of humanity that she encounters each day; most particularly the young man with whom she works at the video store. Of course, as we all know, along with wonder and delight, life brings sadness, pain and heartbreak. After she accidentally tears a hole in her arm and her true nature is revealed to her co-worker, he hastily tapes her up and re-inflates her with his own breath. It is at this point that she truly learns what it means to be human, as she falls in love with her benefactor. Her further adventures lead her to an elderly man in the park on a respirator, a woman struggling against aging, a little girl and her harried father, and the man who created her.
Kore-eda is a master filmmaker, weaving elements of loneliness and alienation into this charming story about the creation of a new life. In parallel to the air doll’s inflatable nature, we see a series of humans who are empty inside, desperately seeking something to fill the void in their hearts. Duna Bae is magnificent as the innocent experiencing life for the first time. Her large eyes grow wider with each miraculous sight she sees, and she capably conveys the joy, confusion and pain of living with each move she makes. Despite the wacky and somewhat salacious premise, Kore-eda is such a life-affirming personality that you know you’re in for something special. 5 cats.
Hello, Chlotrudis Members!
For this next week, Gil and Amanda are going to pick the 7:30 screening of SOMERS TOWN on Tuesday at the Kendall Square. It's the new film from British director Shane Meadows who did THIS IS ENGLAND which was one of Gil's favorite films from that year. It also stars the same young actor from THIS IS ENGLAND. Gil and Amanda are planning to meet people at Cambridge Brewing Company at 6:00 before the movie for dinner.
Two teenagers, both newcomers to London, forge an unlikely friendship over the course of a hot summer in this dramatic comedy from award-winning director Shane Meadows (THIS IS ENGLAND, DEAD MAN'S SHOES, TWENTYFOURSEVEN). Tomo (Thomas Turgoose) is a runaway from Nottingham; Marek (Piotr Jagiello), a Polish immigrant, lives in the district of Somers Town, between King's Cross and Euston stations, where his dad is working on a new rail link. When Marek agrees to let homeless Tomo move into his room, unbeknownst to his father, the pair forms a strong bond, as they work odd jobs for an eccentric neighbor and compete for the attention of Maria (Elisa Lasowski), a beautiful young French waitress with whom they are both infatuated. But it's only a matter of time before Marek's dad discovers what's going on... Winner of the Best Actor award (for both young leads) at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, as well as the Best New British Feature award at the 2008 Edinburgh Film Festival.
dir. Shane Meadows w/ Piotr Jagiello, Ireneusz Czop, Perry Benson, Elisa Lasowski, Thomas Turgoose, Kate Dickie 1h10m
If not for the fact that Gil and Amanda saw WE LIVE IN PUBLIC at the Independent Film Festival of Boston, they would have definitely chosen that one for this week. This provocative film screens all week at the Brattle Theatre, but since director Omdi Timoner will be at the Brattle for a Q&A on Friday/Saturday, Chlotrudis members may want to attend on those nights. It's a frustrating and challening view of how are lives are changed by the Internet.
This week Chlotrudis-pal and supporter Gerry Peary, will see his first feature documentary, FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES: THE STORY OF AMERICAN FILM CRITICISM begin its first theatrical run in Boston! The film will be screening at the Museum of Fine Arts from Wednesday, September 9 - Sunday, September 13. Copies of the film on DVD will be on sale at the screenings! Gerry and his wife, producer Amy Geller, are still on the festival circuit for FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES, and they will also be receiving theatrical runs in Chicago and LA. Congratulations, Gerry & Amy!
Speaking of Gerry, his popular BU Cinematheque returns next week, and he would love to see some Chlotrudis faces in attendance! Welcome to the September 2009 BU Cinematheque, meetings and conversations with filmmakers, free screenings of important, innovative films and videos, sponsored by the Film and Television Department, BU College of Communication. The programmer is Gerald Peary, a film studies professor at Suffolk University and a Boston Phoenix film critic. This month's line-up features a couple of Chlotrudis pals, Lucia Small, who will be featuring her two outstanding films, MY FATHER, THE GENIUS and THE AXE IN THE ATTIC, and Andrew Bujalski, who will present his debut film, FUNNY HA-HA.
Events are FREE to BU students and staff and their friends (Chlotrudis members are friends!) Screenings are Thursday and Friday evenings at 7 pm in Room B-05, BU College of Communication, 640 Comm.Ave, Boston.
Transportation: the “B” Boston College Green Line, the first stop outward bound after Kenmore Square.
Thursday, September 10-EVENING ONE WITH LUCIA SMALL.
Now living in New York, Small brings to BU her wry, endearing Boston classic, MY FATHER, THE GENIUS, chronicling the exasperating relationship of Small
and her two adult sisters trying to get close to their self-absorbed, long-divorced, architect father. He is angry forever at being rejected by the architecture establishment, despite his undeniable “genius” talents.
Friday, September 11. EVENING TWO WITH LUCIA SMALL.
A world premiere at the New York Film Festival, Small’s
THE AXE IN THE ATTIC, a collaboration with the legendary documentarian, Ed Pincus, took the two filmmakers on a psychic journey to Louisiana and Texas to give voice with a camera to those who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina and
shunned by the Bush Administration. They met some amazing resilient people, and some very peculiar ones.
Thursday, September 17. AN EVENING WITH ANDREW BUJALSKI.
While living in Boston and doing odd jobs, Bujalski began the whole “Mumble Core” movement with FUNNY HA HA (2002), a charming, talk-choked tale of a Cambridge post-grad woman searching for work, and, maybe, love. Seven years later, at the release of his new feature, Beeswax, Bujalski returns to BU, where he once taught filmmaking, for another look at Funny Ha Ha, and a conversation about the “Mumble Core” explosion.
Thursday, September 24. AN EVENING WITH THE DEAGOL BROTHERS. “The Deagol Brothers” is a code name for a filmmaking collective of ex-high school friends from Hendersonville, Tennessee. Collaborating as writers, directors, technicians, actors, they forged a chilling, accomplished, zombie horror film, MAKE-OUT WITH VIOLENCE, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Nashville Film Festival. It’s a kind-of-Carrie, with weird twins, Southern Gothic surroundings, and a beautiful undead girl writhing in a bathtub. At least one “Deagol” will be at BU.
A BOSTON PREMIERE SCREENING.
Friday, September 25. AN EVENING WITH DAMIEN CHAZELLE.
It’s the happy “indie” story of the year, how a tiny, delicate independent narrative, GUY AND MADELINE ON A PARK BENCH, became the runaway hit of the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, including an adulatory article in Film Comment. Everyone responded to the Cambridge-set interracial love story featuring a jazz trumpeter who plays at Wally’s,and also to ex-Harvard filmmaking student Chazelle’s filling of the screen with visionary dance numbers.
A BOSTON PREMIERE SCREENING.
See you at the Movies!
Playing this week, September 4 - 10, 2009.
Somerville Theatre, Somerville
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge
No screenings this week! Check back September 11.
Hollywood Hits Theatre, Danvers
Embassy Cinema, Waltham
It Might Get Loud
(500) Days of Summer
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Music on Film
Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (Fri. - Sun.)
Munyurangabo (Fri. - Sun.)
The Window (Fri. - Sun., & Thu.)
Local Filmmaker Presents
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism (Wed. & Thu.)
West Newton Cinema, West Newton, MA
The Hurt Locker
One Day You'll Understand
In the Loop
Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg
My One and Only
Michael R. Colford
Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film, President
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Check out this trailer for Richard Kelly's new film, THE BOX. You may recall Kelly as the director of Chlotrudis Award-winner DONNIE DARKO. What's extra cool about this trailer is the number of scenes shot in the Boston Public Library!
From Philip in CT, "I still have 17 films from 2008 I'd like to see. I saw 22 of the eligible films so far this year, which is a huge leap for me from last year. Hopefully 2009 will be even better.
Meanwhile, here's my Top 10 List for 2008 (so far...)"
For my year-end list, I always have a somewhat arbitrary cut-off point numerically for my Top 10, but it's actually not all that arbitrary. These 16 films are the best of the year's films for me... the ones that made the most impact and from there there is a definitive drop-off. So without further ado...
There are a lot of "big" films I haven't seen yet and some that have been getting way too much attention, so I will focus simply on what I liked best so far.
- Synechdoche, New York (Heartbreaking, provocative, sad, funny, horrific, inscrutable, distressingly strange and achingly authentic--if this film does not cement Charlie Kaufman's reputation as a true cinema auteur, nothing will.)
- Iron Man (Not an action film or comics buff by nature, I loved this, its hammy performances and stunning special effects, and it was great to see Robert Downey, Jr. in such fine form.)
- Doubt (John Patrick Shanley brings a theatre director's intensity and subtlety to this intense chamber piece, full of dreariness and misplaced passion; it often feels like it's not a film at all, but some sort of diorama, that makes us tilt our heads and draw up our collars and cluck our tongues in sympathy.)
- Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (I have been bothered by critics who have dismissed this out of hand for its admittedly heavy-handed conceit; but the film itself is beautifully-balanced and the acting is very strong, particularly David Thewlis as a reasonable man asked to do insane things, who ought to be conflicted but isn't. This film is suspenseful and unforgettable.)
- Happy-go-lucky (I have been a fan of "newcomer" Sally Hawkins for years now and she's a wonder in this role where a lesser actress might have seemed shallow. Mike Leigh continues to improve with age, refining his mise-en-scene and adding unexpected touches this time around: a colorful palette, conversational Altmanesque dialogue, moments of gentle inconsequentiality punctuated with sputtering rage. Eddie Marsdan has the face of a troglodyte and the soul of a poet and is easily one of the finest English actors working now.)
- Under the Same Moon (Charming, contagious, white-knuckle storytelling full of sentimental silliness. A boy travels from Mexico to Los Angeles to find his mother meeting every possible misfortune along the way with humor and aplomb; simply delightful.)
- Khadak (Minimal, mythic, desolate and depressing. The story of a young shaman forced to leave his pastoral village for a bleak urban existence, and the young rebels he encounters there. Brutal yet uplifting.)
- 8. Milk (Just awesome.)
That's all I got for now. Maybe more when I get caught up on some viewing.
Tom sends his Top 10 in from Japan... and as one might suspect, the films he gets to see are a little different that ours. Here's what he has to say.
I know that Lars and Blood came out in 2007 in the States, but we were busy in the last months of 2007 and they opened in Tokyo in 2008. My fave movie of 2006 is opening next week here.
20th Century Boys
The Best of the Rest
Gaku no Ue no Ponyo
Lars and the Real Girl
The Sky Crawlers
Genius Party/Genius Party Beyond
The Rest of the Best
The Magic Hour
K-20: Kaijin 20-menso
Chou Gekijoban Keroro Gunso 3: Keroro vs. Keroro Tenku Dai Kessen de arimasu!
Major: Yujo no Winning Shot
There Will Be Blood
The "Please go away, Natalie Portman" Award
You think US move ticket prices are insane?
1800yen (US$18) to see a movie anywhere in Tokyo
Honorable Mention for Kicking Ass
Gene Simmons in Detroit Metal City
The greatest moment of my life
Meeting the director of Godzilla vs The Smog Monster
Sig of the Year
"Go! Metal Buffalo!"
Beth Caldwell reports that putting her Top 10 in order this year was PAINFUL, so I'm glad she didn't injure herself doing this.
As the calendar page turns we look back at the previous year's films to pick our favorites. Now unlike the critics, Chlotrudis members usually report on their Top films of the previous year several weeks into the new year in order to see as many eligible films as possible. However the first entries of the year come from TC Kirckham and Kim Brown aka Popcorn 'n Roses have their own podcast called Subject:Cinema, and they're sent in their Top lists for 2008 already! They were the first Chlotrudis members to do so!
TC Kirkham, Co-Host
Baker's Dozen of 2008 (in alphabetical order):
Kim Brown, Co-host
Top 10 of 2008 (in alphabetical order):
The National Board of Review announced their choice for the best film of 2008: Danny Boyle's SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Now those who know me well, or those who simply read my reviews on this site, must know that this genuinely shocked me, and I pretty actively disliked SLUMDOG. Even more shocking to me than the best movie award is the acknowledgement to Simon Beaufoy script, for Best Adapted Screenplay as I find the screenplay particularly reprehensible. Now I realize that I'm not going to agree with every honor bestowed by critics groups around the world, but I'm always a bit surprised when a movie I dislike fairly seriously garners enough support from other film buffs to win such honors. I'm sure Beth Caldwell is feeling the same way about all the honors being bestowed on FROZEN RIVER.
Anyway, upon reading this I immediately wanted to find out more about the NBR, to see how authoritative they might be. This is what I discovered on their website:
"The screening membership comprises knowledgeable film buffs, academics, young film professionals, and students in the New York metropolitan area."
Hmmm... I guess this must just be a highly divisive film. I know there are Chlotrudis members whose opinions I respect who love SLUMDOG as well.
The NBR's other honors follow:
Film: "Slumdog Millionaire"
Director: David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Actor: Clint Eastwood, "Gran Torino"
Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Foreign Language Film: "Mongol"
Documentary: "Man On Wire"
Animated Feature: "Wall-E"
Ensemble Cast: "Doubt"
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: Dev Patel, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: Viola Davis, "Doubt"
Directorial Debut: Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"
Original Screenplay: Nick Schenk, "Gran Torino"
Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Eric Roth, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Spotlight Award: Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"
Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"
The BVLGARI Award for NBR Freedom of Expression: "Trumbo"
TOP TEN FILMS
* "Burn After Reading"
* "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"
* "The Dark Knight"
* "Gran Torino"
* "The Wrestler"
TOP FIVE FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILMS
* Edge Of Heaven
* Let The Right One In
* Roman De Guerre
* A Secret
* Waltz With Bashir
TOP FIVE DOCUMENTARY FILMS
* American Teen
* The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
* Dear Zachary
* Encounters At The End Of The World
* Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired