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Abdellatif Kechiche (#110 of 9)

New York Film Festival 2013: Blue Is the Warmest Color Review

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New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Blue Is the Warmest Color</em> Review
New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Blue Is the Warmest Color</em> Review

After one of their titanic lovemaking sessions, Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) teasingly asks Emma (Léa Seydoux) for a grade. Leah assigns her a 14 (out of 20 on the French grading scale), adding gently that she needs a little more practice. “I’ll give it all I’ve got,” Adèle promises. That promise is kept in spades, by both character and actress, in Abdellatif Kechiche’s deeply felt story about a sympathetic young woman’s passage from adolescence to young adulthood and the first love that helps her find her true self. Seydoux is a worthy match for Exarchopoulos as the older and more experienced of the two (Emma is in art school and Adèle in high school when they meet), exuding the cool self-confidence of her character’s haute-bourgeois background along with a charismatic artist’s seductive ability to make whoever interests her feel truly seen and understood.

Telluride Film Festival 2013: The Unknown Known, Death Row, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Jodorowsky’s Dune, Tracks, & Before the Winter Chill

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Telluride Film Festival 2013: <em>The Unknown Known</em>, <em>Death Row</em>, <em>Blue Is the Warmest Color</em>, <em>Jodorowsky’s Dune</em>, <em>Tracks</em>, & <em>Before the Winter Chill</em>
Telluride Film Festival 2013: <em>The Unknown Known</em>, <em>Death Row</em>, <em>Blue Is the Warmest Color</em>, <em>Jodorowsky’s Dune</em>, <em>Tracks</em>, & <em>Before the Winter Chill</em>

Founded in 1974 by Bill and Stella Pence, Tom Luddy, and James Card in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, 9,000 feet above sea level, the Telluride Film Festival recently celebrated its 40th anniversary of world premiere screenings and revitalized classics. Expanded to five days, from a typical four, and including the debut of the brand new Werner Herzog Theater, a gorgeous 650-seat state-of-the-art theater retro-fitted inside the town’s otherwise year-round hockey arena, not to mention the outrageous number of new and returning special guests in attendance, the festival went far beyond the extra mile to make this year’s edition one of the richest to date. Whether showcasing a new release or a forgotten cult classic, the Telluride Film Festival is the home away from home for cinephiles the world over.

Upon the release of the festival schedule, notoriously kept secret until the day before the festival’s premiere, it was clear that this year’s edition would be among its most diverse. Sneak previews of major new releases such as Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, Alfonso Cuáron’s Gravity, and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave appeared alongside repertory titles such as Mike Hodges’s The Terminal Man (in a pristine 35mm director’s cut presented by Buck Henry) and Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme’s Le Joli Mai and curious but memorable events such as author Don DeLillo reading selections from his novel Underworld over the haunting footage of Abraham Zapruder’s infamous recording of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Seattle International Film Festival 2011: Neptune Renovations and Mysteries of Lisbon

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Seattle International Film Festival 2011: Neptune Renovations and Mysteries of Lisbon
Seattle International Film Festival 2011: Neptune Renovations and Mysteries of Lisbon

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

Week Two of SIFF opens with the promise that the screening experience at The Neptune will be, if not restored to previous standards, at least improved. According to Paul Constant in Slog, SIFF is replacing some of the sound baffles removed by STG in the ongoing renovation and transformation of the theater into a performance venue, and replacing the folding chairs on the floor with temporary theater seats (on loan from the Sundance Film Festival). Nothing in the article about the screen (which is smaller than the original screen and not in the best of shape) or the projector issues, which include an underlit image and bright light bleeding and smearing across the screen. I’ll be checking out the improvements later this week, but in the words of the SIFF artistic director, “By Friday showtimes, everything is going to be exactly the way we want it to be.”

I clearly have not been doing my job—I spent the week buried in DVD and Blu-ray releases for my day job at MSN Videodrone and have seen almost nothing screening over the weekend. Almost.

New York Film Festival 2010: Black Venus and Post Mortem

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New York Film Festival 2010: <em>Black Venus</em> and <em>Post Mortem</em>
New York Film Festival 2010: <em>Black Venus</em> and <em>Post Mortem</em>

If there is a thread running through some of this year’s New York Film Festival selections, it is the acceptance of the enigmatic in human beings. Andrei Ujicâ’s documentary The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceauşescu, for instance, used extensive footage of the notorious Romanian leader not to probe into the man’s inner life, but to subversively present an extended version of his brand of public pageantry over the course of his decades of political prominence. In exploring the international terrorist who took the title’s nom de guerre, Olivier Assayas, in Carlos, focused more on the vast disconnect between the man himself and the rock-star image he cultivated than in necessarily painting a detailed psychological portrait. And on the fiction front, Cristi Puiu, in Aurora, fastidiously observed his main character’s increasingly irrational behavior in a perhaps deliberately failed attempt to get inside the head of a seemingly normal individual who commits four acts of homicide. In each of these films, there is a marked absence of psychological or emotional connection, the implication being that human beings are so complex and multifaceted that the more honest approach to these characters/real-life figures would be to simply recreate a milieu as immaculately as possible, invite the audience to look on and draw its own conclusions.