Sunday, April 20, 2008

Where Are the Good Movies? Etc.

This has been one of the worst seasons for new movies I can ever remember. A real drought. The strongest stuff I've seen lately has been older -- like, for example, Italian tv production The Best of Youth. Perhaps not since Brideshead Revisited have I seen such a powerful miniseries.

As far as new movies go, this is the first preview I've seen in a while that really grabbed me. Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo in an adaptation of Saramago's Blindness (which I've not read), directed by Fernando Meirelles. I'm thinking this could be Children of Men good:

Also, some leads from the New Directors fest:
History and politics are never far from the minds of serious filmmakers, but there are notable attempts in New Directors to avoid polemics or sermons to the choir. Haiti ’s present poverty and colonial past underlie the vivid, dreamlike imagery in Michelange Quay’s “Eat for This Is My Body,” a fascinating Buñuelian puzzle of a film that forsakes narrative and argument altogether.

Perhaps the most overtly political film I saw was Alex Rivera’s “Sleep Dealer,” which was also the most exuberantly entertaining, a dystopian fable of globalization disguised as a science-fiction adventure. Showing some of the manic inventiveness of Richard Kelly’s “Southland Tales,” but with a hundred times more intellectual clarity and storytelling discipline, Mr. Rivera — a brilliant young director — takes his audience into a future of “aqua-terrorism” and cyberlabor that I wish I could dismiss as implausible.

Some aspects of Godfrey Cheshire’s “Moving Midway” may also seem unlikely. Who, apart from Werner Herzog, would think of loading an old North Carolina plantation house onto a truck and moving it away from encroaching strip malls and sprawling developments? Mr. Cheshire’s cousin, as it happens. But the relocation of the house is only one piece of this extraordinarily rich documentary, which takes up the agonies and ironies of Southern history with remarkable wit, empathy and learning.
And I'm cheered by news of The Secret of the Grain distribution from this Tribeca fest coverage:
To illustrate how vital the festival has become, consider “The Secret of the Grain,” a brilliant French film that won four Césars (the French Oscars), including best picture, earlier this year but languished without a distributor until recent weeks. It was belatedly picked up by IFC Films, which plans to show it at an unspecified time this year. That movie’s experience is an ominous example of how a film can reap acclaim all over the world and still find it almost impossible to be seen in the United States.

“The Secret of the Grain,” by the Tunisian-born French director Abdellatif Kechiche, depicts North African immigrants in Sète, a crumbling port town in Southern France. Its protagonist is a weary, divorced, impoverished 60-year-old shipyard worker whose fractured family comes together around his dream of opening a floating restaurant based on his former wife’s culinary specialty, fish couscous.
The film, which explores generational differences and psychological baggage within this extended family of émigrés, is an extraordinarily rich and human ensemble piece, filmed in a rough documentary style that draws you to the bosom of this boisterous clan to a degree that few movies ever do. Following “Games of Love and Chance,” Mr. Kechiche’s second film, which also won four Césars (including best film) in 2005, it establishes him as a major player in world cinema.

Alyson Books is changing hands.

Would you rather have more time off or more money? I'm not wealthy, but I side with the majority on that one.

I'm quite eagerly looking forward to Philip Roth's just announced 29th novel, due out in September.

Interesting editorial on the JK Rowling trial. I haven't been following all that closely, but I don't think she has a case. I'm disappointed in her decision to sue. Her previous charity books have done so well - should she really be worried about the competition? Maybe there's some point I'm missing.

Small Beer offers free downloads of some of its books.

"Cinema's worst director?" Ugh.

This MoveOn video about the Iraq War is worth a viewing.


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