Sunday, December 21, 2008

New films by Steven Soderbergh, Darren Aronofsky, Laurent Cantet, David Fincher
and Ari Folman at Landmark Theatres : January - March

After many, many months wait some of the notable highlights from Cannes and Venice, are just now
being distributed to usamerica thanks largely to IFC and the Landmark Theatres chain. See previous
promulgations here on both festivals for more info, I'm going to keep this one brief - onto the films!

Steven Soderbergh's massive-scope historically detailed (and rigorously researched) historical drama on
Che Guevara is here! After some distribution delays and concerns about finding its audience, considering
the duration and subject, It's now to be shown as a two-part film, rather than the original intended
4 1/2 hour single work that screened in Europe. Hopefully this adjusted two part, multiple film vehicle
won't disrupt the narrative flow/effect/coherence of the intended experience. Reports from Film Comment
and Sight & Sound have been both critical and highly praising. Possibly the first studio-backed drama on
these historic events that doesn't play up the heroism, but focuses instead on the man and the context:

Link to Landmark Theatre's "Che - Pt.1" site

Link to Landmark Theatre's "Che - Pt.2" site

Fincher's early work struck me as him aspiring to find itself firmly mythologized by the 'MTV generation'
(as much as I liked the adaptation of "Fight Club", possibly even more than the book itself). With last
years "Zodiac", I felt he'd made his first 'mature' film and a riveting crime/detective/period drama at
that. His newest here, an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald, looks to be also about time's passing,
though in this case, in a more literally sense for one man. Hopefully he won't resort to the overly
-sentimental in this one, as that's his weakest hand:

Link to Landmark Theatre's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"site

Reportedly a strong, critical look at the education process and issues of race, class and culture in
urban France. Apparently, the mostly non-professional teen cast has put in amazing performances
and the depiction of these complex multifaceted issues conveyed in the film won it the highest award
at Cannes, the Palme D'Or:

Link to Landmark Theatre's "The Class" site

Darren Aronofsky has always struck me as overreaching in his projects, aspiring toward grand themes,
or massive lows, and sometimes coming up right in the middle. He deserves credit for being so audacious
and there are striking, memorable passages in everything he's done, "The Fountain" and "Requiem for a
Dream" come to mind. Possibly, with this smaller scale, more intimate subject and film, shot on handheld
video, he's found a vehicle that aligns with his best qualities as a director. Reports from the Venice Film
Festival have said as much and gave high praise to Mickey Rourke's depiction of a down-and-out pro wrestler:

Link to Landmark Theatre's "The Wrestler" site

Ari Folman's animated docu-drama about the first Lebanon War consistently made the 'Films of the Year'
polls in all the major Euro and British press. The images have been striking, the trailer is intense, and
the film is both brutal and poetic in extremis. In short: I have the highest regard for this one of a kind
piece of movie-making. My compliments go to Folman and Co. for creating critical, adult, political cinema
as 'animation' and knowing the form is capable of telling such stories. The humanism and atrocity of the
historic events depicted are the very worst of war, that Folman's art succeeds in conveying both the vivid
essence and the subtlety (and surrealism) of these extremes is the proof of "Waltz with Bashir"'s success.
This is the film of 2008 not to be missed in 2009:

Link to Landmark Theatre's "Waltz with Bashir" site