Hall Pass and How do you Know are two of the most satisfying recent American comedies and deserve to be viewed alongside the most exciting contemporary cinema. This has to do with Peter and Bobby and Jim; directors whose films reflect a humanist and humorous sensibility. The two films have different tones and emphasis but some adjectives to describe them would include funny and dramatic, romantic and sleazy, sweet and rude, intelligent and trashy, relevant and true to life. They are about the simple things: being bored at work, hanging out with friends at sports bars, being awkward on the dance floor and hanging out with the girlfriend. The settings are relatable: the home, cafés, the gym, restaurants, laundry mats and out at parks. Brooks and the Farrelly brothers are engaging with contemporary experiences through making these everyday man comedies; hybrids of all of life’s complex situations and feelings. They successfully borrow from unlikely sources like slapstick, theater, stand-up, road movies, action films and musicals to create these original forms. The films are statements by their creators on what is art; bold and original films that transgress the cookie-cutter comedy mold. The acting is brilliant as Jason Sudeikis, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon could not be better. They really bring depth to these characters. Hall Pass and How do you Know are films that stay with you. See them if you get a chance.
Ozon’s Potiche and Honoré’s Man at Bath are two examples of the wealth of French cinema today. Potiche as a modern day Jacques Demy colorful musical-melodrama and the latter for the rawness of the deconstruction of the sculpturesque François Sagat mythology. I look forward to their future projects (Honoré just had a new film at Cannes). On a side-note I still cannot wait to see Kechiche’s Black Venus.
The director Andrei Ujica in The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu compiles the official archive footage (9000 h) of the former Romanian dictator into a three-hour flashback. In retrospect, the footage is the undressing of an emperor (to use an Andersen analogy) as the footage captures the people not as they are but their masks in face of the leader and his television crew. The more the charades goes on, the more desperate and false the whole show seems to appear. The state-sponsored filming technique seems to be in-depth to both Eisenstein and Riefenstahl. The revolution which is at the heart of Autobiography… seems pertinent today with what is going on in the Arab world.
Film Writing: Olivier Père has some thoughts on Cannes 2011. In the new Film Comment, Gavin Smith’s writes about the Warner Brothers’ Video On Demand service, Kent Jones’ on Midnight in Paris and David Bordwell has a piece on the clash between journalistic and academia cinephilia. Over at the French Cinematheque blog, Toubiana writes about Tomboy (“Le film a voir”), the new Cavalier and the Iranians that were not at Cannes. The May issue of Cahiers is great - don’t worry Delorme – were listening to every word; it's a great issue. The new issue of 24 Images is on the newsstands. In the 180 ° (Summer 2011), Brad Deane has a piece on John Cassavetes and James Quandt's article An A-Z of Montgomery Clift is a lot of fun. Rosenbaum has a review of The Forgotten Space. Fabien Baumann’s Dernieres tendances de l’idolatrie godardienne in Positif is a terrific essay, a good example of first-tier film criticism which is a lot better then a Emilie Bickerton who also wrote about the de Baecque book for the New Left Review.
Events: Abbas Kiarostami’s photograph series The Wall was at Pari Nadimi Gallery. The MDFF films at The Royal went off superbly and afterwards there was an insightful Q&A with Kaz and Dan. Some of the actors were in attendance. And the local coverage of the event was welcoming, especially Adam’s piece for Scope.
DVD Special Features: An intimate look at the Egoyan universe in The Mysterious Egoyan as part of the features on the Blu-ray DVD of Chloe. Extra Innings is a look at Brooks’ process in creating How do you Know. Stuck on You has a making-of feature Stuck Together. James Quandt has a few video essays on the Criterion Collection box set The Three films by Hiroshi Yeshigahara. A bonus on the Blu-ray of Breathless is the Godard made in USA which has interviews with the renowned filmmakers De Palma, Gray, Friedkin, Penn and Schatzberg.
To get ready for writing a review of Stéphane Delorme’s book on Francis Ford Coppola, I wrote a review of Ondaatje’s book with Walter Murch (Coppola’s sound designer and editor) and to make my comments of how well Delorme is running Cahiers more clear, I wrote a piece on the film magazine editor who is most messing up his publication, which is Nick James at Sight & Sound.
“It is an odd film to categorize and I can see the odd dynamic that has happened around marketing it (at least in the UK and Poland) as there is the temptation to try to sell it as a straight-up action film in order to get as many people into the theater as possible and this can be a kind of double-negative (at least as I see it personally - not speaking in any kind of official capacity) in that people coming with that expectation are likely to be disappointed and that kind of marketing likely works to keep away those that might most appreciate it.And on the recent Ferrara retrospective at Anthology in New York, Marcus Pinn from Pinnland Empire wrote to me,
I don't know if you've seen the film or not but I played the American officer who interrogates Gallo - and, yes, very interesting experience all the way around - those two personalities and very unusual methods - I can really see how Jerzy can almost magically get really elemental stuff out of actors that may go beyond what they knew they were capable of. I've also been in very regular contact with Jerzy and, especially, Ewa (his wife and the co-writer and co-producer) through the post-production and then the entire roller-coaster ride since.”
“i actually met abel ferrara the opening night of his mini-retrospective at anthology film archives (which has now become my new 2nd home over the ifc center these days). it was pretty funny, because i went to take a picture with him between 2 of his movies that were showing that night (go go tales and mary), and he was just all over the place. he kept checking his pockets franticly for something, and kept starting conversations with me, and then cutting them off. lol, it was so wierd haha. but then before the 2nd movie started, he came in to the theater to introduce the movie, and not that many people were there, so i guess i stood out, and he points at me and goes; "oh man, this guy, ok, everybody is here now." and this lady sitting behind me thought we knew each other haha.”Have a good month,
** (Worth Seeing)
*** (A Must-See)
** (Worth Seeing)
** (Worth Seeing)