Short Take

TIFF 2012 – Day 6

Dormant Beauty (Bellocchio), Something in the Air (Assayas), Berberian Sound Studio (Strickland), Nights with Theodore (Betbeder), and The Last Time I Saw Macao (Rodrigues and Guerra da Mata).

TIFF 2012 – Day 5

The Master (Anderson), Once Upon a Time Was I, Veronica (Gomes), Birds (Abrantes), and Viola (Piñeiro).

TIFF 2012 – Day 4

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami), Far from Vietnam, Tower (Radwanski), and August and After (Dorsky).

TIFF 2012 – Day 3

Gebo and the Shadow (de Oliveira), differently, Molussia (Rey), and Night Across the Street (Ruiz).

TIFF 2012 – Day 2

Barbara (Petzold), Mekong Hotel (Apitchatpong), Big in Vietnam (Diop), Sightseers (Wheatley), Student (Omirbayev), and Wavelengths 1.

TIFF 2012 – Day 1

In Another Country (Hong), Laurence Anyways (Dolan), Argo (Affleck), and Tabu (Gomes).

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2012)

I expected Ceylan to fill 150 minutes with stunning images; I didn’t expect him to deliver what might be my favorite script of the past decade.

Nostalgia, Chaos, and Moments of Ecstasy: The 36th Toronto International Film Festival

This essay was originally published at Senses of Cinema.

Wavelengths: Tamalpais and Hotel Roccalba

Short responses to Chris Kennedy’s Tamalpais and Josef Dabernig’s Hotel Roccalba.

Lumphini 2552

My tendency when describing a film like Lumphini 2552 is to fall back on Modernist rallying cries like that old Ezra Pound chestnut, “Make it new!” Maybe a useful way to think of Nishikawa’s film is as a beautifully defamiliarized — and uniquely cinematic — landscape.

2009 SFIFF Diary 3

Petter Greenaway’s Rembrandt’s J’Accuse and The Other One by Patrick Mario Bernard and Pierre Trividic.

2009 SFIFF Diary 2

Heddy Honigmann’s Oblivion, Frazer Bradshaw’s Everything Strange and New, Claire Denis’s 35 Shots of Rum (yes, again), Javor Gardev’s Zift, and Mikheil Kalatozishvili’s Wild Field.

2009 SFIFF Diary 1

Atom Egoyan’s Adoration and Catherine Breillat’s Bluebeard.

Films of the ’80s (part 1)

Short responses to films by Maurice Pialat, William Friedkin, Louis Malle, Paul Schrader, Nicolas Roeg, Mike Leigh, and Michel Deville.

New Directions: The 33rd Toronto International Film Festival

This essay was originally published at Senses of Cinema.

Revanche and Delta

I’ve developed a lazy habit of saying that I don’t particularly care what a film is about; I care what it does formally. But, while well-directed and wonderfully performed, the standout feature of Gotz Spielmann’s Revanche is the story, which, particularly over the last 80 minutes, is perfectly constructed.

Los Muertos (2004)

What fascinates me about Los Muertos is that it explores the connection between form and content by taking all of the tropes of “transcendental cinema” and staining them, by narrative means, with dread and violence. It reminds me of Brian Eno’s answer (apocryphal, perhaps) when he was asked if he was the father of New Age music: “No, my music has evil in it.”

2007 TIFF Day 8

Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, Lee Kang-sheng’s Help Me Eros, Nanouk Leopold’s Wolfsbergen, and Alessandro Capone’s L’Amour Cache.

2007 TIFF Day 7

Catherine Breillat’s Une vieille maitresse, Brian De Palma’s Redacted, and Jose Luis Guerin’s Dans la ville de Sylvie.

2007 TIFF Day 6

Carlos Reygadas’s Silent Light, Bernard Emond’s Contre Toute Esperance, and Celine Sciamma’s Naissance des pieuvres.

2007 TIFF Day 5

The Coen brothers’ No County for Old Men, Anahi Berneri’s Encarnacion, Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Bruce McClure’s Everytwo Circumflicksrent…Page 298.

2007 TIFF Day 4

Lucia Puenzo’s XXY, Lee Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine, Saverio Costanzo’s In Memory of Myself, Hannes Schupbach’s Erzahlung, and Heinz Emigholz’s Schindler’s Houses.

2007 TIFF Days 1 and 2

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Wang Bing’s Fengming, A Chinese Memoir, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge, Peter Hutton’s At Sea, and Sandra Kogut’s Mutum.

A Few Words About Zodiac

David Fincher’s Zodiac is absolutely haunted by the specter of technology and by the present-day confidence we have in its objectivity.

2007 SFIFF Capsules

A few notes typed at the end of a long flight home.

Godard’s “Paradise”

A throwaway observation: The many reviewers who have described act 3 of Notre Musique as “pastoral” and “lyrical” are projecting their own desires onto it.

Fassbinder

Last night I watched Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) for the first time in six or seven years. I’m relatively unfamiliar with Fassbinder and have never had much of a sense of his style. What struck me last night was how avant-garde, formally, Ali is.

History and Politics

These Girls is a difficult film to watch. Rached avoids over-sentimentalizing her subject, and, frankly, the girls have been hardened to the point that, at times, I found it difficult to muster the appropriate sympathy for them. (I say that with embarrassment.)

Three for Three

Perhaps it’s simply the inevitable result of paring down my schedule from 44 films in 2005 (only 35 of which I actually saw) to “only” 33 this year, but my sense while researching and planning over the past weeks was that TIFF’s lineup is stronger, top to bottom, this time around than in previous years.

Welcome to Sarajevo (1997)

When I was aware of Winterbottom’s mise-en-scene at all, I was frustrated by its haphazardness — odd cuts are scotchtaped together by forced music cues, the camera jumps too often into the subjective perspective of unimportant characters (an after-the-fact narrative justification for Winterbottom’s use of a hand-held, I suspect), and the central story gets lost in the noise of several side-plots.

You’re Tearing Me Apart!

Or, a few words about Nicholas Ray’s Born to be Bad (1950) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955).

And Then There Were None

A friend’s line last year was, “Thank God there are no more movies. I wish there were more movies.” That about sums it up, I’d say. A last batch of first impressions.

Movies, They’re Everywhere, Man. EVERYWHERE!

Last Thursday, Girish introduced me to a friend of his, a Toronto native who had just returned from Montreal, where he had seen 54 films at that festival. He had another 45 tickets in hand for TIFF. I don’t get it. I just left my 31st film (I think), and I’m exhausted. Completely.

Losing Touch with Reality

I haven’t decided if the quality of films is improving or if I’m simply developing calluses to sentimentality and failed ambitions, but I’ve seen several good films (though few great ones) since my last update — and not a dud in the lot.

The Very Best Intentions

After three days, 14 films, a brilliant Sufjan Stevens concert, several fantastic meals, and too little sleep, I’ve abandoned my ambitions of blogging a brief capsule review of everything I see. There’s too little time, and I don’t want my TIFF experience to be hampered by blog guilt. Instead, here are some brief comments — first impressions and unsupported opinions, mostly.

A Few Words on . . .

Week in Review: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, John Vanderslice, DeLillo, Hornby, Jarmusch, and The Battle of Algiers

Week in Review

With apologies to Nick Hornby. While reading The Polysyllabic Spree, a collection of his “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” columns from The Believer, two things occurred to me.

The Great Films, Part 1

In a deliberate effort to beef up my cinephile cred, lately I’ve been loading my GreenCine queue with selections from the list of 1,000 Greatest Films compiled by the folks at They Shoot Pictures.

Short Takes

Some recent viewings: Notre Musique, The Best Years of Our Lives, Sunrise, Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.

Random Musings . . .

On some recent viewings . . . Shame (Bergman, 1968) — Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow star as Eva and Jan Rosenberg, cultured musicians who escape to a rural island when their orchestra is shut down during a war. Their new, more simple life as farmers is soon interrupted when their home is invaded, […]

Hour of the Wolf (1968)

Hour of the Wolf is Ingmar Bergman’s vampire film. Let me repeat that: Hour of the Wolf (1968) is Ingmar Bergman’s vampire film.

Fahrenheit 9/11

Like millions of others, I lined up this weekend to see Fahrenheit 9/11.

A (Very) Few Words on Twentynine Palms

A much longer response is in the works.

Late August, Early September (1998)

Like, one of Rohmer’s late comedies, the charm of Late August is found almost entirely in its characters (all of whom are likeable enough and three-dimensional enough) and in the smart things they say to one another. They twist themselves in existential knots, struggling to balance their idealized visions of integrity with the muddy necessity: compromise.