27 March 2010

Trailers and Things: Wild Grass, Bluebeard, Spike Jonze, and Carey Mulligan

Apple's always fun site featuring the latest upcoming-films' trailers has recently posted two trailers whose films are definitely on my list: The former, Les Herbes Folles (Wild Grass), premiered earlier last year at the Cannes Film Festival to great acclaim for its director, the prolific and enduring Alain Resnais, and the latter, Bluebeard, was featured last year on The Criterion Collection's blog, The Criterion Current, for its admirable synergy between story and storyteller (i. e., directress Catherine Breillat, whose interview with the Current is the central content of that posting). Watch both trailers here and here, respectively.

In other news, director Spike Jonze has released a short film I'm Here - A Love Story in an Absolut World online, at www.imheremovie.com. I watched the film earlier today and, while I had to admire the film for its skillful direction and innocent tenderness, I ultimately had to take pause at the extent to which the melancholy drama pushed its limits bordering on the preposterous and the maudlin. An entirely selfless and robotic protagonist, oppressed not only by his solitude but moreover by his society, is practically beyond credulity, not because he is robotic but rather because he is so entirely selfless hat he will literally surrender himself to his affections. Allegorical, yes, but saccharine too, the film seemed too bent on romanticizing what amounts to a destructive partnership and thus lacked a smooth cohesion with the softness and fluidity of its techniques.

Finally, in future film news, Carey Mulligan, winner of 2009's Best Actress SpyGlass Full, it has recently been announced, has been cast in the leading role in the upcoming Emma-Thompson(!) adaptation of My Fair Lady (1956), an adaptation itself of George Bernard Shaw's classic Pygmalion (1913). To earn the part, Ms. Mulligan surpassed both Natalie Portman and her former co-star Keira Knightley in consideration, reports say; here's to celebrating that the casting director(s) has(ve) made the right choice!

That's all for now. Reviews for a handful of current films are to come soon.

15 March 2010

Announcement: The June Criterion Releases!

From The Criterion Collection's homepage:

Directors from the world over will make June a truly eclectic month at Criterion. Get on track with Jim Jarmusch’s and Carol Reed’s Mystery Train and Night Train to Munich, an ode to Memphis and a spy thriller, respectively. Along the way, check out the much-anticipated release of Antonioni’s Red Desert [...], Kiarostami’s amazing Iranian fiction-doc Close-up, and Everlasting Moments, the lyrical latest from Swedish master Jan Troell. All this and Visconti’s divine The Leopard on Blu-ray disc!

From Bringing Up Baby (1938): "The leopard! David, THE LEOPARD!"
Cheers, Criterion. :)

12 March 2010

Failer, Which Equals Fake plus Trailer

Via AwardsDaily comes this rather hilarious 'failer' for what its producers think is sure to make its (presumedly non-existent) referent film an Academy-Award winner. Well done!

08 March 2010

Aftermath: The Academy Awards for the Year 2009

Well, it's happened: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) has committed yet another (see here) devastating assault on its own integrity, when it last night chose to present its statuettes designed to recognize "achievement" to several individuals all of whom achieved less than a cheese grater's end-product: cheese cheese and more cheese. Monumental self-immolations on the part of AMPAS like last night's statuette-presentations are, unfortunately, about par for the course nowadays; and so, while perpetually aggravating and embarrassing, such vulgar commissions nevertheless register now with a grotesque familiarity, much like a lactose-intolerant individual's familiar groan-inducing rumbling after having indulged quite deliriously in similar dairy-based products instead of having soberly abjured from them for the infinitely wiser choice of soy greens and Carey Mulligan.

The saddest effect of this self-devastation is that there now will be people who simply by the reputation of the indulger's prudent mask earnestly believe that Geoffrey Fletcher did adapt what became "the greatest achievement in screenwriting" in the year in film 2009, that Argentina did proffer what became "the greatest achievement in foreign-language film-making" in the year in film 2009, and - travesty of travesties - that Sandra Bullock did display what became "the greatest achievement in acting by a leading female" in the year in film 2009. How utterly misguided such people will be, duped by the mask of earlier years and more prudent statuette-presentations that seals the Academy in the minds and the hearts of such an adoring public ad perpetuum, away from any serious critique, any well-reasoned lambaste, and any plucky revile wherefore repeated demerits would not be shuffled under the carpet or else rebranded into "that high-shelf classic" that deserves its gathering devotees. And how the public willingly accepts such misguidance year after year, when the seriously deserving nominees (e. g., Kate Winslet, Peter O'Toole) must jump through hoops to even hope to receive what the likes of Ms. Bullock have received merely by having a hit smile, is beyond my comprehension.

How similarly would either group feel, I wonder, AMPAS or its duped devotees, if the Golden Raspberry Awards, also annually held, too presented its statuettes, designed to recognize utter lack of achievement, nationally publicly and on TV and too made it known that its counterpart statuette (for the least achievement in acting by a leading female in the year in film 2009) has been presented to none other than the woman very same? I shudder to think that they wouldn't even care:

The Oscar to the Razzie-winning actress this year, AMPAS? A new low? Well, OK, if you're sure....

07 March 2010

The 11 Best Films of the Year in Film 2009

OK, kids; now, when the 82nd Annual Academy Awards' ceremony with its goofy list of 10 Best Picture nominees is nearly upon us and after I've finished announcing the winners of my SpyGlasses Full, is it time for me to reveal my list of the 11 Best Films (see last year's list here) of this year in film 2009 (in order alphabetical; with grades):

  • 歩いても 歩いても (Still Walking), A
  • Avatar, A-
  • An Education, B+
  • The Hurt Locker, A-
  • Inglourious Basterds, A-
  • L'Heure d'Été (Summer Hours), B+
  • The Messenger, A-
  • The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, B+
  • Un Prophète (A Prophet), B+
  • A Single Man, A-
  • Up in the Air, A-/B+
Congratulations to all the winners and here's to the year in film 2010!

03 March 2010

Article: "Photopost: Lust, Caution [2007] and Mahjong"

Colin Low at Against the Hype has recently posted an incredibly illuminative article about the games of mahjong played in director's, Ang Lee's, 2007 film 色, 戒 (Lust, Caution) - illuminative for those viewers of the film who are not already familiar with mahjong's rules of play. Essentially, Mr. Low describes how one critical game of mahjong in the film underwrites the action - both diegetic and non-diegetic - of the superficial plot; as Mak Tai Tai (artfully played by Tang Wei) finds her inlet into a seductive affair with Mr. Yi (played by Tony Leung), the mahjong tiles encode his complicity with her advances and the affair. Read Mr. Low's full piece at Against the Hype, here.