Berlinale, "Lola," Omer Fast, "Sherlock Holmes"

The Auteurs DailyShutter Island

A busier Tuesday than usual. Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island and Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer are among the first round of seven titles lined up for the Competition at the Berlin International Film Festival (February 11 through 21); the Recyclage de luxe Online Film Festival opens today with Jacques Demy's Lola; Omer Fast is at the Whitney; and the first reviews of Sherlock Holmes are coming in. All this, even as the current lists and awards tracker is being updated throughout the day.

Both Shutter Island and The Ghost Writer are officially seeing their world premieres in Berlin, but Austinites who attended Harry Knowles's Butt-Numb-A-Thon (BNAT) this past weekend got a first peek at Shutter Island. Reactions were reportedly mixed, but of course, you have to consider the nature of the event - umpteen films are screened in succession over a period of 24 hours. Knowles himself had a grand time and was particularly impressed by Leonardo DiCaprio's lead performance, "and I'm someone that isn't always in Leo's corner. This is not only his best work for Scorsese, but his best role to date." Anne Thompson notes that one unnamed attendee described the film "an homage to Val Lewton." A quote from that attendee follows, but you might well consider it a spoiler.

As for Polanski's The Ghost Writer, as Borys Kit notes in the Hollywood Reporter, Summit has picked up North American rights and plans to release it in the first half of 2010: "The thriller, originally titled The Ghost, stars Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor and was in postproduction when Polanski was arrested in Zurich in September on a US warrant stemming from his 1977 charge of having unlawful sex with a 13 year-old girl." Now, of course, Polanski's under house arrest "at his chalet in the Swiss ski resort town of Gstaad," and chances of his attending the premiere are slim. But that'd be one helluva PR coup.

The other five titles heading to Berlin: Semih Kaplanoglu's Bal (Honey), a Turkish-German production; Benjamin Heisenberg's Der Räuber (The Robber); Karan Johar's My Name Is Khan; Na Putu (On the Path) from Jasmila Zbanic, who won the Golden Bear in 2006 for Grbavica; and Shekarchi (The Hunter) from Rafi Pitts, whose Zemestan (It's Winter) also screened in Berlin in 2006.

Preceding the Berlinale, as always, will be the transmediale (January 28 through February 7), now offering a first look at the 2010 film and video program.

 

MORE FESTS AND EVENTS


A reminder to those in UK over 18: Stella Artois and The Auteurs launch the Recyclage de luxe Online Film Festival, featuring one free French classic a day, every day through Monday, starting today. For an introduction to the first selection, let's turn to an entry Dennis Grunes posted back in 2007: "With a tip of the hat to Marlene Dietrich's character in Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel (1930), Anouk Aimée dazzles as Cécile, a dancer who goes by the name of Lola at work, where she entertains American GIs, in Jacques Demy's first feature and enduring black-and-white masterpiece, Lola. Nervously breathless, this Lola is like a tremulous shadow flickering as gorgeous light across the screen."

In other online film festival news, the Goethe-Institut Cairo is sponsoring ArabShorts.net: "A network of nine film curators from nine Arab countries has selected a wide range of exciting young Arab film productions in order to make the versatility and quality of independent Arab filmmaking visible."

New York saw work from Omer Fast just last month, when Talk Show (briefly reviewed by Graham T Beck in frieze) was presented at Performa 09. His latest piece, Nostalgia, is at the Whitney Museum through February 14. "Nostalgia is a three-part video installation which builds on Fast's work from the last decade," writes Jim Whittock at this is tomorrow. "It is a palimpsest of voiceover, documentary and cinema that defies conventional narrative, weaving together threads from past, present and future." It "was conceived during interviews with asylum seekers in London," notes Carly Berwick in her interview with Fast for New York. "'I'm always surprised at how eager people are to talk,' he says with a laugh, clearly aware of the reflexive nature of what he's saying. The asylum interviews ultimately transmogrified into a retro-futuristic alternative history of the seventies that imagines refugees from strife-torn England trying to escape to the promised land of Africa." More from Bert Rebhandl in Cargo (and in German).

Spanish Cinema Now is on at the Film Society of Lincoln Center through Sunday and James van Maanen and Acquarello have got you covered.

 

DVDS


"With only three features to her credit, the Argentinian writer-director Lucrecia Martel is already among the most distinctive voices in world cinema," writes Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times. "Fluid yet oblique, thick with atmosphere and almost trancelike, her movies look, sound and move like no one else's. Martel's latest, The Headless Woman, which received a brief theatrical run during the summer, is not just one of the year's best films but also one of the subtlest, perhaps the one that most requires and most amply rewards repeat viewings - the DVD is out from Strand Releasing this week."

Miss Mend


"Among the choices facing a filmgoer in the Soviet Union of 1926 were three films that have since become textbook classics: Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, VI Pudovkin's Mother and Dziga Vertov's One Sixth of the World." Dave Kehr in the New York Times: "But much of the citizenry preferred Miss Mend, a wild pastiche of American adventure serials directed by Fedor Ozep and Boris Barnet.... Its characters may be American, but the joy that shines through it is that of the infant Soviet state, still toddling through its Utopian period when everything was new, and a world was waiting to be made." Out from Flicker Alley.

More from Sean Axmaker, who's also got a roundup on this week's other releases.

 

IN OTHER NEWS


London once again got to host the world premiere of big holiday season movie last night: "The world's most famous fictional detective returns to the big screen bearing six-pack abs and an effects-heavy action story, but this adrenalised Sherlock Holmes lacks the intelligence of its brilliant titular hero," writes Tim Grierson for Screen. "Robert Downey Jr lends his not-inconsiderable wit to the proceedings as the brawny, brooding Holmes, but despite director Guy Ritchie's robust re-imagining, this picture struggles to transplant the 19th-century sleuth into the world of 21st-century Hollywood blockbusters."

For the Guardian's Catherine Shoard, this is "high-end hack work." Three out of five stars from both Time Out London's Dave Calhoun and the London Times' David Hayles. More from Kirk Honeycutt (Hollywood Reporter), Marc Lee (Telegraph) and Todd McCarthy (Variety).

Meantime, Rodney Perkins (Twitch) had a good time watching Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass at the BNAT and Drew McWeeney (Hitfix) has a fun clip featuring Nicolas Cage.


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