Wednesday, February 20, 2013

There's Baseball in Florida and the Spring Arts Preview in Jewish Week

Must mean spring is here, a good sign. (At any rate, this is my 400th entry on this blog, and that is probably a good thing.)

It also means that your humble servant is busy, busy, busy. For starters, here are the two components of my spring film preview, short pieces on two events/movies well worth your time, and a list of upcoming films and events that you should mark on your calendar. In addition, if you are in town this evening, you should consider dropping into Anthology Film Archives for the monthly New Filmmakers showcase, which I've written about here .

I was at the Cinema Club branch in Madison, CT, this weekend, where they showed Lore. A few things of interest. First, the film holds up on a third viewing quite admirably. In my review for Jewish Week, I had remarked on the fairy-tale quality, but this time I noticed another visual/thematic motif, the presence in the first five minutes of each of the classical 'elements," water, air, earth and fire. For a film that is about stripping people down to their most elemental components, it's a significant choice. Second, the Madison Art Cinema, which hosts the club, has gone over to DCP and, to my surprise and delight, the digital projection had excellent visual quality.

A quick and sad acknowledgement of the passing of Donald Richie. I suspect I'm not the only film critic or fan whose first exposure to Japanese film came courtesy of his quiet intelligence.

Finally, on the Iranian repressed-filmmakers front, check out this item from MUBI's daily notebook:

Jafar Panahi had a new film at the Berlinale this year, Closed Curtain, co-directed by Kambuzia Partovi, and which Adam Cook wrote about during the festival. Like his previous film, this new one was not only not allowed to be made but also not allowed out of the country; Iran, understandably, has responded angrily. The Tehran Times reports, quoting Iran Cinema Organization Director Javad Shamaqdari, "There are some people who make films illegally and submit the unauthorized productions to foreign festivals, but all the cineastes know that producing a film in Iran and screening it in the foreign events must be authorized beforehand."

Needless to say, my heart bleeds for the Iran Cinema Organization. What a shame that those darned filmmakers can't keep their mouths shut and their minds blank.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Back Again . . . .

As you might expect, after another silence of almost two months, there's a lot of catching up to be done.
Let me start by pointing you towards the best film of 2013 so far. Granted, it's only mid-February, but this one should be on my ten-best list come next spring, unless this is a year of great filmmaking.

The film is Lore, Cate Shortland's long-awaited second feature follow-up to Somersault, it's a tough piece of work, bleak and disturbing. My review can be read here.


Those of you with long memories will no doubt recall that this spring's Ira gathering will feature our wrangle over the 100 best films of the 1950s. I'm not going to spoil even a tiny bit of the fun for you by telling you which 100 films made the big cut; you'll find out when we've voted the final listing, 1-100, in March. But I will give you my top 100 of the decade. I don't mind saying that this was harder than the all-time top 100 that we did last year. There are a lot of films and filmmakers whose impact over the middle-distance of a decade -- especially this decade -- was greater than their staying power over an entire career. It comes down to the split between what baseball maven Bill James calls 'peak value' and 'career value.' On the other hand, there are plenty of artists with both whose peak came between January 1, 1950 and December 21, 1959. That said, here is my list of the hundred best films of the 1950s, in alphabetical order:

  1. 1.    3:10 to Yuma – Delmer Daves
    2.       Ace in the Hole – Billy Wilder
    3.       Actress, The – George Cukor
    4.       Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, The – Luis Bunuel
    5.       Affair to Remember, An -- Leo McCarey
    6.       Anatomy of a Murder – Otto Preminger
    7.       Attack! – Robert Aldrich
    8.       Bad Day at Black Rock – John Sturges
    9.       Band Wagon, The – Vincente Minnelli
    10.   Beau Serge, Le – Claude Chabrol
    11.   Big Combo, The – Joseph H. Lewis
    12.   Big Heat, The -- Fritz Lang
    13.   Big Knife, The – Robert Aldrich
    14.   Bigger Than Life -- Nicholas Ray
    15.   Bob le Flambeur – Jean-Pierre Melville
    16.   Bonjour Tristesse – Otto Preminger
    17.   Brothers Rico, The – Phil Karlson
    18.   Comanche Station – Budd Boetticher
    19.   Curse of the Demon – Jacques Tourneur
    20.   Day of the Outlaw – Andre DeToth
    21.   Diary of a Country Priest -- Robert Bresson
    22.   Early Spring – Yasujiro Ozu
    23.   Early Summer – Yasujiro Ozu
    24.   Elena et les hommes -- Jean Renoir
    25.   Empress Yang Kwei Fei, The -- Kenji Mizoguchi
    26.   Europa 51 – Roberto Rossellini
    27.   Floating Clouds – Mikio Naruse
    28.   Flowers of St. Francis, The – Roberto Rossellini
    29.   Forty Guns – Samuel Fuller
    30.   French Can-Can -- Jean Renoir
    31.   Genevieve – Henry Cornelius
    32.   Girl Can’t Help It, The – Frank Tashlin
    33.   Gun Crazy – Joseph H. Lewis
    34.   Hiroshima Mon Amour – Alain Resnais
    35.   Imitation of Life -- Douglas Sirk
    36.   In a Lonely Place – Nicholas Ray
    37.   Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Donald Siegel
    38.   Johnny Guitar – Nicholas Ray
    39.   Kanal – Andrzej Wajda
    40.   Kiss Me Deadly -- Robert Aldrich
    41.   Ladykillers, The – Alexander Mackendrick
    42.   Late Chrysanthemums – Mikio Naruse
    43.   Lola Montes – Max Ophuls
    44.   Lust for Life – Vincente Minnelli
    45.   M. Hulot’s Vacation – Jacques Tati
    46.   Madame de . . .  -- Max Ophuls
    47.   Man Escaped, A  – Robert Bresson
    48.   Man from Laramie, The – Anthony Mann
    49.   Man in the White Suit, The – Alexander Mackendrick
    50.   Man of the West – Anthony Mann
    51.   Marrying Kind, The – George Cukor
    52.   Mister Arkadin – Orson Welles
    53.   Mon Oncle – Jacques Tati
    54.   Naked Dawn, The – Edgar G. Ulmer
    55.   Naked Spur, The -- Anthony Mann
    56.   Night and the City – Jules Dassin
    57.   Night of the Hunter -- Charles Laughton
    58.   North by Northwest – Alfred Hitchcock
    59.   Olvidados, Los – Luis Bunuel
    60.   Ordet -- Carl Dreyer
    61.   Park Row – Samuel Fuller
    62.   Pat and Mike – George Cukor
    63.   Phenix City Story, The – Phil Karlson
    64.   Pickpocket – Robert Bresson
    65.   Pickup on South Street – Samuel Fuller
    66.   Quiet Man, The – John Ford
    67.   Rancho Notorious – Fritz Lang
    68.   Rear Window – Alfred Hitchcock
    69.   Rebel Without a Cause – Nicholas Ray
    70.   Ride Lonesome -- Budd Boetticher
    71.   Rio Bravo -- Howard Hawks
    72.   Rio Grande – John Ford
    73.   Riot in Cell Block 11 – Donald Siegel
    74.   Ruby Gentry – King Vidor
    75.   Saga of Anatahan, The – Josef von Sternberg
    76.   Sansho the Bailiff – Kenji Mizoguchi
    77.   Screaming Mimi – Gerd Oswald
    78.   Searchers, The -- John Ford
    79.   Senso -- Luchino Visconti
    80.   Seven Samurai, The – Akira Kurosawa
    81.   Silver Lode – Allan Dwan
    82.   Slightly Scarlet – Allan Dwan
    83.   Smiles of a Summer Night – Ingmar Bergman
    84.   Some Came Running – Vincente Minnelli
    85.   Some Like It Hot – Billy Wilder
    86.   Springfield Rifle – Andre DeToth
    87.   Steel Helmet, The – Samuel Fuller
    88.   Sun Shines Bright, The – John Ford
    89.   Sweet Smell of Success – Alexander Mackendrick
    90.   Tales of the Taira Clan – Kenji Mizoguchi
    91.   Tall Men, The – Raoul Walsh
    92.   Tokyo Story – Yasujiro Ozu
    93.   Touch of Evil – Orson Welles
    94.   Vertigo -- Alfred Hitchcock
    95.   Viaggio in Italia -- Roberto Rossellini
    96.   Vittelloni, I – Federico Fellini
    97.   Wagon Master – John Ford
    98.   Where the Sidewalk Ends – Otto Preminger
    99.   While the City Sleeps -- Fritz Lang
    100. Written on the Wind – Douglas Sirk

    Finally, it comes as a complete shock to me to discover that this blog has now been in business since 
    January 2006. Hopefully the next seven years will be more productive and easier.

Tribeca 3: Pride in the City

Tribeca has always been a film festival that focused on diversity and inclusion, from its beginning in 2002.  This year has been no exceptio...