Friday, May 30, 2008

Paranoid Park

Paranoid Park 2007
Gus van Sant

The film is a story about a high school skateboarder Alex (Gabe Nevins, Gus van Sant found the actor through myspace)in Portland, Oregon who one day decides with his friend Jared to visit the tougher Paranoid Park (O'Bryant Square). There one night something happens to Alex and the film is an uncovering of what that was. The film was based off of Blake Nelson novel of the same name and the adaptation was done by Gus van Sant. Blake Nelson has said the book is like Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment in a young adult setting. The chronology of the film is shuffled with the present day Alex moving on with his life as we are discovering what happened to him that night at Paranoid Park through his letter he is writting to Macy.

Alex becomes larger then life and the center of everything that is going on. The cinematographer for this film was Christopher Doyle (Wong Kar Wai cinematographer) and he combined shots filmed in 35 mm, Super 8 and videotape. His focus was on Alex while everything else seemed to be blured in a soft focus, there were also full body shots that makes alex feel almost trapped within the frame similar to his experience was trapped within unable to communicate it with anyone. The film was full of long takes with no dialogue witch let Leslie Shatz layered sound design shine through mixing together Nino Rota, Beethoven, Elliot Smith, obscure whispering and a pop ballad. The music was everything but clithe and created an angelic melody to the skateboarding scenes, the most frightening ticking when Alex is wondering what he should do, and is defiant of cliches when there is the romantic pop ballad playing over the breakup of Alex and Jennifer.

The film is also about adolescent alienation, where after the traumatic event, the pure youthful Alex starts to have doubts about the things that matter to him in life and that all he can think of is the guilt he has boiling inside of him as well as a good aliby to where he was that night. At the start of the film there is an interogation between Alex and Detective Lu and only later on do you find out the legitimacy of the claims. That scene and part of the story have elements that can be traced back to Truffauts The 400 Blows. But that is where the similarity stops this film is Gus van Sant return to a smaller budget, adoslecent conciousness, high school life and brings a new freshness of youth in cinema.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sydney Pollack (1934-2008), 61st Cannes

Sydney Pollack; producer, director and actor, died May 26th. His film They Shoot Horses, Don't They? was part of the catalyst for the new hollywood generation. He directed Paul and Leonard Schrader The Yakuza in 1974, Starred in Woody Allens Husbands and Wives, he won 10 oscars for Tootsie with Dustin Hoffman, He was in Bob Atlmans The Player, he did many films with Robert Redford, He worked alongside Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick last movie Eyes Wide Shut and most recently he was in Michael Clayton.

His strength was in acting and getting the actors to stay fresh and truthful through each scene. He was taught under the famed teacher Sandy Meisner. As his roles in different films varied he was always able to renew himself. He will live on in cinephile for his powerful performances and in the great films he directed.


The 61st Cannes film festival finished and the film that won the Palme D`or Laurent Cantet’s “Entre les murs”. This is the first French film to win the prize in 21 years. Benicio Del Toro Won the best actor award for his role as Che Guevara in Steven Soderberg Biopic on the revolutionary. Since I could not have made it this summer due to prior engaments I will have to see the films in theaters when they come to town. Some other note worthy films to look out for that premiered at Cannes are Woody Allens Vicky Cristina Barcelona (they were saying it is going to be his next big hit), Charlie Kaufmans Synecdoche, New York (Anything Charlie Kaufman) , Wim Wenders Palermo Shooting (from the films i have seen, i have to say that Wenders makes some of the most touching and moving films i have ever seen), and Atom Egoyan Adoration (who i have alot a great things about and is Canadian).

ps.. on a other note, WOODY ALLEN AND HIS NEW ORLEANS JAZZ BAND are going to be at the montreal jazz festival Sunday, June 29, 2008 at 7:30 PM and Monday, June 30, 2008 at 7:30 PM, it looks like alot of fun.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Indiana flop Jones, and Charlie my new favorite Kaufman

If you liked the other Indiana Jones, I am sure you will most likely enjoy this movie. All i can say about it is that the there were maybe two great scenes, a nuclear explosion of a small abandoned town (I am sure with how ever much just that one scene cost a dozen much better films could have been made) and the beautiful ending scene that was ruined by the characters talking. There were alot of one liners that were funny to laugh at but it was all to unrealistic and kitschy. You can tell that George Lucas was writing this stuff for his total disrepect for his audience inteligence. The film also had an older generation stench, there was no spirit or youth in this movie. There was not one thing i liked about Cate Blanchett playing the Stalin secret agent Irina Spalko and the youngest actor on the set Shia LaBeouf who plays the greaser seemed contrived. By the end of the movie i was getting really drowsy and was happy it was over.

I found out yesterday that at the world exchange, empire 7 there is a new student promotion where for 11.49 you get your movie ticket and a medium soda and popcorn. All you have to do is showthem your student card at the ticket booth. At this theater here the usual third row seat was to close so we sat in the 5th row, but i would be careful since the drink holder in the middle seat there is broken. The screening was alot of fun I went to the movies with Kat, Pete, Ira, Sara, Leah and Andrew. Ira was bringing forth a more objective view on the film, commenting on the audience a film like this has, the films only qualities is its constant one liners (Russians, they werent you...) and Kat was just thouroughly enjoying the picture laughing and being scared at the right moments, by the end i was resting my eyes a few times to be caught by her telling me to wake up and for myself to say i wasnt sleeping.

On to something more interesting... Charlie Kaufman. A genius. I think this guy so cool!
He is the screenwriter behind Spike Jonze Films being john malkovitch and adaption as well as michel gondry eternal sunshine and human nature.
I watched Adaptation a few days ago and it really got to me. I thought it was tragic Donald Kaufman died. I could not have believed it. On the cover of the dvd at the bottom it says written by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman, at the End of the film there is a message dedicating the film in his loving memory, Donald Kaufman even shared and Oscar for best screenplay and in his filmography it says he wrote an other movie 3. I was convinced and sad to see how he tragically was shot and then flew out of the car window to his death. It ruined my night. But it turns out that Donald was just a fictional character Charlie created to help him finish his film. Once charlie decides he does not know how to finish his film, he brings him in to help him finish the adaptation of the orchid thief. There the movie gets its big ending that Robert McKee the big screenplay Guru was telling him the movie needed. It works perfectly.
The film is compared with Fellinis 8½, Godards Contempt and Truffauts Day for Night for being one the best films about film making. At the beggining he talks about how he beleives a film should be and it is just inspiring. Speaking about how films should be character and motivationaly driven instead of the traditional plot driven. He aims for a free flowing, fragmented narrative and at the same time there is a very formal structure to his film.
His newest film Synecdoche, New York has just premiered at Cannes yesterday and It looks great. From the clips it feels like a New York Woody Allen tale of romanticism and fear of death. Kaufman has cited Woody Allen as an influence on his work, Kaufman being brought up in a Jewish home saw Woody Allen as a person he could aspire to become. I cant wait for his film to come to town.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indiana Jones what to do

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is premiering tonight in Ottawa. It is playing at 9:30 at Empire 7, World Exchange.

Alright so my last two days were full of turmoil. Wednesday May 21st, it was the morning and I just got to work. I decided to skip getting my usual coffee in the morning since was I running late, i was already 20 minutes late for work. Once at my desk I started looking at a few my regular film blogs.
My first was Roger`s. First off, I have a Love-Hate relationship with his work. When I was first introduced to film criticism, he was the first critic i started to follow. He is the most accessible and I was impressed by his credentials (He is the only film critic to have won a pulitzer price) and he updates his website with his reviews for the chicago sun-times quite regularly. He was born in June 1942 and from what I read in his book Awake in the Dark is that he started going to the movies as a child in the 50s, he then went to university for literature and there he joined several film societies as well he became a film critic for the student paper and from there he moved around jobs until he got to where he is now. He has taught on film studies at the university of Chicago, has his own show previously with Gene Siskel and now with Richard Roeper aswell he has his own film festival.
I used to read his reviews with such passion, I thought it was so cool that there were others people out there that liked these kinds of films and I was so interested in all the different levels of analysis of the films. But that was when i was young, at that time none of my friends were into films and since then I talk about films with almost everyone i know and it is alot more social. As i am reading his reviews now, I note that they are mostly just reviews. He gives good sinopsis of what is going on and gives a bit of history about the director, scrip-writer and the analogies he uses are not very good. I think he is just getting old, his reviews are extremely conventional and i no longer feel any passion behind them.
As i was reading his review for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull i was surprised to read what I did. He gave the film 3,5 out for 4 stars and his comments on the film were overly typical.

I want to point out that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are my least favorite directors from the 70s New Hollywood directors and On top of that their old now so that makes them even more out of touch. George Lucas was the worst and no doubt you can find his name as one of the writers. Those two are the business men of the movie business and in my books as well as others such as Marty and Bob Atlman are the cause for movies to be in the state their in, where the big hollywood blockbusters over rules most attempts for smartter more personal and artistic films. But in reality if Lucas and Spielberg didnt come up with the blockbuster someone else would of. Steven Spielberg breakthrough film was Jaws and then he went on to Close Encounters of a Third Kind with Francois Truffaut, Schindler's List Which I believe is his Masterpiece), E.t., A.I. with Stanley Kubrick, Munich and the Indiana Jones Trilogy­. I say their worst not in regards to if their films are enjoyable or not. In the Early 70s all the New Hollywood directors were hooked by the French New Wave and the Author Theory, that points out that the director is the real star of the film and not the producer, actor or scriptwriter. Marty Scorsese was putting himself in all his pictures through locations (Little Italy) and themes from his own life Francis Copola and his Zoetrope Production Agency was trying to make of films outside of the studio system and making them his own until he ran out of money and had to make The godfather. George Lucas decided that he Wanted to start to make film to play with the audience emotions and when everyone was doing fragmented narratives he decided to use a simple conversative narrative and just focus on the story. After gentrifying the Sci-fi genre. His first Star Wars was the highest Grossing film of all time and since then he decided to follow the film with two sequels and 3 prequels. I believe his films lack creativity and aspiration and just try to recreate their original Success. I believe Stephen Spielberg is doing the same thing with his upcomming Indiana Jones Film. Stephen Spielberg next film is going to be Tintin and I am more looking forward to see that then Indiana Jones

The new Indiana Jones film recently played at Cannes where a critic that was there mentioned that the cheering was alot louder at the beginning of the movie then at the end. There were also people expecting the film to be negatively responded since its a big hollywood blockbuster, but that didnt happen so would that change how you think about the movie.

I feel like i am missing a part of the nostalgia of this film since i have not seen the originals when they first came out and i have not yet seen them. I remember my dad brought the movie to my attention a few months ago and he was really enthuiastic about it. He told me the new film reminds him of his childhood and seen the originals.

At first i was unsure about seeing it, but i decided i was going to for three different reasons. 1) I am sure the movie will be in good fun, 2) It is the premier and interested in seeing whose going and being part of this event, 3) I do not want to not see it and have everyone telling me how good (if it turns out to be the case) over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ira, Sarah and the french new wave

Ira Hardy and Sarah Rush are moving to Vancouver beginning of July. I wish them good luck on everything there.
I recently took this picture of them that I found had a few similarities to the cinematography of Raoul Coutard for Godards A Bout de Souffle.
on Raoul Coutard He is a genius, check him out. He theorizes about photography and cinematography and discusses the french new wave directors.

Check out these blogs:,,

Le cinema de Jacques Tati, Fellini`s Roma at the Bytowne Cinema

I know very little about Jacques Tati`s films. I heard his name quite a few times and read that he was a great influence on newer directors. Leon was telling me that the architecture program had to watch Playtime in their first year to see how Monsieur Hulot interacts with the modern architecture he is confronted with. From what I get Monsieur Hulot is played by Jacques Tati himself and is a returning character in his films.

The Canadian Film Institute are playing five of his films in July at the National Archives Auditorium.

JOUR DE FETE, 1947, Saturday July 5th, 7:00 pm
LES VACANCES DE MONSIEUR HULOT, 1953, Saturday July 12th, 7:00 pm
MON ONCLE, 1958, Saturday July 19th, 7:00 pm
PLAYTIME, 1967, Saturday July 26th, 7:00 pm
TRAFIC, 1971, Saturday August 9th, 7:00 pm

I hope to see you there.

Ps. I decided again that i will no longer be reading film reviews for films i have not yet seen. I have ruined to many surprise endings by doing so, i hope you all follow my lead.

I caught Fellini`s Roma at the bytowne last night and it was a great show. There was a pretty good turnout alot of the seats in the cinema were full. One thing i really enjoy about the theaters is the sense of community it creates. I dont know the people there but when you know there a full theater of people out there like you, who enjoy the same movies it gives you hope that not everyone is into those big hollywood blockbusters and are more interested in smaller more personal and artistic films. I will admit that most people that are there are alot older and they are most likely rewatching these films in the theaters. They have most likely been to the film actual opening in 1972. The actual film stock had a few problems, the film was interupted 3 times, sometimes for a considerable length. This reel has been traveling from theater to theater for the last thirty years and it was definitly missing a few frames.
For some reason i thought Peter Falk was in this film. Maybe i am thinking of Wings of desire.
While watching the movie again I noted a few things i enjoyed. There is the Fellini Cameo that goes on in the middle of the film, the overcharacterization of everyone facial features, the roman food and table manners, roman decadence and the old music halls and movie theaters.
A few technical aspects to note would be the early use of the multilayering of sound. The technology to achieve this had only recently been created and Fellini was one of the first to make it popular. Since then it can be found in the New Hollywood directors such as Martin Scorsese, Robert Atlman and Woody Allen.
What is the movie about.
I thought the film was a subjective view of Rome from its most beloved citizen Federico Fellini (1920-1993). It showed how the city has changed by contrasting the present day 1970s with the early fascist Italy of the early 40s. The city keeps moving forward and evolving while trying to hold on to something from its past. The architecture and the landmarks like the Saint Peter's Square, Ponte Sant'Angelo and the Column of Marcus Aurelius are shown in these really short shots and do not seem to be the focus as much as a backdrop.
When i first saw Roman Holiday all i could think about was driving around Rome in a Vespa scooter during the day, now after i saw Roma I want to bike around on a Motorcycle into the night.

Ps. I am getting into the habit of seeing Leslie working there monday and i would want to note to my readers to congratulate her on her new place and hope everything goes well with her new roommate Amber, i could not have made it to the Party but I was imformed that it was fun.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Stanley Kubrick

I will try to write a summary on Stanley Kubrick, with an examination on two of his better known films 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ne touchez pas la hache

Ne touchez pas la hache (Canadian Title:The Duchess of Langeais)
Director: Jacques Rivette, 2007

I went to go see this film because of the director. If you wikipedia French New Wave, the prominent group of french critics turned to director from the 60s who asserted that the true star of the film is the director (auteur theory), you will see Rivette up on the list with some of my other favorite directors Godard, Truffaut and Rohmer (This blogs name has its root in a series of film Rohmer directed, les contes moraux). This was the first film i saw made by Rivette, so i can not compare it with any other of his works and i am not to familiar with Balzac the early 19th century french writer known for founding realism in European literature.

The film is about the relationship between Antoinette de Langeais (Jeanne Balibar) and Armand de Montriveau (Guillaume Depardieu) in the 1820s in Paris. Antoinette is married to a man who is of a high social status but is never home. Armand just returned from fighting for France where he was tortured and endured alot to be able to get back. The two of them get back and there is a connection between the two and they start to see each other regularly for him to tell her about his experiences and to go to the ball. Because of her social status he can never be really hers. She is married and in a world where etiquette and appearances are everything all they have are their opportunities to talk with each other­. He pursues her, she then pursues him and then he pursues her. I havent studied Balzac nor am i going to pretand to have, so i will leave that as the review.

The film is brought into the 1820s by mentioning Bonaparte who was the ruler of France at the time, all the lighting in the film comes from natural sources (i.e. candles and sunlight), the costumes and sets were lavish, extravangant typical of the French upper class of the time, carriages, the social rules and norms placed on by society, and the presence of the church.

The film was beautifully shot, i was blown away by how the film seemed perfectly natural and realistic. The film was shot with only natural lighting so most scenes were in low-key lighting using candles as the sources and the sound only came from synchronous sources where at the dance balls that were going on there was an actual band performing classical pieces. The use of realistic sound made everything more believable. The scene at the Castle by the sea you would have a fly buzzing around and seagulls making noise. Everything made you feel like you were really there.

The ending was reminded me of the end of Contempt (Godard 1963) where the camera pans over the ocean and sky.

4 out 4 stars.

I just found out their playing Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and A Clockwork Orange (1971) at the mayfair monday May 5th-6th and Alain Resnais Coeurs (2006) on 7th and 8th.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

At the movies

Friday May 2nd, 9:00 Ne touchez pas la hache, Jacques Rivette 2007, Bytowne Cinema
Saturday May 3rd, 7:00 The Sacrifice, Andrei Tarkovsky 1986, National Archives Auditorium
Monday May 19th, 8:30 Fellini's Roma, Federico Fellini 1972, Bytowne Cinema
Monday May 22nd, 9:20 Blood Simple., Joel Coen 1984, Bytowne Cinema
Thursday May 29th, 9:20 Paranoid Park, Gus Van Sant 2007, Bytowne Cinema
Monday June 2nd, 9:05 Belle De Jour, Luis Buñuel 1967, Bytowne Cinema
Monday June 9th, 9:15 Touch of Evil, Orson Welles 1958, Bytowne Cinema
Friday June 13th, 7:05 My Blueberry Nights, Kar Wai Wong 2007, Bytowne Cinema
Monday June 16th, 9:00 Taxi Driver, Martin Scorsese 1976, Bytowne Cinema

National Archives Auditorium, 395 Wellington Street
ByTowne Cinema, 325 Rideau Street