|FRESH FROM THE THEATERS|
"Park Chan Wook puts himself on the international map with the second part of his 'vengeance trilogy,' notes markhl. "Choi Min Sik does an amazing job with his challenging role."
As noted in the introduction to Jonathan Marlow's interview with another controversial figure in contemporary Korean cinema, Kim Ki-duk, "When Park won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes last year for Oldboy, many cheered; some did not." As George Fasel noted in April at his site, A Girl and a Gun, "I saw the film for the second time this week, after a cooling-off period of six months, and nothing has quelled my own enthusiasm. But almost as interesting is the polarization Oldboy has occasioned, the strenuous approval and savage denunciation it has brought out." Of the critics denouncing the enthusiasts, Elbert Ventura wrote for the New Republic, "Invoking the self-proclaimed geeks of post-Tarantino cinephilia and the Ain't It Cool News set doesn't just identify the movie's presumptive demographic - it diminishes the movie by association and gives critics an excuse not to engage Park's work seriously." Second, "That original grievances become obscured by the sadism isn't a failing of the movie: It's the point.... His surfaces are so dazzling that it may require effort to look past them."
We recommend you try just that.
Layer Cake (2004).
"Layer Cake is a tasty mix of stylistic and character driven plot with exceptional writing by J.J. Connolly and a welcome directorial debut from producer Matthew Vaughn (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch), wrote Melissa McGibbon in Film Threat, going on to call it "an unusual crime thriller that feeds us the dynamic, edgy, and cataclysmic storyline that we hunger for."
You may or may not agree with Larry Gross's assessment of Jean-Luc Godard's later films in Movieline, but he does capture well the significance of Weekend in one of cinema's most significant oeuvres:
Jean-Luc Godard tapped directly into the bloodstream of cinema twice in his career: his 1959 deput film Breathless, which announced that a generation of self-conscious cinephiles was preparing to redefine film history, and eight years later with Weekend, his final, disenchanted adieu to commercial narrative cinema. A film that attests to his brave but aesthetically fatal alliance with revolutionary Third World attacks on the culture of the West, Weekend marks the true end of Godard's period of stupefying, creative inspiration. As such, it is comparable to Picasso's farewell to the cubist period, or Dylan's Blonde on Blonde.
And of course, it's a quintessentially 60s-era film, one that will be fascinating to see again now. Will Godard's anger, here at its fiercest, strike a chord?
For Ever Mozart (1996).
For Fergus Daly, writing in Senses of Cinema, "For Ever Mozart is the key to what is new in Godard these last years... Godard drew on three distinct embryonic projects, namely, an homage to Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa; an idea borrowed from a newspaper article by Philippe Sollers about staging a play in Sarajevo; and a project whose point of departure would have been a Keith Jarrett concert. Godard set out knowing it would be the film in construction which would tie all of these elements together. By combining these preoccupations with his desire to express his disgust at the attitude of French intellectuals to the war in the ex-Yugoslavia... Godard, according to Serge Toubiana, managed to forge the most just and accurate political film of recent times."
The Flowers of St. Francis (1950).
"Shooting primarily in exterior spaces, using unobtrusive camerawork, and incorporating natural environment with a cast of non-professional actors (with monks from the Nocere Inferiore Monastery playing the roles of St. Francis and his disciples), Roberto Rossellini creates a sense of timelessness and contemporary relevance to the universal themes of humility, compassion, faith, sacrifice, and community in The Flowers of St. Francis," writes Acquarello at his site, Strictly Film School. "A remarkably lucid and accessible portrait of the interrelation between humanity and spiritual enlightenment."
This Criterion disc includes new video interviews, conducted in 2004, with Isabella Rossellini, film critic Father Virgilio Fantuzzi and writer and film historian Adriano Apra."
By the way, may we also recommend, as a supplemental reading tip, our latest primer, "Italian Neo-Realism."
"Brilliantly directed by Kobayashi Masaki, the plot is driven by a bloody mixture of ritual suicide, honor, and revenge," notes Allen White in our "Samurai" primer. "It is an exquisitely filmed widescreen masterpiece that serves as illustration of some of the core principles of samurai thought and of their conflict with the modernization of Japan."
Another gem from Criterion, which has spiced the disc with new video interviews with legendary star Tatsuya Nakadai and acclaimed screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto and an exclusive video introduction by Japanese-film historian Donald Richie."
Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932).
"Jean Renoir's effortless 1932 masterpiece is as informal, beguiling, and subversive as its eponymous hero, a tramp who is saved from suicide by a Parisian bookseller and ends up taking over his benefactor's home, wife, and mistress," wrote Dave Kehr in the Chicago Reader. If that plot sounds familiar, you may have seen Paul Mazursky's 1986 remake, Down and Out in Beverly Hills.
Besides a crisp new transfer, Criterion's disc features an archival intro by Renoir, another with Eric Rohmer, an interactive map of 30s-era Paris and more.
Scrapped Princess. Volume 3: Traveling Trouble (2005).
"So many SF/fantasy anime shows start in an interesting fashion and then completely break down as the story becomes fragmented, unintelligible, and often self-contradictory," writes autarch of the first volume. "Scrapped Princess has an interesting story that it manages to hold together throughout the entire series."
Adds drseid: "Very nice fantasy show that mixes an interesting premise with some likeable characters. This one should appeal to fans of shows like Fullmetal Alchemist."