Friday, June 30, 2006

SIFF at Scarecrow

The latest member newsletter ("CineMail") notes that the following SIFF '06 titles are currently available at Scarecrow Video, so I thought I'd post the list in case anyone missed--and wanted to catch up on--any of 'em.

20269l.jpg

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
A Side, B Side, Seaside
Anne of the Thousand Days
Black Orpheus
Call of Cthulhu
C.R.A.Z.Y.
Distant Journey
Familia
The Five Venoms
The Flowers of St. Francis

Gold Rush
Hello Dolly!
Initial D
Isabella
Lonely Are the Brave
The Man Who Cheated Himself
Me, You, Them
Mother of Mine
Open City
The Power of Nightmares
Princess Raccoon
Pusher
Seven Swords
Shanghai Dreams
To Tulsa and Back
The Unknown (The Lon Chaney Collection)
The Window
theunknownl753067_325835.jpg
Scarecrow Video is located at 5030 Roosevelt Way NE, one block north of the Seven Gables Theatre. For more information, please visit www.scarecrowvideo.com. For info on donating to SIFF, please see www.seattlefilm.org/participate/donate/. (I just renewed my membership today). Stills from The 5,000 Fingers and The Unknown.

SIFF at Scarecrow

The latest member newsletter ("CineMail") notes that the following SIFF '06 titles are currently available at Scarecrow Video, so I thought I'd post the list in case anyone missed--and wanted to catch up on--any of 'em.

20269l.jpg

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
A Side, B Side, Seaside
Anne of the Thousand Days
Black Orpheus
Call of Cthulhu
C.R.A.Z.Y.
Distant Journey
Familia
The Five Venoms
The Flowers of St. Francis

Gold Rush
Hello Dolly!
Initial D
Isabella
Lonely Are the Brave
The Man Who Cheated Himself
Me, You, Them
Mother of Mine
Open City
The Power of Nightmares
Princess Raccoon
Pusher
Seven Swords
Shanghai Dreams
To Tulsa and Back
The Unknown (The Lon Chaney Collection)
The Window
theunknownl753067_325835.jpg
Scarecrow Video is located at 5030 Roosevelt Way NE, one block north of the Seven Gables Theatre. For more information, please visit www.scarecrowvideo.com. For info on donating to SIFF, please see www.seattlefilm.org/participate/donate/. (I just renewed my membership today). Stills from The 5,000 Fingers and The Unknown.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Closing Night Photos

Just got these back from the drugstore.

steve.jpg
Steve goes for the inconspicuous look.
tara2.jpg
Tara also goes for the inconspicuous look.
fur.jpg
Some came in fur.
tom.jpg
Tom Tangney!
tae.jpg
Tae and Gillian
david.jpg
David confers with Helen
peterandy.jpg
I think I ruined this guy's photo.
tara3.jpg
And one last photo of Tara.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Arranging Life's Stuff

Russian Dolls / Les Poupees russes
(Cedric Klapisch, France, 2005, 35mm, 125 mins.)


11.jpg

"Writing is arranging life's stuff."
-- Xavier (Romain Duris)

*****

The title has two meanings, only one of which I will reveal here: Writer/director
Cedric Klapisch's sequel to Gallic phenomenon L'Auberge Espagnole (2002)
was filmed in France, England, and Russia. The other meaning, which explains
the main character's view of his love life, arrives at the end of the film.

Five years have passed since the now 30-year-old Xavier (Romain Duris, The Beat That My Heart Skipped) and friends made their debut, and everyone is moving on
with their lives. As he had hoped, Xavier is making his living as a writer. It's a common career for the lead in a romantic comedy, but Klapisch brings a real freshness to the premise. Like many freelancers, Xavier is trying to find a balance between earning an income and sticking to his convictions. Whenever he fears he may be crossing the line into ethical compromise, he envisions himself playing a flute to someone else's tune. This dopey doppelg/Snger pops up throughout the film.

Xavier and ex-girlfriend Martine (Audrey Tautou, mercifully free from those Da Vinci Code shackles) are both single and living in Paris. They're best friends, although he also spends as much time as possible with his 98-year-old grandfather. Her son (not Xavier's) is now five years old. An environmental activist, Martine rarely sees his father, while Xavier has just ended a relationship (recreated through flashbacks).
Openly gay Isabelle (Cecile de France), a pal from the Barcelona flat, is another single Parisian. She's become a hotshot financial journalist and makes more money than her friends. (It shows in her airy living quarters, which Xavier shares when he gets bounced from his humble abode). Their British flatmates from the Spanish sojourn, William (Kevin Bishop) and his sister Wendy (Kelly Reilly, the doomed showgirl in Mrs. Henderson Presents), live in London, where he works as a lighting technician and she toils as a screenwriter-and magnet for possessive boyfriends.
Of course, there has to be an occasion by which to reunite these far-flung
friends. It's William's wedding to Russian ballerina Natacha (Evgenia Obraztsova), hence the trip most will take to St. Petersburg in the final sequence. While there, Xavier who has been bouncing from woman to woman, will set his sights on one
in particular. Whether their relationship will last is a moot point. For Xavier, committing to one woman-even for a short time-still counts as progress.
At 129 minutes, Russian Dolls threatens to overstay its welcome. As enchanting
as it is, the material is too thin to justify the length. Yet I didn't mind. That's because the two films play more like a short BBC series than a movie (Queer
as Folk
comes to mind). That may sound odd, but I mean it as a compliment.
There are a lot of characters-I haven't even mentioned the Senegalese shopgirl
or British supermodel-much Chunneling between France and the UK, dialogue in
four languages, and a variety of fantastical diversions along the way. It's Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep as sitcom. Klapisch has also cited Truffaut as an influence, specifically The Man Who Loved Women (1977) and the Antoine Doinel
series with Jean-Pierre Leaud (like 1968's Stolen Kisses, below). Russian Dolls, incidentally, is his eighth film and fourth to feature the versatile Monsieur Duris.
antoineetchristine.jpg
Clearly, Klapisch loves these characters, especially Xavier, and the actors
have all stated that they would be willing to reunite again, so don't be surprised
if a third "Auberge" entry should come to pass. I don't normally like romantic comedies, as most major studio efforts are neither romantic nor funny.
("Slick" and "fast-paced" just doesn't cut it.) Russian Dolls is both.
Sure, Xavier can be a "self-centered egotist," as he so succinctly puts it, and
the biggest problem in his life is an abundance of attractive women. No matter.
I found him terribly entertaining-he swears like a sailor, dances like an idiot,
and in a flashback, even runs down the street naked (his former girlfriend
started it). But most of all: There isn't anything he wouldn't do for love. What
could be more romantic than that? Give me a sequel, and I'll be first in line.
*****
The Seattle theatrical premiere of Russian Dolls plays the Northwest Film Forum
July 7-13, Fri.-Thurs. at 7 and 9:30pm (Sat. and Sun. at 4:30pm). The NWFF is located at 1515 12th Ave. For more information, please click here. You can
also call 206-329-2629 for general info or 206-267-5380 for show times.

Arranging Life's Stuff

Russian Dolls / Les Poupées russes
(Cédric Klapisch, France, 2005, 35mm, 125 mins.)


11.jpg

"Writing is arranging life's stuff."
-- Xavier (Romain Duris)

*****

The title has two meanings, only one of which I will reveal here: Writer/director
Cédric Klapisch's sequel to Gallic phenomenon L'Auberge Espagnole (2002)
was filmed in France, England, and Russia. The other meaning, which explains
the main character's view of his love life, arrives at the end of the film.

Five years have passed since the now 30-year-old Xavier (Romain Duris, The Beat That My Heart Skipped) and friends made their debut, and everyone is moving on
with their lives. As he had hoped, Xavier is making his living as a writer. It's a common career for the lead in a romantic comedy, but Klapisch brings a real freshness to the premise. Like many freelancers, Xavier is trying to find a balance between earning an income and sticking to his convictions. Whenever he fears he may be crossing the line into ethical compromise, he envisions himself playing a flute to someone else's tune. This dopey doppelgänger pops up throughout the film.

Xavier and ex-girlfriend Martine (Audrey Tautou, mercifully free from those Da Vinci Code shackles) are both single and living in Paris. They're best friends, although he also spends as much time as possible with his 98-year-old grandfather. Her son (not Xavier's) is now five years old. An environmental activist, Martine rarely sees his father, while Xavier has just ended a relationship (recreated through flashbacks).
Openly gay Isabelle (Cécile de France), a pal from the Barcelona flat, is another single Parisian. She's become a hotshot financial journalist and makes more money than her friends. (It shows in her airy living quarters, which Xavier shares when he gets bounced from his humble abode). Their British flatmates from the Spanish sojourn, William (Kevin Bishop) and his sister Wendy (Kelly Reilly, the doomed showgirl in Mrs. Henderson Presents), live in London, where he works as a lighting technician and she toils as a screenwriter -- and magnet for possessive boyfriends.
Of course, there has to be an occasion by which to reunite these far-flung
friends. It's William's wedding to Russian ballerina Natacha (Evgenia Obraztsova), hence the trip most will take to St. Petersburg in the final sequence. While there, Xavier who has been bouncing from woman to woman, will set his sights on one
in particular. Whether their relationship will last is a moot point. For Xavier, committing to one woman -- even for a short time -- still counts as progress.
At 129 minutes, Russian Dolls threatens to overstay its welcome. As enchanting
as it is, the material is too thin to justify the length. Yet I didn't mind. That's because the two films play more like a short BBC series than a movie (Queer
as Folk
comes to mind). That may sound odd, but I mean it as a compliment.
There are a lot of characters -- I haven't even mentioned the Senegalese shopgirl
or British supermodel -- much Chunneling between France and the UK, dialogue in
four languages, and a variety of fantastical diversions along the way. It's Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep as sitcom. Klapisch has also cited Truffaut as an influence, specifically The Man Who Loved Women (1977) and the Antoine Doinel
series with Jean-Pierre Léaud (like 1968's Stolen Kisses, below). Russian Dolls, incidentally, is his eighth film and fourth to feature the versatile Monsieur Duris.
antoineetchristine.jpg
Clearly, Klapisch loves these characters, especially Xavier, and the actors
have all stated that they would be willing to reunite again, so don't be surprised
if a third "Auberge" entry should come to pass. I don't normally like romantic comedies, as most major studio efforts are neither romantic nor funny.
("Slick" and "fast-paced" just doesn't cut it.) Russian Dolls is both.
Sure, Xavier can be a "self-centered egotist," as he so succinctly puts it, and
the biggest problem in his life is an abundance of attractive women. No matter.
I found him terribly entertaining -- he swears like a sailor, dances like an idiot,
and in a flashback, even runs down the street naked (his former girlfriend
started it). But most of all: There isn't anything he wouldn't do for love. What
could be more romantic than that? Give me a sequel, and I'll be first in line.
*****
The Seattle theatrical premiere of Russian Dolls plays the Northwest Film Forum
July 7-13, Fri.-Thurs. at 7 and 9:30pm (Sat. and Sun. at 4:30pm). The NWFF is located at 1515 12th Ave. For more information, please click here. You can
also call 206-329-2629 for general info or 206-267-5380 for show times.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

SIFF Wrap - Music

There were a number of films with good soundtracks this year. Among my favorites were:

The Proposition by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Linda, Linda, Linda by James Iha
Brothers of The Head by Clive Langer
Langer's songs for Bang Bang, the fictitious band in Brothers of The Head, are of particular note. They've been described variously as pre-punk, proto-punk and as a link between glam and punk, but they're really just loud, discordant and a lot of fun. Who needs a label for that?
A number of films featured songs by artists I really love. Among my favorites were:
C.R.A.Z.Y.: Yes, as one might imagine, the Patsy Cline song figures heavily in this film, as does a few of her other numbers, but the stand-out for me was a bit from the instrumental part of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'. I heard they blew $300,000 on the music rights. Now you know where it went.
The Chances of The World Changing: This film was really a downer. There's only one sort-of happy scene and it's totally undercut by Faun Fables 'Live Old'. Man, what a depressing song. But it's great!
Crime Novel: Being set in the 70's and 80's this film relies a lot on the same old disco and rock songs you typically hear in films portraying that period. One surprising exception was an early Kinks ballad 'I Go To Sleep', a non-album cut that can be found as a bonus track on the CD reissue of Kinda Kinks.
Two films I saw that featured cover and tribute performances were Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man and Linda, Linda, Linda. I like many of the artists who contributed to the Cohen doc, but aside from Nick Cave, I can't say any of them have a style well-suited to his material. At the other end of the spectrum, the girl-band in Linda, Linda, Linda does as good, if not better, version of that song than the Blue Hearts ever did.
If the Cohen pic was a somewhat disappointing portrait [far better to watch Ladies and Gentlemen... Mr. Leonard Cohen] then Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?) more than made up for it. I have every album of his up to Son of Schmilsson and can recommend them all heartily. Seeing Sean Nelson introduce the film with an excerpt from his forthcoming album, Nelson Sings Nilsson, was an additional treat.
I enjoyed both of the live music events, The Unknown with Portastatic and Melodic Meshes with Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie. True, most of the music created by those bands didn't very well fit the films, but they were enjoyable as performances nontheless.
One of my favorite films of the festival, Jack Smith and The Destruction of Atlantis, also had one of my favorite soundtracks. In an e-mail Mary Jordan informed me she has a record library that would 'knock my socks off' and I can believe it. I thought I had a good collection of exotica and lounge and dug the Martin Denny and Hugo Winterhalter tracks she used, but Mary tossed in a few artists I never heard of like Ozel Turkbas, Stanley Black and Webley Edwards. The film also makes liberal use of Bernard Herrmann's score for Journey To The Center of The Earth and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, both of which are must haves. In addition, she featured music by Low, The Velvet Underground, Rimsky-Korsakov, The Bees, The Royal Fingers and Kitty Kallen. If that wasn't enough she got Thurston Moore, Devendra Barnhart, John Zorn and Destroy All Monsters to compose new pieces for her. I mean, c'mon, Destroy All Monsters?!!! That's unbeatable!

SIFF Wrap - Music

There were a number of films with good soundtracks this year. Among my favorites were:

The Proposition by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Linda, Linda, Linda by James Iha
Brothers of The Head by Clive Langer
Langer's songs for Bang Bang, the fictitious band in Brothers of The Head, are of particular note. They've been described variously as pre-punk, proto-punk and as a link between glam and punk, but they're really just loud, discordant and a lot of fun. Who needs a label for that?
A number of films featured songs by artists I really love. Among my favorites were:
C.R.A.Z.Y.: Yes, as one might imagine, the Patsy Cline song figures heavily in this film, as does a few of her other numbers, but the stand-out for me was a bit from the instrumental part of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'. I heard they blew $300,000 on the music rights. Now you know where it went.
The Chances of The World Changing: This film was really a downer. There's only one sort-of happy scene and it's totally undercut by Faun Fables 'Live Old'. Man, what a depressing song. But it's great!
Crime Novel: Being set in the 70's and 80's this film relies a lot on the same old disco and rock songs you typically hear in films portraying that period. One surprising exception was an early Kinks ballad 'I Go To Sleep', a non-album cut that can be found as a bonus track on the CD reissue of Kinda Kinks.
Two films I saw that featured cover and tribute performances were Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man and Linda, Linda, Linda. I like many of the artists who contributed to the Cohen doc, but aside from Nick Cave, I can't say any of them have a style well-suited to his material. At the other end of the spectrum, the girl-band in Linda, Linda, Linda does as good, if not better, version of that song than the Blue Hearts ever did.
If the Cohen pic was a somewhat disappointing portrait [far better to watch Ladies and Gentlemen... Mr. Leonard Cohen] then Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?) more than made up for it. I have every album of his up to Son of Schmilsson and can recommend them all heartily. Seeing Sean Nelson introduce the film with an excerpt from his forthcoming album, Nelson Sings Nilsson, was an additional treat.
I enjoyed both of the live music events, The Unknown with Portastatic and Melodic Meshes with Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie. True, most of the music created by those bands didn't very well fit the films, but they were enjoyable as performances nontheless.
One of my favorite films of the festival, Jack Smith and The Destruction of Atlantis, also had one of my favorite soundtracks. In an e-mail Mary Jordan informed me she has a record library that would 'knock my socks off' and I can believe it. I thought I had a good collection of exotica and lounge and dug the Martin Denny and Hugo Winterhalter tracks she used, but Mary tossed in a few artists I never heard of like Ozel Turkbas, Stanley Black and Webley Edwards. The film also makes liberal use of Bernard Herrmann's score for Journey To The Center of The Earth and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, both of which are must haves. In addition, she featured music by Low, The Velvet Underground, Rimsky-Korsakov, The Bees, The Royal Fingers and Kitty Kallen. If that wasn't enough she got Thurston Moore, Devendra Barnhart, John Zorn and Destroy All Monsters to compose new pieces for her. I mean, c'mon, Destroy All Monsters?!!! That's unbeatable!

Non-Expiration Dates

Just thought I'd post the release dates for some of this year's SIFF selections. All information comes from the Landmark Theatres publicity department and is subject to change. Venues listed only when provided.

JULY

proposition_4.jpg

The notorious Burns brothers (Richard Wilson, Guy Pearce, and Danny Huston) in John Hillcoat's Nick Cave-penned Western, The Proposition.

Now playing: The Proposition at the Varsity [Go, go, go!], A Prairie Home Companion at the Seven Gables, The Heart of the Game at the Guild 45th [can't wait to see this], and Beowulf & Grendel at the Varsity [cast aside, I've heard nothing but negatives).

Opening soon: Expiration Date on 6/21 at the Egyptian, Wordplay on 6/23 at the Harvard Exit [really enjoyed this doc], and The King on 6/23 at the Varsity [the siffbloggers hated it, but radio renegades Tom Tangney and Steve Reeder loved it].

JULY
Strangers with Candy on 7/7 at the Varsity, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man on 7/14, Who Killed the Electric Car? on 7/14 [dug this eye-opening doc--and I don't even drive!], Hidden Blade on 7/14, and The Death of Mr. Lazarescu on 7/28 at the Varsity [like Steven, I thought this Cannes phenom ("Un Certain Regard") was pretty great].
AUGUST
Brothers of the Head on 8/11 at the Varsity [one of my favorites of the fest], Quincea/+/-era on 8/18 [ditto], and Conversations with Other Women and Heading South on 8/25 [another winner from Laurent "Human Resources" Cantet].
SEPTEMBER
The Science of Sleep on 9/22 [originally scheduled for 8/11].
04.jpg
A glimpse inside the whimsically warped mind of Ga/'l Garcia Bernal's Stephane in Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep.
Lastly, here are a few openings stemming from last year's SIFF: Clean on 6/30 at the Varsity [Olivier Assayas and Maggie Chueng--nuff said!], Police Beat on 7/14 at the Varsity, and Mongolian Ping Pong on 7/21 at the Varsity.

Non-Expiration Dates

Just thought I'd post the release dates for some of this year's SIFF selections. All information comes from the Landmark Theatres publicity department and is subject to change. Venues listed only when provided.

JULY

proposition_4.jpg

The notorious Burns brothers (Richard Wilson, Guy Pearce, and Danny Huston) in John Hillcoat's Nick Cave-penned Western, The Proposition.

Now playing: The Proposition at the Varsity [Go, go, go!], A Prairie Home Companion at the Seven Gables, The Heart of the Game at the Guild 45th [can't wait to see this], and Beowulf & Grendel at the Varsity [cast aside, I've heard nothing but negatives).

Opening soon: Expiration Date on 6/21 at the Egyptian, Wordplay on 6/23 at the Harvard Exit [really enjoyed this doc], and The King on 6/23 at the Varsity [the siffbloggers hated it, but radio renegades Tom Tangney and Steve Reeder loved it].

JULY
Strangers with Candy on 7/7 at the Varsity, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man on 7/14, Who Killed the Electric Car? on 7/14 [dug this eye-opening doc--and I don't even drive!], Hidden Blade on 7/14, and The Death of Mr. Lazarescu on 7/28 at the Varsity [like Steven, I thought this Cannes phenom ("Un Certain Regard") was pretty great].
AUGUST
Brothers of the Head on 8/11 at the Varsity [one of my favorites of the fest], Quinceañera on 8/18 [ditto], and Conversations with Other Women and Heading South on 8/25 [another winner from Laurent "Human Resources" Cantet].
SEPTEMBER
The Science of Sleep on 9/22 [originally scheduled for 8/11].
04.jpg
A glimpse inside the whimsically warped mind of Gaël Garcia Bernal's Stephane in Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep.
Lastly, here are a few openings stemming from last year's SIFF: Clean on 6/30 at the Varsity [Olivier Assayas and Maggie Chueng--nuff said!], Police Beat on 7/14 at the Varsity, and Mongolian Ping Pong on 7/21 at the Varsity.

Monday, June 19, 2006

SIFF Wrap-up

Way back in May I think I said something to the effect that I hoped to see 40 films this year at SIFF.

Well, I wound up seeing 45. Adhering to my ratings system of 'great', 'pretty good', 'good', 'okay' and 'sucks' I can break down my SIFF experience into the following statistics. Of the 45 films I saw %6.66 were great, %24.44 were pretty good, %28.88 were good, %26.66 were okay and %13.33 sucked. As you can see, I saw more films that sucked than were great, but I saw far more films that were good or better than were okay or worse. So, a pretty decent batting average. Of the 45 films I saw, my favorites were:
The Proposition
Jack Smith and The Destruction of Atlantis
49 Up

My second favorite films were:
My Quick Way Out*
The Chances of The World Changing
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
C.R.A.Z.Y.
Princess Raccoon
The Days
Linda, Linda, Linda
The Iceberg
Who Is Harry Nilsson?
Time to Leave
Melodic Meshes

*My Quick Way Out was withdrawn from the festival, but I saw it on a screener so I count it among my SIFF experiences.
My least favorite films were:
Another Gay Movie
Suicides
Ski Jumping Pairs
The Puffy Chair
Shinobi
Initial D

Curiously, all the terrible films I saw as screeners and I should note that I didn't watch several of them all the way to the end. Perhaps I shouldn't be commenting on films I didn't completely see, but if they were so bad I had to turn them off, then it's a fairly strong indication I didn't like them.
A lot of the films I liked were really sad. My favorite sad films of the festival were:
The Chances of The World Changing
Time to Leave
Brothers of The Head
The Science of Sleep

The most visually striking film I saw was Jack Smith and The Destruction of Atlantis, but the most visually striking clip I saw was the Slavko Vorkapich 'Furies' sequence from the 1934 film, Crime Without Passion, which was shown as part of the Melodic Meshes Program. BTW, for those who enjoyed that show, many of those films can be found on Unseen Cinema
Even more arresting than the Vorkapich clip was the sight of Michel Gondry doing a funky dance at the closing night party. Most of the films I saw at SIFF I probably could have seen somewhere else at some other time, but the sight of Gondry shakin' it like a character in one of his videos was a once in a lifetime experience. Thank you, Michel Gondry.
Tomorrow, I think I might post a few thoughts on my favorite musical moments from the festival, but for now I've got some sleep and housecleaning to catch up on.

Friday, June 16, 2006

SIFF PIX 2

bum.jpg
Passholder or bum?

bus.jpg
Everybody takes the bus to SIFF.
cinema.jpg
My favorite word.

SIFF PIX 2

bum.jpg
Passholder or bum?

bus.jpg
Everybody takes the bus to SIFF.
cinema.jpg
My favorite word.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Women Who Fell to Earth

House of Sand / Casa de Areia
(Andrucha Waddington, Brazil, 115 mins.)


Casa_de_Areia_(2005).gif

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers.

The year is 1910. An elderly woman, Dona Maria (Fernanda Montenegro), and her daughter, /Aurea (Fernanda Torres), have been brought by /Aurea's considerably-older husband Vasco (director Ruy Guerra) to establish a new community in the midst of a giant sand dune (the Maranh/#o desert in Northern Brazil). From pretty much every angle, it looks like the surface of the moon. Shortly after their arrival, the rest of their party returns from whence they came. Then Vasco is plucked from the picture by an accident of fate. The women are left to eke out a living on their own.

Fortunately, a band of runaway slaves have set up camp nearby. They're at first wary of these pale-skinned interlopers, but with trust comes assistance. One particularly striking fellow, Massu (Seu Jorge, City of God's Knockout Ned), is especially attentive to their needs, but few words are exchanged. And so it goes with the rest of the film. Dialogue and music--just a smidgen of Chopin--are kept to a minimum, while the swirling wind makes up the majority of the film's sound design.
Months later, /Aurea gives birth to a daughter, Maria. Nine years pass. Massu is still a friend, but would like to play more of a role in /Aurea's life. Is she unaware or uninterested? This chapter ends when Maria discovers her grandmother's body. Dead from natural causes, Dona Maria never got the chance to return to civilization.
Skip ahead to 1942. Although she had a brief affair in the previous section, with a guard assigned to scientists studying the solar eclipse, /Aurea (now played by Montenegro with Torres as Maria) has chosen to return Massu's affections. The middle-aged Massu is played by Luiz Melodia, a musician like Jorge (who performed Portuguese-language Bowie covers in The Life Aquatic). All the while, their house sinks deeper and deeper into the sand.
For the final section, the film moves to 1969, year of the first lunar landing. The elderly /Aurea is now played by Montenegro, while middle-aged Maria is played by...Montenegro. Can you say stunt casting? Fortunately, Waddington and the two Fernandas (Montenegro received an Oscar nomination for Central Station) transcend the phrase. Despite a somewhat distracting difference in height, real-life mother and daughter share a remarkable physical resemblance that helps their multi-purpose participation seem more like a natural impulse than a gimmick.
Written by Elena So/*rez and shot by Ricardo Della Rosa, Waddington's third feature falls into the dreaded "not for everyone" category, like Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura or Nicholas Roeg's Walkabout. An erratic talent, Roeg was behind some of the most evocative films from the 1960s and 1970s-"t's why I love to drop his name--before things got too...weird. In any case, Lawrence of Arabia, on which he served as cinematographer, is another title that comes to mind while watching this resilient trio battle wind, sun, and sand--the film's true "fourth character."
It's too soon to say whether House of Sand will join that pantheon. Some will surely find it boring, while others may find it unintentionally humorous (Reel Film proclaimed it "overly pretentious, utterly dull"). For the most part, the film does take itself seriously, but just wait as there's a bit of unexpected, yet earned humor at the conclusion. For those willing to leave the cacophony of the modern world behind for a couple of hours, Andrucha Waddington's quasi-surrealistic epic offers a beautiful escape. Plus, it's cheaper than a trip to the moon--but just as otherworldly.
houseofsand.jpg
Pacific Place: 6/16 at 7pm and 6/17 at 1:15pm. One of SIFF's 2006 Emerging Masters, Waddington was originally scheduled to attend the festival, but has since cancelled. That said, singer/songwriter/guitarist Seu Jorge plays Neumo's on 6/22.

The Women Who Fell to Earth

House of Sand / Casa de Areia
(Andrucha Waddington, Brazil, 115 mins.)


Casa_de_Areia_(2005).gif

Warning: This review contains mild spoilers.

The year is 1910. An elderly woman, Dona Maria (Fernanda Montenegro), and her daughter, Áurea (Fernanda Torres), have been brought by Áurea's considerably-older husband Vasco (director Ruy Guerra) to establish a new community in the midst of a giant sand dune (the Maranhão desert in Northern Brazil). From pretty much every angle, it looks like the surface of the moon. Shortly after their arrival, the rest of their party returns from whence they came. Then Vasco is plucked from the picture by an accident of fate. The women are left to eke out a living on their own.

Fortunately, a band of runaway slaves have set up camp nearby. They're at first wary of these pale-skinned interlopers, but with trust comes assistance. One particularly striking fellow, Massu (Seu Jorge, City of God's Knockout Ned), is especially attentive to their needs, but few words are exchanged. And so it goes with the rest of the film. Dialogue and music--just a smidgen of Chopin--are kept to a minimum, while the swirling wind makes up the majority of the film's sound design.
Months later, Áurea gives birth to a daughter, Maria. Nine years pass. Massu is still a friend, but would like to play more of a role in Áurea's life. Is she unaware or uninterested? This chapter ends when Maria discovers her grandmother's body. Dead from natural causes, Dona Maria never got the chance to return to civilization.
Skip ahead to 1942. Although she had a brief affair in the previous section, with a guard assigned to scientists studying the solar eclipse, Áurea (now played by Montenegro with Torres as Maria) has chosen to return Massu's affections. The middle-aged Massu is played by Luiz Melodia, a musician like Jorge (who performed Portuguese-language Bowie covers in The Life Aquatic). All the while, their house sinks deeper and deeper into the sand.
For the final section, the film moves to 1969, year of the first lunar landing. The elderly Áurea is now played by Montenegro, while middle-aged Maria is played by...Montenegro. Can you say stunt casting? Fortunately, Waddington and the two Fernandas (Montenegro received an Oscar nomination for Central Station) transcend the phrase. Despite a somewhat distracting difference in height, real-life mother and daughter share a remarkable physical resemblance that helps their multi-purpose participation seem more like a natural impulse than a gimmick.
Written by Elena Soárez and shot by Ricardo Della Rosa, Waddington's third feature falls into the dreaded "not for everyone" category, like Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura or Nicholas Roeg's Walkabout. An erratic talent, Roeg was behind some of the most evocative films from the 1960s and 1970s--it's why I love to drop his name--before things got too...weird. In any case, Lawrence of Arabia, on which he served as cinematographer, is another title that comes to mind while watching this resilient trio battle wind, sun, and sand--the film's true "fourth character."
It's too soon to say whether House of Sand will join that pantheon. Some will surely find it boring, while others may find it unintentionally humorous (Reel Film proclaimed it "overly pretentious, utterly dull"). For the most part, the film does take itself seriously, but just wait as there's a bit of unexpected, yet earned humor at the conclusion. For those willing to leave the cacophony of the modern world behind for a couple of hours, Andrucha Waddington's quasi-surrealistic epic offers a beautiful escape. Plus, it's cheaper than a trip to the moon--but just as otherworldly.
houseofsand.jpg
Pacific Place: 6/16 at 7pm and 6/17 at 1:15pm. One of SIFF's 2006 Emerging Masters, Waddington was originally scheduled to attend the festival, but has since cancelled. That said, singer/songwriter/guitarist Seu Jorge plays Neumo's on 6/22.

SIFF PIX

adamsuzie.jpg
Adam and Suzie

davidshannon.jpg
David and Shannon
don't.jpg
I was thinking of submitting this as a Vice Don't
dustin.jpg
Dustin
michael.jpg
Smile, Michael!
refugees.jpg
Refugees
someguy.jpg
I have no idea who this guy is. Anybody know?
tara.jpg
Tara makes a point
ticketvpass.jpg
Ticketholders v. Passholders

SIFF PIX

adamsuzie.jpg
Adam and Suzie

davidshannon.jpg
David and Shannon
don't.jpg
I was thinking of submitting this as a Vice Don't
dustin.jpg
Dustin
michael.jpg
Smile, Michael!
refugees.jpg
Refugees
someguy.jpg
I have no idea who this guy is. Anybody know?
tara.jpg
Tara makes a point
ticketvpass.jpg
Ticketholders v. Passholders

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

THE FIRST SPACECRAFT WAS LAUNCHED IN THE USSR IN 1938!

11-moon3.jpg
the evidence

Yup, that's absolutely true. At least, according to the press kit for The First People On The Moon, which further states:

It can be discussed endlessly if the Americans landed on the Moon or not. But "THE FIRST ON THE MOON" convincingly proves - Russian cosmonauts were the first there.


For the first time ever, the film reveals long suppressed footage of the Soviet space program, detailing how, in the 1930's, during the height of the Stalinist era, they sent the first man to the moon.

Okay, Amerikanski, the film is really a mockumentary [hope I didn't spoil it for you], but a lot of the footage is well faked and the movie is somewhat funny, in a grim Russian sort of way. Also, there is this to consider from the press kit:

The first cosmonauts showed in the film are not people only but a pig, a monkey and others.


Oh, and by the way, even though the Soviets weren't the first to land a man on the moon, they were the first to land an unmanned craft there. Don't believe me? Read about it here.

June 15, Harvard Exit, 9:00pm
June 18, Harvard Exit, 7:30pm

THE FIRST SPACECRAFT WAS LAUNCHED IN THE USSR IN 1938!

11-moon3.jpg
the evidence

Yup, that's absolutely true. At least, according to the press kit for The First People On The Moon, which further states:

It can be discussed endlessly if the Americans landed on the Moon or not. But "THE FIRST ON THE MOON" convincingly proves - Russian cosmonauts were the first there.


For the first time ever, the film reveals long suppressed footage of the Soviet space program, detailing how, in the 1930's, during the height of the Stalinist era, they sent the first man to the moon.

Okay, Amerikanski, the film is really a mockumentary [hope I didn't spoil it for you], but a lot of the footage is well faked and the movie is somewhat funny, in a grim Russian sort of way. Also, there is this to consider from the press kit:

The first cosmonauts showed in the film are not people only but a pig, a monkey and others.


Oh, and by the way, even though the Soviets weren't the first to land a man on the moon, they were the first to land an unmanned craft there. Don't believe me? Read about it here.

June 15, Harvard Exit, 9:00pm
June 18, Harvard Exit, 7:30pm