Sunday, November 23, 2008

Venice Film Festival + Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea"

All at once, a bunch of modern greats suddenly have new films that have just premiered at various fests
in Europe. Of note, the Venice Film Festival.

Which included the western premier of Hayao Miyazaki's newest along with new work by Abbas Kiarostami,
Haile Germina, Kathryn Bigelow, Mamoru Oshii, Aleksei German, Werner Schroeter, Claire Denis, and Yu
Lik-Wai. A couple of these have shown in NYC and at the Toronto Fest over the fall, but otherwise haven't
seen stateside release/distribution yet. Hopefully they'll appear at Scarecrow Video in the coming months:

Link to the Venice Film Festival site

Hayao Miyazaki "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" - Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli deliver what looks again
to be another piece of pretty much incomparable animated storytelling. This one involving a Sea
Demon, the Goddess of the Sea and a race of mutant fish that are designed to replace humanity as
Earth's caretakers... that is, until one befriends a young boy and begins to become human her(it)self.
Stateside release is due when? Judging from past delays in Disney's distribution of his films, we may
have to wait upwards of a year:

Link to Studio Ghibli "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea"site

Mamoru Oshii "The Sky Crawlers" - Another animated feature by one of Japan's greats. Oshii is back in
familiar territory with this tale of endless war, dark corporate ambitions to shape society and a race of
immortal youth genetically bred to fight endless (aerial) battles as the backdrop for consumer society,
in this futuristic Orwellian vision:

Link to official "The Sky Crawlers" site

Aleksei German "Paper Soldier" - Won the Silver Lion for Best Director in this period piece depiction of a
Georgian medical officer preparing the first manned travel into space. Apparently, not only exceptional
for its period recreations, but also in its acting, cinematography and ability to convey a pivotal moment
in World History as one distinctly Russian in its richness and depiction of personal sacrifice:

Link to Film.RU "Paper Soldier" site

Werner Schroeter "This Night" - An unnamed man returns to a city under siege to find a woman he
left behind - taking place over the course of one night, the film is said to be a brutal depiction of
desperation told with a mind-bending (nightmarish) surrealistic bent, when his venture brings him
deeper and deeper into the heart of the night and the labyrinth of the city's underbelly:

Link to official "Nuit De Chien/This Night" site