Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Releases: A Prophet, Prodigal Sons and The Yellow Handkerchief

This set of links is all in the title. Well, almost. In addition to the three new releases cited - the first two of which are strong, if problematic pieces of work, and the third of which is not recommended - there's my (positive) review of Patrice Chéreau's latest, Persecution, which screens February 26th and 27th as part of Film Comment Selects.

A Prophet (Artforum)
Prodigal Sons (Slant)
The Yellow Handkerchief (Slant)
Persecution (The House Next Door)

Monday, February 15, 2010

President's Day Link Roundup

As President's Day winds to a close, it's time for my latest link roundup which covers a surprisingly strong group of films. Highlights include Jessica Hausner's Lourdes, which opens Wednesday at Film Forum, and Edward Yang's A Brighter Summer Day, which makes a highly anticipated appearance in its full-length version February 28th as part of Lincoln Center's Film Comment Selects series.

Lourdes (Artforum)
A Brighter Summer Day (The House Next Door)
American Radical (Slant)
Phyllis and Harold (Slant)
The Atomic Café (The L Magazine)

UPDATE: My review of Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island has been posted at Slant.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Slant Magazine Best of the Aughts

Slant Magazine's countdown of the 100 best films of the decade - compiled from my personal best-of-lists as well as those of 10 other critics - has been posted in its entirety. It's a pretty solid list, although there are some favorites I'm sorry to see left off. Of my top 10, for example, three films - The Wayward Cloud, The Duchess of Langeais, and Millennium Mambo - didn't make the cut. I contributed capsules for numbers 94, 89, 75, 66, 49, 34, 32, 16 and 7. Below is my personal top 100 as submitted for the survey.

(Note: Eligible films must have had a one-week theatrical run in New York between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2009. Some films from 1999, such as Beau Travail, were eligible since they didn't start their theatrical run until 2000).

1. Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr)

2. Platform (Jia Zhang-ke)

3. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)

4. The Wayward Cloud (Tsai Ming-Liang)

5. The Duchess of Langeais (Jacques Rivette)

6. Yi Yi (Edward Yang)

7. Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-Hsien)

8. The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel)

9. Inland Empire (David Lynch)

10. Crimson Gold (Jafar Panahi)

11. The World (Jia Zhang-ke)

12. Beau Travail (Claire Denis)

13. Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

14. The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami)

15. Three Times (Hou Hsiao-Hsien)

16. The Son (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

17. Unknown Pleasures (Jia Zhang-ke)

18. Friday Night (Claire Denis)

19. Two Lovers (James Gray)

20. Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Anderson)

21. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

22. L’Enfant (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)

23. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai)

24. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog)

25. Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa)

26. Still Life (Jia Zhang-ke)

27. In the City of Sylvia (Jos&eacute Luis Guerin)

28. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu)

29. Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

30. Nobody Knows (Hirokazu Kore-eda)

31. In Praise of Love (Jean-Luc Godard)

32. The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (John Gianvito)

33. 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis)

34. The Royal Tennenbaums (Wes Anderson)

35. Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov)

36. Time Regained (Raul Ruiz)

37. Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas)

38. You, the Living (Roy Andersson)

39. Talk to Her (Pedro Almodovar)

40. Into Great Silence (Philip Gröning)

41. Last Days (Gus van Sant)

42. A Talking Picture (Manoel de Oliveira)

43. Oasis (Lee Chang-dong)

44. The Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordana)

45. The Circle (Jafar Panahi)

46. The Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer)

47. Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau)

48. Memories of Murder (Bong Joon-ho)

49. The Man From London (Béla Tarr)

50. Femme Fatale (Brian de Palma)

51. Profit motive and the whispering wind (John Gianvito)

52. Battle in Heaven (Carlos Reygadas)

53. Regular Lovers (Phillipe Garrel)

54. My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin)

55. Munich (Steven Spielberg)

56. Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette)

57. What Time is it There? (Tsai Ming-Liang)

58. Still Walking (Hirokazu Kore-eda)

59. Elephant (Gus van Sant)

60. Son Frère (Patrice Chéreau)

61. I’m Going Home (Manoel de Oliveira)

62. Tetro (Francis Ford Coppola)

63. Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar)

64. Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski)

65. Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh)

66. The Company (Robert Altman)

67. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)

68. Revanche (G&oumltz Spielmann)

69. Boarding Gate (Olivier Assayas)

70. L’Intrus (Claire Denis)

71. Miami Vice (Michael Mann)

72. Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

73. The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda)

74. Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes)

75. Café Lumière (Hou Hsiao-Hsien)

76. Julia (Erick Zonca)

77. The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chris Marker)

78. Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat)

79. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch)

80. The Secret of the Grain (Abdel Kechiche)

81. Twentynine Palms (Bruno Dumont)

82. Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon)

83. La Commune (Paris, 1871) (Peter Watkins)

84. La Ciénaga (Lucrecia Martel)

85. We Own the Night (James Gray)

86. Night and Day (Hong Sang-soo)

87. The Class (Laurent Cantet)

88. 24 City (Jia Zhang-ke)

89. Fahrenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore)

90. Before I Forget (Jacques Nolot)

91. Va Savoir (Jacques Rivette)

92. Clean (Olivier Assayas)

93. The Wild Blue Yonder (Werner Herzog)

94. Los Muertos (Lisandro Alonso)

95. Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt)

96. Pistol Opera (Seijun Suzuki)

97. George Washington (David Gordon Green)

98. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)

99. Father and Son (Alexander Sokurov)

100. Code 46 (Michael Winterbottom)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Releases: Ajami, Terribly Happy and Falling Awake

Not a great week for films reviewed by me. Probably the most significant is the Israeli offering Ajami, which was just rewarded for being too clever with its narrative dicing and not probing enough in its investigation of a multi-ethnic Jaffa neigborhood with an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. I may be one of the only people who wasn't wowed by this one and although there is a lot to be impressed with, let's face it, when you get right down to it, Ajami is pretty thin gruel to be making any bold claims about. Also submitted for Best Foreign Film consideration (although unsuccessfully) was Danish director Henrik Ruben Genz's Terribly Happy, another film that didn't quite come off despite its share of merits. Still, both of these offerings (reviewed for Slant Magazine) are far better than the film I covered for The L, Falling Awake, a completely misguided film about a Bronx youth caught between his love of busking in Manhattan parks and the lures of his own rough-and-tumble neighborhood.