jadis composee par l'abstracteur de quinte essence

Beuveurs tresillustres, & vous Verolés tresprecieux (car à vous, non à autres sont dédiés mes escriptz)


this festival turned out pretty well for me. i took a few days off work and i got to see so many things, and i enjoyed almost all of them.

thursday, april 19
heart of the world (2000) guy maddin
short film commissioned for toronto international film festival. you can watch it on the tiff website.
amazing but quick.
center of the world (2001) wayne wang
with director, wayne wang and actors, peter sarsgaard (boys don't cry) and carla gugino (falcon crest, son in law)
second movie i've seen from wayne wang. (i saw chinese box, maybe slamdance was on tv?). intimate movie about a creepy programmer and a stripper. exploring the internet (quake and e-mail), the lap dance, and sex for money -- desire and power. the website is something else.
friday, april 20
adieu philippine (1963) jacques rozier
the only film i'd seen from rozier, and i hadn't seen it maybe eight years. i'd forgotten the last half, and now i remember why. scenes and dialogue are light and kind of random. comic portrayal of the old independant film director, not ready for television, but up for anything else.
metropolis (1926) fritz lang
a majorly restored print, still missing a lot of the material, but now with new intertitles to explain missing scenes. accompanied by dennis james with new score based on original, with intertitle translation thanks to the festival's artistic director, peter scarlet.
this was the best.
baise-moi (2000) virginie despentes, coralie trinh thi
sick, but also sometimes sweet and funny. pretty. liked the moral ambiguity.
saturday, april 21
maral (2000) mehdi sabaghzadeh
well worked on the whole and interesting, but with a neat, happy ending. some scenes didn't make too much sense. in the q&a with the producer, someone kept saying "she was attacked politically, mentally, spiritually and physically" (add a plaintive whine and you'll get it). most people complained about the music, used to build emotion during key scenes. i didn't even notice it. the director attributed the use of music to the long history of iranian culture. you know she took notes and her next release for foreign markets will drop it.
the producer made these two statements: people like iranian cinema because it's about "real people with real problems", and something like "iranian movies have to be interpreted as metaphorical messages presenting topics banned from discussion in the form of allegory". these two aspects of the film work well together sometimes, and then there are other times.
our lady of the assassins (2000) barbet schroeder
with the director, barbet schroeder
this i liked a lot. beautiful setting and people and acting with a disturbing lack of respect for human life. not so interested in the author's visions, except the one of the church maybe.
i've seen barfly by schroeder, and maybe this had a similar weakness. after spending more time in bars, it's really hard for me to take mickey rourke as a drunk. the lead actor in this movie, germaán jaramillo was charming and photogenic, and he brought a lot to the picture, but he also seemed a bit out of place in this part. though i can't say how i would know.
schroeder said that anderson ballesteros, who played alexis, was attacked by some kids, cut up and shot in the leg, all for playing a gay kid in this film.
the princess and the warrior (2000) tom tykwer
with lead actors franka potente and benno fürmann
good looking film with good looking actors, locations, and cinematography. liked the music with some hints of run lola run. didn't care for the story, especially the soldier's tortured love.
sunday, april 22
treasures from a chest (1896-190?)
with lobster film's serge bromberg presenting and accompanying on the piano
50 silent, single reel films (under 1 minute each) from pathé, gaumont, and georges méliès
a rare chance to see so many early films at once, with a piano accompaniment, just like back in the day. some relied on the contemporary novelty of film to carry them, but later works are still interesting or funny or something.
simon of the desert (1965) luis buñuel
presented by michael lehmann (heathers)
still one of my favorite movies and sylvia pinal is still one of my favorite actors. religious jokes and radioactive flesh.
the magick lantern cycle (1947-present) kenneth anger
presented by kenneth anger
with new short on the art of aleister crowley, narrated by kenneth anger
not only do all these movies look better on the castro's screen than video, but i got to see scorpio rising for the first time. (then again, i got to see lucifer rising as well, not being one for the magick side of the cycle) followed by some reels of a new film shot at an exhibition of aleister crowley's art, narrated by anger in his ny rangers sweater.
la nuit américaine [day for night] (1973) françois truffaut
presented by lotfi mansouri of the sf opera
never saw this before and i liked it a lot. an ordeal of filmmaking in the 70's, with weird color and soft focus. mansouri was very enthusiastic about this film about film.
monday, april 23
dora-heita (2000) kon ichikawa
a new film based on a screenplay written in the late sixties by ichikawa and akira kurosawa
of course it looks good. i liked koji yakusho (the eel) as toshiro mifune. feels a lot like a successor to sanjuro. liked the story until the action started.
with closed eyes (1999) mansour madavi
filmed in chile by a director from azerbaijan
yes, i liked it. beautiful stark images you would expect from a desert villiage. oblique scenes of children and the intrusion of a totalitarian government.
the storm (2000) khaled youssef
egyptian film about two brothers fighting on opposing sides in the gulf war
a little campy, but sometimes very well done. good acting and an interesting view into middle-class egypt, framed in the context of conflict with israel.
tuesday, april 24
smell of camphor, fragrance of jasmine (2000) bahman farmanara
with the director and lead actor, bahman farmanara
funny, personal film about a lost generation of artists in iran. the story itself suffers a bit from points to be made, but i liked it.
devils on the doorstep (2000) wen jiang
shot in black & white, with beautiful images and people in an impossible situation during the japanese occupation of china in the forties. an intimate picture of a peasant villiage cursed by the occupation and resistance fighters who dump their problems on them. the japanese invaders are equally complex. amazing work by writer/director/lead actor wen jiang
wednesday, april 25
the big animal (2000) jurzy stuhr
a little on the cute and predictable side, but an interesting portrayal of life in post-communist poland. you get all the old small-town animosity against difference along with new expectations of capitalist exploitation.
one of the hollywood ten (2000) karl francis
walked into this in the middle once i realized i would be out in time. i was really interested in the making of the salt of the earth.
save me (2000) christian vincent
this was ok. i liked the cinematography and the stories about work in france. nothing too great, but i really like the lead actor, roschdy zem.
word and utopia (2000) manoel de oliveira
story of the life of padre antónio vieira
it was hot in the theater and i nodded off every once in a while during the sermons, adding to the illusion of reality. i didn't follow them too well in general. i'd like to see it again. would have liked to hear more about vieira's history of the future.
the town is quiet (2000) robert guédiguian
this i did like a lot. liked the depictions of people just hanging on with what they can make until the the next bad break. contrast that with the bourgeoisie and supporters of the right-wing national front.
thursday, april 26
...took the day off...
friday, april 27
the land of wandering souls (1999) rithy panh
this documentary does a good job of portraying its subjects without narration. liked the kids collecting leeches and ants for dinner, portrayal of problems with landmines, randomly buried corpses, and corrupt contracting arrangements the workers faced digging a trench to lay fiber optic cable across cambodia.
the spirit of mopti (1999) mousse ouane
liked this short about a river city in africa, apparently the child of a fisherman and a farmer.
ali farka touré: springing from the roots (2000) yves billon, henri lecomte
with one of the directors, but i don't remember which one.
not so interested into this one about a guitar player. he was funny, and i liked his farm. liked the footage of different guitar bands across mali, and the combination with the spirit of mopti was pretty good. this one had more on the wealthy people of mali.
saturday, april 28
clouds of may (2000) nuri bilge ceylan
i liked this one. another story about a director trying to make a low-budget movie. the parents were really good, and the director was great at ignoring everyone else's problems.
juan, i forgot, i don't remember (1999) juan carlos rulfo
with the director, juan carlos rulfo
what i saw of this was really interesting. a lot of really bright, strong visual images, with random stories told by people who don't really remember the director's father. i came in halfway through, right after the clouds of may.
the babilée mystery (2000) patrick bensard
with the director, patrick bensard and the subject, jean babilée
jean babilée is an amazing dancer. now at seventy-eight, he's still teaching, but as a young man in cocteau's le jeune homme et la mort, he's a real work. his stories are pretty good too.
the gleaners and i (2000) agnès varda
with matthieu demy, son of director agnès varda
this movie was funny and light. i liked the stuff about people picking things up, but i guess you were always supposed to be upset by the amount of food farmers were leaving on the ground. it all goes back into the soil anyways, doesn't it? nice pictures of heart-shaped potatos.
the harem of mme. osmane (2000) nadir moknèche
with director, nadir moknèche
this movie was a little scattered. good acting, and i did enjoy watching it, but the script and editing? i don't know.
sunday, april 29
the festival (2000) rituparno ghosh
family get together with plenty of arguing and people having a good time. liked the setting and actors. wasn't real excited about the story, but still enjoyed myself.
don quixote (1972) rudolf nureyev, robert helpmann
with a friend of nureyev from the paris opera
this was funny to see. somehow i expected the dancers would be more in sync. spoiled by janet jackson i guess. the don quixote guy had great makeup and outfits. too bad he didn't dance. nureyev was something else, as you would expect.
under the sand (2000) françois ozon
with lead actress charlotte rampling
for some reason, the volume was so loud, i had to stick something in my ears. everyone says that charlotte rampling is the best.
without a trace (2000) maria novaro
with director maria novaro
liked this road movie. this looks like something with lots of commercial appeal. liked the songs about drug trafficking and the locations were really something, though what would you expect of a road trip through mexico?
monday, april 30
the ceiling (2000) matthieu demy
with director matthieu demy
this was really good. i'll have to find out what short story it's based on, because the story is impressive on its own. a lot of things you come to expect from short films like naked, angry old men in shrinking apartments kicking cats.
du côté d'orouët (1972) jacques rozier
with actor bernard menez
now my second rozier film. more laughing women, this time on vacation on the atlantic. another pathetic man. good color, interesting clothes, fun with eels and clogs. why this film doesn't get showed more, i can't figure.
tuesday, may 1
platform (2000) zhang ke jia
the story before this one ran is that it had been cut down from 180 minutes seen at venice and berlin, to 150 min at toronto and now san francisco. a critic had not had good things to say about the edits, but the director defended them.
it really looks like something is missing from this film. it has the same actor from the director's xiao wu, brilliant again as a mediocre member of a town theater troupe that's privatising. liked everything about this movie. there's a break in the middle where the troupe has gone through some major changes and picked up some new talent. i'd see it again like this, but i'd really like to see the missing footage.
virgin stripped bare by her bachelors (2000) hong sang-soo
i've seen the power of kangwon province by this director. liked the structure of this movie and the way it discredits its own ending. good visuals in black & white.
werckmeister harmonies (2000) béla tarr
with director béla tarr, actor lars rudolph, and enthusiast arturo ripstein
this was something else. liked the photography and the rhythms of walking. liked the way some of the scenes avoided the conventions of display we're all used to seeing, though you might assume it was the lack of budget. director béla tarr refused to answer most questions as they were 'too personal'. actor lars rudolph (run lola run) told stories about making a movie in hungary. arturo ripstein said some very positive things about this movie returning film to an art form. got me to buy the book: melancholy of resistance. i read the first section and i was impressed. maybe i'll write more after i have a chance to read more of the book.
wednesday, may 2
peppermint candy (2000) lee chang-dong
with director lee chang-dong
this i didn't like much.
such is life (2000) arturo ripstein
with director arturo ripstein, and writer paz alicia garciadiego
this i liked a lot. everything about it. i would see this many times. this was the best looking transfer from digital video i'd seen to date, and the things they did with the video camera. very interesting to see how the medium is changing. amazing script, acting, and photography. despite the tragic content this film is one of the lightest i've seen from ripstein and garciadiego.
arturo and paz talked about the benefits of working with video. they mentioned that the low cost meant that they didn't have to treat this film as maybe their last, so they didn't have to pack everything they wanted to say into the film. they were charming and eager to answer intellegent questions, now if we could only have come up with a few more.
thursday, may 3
...didn't go. thought i'd see something in the t.b.a. slots, but...
waiting to see in general release? (or maybe not?)
lives (2000) alain cavalier
landscape (2000) martin sulik
san francsico film society