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Daily Briefing. Max Ophüls @TCM

Also: Free Korean films in New York, first reviews of Geoff Dyer's Zona and more.
The DailyLetter from an Unknown Woman

At the Parallax View, Sean Axmaker sends out a DVR alert to TCM viewers in the US — this happens tonight:

The evening of Max Ophüls in Hollywood is followed by two of his greatest French films, La Ronde (1950) and The Earrings of Madame de… (1954), but while they are well represented in superb DVD editions stateside, the four American films showing Monday night — Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), The Reckless Moment (1949), Caught (1949) and the rarity The Exile (1947), his Hollywood debut — have still not been released on DVD in the US.

The films of Ophüls haunt the space between the idealism of unconditional love and the reality of social barriers and fickle lovers. Yet his greatest films are anything but cynical; ironic certainly, but also melancholy, sad and wistful, and always respectful of the dignity of those who love well if not too wisely. His fluid, elegantly choreographed camerawork and intimate yet observant directorial presence have resulted in some of the most delicate and beautiful films made on either side of the Atlantic, but his American films have never been as celebrated as his more overtly stylized and seductively romantic French films (Ophüls left Germany in the early 1930s for the same reason so many fellow artists did).

Farran Nehme: "I date my abiding passion for Joan Fontaine to my first viewing of Letter from an Unknown Woman, Max Ophüls's 1948 masterpiece, as pure an example of a woman's picture as exists."

Awards. "Michael, the debut directorial feature by highly sought-after Austrian casting director and occasional actor Markus Schleinzer, won the prestigious Max Ophüls Prize in Saarbrücken," reports Bénédict Prot at Cineuropa. "For the past 33 years, the award has honored promising talents of German-speaking cinema to see many of them go on to become renowned directors."

"What's the Worst Movie of 2011?" Vulture's asked a slew of critics. You can watch the slideshow, but the real fun is in the comment-laden individual ballots.

The 2011 Internet Movie Poster Awards.

"The International Cinephile Society has announced the nominees for its 9th annual ICS Awards," and Devin Lee Fuller's got 'em at indieWIRE.

In the works. "Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds are attached to star in the indie biopic Big Eyes, which is based on the true story of Margaret and Walter Keane, whose pop-eyed paintings became a sensation in the 1960s." Daniel Miller in the Hollywood Reporter: "Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski will write and direct the film, with Tim Burton set to produce."

Lawrence Kasdan will direct an adaptation of Stay Close, a novel by Harlan Coben (Tell No One) that'll be out in March, reports Simon Dang at the Playlist.

New York. Kim Ki-duk's Rough Cut (2008) screens tomorrow evening as part of a series of free screenings of Korean films at Tribeca Cinemas. Related reading: Grady Hendrix at Slate on why Koreans are flocking to deeply dark and cynical films about the war such as Jung Han's The Front Line. I never got around to a roundup on that one, but I'll point you now to reviews from David Fear (Time Out New York, 2/5), Ernest Hardy (Voice), Stephen Holden (New York Times), Noel Murray (AV Club, B), Peter Nellhaus, Michelle Orange (Movieline, 6.5/10) and Bill Weber (Slant, 2/4).

More reading. You may remember that, in October, I noted that Geoff Dyer had a book on the way, Zona, a reading of Tarkovsky's Stalker that blends fiction and criticism. It still won't hit shelves until next month, but the first reviews have begun to appear: Stuart Kelly (Scotsman) and Igor Toronyi-Lalic (Telegraph).

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