Sunday, August 17, 2008

Decibel Electronic Music Festival : Sept 25 - 28

Link to Decibel Electronic Music Festival site

After delivering a quality and diverse electronic music festival to the Northwest
for four years running, Decibel is back in its fifth year with another qualitative
(and quantitative!) lineup again in 2008. Inspired anticipation for these artists
this time around:

William Basinski
Akira Rabelais
The Bug w/ Warrior Queen
Brian McBride (of Stars of the Lid)
Deaf Center
Tujiko Noriko
Flying Lotus

This year, like the previous two sees Decibel expanding their venues beyond just
clubspaces and dancefloors to include the Triple Door and Northwest Film Forum
both of which are ideal venues for the corresponding Ambient and Optical/
Experimental Showcases respectively:

Link to Decibel Festival Showcases

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Andrey Zvyagintsev's new film "The Banishment"

Andrey Zvyagintsev's previous film, "The Return" was winner of the Golden Lion and The Best
First Feature Film Award at the Venice International Film Festival in 2003. Also nominated for
a Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes in 2004, "The Return" was one of the most
impressive first-time feature films of the last decade. "Banishment" sees Zvyagintsev returning
(no pun) to much of the same thematic territory as his previous feature, namely that of familial
conflict, alienation, relationships of ambiguous deception and the protagonists struggle to make
a life of understanding and meaning amidst all of this. Both critically lauded as well as chided for
its Bergman-esque (and sometimes overarching) melodrama and the heaviness of the visual
symbolism depicted through the landscapes, it still manages to succeed in breaking free of a
potential too-weighty representation. In-part just for the stunning overall look of the film and
its rapturous take on the natural world, but most significantly, for its successful depiction of the
strife of displacement and loss felt by characters who's live are unraveling surrounded by a world
of complexity and beauty. This effect notably aided by a fantastic music score, including the
prominent use of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Released by Artificial Eye in the UK, with no
domestic US distribution currently slated. (Its curious how this still happens in the 21st Century):

Link to Artificial Eye "The Banishment" site

Link to Kino Films "The Return" site

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cannes Film Festival + Cinema Miscellanea

These being some of the notable Directors works and prize winners from this years Cannes. Unfortunate that none of
them made it into the West Coast SIFF/SFIFF Fests this year. After doing some reading on the festival and getting pretty
psyched about new work from a few directors of interest, I did some searching and came up with links and trailers. Of
note is the percentage of political and politically conscious work of very high-profile in this years fest. I'm particularly
curious about Soderbergh's venture into long duration, historical/political/biographic epic territory with the two-part
"The Argentine / Guerrilla" (which at this time, has yet to get a distribution deal in the sates). Now onto the goods!:

Ari Folman's "Waltz with Bashir" was given a notable mention and nominated for
the Palme d'Or, which, as an animated, political film, this is highly unusual for
Cannes, suggesting its something exceptional:

Nuri Bilge Ceylan's newest follows up on his previous quiet, subtle, stunners
"Distance" and "Climates". Reviews from Cannes suggest he may have gotten
the balance equation off on this one though:

Kiyoshi Kurosawa has been moving more and more away from the traditional
(untraditional) horror he established himself with on films like "Cure". His newest,
suggests that his artistic strengths are now to be found in more mature dramas:

Matteo Garrone's film is an adaptation of the book by Roberto Saviano of the
same name - that not only won Saviono significant literary praise, but lifelong
Police protection... if that says anything. Reports from Cannes is that the film
completely stripped away Hollywood's fixation with the glamour and romanticism
of organized crime in Italy, showing instead the depth of its reach into the lives of
the populace and the extent of its corruption of everything from the exploitative
sweatshop clothing industry, to everyday politics to 'waste disposal'. Making it
the Grand Prix winner this year:

Arnaud Desplechin continues to make hard-hitting human dramas about the
family, life and interpersonal (and existential) conflict. His 2004 film "Kings &
Queen" was an amazing piece of cinema, this new one sounds to be on par:

Visual artist Steve McQueen addresses the IRA hunger strikes at Northern Ireland
Prison in 1981, made that much more notable by the death of Bobby Sands. Reports
suggest this is a Sokurov-style minimalist tale told with brutal accuracy. Won the
Camera d'Or (best first feature) at Cannes. No official site at this time:

Clint Eastwood's ongoing investigation of politics, the media, police, corruption
and all things 'America' finds him in familiar territory with the telling of the 1920's
LA Collins kidnapping case. No official site at this time:

Laurent Cantet's film based on Francois Begaudeau's novel "The Class" was the
Palme d'Or winner this year, featuring, among other things, stunning acting
from its all teenage cast:

Steven Soderbergh has moved into epic duration and scale political cinema with "The
Argentine / Guerrilla" aka: "Che". Spanning two parts and over four and a half hours,
here's hoping we'll be allowed to see the unedited version of the film that screened
at Cannes. Apparently he's having difficulty finding distribution for the film stateside
... imagine that. Nonetheless, exciting new direction for him. Benicio del Toro claimed
the Best Actor award for this one. No official site at this time:

Arguably China's greatest living filmmaker Jia Zhang-Ke (winner of the Golden Lion
for his previous drama "Still Life" and the stunning clothing industry docu "Useless")
is back in his element, mixing politics, stories from everyday lives of the Chinese,
class and economic conflict and effects of the "Chinese Miracle" with the toll its had
on their people (aka: the fusion of Capitolism, Communism and Globalization) in "24 City".
His work just keeps getting more and more relevant to the world, both inside China and out.
Whats more amazing is that he's making these films *inside* China. No official site at this time:

Lucrecia Martel's "The Headless Woman" seems to be a bit of an enigma, with little
press outside Film Comment. The reports from Cannes suggest this one is a genuinely
disquieting psychological drama. No official site at this time:

The Dardenne brothers are at it again, after winning the Palme d'Or for "The Child"
in 2005 and "The Son" in 2002 they've continued to make great films, but not
apparently quite on par with their award-winners. No official site at this time: