1. “The Film Comment Hot 25.” The magazine spotlights a rotating list of 25 films of note still without U.S. theatrical distribution.
“Expanding upon our Hot Property series which spotlights a film deserving special attention—and immediate distribution—we humbly launch the FILM COMMENT Hot 25. These are our top picks among films that do not have a theatrical distributor in the U.S. The selection will be updated regularly as new films come onto our radar, and we’ll also note when films do get picked up. The rest is up to you—especially if you happen to work for a distributor…”
2. “The New Abolitionism.” Averting planetary disaster will mean forcing fossil fuel companies to give up at least $10 trillion in wealth.
“Given the fluctuations of fuel prices, it’s a bit tricky to put an exact price tag on how much money all that unexcavated carbon would be worth, but one financial analyst puts the price at somewhere in the ballpark of $20 trillion. So in order to preserve a roughly habitable planet, we somehow need to convince or coerce the world’s most profitable corporations and the nations that partner with them to walk away from $20 trillion of wealth. Since all of these numbers are fairly complex estimates, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that we’ve overestimated the total amount of carbon and attendant cost by a factor of 2. Let’s say that it’s just $10 trillion.”
3. “Relish Mizoguchi’s Heroines—and Deep Empathy—at MOMI.” Michael Atkinson on the Museum of the Moving Image series devoted to Kenji Mizoguchi.
“That is to say, gliding through different genres and time periods, Mizoguchi’s style was neither hyper-restrained nor post-Kabuki. Rather, it walked in the footsteps of Murnau, moving the camera to follow emotional movement, and using a scene’s visual geography as a way to subjectively experience a character’s dramatic life and also watch it from a sympathetic distance. This was never an exercise in pyrotechnics, but always a stroke of heartbreak, and often entailed reframing perspectives mid-scene, as if to remind us of human ambivalence and the risks of judgment. (In this sense, virtually any of Mizoguchi’s set-piece traveling shots rephrases the message of Kurosawa’s Rashomon at a substantial savings in energy, time, and bombast.) Anyone with eyes can see how Mizoguchi’s pensive-yet-restless, heat-seeking visual strategy embodies the stories’ emotional tragedies, and vice versa.”
4. “Shooting Spree.” J. Hoberman on the films of Sigmar Polke.
“Conceptual rather than perceptual, more boring than assaultive, diffident not strident, The Whole Body Feels Light and Wants to Fly is a desultory anthology of notions offering a formless succession of quasi-scientific filmed experiments—silvery cups spinning on a carpet, an outsize contraption in perpetual motion that might have been designed to shine shoes, a saucer of water being dumped on a chair cushion ad infinitum. It’s also a pretty funny portrait of the artist as a young goofball sticking a rubber squeegee into his mouth, standing in a basin of water with cucumbers floating around his ankles, scratching himself, and staring dumbfounded into the camera even as he mimics, arms extended, Leonardo’s symmetrical Vitruvian Man. Although most of the movie is accompanied by belted-out ballads from a 1961 Brenda Lee LP, Polke’s performances are underscored by Chet Baker’s near-definitive version of ’My Funny Valentine’ and the ridiculously heartfelt mid-’50s Tony Bennett anthem ’I Am.’”
5. “10 Great Anime Films.” With Studio Ghibli master Hayao Miyazaki bowing out with a final masterpiece, The Wind Rises, and the best new Japanese animation being celebrated at BFI Southbank’s Anime Weekend, we name 10 classics from the fantastic and wildly popular world of anime.
“Studio Ghibli’s two founding directors, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, first met while working at Toei Animation during the 1960s, the studio whose establishment in 1956 effectively marks the beginning of animated feature filmmaking in Japan. With both serving their time initially on cheaper-to-produce television animation, it’s interesting to note that it was Takahata who was first given the opportunity to direct a full-length theatrical animation, some 10 years before his more widely-hailed confrere. Little Norse Prince was also the first time Miyazaki worked alongside Takahata, here in the role of key animator. It’s unsurprising, then, that the hallmarks of the Ghibli style are so clearly visible in this tale of a young Norse prince’s quest, along with his talking pet bear sidekick, to free his ancestral village from the demonic clutches of the evil sorcerer Grunwald. Along the way he encounters avalanches, giant pikes, plagues of rats and his nemesis’ fearsome army of snow wolves, before rallying enough troops from among the villagers to take up arms against their destructive oppressor.”
Video of the Day: The trailer for Norte, the End of History:
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