AT THE CINEMA [Mar 11th]
Fair Game [Main Picture]
Dir: Doug Liman
Sam Says: Liman is a hit and miss director, but Fair Game has a few things stacked in its favour. It’s got a riveting real life story (that of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, who was thrown under the bus by her own government) to play off. It’s got an interesting supporting cast, Noah Emmerich seems to have a pretty big role, which is never a bad thing.
However, there’s one simple reason I want to see this movie; the stars. Naomi Watts and Sean Penn are both flat out brilliant actors, and they play well together (see 21 Grams and The Assassination of Richard Nixon). Hopefully this story will give both roles that they can really get their teeth into, the trailer suggests that it has.
Dir: Tran Anh Hung
Mike Says: Based upon the classic 1987 novel by Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood is one of my most anticipated films of the year. Director Tran has something of a mixed track record but this looks to be his most mature and aesthetically pleasing film so far. With an original score by Jonny Greenwood, the film finds a young man named Toru (Kenichi Matsuyama) reminiscing of a past love and tragic loss when he hears the Beatles song ‘Norwegian Wood.’ I’m a big fan of coming-of-age drama and Japanese cinema is on a high at the moment so this is hopefully every bit as good as I’ve heard.
ON DVD / BLU RAY [Mar 14th]
Dir: Rolf Peter Kahl
Sam Says: German cinema has been going through something of a renaissance during the early
part of the 21st century, so these days I’m always intrigued when something offbeat or controversial comes out of there. Bedways appears to be a relationship drama examining the making of a sexually explicit film. The DVD case boasts that “Only Lars Von Trier has been more explicit recently“, and personally I’m always interested in films that push the boundaries of how sex and violence (see below) are depicted on screen.
Most of the cast are new to me, but Arno Frisch, who first came to notice in Michael Haneke’s Benny’s Video and Funny Games, is a real talent, and there does appear to be a generation of really interesting actors in Germany right now. Hopefully Bedways can do a bit more with its very free attitude to the depiction of sex than Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs managed.
Dir: Lucio Fulci
Sam Says: I mentioned this on Incoming a month ago because Play had the wrong release date listed at that point. It IS coming out this time, and the rest of what I said last time still holds.
I love all of Lucio Fulci’s zombie quartet, but The Beyond may well be his very best film. It has a couple of decent leading performances from Brits Catriona MacColl (in the second of her three films for Fulci) and David Warbeck and a script that at least attempts to make some sense (though there are still deliciously silly lines like “you have carte blanche, but not a blank cheque”). However, the gore is the thing with Fulci, and he lets himself completely off the chain here; eyes are stabbed, faces melt and there’s an especially brutal chain whipping. For all the gore this is a beautiful film, Fulci doesn’t get his due as a visual stylist, and The Beyond contains some memorable and haunting images (especially the final shot).
The DVD from Arrow is typically stacked with extras, happily they’ve kept the charming, relaxed, commentary with MacColl and Warbeck, but they’ve also created a whole host of new features. This is likely to be one of the essential releases of 2011 for horror fans.
Larks On A String
Dir: Jirí Menzel
Mike Says: Perhaps one of the most anticipated releases of recent years, this period drama belongs in the canon of the Czechoslovak New Wave but was banned in 1969 by the Czech government and only released in 1990 at the fall of the Communist regime. Filmmakers such as Menzel, Jan Nemec and Milos Forman used the wave to tell artistic stories subtly shaded with political attack, so it will be interesting to see A) what Larks On A String did to upset the censors, and B) how it fits into the body of work we have now had so much time to reflect upon. All signs point toward it being rich with humour and aesthetic beauty, so hopefully it won’t disappoint!
Susana / The Brute
Dir: Luis Buñuel
Mike Says: After a recent viewing of The Milky Way (1969) – a sardonic, absurdist spin on organised religion, Buñuel is fast becoming one of my favorite directors. You’ll know him best for the erotic drama Belle de Jour (1967), but his lesser known features have slowly been appearing in remastered form. Susana tells the story of a seductively wayward girl who escapes from a reform school and is taken into the home of a good-hearted family. Slowly she begins to unravel their values and cause internal chaos and conflict as the men fall under her burgeoning sexuality. The Brute tells of an old man who seeks to evict the poor and the young man whose morals come into question when he falls in love with a young woman whose house is about to be demolished. Both shot in stunning black-and-white, the films are moral allegories and although they don’t contain many of Buñuel’s key themes they promise intense melodrama and boundary-pushing content. Susana, for example, is also known under the title The Devil And The Flesh. If nothing else it’ll be interesting to see what a future master got up to between his surrealist beginnings and his political ends.