Doppelgängers, Fests, DVDs

"Doubling is a paradigmatic trope in cinema, at every stratum from the technical doubling of apparatus and human perception, to the doubling of the worlds that exist on each side of the screen. It is ever with us. Nonetheless the class of 2010-11 is taken with a doubling delirium." That's Joshua Clover in his "Marx and Coca-Cola" column in the new Spring 2011 issue of Film Quarterly about to turn his attention to Black Swan and Country Strong, but before he does, he's got a paragraph and a half or so on another pair with Leonardo DiCaprio: "Shutter Island and Inception share further, unlikely formulations — not the least of which is the visual invention of the stark, crumbling cliffs that isolate the broken Leonardo's land of the lost from the world of the living. Such doublings between films that are themselves about doubling sets up a turbulent recursion of a different order than Hollywood's unremarkable habit of repeating successful formulae; the audience bedazzlement that each movie hopes to solicit (is this really happening?) lodges far more intensely in the relation between the two films."

Editor Rob White also considers Inception, along with Mike Leigh's Another Year, while B Ruby Rich looks back on this year's edition of Sundance, which, of course, "is not a cinephile's festival, substituting its own versions of American pragmatism, heterodoxy, and DIY moxie. Writers looking for unifying themes that just might reflect the US zeitgeist settled this year on religion and spirituality. I didn't find themes, but I certainly found tendencies: documentaries filled with social commitment and advocacy; lesbian filmmakers and characters that are lively and surprising; a fresh new run at science fiction grounded in the quotidian of today's society; and Latin American cinema (long a Sundance staple) rededicated to characters as a microcosm of society."

Another festival that's wrapped, albeit more recently, is True/False. Vadim Rizov and Rania Richardson have overviews at GreenCine Daily and Filmmaker, respectively, and Christopher Gray's been covering the documentary fest for the House Next Door. Verena Paravel and JP Sniadecki's Foreign Parts screened there and opens tomorrow for a week-long run at MoMA. For Time Out New York's Keith Uhlich, it's a "heartbreaking doc about the auto shops and junkyards of Willets Point, Queens." Earlier: Reviews from the New York Film Festival.

Also opening in New York tomorrow is Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore, a mini-series running through the weekend at Anthology Film Archives featuring the doc of the same name as well as Blood Feast, Something Weird and Scum of the Earth. "Today, Blood Feast's banquet is humbled by multiplex trash like Drive Angry and Black Swan, but the perversity in Lewis's movies is a lost recipe," writes Nick Pinkerton in the Voice.

Tonight in Philadelphia: An Evening with Kathryn Ramey.

 

DVDS


For Dennis Lim, writing in the Los Angeles Times, Jacques Rivette's Around a Small Mountain (2009) "is, of all things, a model of concision and compression. A wry, playful, not-quite romance set against the idiosyncratic backdrop of a traveling circus, it runs a mere 83 minutes and is the shortest of all his films by at least half an hour. It is being issued on DVD this week by Cinema Guild, a New York-based distributor that has released some of the best and most adventurous indies, documentaries and foreign films of recent years, including Everyone Else, Sweetgrass and The Strange Case of Angelica."





Among this week's is an upgrade to Blu-ray for one of my own guiltless pleasures, John Boorman's Excalibur (1981), and Parallax View has revived Kathleen Murphy's 1982 program notes.

DVD roundups. The AV Club, Jordan Cronk and Kathie Smith (In Review Online), Gary Dretzka (Movie City News), Ed Gonzalez (House Next Door), Mark Kermode (Observer), Harley W Lond and Peter Martin (Cinematical), Paul Matwychuk and Heather Noel, Noel Murray (LAT), Stephen Saito (IFC), Slant, Nigel M Smith (indieWIRE) and Michael Tully (Hammer to Nail).

And to wrap with a bit from Dave Kehr in the New York Times: "The days of the digital versatile disc may well be coming to an end, at least in its established form as a factory pressed, attractively packaged object of mass consumption. But there are several new formats competing to replace it, each with benefits and drawbacks. As in comedy, watching movies nowadays is all about the delivery." Well, quite.

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