Like everything the acclaimed 68-year-old filmmaker does, Malick's latest — just his fifth film in 38 years — has gone through a mysterious gestation, changing release dates and distributors numerous times (it was originally slated for a Dec. 25, 2009, release), all the while simultaneously revealing little about its contents. The film finally surfaced last month at the Cannes Film Festival, where it earned cheers, boos and the coveted Palme d'Or.
Now it finds its way into U.S. theaters.
I came across this picture of Joaquin Phoenix today, which triggered a memory of my lone interaction with him. I ran into Phoenix at a film festival party a few years ago. I remember thinking at the time that no one could possibly be less suited for the intense Hollywood glare than this guy.
Harmony Korine is a polarizing filmmaker. One either finds his films — Gummo (1997), Julien Donkey Boy (1999) and Mister Lonely (2007) — intriguing pieces of art or complete rubbish, the work of a jerk-off provocateur who represents the “end of cinema.”
Are we in the midst of the worst summer movie season on record? The bar's admittedly not very high, but it certainly looks like we're heading in that direction.
The summer movie season is closing with a flurry: Recent weeks have given us such diverse, worthwhile fare as Funny People, The Girl from Monaco, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, (500) Days of Summer, Ponyo, District 9 and the best film of the year so far, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker.
Nearly 30 years ago, in an essay entitled “Why Are Movies So Bad? Or, the Numbers,” film critic Pauline Kael wrote that “the movies have been so rank the last couple years that when I see people lining up to buy tickets I sometimes think that the movies aren’t drawing an audience — they’re inheriting an audience. They’re stung repeatedly, yet their desire for a good movie — for any movie — is so strong that all over the country they keep lining up.”
Lee Daniels’ Precious, which won audience awards at both the Sundance and Toronto film festivals, has drawn largely positive reviews for its unblinking look at a 16-year-old black female dealing with myriad challenges, including but certainly not limited to a serious weight problem, a monstrous mother, an incestuous father and an ineffective school system.
Yet Precious also has its detractors, none more vociferous than The New York Press’ Armond White, a critic who has never shied away from airing his contrarian views.
I was having lunch with a friend yesterday when the topic of my favorite movies of 2008 came up. She had read my Top 10 list in this week’s CityBeat and complained about the fact that I presented them in alphabetical order instead of ranking them from 1 to 10.
I tried to explain my reasons for doing so — something pretentious about how ranking art devalues it and the fact that the order could change based on my mood on any given day — but she wasn’t hearing it.
Enter John Cooper, who took over as director in 2010, and who is intent on moving the festival back to its artist-driven roots. Cooper's efforts seem to be paying off, as Sundance 2011 unveiled a diverse, interesting crop of films, some of which are actually getting distribution and coming to a theater near you.