Archive for May, 2010

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Top 20 Films of 2009: Michael Moore’s List

24 May 2010

Here’s a list that appeared on Slash Film’s blog:

1. “Troubled Water

“Troubled Water” is from Norway and it is a work of art and great storytelling from the opening frame to its final fade to black. It tells the story of a young man who is paroled after spending time in prison and gets a job as a church organist. He claims to be innocent in the drowning of a child, but the boy’s mother won’t let it go.

3. “Captain Abu Raed” – This first feature from Jordan tells the story of an airport janitor who the neighborhood kids believe is a pilot.
4. “Che” – A brilliant, unexpected mega-film about Che Guevara by Steven Soderbergh.
5. “Dead Snow” – The scariest film I’ve seen in a while about zombie Nazis abandoned after World War II in desolate Norway.
6. “The Great Buck Howard” – A tender look at the life of an illusionist, based on the life of The Amazing Kreskin starring John Malkovich.
7. “In the Loop” – A rare hilarious satire, this one about the collusion between the Brits and the Americans and their illegal war pursuits.
8. “My One and Only” – Who woulda thought that a biopic based on one year in the life of George Hamilton when he was a teenager would turn out to be one of the year’s most engaging films.
9. “Whatever Works” – This was a VERY good Woody Allen film starring the great Larry David and it was completely overlooked.
10. “Big Fan” – A funny, dark film about an obsessive fan of the New York Giants with a great performance by the comedian Patton Oswalt.
11. “Eden Is West” – The legendary Costa-Gavras’ latest gem, ignored like his last brilliant film 4 years ago, “The Axe”.
12. “Entre Nos” – An mother and child are left to fend for themselves in New York City in this powerful drama.
13. “The Girlfriend Experience” – Steven Soderbergh’s second genius film of the year, this one set in the the post-Wall Street Crash era, a call girl services the men who brought the country down.
14. “Humpday” – Two straight guys dare each other to enter a gay porn contest — but will they go through with it?
15. “Lemon Tree” – A Palestinian woman has her lemon trees cut down by the Israeli army, but she decides that’s the final straw.
16. “Mary and Max” – An Australian girl and and elderly Jewish man in New York become pen pals in this very moving animated film.
17. “O’Horten” – Another Norwegian winner, this one about the final trip made by a retiring train conductor.
18. “Salt of This Sea” – A Palestinian-American returns to her family’s home in the West Bank, only to find herself caught up in the struggles between the two cultures.
19. “Sugar” – A Dominican baseball player gets his one chance to come to America and make it in the big leagues.
20. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” – A smart, adult animated film from Wes Anderson….

Read more: Michael Moore’s Top 20 Movies of 2009 and Why The Hurt Locker is “Very Political” | /Film http://www.slashfilm.com/2010/03/07/michael-moores-top-20-movies-of-2009-and-why-the-hurt-locker-is-very-political/#ixzz0orK90GTT

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One Century and Counting

14 May 2010

The Cannes Film Festival is underway, with Tim Burton heading this year’s jury.

One film that’s already screened is from Portuguese filmmaker, Manoel de Oliveira.

… at 101, he is the oldest active film-maker in the world….And while patience is an essential virtue for directors – years may pass before a project gets off the ground – few can say they have waited 64 years. De Oliveira’s The Strange Case of Angelica, which was premiered at the festival, was conceived in 1946, and he took it to script in 1952. De Oliveira recently tweaked the story to take in such issues as global warming, the economic crisis and environmental pollution.

The film is about a young Jewish photographer, Isaac, who is called out in the middle of the night to take pictures of a woman just after her death. He falls in love with her image, which obsesses him.

According to De Oliveira: “I thought of doing the film just after the second world war. Hitler killed six million Jews in Europe and the Jews were fleeing to Portugal to fly to the States”….

It was as a farmer himself that De Oliveira sat out most of the authoritarian years in Portugal under António Salazar, before the Carnation Revolution of 1974 ushered in a new era of productivity – but the period of inactivity at least offered him the opportunity for introspection. “I had time for a long and profound reflection about the artistic nature of cinema, which transformed my previous certainties into new concepts between hesitations and doubt,” he said recently.

His first film, made in 1931, was… set on the banks of the Douro – a document of riverside activity influenced by Soviet techniques. His second film, in 1963, was Rite of Spring – a Passion story set in a rural community.

It is in what for most people would be their autumn years, however, that De Oliveira has been most productive. He made only three features in the first 40 years of his career and has produced 19 thereafter – in the 1990s making a film a year and attracting such actors John Malkovich and Catherine Deneuve.

Today De Oliveira said he felt that Hollywood needed to undergo a “second youth”. No need to say the same of this director. His inspiration clearly undimmed, he is already planning “another project for a film. But one never knows what fate will bring,” he said. (from “The Strange Case of Manoel de Oliveira”, Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian, 5/13/10)

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More Selected Upcoming Releases: May 14-28

10 May 2010

Again, from The New York Times report on films being released through the summer (5/2/10):

May 14

THE BEST WORST MOVIE Michael Stephenson’s documentary looks back to his childhood experience as one of the stars of Claudio Fragasso’s 1990 horror film “Troll 2,” once rated “the worst film of all time” by the users of the Internet Movie Database.

DADDY LONGLEGS A divorced father (Ronald Bronstein) fights for the affection of his two young sons (Sage and Frey Ranaldo) during their annual two-week vacation together. From the filmmaking brothers Ben and Joshua Safdie (“The Pleasure of Being Robbed”).

HERE AND THERE Parallel stories: a cynical American (David Thornton) travels to Serbia in search of someone who will pay to marry him to gain United States citizenship; in New York, a Serbian émigré (Branislav Trifunovic), struggles to raise the money to bring his fiancée to the States. With Cyndi Lauper; Darko Lungulov wrote and directed.

THE LIVING WAKE Learning he has only 24 hours to live, a pretentious performance artist (Mike O’Connell) persuades his only friend (Jesse Eisenberg) to help him stage his farewell appearance at a “living wake.” Sol Tryon directed.

LOOKING FOR ERIC Unhappy with his life, a mailman (Steve Evets) finds inspiration in the philosophy of his favorite soccer player, Eric Cantona (who plays himself). The British social realist Ken Loach (“Raining Stones”) directed this comedy, set in Manchester, from a script by his regular collaborator, Paul Laverty.

PRINCESS KAILULANI Q’orianka Kilcher of “The New World” stars as the Hawaiian princess who resisted American colonization. Marc Forby directed; with Barry Pepper, Will Patton and Julian Glover.

TIMER In the world of the future everyone will have a personal timer that provides a countdown to the moment when they will meet their life partner. But one young Los Angeles woman (Emma Caulfield) is horrified to find that her timer is blank; she takes a chance and falls for a supermarket clerk (John Patrick Amedori). Jac Schaeffer directed.

TOUCHING HOME Twin brothers Logan and Noah Miller wrote and directed this fictionalized tribute to their father, a homeless alcoholic (Ed Harris) who nevertheless gave them the inspiration to try out as professional baseball players. With Brad Dourif.

May 19

TWO IN THE WAVE The complex relationship of best frenemies François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, recalled in a documentary by Emmanuel Laurent.

May 21

AFTER THE CUP: SONS OF SAKHNIN UNITED The story of Bnei Sakhnin, a soccer team composed of Arabs and Jews that won the Israeli Cup and became a model for ethnic relations — until its existence was threatened. Alexander H. Browne and Christopher Browne directed this documentary.

HOLY ROLLERS A Hasidic rabbinical student (Jesse Eisenberg) strays from the straight and narrow when he’s recruited as a drug smuggler by an Israeli dealer (Danny A. Abeckaser) and his glamorous girlfriend (Ari Graynor). Kevin Asch directed.

JOHN RABE A German businessman (Steve Buscemi) helps to rescue 200,000 civilians during the Imperial Japanese Army’s invasion of China’s Nanking province. With Ulrich Tukur, Daniel Brühl and Anne Consigny; Florian Gallenberger wrote and directed.

KITES The Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan plays an Indian dance instructor in love with a Latina in a film shot in the American Southwest by Anurag Basu.

PERRIER’S BOUNTY An Irish slacker (Cillian Murphy) struggles to pay his debt to an unforgiving gangster (Brendan Gleeson) in Ian Fitzgibbon’s suspense comedy. With Jim Broadbent.

May 27

THE JUCHE IDEA From the underground satirist Jim Finn, a mock documentary about a South Korean artist who moves north to create “insect-based bio-art” tributes to Kim Jong-il.

May 28

AGORA The female astronomer Hypatia of Alexandria (Rachel Weisz) works to save her city’s legendary library from destruction while being courted by an aristocrat (Oscar Isaac) and a slave (Max Minghella). Alejandro Amenábar (“The Others”) directed this Spanish production.

THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN In Mia Hansen-Love’s French film, a risk-taking producer (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) takes a tragic way out of a financial crisis, leaving his wife (Chiara Caselli) and children to deal with the consequences.

MICMACS The popular French comic Dany Boon stars in a special effects comedy directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amélie”) about a homeless man who enlists a community of resourceful misfits to help him get revenge on a pair of arms merchants (André Dussollier and Nicolas Marié).

PICASSO & BRAQUE GO TO THE MOVIES How the development of aviation and cinema affected the art of the Cubists, in a documentary directed by Arne Glimcher and narrated by Martin Scorsese.

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Poster for “Sugar”

8 May 2010

Here’s the poster for our May 11 screening of Sugar. Please have a look (and print out a copy)!

OFG.sugar2.poster

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OFG Screens “Sugar” 5/11/10

8 May 2010

OFG will screen the film Sugar on Tuesday, May 11 at 7 pm in Campus Center Room CC114 on the SUNY Oswego campus. The film is free and open to the public. We’ll discuss Sugar after the screening.

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A Curiosity: Roger Ebert’s Sex Pistols Screenplay

3 May 2010

Roger Ebert’s posted the screenplay for Who Killed Bambi?–that ‘s the screenplay he wrote that was intended to star the Sex Pistols and to be directed by Russ Meyer.

Ebert notes:  “All I intend to do here is reprint it. Comments are open, but I can’t discuss what I wrote, why I wrote it, or what I should or shouldn’t have written. Frankly, I have no idea.”

See: http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2010/04/who_killed_bambi_-_a_screenpla.html

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Other Than the Blockbusters: Selected Releases for May 5-12

3 May 2010

From the Summer Movies supplement in Sunday’s New York Times (5/2/10):

Wednesday

THE INFIDEL A British Muslim learns after his mother’s death that he is a) adopted and b) Jewish. He takes lessons in Yiddishkeit from a cabdriving friend. With Omid Djalili and Richard Schiff; Josh Appignanesi directed.

ROAD, MOVIE Escaping his father’s hair oil business, a young Indian man goes on the road with a traveling cinema show. Dev Benegal wrote and directed.

SEX & DRUGS & ROCK & ROLL The life of the British rock musician Ian Dury, featuring Andy Serkis, Naomie Harris, Olivia Williams, Bill Milner, Toby Jones, Tom Hughes, Noel Clarke and Ray Winstone. Directed by Mat Whitecross.

THE TROTSKY A Montreal high school student believes he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky, and acts accordingly. With Jay Baruchel, Saul Rubinek and Colm Feore; Jacob Tierney wrote and directed.

THE WILD AND WONDERFUL WHITES OF WEST VIRGINIA A family combines criminal activities and tap dancing in a documentary by Julien Nitzberg.

Thursday

TALENTIME The Museum of Modern Art’s May retrospective devoted to the Malaysian filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad, who died in 2009, will conclude with a weeklong run of her final film, a drama that weaves multiple characters, stories and themes reflecting Malaysia’s multicultural composition into a tale of students caught up in a talent competition.

Friday

BABIES Thomas Balmès’s documentary follows infants from four corners of the world — Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco and Tokyo — as they develop from newborns to toddlers.

BADMAASH COMPANY Four friends team up to start an unorthodox business enterprise in the gung-ho Mumbai of the 1990s. Parmeet Sethi directed this Bollywood extravaganza; with Shahid Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Meiyang Chang and Vir Das.

CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY The unlikely odyssey of Jack Abramoff, from political activist to disgraced lobbyist, examined in a documentary by Alex Gibney (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”).

DDR/DDR The dissolution of East Germany examined in an experimental documentary directed by Amie Siegel.

FLOORED The hard-charging traders of Chicago’s futures market face obsolescence as computerized trading challenges their livelihood. James Allen Smith directed.

GRAVITY WAS EVERYWHERE BACK THEN A hardware store clerk constructs an eccentric house that he hopes will somehow save his wife from cancer. The artist Brent Green directed this film, a companion piece to a gallery show, using stop motion techniques inspired by Norman McLaren and Jan Svankmajer.

HAPPINESS RUNS The writer-director Adam Sherman draws on his own experiences for a drama about a young man, raised in a commune dominated by a charismatic, polygamous guru, who tries to save his mother and his girlfriend from an existence defined by sex and drugs. With Andie MacDowell, Mark L. Young, Hanna Hall and Rutger Hauer.

THE LOTTERY Madeleine Sackler’s documentary follows four families from Harlem and the Bronx as they prepare to enter the drawing for class seats at the Harlem Success Academy.

MOTHER AND CHILD How adoption touches the lives of three women: a mother (Annette Bening) who gave up her child; a lawyer (Naomi Watts) who has suffered from emotional isolation since being adopted as a child; and a young wife (Kerry Washington) who hopes to adopt a child of her own. Rodrigo García (“Nine Lives”) wrote and directed; with Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits and David Ramsey.

MULTIPLE SARCASMS When a playwright (Timothy Hutton) tackles the subject of the women in his life for his new work, it’s time for much soul-searching in his immediate social circle. Brooks Branch directed; with Mira Sorvino, Dana Delany, Mario Van Peebles, Stockard Channing, India Ennenga and Laila Robins.

THE OATH Laura Poitra’s documentary focuses on two men once close to Osama bin Laden: a former bodyguard, Abu Jandal, now a taxi driver in Yemen, and a former driver, Salim Hamdan, one of the first detainees at Guantánamo Bay to face a military trial.

OCEAN OF PEARLS A Toronto surgeon (Omid Abtahi) accepts a post in a Detroit hospital, where he encounters prejudice because of his Sikh heritage. Sarab Neelam wrote and directed this semi-autobiographical film.

OSS 117: LOST IN RIO The gifted French comedian Jean Dujardin returns as the arrogant, oblivious French secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath in this sequel to “OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies.” The setting this time is an impeccably art-directed Brazil of the 1960s, where Hubert has gone in search of fugitive Nazis. Michel Hazanavicius directed.

WELCOME When the immigration authorities stop him in Calais, a 17-year-old Kurdish refugee (Firat Ayverdi) enlists the help of a French swimming instructor (Vincent Lindon) to prepare him for a desperate cross-channel swim. Philippe Lioret directed.

May 12

BARKING WATER A middle-aged couple, both American Indians (Richard Ray Whitman and Casey Camp-Horinek), review their years together as they travel across Oklahoma. Directed by Sterlin Harjo.

BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO Japan’s national fondness for insects, dissected in a documentary by Jessica Oreck.

CLIMATE OF CHANGE Ordinary people do small but significant things to combat climate change in a documentary directed by Brian Hill. Tilda Swinton narrates.

THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF LITTLE DIZZLE Maintenance workers at a product research firm find strange things emerging from their bodies after they eat some experimental cookies. David Russo wrote and directed; with Marshall Allman, Natasha Lyonne, Tania Raymonde, Tygh Runyan, Matt Smith and Vince Vieluf.

METROPIA Tarik Saleh directed this Swedish-Danish-Norwegian animated film, set in 2024, when the residents of Europe have been driven into underground habitats. With the voices of Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgaard and Alexander Skarsgard.

MY LAST FIVE GIRLFRIENDS Still single as he crosses into his 30s, a Londoner (Brendan Patricks) surveys his most recent amours to find out what went wrong. With Naomie Harris, Kelly Adams, Cécile Cassel, Jane March and Edith Bukovics; Julian Kemp wrote and directed.

SWIMSUIT ISSUE The not-so-Full Monty, as a group of middle-aged Swedish males form a synchronized swimming team and practice for the world competition in Berlin. Directed by Mans Herngren.