Saturday, January 20, 2007

Stephen Holden has an article in the NY Times on Scott Siegel; Scott and Barbara were always people Larry and i looked forward to seeing on the film festival circuit, but they haven't been going to as many screenings, now that Scott's been so active producing events for Town Hall, and Barbara's been so active with the Drama Desk Awards. But they were always really fun and enthusiastic.

A lot of information on various blogs. George Robinson alerts people to the upcoming screenings at Anthology of Lynne Sachs's videos; he has some really sharp comments on her work, and her work is certainly worth checking out. I was glad to have seen "States of Unbelonging", which i found very acute in its depiction of the emotional trauma associated with the current situation in the Middle East. George also recommends Garrel's "Regular Lovers" which starts a run at the Cinema Village; it certainly will be one of the most important films released in NYC in 2007, and it's only January! But Garrel's film has a sleepwalking, tranced-out beauty... very "underground". Anyway, George's blog is available at and also includes his thoughts on Ten Best lists.

Matt Zoller Seitz is now a stringer for the NY Times, taking over from Nathan Lee, who is now at The Village Voice. I'm glad to see Matt on a regular beat, his blog is always amusing ( because it's an ongoing online journal, with a number of contributors taking on (say) "Deadwood" and its signification, or doing a tribute to Barbara Stanwyck. Matt has been missed in The New York Press: he and Armond provided a wonderful counterpoint to each other.

Sundance has started, watched the first "Festival Dailies" on the Sundance Channel, strange to see Shari Frilot and John Cooper...

This week, went to the press screening for the revival of Jacques Demy's "The Pied Piper", forgot how much the opening is like a picture-book version of "The Seveth Seal", but the scene with the wedding cake in the shape of a castle, with the rats eating their way out from the inside... that remains a stratling scene. Ran into Jim Hoberman and Armond White at the screening... it was funny, there were three other people when i got there, and then Jim came, and we were talking with Stephanie, and she said she was waiting for one more person, and then Armond showed up. Of course! It was a Jacques Demy movie! I do think "The Pied Piper" is one of the better Demy movies, it's not quite totally successful (what i assume were budgetary restrictions made the ending, with the rats and then the children being led away by Donovan, seem to be rather desultory)... Jim had an interesting comment, he said that "The Pied Piper" was Demy's "Weekend", i.e., his vision of an apocalypse, the vernal, too-green landscape shrouded in the Black Death.

Went to the press screening of "Torta Bluma" and "2 Or 3 Things I Know About Him", the documentary by Malte Ludin about investigating his father's Nazi past, and the repercussions on his family (his mother, his sisters, his nieces and nephews, etc.). It was solid and engrossing without being really.... i don't know, i just wasn't drawn in.

But that was also my response to "The Trials of Darryl Hunt", which is an Independent Spirit nominee for Best Documentary. In the case of "The Trials of Darryl Hunt"... it was too long. There were talking-head segments which seemed to go on and on, though they really weren't that long. But in a news format piece, you need to get things moving, you need to edit the piece so that the information is presented with sharpness and concision. This didn't do it, so the piece seemed to drag, and the urgency seeped out. There should have been passion in this documentary, and it came across as tired.

Yesterday, went to the press screening of Kazuo Hara's "Goodbye C.P." ("C.P." standing for Cerebral Palsy.) This time, there were four people at the screening, one of whom was Ed Halter. We talked a little about Hara (talk about "guerilla" filmmaking!); "The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On" remains one of the most aggressive political documentaruies ever made. There's no question of "passion" in Hara's films: he's so in-your-face, and he drives his subjects crazy with his relentlessness. There are scenes which are just horrifying in "Goodbye C.P." because of that, yet there's also an honesty which is undeniable.

Two movies i watched for the Independent Spirit Awards were "Stephanie Daley" and "Steel City". They were both worthwhile, but that's not what caught my attention. What caught my attention was the fact that Amber Tamblyn was in "Stephanie Daley" and America Ferrara was in "Steel City". A little while ago, i watched "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" on TV, which also starred Alexis Bledel. And it mad eme think about the situation for these young actresses....

Amber Tamblyn went into "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" coming off "Joan of Arcadia", a critically acclaimed but soon-cancelled TV series; Alexis Bledel was (and still is) in "The Gilmore Girls"; America Ferrara had made her debut in the "indie" film "Real Women Have Curves". The other girl was Blake Lively (one of a gaggle of Lively children who are now acting). Watching these young people trying to find a way to prove that they're more than the usual ingenues....

Of course, i hadn't remembered that "The Pied Piper" was Cathryn Harrison's first movie. In the next three years, she would also star in Robert Altman's "Images" and Louis Malle's "Black Moon"; her father was Noel Harrison, who, after his ascent to stardom in "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.", soon gave it all up to go to a commune in Canada, where he concentrated on folk music, a total repudiation of the sophistication and urbanity for which his father, Rex Harrison, was noted. And his daughter, for a time, would be the flower-child muse for some of the more eccentric projects of the early 1970s.

Doug Cummings has the news that (finally) the DVD of Charles Burnett's "The Killer of Sheep" should be out this year. It's coming from Milestone, yet another example of the excellent work that they are doing. (Certainly, their release of "Winter Soldier" was a major cultural achievement in 2006, and they're bringing "The Troubles We've Seen" to DVD soon.)


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