Books Around: Eastern Ley Lines

By Olaf Moller / December 22, 2009

By Olaf Möller Originally I wanted to pick things up where I left ‘em last time: in Japan, deep inside genre-land, by praising the brilliance and beauty of Jasper Sharp’s hefty tome on Japanese sex cinema, from whence I intended to commence t’wards a similarly calibrated labour of love, Jack Stevenson’s study on erotic cinema…

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Interviews | Heaven and Hell: L’enfer d’ Henri-Georges Clouzot

By Jason Anderson / December 16, 2009

By Jason Anderson So many noble quests for cinema’s lost arks, holy grails, and doomed farragoes yield less than we might have imagined. Yet the astonishing sight of the late Romy Schneider’s shimmering skin is only one of the many wonders discovered in the tantalizing wreckage of L’enfer d’ Henri-Georges Clouzot. Though 15 hours of…

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Features | A Matter of Life and Death: Lu Chuan and Post-Zhuxuanlu Cinema

By Shelly Kraicer / December 16, 2009

By Shelly Kraicer Sometimes it really is necessary to read Chinese movies through a political prism. Often this is a lazy, worn interpretive strategy that too easily reduces complex, allusive art to manifestos of resistance: Lou Ye’s Spring Fever, “banned in China!!!”, is a film opposing Beijing’s dictators, goes the most recent version on this…

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Features | Songs of Innocence & Experience: Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson and the Post-Boomer

By Michael Sicinski / December 16, 2009

By Michael Sicinski Two of this year’s most spectacular auteur-driven releases—“spectacular” used not as an interchangeable superlative, but in the specific sense that the films generate spectacle through unique technical means—have been met with strikingly different expectations, and notably different responses, although both (owing to the wonders of the Internet age) had to put forth…

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Currency | Un prophète (Jacques Audiard, France)

By Richard Porton / December 16, 2009

For certain film critics, the encomium “well-made” has near-talismanic powers. While it would doubtless be condescending to damn a novel with faint praise by saying it’s, say, “well-structured,” a number of commentators seemingly believe that film craftsmanship today is so slipshod that merely acknowledging a basic level of competence adds up to a huge endorsement.…

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Currency | Up in the Air (Jason Reitman, US)

By Adam Nayman / December 16, 2009

Like Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton (2007), Up in the Air casts George Clooney as a crinkly-eyed corporate bogeyman—specifically, Ryan Bingham, a “transition counselor” who racks up frequent-flyer miles travelling cross-country to various white-collar companies and firing their employees as a courtesy to confrontation-averse middle-managers. And, like Michael Clayton (which, it should be said, is a…

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Columns | Film/Art – In Comparison: HF | RG

By Andrea Picard / December 16, 2009

By Andréa Picard This column is so late, it’s as good as expired. And alas, it’s not even the article it once was or was meant to be. Blame it on the archive (or lack thereof) and the machine (ditto), definitely on the so-called nonverbal and a rather limp attempt at montage. In late August,…

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Columns | Global Discoveries on DVD: Another Checklist

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / December 16, 2009

By Jonathan Rosenbaum Before getting around to my 32 picks, pans, and/or simple finds for this quarter, here’s some food for thought that I recently came across in an Austrian Filmmuseum publication: “I recently met Jonathan Rosenbaum in Zagreb…For Jonathan, the age of the DVD and the download also means a huge expansion of film-historical…

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CS41: Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / December 16, 2009

First of all, thanks to the Toronto Film Critics Association, without whom there would be no award for the appreciation of film in Canada. But seriously, thanks guys, I’m just trying to do what I can as best as I can. Speaking of critics, one curious effect of the ongoing decimation of film criticism in…

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Spotlight | Ruhr (James Benning, Germany)

By Mark Peranson / December 16, 2009

James Benning is not quite Stravinsky, and his first high-definition video (and first film shot outside the US) is not exactly the Rite of Spring, but a trip to the heart of the Ruhr Valley for the premiere of Ruhr at the Duisberg Film Week carried a certain nervous anticipation. After years of shooting on…

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Spotlight | Petropolis: Aerial Perpectives on the Alberta Tar Sands (Peter Mettler, Canada)

By Jerry White / December 16, 2009

The French première of Peter Mettler’s new work Petropolis at the scrappy Festival OFNI in Poitiers (this year devoted to Canada) took place at a planetarium, in what the organisers called “un lieu scientifique.” How right they were. Shot on HD video, Petropolis is comprised entirely of aerial images of the landscape surrounding and comprising…

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Spotlight | Between Two Worlds (Vimukthi Jayasundara, Sri Lanka/France)

By Robert Koehler / December 16, 2009

When video games and the American war machine met in an unholy alliance of cultural Armageddon called Desert Storm, the separation between war-making, war games, and war movies eroded and finally dissolved, with its black apotheosis on 9/11, the day New York, in that sickening phrase, felt like a movie. By that point, the notion…

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Spotlight | La Pivellina (Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, Austria/Italy)

By Jon Davies / December 16, 2009

La Pivellina, which translates as “the little one,” is set against the grey and grubby milieu of San Basilio on the outskirts of Rome—in the winter, no less. But while this cold, garbage-strewn setting would typically engender a harsh story of angst, brutality, or exploitation, co-directors Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel have instead captured a…

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Spotlight | Lebanon (Samuel Maoz, Israel)

By Andrew Tracy / December 16, 2009

Whatever else it might be, the high-concept festival film is a wonderful labour-saving device for the harried critic, its provocatively sellable 25-words-or-less concept handily reducing criticism to bare surface description plus an appropriate adjective. “Gripping” was the mot en vogue for the appreciative critical ranks filing out of my screening of Lebanon, which took the…

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Interviews | Keeper of Sheep Lucien Castaing-Taylor on Sweetgrass

By Jay Kuehner / December 16, 2009

By Jay Kuehner ”Baaaaaaah. Bleeeeeeet.” So goes the soundscape of the Western frontier, virtually absent of commentary save for the alternately plaintive hymn and cry of man on the open plain and majestic mountain pass. Could it be that the great American film of the year is a painstaking documentary about…sheep? Roughly 3,000, give or…

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Spotlight | The Unbroken Path: Ben Russell’s Let Each One Go Where He May

By Michael Sicinski / September 12, 2009

By Michael Sicinski Ben Russell’s newest film, Let Each One Go Where He May, is the culmination not only of certain aims and tendencies within the filmmaker’s own impressive body of work. It actually represents the culmination of a particular tendency—or energy—that has been at work for a long time within experimental cinema, but has…

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Spotlight | Bruno Dumont’s Hadewijch

By Scott Foundas / September 12, 2009

By Scott Foundas Like The Sound of Music without the music, Bruno Dumont’s Hadewijch opens in a present-day convent, where the eponymous young novitiate—a girl of about 20—has run afoul of the mothers superior. She confuses abstinence with martyrdom, they say, as evidenced by her acts of starvation and self-mortification. And she has taken the…

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