Marie writes: Widely regarded as THE quintessential Art House movie, "Last Year at Marienbad" has long since perplexed those who've seen it; resulting in countless Criterion-esque essays speculating as to its meaning whilst knowledge of the film itself, often a measure of one's rank and standing amongst coffee house cinephiles. But the universe has since moved on from artsy farsty French New Wave. It now prefers something braver, bolder, more daring...
Marie writes: If I have a favorite festival, it's SXSW and which is actually a convergence of film, music and emerging technologies. However it's the festival's penchant for screening "quirky" Indie movies which really sets my heart pounding and in anticipation of seeing the next Wes Anderson or Charlie Kaufman. So from now until March, I'll be tracking down the best with the zeal of a Jack Russell terrier! Especially since learning that Joss Whedon's modern B/W take on Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" is set to screen at SXSW 2013 in advance of its June 21st US release date; they'll cut an official trailer soon, rubbing hands together!
Marie writes: Recently, a fellow artist and friend sent me the following photos featuring amazing glass mosaics. She didn't know who the artists were however - and which set me off on a journey to find out! I confess, the stairs currently continue to thwart me and thus remain a mystery, but I did uncover who created the "glass bottle doorway" and was surprised to learn both its location and the inspiration behind it. (click image.)
Philip Noyce's "The Quiet American" is a tale of lies. It introduces itself as a noir murder mystery, but seamlessly veers into a story of man in love with a dancer, looking for redemption in his twilight.
From there it flows into a love triangle pitting an old frightened Brit (Michael Caine) against a young fearless American (Brendan Fraser). In moments of crisis, the American saves the Brit's life. In a moment of anger, the Brit seems to allow the American's death.
Color can be used sparingly -- even in family-friendly animation.
I don't hear NPR's movie critic Bob Mondello all that often anymore ('cause I'm not in my car as much as I used to be), but I've never heard him more excited than when he reviewed "Journey to the Center of the Earth" last week. Not the new Brendan Fraser 3D one, but the 1959 version with James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl and Diane Baker.
Although Mondello's greatest enthusiasm by far is for the 1959 film, his best lines describe the 2008 production: "It's considerably more "real"-looking -- in a differently fakey way.... It'll just show you what Hollywood used to do, and do well, done well." Well put. As I was saying about movie blood, what we accept as "realistic" isn't necessarily realistic at all. It's as much a convention of the times we live in as anything else. Much of the groundbreaking CGI of today isn't much better than it was ten years ago, and a lot of the old CGI -- which seemed so convincing at the time -- now looks... well, better than the rubber octopus in "Ed Wood," but dated nevertheless. Even some of the great special effects movies like "Jurassic Park" (1993) don't look much more sophisticated than "King Kong" (1933) these days.
Meanwhile "Wall-E" (and "Finding Nemo") writer-director Andrew Stanton sounds like a really savvy filmmaker. He told Terry Gross on Fresh Air about a lot of the brainstorming that went into "Wall-E," and I had another one of those NPR "driveway moments" during this part of the interview:
It was a year when more movies opened than during any other year in memory. A year when the big Hollywood studios cast their lot with franchises, formulas, sequels, and movies marketed for narrow demographic groups--focusing so much on "product" instead of original work that they seemed likely to be shut out of the Oscars, as they were essentially shut out of the Golden Globes. A year when independent and foreign films showed extraordinary vitality. A wonderful year, that is, for moviegoers who chose carefully, and a mediocre year for those took their chances at the multiplex.
The streamlined 32nd Chicago International Film Festival opens Thursday, with fewer films but better quality control. Emerging from a year of boardroom turmoil and an attempted coup, festival founder Michael J. Kutza has retained his post as director but adopted some of the changes long called for by the event's critics.