Saturday, April 29, 2017

Produced and Abandoned #20

More titles deserving a general DVD release.

1. Remember My Name (1978)- Altman proselyte Alan Rudolph's debut feature is said to be a nifty Hitchockian rift. I think I saw this on shoddy VHS back in the day when I became fascinated by some of Rudolph's other films, but not a single image of it remains in my head.

2. Seven Beauties (1975)- Most of Lina Wertmuller's once available films are now long out of print and going for exorbitant prices online. Some were in heavy rotation on Bravo (remember when they played movies) or Sundance back in the 90's and I caught snippets of them, but "Seven Beauties", often called her neglected masterpiece, is nowhere to be seen any longer.

3. Spoiled Children (1977)- So little of Bertrand Tavernier is available, especially his early output. This film about a director trying to write a screenplay and getting involved with all types of diversions in a rented apartment sounds interesting. With Tavernier's recent film about the history of cinema, hopefully someone will look at his back catalogue.

4. Denise Calls Up (1994)-  The independent filmmaking boom of the 90's did so much for the art. It gave us a new wave of talent that, like the French Nouvelle Vague, redefined our expectations of how and why movies get made. It also got a variety of sub-par stuff green lit by studios in hopes of catering to the its new-found audiences. "Denise Calls Up" may be that, but I remember it fondly when I caught it late at night on Sundance Channel back in the day.

5. Land and Freedom (1995)- There's more Ken Loach on home video then isn't, however, this 1995 film (which I feel is one of his best) still hasn't found a stable home on DVD outside of a British release in 2001.

6. Involuntary (2008)- After the recent smash hit of "Force Majeure", there was some interest in unearthing filmmaker Ruben Ostlund's previous work, but there's been no headway since. This 2008 film, which seems to be about a cross-section of people old and young in yet another stressful situation, cements Ostlund as a purveyor of the social climate and all its inadequacies. It sounds terrific.

7. The Last of England (1987)- A surprising number of Jarman films are available (on Netflix no less), but this 1987 film, considered to be his best by some, is not one of them. This film sounds extreme- the rounding up and shooting of innocent middle class English families- and its controversial use of image and sound make this one that any adventurous film lover should be able to view.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Current Cinema 17.3

The Zookeeper's Wife

Niki Caro's rendition of the bestselling book of the same name is heartbreaking fodder for the overtly sentimental story of a husband and wife in Poland during World War II, yet she manages to craft a film that ears its sniffles with a purposeful eye and ear for the small nuances of character and plot. It helps that Jessica Chastain is the wife in question, stoically doing her part to help hide Jews while her husband (an equally great Johan Heldenbergh) gets drawn into the trenches of the Polish Resistance. Basically, the film had me from the very beginning when Chastain helps a young elephant back to life. Those tender moments of human frailty trying to save lives- no matter the species- serves as a cold rebuttal to the oncoming Nazi plague of human obliteration.

Personal Shopper

Sometimes, hype ruins a film for me. Hearing about Assayas' latest "modern ghost story" since wowing people at Cannes almost a year ago, the landmines were firmly established. Thankfully, "Personal Shopper" exceeds expectations. Starring Kristen Stewart in a restless, frazzled performance that makes her tenuous connection to the afterlife that much more electric, Assayas spins his drama in so many directions that it could fail at any one of them, but doesn't. Part metaphysical ghost story, part murder-mystery and part travelogue, "Personal Shopper" ultimately becomes a pregnant examination of all these genres. It also has something magnificent to say about the transience of life. As the titular personal shopper, Assayas has cast Stewart as the anonymous presence who shops and supplies clothing for a famous celebrity in Paris. Stewart hates the job, and she's stuck emotionally as well, waiting for a sign from the afterlife from her recently deceased brother. Problem is, something else attaches itself to her while playing in the wold of shadows. "Personal Shopper" is startling, perplexing, mischievous and subtly chilling.


Is it sacrilege to say I like this Schwarzenegger over Terminator Schwarzenegger?  Full review on
Dallas Film Now.

After the Storm

The best word to describe the films of Hirokazu Koeeda would be generous. This is yet another. Full review on Dallas Film Now