April 2012 in Films: Film Festivals, Interviews and Books on Film
April was a month jam-packed with activities. Technically I had my “spring break” from school, but that happened to coincide with the TCM Classic Film Festival, so it wasn’t really a break. It was AWESOME, but it wasn’t a break. Be sure you check out all of my coverage (including really fantastic interviews with the likes of Tippi Hedren, Rick Baker, Thelma Schoonmaker and more) at YAM Magazine. Almost as soon as I got back from TCMFF, the San Francisco International Film Festival began (it runs through Thursday, May 3rd). You can find all my coverage of that fest (which right now is not much, but after the fest is over there will be more things) also at YAM Magazine. I’ve seen so many foreign films during this festival that I probably would not have seen otherwise. I’ve also seen a few U.S. releases that will be coming out this fall, but I want to tell you I think you should write them down and remember to see them when they do, most notably Robot & Frank and the documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, both of which are being released by Samuel Goldwyn Films. Also this month I dropped by my favorite bookstore in San Francisco, Aardvarks on Church st., and bought books that I couldn’t really afford, but just had to have. The one I’m reading right now is called François Truffaut: Correspondence, 1945–1984 and it is the best of books. If you are a fan of Truffaut it is a must. Actually, even if you are not a fan (and why aren’t you?!) I think you’d get a kick out of this book. As always, after the cut there is the full list of new-to-me films and I’ve chosen five films from that list that I particularly loved.
- Private Lives
- War Nurse
- Fatty’s Faithful Fido
- Fatty’s Tintype Tangle
- The Sky’s the Limit
- Living In A Big Way
- New Boy (2008)
- Shit Hollywood Assistants Say
- Staff Meeting Video: The Movie
- Un condamné à mort s’est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut (A Man Escaped)
- Seance on a Wet Afternoon
- History Is Made At Night (1937)
- La cité des enfants perdus (The City of Lost Children)
- Alice in den Städten (Alice in the Cities)
- My Winnipeg
- The Saddest Music in the World
- Twilight of the Ice Nymphs
- Destry Rides Again
- Elia Kazan: A Director’s Journey
- The Jerk
- Barton Fink
- Our Dancing Daughters (TCM film festival)
- Nothing Sacred (TCM film festival)
- Cry Danger (TCM film festival)
- Three Dimensional Murder (TCM film festival)
- Musical Memories (TCM film festival)
- Working For Peanuts (TCM film festival)
- Parade of Attraction (TCM film festival)
- Motor Rhythm (TCM film festival)
- Arrival of a Train 3D (TCM film festival)
- Lumber Jack-Rabbit (TCM film festival)
- Parade of Attraction II (TCM film festival)
- Parade of Attraction III (TCM film festival)
- Falling In Love Again (2003) (TCM film festival)
- The Magic Cauldron (TCM film festival)
- Oracle of Delphi (TCM film festival)
- Mysterious Retort (TCM film festival)
- Daffy’s Rhapsody (TCM film festival)
- Call Her Savage (TCM film festival)
- The Thief of Bagdad (1924) (TCM film festival)
- Il deserto rosso (Red Desert)
- Zabriskie Point
- Overnight, A Rose
- The Fourth Dimension (2012) (SF International Film Festival)
- Our Town
- Westward The Women
- Harlan County, USA (SF International Film Festival)
- Robot & Frank (SF International Film Festival)
- La terre outragée (Land of Oblivion) (SF International Film Festival)
- Miller’s Crossing
- L’ordre et la morale (Rebellion) (SF International Film Festival)
- O som ao redor (Neighboring Sounds) (SF International Film Festival)
- Twixt (SF International Film Festival)
- Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (SF International Film Festival)
- Where Do We Go Now? (SF International Film Festival)
- Poulet aux prunes (Chicken With Plums) (SF International Film Festival)
As per usual, I saw so many great films in the last month it seems a shame that I should only discuss five of them, but alas I am not made of time. I chose five films that I think are a little less well known, and even perhaps a little bit misunderstood.
Alice in den Städten (Alice in the Cities), 1974 (dir. Wim Wenders)
The more I delve into the filmography of Wim Wenders, the more I realize he is a genius of cinema. I wish more of his early films were more easily available in America. Luckily, earlier this month Criterion had quite a few of their films streaming for free on their Hulu page and I was able to watch this gem. So many great scenes and ideas and images. I think this would make a great companion piece to Bogdanovich’s Paper Moon.
Barton Fink, 1991 (dir. Joel and Ethan Coen)
I cannot believe I had not seen this film. Cannot. Believe. It. I need to own this and watch it over and over. My dear friend Elliot, with whom I stayed a few days when I was in L.A. right before the TCMFF, was shocked that I had never seen this film and thus we watched it, with the added presence of Kristen from SalesOnFilm. What a perfect film to watch while visiting Los Angeles. This film is one of the rare films to win both the Palme d’Or and the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival and I can definitely see why. Like I said, I definitely need to own it and watch it over and over to get all the little nuances.
Zabriskie Point, 1970 (dir. Michelangelo Antonioni)
Misunderstood film #1 is this slice of contemporary (at the time) life in America from Italian maestro Michelangelo Antonioni. This was the second of three films in English he was contracted to do for Carlo Ponti to be distributed by MGM. This film was not well received at the time and I think is still one of the less-known, lesser-seen, lesser-liked films from Antonioni. I think it needs to be reevaluated because there is a lot going on in this film and it is much greater than it is given credit.
Twixt, 2011 (dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
Misunderstood film #2. According to some cast members who were present at the screening I attended, the cut I saw was very different from the cut that played festivals last fall (during which several members of the press left before the film ended). I think the main problem people have with this film (and Coppola in general these days) is they try to compare what he’s making now to his heyday in the 1970s. You can’t do that. He’s not making the same kind of films and he’s not making films for the same reasons anymore. Once you let go of that way of looking at the film and just embrace it for what it is – a film he made for the fun of making films, then I think you will really enjoy this film. It reminded me of the kinds of films he made in the 60s for Roger Corman – like Dementia 13. But also, there is a lot of heart and melancholy hidden in this bizarre horror-comedy-thriller. Val Kilmer gives a fantastic performance, as does Ben Chaplin as a dream-like Poe and Elle Fanning, who I think is poised to be the greatest actress of her generation. If this gets a theatrical release, I urge you to ignore any negative hype you hear and just go in with an open mind and decide for yourself. Coppola deserves as much.
Poulet aux prunes (Chicken With Plums), 2012 (dir. Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud)
I am ashamed to say I still haven’t seen director Marjane Satrapi’s debut film Persepolis, based on her autobiographical novel of the same name. But after seeing this film, also based on one of her graphic novels, I definitely need to get on it. I loved this film, but I don’t think that it is for everyone. It is very fanciful, but also quite dark in that it is populated with characters that aren’t really that likable. But, unlike most films with characters that aren’t likable, they are relatable. It’s also one of the best films I’ve ever seen about heartbreak in a long while. It’s getting a U.S. release this August (thus I am calling this a 2012 release), so I will remind y’all to go see it when it does.
So that was April. A great month. I’ve got three weeks left this semester and then comes summer break. I won’t be in class, which could mean an increase in my film watching. However, I’m also trying to get a job, so that could mean a decrease. I guess we’ll see when the time comes. Until them, you keep watching and I’ll keep watching and the films will keep on rolling.
Posted on May 1, 2012, in 2012 in Films and tagged Alice in den Städten, Alice in the Citie, Barton Fink, Chicken With Plums, François Truffaut, Poulet aux prunes, Twixt, Zabriskie Point. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.