Sunday, August 26, 2007

My Film Festiva Page News

Wes Anderson’s new film, THE DARJEELING LIMITED, featuring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, and Anjelica Huston. (Fox Searchlight)

Winners at the Sarajevo and Edinburgh Film Festivals were posted today on my Film Festival Page as the fall film festival season is underway. My MIMI'S FILM FESTIVAL PAGE is currently reporting on happenings at the Edinburgh (England) and Sarajevo (Bosnia) festivals as well as the following: Montreal (Canada), Venice (Italy), Telluride (Colorado, USA), Toronto (Canada), San Sebastián (Spain), Vancouver (B.C.), New York (NYC, USA), Catalonian (Sitges, Spain), and the Times BFI London (UK) festivals. Others will be added as information becomes available.

The page is designed as a "quick stop" for viewers/readers to catch the highlights, and access the official sites immediately through quick links. Updates are sporadic, because they are made whenever information is received from various sources.

So, go visit and bookmark/favor the page for convenient frequent checking.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Three Movie Trilogies For Summer's Dog Days

The Dog Days of Summer have been with us for a couple of weeks, and the forecast does not predict any relief in sight for the rest of August, with temps well above 95 degrees F, mostly above 100, and heat indices of 105 or higher. So, if you are living through the dog days where you are, now is the time to consider renting some movies you may not have previously considered.

Nothing like turning off the telephone, sending everything to your mailbox, kicking back with a tall cool drink, a snack, and watching a movie all by yourself, or with a significant other, without the distractions in the average movie theater. The experience of watching a movie which does not follow the formula of the usual Hollywood concocted pablum - - most now written with pre-programmed computer programs and filled with computer-generated images (CGI) - - provides new stimulation for one's mind and emotions.

The movies I recommend here are definitely not computer generated pablum. Warning: Attention, brain power and reading (subtitles) are required, unless you understand French, Polish, Spanish, Hindi! The movies all have simple one-word titles, but there is nothing simple about any of them, cinematically or thematically.


FIRST TRILOGY

There was a Polish filmmaker, most call him a cinematic genius, who made a a movie trilogy in French and Polish, which he titled THREE COLORS (Trois Coleurs). He had made other films before discovering that he had congenital heart failure, and died shortly after he finished the third film in the trilogy. I am referring to the late Krysztof Kieslowski, and the award-winning movies in the three colors trilogy are, in the order they were made and in the order they should be viewed: BLUE (Bleu, 1993), WHITE (Blanc, 1994), and RED (Rouge, 1994).

The colors represent the tricolors in the French flag, left to right as it flies: Blue, White and Red. And, everyone should know that the French chose those colors after their revolution to express their ties and appreciation to America. They simply reversed the Red, White and Blue. The national motto of France is: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (Liberté , Egalité, Fraternité). The last, fraternity, refers to brotherhood, not a keg party.

BLUE (1993)
Trois Couleurs: Bleu

In the first installment of Kieslowski's three colors trilogy BLUE represents liberty in the French national motto and is the first color of the French flag. A young Frenchwoman Julie Vignon (Juliette Binoche), tries to uncover her famous composer husband's secret life when she finds a couple of not-so-subtle clues after he and their young daughter die in an automobile accident. Blue in this movie also represents fidelity, a trait lacking in Julie's late husband. He not only betrayed her sexually, he took her musical talents and claimed them as his own. Each step takes her both closer and farther from the truth as she journeys on a path ultimately leading to self-discovery, a man who will not betray her, and a liberating life.

WHITE (1994)
Trois Couleurs: Blanc

Julie Delpy stars in WHITE (Blanc, 1994), a dark comedy that is the middle segment of the trilogy, representing the middle section of the French flag and equality in the French motto. It is about the price of passion. Polish immigrant Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) is humiliated in a public courtroom by his wife Dominique (Delpy) during their divorce proceedings in a French court. She is divorcing him because he cannot perform in bed. Shamed and brokenhearted, he finds an ally in a fellow countryman. The two concoct a way back to post-Communist Poland, where Karol sets about rebuilding his life, but not without some missteps until he and his countryman come to view each other as equals.

RED (1994)
Trois Couleurs: Rouge

RED (Rouge, 1994), is the final film in Kieslowski's three-colors trilogy, and in the French flag. The plot is an excellent fit with the last word in the French motto, fraternity. In this meditation on the need for passion and human connection, Valentine (Irene Jacob) accidentally hits a dog with her car, and the accident brings together two very different people -- Valentine, a model, and Joseph (Jean-Louis Trinignant), a retired judge who owns the dog. Random fate chooses to pair them and, although deeply improbable, their eventual relationship becomes a true romance.

The movie is poignant when we know what was happening behind the scenes. Before and during the production, Kieslowski was aware that he had heart failue and that he was dying, but RED ends on a positive note.



SECOND TRILOGY

Deepa Metha

The second trilogy, featuring three films directed by Indian-born and current Canadian resident Deepa Mehta, a female, is a trilogy about Indian Women in the early to mid Twentieth Century. All the movies are set in times past. How far in the past? We know only that the events in the movies, as well as references to Mahatma Gandhi as being alive, free in India and advocating nonviolent resistance, place the timeframe of all the movies in, or around, the 1940s.

FIRE (1996)

Deepa Mehta's FIRE, the first Indian film about lesbians, follows two Hindu women struggling with loveless arranged marriages. When Sita discovers that her husband Jatin has a mistress, she shares her unhappiness with her sister-in-law Radha, who cannot give birth. As the lukewarm coals of their long-term relationships fade, they ignite passion in their lives by finding comfort in each other. The fire that has smoldered within each of them is finally free to blaze.

The movie almost didn't get made because of the lesbian content, and fires were set in Movie theaters in India when the film was shown. Be sure and watch all the features on the DVD.

EARTH (1998)

This middle film in the trilogy is a stirring tale about the real-life religious and civil wars that broke out in India and Pakistan in 1947. The battle to gain independence from the British brought about horrendous violence between Muslims and Hindus, finally causing the splitting of India (mainly Hindu) by carving from it he nation of Pakistan (mainly Muslim). EARTH, the second movie in a trilogy from Mehta, is based on the autobiographical novel Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa and is told through the eyes of a little girl Lenny, who has one leg in a brace. Again, the DVD special features are almost as interesting as the movie itself. Don't miss them.


WATER (2005)

After losing her much older husband to illness, 8-year-old Chuyia is forced to live out the rest of her days in a temple for Hindu widows, communing with 14 other women with a cruel headmistress who agrees to take her into the Ashram. It is through the trials of another widow that Chuyia learns the many restrictions of widowhood.

Chuyia's friend is a beautiful young woman Kalyani (Lisa Ray), who is forced into prostitution by the greedy headmistress. Meanwhile, Kalyani is being courted by Narayan (John Abraham), a wealthy educated man from a higher caste. Marriage between the star crossed lovers Kalyani and Narayan is forbidden by law for two reasons. First, because widows are forbidden to remarry (unless they marry a relative of their deceased husband) and second, because the young people belong to different castes.

Chuyia and Kalyani both eventually escape their bondage but only after being cruelly used by Narayan's father. Chuyia escapes through the kindness of a fellow widow and Narayan, but Kalyani does not understand the concepts of forgiveness and redemption through the use of holy water and makes a tragic mistake.

WATER was nominated for an Oscar as the Best Foreign Language Film of 2006 (Canada/India), but lost to THE LIVES OF OTHERS (Germany). The art direction and visuals are absolutely stunning, as are Ray and Abraham. A visual feast almost as mesmerizing as a Bernardo Bertolucci movie.

All these movies are available to rent from NETFLIX (see link on right sidebar), and WATER may be downloaded for instant viewing at NETFLIX.
ADDED NOTE: I just saw Mehta's BOLLYWOOD/HOLLYWOOD (2000) "Different tree. Same wood". It is the first film of Metha's in which Lisa Ray stars. It is a hoot!

THIRD TRILOGY

There is another trilogy of movies that I whis to recommend. I highly recommend the first dance trilogy of Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura: BODAS DE SANGRE (BLOOD WEDDING, 1981), CARMEN (1983), and EL AMOR BRUJO (aka, Love Bewitched, 1986). All three star the famous late male flamenco dancer Antonio Gades. The marvelous dancer Cristina Hoyos dances with Gades in all the movies, starring in the first. Laura del Sol danced the featured role with Gades in CARMEN and AMOR BRUJO, but Hoyos is fabulous in the supporting roles. So, too, are the soundtracks. I have the soundtrack for BRUJO, but don't know about availability of the others.

FYI, Saura may have completed his second dance trilogy that began with FLAMENCO (1995), followed by TANGO (1998) only recently. Some critics are writing that FADOS (2007) is the last movie in the trilogy, but I'm not sure they are correct. From what I have read, it may relate more to Sevillanas (1992), or ¡Ay, Carmela! (1990). FADOS will receive a special screening at the San Sebastián Film Festival next month (see link to my Film Festival Page on the right sidebar). I'll keep you advised about the trilogy.

FLAMENCO and TANGO are available to rent at NETFLIX. UPDATE 10/07: BLOOD WEDDING, CARMEN and EL BRUJO are now available to rent on DVD. NETFLIX has them as a set (see link for NETFLIX on right sidebar). All the movies are also available on video tape (VHS and PAL).

Happy Dog Days!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Film Festival Page News

My Film Festival Page is updated! Tomorrow, 15th, the 61st Edinburgh International Film Festival (Edinburgh, Scotland), kicks off the late-summer into fall season. The updates begin in Scotland and run through the Times BFI London Film Festival closing 1 November.

In between, you will find information about others, including festivals in New York (NYC), Montreal, San Sebastian, Sitges (Barcelona), Telluride, Toronto, Venice, etc. I try to find and post interesting highlights before the festivals, but you will always find links to the Official Web Sites and a notification, with highlights, when the awards are presented with easy links for more information.

This page is not static. I am constantly updating it as I receive new information, and there is a permanent link to it on the right sidebar of this blog. Visit often and enjoy!