Dean in our window

by Ryland Walker Knight


Now in theatres: Birdsong (Albert Serra, 2008)

by Ryland Walker Knight


The New York Premiere run of Albert Serra's Birdsong starts tonight at Anthology Film Archives with Serra in person to introduce and discuss his quiet little gem of a film. It's a hard sell, of course, as its a slow observational film about a Biblical myth/legend, but like Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man, it's a deadpan "comedy" in a way, too, if you let it. I wrote about the picture for The Auteurs' Notebook. Here's my first graf:
Aleatory and teleonomic, Birdsong bears a somewhat familiar resemblance to the Straub-Huillet school of adaptation and philosophy; however, Albert Serra plays a game of improvisation that branches this genealogy into a new space of chance. The document begat by duration here turns presence into an opportunity for digression, for leaps, for a poetic sense of contiguity and not continuity. The whole sums chunks arrayed, not morsels lined. One can sense the film was made on the fly, assembled into its form through smarts and luck. And it's silent, mostly. Save one piece of music, the soundtrack is an assemblage of sand and wind and broken branches, of waves, of inconsequent dialogue mumbled, of the world's little noises blown big.


Also covering its release today are...
J. Hoberman in The Village Voice
Jeff Reichert of Reverse Shot for indieWIRE
A.O. Scott in The New York Times
Michael Tully at /HAMMER TO NAIL
— Also worth reading: Daniel Kasman wrote about the film back in May 08 at its Cannes debut
— Thanks to David Hudson for the help.

gallo black and white
ffc and gallo

— Francis Ford Coppola has a new film called Tetro (film site), for which FFC has just launched a website. There are a few pictures from the film, as seen above, and a video made by Francis himself (what some may call a vlog) introducing the project. The film stars Vincent Gallo and is the first original screenplay Coppola has shot since 1974's The Conversation, which is a personal favorite of mine.


— Hugh Jackman's prep work for hosting the Oscars. Lots of man there. I hope I'm never that buff.


Oscar time! Milk buttons! Wrestling! Actors!

by Ryland Walker Knight

I have only seen two of the nominees for Best Picture this year: David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Gus Van Sant's Milk. I cannot say I was blown away by either film. I did like parts of both, though. Indeed: both glide by on the charm and movie-star beauty of their respective leads, Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. As the Oscars are wont to do, both men are nominated for Best Actor. Mickey Rourke is also nominated for his performance in The Wrestler. Some have that said Rourke was born to play the role, that his career would have meant nothing had he not been a part of this film, that it's the ne plus ultra of art reflecting life reflecting art works of art. I think it's pretty good. In fact, I'd say that, hyperbole aside, this role does indeed help define Mickey Rourke, and vice-versa. I'll go so far as to say I'm rooting for this man. I might go further to say that outside of Rourke and Werner Herzog (his film, Encounters at the End of the World is nominated for Best Documentary Feature), there's little to draw me to the Oscars this year. I mean, I love looking at Brad Pitt like anybody else but, for serious, he won't be onscreen all night.

Big surprise: Plenty of bloggers are paying way more attention to this year's telecast than I am, and for that I'd like to point you to some of the best:


— Claire Denis' new film, 35 rhums, opened today in France. It plays four times in New York in mid-March (learn more here) during the Rendez-vous with French cinema series. Please go see it; it's amazing. (More enthusiasm on VINYL.)

so cool, so sexy it hurts