As fate would have it, aside from a double bill of “Eraserhead” and an oddly beat-up print of “Sunset Boulevard” presented by David Lynch, I only saw two complete films at this year’s AFI Film Festival at the Chinese Theater multiplex.
The first was this year’s Cannes Palm D’Or winner, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, aka “Joe.” This is obviously a film and a director with many ardent admirers, including a lot of online cinephile acquaintances I respect, and I can certainly understand why viewers much more patient than I with the “contemplative cinema” aesthetic would love it.
It’s a sweet-natured and poignant magical realist non-story about a dying man and his family, with many striking individual moments but, by its own design, no narrative tension. Sadly, I seem to have a permanent allergy to the kind of deliberately slow-paced films that focus very intensely on the minutia of daily life with no particular story, even if, as in this case, it features plenty of arresting imagery and involves people who turn into half-monkey creatures and a ghost or two. I only nodded off once, but the gentlemen next to me was pretty much a goner at the 20 minute point. Snoring ensued.
Tonight’s quickie movie news notes have been called off in commemoration of the fact that this is Akira Kurosawa‘s 100th birthday.
What follows, then, is a fairly random assortment of trailers and scenes from key films, some personal favorites, and a couple of lesser known films by the Emperor. If you’re not familiar with the great Japanese director, one of the movies’ strongest storytellers and masters of imagery who was also the first Asian director to become widely known in the west, you might start with that Wikipedia entry I linked to above. Or, simply take a look at what follows. Pay just a little attention and I think you may be intrigued.
We’ll start with the worldwide art-house hit that made first made Mr. Kurosawa’s name outside of Japan way back in 1950.
I was at a screening at Sony (it’ll always be the MGM lot to me) earlier tonight, so to avoid traffic and strike while the iron is hot, tonight’s post comes to you directly from various branches of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. (As one closed, I was forced to migrate…)
* A little detail everyone seemed to miss yesterday: the possibly upcoming “Vlad” that I discussed last night is technically a movie about Dracula but is not, in fact, a vampire movie. It’s a tale that will to some degree hew to the historical reality of the not-quite-literally bloodthirsty Romanian ruler Vlad Dracul, it turns out. Via The Playlist, there’s an informative Entertainment Weekly interview with the screenwriter.
Another detail I personally missed last night: writer Charlie Hunnam is one of the stars of FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” which I’ve never seen but have been hearing great things about and which, of course, our own Jason Zingale has been blogging right here at PH. “Vlad” is being compared to both “300” and “Braveheart” — two movies I personally strongly disliked partly because they both offend my sense of morality, but I’m still curious to see if this one pans out.
* “Paranormal Activity” hit it in France and the UK, but not in Germany. I’m imagining a guy in a turtle neck with a look of disdain. “Your pretense at being haunted by demons grows tiresome!”