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Seattle is Noir City

For the next week, Seattle is Noir City and Parallax View is helping put it on the map.

Noir City,” the traveling portion of The Film Noir Foundation’s annual San Francisco noir festival, opens it fifth edition in Seattle on Friday, February 11 and casts its long shadow with a week of double features, all presented on 35mm and presented in person by Eddie Muller.

On Monday, February 14, “For the Love of Film (Noir) Blogathon,” a celebration that casts its web across the Web to raise money for film restoration, kicks off and Parallax View is playing a part this year.

The timely convergence of the two out-of-time celebrations is too fateful (emphasis on the fate part) to ignore and Parallax View hopes to make the most of it.

The “For the Love of Film (Noir) Blogathon” is hosted by Ferdy on Film and The Self-Styled Siren (aka Marilyn Ferdinand and Farran Nehme), who will compile the lists of posts across the Internet. For information on the Blogathon, see Ferdy on Film here, and for information in participating, see The Self-Styled Siren here. The official Facebook page is here and links to all the featured articles are here.

Check in Monday for the first post in the Parallax week of Noir love.

In the meantime, there is Noir City rolling out at SIFF Cinema (located in the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall on the lower level of Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle Center).

Noir City Schedule

Friday, February 11, 2011
High Wall – 7:30 PM
Stranger On The Third Floor – 9:30 PM

Saturday, February 12, 2011
They Won’t Believe Me – 2:00 PM
Don’t Bother To Knock – 4:00 PM
They Won’t Believe Me – 7:30 PM
Don’t Bother To Knock – 9:30 PM

Sunday, February 13, 2011
Angel Face – 2:00 PM
The Hunted – 4:00 PM
Angel Face – 6:00 PM
The Hunted – 8:00 PM

Monday, February 14, 2011
A Double Life – 7:00 PM
Among the Living – 9:00 PM

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The Dark Mirror – 7:00 PM
Crack-Up – 9:00 PM

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The Woman on the Beach – 7:00 PM
Beware, My Lovely – 9:00 PM

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Loophole – 7:00 PM
Crashout – 9:00 PM

For more information, visit the SIFF website.

‘Sunrise,’ sunset

'Sunrise': George O'Brien, Margaret Livingston

F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise is many people’s idea of the greatest film ever made, but set that aside for the moment.

The movie was produced toward the end of the silent era, when films hadn’t yet begun to talk, but after synchronized soundtracks had arrived and major productions were being released with recorded musical scores and sometimes incidental sound effects. Such is the case with Sunrise. It’s a silent movie – no spoken dialogue (apart from a few seconds of raw urban clamor) – but it’s also a movie with an integrated soundtrack. That’s how it was in 1927 and that’s how it should be forevermore.

Tonight and Friday, Jan. 13-14, Sunrise will be shown at Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., at 8 p.m. There will be live musical accompaniment by Lori Goldston on cello and Greg Campbell on percussion and French horn. Goldston and Campbell may be swell musicians and they may revere Sunrise. Still, such a presentation shouldn’t happen, because it compromises the integrity of the film Murnau made.

Sunrise isn’t uniquely vulnerable to interference by latterday presenters. Music has been slapped on a lot of silent films with scant regard for anything beyond providing some noise for audiences to listen to. It’s even been done to some sound movies, especially early talkies, which often had no music score beyond what played behind the opening and closing credits. The assumption seems to be that modern audiences will become restive without more or less nonstop audio palpation.

Sometimes the gall of latterday presenters presuming to “update” films in accord with contemporary tastes is astounding. When Ted Turner was adding film to his media empire in the 1980s, he anointed Gone With the Wind the flagship movie of his enterprise and even adopted the architecture of the Tara plantation for his headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. So GWTW was something Turner apparently revered. And he spent a lot of money restoring it to its 1939 grandeur. However, in the course of that restoration, he eyed the orange sunsets that are among the hallmarks of the David O. Selznick production. Ted Turner decided that present-day audiences would find them garish. So he instructed the lab to tone them down to a decorous rosiness.

But hey, he loves that movie. -RTJ

Parallax View’s Best of 2010

Welcome 2011 with one last look back at the best releases of 2010, as seen by the contributors to Parallax View.

Sean Axmaker

1. Carlos
2. Let Me In
3. The Social Network
4. White Material
5. Winter’s Bone
6. The Ghost Writer
7. Wild Grass
8. Eccentricities Of A Blond Haired Girl
9. Sweetgrass
10. Our Beloved Month of August

Runners up: Amer, The American, Alamar, Black Swan, Inception, Red Riding Trilogy, Somewhere, Vengeance

Best festival films I saw in 2010 without a 2010 theatrical release: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Poetry, Mysteries Of Lisbon

Best Unreleased film of 2007 finally getting an American release in 2010 (but still feels like a film from another era): Secret Sunshine

Most Impressive Resurrection/Restoration/Real Director’s Cut: Metropolis

Also see lists at MSN here and the Village Voice / LA Weekly poll. And the Best of DVD / Blu-ray 2010 is on Parallax View here.

David Coursen

A splendid year, in both quality and quantity.   These were all shown for the first time in the Washington, DC area in 2010.

The best film is a tie:
Certified Copy-Kiarostami
Carlos-Assayas

The next seven, in roughly descending order:
A Prophet-Jacques Audiard
Somewhere-Coppola
The Social Network-Fincher
The Ghost Writer-Polanski
The Strange Case of Angelica-Oliviera
Red Riding Trilogy-in total, with James Marsh’s 1980 segment putting it on the list
The Kids are Alright-Cholodenko

And for the final entry, a pairing I couldn’t resist:
Police, Adjective-Poromboiu
Winter’s Bone-Debra Granik

John Hartl

Truth proved far stranger than fiction in many of 2010’s best films. My favorite was Craig Ferguson’s devastating documentary, Inside Job, which painstakingly demonstrates just how our economy was hijacked by greed and ideology. In Roman Polanski’s Ghost Writer, Pierce Brosnan gives a career-best performance as a politician clearly based on Tony Blair. In Doug Liman’s Fair Game, Naomi Watts is equally persuasive as Valerie Plame Wilson, a vulnerable spy whose marriage is nearly demolished in a political feud. James Franco wins this year’s versatility award for convincingly reincarnating two exceptionally different people: Allen Ginsberg in Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s underrated Howl and a carefree rock climber in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. Jesse Eisenberg deftly captures the drive and insecurities of Facebook’s billionaire chief, Mark Zuckerberg, in David Fincher’s The Social Network. The shameless wartime exploitation of the late Pat Tillman’s heroism is the focus of Amir Bar-Lev’s The Tillman Story, an excellent documentary that goes behind the headlines to suggest the personal extent of that loss. Jim Carrey’s excesses are tapped and artfully used in I Love You Phillip Morris, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s mostly true comedy about a con artist who is locked away in prison, but for how long? More fictional, but still quite strange, are Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg, a brave portrait of a mid-life washout played by Ben Stiller, and Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine, with Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling daring to play the walking wounded in an impossible marriage.

A second 10: The King’s Speech, Animal Kingdom, Cairo Time, Life During Wartime, Toy Story 3, Never Let Me Go, Shutter Island, Restrepo, Cell 211, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.

Robert Horton

1. A Prophet
2. Winter’s Bone
3. Four Lions
4. Sweetgrass
5. The Ghost Writer
6. Eccentricities of a Blond-Haired Girl
7. Mid-August Lunch
8. True Grit
9. The Kids Are All Right
10. Greenberg

See also indieWIRE here and Best and Worst lists at The Everett Herald.

Richard T. Jameson

In chronological order seen, but the first two have landed in the right place and there’s a non-chronological tie at 10.

The Ghost Writer
Winter’s Bone
Please Give
The Kids Are All Right
Un Prophète
The Social Network
Hereafter
Let Me In
Sweetgrass
The American / White Material / True Grit

See also lists at MSN and Queen Anne News.

Jay Kuehner

(as compiled for indieWIRE, originally published here)

1. Sweetgrass
2. White Material
3. Carlos
4. Everyone Else
5. The Strange Case of Angelica
6. Alamar
7. Change Nothing
8. Restrepo
9. The Anchorage
10. Daddy Longlegs

Kathleen Murphy

(as originally presented at the Frye Art Museum Critics Wrap)

1. The Ghost Writer
2. Winter’s Bone
3. Let Me In
4. Sweetgrass
5. A Prophet
6. The Social Network
7. Please Give
8. The Kids Are All Right
9. White Material
10. Black Swan

See also MSN here.

Andrew Wright

(as originally presented at the Frye Art Museum Critics Wrap)

1. A Prophet
2. Inception
3. True Grit
4. Red Riding Trilogy
5. Winter’s Bone
6. Hausu
7. The Ghost Writer
8. Four Lions
9. Greenberg
10. Let Me In

More lists:

Village Voice / LA Weekly Poll (and individual lists here)
indieWIRE Critics Survey
Movie City News list compilations (individual lists are here)
BFI 2010 Critics Poll

And the year in review from select publications in print and on the web

New York Times Year in Review
Los Angeles Times Year in Review
SF360 Top Ten Lists and Year in Film
The Onion AV Club
Slant Magazine
MSN Movies

VIFF 2010 Awards

The 29th Vancouver International Film Festival ended Friday, October val 15 with a screening of Sylvain Chomet’s the Illusionist. Parallax View will continue running notes on a few of the featured films over the next week or two, but for now, here is the festival’s official press release:

VIFF 2010 award winners announced

The 29th annual Vancouver International Film Festival concluded its 16-day run today with the closing gala screening the French film THE ILLUSIONIST (L’illusioniste), directed by Sylvain Chomet, in the Visa Screening Room at the Empire Granville 7 Cinemas.

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Claude Chabrol 1930 – 2010

Claude Chabrol
Claude Chabrol

Claude Chabrol, one of the prime movers of the French New Wave—and one of the most prolific directors in France—died on Sunday, September 12 in Paris, at the age of 80.

Dave Kehr’s obituary is at The New York Times here and David Hudson is collecting remembrances and essays at the Mubi Notebook. Catherine Grant has collected a wealth of resources at Film Studies for Free and you can revisit the essays and appreciations published during the 2009 Claude Chabrol Blogathon hosted by Flickhead.

Parallax View contributed a few pieces for the Blogathon, which we spotlight in remembrance of Chabrol. By way of introduction, I quote Richard T. Jameson’s essay:

Claude Chabrol was one of the “young Turk” critics-turned-filmmakers who constituted the New Wave of French cinema at the turn of the ’60s. At the time, he ran a distant third to the iconoclastic, theoretical Jean-Luc Godard and the warm-hearted, soaringly lyrical François Truffaut. But in the late ’60s, Chabrol emerged as a magisterially accomplished classicist, with an unbroken string of masterpieces that established him as one of the world’s finest directors. He has managed to remain commercially viable—indeed, awesomely prolific—over the ensuing decades, while pursuing his own distinctive, coolly detached vision of life and cinema.

Claude Chabrol – The Classicist by Richard T. Jameson
Claude Chabrol on DVD by Sean Axmaker
La Femme Infidele by Richard T. Jameson

And leave you with a short piece by Chabrol not on any compilation we know of: a commercial for Winston cigarettes directed as an American detective noir, in English, with a Bogie drawl and French subtitles. Salut, M. Chabrol!

Breaking News on Net Neutrality from Lloyd Kaufman

The following press release was sent by Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma Entertainment and Chairperson of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, in response to the report in The New York Times about a possible deal that would allow Google and Verizon greater access to the Internet, which they would then sell to customers at a premium. To quote the article, which was published on August 4: “Such an agreement could overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality, in which no form of content is favored over another. In its place, consumers could soon see a new, tiered system, which, like cable television, imposes higher costs for premium levels of service.”

We reprint the letter in its entirety. Please feel free to copy, paste and run on your site and blogs or E-mail around. (See also our interview with Lloyd Kaufman on Parallax View, where he discusses, among other things, his efforts to fight for net neutrality in the face of corporate pressure.)

Dear Colleagues:

As many of you may know, there is disastrous news on the front page of The New York Times today. Verizon and other mega-conglomerates have conspired to kill the last democratic medium: the Internet. It is imperative that we all take action immediately to fight for the only true agent of free information and diversity left in this country. Please spread my anti-mega-conglomerate PSA to all your contacts and post it on your blogs. Call the FCC and your elected representatives and urge them to defend net neutrality. Go to Save the Internet and contribute your thoughts. We must use the Internet to speak out on this matter while we still can.

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Siffing It: Parallax View’s SIFF 2010 Guide

SIFF-web-stuffThe 36th Annual Seattle International Film Festival ran for 25 days, from Thursday, May 20 through Sunday, June 13. Here is Parallax View’s coverage and guide to  SIFF resources .

Official sites:
SIFF homepage

SIFF Week by Week:
SIFF 2010 Awards, Attendance and Return Engagements (Sean Axmaker)
PV Dispatch 5 – Get Low, Get Hip, Get a Room (in Rome) (Sean Axmaker)
SIFFtings IV (Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy)
SIFF Week 4: 15 New Picks & Pans (Seattle Weekly)
PV Dispatch 4 – A Centurion in Scotland and an Angel at Sea (Week Three) (Sean Axmaker)
SIFF Week 3: 30 New Picks & Pans (Seattle Weekly)
SIFFtings III (Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy)
PV Dispatch 3 – Midnight in the Garden of SIFF (Week Two) (Sean Axmaker)
SIFF Week 2: Picks & Pans (Seattle Weekly)
SIFFtings II (Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy)
Old Gold (Richard Jameson)
SIFF 2010: Like You Know It All (Jay Kuehner)
PV Dispatch 2 – A Tale of Two Rock Bio-pics, plus quick notes (Sean Axmaker)
An (Inauspicious) Evening at the Neptune (Sean Axmaker)
PV Dispatch 1 – Cooking in the Soul Kitchen and an Opening Night Extra (Sean Axmaker)
SIFF Week 1: Picks and Pans (Seattle Weekly)
Truly Golden Oldies (Richard T. Jameson)
SIFFtings I (Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy)

Spotlight Features:
SIFF Emerging Master No. 3: Valery Todorovsky rocks on in ‘Hipsters’ (Richard T. Jameson)
No longer Down Under: Emerging Master Ana Kokkinos (Kathleen Murphy)
Mohamed Al Daradji has arrived (Kathleen Murphy)
Northwest Newbies at SIFF: Hollywood Is Not the Goal (Brian Miller at Seattle Weekly)

Reviews and capsules from other sites:
The Stranger’s SIFF Notes (from Lindy West and the Stranger staff)
Behind the Screens with Tom Tangney at MyNorthwest.com and the MyNorthwest SIFF page
Seattle PostGlobe SIFF page (Bill White)

Previews:
Parallax View SIFF Preview (Sean Axmaker)
SIFF 2010: Something For Everyone! (Kathleen Murphy)
Face the Music profiled at The KEXP Blog

and other resources:
The official Twitter Feed of the Seattle International Film Festival
The unofficial SIFF 2010 Twitter Feed
Video highlights from SIFF 2010 on YouTube
Moira Macdonald lists SIFF films already scheduled for theatrical release in Seattle

Jafar Panahi Freed – But For How Long?

UPDATE May 26: Jafar Panahi Freed!

According to a report from the Associated Press, Iranian authorities have released Jafar Panahi. He’s been freed on $200,000 bail, but his troubles may not be over. According to the report, the indictment (which is still sealed; the “crimes” he’s been accused of have still not been made public) will be sent up to a revolutionary court for future action. It seems clear, however that the pressure put on the government through petitions and, especially, the outspoken comments of Abbas Kiarostami and Juliette Binoche from their platform at the Cannes Film Festival was a significant factor in this measured victory.

Jafar Panahi freed
Jafar Panahi, as seen in better days (2006 Berlin Film Festival)

More from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian and Keith Phipps at the A.V. Club.

UPDATE May 24: The Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that director Jafar Panahi will be freed on bail, according to Tehran’s public prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi.

UPDATE May 21: According to a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP), will receive a bail hearing on Saturday, May 22.

UPDATE May 19: Jafar Panahi’s letter to Abbas Baktiari, director of the Pouya cultural center, confirms that he is on a hunger strike and explains the conditions of his treatment and the reasons for the action. Read the letter at La Regle du Jeu here.

May 18: At the press conference for the premiere of his new film at Cannes, Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami used his platform to discuss the imprisonment of Jafar Panahi and the Iranian government’s treatment of all filmmakers, according to a report on indieWIRE.

The occasion also brought conflicting reports on Panahi’s situation. Kiarostami reported that he had received word that the filmmaker may be freed today. “I got a message from Jafar’s wife and we’re hoping he might be freed today and, of course, if that does happen later today, that will be good news and hopefully I’ll be able to give that good news.” However, conflicting reports that Panahi’s sentence had, in fact, been extended by two months and that he was planning a hunger strike, also surfaced at the press conference.

Panahi had been  invited to serve on the jury for this years Cannes Film Festival before he was arrested and imprisoned for unspecified crimes.

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Lisandro Alonso in Seattle and At the Edge of the World

Lisandro Alonso
Lisandro Alonso

The films of Lisandro Alonso, one of the most exciting and accomplished directors working to redefine filmmaking on the international stage, are showcased in Northwest Film Forum’s series “At the Edge Of The World: The Cinema of Lisandro Alonso” (November 11-20). The young filmmaker (in his early thirties) has made four features since his debut, La Libertad, in 2001. Only one of his films has been released on DVD in the U.S. (Los Muertos on Facets DVD) and all are making their respective Seattle screen debuts in this series. They are all well worth your time to see, especially on the screen. Alonso’s films are experiences, as much about the passing of time and the texture of his landscapes and the light upon his subjects (he shoots his films with available light, which has a particular way of sculpting his images) as the enigmatic characters and their journeys through their respective worlds.

Here’s a set of links to features, interviews and reviews on the filmmaker and his films, beginning with some pieces by Parallax View contributors and friends:

A Hole in the Heart of Man, Out At the Edge of the World: Some Remarks On the Cinema of Lisandro Alonso – Jay Kuehner (Parallax View)
Kathleen Murphy on Liverpool at TIFF 2008 (MSN)
Robert Horton’s review of Liverpool (Everett Herald)
Into the Wild: Sean Axmaker on Lisandro Alonso (The Stranger)
“Lisandro Alonso: Time, Space, Cinema” — Sean Axmaker (Parallax View)
“Making of Liverpool” videos (Hot Splice)

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Happy Anniversary, Parallax View!

parallax_view_crop

Parallax View turns 1!

This film magazine/blog, a collaboration of a small group of Seattle-based film critics, went live on August 14, 2008. To celebrate our first anniversary, we pay tribute to the film that inspired the name with archival pieces by our contributors.

The Pakula Parallax by Richard T. Jameson

13 Ways of Looking at The Parallax View by Robert Cumbow

The Parallax View: An Introduction by Sean Axmaker

The Parallax View on DVD available at Amazon