Thursday, August 27, 2009

We Live in Public

Opening this weekend: We Live in Public, directed by Ondi Timoner

Synopsis from the film's website:

On the 40th anniversary of the invention of the Internet, We Live in Public reveals the effect the web is having on our society, as seen through the eyes of “the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of,” artist, futurist and visionary Josh Harris. Award-winning director Ondi Timoner (DiG! - which also won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2004 - making Timoner the only director to win that prestigious award twice) documented his tumultuous life for more than a decade to create a riveting, cautionary tale of what to expect as the virtual world inevitably takes control of our lives. Harris, often called the “Warhol of the Web,” founded, the first Internet television network during the infamous dot-com boom of the 1990s. He also curated and funded the groundbreaking project “Quiet” in an underground bunker in NYC where 100 people lived together on camera for 30 days at the turn of the millennium. With “Quiet,” Harris proved how we willingly trade our privacy for the connection and recognition we all deeply desire, but that with every technological advancement such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, becomes more elusive. Through his experiments, including a six-month stint living with his girlfriend under 24-hour electronic surveillance, which led to his mental collapse, Harris demonstrated the price we pay for living in public.

Article about Josh Harris in the New York Times here. Sounds like the events in the movie sort of ruined his life.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Netflix It: The Piano

Jane Campion's Bright Star debuted at Cannes earlier this year, but based on the subway ads I've seen, it looks to be in theaters soon (September 18, to be exact). Gear up for Bright Star (about John Keats and his passionate yet never consummated love affair with muse Fanny Brawne) by revisiting her most acclaimed film, The Piano. Warning: you will see Harvey Keitel's junk.

Synopsis from

Writer/director Jane Campion's third feature unearthed emotional undercurrents and churning intensity in the story of a mute woman's rebellion in the recently colonized New Zealand wilderness of Victorian times. Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter), a mute who has willed herself not to speak, and her strong-willed young daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) find themselves in the New Zealand wilderness, with Ada the imported bride of dullard land-grabber Stewart (Sam Neill). Ada immediately takes a dislike to Stewart when he refuses to carry her beloved piano home with them. But Stewart makes a deal with his overseer George Baines (Harvey Keitel) to take the piano off his hands. Attracted to Ada, Baines agrees to return the piano in exchange for a series of piano lessons that become a series of increasingly charged sexual encounters. As pent-up emotions of rage and desire swirl around all three characters, the savage wilderness begins to consume the tiny European enclave. Campion imbues her tale with an over-ripe tactility and a murky, poetic undertow that betray the characters' confined yet overpowering emotions: Ada's buried sensuality, Baines' hidden tenderness, and Stewart's suppressed anger and violence. The story unfolds like a Greek tragedy of the Outback, complete with a Greek chorus of Maori tribesmen and a blithely uncaring natural environment that envelops the characters like an additional player. Campion directs with discreet detachment, observing one character through the glances and squints of another as they peer through wooden slats, airy curtains, and the spaces between a character's fingers. She makes the film immediate and urgent by implicating the audience in characters' gazes. And she guides Hunter to a revelatory performance of silent film majesty. Relying on expressive glances and using body language to convey her soulful depths, Hunter became a modern Lillian Gish and won an Oscar for her performance, as did Paquin and Campion for her screenplay. Campion achieved something rare in contemporary cinema: a poetry of expression told in the form of an off-center melodrama.

You can also read about The Piano in this book.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Post Grad

Opening this weekend: Post Grad, directed by Vicky Jenson

Synopsis from

Recent college graduate Ryden Malby (Gilmore Girls star Alexis Bledel) has just survived four years of higher education, but when she's forced to move back into her childhood home, the stress of dealing with her eccentric family, landing a job, and finding the right guy leaves her with precious little time to ponder where her life is truly heading.

Movie website is here, with quizzes and whatnot.

Casi Divas

Opening this weekend: Casi Divas, directed by Issa López

Synopsis from the movie's website:

Four ambitious and beautiful young women. From four very different worlds. Just like hundreds of others, they are caught up in the frenzy that sweeps the nation when Alejandro Mateos (Julio Bracho), one of the country’s most powerful producers, dreams up a nationwide talent search to cast the lead in his next big movie. But all this is news to Alejandro’s on-again, off-again lover, Eva Gallardo (Patricia Llaca), a diva of epic proportions, who expected to get the part. While Eva schemes to nail down the role, our four leads begin their own journey on the road to fame.

Fifty Dead Men Walking

Opening this weekend: Fifty Dead Men Walking, written and directed by Kari Skogland
Synopsis from the movie's website:

Inspired by Martin McGartland’s incredible autobiography, Fifty Dead Men Walking is the stunning new action thriller by Kari Skogland about a secret agent working undercover for British security services in Northern Ireland in the late eighties. Over the course of four years, until his betrayal and subsequent discovery, it was estimated that McGartland was responsible for saving the lives of up to fifty men.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Headless Woman

Opening at Film Forum today: The Headless Woman, directed by Lucrecia Martel

Synopsis from the film's website:

A mysterious and intriguing tale of a woman who may have killed someone or something while driving on a dirt road. Dazed and confused, she tries to piece together what happened, while her husband systematically tries to erase her tracks. From the acclaimed director of The Holy Girl, Lucrecia Martel’s third feature explores the intricacies of class in a male-dominated society. This official selection of the Cannes and New York Film Festival has been declared, “One of the great films of the decade” by Artforum Magazine, while Village Voice says “Martel’s strongest to date!” and the New York Times says, “The exacting formalism and beauty of The Headless Woman…is undeniable.”

The New York Times has a lot more to say about it here, and The Auteurs website has an interesting essay and interview with Martel. Looks very intriguing, even if you're not fascinated by Argentina (which I am).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Julie & Julia

Opening this weekend: Julie & Julia, written and directed by Nora Ephron

Synopsis from the movie's website:

Meryl Streep is Julia Child and Amy Adams is Julie Powell in writer-director Nora Ephron’s adaptation of two bestselling memoirs: Powell’s Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme.

Based on two true stories, Julie & Julia intertwines the lives of two woman who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends…until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible.

Despite my Nora Ephron ambivalence, I'm excited to see this one.

Cold Souls

Opening this weekend: Cold Souls, written and directed by Sophie Barthes

Synopsis from

Writer/director Sophie Barthes crafts this metaphysical tragicomedy that straddles the line between reality and fantasy set in a world where souls are extracted from humans and traded as commodity. Paul Giamatti is an anxious New Yorker who finds the answer to his deep-rooted malaise after stumbling upon an article about a high-tech company that claims to have found a solution to human suffering. By deep-freezing souls, claims the company, they can give their customers a life free from fear, doubt, and worry. Eager to free himself from the emotional burden of angst, Giamatti eagerly enlists their services. Trouble arises, however, when Giamatti's soul is swiped by a soul-trafficking "mule" who in turn gives it to a no-talent Russian soap opera actress. Now, in order to get back the soul that is rightfully his, Giamatti must make the arduous trip to St. Petersberg, along the way discovering that the true key to happiness isn't the absence of pain, but the ability to experience the entire spectrum of emotion and cherish the things that really matter.

The film's website doesn't seem to have a whole lot of information, but it does link here for a multimedia treat (seriously, click on it).

The Village Voice points out that Barthes is not ripping off Charlie Kaufman here.