Posts Tagged ‘Manohla Dargis’

Opening in Madison, finally

July 8, 2010

Well, it’s an unquestionably beauteous day here in Madison, WI, but I’d nevertheless like to try to persuade you to spend some time indoors this weekend (when, as it happens, it’s going to be 80+ and rainy): two films that attracted plenty of attention when they were released in NYC last month, “Cyrus” and “I Am Love,” are both opening at Sundance Cinemas tomorrow. In my book, this marks the most significant event in commercial cinema ’round these parts thus far this summer. Here’s Manohla Dargis’s review of “I Am Love” and David Denby’s review of “Cyrus.” That is all.

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“The Sun” at Sundance Cinemas

April 30, 2010

Sheez, my post titles have been works of art today.

Eminent Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov’s 2004 feature “The Sun,” which received its first (limited) run in American theaters last November, is now playing at Madison’s Sundance Cinemas. For local cinephiles, this is cause for serious excitement: Sokurov is one of the boldest, most dazzlingly grandiose film artists working today. (Anyone who has seen his 2002 film “Russian Ark,” which is as much a dance performed by a cast of thousands as it is a singular cinematic achievement, can attest to the boldness and dazzling grandiosity of which I speak.)

“The Sun” was showered with praise by critics like Manohla Dargis and J. Hoberman during its November release; I’m pleased to see that my editor at Isthmus, Kenneth Burns, also found it thoroughly thought-provoking. I’m hoping to catch “The Sun” at some point this weekend—tornadoes permitting.

Spotlight on Bordwell

April 24, 2010

Kudos to my dear mudda for alerting me to an article in this weekend’s NY Times Arts & Leisure section: a profile written by Manohla Dargis of retired UW professor and hall-of-fame film scholar David Bordwell. For those who are unfamiliar with Bordwell’s work or his personality, the article is a very informative read.

I’ve had the privilege of talking with Bordwell on a handful of occasions—once with Dargis present, in fact—and each time it’s been something of an overwhelming experience for me. Bordwell’s got cinematic knowledge pouring out of his ears, and yet he’s still maintained an unprofessorial lucidity that allows him to do things like declare that UW film professor Vance Kepley is dressed like Bertolt Brecht as he walks into the screening theater at Vilas Hall.

I’m not an enormous fan of Bordwell’s approach to film theory—for one, I’m ambivalent about how much his focus on the cognitive/neurological dimension of cinema effectively privileges the correlationist link between the human mind and the world it’s situated in, thereby placing him in the big ol’ post-Kantian paradigm that the contemporary philosophers known as the Speculative Realists are trying so admirably to help us escape; however, I’ve never put down a book by Bordwell without feeling as though I’d gained a great many insights into the way that cinema works its magic. (My personal favorite writings by him: the chapters in Narration in the Fiction Film about European art cinema and parametric cinema; his essay on Sergei Eisenstein, “Eisenstein’s Epistemological Shift”; and just about all of Film History.) Do check out Dargis’s article.

Add me to your blogroll, D.B.!

“A Prophet” at the Orpheum

April 19, 2010

Fresh off a run at Sundance Cinemas, Jacques Audiard’s 2009 crime opera “A Prophet” just opened at the Orpheum. I’ve yet to see it, though the people I’ve spoken to who have say it’s an exceedingly worthwhile watch. The film received warm responses following its debut at Cannes 2009 and its initial run in NYC. It was highly praised by Manohla Dargis, Anthony Lane and, of course, Ebert. If you haven’t watched the film’s trailer yet, here ya go:

I look forward to seeing the film when I get some free time, maybe this upcoming weekend.

Five yes/no questions with Manohla Dargis

April 16, 2010

I’m always running into familiar faces at Four Star Video Heaven, but those faces usually don’t belong to such eminent figures in the film community as UW’s David Bordwell and the NY Times’ Manohla Dargis. I’ve been reading Dargis quasi-religiously for some time now, so when I heard she’d be at Four Star for an in-store WORT broadcast, I knew I had to suppress my nerves and introduce myself.

Seeing as how Dargis has no shortage of speaking engagements and interviews to attend to while in Madison, I thought it was only fair that I keep my interview with her to five yes/no questions; because she’s apparently nothing if not a gamer, she was willing to oblige me. (Her answers are paraphrased.)

ds: In your estimation, is Michael Mann the best filmmaker to attend UW?

md: Yes. [Bordwell then reminds her that James Benning is a UW alum. This causes her to change her answer.] No.

ds: Is digital video diminishing the beauty of the film image?

md: No. (The video image and the film image are utterly distinct.)

ds: Is seeing a film on a laptop always inferior to seeing it on the big screen?

md: No.

ds: Is file-sharing (torrents, streaming, etc.) good for film culture?

md: No.

ds: Will NYC always be cinema’s artistic capitol in the US?

md: God no.

Don’t forget to check out Dargis’ introduction of Mann’s “Collateral” (4:30 at the Orpheum). Again, many thanks to her for being such a good sport.

Fixing to skedaddle

March 26, 2010

Wasn’t March a kick? I thought so too, for the most part. Did you read the DC’s April Fools’ edition yesterday (featuring a column from yours truly, but that’s neither here nor there)? If you didn’t, I recommend tracking down a copy: it was legitimately hysterical.

Anyway, CineMadison will be going on hiatus from today until next Monday. It’s spring break and eight days of cutting loose is at the top of the agenda. In case you were wondering, I’m driving to Boston tonight with a couple of dear friends, both of whom have agreed to put up with my slight phobia of driving in return for me putting up with their slight habit of chain-smoking (no disrespect to any of you chain-smokers out there). It’s doubtful that I’ll get a chance to see any films while we’re gone, which will mark my longest dry spell in months. However, cinema will still be very much on my mind all the time. I hope it’ll be on yours as well. Let’s have some constructive dialogue when we all get back, ya hear?

If you’re going to be in or near Manhattan next week, be sure to mosey on over to the IFC Center on 6th Ave to see Catherine Breillat’s “Bluebeard,” which opens there today. I’ve always found Breillat to be a pretty hit-or-miss artist (and if any of the contemporary French filmmakers deserves the “auteur” label, it’s gotta be her); but even when she misses it’s affecting—and usually in a defiant, challengingly unpleasant way. “Bluebeard” was reviewed this week by the Times’ Manohla Dargis and the Voice’s J. Hoberman; both paint the picture of a film at once morbid and nostalgic, dark and whimsical, sensitive to the latent psychopathology hiding in the heart of all human practices—including the writing and telling of fairy tales. Unfortunately it’d be the schlep-to-end-all-schleps for me to get down to NYC to join you for a matinee.

On Tuesday (or more precisely, at midnight on Monday) the Criterion Collection’s new 4-disc Pedro Costa set, “Letters from Fontainhas,” which consists of the films “Ossos” (1997), “In Vanda’s Room” (2000) and “Colossal Youth” (2006), will be available at Four Star Video Heaven. This is probably the most anticipated home video release of the year, and for damn good reason: by all accounts, Costa is among the most important artists working today. Enjoy the spareness, the stillness, the desperation. Here’s a link to the New Yorker’s Richard Brody’s review of the entire set. Can’t wait to tear through these when I return to Madison.

Also, be sure to check out Kenneth Burns’ positive—and autobiographical—review of “Greenberg” in this week’s issue of the Isthmus.

Alright dear reader, I oughta get while the gettin’s good. I’ll see you a week from Monday. Don’t you go and cut your hair.