February 27, 2004

Coming Soon To Cinecultist

We hate to give things away but Cinecultist has a couple of things in the works to get you psyched about. These movie thoughts have been on CC's mind but there's not much more we can divulge because it's in the works.

• CC saw Osama earlier this week, which we found parts beautiful and disturbing, but we don't want to say much more about it at this point as we had a conversation with Doug French of Filmington.com as a part of their Religious Zealotry Week! which will be up next week.

• This weekend is a little annual get together called the Academy Awards, so there will surely be coverage of this next week, in particular of the fashionable variety in the form of a conversation with the always chic Ms. Megastyles.

• And of course, most importantly Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights opens this weekend with our girl Romola Garai (from one of our top ten of last year I Capture the Castle). Though we are guessing that this classic line of dialogue is probably not in this remake/inspired by version, we just have to say in pre-viewing excitement -- Nobody puts Cinecultist in the corner! Happy Friday, kids.

Posted by karen at 8:06 AM |

February 26, 2004

The Final Recap

The year end issue of Reverse Shot with the journal's collective 10 ten list as well as the contributors' top tens is now on the web. You may remember Cinecultist's list purposely excluded certain enteries (and is reprinted therein) and Reverse Shot also knows that some of the most critically lauded films of the year can seem over-rated to others. Their list consists of #1) Kill Bill: Vol. One #2) Lost In Translation #3) Mystic River #4) The Son #5) Spellbound #6) demonlover #7) Irreversible #8) Elephant #9) Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King #10) Raising Victor Vargas and they also offer a rebuttal to the inclusion of LOTR, Mystic River and Monster. A little friendly discussion and counter discussion, with only the tiniest bit of hair-pulling and biting involved.

Posted by karen at 8:02 AM |

February 25, 2004

Keeping The Scourging To A Minimum

On this Ash Wednesday, Cinecultist wants to be upbeat. But with all of these clips of Jim Caviezel with the living daylights kicked out of him on every screen, it can be tough to keep positive. Really though, let's put it in perspective here -- our friend may stand us up for sushi dinner, but at least we're not being scourged. The subway train may just sit on the track unable to move for half an hour in the morning but we're not being buried to our neck and stoned (as in the depiction of Afganistan in Osama). So we're actually ahead here.

As you may have noticed, the critical opinion on the Passion of the Christ are now flying fast and furious and according to Rotten Tomatoes, the average review is a negative one. The "big gun" who actually seems to like it, besides Peter Travers at Rolling Stone who's turning into the Larry King of film criticism in his old age, is Richard Roeper who called it "the most powerful, important and by far the most graphic interpretation of Christ's final hours ever put on film." Wanting to read the whole rave review for ourselves, CC clicked over but discovered this quote came from his television show review not from a print review. The show always features visual clips from the film to puncuate the reviews but the site only has audio, and remember the film is in Latin and Aramaic, so the clips on the mp3 are totally unintelligible. So picture here Cinecultist giggling delightedly at how silly Satan and Jesus sound speaking what we hear as gibberish. Expect the thunderbolt to hit CC headquarters any moment now for mocking his most noble and holy Gibsonness.

Posted by karen at 8:06 AM |

February 24, 2004

50 First Are Free

In case you were wondering what the best thing about being the Cinecultist is, it ain't the glamour, the fame or the formerly anonymous vacuous star-kins throwing their hot bods at us while we eat chicken. (That's how we're spinning our "relationship" with Michael Pitt right now, by the by. Until we get a cease and desist from his publicist or something. "Our client does not nor has he ever partook of greasy East Village chicken wings...") Oh no. It has to be constantly surprising our readers and friends with our phenomenally horrible and at the same time brilliant taste in movies. "But you're the Cinecultist!" we're told as we regale with the listener with sordid tales of our debauched weekend viewing. That's right, dammit, we are the Cinecultist -- and that means of course, that CC saw Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates on Saturday. And we liked it.

Walking out of the theater, CC got to pondering what exactly constitutes the pleasure of an Adam Sandler film and decided it was auteurist in nature. Which may piss off those who've come here after googling "Jean-Luc Godard" and "Anthology Film Archives," but the Sandler product is really all about the continuity across a filmography and authorial point of view. His production company is called Happy Madison (an amalgamation of two of his first film titles), he re-uses the same actors in his films (in particular his re-teaming here with Barrymore after the Wedding Singer) and even visual references to previous work, such as a golf ball to the noggin sequence. Also, like the Farrelly brothers when they succeed, Sandler's work has an unexpected sweetness amidst the Rob Schneider in a coconut bra jokes. He's a guy's guy who cracks up at projectile walrus vomit but he also deems the construction of an extended family a true happy ending.

Posted by karen at 7:45 AM |

February 23, 2004

O Is For Orson

orson_welles.jpgTo kick off the two month long Orson Welles series at Film Forum, they've been screening the Magnificient Ambersons (until Feb 29) and if you've yet to be acquainted with this cinematic forerunner this is a good place to start. Actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, radio announcer, impresario and dare we even say it, pretty damn hunky when he wasn't making himself look old and fat with makeup, Orson inspires serious devotion from serious film people. When you learn a bit of Orson's biography and see the half-finished projects which litter his filmography, it would be easy to pigeon hole him as a genius who sabotaged himself more often than not. But CC is letting this judgmental attitude go for this series at the request of our many Orson fanatic friends, and is just going to sit there accepting what artistic beauty is on the screen. Highlights to come include Touch of Evil (March 12, 13, 14), the Lady from Shanghai (March 19 - 22), It's All True (March 24) and culminating with the Third Man (April 9 - 15).

Posted by karen at 8:05 AM |

February 20, 2004

'Parapluies' Is A Happy Word

Catherine Deneuve &
Melancholy and joyous simultaneously, a movie that just makes CC feel buoyant walking home from the theater is an apt thing to see as the weather begins to warm. We caught one of the last screenings for the week at Film Forum of Jacques Demy's the Umbrellas of Cherbourg or as the French have it, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg. Even the French word for umbrella makes CC grin -- parapluie, trying to say it aloud will make your day. But at the same time, when the fresh faced Catherine Deneuve looks into the camera, her face smeared with tears for her mechanic boyfriend off at the army, your heart can't help but break.

Although, CC will admit that not everyone in the theater seemed to be caught up in what seems like the story's obvious poignancy. CC and friend Stephanie ended up behind a group of enthusiastic girls who joyfully squirmed as the credits began but giggled mockingly as the melodrama unspooled. Is our generation too ironic, too meta now to appreciate with a straight face this operatic-style love story? We can understand it can be difficult to take a movie world seriously where the walls are electric green but how can you not be swept along by the strains of Michel Legrand's amazing score? Just hearing a few of the notes strung together is enough to bring a tear to CC's eye.

Posted by karen at 8:04 AM |

February 18, 2004

Calling Bullshit On So-Called 'Golden Age'

Sorry kids, Cinecultist's Day Job has been particularly taxing this week and thus the scanty posting. But we've had something in the CC craw since devouring the special Oscar section in this last weekend's New York Times that we want to share. CC calls bullshit on the thesis of this centerpiece article by A.O. Scott on the Golden Age of Movie Acting. It's tricky here, the fatwah does continue on A.O. after the Anything Else recommendation but it's not personal, our beef currently. He's just wrong wrong wrong in calling this year's acting performances unique or diverging from being driven by stars. We think the Oscars are nothing if not about building up the Hollywood star system, not being reverted by "ensemble movies" and "naturalistic Method acting" (quite the contradiction in terms, no?).

Those films, along with Mystic River, with its three acting nominations, suggest that the current acting renaissance may be subverting the star system in other ways — by insisting on the primacy of the ensemble and by ignoring the invidious tradition of separating true or potential stars from character actors. It is difficult, in any of these pictures, to single out an individual actor without noting how enmeshed he or she is in a collective enterprise — how interdependent the performances are.

But A.O., you are singling -- in particular, Charlize Theron and Sean Penn -- and if these two win, or whomever does, we will then expect Big Things from them next and look at their performances as typical or atypical of this Star. Blech, it makes CC ill in anticipation over the hoopla. Agree? Disagree? Cinecultist takes this opportunity to give you readers the chance to sound off below, as requested by various e-mails. And we better see some comments or we may cry. Method tears, ones motivated by deep emotional work done in workshop, of course.

Posted by karen at 9:48 PM | | Comments (1)

February 16, 2004

HBO Has A Thing For Angels

Hilary Swank & Frances O'Connor in HBO's Iron Jawed Angels
Honestly, Cinecultist is sorry if you're not one of these decadent New Yorkers who insists their television isn't complete without HBO and are missing the really great original movies they've been airing lately. You may have heard that we kinda liked Angels in America but Cinecultist was also blown away by Iron Jawed Angels, a movie about suffragists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns starring Hilary Swank and Frances O'Connor which premiered last night.

The film has a few notable strengths that set it apart from your usual tv, historically-suspect biopic. A top notch cast reminded CC that so many of these women actors are favorite character players, who we really ought to seek out in the future. Swank and O'Connor have each done some real good, critically lauded work (Boys Don't Cry and Mansfield Park) and then each had a bit of a fall from grace (eeek -- a histronic The Affair of the Necklace and a wooden AI) but both redeem themselves here doing what they do best. Sassy, out-spoken, kicking-ass-and-taking-names or as their characters say in one memorable monologue "pissing in the senator's boot," this is what CC wants to see Swank and O'Connor doing on screen. Others in the cast who are equally faboo -- Anjelica Huston (We don't really need to tell you who she is, right? But do catch her in The Grifters if you haven't), Molly Parker (The Center of the World), Brooke Smith (The Contender: Series 7) and Laura Fraser (A Knight's Tale). You go girls!

The other notable thing about this picture is the anachronistic details, taking the story out of its historical setting, but at the same time making it more immediate and the characters more likable. They speak slang and with modern inflections. They express doubts about committing their lives to the cause. They learn to drive cars. They touch themselves in the bathtub, while thinking about Patrick Dempsey. These are not your grandmother's suffragists. But director Katja von Garnier and screenwriter Sally Robinson make what could be jarring elements organic to the whole project and arguably this heightens our sense of shock at what the women must go through to get their 19th amendment passes. CC doesn't think we could withstand force feeding in a worker's prison, but this movie made us proud that these American heroes had. You go girls!

Posted by karen at 12:15 PM |

February 13, 2004

A Few Comments From Lincoln Center

One of our favorite film writers, Mike D'Angelo from Time Out New York, who Cinecultist may not always agree with on his reviews but whose writing style we always enjoy, this week writes about the Film Comment Selects series, a wonderful group of films chosen by the magazine's editors and writers. The series which started Feb. 12 and runs through Feb. 26, always includes difficult to see pictures who's quirkiness makes them some of the most memorable you'll see all year. D'Angelo points out one, whose fabulous description makes CC want to run out and see it right now. Now that's good film writing, if it makes CC want to put down the magazine and hop on the subway with the ticket money clutched in our hot little hand.

"More than almost any other filmmaker I can think of, Japan's Kiyoshi Kurosawa requires the discipline of a genre framework — in its absence, his woolly philosophical speculations tend to swallow everything in their path, and the only possible reaction is basically 'Huh? Whaa? Kiyoshi, you so crazy.' Bright Future, the story of a boy and his pet jellyfish (honest!), can be filled alongside License to Live and Barren Illusion under Terminally Vague Portraits of Youthful Angst; I watched in a baffled daze, unable to make heads or tails of even the most mundane details. (This cut of the film — the same one shown at Cannes last year — is significantly shorter than Kurosawa's original version, which may explain some of the confusion.)"
Posted by karen at 8:19 AM |

February 12, 2004

Changes A Foot

Josh at Cultivated Stupidity comments on the news [via IMDb] from the Director's Guild of America that they may change the specifications for qualifying for the "A Film By" credit at the start of movies. Shortly, a first time director will not get the distinction of labeling their master opus as "A Film By", this will only be available to directors with at least three credits to their name. At film schools everywhere coming from the pits of editing rooms, you can hear those howls of anguish.

Once, Cinecultist received a bit of a smack down on this very issue, from our undergraduate documentary teacher, Lynn Hershman-Leeson, director of Conceiving Ada ,an odd little indie starring Tilda Swinton. CC made a little docu for this course, a searing feminist look at body image or something along those lines, and added the triumphant title on the front credits. When screening it for the class during workshop, it was one of the first things Lynn pointed out to CC, that this project was only A Video not actually A Film. Ah, the embarrassment, the ignomy! Shortly after, CC decided criticism was really the place to contribute our talents, and perhaps a dressing down of this manner to all first time directors may be in order. If only to keep the self-important dreck that spools out on our screens just that much less self-important.

Posted by karen at 8:25 AM |

Mark The Calendar

If you always feel like you hear about these film events and festivals too late to get tickets, Charlie Suisman at the Manhattan User's Guide is looking out for you. Earlier this week he published a quite extensive list by month of festivals with dates of screenings and links to the official sites. Quite a resource for filmmakers looking for places to screen their works as well as cinecultists.

Posted by karen at 8:15 AM |

February 11, 2004

A Little Sun Bathing

4976.jpgIt may seem strange to those novel adaptation purist out there, but Under The Tuscan Sun, released on DVD last week, actually benefits as a movie by not sticking to the book its story is based upon. Cinecultist read the memoir/cookbook by Frances Mayes of the same name while on vacation in Tuscany a few years ago and it was fun to read her descriptions of the village of Cortona, the foods she cooked and the seasons changing in the countryside while there. But it's one of those seemingly unadaptable books, with no real story line just musings and impressions and recipes.

Fortunately here, filmmaker Audrey Wells creates her own story from the loose premise of Mayes's life -- that she moved to Tuscany and renovated a villa there -- and casts the delightful Diane Lane to be Frances, a divorcee trying to create a new life for herself in Italy. Another highlight of the film is the performance by Sandra Oh, who brings texture and nuance to the role of Frances's pregnant lesbian best friend. But the real star of the film is the Italian countryside with its fields of poppies and sunflowers and the picturesque villages clinging to the Amalfi Coast. We hope you won't mind if Cinecultist takes a few weeks off to ride a vespa through Positano sipping red wine and be romanced by a smooth Italian we meet on the street in Rome. If Diane Lane gets to do it, its only fair we all get the chance, no?

Posted by karen at 8:14 AM |

February 10, 2004

A Good Sunday

When the former incarnation of Cinecultist, graduate student CC, lived in the Park Slope slum (where the ceiling fell in during the winter -- twice), we had a weekend ritual with the roommate known fondly as Movie Binge. This is what happens when you put together the lethal cocktail of "movie academia" + "some disposable income" + "high level of procrastination" equaling three or four movies in one day, and at least one, if not two, of those in the theater. The night before we would consult over what craptacular thing we both wanted to catch (the latest Jackie Chan, Scooby Do et al.), then haul out of bed groggy the next day, pull on some sweats and book it down the street two and a half blocks for a matinee. CC would grab a coffee and a scone from the local Connecticut Muffin and Lauren with her stomach o' steel would often eat a hot dog from the concession calling it breakfast. Later, it would be another one or two on DVD or on tv and then perhaps a screening in the evening as well. But it was getting up for a matinee which really started the weekend off right.

There's no matinee prices at the movies in the East Village, it always cost an ungodly $10.25 for a film, but that didn't stop us from revitalizing the Movie Binge. This last Sunday, Cinecultist grabbed a scone and a coffee from Taylor's on Second Ave to munch while watching The Big Bounce, a movie that fulfilled the craptacular distinction for Movie Binge. As the only person in the 11 am screening, there was no one to consult about why this caper story taken from an Elmore Leonard book and starring Luke Wilson makes no sense. The femme fatale Nancy (played by Sara Foster) was too boney, Morgan Freeman was phoning it in and they edited the continuity right out of the thing. And in a caper movie to remove the causality -- where all of the elements adding up makes for the enjoyment -- is sort of a terrible idea. But despite the fact that we literally threw up our hands in disbelief as the credits rolled, a matinee is still a great way to spend a weekend morning.

Posted by karen at 8:25 AM |

February 9, 2004

Falling In Love With NYC

Before we forget, Cinecultist wanted to offer a few general thoughts on In America, a film we saw a week or so ago which inspired our musings on actress Samantha Morton last week, who is up for an Oscar for Best Actress for her performance. The film is also up for Best Original Screenplay and actor Djimon Hounsou received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor as well. A story based on his own experiences and those of his daughters coming to America as immigrants, director Jim Sheridan with co-writers Naomi and Kirsten Sheridan create an experience of nostalgia and melodrama that's wholey moving.

In many ways, the film is about this family falling in love with New York City as they attempt to recover from the major loss of one of their children dying of cancer. There's something so visceral about the scenes where they first drive through Times Square or play in the first snow which made CC want to get out of the theater just so we could be back on the streets of the City. Usually good movies make us want to stay longer in the world they've created on screen, so to have the opposite reaction, of wanting to be more in the real world the movie tries to reflect, is really quite something. Much of the film rests on the young shoulders of sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger who play the daughters in the film, and they are both delightful. So natural and immediate, you have to marvel at a director who can elicite such performances from these adorable young actors who never seem too precious.

Posted by karen at 7:58 AM |

February 6, 2004

Just In Case You Forgot

Nothing says the month of February with its President's Birthdays, Valentine's Day (confidential to the jewelry adverts on the tv, CC knows V Day is coming -- Shut-urp already about it) and winter mix weather (rain AND sleet, such a bad idea), like the release of Mel Gibson's religious epic, The Passion of the Christ. Hey, remember that movie? We've heard so much hype about it already, you'd think it was already come and gone, but not so. It hits theaters on February 25th people, and tickets are available now at Fandango. So you can buy your tickets ahead of time, beating the crowds and all. Cut in front of Pat Robertson for that center of the row seat, that sort of thing.

Posted by karen at 11:12 AM |

February 5, 2004

A Filling, Without The Novocaine

secret_lives.jpgFilms about dentists are hard to come by. There was the black comedy Novocaine in 2001, which featured, among other oddities, the slightly disturbing pairing of Steve Martin and Helena Bonham Carter, a Kung Fu-crazy Laura Dern and a teddy bear with dentures. The latest periodontic delight to catch PCC's interest is Alan Rudolph's The Secret Lives of Dentists, just released on DVD. While Novocaine was definitely a comedy, albeit a deranged one, Secret Lives is a meticulous drama, for adults and about adults. It stars Campbell Scott (the son of George C. and Colleen Dewhurst who just gets better and better with age) and Hope Davis (rivaling Patricia Clarkson for the title of Indie Queen) as married dentists living in upstate New York with their three young daughters.

On the surface, everything in the Hurst household is perfect: adorable children, a successful joint dental practice. But as the story unfolds, we learn that Scott and Davis are drifting apart as a couple, to a point that Scott sees (or does he?) Davis in the arms of another man backstage before a community opera performance. What follows is one man's battle to both confront and escape from his fears of marital infidelity. Denis Leary, in an uncharacteristically toned-down performance, plays Slater, a surly patient of Scott's that the dentist begins to imagine as the "devil" on his shoulder.

The pace is slow, but we come to understand that it matches Scott's intense dislike of any kind of confrontation. At times we want to shake him and shut him in a room with Davis so that something, anything, will be communicated. But at the same time, when the time comes for Scott to take action, the result makes you ache as you realize it couldn't have happened any other way. The performances Rudolph gets from his two leads are amazing. Scott, whose production company Holedigger Films also produced the film, is wonderful as a man who is lost in contemplating what his life was supposed to be like, terrified to confront the reality of how it really is. His interactions with his children are some of the best scenes in the film. He doesn't appear to be "playing" a father in the effortless way he molds his body around the extra weight of his youngest who can't stand to be separated from her daddy.

Even though the story is told through Scott's point of view, Davis creates real, sympathetic character in Dana Hurst. It's painful to watch her eyes fall when her children, especially the youngest, prefer the company of her husband. Both Davis and Scott have a wonderfully dry, almost sarcastic, style of delivery that melds perfectly with each other and makes us wish, despite all their problems as a couple, that everything will work out in the end.

Posted by jordan at 1:38 PM |

Care For Some Chicken?

Michael PittIt seems to Cinecultist that greasy-sexy young actor Michael Pitt is everywhere lately. On the cover of Time Out New York this week and thus on posters at newstand kiosks everywhere you walk in the city, in a watch campaign for the Day Job, and in the new Bernardo Bertolucci film The Dreamers where he engages in various NC-17 rated activities. CC first noticed him on Dawson's Creek as the earnest boyfriend to town slut Jen and then as Hedwig's sweet boyfriend in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and thus was shocked to see how grimy he let his looks become after these innocent roles. Doesn't he just look like (in the picture at right) that he wants you to do all kinds of dirty, unspeakable things to him?

CC used to see him around the nabe, particularly stalking across Astor Place with an emasciated surly girlfriend or sitting on the sidewalk outside of the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. We knew he was a working actor but he looked just like any other St. Marks punk. One time, CC had just finished consuming one of our culinary guilty pleasures, medium hot chicken fingers at Pluck U on Third Avenue in the East Village, and there he was eating chicken at the next table. "Perhaps this is where all the grease comes from," we thought to ourselves. He seems to be so blank, so vacuous and yet willing to do anything you might tell him to do, which seems to be why in the end Bernardo cast him over our other favorite young hunk of goodness, Jake Gyllenhaal.

Michael Pitt Quote for the Day from the TONY article, "Okay, 'An orgasm is better than a bomb' may sound like a funny statement," he says, referring to Bertolucci's official remarks after the film's rating was conferred. "But I think a lot of things can be solved by being naked, by being vulnerable and by connecting with people."

Posted by karen at 8:28 AM |

February 4, 2004

Bitch Slap

Nothing makes Cinecultist chuckle like a little critical bitch slapping. Hehehehe, hear those titters resounding through the blogosphere. Two items which tickled CC as of late --

Slapper: Anthony Lane in this week's New Yorker, who incidentally has built a career as a critic on the snarky barb. This doesn't make him a good or insightful critic mind you, just sort of funny slash mean.
Slappee: Joe Eszterhas and his new autobiography, Hollywood Animal. Question is, is this really a fair fight? Over-paid screenwriter Eszterhas has a t-shirt at home that says HACK and he surely wears it proudly to BBQs and whatnot. Thus, is bitch slapping him around really any fun? Lane says yes, and he says don't forget Sliver.

Slapper: Robin Wood, editor of cineAction in a letter sent to Josh at Cultivated Stupidity, in his professional capacity as a periodicals clerk.
Slappee: George W. Bush. Wood says, a letter regarding a subscription to your film journal is a fine place to register your cranky Canadian political dissent. A right fine place.

Posted by karen at 3:49 PM |

The Triumverate


After seeing In America this past weekend (a film Cinecultist will discuss further in a later post but for now: Good. Go see it.), and reveling in the beauty that is Samantha Morton on screen, CC has been thinking about about the list. This is the list we refer to as Actors We Could Watch Reading The Phonebook. Meaning that these actors bring a grace and fascination to the most banal activities on screen and whose charisma carries the audience through the quiet moments of their films. We've come to think of this list as containing three women actors, two French and one English: Morton, Virginie Ledoyen and Isabelle Huppert.

Sure all of these actors have made some lame movies, we know about how bad the Beach and Minority Report and Merci pour le chocolate can be AND YET, CC still finds these actors fascinating even in these environs of lameness. May we recommend instead of playa hating as any kind of best of list like this inspires, watching over and over their good roles such as the Single Girl, Jeanne and the Perfect Guy, 8 Women (with Ledoyen and Huppert!), Morvern Callar, Sweet and Lowdown and the Piano Teacher. There's more to these women's flick of a wrist in these performances than all of the setting gnawing of every other histronic prima dona you can name.

Runners Up and pretty damn good in their own right, if not on The List: Meryl Streep, Emily Watson.

Posted by karen at 8:32 AM |

February 3, 2004

Linky Link Lovin'

We interrupt this regularly scheduled movie diatribe to spread a little linking love to just a few of our movie blogging compatriots who've been throwing it our way as of late.

• Tagline -- Brief reviews, news and quotations galore (many submitted by discerning readers) all brought to you by brothers Stephen and Alistair Reid.
• Cinema Minima -- News-feed and brief entries with links to further information on the movie making industry.
• Indiescene.net -- All about the marketing of movies, in particular the independent market, film festivals, theatrical and DVD releases.
• Drew's Blog-O-Rama -- The blogging component of the long running site run by Drew devoted to compiling free movie scripts on the web, wherein he asks the age old question, "how you like them apples?"
• D Speak -- A slightly more personal shout-out as our girl Kristi (fellow NYU CS grad and scholar of the road movie) and her boyfriend Darren blog from their trip to New Zealand. Of interest in particular, Kristi recently blogged on LOTR and how everywhere they go looks like the Shire. Sending all our CC affection and simmering jealousy to her across the pond.

Posted by karen at 8:31 AM |

February 2, 2004

Feeling A Litte 'Vague'

"My story ends here, like in a pulp novel at that superb moment when nothing weakens, nothing wears away, nothing wanes. An upcoming film will reveal, in Cinemascope and Technicolor, the tropical adventures of Odile and Franz." Jean-Luc Godard is the ultimate cinecultist, he puts the rest of us to shame. His middle name even is cinema -- or at least that's how it looks in the title sequence of Band of Outsiders when his director's credit flashes on the screen, a DVD CC rented recently from Netflix.

This is a lovely movie filled with charming and poetic moments -- CC laughed in delight at the three characters whirl-wind visit/race through the Louvre -- and a great quality DVD. Ze storie is zis: Young man and petty gangster in training Franz takes his buddy Arthur to meet his new girlfriend Odile (the incomperable Anna Karina) who lives on an island with her aunt and a rich old man. Arthur fixes his bad boy stare on innocent Odile and she will do anything for him, including helping them arrange the robbery of the old guy's cash. Godard provides the commentary voice-over as these young people act, elevating their silliness to a literary pretension. Funny and witty and poignant and beautiful, Band of Outsiders is all of this and an entertaining little story.

Criterion, a DVD company known for their extras and charging for it, does do a wonderful job filling that part of their DVDs with features beyond the usual trailers, links to the official website and the self-indulgent director's commentary. The Loot includes:
• Visual Vocabularies -- catalogues all of Godard's references and quotes in the movie.
• Part of a documentary about the Nouvelle Vague which includes an interview with Godard in 1964 and some "behind the scenes" footage of the making of this movie.
• Interview with Anna Karina (the original hottness, now an adorable older woman still very fond of Jean-Luc) in 2002 at Brasserie Lipp.
• Cinematographer Raoul Coutard, who supervised the transfer of this film, discusses the film and his involvement in the French New Wave.
• Short comedy film made by Agnes Varda, included in Cleo from 5 to 7, which features Anna and Jean-Luc called Les Fiances du Pont Mac Donald.
• And trailers, the original and the one from the rerelease of this new print in 2001.

Finally, a Quote for Today on Jean-Luc's propension for quotation: "People in life quote as they please, so we have the right to quote as we please. Therefore I show people quoting, merely making sure they quote what pleases me." — Jean-Luc Godard, Cahiers du Cinιma, December 1962.

Posted by karen at 8:30 AM |