Losers and Winners will reward anyone interested in the description of the film, or concerned with globalisation. I learned more about the Chinese from this than I did from Antonioni's much longer documentary - or any one other film I've seen. Quite funny at times. Shot on video, but you'll forgive it.
Shotgun Stories tells its story well and is quite gripping, with a nicely handled ending and a strong, smart, cinematic eye. Southern poverty, male threat displays, a poisonous snake, and stopping the wheel of karma. A small film, but a pleasure to watch.
The Elephant and the Sea I walked out on. Interesting set up, but the shot-on-video look was getting to me and I was exhausted from the day's previous films and some writing I'd been doing.
Taken for a Ride is a significant, compelling documentary about corporate manipulation of urban planning - basically, it's about how General Motors and the highway lobby fucked up American public transit. It's unfortunately fairly specific to the US (especially LA), but there's a cool NFB thing on cars that screens with it, called The Cars in Your Life, that is brilliantly crafted and surprisingly fun to watch. Everyone in the Bus Rider's Union should go see this.
10+4 is very much in the mode of Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami, but don't be put off that it's a sequel to 10; not having seen 10 won't harm your enjoyment of the film. This is probably one for cinephiles, though - or for people with a personal connection with the theme of breast cancer; the director, Mania Akbari, had lost a breast, and the film is entirely made up of conversations between her and family, friends, and strangers about her feelings about her disease and treatment. Intimate, provocative, and, well, I really like the Kiarostami thing of shooting people riding around in cars; but I ended up napping during the last bit. I really have been wearing myself out lately; it shouldn't be seen as a commentary on the film.
The Matsugane Potshot Affair: pleasantly twisted, subdued Japanese black comedy that surely will be compared to Fargo, tho' the pacing is closer to Jarmusch than the Coens. The film drags you into a familial mess and winkingly sullies you. Lots of quirky humour, and an ambitious step up from the relatively straightforward, equally delightful Linda Linda Linda (by the same director). I agree with friends of mine that both films would've been better 10 minutes shorter, but don't let that stop you from checking this out.
Atonement: (I did not choose to see this film myself, note). I had forgotten, due to long exposure to really good cinema, that a movie could be made with hammers. The sheer lack of subtlety in Atonement -- which proudly leaps from cinematic cliche to cinematic cliche, overstating everything it can -- does a great deal to ruin Ian MacEwan's finely told story of frustrated love and familial meddling. I liked the palette of the film, and the ideas behind it, but nothing else. The audience members who applauded enthusiastically at the end probably watch a lot of TV or something.
Control: I admit to not really knowing the work of Anton Corbijn, but his first film, about Joy Division and the suicide of Ian Curtis, is filled with astonishing and striking compositions, in gorgeous black and white (see the image above, for instance). It's one of the many things that are remarkable about the film, which, one feels, provides a completely authentic (if fictional) visual record of how Manchester looked between 1973 and 1980. The music is also really good, and Sam Riley makes a striking Ian Curtis. Alas, if you need your cinema to be something MORE than a visual experience - if you'd like to be intrigued by the characters, their actions, opinions, and motivations, this film - which filters the story through the perspective of Curtis' widow, who wrote the book on which it is based and co-produced - will not fully satisfy; the dialogue is simple and, while the performances are good, without anything of substance to say, the actors can only do so much. Not what it could have been - though I am singularly hard to please with "lives of the artists" films. Question: this film, like 24 Hour Party People, suggests that Curtis had watched Herzog's Stroszek (a film which ends in suicide) prior to his own suicide. Is that true?
I have one last film to write about - Scott Walker: 30 Century Man (just as soon as I transcribe my interview with the director), and recommend that film to anyone passionate about music, for a glimpse at an unusual career. Check in tomorrow AM for the finished piece. Beyond that, the must-sees on my list at present include Bela Tarr's The Man from London, de Palma's Redaction, van Sant's Paranoid Park, and James Benning's casting a glance. Curious about several others, but these ones are definite... kind of worried about Bruce Sweeney's American Venus, but I'll check that out, too; I've only really loved one of his films, Dirty...