This, That and the Other Thing

Consider this a general housekeeping post. I've been spending more time in Rockland County than at home the past week, introducing four programs, with two more yet to come. So I have seen very little other than the films on offer there. And of the six I'm speaking about for the JFF, four of them I've already covered here, and the other two haven't opened theatrically yet. So, rules and good manner being what they are, I'll wait to offer a full review of either King of Beggars or Steel Toes, other than to say that the former is better than I'd feared, a painless dose of action cinema, while the latter, a Canadian first feature by David Gow and Mark Adam, is a startlingly good two-hander with stunning performances by David Strathairn and Andrew Walker. I also saw Black Book, Paul Verhoeven's first Dutch film in 23 years. I'll reserve comment until my review appears in Jewish Week when it opens on April 6.

A few pieces of news worth relaying. First, my pal Michael Giltz is making noises like he wants to shut down his eminently worthy blog, Popsurfing, although he certainly isn't acting like that. For a guy who's getting out of the blog game, he sure is posting a lot. Hopefully if enough of you drop him a note, he'll change his mind, although I think checks and cash would be more helpful.

And while I'm on the subject of the 'Net, I received an e-mail from the gentlemen who run the Jacques Rivette site, Order of the Exile. The important news is as follows:

March Update
Beginning a trend of adding new material on the 22nd of every month, the March update makes a number of new additions along with a gang of navigation/design tweaks. There is a new bibliography section online, and a newsletter that interested parties can sign up for above. The picture at the top of this page comes from a recent screening of Paris Belongs to Us in North Carolina, USA.

Down to business, these are the new pieces now available:
  • "Jacques Rivette" (Interview) by Carlos Clarens and Edgardo Cozarinsky (1974)
  • "Letter on Rossellini" by Jacques Rivette (1955)
  • "Phantom Interviewers Over Rivette" (Interview) by Jonathan Rosenbaum, Lauren Sedofsky, Gilbert Adair (1974)
  • "Tih-Minh, Out 1: on the nonreception of two French serials" by Jonathan Rosenbaum (1996)
  • "Work and Play in the House of Fiction" by Jonathan Rosenbaum (1974)
  • "Jacques Rivette's Classical Illusion" by Philip Watts (2005)
So click on over and check them out.

And, as Michael notes on his blog, the Iras are this weekend. In fact, I'm hosting them. The ever-charming Margo is in Chicago for a crafts class, having completed the first pass on the galleys of her forthcoming book (Talking Hands, which will be published this summer by Simon and Schuster). Walter and Stella are undoubtedly preparing an appropriate welcome for the expected and honored guests. (I guess I should change the catbox, huh?) I have a last-minute moderating gig tomorrow afternoon and, given the amount of real housecleaning that remains to be done, not to mention buying snacks and such, the odds are pretty strong that I won't get to see any more films before the other voters arrive.

That said, here is my ten-best list for 2006, based on 122 films seen:

1. Children of Men – Alfonso Cuaron
2. L’Enfant – Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
3. The Case of the Grinning Cat – Chris Marker
4. Heading South – Laurent Cantet
5. Fateless -- :Lajos Koltai
6. Changing Times – Andre Techine
7. The Ister – David Barison and Daniel Ross
8. The Bridesmaid – Claude Chabrol
9. The Aura – Fabian Bielinsky
10. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu – Cristi Puiu

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):

La Petite Jerusalem, The Moustache, Le Petit Lieutenant, Free Zone, Clean, Family Law, 51 Birch Street, Climates, 49 Up, "My Dad Is 100 Years Old," Bestiary: Five Short Films, The Case of the Grinning Cat, Mendy: A Question of Faith, A Cantor’s Tale

Like I said in January, a pretty good year, especially considering that I didn't see the Almodovar, Letters from Iwo Jima, the del Toro or a few other prime candidates for enshrinement.

I'll post the results of the Iras Sunday, assuming the house is still standing.