Actress: Cate Blanchett
2007 notables: Hot Fuzz, I'm Not There, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
2008 notables: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Why she made the list: Cate got great reviews for revisiting Queen Elizabeth even if the actual movie didn't. Meanwhile, there's a good chance a Best Supporting nod is on the horizon with her turn as a Dylan in I'm Not There. Cate, or "The New Meryl" as I like to call her, will try to continue her strong streak of performances with the heavily anticipated Indiana Jones movie and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt and directed by David Fincher.
Tilda Swinton Actress: Tilda Swinton
2007 notables: Michael Clayton
2008 notables: Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Burn After Reading, Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll
Why she made the list: It's my firm belief that Swinton doesn't get nearly enough love because she looks like an alien. She's kind of like Christopher Walken in female form. She is good-to-great in almost every movie she's in though and I really liked her turn in Michael Clayton this year. She joins Cate in Benjamin Button, but the movie I'm looking forward to more is the Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich and Frances McDormand. Swinton has one more notable project that inspires me to drink: Phantasmagoria, a bizarre project about Alice In Wonderland author Lewis Carroll that will be written by, directed and star Marilyn Manson. I'd like to tell you I was lying. I'm just not.
Halle Berry Actress: Halle Berry
2007 notables: Perfect Stranger, Things We Lost in the Fire
2008 notables: Happily Never After, Tulia, Class Act
Why she made the list: You ever see that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry dates a woman he finds beautiful, but every so often with the right (or wrong, really) lighting, she's turns into a butterface? Berry's career is kind of like that. Sometimes it looks good (like her latest, Things We Lost In The Fire) and sometimes it looks like Perfect Stranger. John Singleton's legal drama Tulia, and the heartwarming true story, Class Act, sound like potential winners.
Reese Witherspoon Actress: Reese Witherspoon
2007 notables: Rendition
2008 notables: Four Christmases
Why she made the list: I know she doesn't have much on the plate but her December 2008 release, Four Christmases sounds like a doctor-prescribed rebound flick. It's about a couple (Reese and Vince Vaughn) whose parents are both divorced. You know what that means... four trips to four homes on Christmas Day. It's Christmas, it's Vince Vaughn so you know all kinds of crazy hijinks will ensue. It doesn't matter whether or not this movie is good or lame because it sounds like a holiday hit.
Rachel McAdams Actress: Rachel McAdams
2007 notables: Nada
2008 notables: Married Life, The Lucky Ones, The Time Traveler's Wife, State of Play
Why she made the list: With Wedding Crashers and The Notebook, Rachel looked like she was primed to make le leap. As far as I can tell, everyone loves Rachel McAdams. Everyone I talk to is positively smitten. It'd make me nauseous if I didn't have a serious case of puppy love for her as well. So yeah, lots of love to go around. We just all hated Red Eye.
I think she felt scorned by this. She took 2007 off and went out to the lake where she spent her fondest childhood years. She had time to reflect, hook a worm and watch the sun set. All the while, never forgetting and methodically planning her comeback to the very last detail. Twirling her mustache, shaving her mustache... until finally she was ready to unleash herself again upon John Q. Public.
Or maybe the scheduling just worked out the way it did. Anyway, with a full slate of films to be released in 2008 (including State of Play with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton), McAdams looks to be one of next year's most prolific prospects.
Nov 12, 2007
Actress: Cate Blanchett
posted by udin di Monday, November 12, 2007
When Phil Weston (Will Ferrell) learns that his soccer coach father, Buck (Robert Duvall), has not only made his son Sam (Dylan McLaughlin) a permanent benchwarmer, he even traded him to the worst team in the league, he becomes infuriated. To get back at his always-competitive dad, Phil volunteers to coach Sam’s new team, the Tigers, and will bring them to the finals even if they do it “Kicking & Screaming.”
Seeing director Jesse Dylan’s attempt, and there have been so very many, to remake the classic “The Bad News Bears” has made me long to see, again, that Walter Matthew rags to riches comedy about a bunch of foul mouthed Little League losers and their boozing, Tiparillo-smoking coach. The 1976 film pulled no punches and was amazingly politically incorrect when society was beginning to go the PC route.
Dylan, whose previous attempt at comedy was the sometimes-amusing sequel, “American Wedding,” takes the talented Will Ferrell and the cliché-driven script by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick and gives us the umpteenth remake of “The Bad News Bears.”
Phil Weston is a nice and kind man who doesn’t want to make waves, especially if it involves his domineering father. But, when Sam’s team, the Gladiators, wins yet again, it is without the boy who has been benched for the season by his own grandfather, Buck. It’s enough, the coach believes, that the boy be happy to be a part of a winning team – a team led by Buck’s own, late-in-life son, Bucky (Josh Hutcherson). Insult is added to injury when Sam is traded to the Tigers.
Of course, when Phil arrives for his first coaching session he is confronted with a group of misfit (mostly nondescript) players who could not win a game if they played against themselves. The Tiger’s first outing on the field is against the Gladiators who soundly trounce their ill-prepared opponents. That’s when Phil plays his trump card and convinces Buck’s neighbor, football legend Mike Ditka, to be his assistant coach. Ditka, always looking for a way to get under Buck’s skin, agrees and brings with him a pair of Italian soccer progenies, Masimmo (Alessandro Ruggiero) and Gian Piero (Francesco Liotti). Suddenly, the Tigers are winning games.
Normally mild-mannered Phil falls into the trap of competitive kid sports and loses track that the boys are there to have fun whether they win or lose. It’s just win, win, win to Phil and he doesn’t care for anything but victory. You can pretty much guess what happens when the Tigers make it to the playoffs and the expected politically correct messages are marched out.
Will Ferrell broke out of his former comedy character actor roles with the phenomenally successful “Elf.” Expectations ran high, and were disappointed, with the lackluster and silly “Anchor Man.” (I won’t bother to mention his Woody Allen impersonation in “Melinda and Melinda.”) In the PG-rated “Kicking & Screaming,” Ferrell is relegated to move between milquetoast and soccer fanatic but without the edge a more interesting PG-13 would have afforded the comic actor. It doesn’t help that Ferrell must carry the film by himself, ham-strung as he is by the simple-minded screenplay that does nothing to capitalize on supporting actors and personalities like Duvall and Ditka.
The Tigers, as expected, are made up of a multi-sized, multi-raced, multi-ethnic group of kids who sorely lack the skills needed to play the game of soccer. The only one given any shrift or personality is Elliot Cho as the cutely diminutive, lesbian-parented Byong Sun – whose name is butchered by Ditka one too many times. The rest of the kids are there to fill space and not much more. The same goes for the equally nondescript soccer parents. Only Kate Walsh, as Phil’s wife Barbara, is able to put any dimension into her character.
Techs are straightforward and without exception.
I should have watched my copy of “The Bad News Bears.” If anyone tries to get you to go to “Kicking & Screaming,” do just that. I give it a D+.
Laura did not see this film.
visit the movie official site
Check this movie at IMDB or
Read more critics toward this movie at http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/kicking_and_screaming
Now available on DVD
posted by udin di Monday, November 12, 2007
Nov 10, 2007
by Ulf Zander, PhD in History, Lund University
Alain Resnais was for a long time long known as a director of documentaries and a skilful editor, a reputation that grew even stronger after his path breaking film of the Holocaust and its reminiscent in the 1950’s, Night and Fog (1955). Early on, the producers of Hiroshima mon amour wanted Resnais to make a documentary with a running time no longer than an hour about the atomic bomb. Since it from the beginning was a French-Japanese co-production, the filmmakers “had to spend some yen in Japan,” to quote Resnais from one of the two interviews that is included in the ambitious Criterion Collection DVD release of Hiroshima mon amour. However, a number of problems soon arised. Chris Marker, who had been director of photography in Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard, 1955), did not feel comfortable with the project and left it after only ten days. As the work progressed, Resnais was not pleased with the allegorical screenplay that he and Vitol Zargesky, a friend of Marker who had lived in Japan for a long time, had written. Finally, he told the producers that they would be better off buying one of a number of excellent Japanese documentaries on the effects of the atomic bombs that were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At that time, the idea came up to include the French writer Françoise Sagan in the writing process, a suggestion that appealed to Resnais. Sagan, on the other hand, thought that the magnitude of the subject was too great to write about. Meanwhile, Resnais planned to film Marguerite Duras’ novel Moderato Cantabile (1958), but realised that he would run into serious trouble to finance such a project. Via a contact at the film company, Resnais and Duras came to work together with Hiroshima mon amour. During a meeting, they came to the conclusion that, at the same time as they were drinking tea, a number of air planes circled the earth, ready to drop the atomic bombs on a given command. The new staring point was to suggest, in elaborated pictures and images and with a poetic dialogue, the horrors rather than show them explicitly. The latter would rather have been the documentary approach. Their “tool” was a classic love story. Its characters and their development, Resnais and Duras suggested, could be seen as a metaphor to the effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the rest of the world.
Hiroshima mon amour deals with the need to both remember and forget traumatic events. In the beginning of the film, the original pursuit to make documentary is obvious, as the female French actress walks through the hospital, the museum and other places in Hiroshima connected to the atomic bomb. It is, however, not an ordinary documentary, since the Japanese people tend to turn their heads away, signalling that she is nothing but a tourist. The same message comes from her Japanese lover, an architect, who constantly says “[y]ou saw nothing in Hiroshima. Nothing”. Her answer is “I saw everything. Everything”. She motivates her argumentation with a bitter memory from her hometown Nevers during the Second World War. Her lover, a German soldier, is killed. Thereafter she is humiliated in public as a punishment for her connection with an enemy soldier.
Thus, she has a traumatic experience, which, in her own eyes, enables her to understand the collective tragedy in Hiroshima. The film suggests that this is both a correct and a false conclusion. On one hand, it is because Elle is able for the first to talk about her German boyfriend with her Japanese man that she realises the similarity between her two true loves. While she is dealing with the painful memory and, during the cause of one single day, altering parts and reunites with the Japanese architect, she realises that her Japanese love affair is as impossible as the first one was. One the other hand, and through the course of the turbulent love affair, she comes to the insight that her experience from Nevers does not in itself enable her to grasp what has happened in Hiroshima. She has indeed not seen anything in that town, or, to put in differently, one trauma can not be compared with another.
In the essay “Time Indefinite”, which accompany the DVD, film critic Kent Jones writes that “Hiroshima mon amour’s status as a milestone in film history is both a blessing and a curse. It can be hard for new audiences to find their way to the actual movie, buried as it is beneath its own daunting reputation, monumental subject matter, and high cultural pedigree”. His own analysis, as well as the to English translated round-table discussion with Eric Rohmer, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Doniel-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, and Jacques Rivette, from Cahiers du Cinéma, July 1959, is of great interest. Besides these texts, the edition from Criterion Collection includes a number of features which help the viewer to see through the many hinders that Jones points out. It has an audio commentary from 2002 by Peter Cowie, excerpts from Duras’ screenplay annotations that are narrated over clips from the film, character portraits signed by Duras and an essay on composer Giovanni Fusco by Russell Lack. Among the rich extra material are also two filmed interviews with Emmanuelle Riva, one from 2003 and one from the Cannes festival 1959. Especially the latter is still refreshing to see, especially because Riva without any difficulties wander between her profession as a theatre- and filmactress and the role that she plays in the film. Of great value are also the interviews with Alain Resnais from 1961 and 1980, respectively. The director has the ability to make clear his views on film making and the role as the director as auteur – which he dissociate from – in general and Night and Fog and Hiroshima mon amour in particular. Interestingly, he shows this abilities also when the questions from the interviewers are either pompous or everything but distinct.
It is not only the lion’s share of the commentaries that is worth mentioning. The new high-definition digital transfer and the likewise restored soundtrack make the film more beautiful than ever. Altogether, this edition of Hiroshima mon amour correspond perfectly well to the high standard that has become Criterion Collection’s trademark.
Hiroshima mon amour
Directed by Alain Resnais Screenplay and dialogue Marguerite Duras Cinematography Sacha Vierny, Michio Takahashi Edited by Henri Colpi, Jasmine Chasey Music Georges Delerue, Giovanni Fusco With Emmanuelle Riva Elle Eiji Okada Lui Stella Dassas Elle’s mother Pierre Barbaud Elle’s father Bernard Fresson Elle’s German loverProduced by Anatone Dauman, Samy Halfon, Sacha Kamenka, Takeo Shirakawa Production Companies Argos Films, Como, Daiei Studios, Pathé Entertainment Runtime 90 minutes.
DVD, USA 2003: Distributed by The Criterion Collection (region 1) Aspect Ratio Academy 1,33:1 Sound Mix Dolby Digital Mono 1.0 Extras Audio commentary by Peter Cowie. 1961 interview with Alain Resnais. 1980 audio interview with Alain Resnais. 1959 interview with Emmanuelle Riva by Francois Chalais at the Cannes film festival. 2003 interview with Emmanuelle Riva. Excerpts from Marguerite Duras annoted screenplay. Isolated music and effects track. Printed essay by Kent Jones. Printed essay on composer Giovanni Fusco by Russell Lack. New subtitles.
Mocktar, a Nigerien peasant, comes looking for work in Essakane, a dusty gold mine in Northeast Burkina Faso, Africa, where he hopes to forget the past that haunts him. In Essakane, he quickly finds out, the gold rush ended twenty years before, and the inhabitants of this wasteland and strange timelessness manage to exist simply from force of habit. The beautiful Coumba, however, is still courageously struggling to raise her daughter after the death of her family. Mocktar will soon be fighting not only to survive, but also to provide a better future for this mother and her child.
A Review on Variety.com by Deborah Young
Depicting an African hell on Earth where ant-like men burrow deep into the desert and risk their lives to mine gold, "Dreams of Dust" relies on hypnotic widescreen photography to bind viewers to its grim drama. Unfortunately the slow, static rhythm sorely tries audience involvement in the story, which is well written and directed by French helmer Laurent Salgues on his first feature outing. This is the kind of film that is more admired than loved, and more likely to pick up festival prizes than foreign sales.
In its unexpected horror and absurdity, premise recalls strongly Michael Glawogger's grim doc "Workingman's Death." In the Burkina Faso desert, desperate men and women live in a rudimentary gold rush camp. Working in small teams overseen by a merciless boss, they shimmy down narrow tunnels reaching a hundred feet and more into the sand with flashlights tied to their heads and a pick in their hands.
When a gold nugget is found, the whole team becomes rich. When a tunnel collapses, everyone dies. The asphyxiating sand makes rescue impossible.
Mocktar (Makena Diop), a Nigerien farmer, arrives in the camp after facing a personal tragedy. His stoicism in adapting to the sand miners' hellish profession is echoed in the beautiful Coumba's (Fatou Tall-Salgues) courage in raising her young daughter after the death of her family. Together they struggle for survival in a world in which all human values seem to have been destroyed by greed.
Salgues' screenplay is perfectly crafted in the Western tradition, while Crystel Fournier's striking cinematography connects the film to a broad African vision. Viewers have a lot of time to admire her dazzling desert panoramas, as there is almost no narrative motor to underwrite the visuals.
Diop brings towering dignity to his Nigerien immigrant. A man of few words, he ably plays off the experienced wit of Rasmane Ouedraogo as his veteran teammate. Tall-Salgues makes a strong-backed heroine of mythic beauty.
Mathieu Vanasse and Jean Massicotte's music track matches the rest of the film in being extremely refined. The French and Canadian post-prod work is top quality. Improbably, all dialogue is in very formal French.
Through a Glass Darkly / Såsom i en spegel, Sweden 1961
Written and Directed by Ingmar Bergman Assistant Director Lenn Hjortzberg Photography Sven Nykvist Assistant Photographers Rolf Holmqvist, Peter Wester Production Manager Lars-Owe Carlberg Editor Ulla Ryghe Sound Stig Flodin Assistant Sound Staffan Dalin Sound Effects Evald Andersson Music Johann Sebastian Bach Music Performed by Erling Blöndal Bengtsson Sets P. A. Lundgren Costumes Mago Makeup Börje Lundh Props Karl-Arne Bergman Continuity Ulla Furås With Harriet Andersson Karin Gunnar Björnstrand David Max von Sydow Martin Lars Passgård Minus Produced by Allan Ekelund Production Company AB Svensk Filmindustri Details 89 minutes, Black & White, Monaural, Swedish
DVD, USA 2003: Distributed by The Criterion Collection (region 1) Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Extras New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound. Exploring the film: Video discussion with Ingmar Bergman biographer, Peter Cowie. Essay by film scholar, Peter Matthews. Original U. S. theatrical trailer. Optional English-dubbed soundtrack. New and improved English subtitle translation. RSDL dual-layer edition.
Winter Light / Nattvardsgästerna, Sweden 1963
Written and Directed by Ingmar Bergman Assistant Director Lenn Hjortzberg Photography Sven Nykvist Assistant Photographers Rolf Holmqvist, Peter Wester Production Manager Lars-Owe Carlberg Editor Ulla Ryghe Sound Stig Flodin, Brian Wikström Sound Effects Evald Andersson Sets P. A. Lundgren Costumes Mago Makeup Börje Lundh Props Karl-Arne Bergman ContinuityWith Gunnar Björnstrand Tomas Ericsson Ingrid Thulin Märta Lundberg Gunnel Lindblom Karin Persson Max von Sydow Jonas Persson Allan Edwall Algot Frövik Kolbjörn Knudsen Knut Aronsson Olof Thunberg Fredrik Blom, organist Elsa Ebbesen Magdalena Ledfors Eddie Axberg Johan Strand Produced by Allan Ekelund Production Company AB Svensk Filmindustri Details 80 minutes, Black & White, Monaural, Swedish Katherina Faragó
DVD, USA 2003: Distributed by The Criterion Collection (region 1) Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Extras New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound. Exploring the film: Video discussion with Ingmar Bergman biographer, Peter Cowie. Essay by Peter Cowie. Original U. S. theatrical trailer. Optional English-dubbed soundtrack. New and improved English subtitle translation.
The Silence / Tystnaden, Sweden 1963
Written and Directed by Ingmar Bergman Assistant Directors Lenn Hjortzberg, Lars-Erik Liedholm Photography Sven Nykvist Assistant Photographers Rolf Holmqvist, Peter Wester Production Manager Lars-Owe Carlberg Editor Ulla Ryghe Sound Stig Flodin, Bo Leverén, Tage Sjöborg Sound Effects Evald Andersson Music Johann Sebastian Bach, Robert Mersey, Ivan Renliden Mixing Olle Jakobsson Sets P. A. Lundgren Costumes Bertha Sånnell, Marik Vos-Lundh Makeup Börje Lundh Assistant Makeup Gullan Westfelt Props Karl-Arne Bergman Continuity Katherina Faragó Still Photography Harry Kampf With Ingrid Thulin Ester Gunnel Lindblom Anna Jörgen Lindström Johan Håkan Jahnberg Hotel Waiter Birger Malmsten Bartender Eduardo Gutierrez and The Eduardinis The Little People Produced by Allan Ekelund Production Company AB Svensk Filmindustri Details 95 minutes, Black & White, Monaural, Swedish
DVD, USA 2003: Distributed by The Criterion Collection (region 1) Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Extras New high-definition digital transfer of the original, uncensored Swedish version, with restored image and sound. Exploring the film: Video discussion with Ingmar Bergman biographer, Peter Cowie. Essay by film scholar, Leo Braudy. Original U. S. theatrical trailer. Optional English-dubbed soundtrack. New and improved English subtitle translation. RSDL dual-layer edition.
Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie / Ingmar Bergman gör en film, Sweden 1963
Interviews and Narration by Vilgot Sjöman Photography Mac Ahlberg, Ralph Evers Editor Bo Bjelfvenstam Producer Bo Bjelfvenstam Production Company Sveriges Television AB Details 146 minutes, Black & White, Monaural, Swedish
DVD, USA 2003: Distributed by The Criterion Collection (region 1) Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Extras Digital transfer from the original 16mm edited master. Introduction by filmmaker Vilgot Sjöman. New English subtitle translation. RSDL dual-layer edition.
An intelligent, moving and beautiful portrait of Sabine, a 38-year-old autistic woman, filmed by her sister, the famous French actress Sandrine Bonnaire. Through personal footage filmed over a period of 25 years, it is revealed that Sabine's growth and many talents were crushed by improper diagnosis and an inadequate care structure. After a tragic five-year stay in a psychiatric hospital, Sabine finally finds a new lease on life in a home together with other young people living with similar mental and emotional illnesses. This very intimate film also sends an urgent message to a society that still does not know how to properly take care of its citizens with physical and psychological disabilities.
What they say about this film:
FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics)
"[Sabine] is the most beautiful film that Cannes has given us this year… It's cinema at its purest,"
Lisa Nesselson/ Variety
“[Bonnaire] makes a touching, educational directorial debut… a thoughtful look… Deeply human documentary… will engage TV viewers worldwide and is a fine tool for discussing the toll on loving families when a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment are withheld or unavailable.”
Ain’t It Cool News
“You may have seen films about people with mental and physical illnesses, but you've never seen it handled this expertly.”
8-11th November, 2007 in Stockholm
Sweden's Official Festival for Documentary Films
The 8th Tempo Documentary Festival presents new and creative documentary films with a main focus on the “New Europe”. More than 30 films from Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Sweden will have Swedish premieres, and many of the directors will attend the festival.
Join us on a guided tour to one of the last milkbars in Poland, spend a weekend in a datja, attend a casting session for politicians. Visit a Bulgarian concentration camp, meet brutal resistance in the streets of Minsk and go underground in Prague. As a final; why not an adventurous detective documentary?
Meet among others Marcel Lozinski, Polands most wellknown documentary filmmaker with experience from the fight for freedom during the communist years. In his HOW IT’S DONE we get to meet a PR-consultant who arranges crash courses for politicians to be. The prize-awarded Miroslaw Dembinski and principal character Franak Viachorka present A LESSON OF BELORUSSIAN, a film about young activists who are fighting for a free Belarus in new ways, for example through music videos. Also visiting is Lucie Králová (Czech Republic) who has made LOST HOLIDAY, Andrey Paounov (Bulgaria), the director of the opening film at the Cannes Film Festival and critically acclaimed THE MOSQUITO PROBLEM & OTHER STORIES and Robert Lakatos (Romania/Hungary), one of the five directors of ACROSS THE BORDER. There will also be a Swedish premiere for MILKBAR by Terese Mörnvik and Ewa Einhorn, a history about two stubborn women who against all odds is running an old milbar from Poland’s communist years.
We also recommend some selected international prize-winners, the filmmakers of tomorrow from film schools and the nominees of the STHLM.DOC-competition.
The festival ends with a grande party at Södra Teatern with film, DJ and a live performance with Fanfara Shavale. Don’t miss it!
visit the official website
Nov 9, 2007
Cinematical has just gotten an exclusive clip and photos for the upcoming Alexandre Aja and Franck Khalfoun garage horror film P2, which will finally bleed its way onto the big screen this week. Filmed in a particularly creepy garage around the corner from Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario (pretending to be New York City), P2 is about a businesswoman named Angela (Rachel Nichols) whose Christmas Eve is anything but jolly. She finds herself to be the sadistic, lust-filled focus of Thomas (Wes Bentley), a psycho security guard, in a deserted parking garage.
Thomas doesn't take too kindly to Angela's sexual past, and this clip has him ready to give some ex-lover a taste of blood-filled horror medicine. Luckily, you don't even have to imagine what happens to the guy -- some extra clips over at JoBlo answer that question, and show you why Thomas is working as a security guard and not a makeup artist. The lipstick horror fest opens on Friday, so check out the trailer and more clips on the film's website. Additionally, stay tuned for Jeffrey M. Anderson's review tomorrow, and check out the gallery below -- featuring two new exclusive shots plus a bunch more creepy P2 images.
In New York we have the Museum of the Moving Image. I just assumed there was a similar kind of museum on the west coast, but I guess in all these years Hollywood never established something so obvious. Now, though, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has finally announced a plan to build a museum dedicated to cinema, or at least cinema through the eyes of the Oscars. Apparently it will be called The Academy Museum and is set to be open in 2012, three years after construction begins in 2009. So far the plan has no plans, or budget, but the Academy has hired French architect Christian de Portzamparc, best known probably for designing Paris' "Cite de la Musique (City of Music)" and NYC's LVMH Tower. The site for the museum has been chosen as a two-block, eight-acre plot near the Kodak Theater (home of the Academy Awards show) in Hollywood, which will allow the building to face the famous Hollywood sign.
According to Reuters, the museum is being planned as the world's largest and most ambitious of its kind. The report also has an interesting quote from de Portzamparc, who claims he's the perfect choice because he has "a true passion for cinema and often link this art to architecture: the art of motion, art of light, editing, sequencing of the time and the life, celebration of the living." Over at AP, there's another great quote from Academy president Sid Ganis, who wants the museum to be a "monument to the art of film." He told the newswire: "I want people to understand how film relates to the world around us, how storytelling in the film sense is accomplished and how, through film, we move ahead in our lives to some degree. I hope that's not too highfalutin', but that's what I'm hoping for." We'll have to wait and see if the museum is more dedicated to the history of film in all its glory or more dedicated to the history of the Oscars and the glory it thrusts upon specific films and branches of cinematic technique.
When the now-defunct United Artists Classics acquired the rights to Diva, Jean-Jacques Beineix's 1981debut feature, do you suppose they had any idea of the tremendous success it would become – that a New York audience would take to it the way their Parisian counterparts did – or was it just dumb luck? The film opened in New York in April 1982 (about a year after its French debut) at the Plaza Theater to mixed reviews. The Times' Canby was all but dismissive of it ("empty though frightfully chic-looking"), but Kael ate it up, calling Beineix "Carol Reed reborn with a Mohawk haircut." Regardless, the film was a smash hit, with almost every show selling out.
I saw Diva for the first time in June of 82, waiting on line for over two hours with a bunch of other New Yorkers eager to see the film that was on everybody lips. Though I was only an impressionable high-school kid, I had seen a fair share of French films, but nothing at all like this. Sure, À bout de souffle was cool as fuck, but Diva was all about the here and now, and its mobylette-riding protagonist Jules became something of a role model for years to come. (I even bought a second-hand Malaguti. Yes, it's pathetic.) The film had a successful run in New York for over a year, and I must have seen it at least twenty times, dragging various friends (and girlfriends) whenever I could.
Diva is once again back in New York for its twenty-fifth anniversary, in a new print (with vastly improved subtitles) courtesy of Rialto. I went to see it a few weeks ago – on the morning of my birthday in fact – and I'll admit that I approached it with trepidation. Would the film hold up after all these years, or would it feel horribly dated? Would Jules, Gorodish and Alba still seem as cool now that my own mobylette years have long passed? The answer is a resounding...yes.
Based on one of Delacorta's Gorodish & Alba novels (which follow the adventures of a Zen-like French musician and his companion, a 14 year-old nymphet), Diva was the genesis of the Cinéma du look, that mini-movement in 80s French cinema that blended high-art with low, and favored the slick style of adverts and music videos, still in their infancy at the time. Though there's no denying that Diva is an incredibly stylized work, Beineix backs it up with enough substance to justify its gloss.
A tale of two tapes, as it were, the film finds our postal worker hero Jules (Frédéric Andréi) caught up in the underworld of both international music piracy and human trafficking. Living in an old garage amidst trashed luxury automobiles and pop-art murals, Jules' one passion is opera, particularly the voice of Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelmenia Fernandez), who has refused to commit her voice to record. Smuggling his Nagra reel-to-reel into the opera house, he makes a pristine recording that is of great interest to a couple of Taiwanese music pirates in black suits and mirror shades. A random encounter with a cassette-carrying escaped prostitute sets off a chain of events that includes several murders by awl, a suspenseful chase scene through Paris' streets and Metro, and a lesson in buttering bread.
What's most remarkable about watching Diva today is how much it is a product of its time. Today, Jules' bootleg tape would be available as a torrent within hours after the performance, and the prostitutes damning evidence would be a digital audio file attached to an email. There's something comforting in the limitations of the pre-Interweb all-analog world, where something physical, not virtual, is both the cause and solution to a series of problems.
What hasn't faded at all after all these years is that, beneath its multiple layers of intrigue and super-cool exterior, Diva is a film steeped in dreamy idealized cinematic romance. Jules' all-night dalliance with the diva still stands as one of the most romantic sequences ever, and their rainy dawn promenade through Paris to the Satie-esque theme by Vladimir Cosma will melt all but the hardest of hearts. (Jules' hesitant hand as he reaches to touch her shoulder is pure magic.)
At 17 I believed that Beineix's Paris – where a simple postman can have a platonic romance with an opera star, befriend a roller-skating thieving Vietnamese beauty, be chased by trench coat wearing assassins, and be rescued by a Gitanes-smoking, multiple Citroën Traction Avant owning cool guy – truly existed. Today I consider Diva to be a perfect bit of romantic escapist fantasy. Unlike many films from the 80s, Diva has only improved with age, and it's easy to see why the film had such long legs during its initial run. If you've never seen it, or haven't revisited it in years, don't miss this opportunity.
Diva is currently playing at Film Forum in New York. Afterwards, it is rolling out to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland etc. See Rialto's site for complete details.