56 posts categorized "Film"

November 22, 2017

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2018 CHANGES DATES — Tues. May 8 through Sat. May 19

Cannes 2018

The Cannes Film Festival announced today that the festival will "start one day earlier than in previous years, but will run for exactly the same length of time."

The opening will take place on the evening of Tuesday, May 8th and the awards ceremony will be on Saturday, May 19th.

"Following 2017's anniversary edition, the Festival is beginning a new period in its history," says Festival President Pierre Lescure. "

"We intend to renew the principles of our organization as much as possible, while continuing to question the Cinema of our age and to be present through its upheavals."

"The new schedule will allow us to rebalance the two weeks of the event and to bring new energy to the proceedings."

"What is more, starting on a Tuesday will allow us to hold an additional gala evening before the Festival weekend and to organize previews of the opening film throughout France."

"Finally, bringing forward the announcement of awards by one day, to Saturday evening, will increase its prestige, while at the same time giving the closing film better exposure."

The Beach in Cannes

It has been a long-held belief that Cannes always skips a year in presenting high quality films. Considering last year's abysmal showing, 2018 promises to be an improvement even in the face of increased security measures that have taken a lot of the fun out of the Festival. Either way, mark your calendars correctly, Cannes 2018 is getting underway!

October 13, 2017

The Predator Option

Hollywood production mogul Harvey Weinstein was fired from his own company after being accused by numerous alleged victims of sexual harassment over the years. Now there are rape allegations as well. The media and online pile-on makes some people uncomfortable, and the bigger issue is the power dynamic inherent to capitalism and the treatment of employees like property by employers, but this is one of those issues where it shouldn’t be hard to find the right side.

Help keep Cole Smithey writing reviews, creating video essays, and making podcasts. Click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

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October 02, 2017

THE 55TH NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 10.23.21 PM

September 25, 2017

OCTOBER PROGRAMMING ON THE CRITERION CHANNEL ON FILMSTRUCK!

       
 
Includes a new edition of Meet the Filmmakers on Josh and Benny Safdie,
four films by Michael Haneke and Juraj Herz's The Cremator!
 
Sunday, October 1
On the Waterfront*: Criterion Collection Edition #647

Marlon Brando gives the performance of his career as the tough prizefighter-turned-longshoreman Terry Malloy in Elia Kazan's eight-time Oscar-winning masterpiece. A powerfully emotional tale of individual failure and social corruption, On the Waterfrontfollows Terry's deepening moral crisis as he must decide whether to remain loyal to a mob-connected union boss (Lee J. Cobb) and his right-hand man, Terry's brother (Rod Steiger), as the authorities close in on them. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an audio commentary by authors Richard Schickel and Jeff Young; a conversation between filmmaker Martin Scorsese and critic Kent Jones; Elia Kazan: Outsider (1982), an hour-long documentary; a documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with scholar Leo Braudy, critic David Thomson, and others; an interview with actor Eva Marie Saint; an interview with director Elia Kazan from 2001; and more.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
 
Sunday, October 1
Harold and Maude*: Criterion Collection Edition #608

Countercultural icon Hal Ashby's idiosyncratic American fable tells the story of the emotional and romantic bond between a death-obsessed young man (Bud Cort) from a wealthy family and a devil-may-care, bohemian octogenarian (Ruth Gordon). Equal parts gallows humor and romantic innocence, Harold and Maude dissolves the line between darkness and light along with the ones that separate people by class, gender, and age, and it features indelible performances and a remarkable soundtrack by Cat Stevens. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an audio commentary by Hal Ashby biographer Nick Dawson and producer Charles B. Mulvehill; illustrated audio excerpts from seminars by Ashby and writer-producer Colin Higgins; and an interview with songwriter Yusuf/Cat Stevens.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
 
Tuesday, October 3
Tuesday's Short and Feature: The Extraordinary Life of Rocky* andHarold and Maude

In these two comedies, glimmers of macabre humor emerge amid the specter of death: Belgian director Kevin Meul's award-winning 2010 short The Extraordinary Life of Rockyfollows the story of a young boy whose very presence seems to lead his loved ones to die in freak accidents, while Hal Ashby's 1971 Harold and Maude observes the unlikely romantic relationship between a suicidal twentysomething and an eccentric elderly widow.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
 
Thursday, October 5
Meet the Filmmakers: Josh and Benny Safdie

The Channel-exclusive series Meet the Filmmakers invites exciting contemporary directors to turn the camera on filmmakers who intrigue them, capturing their creative process through genuine, personal encounters, not filmographies or biographies. This latest entry goes behind the scenes with Josh and Benny Safdie, brothers who have made their name with a number of singularly chaotic features set in their native New York. In addition to candid footage from the set of their new thriller Good Time, director Michael Chaiken offers an intimate immersion in the Safdies' world, where family life and filmmaking flow together inseparably. Alongside the fifty-five-minute documentary, the Criterion Channel will present a sampling of the duo's key films, including The Pleasure of Being Robbed* (2008), Daddy Longlegs*(2009), their basketball documentary Lenny Cooke*(2013), and four of their shorts*.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
 
Friday, October 6
Friday Night Double Feature: The Arbor* and The Selfish Giant*

With Clio Barnard's new feature Dark River now making the festival rounds, catch up on two of the director's acclaimed films set in the industrial West Yorkshire city of Bradford. In her astonishing debut feature, The Arbor (2010), she turns documentary filmmaking on its head, investigating the brief, tragic life of playwright Andrea Dunbar through a cast of actors lip-synching to audio interviews with Dunbar's family members. In Barnard's first purely narrative work, the Oscar Wilde­-inspired The Selfish Giant (2013), two working-class teenagers become friends as they try to earn money by collecting scrap metal.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
 
Tuesday, October 10
Tuesday's Short and Feature: Bridges-Go-Roundand The Connection

Different corners of New York City come alive in two works by iconoclastic filmmaker Shirley Clarke: in the playfully structured 1958 short Bridges-Go-Round, she evokes the sculptural beauty of the urban landscape through an assemblage of looped footage, while in her jazz-fueled 1961 feature debut, The Connection, she reimagines a Jack Gelber play about a group of heroin addicts anxiously awaiting their drug dealer in a seedy apartment.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
 
Wednesday, October 11
Carnival of Souls: Criterion Collection Edition #63

A young woman (Candace Hilligoss) in a small Kansas town survives a drag race accident, then agrees to take a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City. En route, she is haunted by a bizarre apparition that compels her toward an abandoned lakeside pavilion. Made by industrial filmmakers on a small budget, this eerily effective B-movie classic was intended to have "the look of a Bergman and the feel of a Cocteau" - and with its strikingly used locations and spooky organ score, it has remained an influential cult classic decades later. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: selected-scene audio commentary featuring director Herk Harvey and screenwriter John Clifford; an interview with comedian and writer Dana Gould; a video essay by film critic David Cairns; The Movie That Wouldn't Die!, a documentary on the 1989 reunion of the film's cast and crew; The Carnival Tour, a 2000 update on the film's locations; and more.
 
Thursday, October 12
Ulrich Seidl's Paradise Trilogy* - Paradise: LoveParadise: Faith, and Paradise: Hope

Like Lars von Trier and Gaspar Noé, Austrian provocateur Ulrich Seidel has long polarized audiences with his boundary-pushing explorations of transgressive desire and abject humiliation. Ranging from the exploits of a middle-aged sex tourist in Kenya to the tribulations of a teenage girl at a weight-loss camp, the stories in this ambitious triptych offer disturbing insights on morality and shame on the margins of contemporary European society. Watch the complete trilogy on the Channel alongside a new interview with cinematographer Ed Lachman.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
 
Friday, October 13
Friday Night Double Feature: Oslo, August 31st* and The Fire Within

Two European cityscapes serve as backdrops for dark nights of the soul in these adaptations of Pierre Drieu la Rochelle's 1931 novel Will o' the Wisp. In Joachim Trier's Oslo, August 31st (2011), a depressive writer on a furlough from drug rehab confronts his memories and temptations in the Norwegian capital; in Louis Malle's The Fire Within (1963), a recovering alcoholic, having resolved to commit suicide, wanders a forlorn Paris paying final visits to a scattering of old friends.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
 
Monday, October 16
Life During Wartime*: Criterion Collection Edition #574

With his customary dry humor and queasy precision, independent filmmaker Todd Solondz explores contemporary American existence and the nature of forgiveness in this distorted mirror image of his 1998 dark comedy Happiness. That film's emotionally stunted characters are now groping for the possibility of change in a post-9/11 world and, in a daring twist, are embodied by a different ensemble cast, including Shirley Henderson, Allison Janney, Ally Sheedy, and Ciarán Hinds. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: a documentary featuring interviews with the cast and on-set footage, an interview with cinematographer Ed Lachman, and more.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
 
Tuesday, October 17
Tuesday's Short + Feature: Tord and Tord* and Persona

The psychology of self steps to the fore in these two existential Swedish films. Niki Lindroth von Bahr's clever animated fable Tord and Tord (2010) employs handsome stop motion and deadpan narration to tell the story of a fox who finds his individuality thrown into doubt by the arrival of a new rabbit neighbor with the same name. Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece Persona (1966) captures the porousness of identity through the turbulent relationship between a troubled actress (Liv Ullmann) and her nurse (Bibi Andersson) during their stay on a remote island.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
 
Wednesday, October 18
Four Jean-Pierre Melville Editions

Marrying elements of classic genre filmmaking with his own individualistic flair and do-it-yourself attitude, the great French director Jean-Pierre Melville produced a body of work suffused with a quiet existential brooding. In anticipation of his centennial this month, we're presenting the packed editions of four of his masterpieces: Le samouraï (Criterion Collection Edition #306), an elegant mix of 1940s American gangster cinema, 1960s French pop culture, and Japanese lone-warrior mythology, featuring Alain Delon in a career-defining performance; Le cercle rouge (#218), a heist film about the criminal schemes of a master thief, a notorious escapee, and an alcoholic ex-cop; Le deuxième souffle (#448), which follows the parallel tracks of a French underworld criminal escaped from prison and the suave inspector relentlessly pursuing him; and Les enfants terribles(#398), a collaboration with Jean Cocteau that delves into the wholly unholy relationship between a brother and sister.
 
Thursday, October 19
Adventures in Moviegoing with Philip Kaufman

In the latest episode of the Channel-exclusive series Adventures in Moviegoing, writer-director Philip Kaufman (The Right StuffThe Unbearable Lightness of Being), one of the most accomplished and eclectic of all American filmmakers, reveals a cinephilic appetite as wide-ranging as his filmography. Among the formative experiences he recounts: his childhood love for the eye-popping colors in Disney's Bambi and Fantasia, the origin of his interest in world cinema at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts (also the birthplace of Criterion and Janus Films), and his later encounters with the works of American mavericks like Don Siegel, John Cassavetes, and Shirley Clarke. Alongside the interview, check out a selection from Kaufman's personal canon, including John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle, Pietro Germi's Divorce Italian Style, and his ultimate favorite, François Truffaut's Jules and Jim.
 
Friday, October 20
Friday Night Double Feature: Le samouraï and The Usual Suspects

Enigmatic outlaws take the spotlight in these crafty crime films, both of which feature iconic police-lineup scenes: a knockout sequence in Jean-Pierre Melville's taut minimalist thriller Le samouraï (1967) follows Alain Delon's contract killer as he attempts to elude identification; Bryan Singer's tricky The Usual Suspects (1995), a neonoir featuring an Oscar-winning performance for the ages by Kevin Spacey, revolves around a team of criminals who meet when they're all hauled into the same New York precinct.
 
Monday, October 23
Le Corbeau: Criterion Collection Edition #227

A mysterious writer of poison-pen letters, known only as Le Corbeau (the Raven), plagues a French provincial town, unwittingly exposing the collective suspicion and rancor seething beneath the community's calm surface. Made during the Nazi Occupation of France, Henri-Georges Clouzot's exploration of mass paranoia was attacked by the right-wing Vichy regime, the left-wing Resistance press, and the Catholic Church, and was banned after the Liberation. But in time the film reemerged as high-profile admirers like Jean Cocteau and Jean-Paul Sartre championed its powerful subtext and worked to rehabilitate Clouzot's reputation after the war. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: an interview with Bertrand Tavernier and excerpts from The Story of French Cinema by Those Who Made It: Grand Illusions 1939-1942, a 1975 documentary featuring Clouzot.
 
Tuesday, October 24
Tuesday's Short + Feature: Doodlebug and Following

In the wake of Christopher Nolan's war film Dunkirk, one of the most widely celebrated and commercially successful films of the summer, this week's Short + Feature takes a look back at the filmmaker's no-less-inventive low-budget beginnings. In the space of just three minutes, Nolan's black-and-white short Doodlebug (1997), about a man hunting a bug in his apartment that may or may not be a figment of his imagination, develops into a compellingly Kafkaesque portrait of madness, while his first feature, the psychological mystery Following (1999), also shot on 16 mm, cunningly scrambles its chronology to tell the story of a writer drawn unexpectedly into a life of crime.
 
Thursday, October 26
Observations on Film Art No. 12: Brute Force - The Actor's Toolkit

What do film actors do when they act? Few aspects of moviemaking craft are more discussed and less understood. In this month's episode of our Channel-exclusive series Observations on Film Art, Professor David Bordwell takes a close look at Jules Dassin's Brute Force (1947) to show how a performance is built from gesture, body language, and speech. Dassin's prison-escape film noir relies on economical acting from performers like Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, and Charles Bickford to create richly nuanced characterizations that resonate beyond the content of the script's hard-boiled dialogue. ACCOMPANIED BY: the Criterion edition of Brute Force.
 
Friday, October 27
Friday Night Double Feature: The Haunted Strangler and Fiend Without a Face

Terror comes from within in these chilling tales, produced by horror impresario Richard Gordon and originally released in 1958 as a double bill. A late-career showcase for monster-movie legend Boris Karloff, The Haunted Strangler follows a muckraking author (Karloff) as he attempts to uncover the real story behind a twenty-year-old series of killings, only to reveal a gruesome side of himself. And in Arthur Crabtree's sci-fi/horror hybrid Fiend Without a Face, a scientist's thoughts come to grisly life in the form of invisible monsters with an unquenchable thirst for human brains.
 
Saturday, October 28
Split Screen Season 8

Two decades after it premiered on IFC, the pioneering television series Split Screen has a streaming home on the Channel, with batches of episodes from the show's four-year run going up every month. In this priceless time capsule, host John Pierson takes viewers on an irreverent trip through filmmaking communities and movie-loving culture at the turn of the millennium. This season features a trip to South Korea to meet the animators behind The Simpsons, an investigation of Billy Graham's insanely prolific evangelical film production unit, and an appearance by Haruo Nakajima, a.k.a. the man in the Godzilla suit.
 
Monday, October 30
Hunger: Criterion Collection Edition #504

Oscar-winning British filmmaker and artist Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) turns one of history's most controversial acts of political defiance into a jarring, unforgettable cinematic experience. In Northern Ireland's Maze prison in 1981, twenty-seven-year-old Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands went on a hunger strike to protest the British government's refusal to recognize him and his fellow IRA inmates as political prisoners. McQueen dramatizes prison existence and Sands's final days in a way that is purely experiential, even abstract, a succession of images full of both beauty and horror. Featuring an intense performance by Michael Fassbender, Hunger is an unflinching, transcendent depiction of what a human being is willing to endure to be heard. SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: interviews with McQueen and Fassbender, a short documentary on the making of the film, and more.
 
Tuesday, October 31
Tuesday's Short + Feature: Swallowed* and The Brood

While the kids are out trick-or-treating, sneak in two unnerving films that milk horror from the physical and emotional trials of motherhood. A young mom finds herself possessed by eerie trances and uncontrollable impulses in dancer-filmmaker Lily Baldwin's Swallowed, made as part of the dream-inspired omnibus Collective: Unconscious (2016). And David Cronenberg's The Brood (1979) sets a mother's rage loose on her daughter, taking the director's obsession with bodily and psychological carnage to bloodcurdling extremes.
*Premiering on the Channel this month.
 
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Complete list of films premiering on the Criterion Channel this month:

October 1
Harold and Maude, Hal Ashby, 1971
On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan, 1954
 
October 2
The Extraordinary Life of Rocky, Kevin Meul, 2010
 
October 5
Lenny Cooke, Josh and Benny Safdie, 2013
The Black Balloon, Josh and Benny Safdie, 2012
John's Gone, Josh and Benny Safdie, 2010
Daddy Longlegs, Josh and Benny Safdie, 2009
The Pleasure of Being Robbed, Josh Safdie, 2008
The Acquaintances of a Lonely John, Benny Safdie, 2008
We're Going to the Zoo, Josh Safdie, 2006
 
October 6
The Arbor, Clio Barnard, 2010
The Selfish Giant, Clio Barnard, 2013
The Junk Shop, Juraj Herz, 1965
The Cremator, Juraj Herz, 1968
Golden Demon, Koji Shima, 1954
La chambre, Chantal Akerman, 1972
A Taxing Woman's Return, Juzo Itami, 1988
 
October 12
Paradise: Love, Ulrich Seidl, 2012
Paradise: Faith, Ulrich Seidl, 2013
Paradise: Hope, Ulrich Seidl, 2013
 
October 13
Oslo, August 31st, Joachim Trier, 2011
June Night, Per Lindberg, 1940
Blindfolded Eyes, Carlos Saura, 1978
History Is Made at Night, Frank Borzage, 1937
Gap-Toothed Women, Les Blank, 1987
The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists, Les Blank, 1995
Ciao Federico, Gideon Bachmann, 1970
The Seventh Continent, Michael Haneke, 1989
Benny's Video, Michael Haneke, 1992
71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance, Michael Haneke, 1994
The Piano Teacher, Michael Haneke, 2001
 
October 16
Life During Wartime, Todd Solondz, 2009
 
October 17
Tord and Tord, Niki Lindroth von Bahr, 2010
 
October 20
Madonna of the Seven Moons, Arthur Crabtree, 1945
I Am Curious - Blue, Vilgot Sjöman, 1968
Café au lait, Mathieu Kassovitz, 1993
My Home Is Copacabana, Arne Sucksdorff, 1965
 
October 25
The Edge of the World, Michael Powell, 1937
 
October 27
L'enfance nue, Maurice Pialat, 1968
A Man There Was, Victor Sjöström, 1917
Until the End of the World, Wim Wenders, 1991
More, Barbet Schroeder, 1969
Intimate Relations, Philip Goodhew, 1996
 
October 31
Swallowed, Lily Baldwin, 2016
 
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The Criterion Channel offers the largest streaming collection of Criterion films available, including classic and contemporary films from around the world, interviews and conversations with filmmakers and never-before-seen programming. The channel's weekly calendar features complete Criterion editions, thematic retrospectives, live events, short films, and select contemporary features, along with exclusive original programming that aims to enhance the Criterion experience for the brand's dedicated fans as well as expanding its reach to new audiences. Other recent additions to the programming include MEET THE FILMMAKER: ATHINA RACHEL TSANGARI and ADVENTURES IN MOVIEGOING WITH BILL HADER.

ABOUT FILMSTRUCK

FilmStruck is a new subscription on-demand service that offers film aficionados a comprehensive library of films including an eclectic mix of contemporary and classic art house, indie, foreign and cult films. Developed and managed by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in collaboration with the Criterion Collection, FilmStruck will be the new exclusive streaming home for the critically acclaimed and award-winning Criterion Collection, including the Criterion Channel, a new premium service programmed and curated by the Criterion team.  FilmStruck is Turner's first domestic direct-to-consumer offering launched in November 2016.

ABOUT THE CRITERION COLLECTION

Since 1984, the Criterion Collection has been dedicated to publishing important classic and contemporary films from around the world in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements. No matter the medium-from laserdisc to DVD and Blu-ray to FilmStruck, the streaming service developed in collaboration with Turner Classic Movies - Criterion has maintained its pioneering commitment to presenting each film as its maker would want it seen, in state-of-the-art restorations with special features designed to encourage repeated watching and deepen the viewer's appreciation of the art of film.

May 31, 2017

JESSICA CHASTAIN WHITELADYSPLAINS THE 2017 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

OH NO SHE DI'ENT. OH YES SHE DI'ID.

Jessica Chastain Dumps On All The Films In Competition At Cannes

Jump to 04:08 to watch Jessica Chastain whiteladysplain how poorly female characters were represented in the films-in-competition this year at Cannes. Sadly, Ms. Chastain is unable to articulate examples from the undisclosed films that she ham-fistedly calls out. As a result, no one has any idea what she's talking about. When Chastain opines about not seeing female characters she "recognizes," it begs the question of who exactly who the wealthy actress imagines — possibly the neighbors in her apartment building next to Central Park. It's a good thing that her refurbished Manhattan apartment only set her back $5.1 million. Refurbishing the 19th century apartment cost more. 

Chastain's dubious intention seems to draw attention to herself, rather than to the matter at hand. It just doesn't pass the BS detector test as the facial expression of female interpreter sitting behind Chastain evinces. This is clearly not Jessica Chastain's finest hour. 

Chastain at Cannes

That Chastain's buzzkill remarks come during a year when two women filmmakers were recognized with major awards at Cannes — Lynne Ramsey took home the Best Script Award for "You Were Never Really Here," and Sofia Coppola won the Best Director Award for "The Beguiled" — further blunts Chastain's point. Perhaps it would have served the press conference better to celebrate the female filmmakers whose (ostensibly) ethical artistic efforts stood in opposition to depictions of women characters Chastain disapproved of in the unnamed films that she cast aspersions on.

A little preparation for making her point might have served her better. When taken in the context of the daggers being shot by Pedro Almodovar's translator, it seems that such whiteladysplaining isn't everyone's cup of tea. And I'll take Vera Farmiga, as an actress, over Jessica Chastain any day of the week. If you haven't checked out "Bates Motel," I highly recommend it. Farmiga runs circles around Chastain with acting chops that match Naomi Watts, another polished actress who outperforms Jessica Chastain. I could go on. Have you seen what Gina Gershon can do? Whew. I guess it brings us around to Kirsten Dunst, whose performance in "The Beguiled" didn't pass the Bechtel test. 

Agnes Jaoui

Fortunately, Agnes Jaoui took over the baton to reduce the issue to meeting the criteria of the Bechtel Test — wherein in two female characters discuss something other than a male. Admittedly, that's setting the bar pretty low. Wait, Noah Baumbach's movie "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)" didn't pass the Bechtel Test? — Shocker. Take it up with Noah.

Will Smith pitched in to clean up Chastain's mess by noting that having a couple of black folks (filmmakers in competition) "wouldn't be a bad thing either." Smith may fill the shoes of a boisterous American abroad, but he nevertheless presented a suave and worldly representative of Global Culture. Cheers to Will Smith as a responsible envoy of cinematic culture to put a pin in Chastain's entitled Trumpian version of truth. 

Will Smith

April 14, 2017

THE SIX KINKIEST MOVIE SEX SCENES

One man's kink is the same as a woman's in the big bad world of BDSM. Films from William FriedkinLuis Buñuel, Steven Shainberg, David Cronenberg, Nicholas Wendig Refn, and David Lynch provide this sexy video essay with meat for kink. You might want a fork and a spoon. 


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January 26, 2017

UNDERMINING THE NAZIS ON FILMSTRUCK STREAMING WITH COLE SMITHEY

Elem Klimov's communist parents constructed his first name as an acronym taken from Engels, Lenin, and Marx. During his 70 years, Elem Klimov made only five films: "Welcome, or No Trespassing" (1964), "The Adventures of a Dentist" (1965), "Agony" (1975) and "Farewell" (1981). "Come and See" was his astounding final picture that would finally establish Klimov as a storyteller of untold narrative depth and intuitive filmic sensitivity.

For the film, Klimov fashioned a detailed visual vernacular of dialectic form. His original, rigorous narrative format compresses the overwhelming heartbreak of Hitler's War. We experience its many jolts, shocks, and horrors. By the film's end, we witness a young boy's soul so terribly ravaged by the war's horrors that he resembles an old man.

Objectively, "Come and See" is Elem Klimov's brave attempt to cinematically compartmentalize and contextualize his own wartime experiences as a child escaping the battle of Stalingrad, in the company of his mother and younger brother, by raft across the Volga while the city burned to the ground behind them. Klimov said of the indelible event, in relation to "Come and See," "Had I included everything I knew, and shown the whole truth, even I could not have watched it."

Francois Truffaut’s third to last film, "The Lat Metro," draws on his childhood experiences growing up in Paris during the Nazi occupation between 1940 and 1944. Truffaut was born in 1932. Both his uncle and grandfather were active in the French Resistance.

THE LAST METRO

For the most popular of his later films (“The Last Metro” won 10 César Awards), Truffaut spent years piecing together the script with details taken from newspaper stories or anecdotal experiences. The passive resistance of his characters exudes a confidence of purpose that they discreetly understate, and yet astutely pronounce with their clandestine actions, hidden in plain sight. That Truffaut wrote the film’s leading role of Marion specifically for Catherine Deneuve is transparent as it is rewarding.

Much like “Casablanca,” “The Last Metro” (1980) is a wartime romantic drama guided by the magnificent charisma of their similarly exquisite onscreen couplings. The ideal pairing of Gerard Depardieu (working at the height of his powers) with Catherine Deneuve is a cinematic treat every bit as enticing and fulfilling as seeing Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman fulfill their characters' ethical obligations. If Truffaut owes a great debt to “Casablanca,” he couldn’t have paid it back with any more style, integrity, wit, authenticity, and nostalgic romance as he creates with "The Last Metro."

The Marriage of Maria Braun

Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s bold depiction of postwar Germany in “The Marriage of Maria Braun” shares a theme of womanly independence to that of Barbara Stanwyck’s implacable character in the pre-code classic “Baby Face” (Alfred E. Green, 1933). Guided by his frequent muse Hanna Schygulla (“The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant”), Fassbinder takes a dryly neo-realist approach that combines documentary techniques with formal compositions to underpin the drama. Michael Ballhaus’s brilliant cinematography is two parts raw and refined.

As Maria partners with a wealthy industrialist, to whom she also serves as his mistress, she accumulates the wealth she seeks to provide for her Nazi soldier husband upon his release from prison. The war has transmogrifies her heart into a ball of repressed emotion. Maria and her husband are victims of a war whose effects will continue to be passed for many generations to come. The economics of war is always a lose/lose proposition; regardless of how much money it drives.

The Night Porter

It has taken decades for the shocks of controversy surrounding Liliana Cavani’s magnificent picture “The Night Porter” (1974) to catch up with the uncomfortable intimate truths that Cavani illuminates. Liliana Cavani was 40 years ahead of her time.

If the plot sounds like a pure sexploitation picture along the lines of “Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS,” it proves every bit as transgressive, but all the more political in its provocations.

Charlotte Rampling is Lucia, a leftist (non-Jewish) Holocaust survivor who carried on a BDSM relationship with one of her Nazi guards during her time spent starving in the concentration camps. Lucia played the part of a submissive who received protection in return from her SS dom lover Max (Dirk Bogard).

It is 1957 when Lucia, now married to an American orchestra conductor, discovers her former SS master working as a night porter in the Vienna hotel where she and her husband stay. Soon the former lovers are up to their old games of master-and-slave.

Cavani doesn’t merely flirt with the taboo subject matter of a prisoner and guard carrying out their roles within the context of obsessive fetishized sex, she grabs it by the throat and listens to the body gasping for air. Sex allows Max and Lucia to breathe.

People will always find ways to express themselves regardless of the physical or mental restraints placed on them. If those expressions take on an intrinsically dark and primal reflection then you know you have hit the animal nerve that sex brings out in all of us. Freedom is a construct of the mind that allows the body to follow down any hallway, no matter how dark.

Come and See

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January 10, 2017

FEMINIST THEORIES ARE STREAMING ON FILMSTRUCK

Although condemned by some cultural gatekeepers and critics as indecent (even after And God Created Woman was edited, and dubbed, for its U.S. release), Brigitte Bardot's stunning portrayal of a freethinking woman became the celebrated subject of Simone de Beauvoir's 1959 essay The Lolita Syndrome. In it, de Beauvoir described Brigitte Bardot as a "locomotive of women's history" for good reason. The petite but curvy French actress captured the collective global imaginations of women and men alike. Still, the picture adds up to more than merely Bardot's obvious physical allure and headstrong attitude. It is a timeless social document of the ways that a young woman's allure can fuel, destroy, and build the dreams of men who fall under her spell. If Helen of Troy was "the face that launched a thousand ships," Brigitte Bardot was the girl who incited a sea change of sexual liberation in Western culture.

Fat Girl

Originally entitled A Ma Soeur! (To My Sister), this film's inapt English title Fat Girl (2001) does the picture an injustice. This obvious public relations ploy, to stir controversy with a derogatory term, cheapens writer-director Catherine Breillat'sbold thematic statements regarding budding female sexuality in the modern world, and feminist ideals at large.

Anaïs Reboux plays Anaïs Pingot, the Rubenesque 12-year-old sister to the lithe Elena (Roxane Mesquida) who, at the age of 15, is anxious to lose her virginity. Anaïs's observant, if pokerfaced, vantage points on morality and social conditions enable her to survive a traumatic event through the brutal life lessons she vicariously learns from the world around her. Fat Girl is an understated picture that doesn't shy away from any of the ambitious feminist heights that Breillat fearlessly mounts with surgical precision. Breillat's ear for naturalistic dialogue is especially exact during an extended seduction scene that is a centerpiece of the film. Like Catherine Breillat's watershed debut feature (A Real Young Girl) Fat Girl is a masterpiece awaiting inspection from audiences prepared to grapple with its unveiled meanings and insightful commentary on womanhood.

Story of Women

Claude Chabrol's Story Of Women delves into the difficult conditions of a Nazi-occupied French town that transforms a mother of two into a hardened opportunist. Isabelle Huppertwalks a fine line as an anti-heroine whose broken relationship with her PTSD-suffering husband (François Cluzet) culminates in a betrayal of epic proportions. Marie's motivations shift as she lifts her family out of poverty by providing soap-induced abortions to local prostitutes with whom she carries on friendships. Because abortions were criminalized in France — from 1920 to 1975 — due to a grievous loss of French men during World War I and II, Marie-Louise Giraud became an ideal scapegoat for a French court looking to send a message to the French populace at large.

Zero Motivation

Writer-director Talya Lavie takes inspiration from Jean Vigo's once banned 1933 film Zero For Conduct, about a bourgeoning rebellion in an all boys boarding school, to transpose a narrative drawn from her experiences serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Although Zero Motivation might play as a light comedy to Israeli audiences, the film echoes systemic abuses suffered by female soldiers in the America military where rape is a common occurrence. When our defiant heroine soldier Zohar (Dana Ivgy) attempts to lose her virginity to a fellow soldier, she requests that he "be more gentle." His callous response, "I'm combat, baby" speaks volumes about the sexist effects of his military training. From a feminist perspective Zero Motivation is possibly the most challenging film of the four titles included in this brief survey of feminist themed films currently streaming on FilmStruck.

Turner's subscription movie service FilmStruck is an online streaming service, managed by Turner Classic Movies,  that offers an exhaustive collection of current and classic arthouse films, and is the exclusive streaming site for the Criterion Collection. FilmStruck is currently available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, on the web, as well as on iOS and Android devices. FilmStuck will soon be available for access on Roku and Google Chromecast.

And God Created Woman_10


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December 04, 2016

THE 10 BEST FILMS OF 2016

Every year critics habitually bemoan how awful the previous year's film were. However, 2016 truly was the worst year for Hollywood movies as far back as you or anyone you know can remember. Cinematic abominations like Ben-Hur, Ghostbusters, Suicide Squad or Sully don't stack up. Sure there were exceptions — Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Snowden and The Shallows were pretty good, but even these rarities don't come up to par against solid foreign offerings such as Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake or Paul Verhoeven's Elle.

Hollywood's never-ending stream of instantly forgettable movies, predictably aimed at 14-year-olds, is enough to keep any sentient adult from leaving the comfort of his or her home. Who could blame them? Projector prices have come down significantly in recent years. Blu-rays and streaming services (such as Netflix or FilmStruck) look as good on a 75" screen at home as they do at your local multiplex. Not to mention you don't have to worry about fellow audience members pulling out cell phones, kicking your chair, rattling cellphone or talking over the film.

Film production interlopers such as Netflix and Amazon Studios are strategically giving Hollywood a run for its consistently bloated budgets. Both companies are producing and distributing documentaries and independent films that give audiences movies that don't rely on overblown gun violence to entertain.

2017 promises to deliver ever more bland sequels, remakes and superhero disasters from Los Angeles. Still, the playing field is shifting. In the meantime you might want to check out some of the best films of 2016. They might not be the biggest moneymakers, but any movie lover knows that quality isn't always reflected in box office receipts.

13th

While Ava DuVernay’s documentary doesn’t fully articulate the incremental genocide of blacks in America, she does spell out the country’s ongoing slavery of blacks in its prisons. Get schooled.

13th

 

Ma Loute

Bruno Dumont’s devilish French period farce of class conflict and cannibalism draws delicate lines of surrealism, satire and magical realism over the film’s explicit use of slapstick humor. This is one sophisticated high-wire cinematic act.

Ma Loute

 

Hell or High Water

David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water is a politically motivated neo-western torn from the pages of Sam Shepherd’s playbook. Gritty performances from Ben Foster, Chris Pine, and Jeff Bridges make movie magic happen.

Hell-or-Hight-Water

 

Summertime

Co-screenwriter/director Catherine Corsini crafts a fine romantic lesbian drama filled with organic feminine passion and ethical import. Audiences looking for female-led dramas that are genuine by design need only seek out this impressive film.

Summertime

 

Paterson

“Paterson” is the kind of movie that you walk out of a different person. The film purifies the viewer in a gentle and loving way. It reminds us that we are all poets if we invest a little of our experiences into words and supportive actions.

Paterson

 

I Am Not Your Negro

Samuel L. Jackson’s pitch-perfect rendition of James Baldwin’s unmistakable voice is as pure as Baldwin’s recollections of his murdered civil rights peers Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. collected in his unfinished manuscript “Remember This House.”  

James Baldwin

 

The Handmaiden

Erotic, social, emotional, and political intrigue attend Park Chan-Wook’s baroque psychological thriller set in Korea under Japanese colonial rule during the early to mid 20th century. Stunning.  

Handmaiden

  

Manchester By The Sea

Proof that Casey Affleck is the finest actor of his generation, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s familial drama breathes with pain, humor, and grit. See this movie on the big screen with an audience. You’ll never forget it.

Manchester

 

Elle

“Elle” is a diabolically gleeful black comedy brimming with sly social commentary and traumatically induced sexual fetishes. Verhoeven’s masterful direction, Isabelle Huppert’s nuanced performance, and David Birke’s unfiltered adaptation of Philippe Dijan’s novel combine to form a perfect film. 

Elle

 

I, Daniel Blake

Dramatically understated, and yet precisely composed, "I, Daniel Blake" presents a pointed call to political social and political action. Long live Ken Loach.

I-Daniel-Blake


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October 06, 2016

THE DIRECTORS VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: BY COLE SMITHEY

STEVEN SPIELBERG: POPULIST

AKIRA KUROSAWA: PIONEER

TAKESHI KITANO: RENAISSANCE MAN

SOFIA COPPOLA: AUTEUR

 ROBERT ALTMAN: SATIRIST

 JIM JARMUSCH: OUTLIER

 SAM PECKINPAH: LIBERATOR

 KEN LOACH: SOCIAL REALIST

 JOE CARNAHAN: THE BEST-KEPT SECRET

 CATHERINE BREILLAT: TRANSGRESSOR

 WERNER HERZOG: MENSCH

DAVID FINCHER: MODERNIST

WILLIAM FRIEDKIN: THE MUSCLE

JOHN CASSAVETES: INDIE ICON

PAUL VERHOEVEN: REBEL

LARS VON TRIER: PROVOCATEUR

QUENTIN TARANTINO: MAVERICK

 ALFRED HITCHCOCK: MASTER OF SUSPENSE

 LUIS BUNUEL: FETISHIST


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