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New and Coming Releases: August 14, 2007

Fans of Shakespeare adaptations should be quite pleased with thine releases anon, as two 1930s classics and one very faithful epic version of Hamlet see the light of day today. That and early works by Samuel Fuller already make this a satisfying week, but you add to that the crazy Aqua Teen movie, two touching docs (51 Birch Street and God Grew Tired of Us), Gosling and Hopkins, indies, some good anime and a lot more, and this Dog Days week isn't a dog at all.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: Max Reinhardt's legendary Hollywood Bowl production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream was transferred to the screen by Warner Bros. in 1935. Like most of Shakespeare's comedies,... more>>>


Romeo and Juliet
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: Director George Cukor and producer Irving G. Thalberg's adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, a lavish production of Shakespeare's tale about two star-crossed lovers, is extremely well-produced and acted. I... more>>>


Doctor Who: Robot - Episode 75
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Our Price: $21.95


Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: In the final episode of Doctor Who's 11th season, the Doctor endured a crisis of conscience, one so profound that he was forced into another of his periodic regenerations. In this way, Jon P... more>>>


Doctor Who: Survival - Episode 159
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: The 26-year saga of Doctor Who came to an end (albeit temporarily) with the series' final three-part adventure, "Survival." Returning to the 20th century, the Doctor (<a href='/charact... more>>>


Hamlet (Special Edition)
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: At least the 22nd time William Shakespeare's most famous tragedy has been brought to the screen, Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of Hamlet was the first to preserve Shakespeare's entire text, uncut ... more>>>


Elvis: The Mini Series
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: Seven years after playing the David Bowie-esque glam rocker in Velvet Goldmine, actor Jonathan Rhys-Meyers tackles the role of the biggest rock-and-roller of all time -- The King -- in t... more>>>


The Lookout
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: A former high-school hockey star handicapped in a tragic car accident becomes an unlikely ally to a crack team of determined bank robbers in this thriller starring Jeff Daniels and Joseph Gor... more>>>


Noein vol. 5
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Releases: 2007-08-14



Wild Hogs
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: A mismatched group of bored suburbanites longing to escape the stress of their daily lives and embrace the freedom of the open road finds that it takes more than polished chrome and leather jackets to... more>>>


Fracture
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: A structural engineer (Anthony Hopkins) and an ambitious young district attorney (Ryan Gosling) become locked in a deadly battle of wits when the former is found innocent in the attempted... more>>>


The Method
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: The question as to how far a corporate drone would go to land a high-level position at a multinational corporation is explored in Argentinian director Marcelo Piñeyro's back-stabbing boardroom drama t... more>>>


The Dark Crystal (Anniversary Edition)
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: Jim Henson ventures into Tolkien territory in his all-Muppet fantasy feature The Dark Crystal. The titular Crystal maintains equilibrium in a mythical ki... more>>>


51 Birch Street
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: When documentary filmmaker Doug Block's mother dies unexpectedly and his eighty-three year old father reveals plans to move to Florida with his one-time secretary shortly thereafter, the confused son ... more>>>


Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: Meatwad, Frylock, and Master Shake team up for their biggest adventure yet in this animated feature that finds the popular Adult Swim trio pursued by an immortal piece of exercise equipment that poses... more>>>


U-Carmen
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: Bizet's Carmen gets a cultural transplant as director Mark Dornford-May transports the events of the tragic opera to South Africa in this musical concerning a seductive cigarette-factor... more>>>


Puzzlehead
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: Creative special effects highlight this futuristic story from director James Bai. Set in an unknown time "after the Decline," Puzzlehead details the strange journey of an android whose... more>>>


Inland Empire
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: Cinema of the surreal icon David Lynch follows up the success of his critically acclaimed 2001 feature Mulholland Drive with this dark mystery, shot on a handheld Sony PD150 digital video... more>>>


Wings of Rean vol. 3
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Releases: 2007-08-14



The First Films of Samuel Fuller (Eclipse)
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: Vincent Price always claimed that his favorite film role was as James Addison Reavis, the anti-hero of The Baron of Arizona. Reavis was a real-life character, a shady sharpster who durin... more>>>


Cria Cuervos (Criterion Collection)
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: Anna Torrent is a 9-year-old Spanish girl going on 35 in Cria! The story, both written and directed in quasi-autobiographical fashion by Carlos Saura, ... more>>>


God Grew Tired of Us
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: Three young men leave behind a land in chaos to find new lives in a thoroughly different culture in this documentary. As the African nation of Sudan fell into political disarray near the dawn of the 2... more>>>


Vacancy
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: A vacationing couple makes a terrifying discovery about the motel room they have just checked into in this thriller scripted by Mark L. Smith and directed by Nimród Antal (<a href='/we... more>>>


Taxi Driver [Limited Collector's Edition]
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: "All the animals come out at night" -- and one of them is a cabby about to snap. In Martin Scorsese's classic 1970s drama, insomniac ex-Marine Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) works the nightshift, driv... more>>>


Drunken Monkey
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Releases: 2007-08-14



No Refunds
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Releases: 2007-08-14



Air TV
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Releases: 2007-08-14
Synopsis: If ever there was sweeter, more sweeping epic fantasy anime, we'd like to know. Make way for AIR, the TV series fans have been crying for since it first aired on Japanese TV more than two years ago. O... more>>>

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David Lynch's Empire

David Lynch is still making films the only way he knows how: his way. He made the heady and dreamy three-hour drama Inland Empire, shot totally on digital video (his first feature made in that format), with such Hollywood pros as Laura Dern and Jeremy Irons, yet financed and produced it completely outside of Hollywood. Inland Empire is now out on DVD, and Sean Axmaker spoke with Lynch about the genesis and interpretations of this unique film, and other things rumbling around in his mind.

By Sean Axmaker

David Lynch, the once boyish maverick of such dark, demanding, and confounding films as Blue Velvet and Lost Highway (not to mention the gentle, G-rated slice of slightly askew Americana, The Straight Story), is 60 now. You can see his age in his face and his graying hair (still wildly brushed as if it's trying to escape his head), but his output is, if anything, even greater now. He's producing short films for his website, painting, even marketing his own signature coffee.

And he's still making films the only way he knows how: his way. He made the heady and dreamy three-hour drama Inland Empire, shot totally on digital video (his first feature made in that format), with such Hollywood pros as Laura Dern and Jeremy Irons, yet financed and produced it completely outside of Hollywood.

"It's mostly common sense, making films," he insists. "You don't need a studio. You need some money and you need ideas and then you go make your film." He even bypassed the studio system to distribute the film independently. "There are many, many, many great theaters available to people, and that's the place where people see films," he explains. "So if you can get your film into a theater, that's all you need. And now you can make your own DVDs. If you have a conduit to stores, you put them down that conduit. Again, it's a lot of common sense."

Lynch came to Seattle in January to appear at a special preview screening of Inland Empire and to talk at Town Hall on Transcendental Meditation. Dressed in his trademark neat white shirt and simple black suit, he sat back for the interview with a cup of coffee within reach and an occasional cigarette between his fingers. Soft-spoken and pleasant, calm and confident, answering most questions with simple and succinct answers, he comes off as a gentle but eccentric elementary school teacher patiently trying to explain filmmaking and the creative process as if it were nothing more than basic addition and subtraction.

 


You wrote in your book, Catching the Big Fish, that you spent a lot of time in the woods while you were growing up. Is that where the settings and atmosphere of Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks came from?

Wood is an influence, but it wasn't. I always pictured Blue Velvet as having lumber around it, but it was shot in North Carolina. But there's a lot of lumber around in North Carolina, too, so it worked out. But I pictured it more as a Northwestern kind of town. Then when Twin Peaks came out, yeah, there's things, but I wrote it with Mark Frost. He's not from the Northwest. There's always things about our childhood that ideas come from. So it was an influence, for sure. The woods. Wood and woods.

Blue Velvet captured something I'd never seen any other movie do at that time. It presented what should be a simple and peaceful rural community and revealed this dark layer underneath the surface - not simply a criminal underworld, but a moral underworld.

There's a dark layer underneath every community. Looking back, people made a big deal about Blue Velvet showing the surface and then something under the surface. Since then, if you see TV and newspapers, more and more has been revealed that was hiding there all along. I say the sickness is being revealed and people are dealing with it, which I guess is a good thing. So it's not just in Twin Peaks or Lumberton [in Blue Velvet], it's everywhere.

In Inland Empire, and in previous films as well, the living spaces of your characters are devoid of clutter. They are very austere and they feel more like temporary places because they don't have the baggage of their past and present around them - more like hotel rooms than homes. Why is that?

There's a thing of fast and slow. Normally, a room is slower than a human being. If there's too much clutter, then you don't have a strong human being. It's not something you think about, but I guess that's the thing.

Are you talking visually or cinematically, or...?

Visually. There's fast areas and slow areas. That goes back to the thing of the duck. The duck is an example of that. The bill of the duck is sort of in the middle of fast and slow. It's a little bit fast, and when it hits the head it slows down and the feathers there are very small and it's not completely slow, and it fills out and starts going down into this "S" curve and the feathers get bigger and then it goes into the body, which is a very large, slow area, not a lot of stuff happening. And then it goes into the legs and feet and it's faster and the texture of the legs and feet remind you of the bill, so your eye goes back and you take the trip again. The eye of the duck is the fastest, the most detailed, a gleaming little jewel, and I always thought, what a perfect place to put that, in the middle of the head. It's just a perfect size frame. If you put it in the body, it would get lost. It just wouldn't be framed right. If you put it on the leg, it would be too fast an area for the eye to really bring it out. On the bill, it would be ridiculous.

It's that kind of thing. So a blank wall is such a perfect setting for a human being. Maybe one or two little things, but it's a fast and slow sort of thing. And clutter is, unless it's feeding from the idea, it's just a negative.

Can you talk about the genesis of Inland Empire?

Laura Dern. Thinking about it, the thing started with Laura Dern, and it started - I happened to be out on the street and I see Laura Dern walking down the sidewalk and I'm surprised to see her. And she says, "Oh, David, I'm your new neighbor." I hadn't seen her in a while, and I was very happy to see her, and happier still to know that she's my neighbor. And she said, "David, we have to do something again sometime," and I said, "I know we do. Maybe I'll write something for you."

Now, you could meet a lot of people and say something like that, but ideas started coming from that. So Laura Dern started it. Meeting her on the street, a desire to work together, seeing her face. But it's not Laura Dern, it's just that something started happening because of that conversation.

I've read that the film began as a series of short scenes shot for your website, and a story emerged as you continued shooting.

Yes. In the beginning, I get an idea, and it happens to be something like a scene, and so instead of writing it down and waiting for the next one and writing that down, and waiting for the next one and writing that down, and building a screenplay, I started shooting those scenes and, in shooting them, kind of committing to a look and a feel but staying true to that idea and not ever thinking of a feature at that time - wondering maybe. So in the beginning, there were just scenes and they didn't relate in my mind, I didn't know. And then, all of a sudden, more of a story started coming out that actually related those. It was kind of beautiful.

In the first scene with Laura Dern and Grace Zabriskie, you have Laura Dern giving a very quiet, naturalistic performance and Grace Zabriskie comes in with a very exaggerated and arch performance, rolling the dialogue around in very mannered delivery, and it creates a strange dynamic in the scene. And I see this mix of very natural, relatable performances with theatrical performances all through Inland Empire. Do you see it this way?

No, I don't see it as mixing it up, and it comes from the idea. Grace, her character is her character, and Laura's Nikki is Nikki. It's not like two Nikkis talking together, it's Nikki and another person talking and that's the way that other person is. And this comes from the idea.

Why prolong conversations with uncomfortable silences where the characters just stare at one another?

Every film has a pace, and it's not like a continuous sameness, it's like music. Shot by shot, word by word, sequence by sequence, it has a feel and you go until it feels correct. So pace comes out of the idea and pace is one of the elements, this thing about moving in time. So it has a lot to do with the same kind of things that happen in music.

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Bunuel's well: Two from a master

Any time a previously unreleased film by Luis Buñuel arrives on DVD, it's an event. And here we have two. Truth be told, one of them - Gran Casino - can only be called an interesting misfire, but the other, The Young One, is a forgotten masterpiece. Just one of two English-language films Buñuel ever made, and it's also, wrote Slant's Ed Gonzalez, his "most expressive film—it's setting may be Spartan but its look is scarcely unceremonious. Framed by a monophonic rendition of 'Sinner Man' by Leon Bibb, the film has the scorching emotional urgency of a black spiritual...Not a single frame is wasted."

Continue Reading Bunuel's well: Two from a master

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New and Coming Releases: August 7, 2007

Next week will be a huge releasing week, so this week is fairly quiet -- but still some good titles out there.

Check out this week's new releases and a ton of titles coming out soon!

Continue Reading New and Coming Releases: August 7, 2007

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New on DVD: July 31, 2007

A smallish new releasing week but still some good variety to be bad - Brit-flicks, epics, indies, some anime - something for everyone.

Continue Reading New on DVD: July 31, 2007

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Philip Haas: Understanding the Situation

Interview By Hannah Eaves

After finding success in the UK by documenting the lives and work of eccentric artists like Gilbert & George and currency vandal J.S.G. Boggs, director Philip Haas jumped the narrative fence with an adaptation of Paul Auster's Music of Chance, the first in what would become a long line of literary adaptations for the screen. With his next film, Angels and Insects, Haas broke through the arthouse market and received Cannes and Academy Award nominations. His latest film, The Situation, starring Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) as an American journalist caught in a Graham Greene-like situation, takes place in Iraq and marks his first collaboration with noted journalist Wendell Stevenson.

Hannah Eaves talks with Haas about working with artists vs. actors, directing scenes in Arabic and about how journalists and soldiers have reacted to The Situation - which is now out on DVD.

Continue Reading Philip Haas: Understanding the Situation

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Hot Fuzz: Trivia Contest!

"Ever fired your gun in the air and yelled, 'Aaaaaaah?'"

Director Edgar Wright and actor-writer Simon Pegg's follow-up to Shaun of the Dead was yet another affectionate genre homage/comedy that was merely "The best, surely the smartest, English-language movie of the year to date," according to Time's Richard Corliss. Adds the LA Times' Kevin Crust: "Wright and Pegg are storytellers who weave their naughty bits into genuine characters and a plot. It's a ridiculous plot, but one that's absolutely in the spirit of the films they're satirizing." Now, after you check out our video Q&A with Pegg, Wright and co-star Nick Frost, why not give our brand new contest a whirl? The little hand says it's time to rock and roll! Bring the noise! Two lucky blokes (or lasses) will win a copy of the brand new DVD, out today, plus secret Hot Fuzz memorabilia!

To be eligible for the prizes, send an email with the correct answer to contest@greencine.com, including your name, email address and, if you're a GreenCine member, your username in the email, and "Hot Fuzz" in the subject header. Winners will be selected at random from all correct entries. The deadline is Monday, August 6, at 12PM PST. Winners will be notified by e-mail and announced in future editions of the GreenCine Dispatch newsletter.

The Question: Which two action movies does Danny (Frost) make Nicholas Angel (Pegg) watch to get up to speed?

Continue Reading Hot Fuzz: Trivia Contest!

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Writers and Poets on Film

Could writers working prior to the 20th century have imagined their creations and characters being expressed in films, with all the dramatic innovations that moving pictures afford? Simon Augustine asks this question to kick off his new primer on Writers and Poets in Film. "The journey from book to film is reversed and turned in upon itself: we witness not the translation of the mind's eye of the writer into a visual, fixed medium," writes Augustine. "Instead, the fixed visuals of film are used to dramatize the writer in the act of using their mind's eye. In these films, viewers are hopefully exposed to new inroads toward understanding the traditional literary experience and its modes of creation." Read on for a look at films depicting Bukowski, Plath, Capote, Rimbaud, Burroughs, Shakespeare and many others, as well as some of the best examples of fictional writer characters in moviedom, in this insightful new essay.

Writers and Poets on Film

By Simon Augustine

Could writers working prior to the 20th century have imagined their creations and characters being expressed in films, with all the dramatic innovations that moving pictures afford? With the advent of film, the literary arts, ancient by comparison, were instantaneously afforded a new interpretative dimension, as occurs when any new art form appears and is able to comment and expand upon another. In this process, the old art form and the new one are changed forever. Placed alongside the fresh aesthetic abilities of cinema, the frame of the written page acquires an adjunct frame, that of the screen, and a conversation ensues between the two frames that provides a new conceptual space, not to mention limitless new fodder for critical thought.

As the events in the pages of a novel or poem become translated into a new medium, the "language" of cinema opens up new frontiers for the tradition of written language: the film allows us to see the book in new ways, and vice-versa. In effect, just as when we read a book and form a picture of the narrative in our "mind's eye," the filmmaker makes a permanent document of his or her own version of that narrative on celluloid. The substance of the mind's eye becomes a public performance, and thus a fixed commentary on all the versions of the book each individual has formed for themselves in their own minds. In this way, the film refers back to and interacts with the original written work, and exciting things begin to happen in terms of widening interpretive horizons.

The permanent document on celluloid as it is formed from literary sources can take several forms. The most obvious and numerous is a straightforward interpretation of the written story - that is, books "made into" movies. But there are other, less frequent, examples in which the literary/cinematic loop is given an additional twist and becomes more complex: those in which a real-life author, and/or characters based on or extrapolated from his or her text, appears as the central figure. Here we are given not merely an example of the visual realization of the written word but also insight into the writing process itself; we are presented with portrayals and imaginings of the dramas surrounding literary invention.

The journey from book to film is reversed and turned in upon itself: we witness not the translation of the mind's eye of the writer into a visual, fixed medium; instead, the fixed visuals of film are used to dramatize the writer in the act of using their mind's eye. In these films, viewers are hopefully exposed to new inroads toward understanding the traditional literary experience and its modes of creation. For instance, the vehicle of cinema might provide a meditation upon the author's intentions and state of mind while creating a work - i.e., the biographical film, such as Sylvia (2003), about Sylvia Plath, or Pandaemonium (2000), about Coleridge and Wordsworth; or it might be an account of fictional events inspired by an author's life or literary work, such as Dead Poets Society (1989); or a postmodern type of story, woven from the relationship between an author's life and the "life" of his or her work, such as the recent mind-bender Adaptation (2002).

Portraying the writing process in the movies with excitement and insight is difficult to pull off, given that writing is such an interior, personal process, mostly done in isolation. (And the operations of the mind's eye can be so hard to capture in a medium that simply presents rather than comments; just think about all the things books convey that get lost in movies - observational details, aspects of characters, philosophizing, etc.) At their best, films about writers and poets manage to shed fresh light on aspects of an author's personal struggle to get words on the page and to handle the world outside the page while still maintaining a writing career.

Or they present the actual literary work itself in a fresh light. At their worst, they descend into a contented form of melodrama or a superficial, convenient representation of an author. But usually they center on the personality of the writer, since this is the most easily dramatized component in the mix.

Outsize and Tragic Personalities

Some personalities have an irresistible quality that engages them in an ongoing love affair with the public imagination. They may not be the most deserving literary heavyweight, or even a particularly pleasant or moral person, but something they have given to readers draws filmmakers to them, sometimes more than once. Perhaps it has to do with the way specific writers give some part of themselves entirely to the page and to life: in unmistakable and excruciating ways, stripping away the barriers of pretension, these artists manage to communicate an undiluted element of themselves, and in the process of taking this risk, often sacrifice their well-being and even their lives.

Writers, and in particular poets, are famous for this variety of self-destruction - Hemingway shooting himself; Dylan Thomas drinking himself into oblivion while simultaneously torturing everyone close to him; Hart Crane throwing himself off a ship; Sylvia Plath putting her head in the oven; and confessional poet Anne Sexton subjecting herself to carbon monoxide poisoning in her garage, among many others. In the brave act of self-revelation, the self does not always survive the show; yet a self-destructive artist makes for a particularly good film subject, not only because of the excess of personality involved, but because of film's fascination with violence, even if it is the interior violence of a persona in turmoil.

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Tom Tykwer and the Collector's Compulsion

By Sean AxmakerOriginally published December 27, 2006 "Most filmmakers that I know, and actually most film critics that I respect, for them, film really has a drug-like dimension." If you find yourself, while watching Perfume, relating to the murderer a little more than you're comfortable dealing with, director Tom Tykwer may have an explanation for you in Sean Axmaker's interview. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is now out on DVD.

By Sean Axmaker

"You look at filth and it's beautiful because, in a strange way, it is beautiful."

"In Berlin, I tried to catch up with some films, and of course as a filmmaker it gets more and more difficult because you always have business to do," confesses Tom Tykwer. "So I would sneak away. Last year I saw The Last Laugh (F.W. Murnau, 1925), also called The Last Man. It was amazing. The print looked like it was shot on 70mm or IMAX or something, it was so sharp and such nice contrasts and so rich. And I saw Sunrise, which is one of my favorite films ever."

Director of the breathlessly visceral romantic thriller Run Lola Run and the contemplative and dreamy Heaven, Tykwer was in Seattle to promote the upcoming release of his latest film, Perfume. Based on the novel by Patrick Süskind, an international bestseller and veritable phenomenon in Europe, it's an askew murder mystery set in the slums of 18th century Paris, where an orphan with a near supernatural sense of smell and a near inhuman lack of empathy becomes obsessed with scent to the exclusion of everything else. His pursuit of the most beautiful smells turns him into a serial killer who murders remorselessly for the sake of an art only he can truly appreciate.

But in the introductory small talk, he discovered that I had attended the Pordenone Silent Film Festival. Suddenly my questions were put on hold as he questioned me about Pordenone and what I liked about silent film. It was no mere idle chit chat. As his films attest, Tykwer is concerned with the texture of storytelling and the exploration of ideas through images and performance. The silent cinema is perhaps the purest form and it came up throughout the interview. He even used it as a segue to the business at hand, namely Perfume.

"I've done something like a silent movie," he says. "There's, like, hours of no dialogue in this film." Okay, not quite hours, but it made a great jumping off point for an interview that centered on, among other things, the way you communicate the sense of smell in a visual medium.


You have a main character who hardly speaks at all. Ben Whishaw gives an almost completely physical performance. Even when he's walking down the street, he gives off a sense of desperation. His adrenaline seems to be pumping every time he gets out and starts smelling things, as if he has to find a way to capture it. How did you work with him to get this performance? These are certainly not the kind of tendencies you associate with a killer, the visual presentation of a murderer.

To this concept, a story about somebody who is a murderer but at the same time is a kind of hero of the story, we needed somebody very much capable of an ambiguous quality. I really sought out many actors, tested a lot of people, and it was always clear we can't even start thinking about preparing the movie seriously before we have found the really right one. And then, I think after more than a hundred people that I either had met or seen tapes of or whatever, I was sent to see Hamlet on stage in London at the Old Vic Theater. It was a new production, and he was Hamlet, like 23 years old, the youngest Hamlet ever at the Old Vic and he was amazing. He was so different and so specific. There was something so peculiar about a Hamlet who is kind of a very, let's say, one of the nicer guys that Shakespeare has written. But the way he put him there - I loved the fact that he was also doing something very contemporary about it, and very confusing.

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New on DVD: July 24, 2007

It's a cornucopia of new releases today - well, relatively, for summer, anyway - with titles from all over the world, two classics from Criterion, and some indies, anime, and more. Read Craig Phillips' review of the indie caper comedy Live Free or Die on Guru and his thoughts on The Host, too.

Read on for this week's new releases and those coming soon, too!

Continue Reading New on DVD: July 24, 2007

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