The House


Terrence Malick

The Vulture converses, sort of, with Terrence Malick.

Peter Jackson has confirmed that his two forthcoming Hobbit films will be handed their own titles. Also, there release dates are now set.

Molly Jong-Fast explains what it's like to live in the shadow of Erica's black forest.

PBS website security fail.

For MUBI, Daniel Kasman, David Phelps, and Dan Sallitt talk silent Naruse.

Surprise victory in New York invigorates Democrats looking to 2012.

This is not a Sarah Palin event:

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to ed@slantmagazine.com and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: dan sallitt, daniel kasman, david phelps, democratic party, erica jong, mikio naruse, molly jong-fast, mubi, pbs, peter jackson, sarah palin, terrence malick, the hobbit: an unexpected journey, vulture


Once Upon a Time in the West

[Editor's Note: Tuesday Video Alert is a weekly column announcing "notable" titles fresh to DVD and/or Blu-ray, sometimes as reissues, and in every region under the sun.]

Essential:

Once Upon a Time in the West [Paramount Home Entertainment, Blu-ray, Region 1]: "Sergio Leone made a fistful of great films, but none better than 1968's ode to the fading American frontier, Once Upon a Time in the West." Nick Schager

L'Age d'Or [BFI Video, DVD/Blu-ray, Region 2]: "If the Marquis de Sade had lived anytime during the 20th century, perhaps he would have made a film like L'Age d'Or." Ed Gonzalez

The Cat O' Nine Tails [Blue Underground, DVD/Blu-ray, Region 1]: "Structurally and thematically, Dario Argento's The Cat O' Nine Tails is an improvement over The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, even if the film's non-linear convolutions of plot may purposefully distract." E.G.

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TAGS: a man called horse, american graffiti, big jake, biutiful, drive angry, grand prix, kaboom, lage dor, legend, matinee, once upon a time in the west, passion play, pi, queen to play, rio lobo, stanley kubrick limited edition collection, the cat o' nine tails, true blood, undertow


8 Million Ways to DieReleased (dumped) in the early part of the summer of 1986, 8 Million Ways to Die turned out to be the final film of one of the most endearing filmmakers from the New Hollywood era. While guys like Altman, Scorsese, Lucas, Spielberg and DePalma may have made more immediate and galvanizing films during the 1970s, Hal Ashby's unbroken streak of human-scale masterpieces is pretty much unprecedented. Beginning with 1970's The Landlord and ending with 1979's Being There (with Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Shampoo, Bound for Glory and Coming Home in-between), Ashby represented all that was good about socially conscious studio filmmaking. Then, almost overnight, he was out of fashion with Hollywood. In the 1980s, movies started to be packaged, and Ashby's modest humanism in films like Second-Hand Hearts and The Slugger's Wife failed to connect with audiences. His Iconoclast stature got him labeled as "trouble" in the '80s. By the time Ashby got the job directing 8 Million Ways to Die it was almost seen as a last-ditch effort to make a hit—a fallen master's attempt at redemption.

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TAGS: 8 million ways to die, alexandra paul, andy garcia, being hal ashby, david lee henry, hal ashby, jeff bridges, lawrence block, nick dawson, oliver stone, randy brooks, robert towne, rosanna arquette, stephen h. burum, summer of 86, vyto ruginis, wilfredo hernandez


The First Grader

[Editor's Note: This article is cross-posted at Parallax View.]

Opening night—rarely a strong point of SIFF—arrived with one of the least memorable films of recent memory—even more frustrating since it had already opened theatrically in New York to tepid reviews. The First Grader, the dramatized odyssey of an 84-year-old man who takes up the Kenyan's government's promise of universal education to learn to read, otherwise hits all the right notes for a Seattle event, and does so with thudding predictability. It's an uplifting story of triumph over adversity in a third world setting, a true story with resonance in recent history and current events, and a feature built on waves of swelling music and seas of the adorable faces of children to trigger the audience's nervous systems like a Pavlovian response. What could have been a resonant exploration of the tensions left over decades after the Mau-Mau rebellion and the lingering feelings of betrayal from both sides of the Kenyan people simply checks off the issues before setting up stock conflicts and easy-to-identify villains on the way to triumph. I understand the SIFF was seriously pursuing a far more substantial feature that, by fault of their own, fell through at the eleventh hour and I applaud their efforts on that count. But that doesn't make The First Grader any less unimpressive.

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TAGS: beginners, christopher plummer, ewan mcgregor, hamish linklater, mary page keller, mélanie laurent, mike mills, miranda july, seattle international film festival, the first grader, the future


Gil Scott-Heron

The legendary Gil Scott-Heron passed away on Friday. He was 63.

Also gone, at age 60 and for still-unknown reasons, is Jeff Conaway, star of Taxi and Grease.

Word-traveling 4/20-ites, get it while you can: the Dutch are going to ban your asses from their Amstersdam coffee shops.

Russian gay pride fail.

The A.V. Club lists 16 parental nightmares played out in pop culture.

Gross. Rudy Giuliani is surprise leader in Republican poll.

Woody Allen discusses books that have resonated with him.

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to ed@slantmagazine.com and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: amsterdam, dutch, gil scott-heron, grease, jeff conaway, rudy giuliani, russia, taxi, the a.v. club, woody allen


The New World

[Editor's Note: The Conversations is a monthly feature in which Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard discuss a wide range of cinematic subjects: critical analyses of films, filmmaker overviews, and more. Readers should expect to encounter spoilers.]

"Think of a tree, how it grows round its roots. If a branch breaks off, it don't stop but keeps reaching toward the light."

Jason Bellamy: Terrence Malick's next film, due soon in theaters, is called The Tree of Life, and coincidentally or not it is set up by the final shot of Malick's previous film, The New World. In both the theatrical and extended cuts of that 2005 film, Malick closes with a shot at the base of a tree: gazing up the side of its mighty trunk as it stretches heavenward. It's a quintessentially Malickian shot, both in terms of the camera's intimacy to its subject and in the way that it presents nature with a spiritual awe, as if the tree's branches are the flying buttresses of a grand cathedral. But the reason I mention that shot is so I can begin this discussion by acknowledging its roots. We've been regular contributors to The House Next Door for almost two-and-a-half years now, and, as loyal House readers know, Terrence Malick's The New World is the seed from which this blog sprouted. What began in Janurary 2006 as Matt Zoller Seitz's attempt to find enough cyber real estate in which to freely explore his passion for The New World—a rather Malickian quest, if you think about it—became something much bigger, until now here we are: writing about the filmmaker without whom this blog and thus this series might not exist.

I make that acknowledgement en route to this one: By the very nature of its origins, The House Next Door has always been something of an unofficial Terrence Malick fan club—nay, house of worship. Many of us first gathered at this site because of this subject matter. (Any immediate kinship many of us felt with Matt was inspired by a shared religious experience with The New World, not to mention the holy awakening of seeing serious criticism posted to the Web by amateur means.) I make this observation in the interest of full disclosure—less an acknowledgement of the House's origins, which so many of its readers know already, than an indication of my awareness of it—in the hopes that by doing so I can convince the Malick nonbelievers that they are welcome here. Because, see, Malick is one of those filmmakers who seems to inspire two reactions: genuflecting reverence and head-scratching ennui. Is there room between the two? Or are total immersion and deference to Malick's filmmaking elemental to its effect? In Part I of this discussion, we will look at Malick's first four films, Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998) and The New World (the theatrical cut), and what I hope we begin to uncover is why Malick's filmmaking inspires such divergent reactions.

I am, admittedly, a singer in Malick's choir. His films don't move me equally, but when they do move me I'm profoundly affected. You come into this conversation having just watched most of Malick's films for the first time. So let me ask a question that will cause the Malick agnostics to roll their eyes and the Malick believers to raise their hands to the sky like Pocahontas in The New World: Did Malick's filmmaking inspire you with a unique sense of awe, or do you feel like you're on the outside looking in, or something else?

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TAGS: august schellenberg, badlands, ben chaplin, brooke adams, christian bale, colin farrell, days of heaven, elias koteas, emmanuel lubezki, jim caviezel, linda manz, martin sheen, miranda otto, néstor almendros, q'orianka kilcher, richard gere, sam shepard, sean penn, sissy spacek, terrence malick, the conversations, the new world, the thin red line, the tree of life, wes studi


Homeless Youth

A damn fine piece by Steven Boone, for Capital, on being out, but not up in the age of Bloomberg.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky reviews The Tree of Life. Other notable takes on the film: Reverse Shot, A.O. Scott, Roger Ebert, Glenn Kenny, Michael Joshua Rowin, and Nick Pinkerton.

Lars von Trier will return—but can Cannes cope (quick, say that five times fast!) without him?

Billboard's Editorial Director Bill Werde says they won't change U.S. chart rules over one-dollar Lady Gaga sales on Amazon.

Click here for the first image from David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis.

Was Ingmar Bergman switched at birth?

Joe Mantello on the return of The Normal Heart:

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to ed@slantmagazine.com and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: a.o. scott, amazon, bill werde, billboard, cannes film festival, capital, cosmopolis, david cronenberg, glenn kenny, ignatiy vishnevetsky, ingmar bergman, joe mantello, lady gaga, lars von trier, michael joshua rowin, mike bloomberg, nick pinkerton, reverse shot, roger ebert, steven boone, the normal heart, the tree of life


Ratko Mladic

Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb general accused of masterminding the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995, has been captured in Serbia after more than 15 years as one of the world's most wanted fugitives.

Huguette Clark, obscenely rich reclusive heiress, is dead at 104. Wish I was her lawyer.

Edward Copeland gives us his personal take on the documentary How to Die in Oregon, premiering tonight on HBO.

Kathryn Bigelow's Bin Laden film gets the green light.

MSNBC's Ed Schultz suspended after calling Laura Ingraham a "right-wing slut."

In the month before his death, on May 5, the Tony Award-winning writer and director Arthur Laurents gave his blessing to a plan for a new film version of Gypsy, starring Barbra Streisand, and also finished a full-length play as well as his third memoir, Laurents's agent and several associates said this week.

Matt Zoller Seitz on Oprah's warm, funny, self-aggrandizing goodbye.

Wanting to clear up the Barry Lyndon aspect-ratio issue, Glenn Kenny has a chat with Stanley Kubrick's collaborator Leon Vitali.

Video of conjoined twins Krista and Tatiana Hogan:

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to ed@slantmagazine.com and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: arthur laurents, barbra streisand, barry lyndon, ed schultz, edward copeland, glenn kenny, gypsy, hbo, how to die in oregon, huguette clark, kathryn bigelow, krista hogan, laura ingraham, leon vitali, matt zoller seitz, msnbc, oprah winfrey, osama bin laden, ratko mladic, srebrenica, stanley kubrick, tatiana hogan, tony awards


the transfinite

There is, of course, no one set of criteria to determine whether something is a truly great work of art; different people will have their own conceptions of what makes something truly great, and what makes something great to one might not make it so to another. To my mind, though, one thing art indubitably has the ability to do is alter our view of the everyday in some tangible or intangible way—whether that means giving us a different perspective on something, or simply reawakening our awareness of things we notice everyday without really reflecting on it.

Upon experiencing, for the first time, the transfinite, the new installation from multimedia artist Ryoji Ikeda that's currently standing at the Park Avenue Armory, I found myself impressed by it, but in a rather detached way, inspiring little more than mostly intellectual contemplation. But then, after walking around in its darkly lit, strobe-light-flashy, numbers-heavy grip for an extended period of time, I then stepped into the "real" world outside and found myself unable to easily shake off the experience. Instead of buildings, I would see numbers pulsing through its surfaces; instead of coherent thoughts, I would see barcode-like line patterns flitting through my mind. The revelations of the transfinite, it seems, don't make themselves truly apparent until you've stepped away from its imposing structures—but afterward, the cumulative effect is like seeing the world around you in a wholly different way than you did going in.

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TAGS: 2001: a space odyssey, park avenue armory, ryoji ikeda, the transfinite, wade thompson drill hall


Kathy Hochul

Democrats scored an upset in one of New York's most conservative Congressional districts on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the national Republican Party in a race that largely turned on the party's plan to overhaul Medicare.

At least 12 people were killed during a series of storms that struck portions of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas, including a tornado that killed five people near Oklahoma City, officials said Wednesday.

Could conjoined twins share a mind?

Harold Camping reschedules the Rapture.

Christopher Hitchens encourages democracy as a way to stop nuclear proliferation.

No doubt in response to this, New York Magazine whips up a slideshow documenting the history of Barack Obama feigning interest in mundane things.

Oliver Stone almost didn't make Platoon.

For Time Out New York, Keith Uhlich reviews The Tree of Life.

And some thoughts on the film's roots and shoots by Richard Brody.

Jim Emerson on the yeti-ness of Terrence Malick. (To see a picture of the actual yeti, click here.)

Matt Zoller Seitz on the NYC-lovin' season finale of Glee.

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to ed@slantmagazine.com and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: barack obama, christopher hitchens, democratic party, glee, harold camping, jim emerson, kathy hochul, keith uhlich, matt zoller seitz, medicare, new york magazine, oliver stone, platoon, rapture, republican party, richard brody, terrence malick, the tree of life, time out new york







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