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Goodbye to Language

Jean-Luc Godard's latest free-form essay film may be, more than anything else, a documentary of a restless mind.

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The Great Invisible

Winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Prize for Documentary, the film is strongest when it focuses on the micro rather than the macro. How the…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Cast and Crew

* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

#178 July 31, 2013

Marie writes: As the dog days of summer slowly creep towards September and Toronto starts getting ready for TIFF 2013, bringing with it the promise of unique and interesting foreign films, it brought to mind an old favorite, namely The Red Balloon; a thirty-four minute short which follows the adventures of a young boy who one day finds a sentient red balloon. Filmed in the Menilmontant neighborhood of Paris and directed by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse, The Red Balloon went on to win numerous awards and has since become a much-beloved Children's Classic.

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Drive: An under-the-hood manual

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When I saw, and immediately wrote about, Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive," I knew almost nothing about it except the title and that Ryan Gosling was in it. I remembered that it had received acclaim at Cannes back in May (I did not recall that Refn had won the best director prize) and, as it turns out, I hadn't seen any of Refn's previous films -- although "Bronson" and "Valhalla Rising" had been recommended to me by friends. Since then, I've been reading up on "Drive" and have discovered so many fascinating little tidbits (many of which confirm my first impressions) that I decided to put together this little primer.

I recommend that you refrain from reading this until you've seen the movie, though.

Cited influences include: Grimm's Fairy Tales, John Hughes ("Sixteen Candles," "Pretty in Pink"), Sergio Leone, Alejandro Jodorowsky...

On the title font:

Refn: Me and Mat Newman, who edits all my movies, we stole that in the editing table from "Risky Business."

-- from an interview with Scott Tobias at The A.V. Club

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A personal vision with international scope

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CHAMPAIGN-URBANA -- Michael Tolkin, the writer-director of 1994's "The New Age," which played at Ebertfest on Thursday, surveyed the packed house from the stage of Champaign's historic Virginia Theater and said, "This now doubles the number of people who saw this film on its first release."

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Babs, Henry and Long Duk Dong:Cleaning up after the Oscars

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I said just about everything I had to say about the Oscars in a dozen or so tweets I filed the evening of the broadcast, in between juggling manual updates for a couple of stories on RogerEbert.com (including Roger's live-tweets of the show) and approving Oscar comments on Roger's blog. I think I got out of my chair two or three times between 3:30pm and 9:30pm PST.

So, yeah, I made a few observations -- like this:

Instead of playing "I Am Woman" after Kathryn Bigelow's win, why didn't they play "Papa Can You Hear Me?" for Babs? #oscars

And this:

Elinor Burkett's Oscar performance marks the official arrival of the word "Kanye" (or "Kanyed") as a verb. http://j.mp/9XIwqy #oscars

And this:

Has "Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire" become the new "Electric Boogaloo"?

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No pain for "Hurt Locker," Bigelow

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HOLLYWOOD — "The Hurt Locker," a film that was made with little cash but limitless willpower, defeated the highest-grossing film in history and won the best picture Oscar here Sunday night. The director of the spine-chilling war drama, Kathryn Bigelow, became the first woman to ever win the best director Oscar. James Cameron, director of "Avatar" — and her former husband — cried all the way to the bank.

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No fatties

I made a mistake this week. I followed a link from a discussion among reputable movie critics to a showbiz gossip blog that I usually find too sleazy to visit. There I once again found all manner of bilious items that creeped me out and reminded me why I shouldn't go there. One of them insulted a late, internationally renowned film critic for choosing, on his deathbed, a Howard Hawks western as his favorite movie over another title the gossip prefers. (No doubt the latter feels entitled to express an opinion about what your last meal should be, too.) Another post included the observation that Vince Vaughn "needs to lose 30 pounds. He appeared to be at the tipping point during the 'Couples Retreat' press junket."

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John Hughes: In Memory

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Few directors have left a more distinctive or influential body of work than John Hughes. The creator of the modern American teenager film, who died Thursday in New York, made a group of films that are still watched and quoted today.

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Is Judd Apatow John Hughes? (Answer: No)

View image Those plucky, sympathetic teens of yesteryear.

You know what? "Sex and the City" was for girls! Yes, it's true. First it was for (and about) gay boys, but eventually it revolved around a certain brand of perfume-insert, fashion-magazine womankind: rich, white, co-dependent, status-obsessed, desperate for a man to complete her.

Know what else? Judd Apatow makes movies about guys -- and heterosexual relationships with women, but mainly about what used to be known as "male bonding." (The fashionable term now is "bro-mance," which is cuter and invoked largely by what used to be called "metrosexuals.") The Apatow guy tends to be underemployed, white, Jewish (or Canadian), slobby, geeky, smelly, childish (not just "childlike") and more or less happy, unaware that he's desperate for a woman to complete him. Then, once he becomes aware, he's not entirely sure that's possible, or desirable.

This, I submit, is a minor breakthrough in romantic comedy. OK, perhaps I am single and bitter, but I'm also right.

In the New York Sun (also known as "the conservative New York Sun"), Steve Dollar mentions that Catherine Keener's character in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" "pretty much takes the blame for making the poor guy sell all his collectible model toys (but whose side is Apatow on?), and spends much of her screen time mothering her infantile boyfriend."

Is that what happens? Even if so, whose side is Mr. Dollar on? (And who said it was necessary to divine and choose "sides"?)

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Stages of a Cinephile

View image Defining moments -- in movies, and in a movie-lover's life.

A comment by Anonymous at Girish's on the stages in the life of a cinephile contains more truth than I'd like to admit: 1. Ages 6-13/ marvel at the lights, learn about adult life, eat sugar/Disney, Spielberg, John Hughes

2. Ages 14-19/ age of discovery, excitement and inspiration/ Rear Window, Bicycle Thief, early Godard

3. Ages 20-26/ O.C.D. attempt to see everything by every major director/ Dreyer, Ozu, late Godard

4. Ages 27-33/ burn out period, start seeing films rarely and complain about how bad movies have gotten, sell your old videos/ Straub, Snow, Dziga Vertov Group

5. Ages 34-41/ burn out continues, fall asleep in one two many Sokurov films, stop watching art films and start watching blockbusters again, become a faux-populist and develop inane arguments about movies you’ve never seen

6. Ages 42-45/ watch only Reality TV and Internet porn, get drunk alone, send mass emails linking to Armond White reviews

7. Ages 46- /after therapy and anti-depressants repeat steps 3-6. In my case, stage 1 began at age 3 (at a drive-in with, yes, Disney's 1961 "101 Dalmatians"). Stage 3 lasted until about age 37, and stages 4 and 5 were condensed, though I'm not sure I ever became a neo-populist, since I never disliked popular movies just because they were popular. (No comment about stage 6.) My real "crisis of faith" in movies was from about 1998 - 2003.

BTW, the book "Defining Moments in Movies," edited by Chris Fujiwara, that inspired this comment is delicious and nutritious cinemaniacal brain candy. Once you start tasting, you'll just want more and more. As Fujiwara explains in his introduction, the 800-page, still-studded nibble-book (organized by decade, 1890 - 2000+) "is designed to highlight film scenes, or events in the history of cinema, that the [62] contributors (who include film critics, film historians, writers in other fields, and academics) regard as profound, essential, illuminating, or significant..." -- "a network of visions and preoccupations, an anthology of cinephilic passions, a casual encyclopedia of cinematic events." In fact, Fujiwara's intro is a worthy "moment" itself.

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Classic flicks under the stars

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The seventh annual Outdoor Film Festival in Grant Park will open with James Dean as a rebel without a cause, and end with Ferris Bueller as a rebel with one. The series of seven free Tuesday evening screenings, which draw crowds upward of 14,000, unspools starting July 18 at Butler Field, Monroe and South Lake Shore. The schedule of this year's festival, which is presented by the Mayor's Office of Special Events, Commonwealth Edison, the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Film Office, was released today.

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Calcutta Film Festival

CALCUTTA, India I have been here at the Calcutta Film Festival for five days without once hearing the word "Miramax." No one has discussed a deal. There has been no speculation about a film's box-office prospects. I have not seen a single star. I have been plunged into a world of passionate debate about film - nonstop talking about theory, politics and art. For the visiting American, dazed and sedated by the weekly mumbo-jumbo about the weekend's top 10, this is like a wake-up plunge into cold water.

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Report from Calcutta

CALCUTTA, India--I have been here at the Calcutta Film Festival for five days without once hearing the word "Miramax." No one has discussed a deal. There has been no speculation about a film's box office prospects. I have not seen a single star. I have been plunged into a world of passionate debate about film--nonstop talking about theory, politics and art. For the visiting American, dazed and sedated by the weekly mumbo-jumbo about the weekend's ten grossers, this is like a wakeup plunge into cold water.

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1999 Calcutta Film Festival

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CALCUTTA, India - I have been here at the Calcutta Film Festival for five days without once hearing the word "Miramax." No one has discussed a deal. There has been no speculation about a film's box office prospects. I have not seen a single star. I have been plunged into a world of passionate debate about film--nonstop talking about theory, politics and art. For the visiting American, dazed and sedated by the weekly mumbo-jumbo about the weekend's ten grossers, this is like a wakeup plunge into cold water.

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John Hughes: When you’re 16, you’re more serious than you’ll ever be again

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All of a sudden, there are movies about teenagers who are ordinary kids. They come as such a relief after all the movies about teenagers who are killers, victims, lust-crazed sex fiends, hookers, punks, sluts and goons. There for a while it looked like half the new teenage movies were going to be ripoffs of two of the sleaziest recent trendsetters at the box office, "Porky's" and "Friday the 13th." Teenagers in those movies had fairly limited options: They could look through peepholes into the girls’ shower room, or they could get disemboweled by a faceless monster.

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