Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

One for now, one for later

It's hard to describe Guilermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth: It's a fairy tale for adults, a fantasy film about real-life monsters. It's a haunting film, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. I'll say more about it later, but for now think of Borges writing for the Muppets, with Bertolucci directing. Can't imagine that? Good, because that doesn't quite do it justice anyway. The Guardian offers a peek at some of the director's sketches and notebooks for this dreamlike film here.

And while it will probably be another year before we get to see it, a new film by Wong Kar-Wai is always a dreamy experience. His next, My Blueberry Nights, is an American road movie starring Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Norah Jones. The New York Times takes an advance look at the map.

Until then, here's two small tastes of WKW, the DJ Shadow music video "Six Days" and a very short commercial for Lacoste.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Critical Voices

He can be infuriating, dogmatic, even a bit irrational, but there's little doubt that Robin Wood is one of the most important voices in film criticism, as much now as he was forty years ago. His books on Hitchcock and Hawks are essential contributions to auteurist thinking, his work on horror films (focusing on DePalma, Cronenberg and Cohen) set standards for ideology and genre-based criticism that have yet to be matched, and above all, his relentless honesty about his own life and his willingness to modify his positions over time are a model to anyone who expects criticism to be more than a breathless exclamatory quote for the benefit of film publicists. This brief but fascinating interview from "Your Flesh" offers a kind of "Beginner's Guide" to some of Wood's interests over the years. But don't stop there: If you haven't already read them, proceed immediately to the books below.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Jack Palance

"A need for truth"

Moviegoers in New York (and later, Los Angeles and London) can take in a retrospective of the work of a cinematic master, Roberto Rossellini. The rest of us will just have to make do with the few available titles on video and this assessment by Manohla Dargis in the New York Times.

In Memoriam: Most of the obituaries of Fereydoun Hoveyda, who died a few days ago, make note only of his role as an Iranian diplomat, but film enthusiasts may remember him just as well as one of the founders of "Cahiers du Cinema" and one of its most enthusiastic contributors in the 1950s. This article from The Persian Mirror takes a closer look Hoveyda's critical skills and interest in the arts, and provides a link to this brief note on the roots of his cinephilia.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It's only rock and roll...

...but the news that Martin Scorsese is working on a documentary/concert film about the Rolling Stones - and with documentary giant Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter), no less - is pretty exciting. Scorsese's No Direction Home was pretty close to a masterpiece, but deliberately limited in its scope, focusing entirely on the first half of the 1960s and using the Dylan's conversion to electric music and the release of "Like a Rolling Stone" as a climax. I suspect that his affinity for the Stones and his gift for capturing live performances will push the new film in other directions. At any rate, this comes close to tying Todd Hayne's I'm Not There as the most interesting musical project of 2007.

Other musical diversions:
Is there really a statue of Willie Nelson in Nacogdoches TX, or is this just something they worked up for an album cover?
If it's for real, I want a whole carton of postcards.
And finally, two websites that have wasted a trickload of my time recently:
- Bedazzled! - it's like YouTube for people with eccentric tastes in old pop music.
- the official site for the Tenacious D movie - worth exploring at length, especially the "Satan's VCR" and "Rock The Internet" sections (though the latter was a bit slooooooowwwwww).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Charlie Chaplin to D.W. Griffith: "I don't know about you, but I'm starting to get dizzy"

From a much-reprinted press release earlier this week:
"Tom and Paula are the modern versions of the iconic founders of United Artists - Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith - and our partnership with them reaffirms our commitment to providing creative talent with a comfortable home at United Artists and a dedicated distribution partner in MGM. United Artists is once again the haven for independent filmmakers and a vital resource in developing quality filmed entertainment consistent with MGM's modern studio model."
All of which suggests a grest new game: What contemporary celebrities can be lauded as inappropriate equivalents to silent stars?
Jennifer Aniston is the modern Clara Bow.
Paris Hilton is the modern Greta Garbo.
Madonna is the modern Nazimova.
The Wayans Brothers are the modern Laurel and Hardy.
Any contributions defining the modern Buster Keaton, William S. Hart, Louise Brooks, Gloria Swanson or Fatty Arbuckle are welcome.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Exercise your right to vote...

It's time for the National Film Registry to make its latest list of new additions. You can help out by making your suggestions to Steve Leggett at the Library of Congress. For more information, look here. For a list of what's already made it to the list, look here.