First things first: THANK YOU to Greencine and Cinematical for linking my Top 5 Movie Posters of the year. If you love film, you've gotta read these two blogs. Hello to all new readers stopping in. I don't know where you've all come from, but I hope you stick around! Leave me a comment and tell me who you are and how you found me.
An administrative note: The aforementioned new readers -- people who've stumbled across my blog through other links -- should be informed that I reside in Nashville, TN, home of the Pancake Pantry, the Parthenon, and about 84 great bands. I keep close tabs on what movies are coming and going through this town, which means that you might read some announcements here like the one below which have little relevance to someone in another city. It also means that these days I won't always get to see those limited releases (PAN'S LABYRINTH, INLAND EMPIRE, etc) as early as you New Yorkers and Californians do. But hopefully visitors like you will discover some cool stuff from my neck of the woods -- The Privates being a perfect example.
From now until Christmas Eve, the Belcourt Theater in Nashville is presenting their annual Second Chance series. These five movies, all of which I endorse, each screen for only a couple of days, so don't miss them again. A SCANNER DARKLY (December 12-14) is one of my favorite films of the year, in which director Richard Linklater applies the digital rotoscoping animation seen in WAKING LIFE to the visionary work of Philip K. Dick. In HALF NELSON (December 15-19), little tyke Shareeka Epps outacts critical darling Ryan Gosling as the sole confidant to her teacher's drug addiction. THE DESCENT (December 19-21) traps a group of adventurous women in a cave full of flesh-eating creatures; it's a claustrophobic's nightmare with a girl-power subtext. Michel Gondry's THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP (December 21), filled to its brim with imagination, swims laps between a young man's waking life and his dream world.
But it's A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (December 20-21) that most deserves another big-screen look. What was earlier this year simply another ensemble-led Robert Altman film is now the great director's last work. Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reily, and Lindsay Lohan all make up Garrison Keillor's radio troupe (the emcee plays himself), performing what might be their last show. The movie didn't do much for me when I first saw it, much like when I saw some of Altman's other films. But watching it again after Altman's death, the film itself had changed. Obviously preoccupied with the looming presence death, it focuses yet on the carefree pleasure of art, collaboration, memory, and making beautiful music up right up until someone pulls the plug.
The Belcourt also has a big Christmas gift for everyone this year: A full retrospective of 50 Years of Janus Films that will run through January and February. In conjunction with a new drool-worthy boxed set, this series includes new prints of many of the most famous and classic foreign films, spanning 50 years in 30 films. Save yourself the tuition money you'd spend at a film school and treat yourself to THE RULES OF THE GAME, THE SEVEN SAMURAI, THE 400 BLOWS, or just about anything you can catch. I'll be on the road with The Comfies some in January, but I hope to catch as many of these as I can.
Lastly, a quick report on new movies seen: BLOOD DIAMOND (C) featured some strong performances but bad chemistry and an excruciating running time. THE HOLIDAY (C) was sillier than I hoped it would be, and much too full of itself, but worked a bit of magic in the end. I loved APOCALYPTO (B+) and all of its powerful imagery, if a bit on the violent side. And I concluded the incredible Up Series with 49UP (A-), which must only be watched after a marathon of the others. Make it your New Year's resolution to experience this film series!
Thanks for reading!