Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Discorder, plus the Approach of the Vancouver International Film Festival

Still from the Spanish film, The Mist in the Palm Trees

Well, here's a bit of self-censorship for you. I had put my comments up on Discorder's clever/stoopid interim message that popped up criticizing Internet Explorer and saying they weren't going to make the online issue available to people using it... but it turns out it's a temporary state of things; they're up and workin'. So I'm omitting my previous commentary.

The Vancouver International Film Festival is just around the corner. I've written up about nine films for Discorder, for the September and October issues. (September focuses on Old Joy, The Net, and In-Between Days, all of which I recommend, and can be viewed in the Cinema Aspirant column, above; October looks at documentaries, mostly on terrorism). Unfortunately, the finest of the films I've been fortunate enough to preview, an Iranian film called Men at Work, didn't make it. Directed by Mani Haghighi -- great interview there -- it's a charming, wry, and very wise film in which four middle class Iranian men, en route to watch a soccer game with friends, end up derailed by a spontaneous project involving knocking a large, immovable pillar of rock into a gorge. What begins as whimsy progresses to folly and ends up as a sort of mission. I was reminded of something John Cassavetes once said -- I can't find it on a cursory flip through Cassavetes on Cassavetes, but I'm sure it's in there somewhere -- about how men, in all things, love to play -- and was somewhat surprised to be thinking of Cassavetes, watching an Iranian film. It's nowhere near as rough-and-tumble -- it's a very gentle film -- but it's not at all foreign; aside from the landscape, it could be set anywhere in North America. Hey, does anyone know if the curving roads are the same ones shot by Abbas Kiarostami for A Taste of Cherry -- or do all roads there look like that? (Kiarostami provided the story idea for this film). More on the film here, tho' I think the stuff about it looking like a home movie is crap -- this is a finely composed and crafted piece of cinema, intimate tho' it may be.

What else can I say? The Mist in the Palm Trees was one film I didn't get a chance to finish, but it's visually amazing, assembled from found footage, often quite decayed. It's a very ambitious piece of work -- though the poetic narration, which deals with themes of memory, images, and desire, sort of washes over you (or breezes by you); the images reign. Fans of experimental film (and/or Decasia) will love this one. I'll be looking at it again myself when the festival proper starts.

Finally, y'all are aware that Jonathan Rosenbaum is going to be in town, right? Click the Taste of Cherry link above for a sample of his writing. He goes off-kilter every now and then, but he's one of the most perceptive major critics writing for an American paper at the moment, and I highly recommend his book Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Films we can See. Excerpted at length there, so check it out.

Hm. 4:30 AM, press conference for the VIFF in six hours... I think I should sleep.

As a final note, tho', anyone following my Unabomber thread might find this amusing.

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