Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cannes Film Festival + Cinema Miscellanea

Link to official Cannes Film Festival site

Link to Cannes 2009 Festival Prize Winners

Cannes being the major preview/herald of film to come in the next year, judging from this, 2009/ 2010 looks
to be shaping up in pretty SPECTACULAR fashion. New ones by some of the worlds greatest orchestrators
of cinematic wonder, shock, beauty, subtle entrancement, rapture and genre-transcendence. Links below to
some of the notable Directors works and prize winners from this years festival. Unfortunate that none of them
made it into the West Coast SIFF/SFIFF Fests this year. After doing reading on the festival in both Sight &
Sound and Film Comment, the abundance of curious and atypical works by established directors suggests
there are some major surprises to be had in the cinema in the coming year!:

Link to Michael Haneke - "The White Ribbon" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: A village in Protestant northern Germany. 1913-1914. On the eve of World War I. The story
of the children and teenagers of a choir run by the village schoolteacher, and their families: the baron,
the steward, the pastor, the doctor, the midwife, the tenant farmers. Strange accidents occur and
gradually take on the character of a punishment ritual. Who is behind it all?"

Link to Lars Von Trier -"Antichrist" at Cannes at Cannes site

Absurdly literal synopsis of the events in the narrative for this Von Trier: "Synopsis: A grieving couple
retreat to ’Eden’, their isolated cabin in the woods, where they hope to repair their broken hearts and
troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse..."

Link to Tsai Ming-Liang - "Visage" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: A Taiwanese filmmaker makes a film based on the myth of Salomé at the Louvre. Even though he
speaks neither French nor English, he insists on giving the part of King Herod to the French actor Jean-Pierre
Léaud. To give the film a chance at the box-office, the production company gives the role of Salomé to a world
famous model. But problems arise as soon as filming begins... Amidst all this confusion, the director suddenly
learns of his mother’s death. The producer flies to Taipei, to attend the funeral. The director falls into a deep
sleep where his mother’s spirit does not seem to want to leave her old apartment. The producer has no choice
but to wait, alone and lost in a strange city. As after a very long voyage, filming will resume with all who were
lost in the underground of the Louvre."

Link to Park Chan-Wook - "Thirst" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Sang-hyun is a beloved and admired priest in a small town, who devotedly serves at a local hospital.
He goes to Africa to volunteer as a test subject in an experiment to find a vaccine to the new deadly infectious
disease caused by Emmanuel Virus (E.V.). During the experiment, he is infected by the E.V. and dies. But
transfusion of some unidentified blood miraculously brings him back to life, and unbeknownst to him, it has also
turned him into a vampire. After his return home, news of Sang-hyun's recovery from E.V. spreads and people
start believing he has the gift of healing and flock to receive his prayers. From those who come to him, Sang-
hyun meets a childhood friend named Kang-woo and his wife Tae-ju. Sang-hyun is immediately drawn to Tae-ju.
Tae-ju gets attracted to Sang-hyun, who now realizes he has turned into a vampire, and they begin a secret love
affair. Sang-hyun asks Tae-ju to run away with him but she turns him down. Instead, she tries to involve Sang-
hyun in a plot to kill Kang-woo..."

Link to Gaspar Noe - "Enter the Void" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Oscar and his sister Linda are recent arrivals in Tokyo. Oscar's a small time drug dealer, and Linda
works as a nightclub stripper. One night, Oscar is caught up in a police bust and shot. As he lies dying, his spirit,
faithful to the promise he made his sister ­ that he would never abandon her - refuses to abandon the world of the
living. It wanders through the city, his visions growing evermore distorted, evermore nightmarish. Past, present
and future merge in a hallucinatory maelstrom."

Link to Brillante Mendoza - "Kinatay" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Peping, a criminology student, is recruited by his schoolmate, Abyong, to work as a part-time errand
boy for a local syndicate that collects protection fees from various businesses in Manila. The easy money Peping
earns is spent mostly on his girlfriend, Cecille, who’s also a student. Peping decides to marry her, but in order to
do so he’ll need more money. Abyong contacts Peping to join a "special project" that pays more than normal..."

Link to Pen-Ek Ratanaruang - "Nymph" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: A LONG TIME AGO IN AN UNNAMED FOREST a beautiful young woman was wandering alone
when she fell prey to two men. Shortly thereafter, the lifeless bodies of the two attackers were found floating
down the nearby stream. No one knew what happened to the men or where the woman was, or who or what
might have saved her life. Flash forward to today. May is a city woman who has everything she could ask for.
Things are looking stellar: her career is on the rise, and her long-time husband, Nop, a professional photographer,
showers her with love and attention. But fate or desire play tricks on the couple who watches as their lives drift by
without much thought or reflection, and soon May starts an affair with Korn, another married man. One day Nop is
assigned to take a trip into the forest to film the wildlife. He decides to bring May along. But the journey slowly reveals
how the invisible weight of their urban lifestyle haunts them like a spectre, since May insists on behaving as if she
were still in the city. Her sole concerns are her laptop and her phone, and instead of working from the office she now
works from the tent in the middle of the jungle. Meanwhile, Nop treks into the forest to take pictures of wild deer and
forgotten cobwebs, and along the way he stumbles onto a sad-looking tree – a lonely, mysterious specimen deep in
the heart of the woods."

Link to Alain Resnais - "Wild Grass" at Cannes site

The synopsis from Cannes here for the new Resnais is almost comical in it's brevity: "Synopsis: A wallet lost and
found opens the door - just a crack - to romantic adventure for Georges and Marguerite."

Link to Andrea Arnold - "Fish Tank" at Cannes site

And another one where they give us one sentence: "Synopsis: Fifteen year old Mia’s life is turned on its head when
her Mum brings home a new boyfriend."

Link to Bong Joon-Ho - "Mother" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Widowed for a long time, a mother lives alone with her only son, Do-joon. He is 28 years old, a shy
and quiet young man. In the aftermath of a terrible murder, the woman’s hopeless, helpless son becomes the
prime suspect. There is no real evidence against him, but the police throw groundless suspicion at him simply
because there is no way he can prove his innocence. Eager to close the case, the police are happy with their
cursory investigation and arrest the boy. His defense attorney turns out to be incompetent and unreliable,
making a convictionseem inevitable. Faced with no other choice, his mother gets involved, determined to prove
her son’s innocence."

Link to Hirokazu Kore-eda - "Air Doll" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Hideo, who lives alone, owns a life-size “air doll”, which suddenly finds herself with a heart. Everything
is new to her in the world outside Hideo's house. She meets all kinds of people. The world is filled with so many
beautiful things, but everyone seems to have some kind of hollowness, just as she has. In the morning, she pumps
herself up, and takes a walk. One afternoon, she meets Junichi who works at a rental video store, and instantly falls
in love with him. A first date. New words she learns from him. She starts working with him at the store, enjoys talking
and being with him. Everything seems to be going perfect, until something unexpected happens to the doll."

Link to Lou Ye - "Spring Fever" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Luo Haitao has been hired by Wang Ping’s wife to spy on the passionate relationship between her husband
and another man, but slowly loses control of the situation. With his beautiful girlfriend, Li Jing, he is drawn in to the affair,
overcome by the fever of drunken spring nights. All are possessed by an exhilarating madness of the senses, a dangerous malady that leads the heart and head astray..."

Link to Ken Loach - "Looking for Eric" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: Eric the postman is slipping through his own fingers...His chaotic family, his wild stepsons and the cement
mixer in the front garden don’t help, but it is Eric’s own secret that drives him to the brink. Can he face Lily, the woman he
once loved 30 years ago? Despite outrageous efforts and misplaced goodwill from his football fan mates, Eric continues to
sink. In desperate times it takes a spliff and a special friend from foreign parts to challenge a lost postman to make that journey into the most perilous territory of all - the past. As the Chinese, and one Frenchman, say: "He who is afraid to
throw the dice will never throw a six."

Link to Pedro Almodovar - "Broken Embraces" at Cannes site

"Synopsis: A man writes, lives and loves in darkness. Fourteen years before, he was in a brutal car crash on the island
of Lanzarote. In the accident, he didn’t lose only his sight, he also lost Lena, the love of his life. This man uses two names:
Harry Caine, a playful pseudonym with which he signs his literary works, stories and scripts, and Mateo Blanco, his real
name, with which he lives and signs the film he directs. After the accident, Mateo Blanco reduces himself to his pseudonym,
Harry Caine. If he can’t direct films he can only survive with the idea that Mateo Blanco died on Lanzarote with his beloved Lena."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Multiverse of Narratives: Grant Morrison's Final Crisis of Humanity
& What Lies Beyond the Edge of the Page Bleed

This is a companion post to my "Vengeance, Mortality & the Multiverse" on Grant Morrison's currently running Batman story of the past couple years. That narrative intersecting in no small way with the Sturm und Drang of his simultaneously published Parallel Universe riff on the Jack Kirby created Cosmic celestial realms of his New Gods stories of the the 70's in combination with the DC Universe 'event' book of the 80's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" which I'm currently reading now for the first time since High School. As Morrison's own mutant hybrid of those two works, "Final Crisis" reads as a brilliant, mesmerizing, surrealist, meta-cosmological fusion of Superhero Comic Book Mythology, Cabalistic Magick, and Quantum Cosmology. One that is his own culmination, condensation of Jack Kirby's 4th World New Gods mythos and the 75 year of stories told in the 52 Parallel Universes of the DC Comics publishing legacy, as a channel-surfing, innumerable characters, many Earths, history of the cosmos and man's introduction in the Paleolithic Era to the nature of storytelling (thank you Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams"). Spanning from the time of our introduction to narrative (thanks here according to Morrison as contact with higher beings; ie Metron) to the present day where all of the Multiverse is being dragged down onto our Earth, by the fall of these same-said higher beings and the aftermath of their (unseen by us mere mortals) Ragnarok. And yes, the 'bad guys' show up on Earth first.

Link to DC Comics "Final Crisis" - Deluxe Edition

Link to DC Comics "Crisis on Infinite Earths" - Absolute Edition

Link to Wired 'Grant Morrison Talks Brainy Comics, Sexy Apocalypse'

Better said by far in Jay Babcock's intro in (the now sadly defunct) Arthur Magazine: "Final Crisis is a major achievement of 21st century imagination and craft in mainstream media, works on countless levels, far too many for me to enumerate here. Final Crisis is so good that although it’s part of a continuing, decades-in-the-telling saga involving countless characters, you can follow the plot and dig on the ideas and the dialogue and the sheer spectacle of the events that spiral from the trash up into the transcendent, even if you’re not familiar with all the backstory. (Rest assured that there are detailed annotations available online regarding previous references to Darkseid’s hatred of music, which parallel earth Nubia and where her Wonder Horn comes from, and so on…) Of course, that’s the way it’s always been with DC Universe comic books: you don’t always know everything about everyone, and sometimes you miss stuff, and sometimes you only suss out later what something was really all about. (Same is true for life in the real world, actually…) Final Crisis continues in that tradition, but as you’ll see, it’s at a higher dose - a different pitch, a denser signal - than usual, one that mirrors the world we are living in, when too many things really are going terribly wrong all at the same time, when headlines really do scream about catastrophe, turmoil, doom, collapse and apocalypse. And maybe that’s this audacious work’s genius, even more than its elegant architecture, its overwhelming dazzle, its virtuoso artwork by J. G. Jones and Doug Mahnke: the way that it shows us a path beyond the current situation, out of economic cataclysm and endless horrible wars and ecological peril and unchanging red lights."

Link to DC Comics "Jack Kirby's 4th World Omnibus" - Vol.1

Link to DC Comics "Jack Kirby's 4th World Omnibus" - Vol.2

Link to DC Comics "Jack Kirby's 4th World Omnibus" - Vol.3

Link to DC Comics "Jack Kirby's 4th World Omnibus" - Vol.4

Monday, June 1, 2009

PJ Harvey & John Parish "A Woman A Man Walked By" US Tour : Jun 2 - 21

PJ Harvey and regular collaborator, producer, and bandmate John Parish return to the US for a summer tour following the excellent string of indie rock and era defining albums. These began in the earliest 1990s with "Dry", "Rid of Me", and "To Bring You My Love". Few albums and artists so fully expressed the rough edged, hyperkinetic songwriting energy, and general zeitgeist of the decade as these. A new phase, tempered by introspective moods, more spare arrangements, and refined production arrived with her first major collaboration with John Parish "Dance Hall At Louse Point", and was then further polished to perfection on "Is this Desire?". Expanding her vocabulary again on the lush arrangements of "Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea", the dynamic "Uh Huh Her", more stripped down minimalist albums like "White Chalk", and this year's second major collaboration with Parish, "A Woman A Man Walked By":

Link to official PJ Harvey site

Link to Seattle Times PJ Harvey at The Moore