Wednesday, September 16, 2009

'The Wizard Of Oz' @ NYFF

'Lovingly restored and entirely remastered, with six times higher resolution than standard DVD' The Wizard Of Oz will be closing out the 47th annual New York Film Festival in a special way this month. A festival which will include new stuff like Lars Von Trier's puzzling Antichrist, Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces & Festival Favourite Precious. Know what? Chances are none will be better than Victor Fleming's 1939 classic featuring a Dorothy trying to imagine there truly is 'no place like home'. Some complain the movie hasn't aged well -no kidding, its 70 years old- but it's still got a bigger heart than any other movie out there. Childhood memories flood my brain whenever I think of this cherished classic & its undeniable influence among young and old.

all around will also be pleased by its new crisp restoration and its -still- unexpected flow to Pink Floyd's The Dark Side Of The Moon. It's so deliriously joyful that I'd go as far as calling it a campy delight- meant as a compliment of course. The sheer fact that a movie this old is still getting fans of all generations and ages alike is remarkable- I cannot think of another movie that has had this much of a following over 7 decades ! Its imagination is one of a kind with its talking lions, singing munchkins, flying monkeys & green faced witch- stoners rejoice ! An Image that will always resonate with me is that of Dorothy saying farewell to her friends as she finally finds her way home & seeks a better life in Kansas. Tapping her shoes and repeating 'There's no place like home'. So good.

Monday, September 14, 2009

'Antichrist'/ 'Hunger'- McQueen & Von Trier's Shocking Tendencies

I've had time to reflect upon Lars Von Trier's frustrating Antichrist & have arrived at this conclusion: It is the work of a man that doesn't know what he wants and the work of a man that doesn't give a crying fuck what his audience wants. That isn't necessarily a bad thing- but in his case it is. If Von Trier has given us some of the best movies of the past 20 years (Breaking The Waves, Dancer In The Dark), he doesn't succeed in bringing his artful resonance to this one. The movie was booed at Cannes and still has no distributor- I can definitely see why. The story revolves around a couple that has lost their child- they retreat to the woods as a form of therapy and instead find there is spiritual evil in their surroundings. Willem Dafoe and the incredible Charlotte Gainsbourg play The nameless couple- only referred to in the credits as HE and SHE.

I wouldn't want to spoil what happens next- especially since that's the reason why this movie is selling out festival circuits around the world & was the first movie to sell out at this month's Toronto Film fest. The curiosity of moviegoers all around the world is overwhelming and they want to know exactly what happens in the movies last 20 minutes- which involves some of the weirdest most brutally violent acts I have seen in a while. I won't give anything away and don't really think it's a big deal. Some have said Von Trier has lost his head & others have quietly stated that it is just a minor work in a great director's career. The movie shocked me, infuriated me and annoyed me. It is NOT a great movie and is -in fact- a true disappointment. This time Von Trier's Ego has gotten the best of him but his ambition is nevertheless highly imaginative.

One of the rare finds of 2009 has got to be Steve McQueen's Feature directing debut Hunger. A powerful, shocking statement on Prisoners of war. Set during the IRA and British conflict in the 80's and having to do with the Hunger strike of IRA prisoners. It's highly reminiscent of Guantanamo Bay, in its depiction of the brutality happening inside the prison as guards beat upon prisoners. It's also an artistic triumph punctured by McQueen's ability to get you into his unique and original set up.

McQueen started off as a minimalist artist in art galleries and only during the past year went into feature film- I recommend he stays there, this is where he belongs. Some of the influences you see in Hunger vary from director to director- especially Stanley Kubrick, who's minimalism is definitely not hidden in his reputation. I was affected by Hunger's shock value & its no holds barred filmmaking. Like any great movie in these dog days of summer, it's hard to find -because of its rebellious & independent roots- but if you can get your hands on this one you won't be disappointed by its bravura and staggering reality. Hands down one of the best movies of this or any year.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Beatles & Cinema

With last week's subsequent re-release of The Beatles' entire remastered discography & my constant listening of their incredible Abbey Road during the past few days- I am reminded of the way The Beatles have been portrayed on celluloid. Especially Across The Universe, a mauling disappointment from 2 years ago that -yes- brought upon a new generation of fans but had a very limited storyline set during Vietnam protests in the late 60's. I've always been a fan of Julie Taymor's- a visionary filmmaker that deserved a better script than the one note final product she got. I cannot finish this rant without mentioning the awkward cameo by Bono that portrays -of all people- The Walrus and butchers a beautiful Beatles Song. If Across The Universe is not a good movie, A Hard Day's Night -released in 1964 & inspired by the cinema verite doc Lonely Boy- has aged tremendously well and shows the band in the middle of a true hysteria of screaming fans.

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