Friday, May 18, 2007

NYC Happenings/New Releases 5/18/07 - 5/24/07

Once. I’ve said my piece on this beautiful film (see my earlier post). So go see it. Opens at the Landmark Sunshine.

Memories of Tomorrow. Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Memoirs of a Geisha, Letters from Iwo Jima) executive produced and stars as a driven businessman who is stricken with early Alzheimer’s. Directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi and based on the novel by Hiroshi Ogiwara, the material is quite familiar, from any number of TV dramas, and such recent films as the Korean film A Moment to Remember. Although weakened by such cliché moves as his doctor’s impassioned speech to prevent Watanabe from killing himself, and a few too many swirling camera shots to mirror his disorientation, the film benefits from Watanabe’s strong, impassioned performance, and subtle work from Kanako Higuchi as his wife. Also, it avoids wrapping it all up in a sentimental way, and the ending gains its poignancy by its retreat from hectic Tokyo to a more bucolic scene, which serves as a setting for the convergence of past and present. Opens at the Imaginasian.

Flanders. Bruno Dumont’s searing vision of war has also been reviewed here. Dumont returns to his usual rural setting, where a man is conscripted into a brutal, unnamed conflict, leading to a Bressonian epiphany. Opens at Cinema Village.

Herzog (Non) Fiction. This is where I’ll be spending most of my next three weeks. One of the masters of the 70’s German new wave, he alternated such masterpieces as The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser, Aguirre: Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo and others with these incredible documentaries, following extreme individuals (including Herzog himself) in dangerous environments. Herzog appears in person for some screenings this weekend; check here for the schedule. Among this week’s highlights: Little Dieter Needs to Fly, about a downed pilot who returns to the Vietnamese POW camp from which he escaped, tracing his harrowing experience (Herzog fictionalized this story as Rescue Dawn, which opens next month); The White Diamond, in which an explorer of the Amazon strives to continue the dream of his best friend who perished during an earlier mission; Sans Soleil, Chris Marker’s classic cine-essay on Japan, cats, and Hitchcock’s Vertigo, among other things, one of Herzog’s personal favorites (Herzog will introduce the 7pm screening on May 21); The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner, a short gem about the titular champion ski jumper/woodcarving artist. Herzog’s onscreen commentary is priceless. The series runs at Film Forum from May 18 – June 7.

Eve and the Firehorse. Asian Cinevision’s ongoing series continues with Julia Kwan’s gentle and charming film set in 1970’s Vancouver, about a little girl’s experiences with religion and spirituality. The period detail and child’s point of view is spot on, and features great performances from the entire cast, especially Phoebe Jojo Kut as Eve, and Vivian Wu as her mother. Kwan will be on hand to introduce and answer questions. The film screens at MOMA Friday and Saturday.

Lee Marvin: The Coolest Lethal Weapon. This essential series continues at the Walter Reade Theater with screenings of such classics as The Big Red One, Seven Men From Now, The Professionals, and The Killers.

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