The prestigious 57th Berlinale, or Berlin International Film
Festival, came to a close a couple of days ago and its jury, headed by American
writer/director (and former film critic) Paul Schrader, awarded its top prize,
The Golden Bear, to Chinese director Wang Quan’an’s “Tuya’s Wedding.”
Set in Mongolia, it’s
the story of a woman who pursues a suitor to take care of herself and her
Kudoes to Globe film
critic Ty Burr for his entertaining and illuminating new book, The Best Old Movies for Families.
It fills a yawning gap in film criticism. No, not what films to show your kids
and how to introduce them to the pleasures of cinema, though it accomplishes
that much needed task charmingly. I’m talking about the ugly secret of how
traumatic early movie experience contributes to the formation of a critical sensibility.
Aside from the prospect of Al Gore annoucing his presidential candidacy after winning the Best Documentary Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth," the only thing I’m looking forward to in next week’s Academy Awards is finding out whether Martin Scorsese will be the only director to go 0 in 6 in nominations. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind if he lost out — if only to grant him that distinction.
Had he just made those movies that came out between 1970 and
1975, Robert Altman would still rank as one of the world’s great directors.
Maybe even greater because then he wouldn’t have turned out such clunkers as
“Dr. T. and the Women.” (Okay, so we wouldn’t have had “Short Cuts” or “The
Player” either). The recent retrospective at the Brattle Theatre, “Robert
Altman’s 70s,” reminds me of the late director’s amazing creative
outpouring during that period of eight
masterpieces, from “M*A*S*H”(1970) to
“Nashville” (1975,) and how, at the time, we took it for granted that it would
just go on forever.
So my tally this year is 25 out of 30 correct, or 83%. Let’s
say a B. An improvement over a year ago, with
6 wrong. Now if I
had gone with my first choice and the received wisdom and picked “Little Miss Sunshine” for
Best Picture over the long shot “Bobby” that would have brought the score up to
87% and a B+ but then if I got it right I would have looked like a genius…
So, back to the power of film.
The power of film? Has any movie ever changed anything in the
Well, you might remember Erroll Morris’s “Thin Blue Line”
getting an apparently innocent man off death row. More recently, Kirby Dick’s
“This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated,” his puckish and devastating exposé of the absurdities
and iniquities of the MPAA ratings system, seems to have had an effect.
As a rule I refrain from including in this blog aspects of my
personal life that aren’t film related. But this was just too weird.
When I woke up this morning I heard my cat, the redoubtable
Yodel, scratching around at something in the hall of my apartment. I went to
check and he was staring intently at the kepi, a French officers cap, hanging
on the wall (sometimes I like to pretend I’m Jack Lemmon in “Irma La Douce”).
1. Suspended animation:A comment from John (“animation is my life”) Lassiter, whose
gas-guzzling “Cars” beat out the eco-friendly “Happy Feet” as winner of the
Globe’s new Best Animation category, convinced me that the genre has hit a dead
end. “Life’s about the journey,” he revealed to us (his wife told him this), “not
about the destination.
PK: I read
that you had shown The Devil’s Backbone
at the Toronto Film Festival on
September 9th 2001 and then
on September 11th of course that terrible thing happened and then
you realized that you’d have to do another film that somehow reflected that
occasion. Can you talk about that a little bit?
started noticing that the world was becoming a harder place for dissension, for
Guillermo el Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” was already building
buzz even before its wide release starting this week. It’s gotten Best Foreign
Language Film awards from the Florida, Washington DC, San Francisco and Southeastern Film Critics Societies, a
Best Cinematography Award from the New York
critics, Best Picture from the National critics, a Golden Globe nomination for
Best Foreign Language Film, not to mention Best Foreign Language and
cinematography awards from Boston
Some notes on the National Society of Film Critics awards
meeting, which I attended on Saturday.
1,. Sure am glad that it took an hour and a quarter less than
2. There are 54 members in our society (I think). Some 45 voted.
Of those About 24 were proxy votes of members who did not actually attend the
meeting. After the first ballot the proxy votes are elimated, leaving some 21
or so less members (some had to leave before the meeting was over) deciding the
For an industry traditionally unfair to females, Hollywood, some are saying, has turned out this year an unusually large number of meaty women’s roles. Meaning that the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress races will be heated. Meaning that a lot of big name actresses and ingenues have revved up scene-stealing performances of women who either embody the Western ideal of womanhood, a self-sacrificing mother and wife, or its opposite, the malignant, witch-like termagant who spurns her natural place in order to pursue her own perverse ideas of independence, career ambition, sexual fulfillment, or short haircuts.?xml:namespace>