Silvio SoldiniBy James Van Maanen

"A perceptively written, finely-played exploration of a fundamentally good marriage during an unanticipated bad patch, Silvio Soldini's Days and Clouds is an absorbing, deliberate drama about choices and commitment," wrote Eddie Cockrell in Variety from last September's Toronto International Film Festival.

Days and Clouds opens in New York on Friday, and James Van Maanen nabbed a quick talk with Soldini during this year's Open Roads: New Italian Cinema series.


Blog entry 07/08/2008 - 11:38am

Ramin Bahrani By David D'Arcy

Ramin Bahrani has followed up his widely acclaimed Man Push Cart with Chop Shop, and we've been watching the accolades pour in at GreenCine Daily. Currently screening at New York's Film Forum through March 11, this "low-budget vérité triumph" (David Edelstein, New York) will make its way throughout the country over the next several weeks.

David D'Arcy talks with Bahrani about Abbas Kiarostami's admiration for the film, how it differs from the Dardenne brothers's work, nailing the sound of New York and about why kids could get just as much out of the movie as adults.

Chop Shop is now out on DVD.

Blog entry 07/07/2008 - 5:22am

Catherine Breillat By Michael Guillén

"The talkiness, the drawing-room intrigue, the frilly garments, and the slippery assignations might suggest all too much a Dangerous Liaisons redux," writes Steve Dollar in the New York Sun. "But [Catherine] Breillat is much too clever for that. What makes [The Last Mistress] so deliciously fun is the way she uses the narrative as a template for her own playful (and fever-ridden) ideas about the anarchy of passion and the disorder of decorum."

"Recovering from a dangerous brain hemorrhage at the end of 2004 that left her half paralyzed for several months, Breillat has returned to her artistry with a dazzling ferocity," writes Michael Guillén, introducing his interview. "The fire of trauma has lent her a searing voice of urgency."

Blog entry 06/29/2008 - 5:40am

By Simon Augustine

While Hollywood has been churning out toothless remakes of shocker classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, or lukewarm PG-13 remakes of successful Asian thrillers like The Grudge and The Eye, a generation of filmmakers re-invigorating the horror genre has cropped up in a most unlikely place: France. In a country known more for its frank portrayals of sex and meditations on philosophical ennui, an aesthetic of violence has emerged that, ironically, accomplishes what American auteurs have failed to do - recapture the grit, power, and above all, the danger of American horror in its 1970's heyday. Essentially, what the French have done is up the ante in terms of bloodletting, bringing fresh kineticism and a sense of obscenity to the usual acts of brutality, while still maintaining at least a modicum of existential weight and emotion amidst the proceedings.


Blog entry 06/17/2008 - 3:00pm

Giuseppe Tornatore By Nick Dawson

Mention the name Giuseppe Tornatore and you think immediately of that paean to the movies, Cinema Paradiso (1988), and then three other nostalgia-tinged remembrances of an Italy now long gone, The Star Maker (1995), The Legend of 1900 (1998) and Malè (2000). All of this makes The Unknown Woman - Tornatore's latest film and first since 2000 - surprising viewing: it is gritty, (almost) completely devoid of sentimentality, and contemporary to the point of being a hot button movie."

Nick Dawson talks with Tornatore about "his all-consuming love of cinema, the strong female figures in his films, and his long-running working partnership with Ennio Morricone."

Blog entry 05/30/2008 - 1:22am

Isild Le Besco By James Van Maanen

Writing in Premiere, Aaron Hillis calls Charly, the second feature written and directed by the young French actress Isild Le Besco, "enigmatic, homegrown and actually minimal... My only advice here is to keep your opinions to yourself until you've sat with this humble treat a couple days; it's a grower."

James Van Maanen talks with Le Besco about Charly's characters as aspects of herself and about the film she'll be shooting in September. Back in November 06, Jonathan Marlow spoke with Le Besco about the film she may be best known for in the States, Backstage.

Blog entry 05/03/2008 - 5:41am

Yung Chang By James Van Maanen

"Imagine the Grand Canyon turned into a lake," writes Stephen Holden in the New York Times. "That image is summoned by Yung Chang, the Chinese-Canadian director and occasional narrator of Up the Yangtze, an astonishing documentary of culture clash and the erasure of history amid China's economic miracle."

"With delicacy devoid of preachy grandstanding, Chang documents a landscape mutating not only literally but socially and economically as well, as flooding of countless cities and towns along the Yangtze's banks leads to displacement and, in turn, to an encounter between old and new worlders," writes Nick Schager in Slant.

James Van Maanen talks with the young director about the surprise hit in Canada that now opens in the US.

Blog entry 04/25/2008 - 1:05am

Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen By David D'Arcy

"Predicated on the spectacle of functionally depressed types stuck in mildly ridiculous situations not entirely of their own making, the Israeli ensemble comedy Jellyfish - which won the Camé d'Or last May at Cannes and was among the highlights of this year's New Directors / New Films - has an emotional resonance beyond its controlled slapstick and deadpan sight gags," writes J. Hoberman in the Village Voice.

Jellyfish was written by Shira Geffen and co-directed with her husband, the popular writer, Etgar Keret - with whom David D'Arcy talks as the film opens in more US cities this weekend.

Blog entry 04/24/2008 - 11:45am


By Monica Peck

When filmmaking and film viewing get out of the hands of studios and distributors, conventional constraints go the way of the bathwater. One recent trend is longer films - even longer versions of previously released films - and with DVD we have a better way of appreciating them. As Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz explained in a recent interview with Green Cine: "There are different concepts of viewing now. My films are just like paintings that are just there. Nothing changes. You can watch it for eight hours, and you can have a more fulfilling experience. Or you can leave the house, go to work, and when you come home, it is still there."

Blog entry 04/04/2008 - 2:54pm

By Michael Guillen Pedro Costa

"Let's not make this pretentious; but in some ways my films are dangerous because I work within limited financial means," Pedro Costa tells Michael Guillen. "They're dangerous in the sense that I have to risk each shot of my film. There's a French writer, Celine, who I like a lot. He wrote Journey to the End of the Night, a classic novel. He used to frequently say that the writer should 'put his skin on the table'; that was his expression. I feel the same way."

The interview touches on several of the films that have traveled the country as a retrospective that is currently screening at the Pacific Film Archive as Still Lives: The Films of Pedro Costa (through April 12). Fortunately for us, neither Michael nor the Portuguese director are in any rush to move on from one topic to the next.

Blog entry 04/02/2008 - 1:28pm

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