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

Lynn Shelton By Sean Axmaker

"Lynn Shelton's My Effortless Brilliance plays something like an overtly comic remake of Old Joy, with mountains swapped out for woods, and a third man wild card pushing the narrative along," wrote Karina Longworth at the SpoutBlog when she caught the film's premiere at SXSW earlier this year. "It's not quite like nothing I've ever seen before, but it's a nicely rendered, novella-esque character study with some impressive naturalistic performances."

Now Shelton and her film come home, in a way; Brilliance is screening at the Seattle International Film Festival and Sean Axmaker talks with the determinedly independent filmmaker about learning to direct by editing and about the local Seattle film scene.

Blog entry 05/24/2008 - 1:09pm

I'm Not There By Sean Axmaker

"When it was over, I couldn't move," writes David Gates in Newsweek. "Despite a couple of slow stretches - and Dylan has them, too - I'm Not There turns out to be worthy of its subject. This isn't faint praise. It's a full-on rave."

And raves are just what Todd Haynes's new film has been reaping ever since it premiered in Venice before wowing 'em at festivals in Toronto and New York. Though there have been exceptions to prove the rule, of course. Hardly a surprise when it comes to a film running over two hours and featuring six actors portraying various aspects and personas of one of the most lauded yet mysterious artists of our time.

Sean Axmaker talks with Haynes about a cinematic highlight of the year, I'm Not There, which is now out on DVD.

Blog entry 05/06/2008 - 6:56am

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

El Orfanato By Michael Guillé/h4>

"The Orphanage is a film that often makes something out of nothing - something being scaring the bejesus out of you. Director Juan Antonio Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G Sáhez ratchet up the tension to such excruciating heights that, while you're watching the film, your impulse is to scream out loud just to feel some sense of release," writes Mark Olsen in the LA Weekly.

Michael Guillé/a> talks with Bayona about his debut feature and with Sáhez about the screenplay everyone'd told him was "wrong, wrong," and with both about their producer, Guillermo del Toro, and their touchstones, ranging from Henry James to Steven Spielberg.

The Orphanage is now out on DVD.

Blog entry 04/21/2008 - 3:12pm

Gina Kim By Cathleen Rountree

"A compelling cross-cultural love story that sneakily blends elements of Lifetime-style domestic melodrama and ambiguous art-house cinema, Gina Kim's Never Forever is one of the spring season's unlikeliest and most delectable surprises," writes Salon's Andrew O'Hehir.

Cathleen Rountree sat down with the vivacious and sophisticated Gina Kim to talk about the history of recent Korean Cinema, her stint at Harvard, where she finds herself in her characters and her upcoming documentary. Never Forever is opening in New York and San Francisco before rolling out in May.

Blog entry 04/10/2008 - 1:21pm

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

Danielle LuchettiBy James Van Maanen

"What makes My Brother Is an Only Child so alive and entertaining is how it dramatizes the endless tug-of-war between political conviction and personal experience - the way the lines twist and blur and finally implode," writes New York's David Edelstein.

"In a way, I wanted to describe a thoughtful way of handling politics," director Daniele Luchetti tells James Van Maanen in the following interview. "While I am totally against ideology as such, I am pro-politics."

Blog entry 03/28/2008 - 4:00am

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