"I dreamt I was home. I've had that same dream hundreds of times before. This time, I wanted to find out if it's really true. Am I really home?"- Best Years of Our LIves (Happy birthday, Fredric March)
#353 | August 31, 2010
As if there needed to be physical proof that he's one of France's most versatile actors today, Vincent Cassel (La Haine, Irreversible, Eastern Promises) won a César for playing the titular role in director‹and fellow César winner‹Jean-François Richet's two-part underworld epic Mesrine. For a new podcast, Aaron Hillis chatted with Cassel to discuss why making the film was an endurance contest to be conquered, the most Bonnie & Clyde-like moment he's ever had with his real-life wife Monica Bellucci, and which filmmaker he believes is "the closest we have to a modern Buñuel."More >>
In This Dispatch:
  • What's New: Red Riding, Harry Brown, and more.
  • What We're Watching: Ajami, OSS 117 Lost in Rio, Good/Bad/Weird.
  • Explore: Josef Von Sternberg.
Roger Ebert calls this epic three-parter "an immersive experience like The Best of Youth, Brideshead Revisited...Over the course of 302 minutes, we sink into a virtual world: the corrupt police and establishment figures of West Yorkshire in England, at the time of the real-life Yorkshire Ripper. The sort of undertaking the UK's Channel 4 excels at." Kenneth Turan adds "powerfully disturbing... will haunt you waking and sleeping, night and day." Despite the running time, "these films are put together with so much ability and skill that the time simply melts away."
Two time Academy Award winner Michael Caine stars as Harry Brown, an ordinary, law-abiding citizen, who goes all Death Wish when a friend is murdered. David Edelstein says "Caine makes a grave, soulful vigilante avenger, and first-time director Daniel Barber gives the film a dank, streaky, genuinely unnerving palette." Adds Claudia Puig, "This portrait of the soldier as an old man is deeply moving." And don't forget to enter our Harry Brown DVD giveaway.
What We're Watching
Scandar Copti, a Palestinian, and Yaron Shani, an Israeli Jew, teamed up to direct the crime drama Ajami. It received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language film, which seems more a result of that behind-the-scenes achievement than anything that occurs onscreen. Indeed, comparing it to some of Amos Gitai's better films (Kadosh, etc.) it feels rather graceless, and compared to something like  City of God, Ajami feels practically inert. And yet the film is still effective in its own, small way. It follows several characters in five overlapping chapters, all set in one multi-ethnic section of Jaffa, near Tel Aviv... Read more >>
More like this The Lemon Tree | Paradise Now
Predating Ian Fleming's James Bond, OSS 117 is the call number for Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, a secret agent extraordinaire. Creator Jean Bruce wrote over ninety books for the character in his lifetime, and de La Bath made his way into eight films from 1956 to 1971. He never reached the international popularity of his doppelgänger in her majesty's secret service, but his legacy is now cemented, if lampooned, in the latest film from Michel Hazanavicius, OSS 117: Lost in Rio, the second in a series of parodies...Read more >>
More like this OSS 177 Cairo | Casino Royale
The Wild West: An ancient locomotive speeds along a railroad track, as the passengers in the cars behind it chat, snooze, play cards, or nibble on food. Down the aisle comes the snack-seller hawk- ing treats, and we hear the dulcet call, "Candy! Rice cakes! Independence for Korea!" Yup: We're long past Kansas; in fact, so much farther west of California that we're east. To be honest, we already know this, as The Good The Bad The Weird (yes, it is definitely meant to remind you of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) begins with a scene... Read more >>
More like this Kung Fu Hustle | The Foul King
Brian Darr, who has written extensively about Silent Film and is the proprietor of the Hell on Frisco Bay blog, digs in to Criterion's new Josef Von Sternberg box set for GC Daily. As Darr points out, Criterion's otherwise extensive collection has been lacking the silent treatment, but with this set they quadrupled its catalog of silent Hollywood features. "Josef von Sternberg seems the ideal figure to launch such an expansion around," he writes, "as Underworld, The Last Command, and The Docks of New York must be three of the most visually compelling dramas made in the American studio system." More >>

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