Sunday, August 03, 2014

Films noir, Snowpiercer, Night Moves: some smart summer films in Vancouver

I'm going to be too busy to write much over the next while, at least not here. If you haven't read my Robin Bougie interview below, I'm quite pleased with it. I will also be working on putting up some Tesco Vee stuff online that the world outside Germany has not yet seen, from my big interview with him, but it may take a few days.

Meantime, here are a few notes about some upcoming film fare.
Re: film noir series at the Cinematheque, see under Mack, Adrian. Actually, the programming this year is erring a bit on the side of the conservative, in my opinion; I've caught Double Indemnity two or three times theatrically in Vancouver in the last few years, so I didn't really need it again, y'know? Gun Crazy played last year, too, unless I'm mistaken. But then there are probably still hundreds of people in this town who haven't seen either of these films; I highly recommend AMENDING YOUR WAYS, if you number among them, because these are essential if you have any love of cinema, and are both fonts of cinephilic delight to boot, two of the most flat out pleasurable noirs ever made, though not without their darkness. Besides, even some of the obvious choices are films even I haven't yet been able to see on the screen, like The Lady From Shanghai (which I've only seen twice, in fact, both times on DVD; the image above is from it); it's sufficiently fascinating a film that Pere Ubu named an album after it. Meantime, in terms of the less obvious choices in the series, the ones that excite me most are So Dark The Night (directed by Gun Crazy's Joseph H. Lewis) and Cry of the City
Re: the Vancity Theatre, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser is one of Herzog's most interesting and watchable early films, starring Stroszek's Bruno S. He plays, here, one of Herzog's smallest of smaller-than-life characters, looking at the world through deeply estranged eyes; the film manages to be moving, visually astonishing - I once cut a segment in it into a "trip tape" I was making for psychedelically-inclined friends - and surprisingly funny, at the end, maybe even outdoing Stroszek ("is this really me?" - you bet it is, buddy) for dark humour. Essential. It's coming as a fast-approaching Cinema Salon. One wonders if Ian Curtis saw this one...
Then there's Snowpiercer. I missed it tonight, but it's the newest film for South Korean star filmmaker Bong Joon Ho. The film involves some sort of metaphoric/ literal class struggle on a train in a world that has experienced some sort of weather apocalypse. It's playing the next two Fridays, late. Everything I've heard about Bong's Memories of Murder and Mother have been positive; I had lukewarm reactions to the only film of his I've seen, his monster movie The Host - which he personally introduced to a VIFF audience when it first played here -  but I'm definitely interested in his cinema. Sadly, Snowpiercer is one of those films that former Miramax man Harvey Weinstein has tried to impose his own vision on, demanding cuts and changes to doubtlessly dumb down the movie for the American market. Bong's refusal to cooperate means that this is probably the only chance you'll have to see his first major international production, which critics have been praising with some fervour, in the theatres; I wouldn't miss the opportunity, if you like thinking-person's SF. My girlfriend and I both mistook John Hurt for Sir Ian McKellen in a promo shot!
Also at the Vancity, Double Play looks at the friendship between Richard Linklater, whose films I intermittently enjoy a great deal, and James Benning, who is someone everyone should learn about and whose films present some of the most rewarding challenges in American cinema today. There's a bunch else that might be of interest, too - The Double, say - but I'll leave it to y'all to sort that stuff out; let me just note that Kelly Reichardt's Night Moves is finally opening in Vancouver (like The Double, it stars Jesse Eisenberg, as well as Dakota Fanning, whom I've respected since Man on Fire, and whose success as an adult pleases me greatly). I can't be the only person who's been waiting for this movie? ...might have some more on that film later on, haven't had a chance to see it yet. Eco-terrorism is a topic of some interest to me, though...
All in all, it's nice to see some good movies upcoming! Now let's hope some people go to them. (Note: both theatres are air conditioned and very pleasant ways of spending a hot evening. It was great to see decent audiences for all three screenings of Sorcerer I went to... the Friedkin-approved remastered DVD comes out August 5th, apparently).

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