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DVDs and More Festival Anticipation

Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times on The Red Riding Trilogy: "From one film to another — 1974, 1980, 1983 — stories overlap, contexts shift and characters recur. But while the plots are busy and intricate, the emphasis is not really on narrative propulsion or coherence, let alone closure.... The north of England is very much a physical location in these films: a wasteland of postindustrial decline, an expanse of gray skies, foggy moors and grim concrete structures. But this being, as the title suggests, a twisted gothic fairytale, it is also a kind of existential landscape, an almost mythic place where 'the rot,' as one of the thwarted good guys calls it, has penetrated to a cellular level."

These three films, "adapted by a quartet of novels by David Peace, are individually among the best films I've seen in 2010," writes Sean Axmaker. "Together, they are a remarkable work. They make up a saga of sorts, a fictional journey through a culture of corruption and collusion, where the reach for power leaves the innocent unprotected from the wolves, set against the very real history of terror in Yorkshire when the serial killer dubbed 'The Yorkshire Ripper' was at large." See, too, the roundups from Fall 2009 and February 2010.

Update, 9/1: For Michael Atkinson, writing in Movieline, the Trilogy is "a masterpiece, and there's nothing new that's better worth your time. In many ways it feels like more than a movie, or three movies, and more like a unified field theory of human darkness and modern social evil, splayed out in grueling, fascinating long form."

"It should be kitsch," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times, "and yet [Albert Lewin's Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951)] carries such conviction that it achieves a kind of crazy grandeur, a conviction reinforced by the film's reappearance in a new restoration by George Eastman House, released by Kino on Blu-ray and in a standard edition."

"Three documentary shorts by French New Wave maverick Agnès Varda, stretching from 1963 to 2004, make up Cinevardaphoto (Cinema Guild), a triptych presentation released theatrically in 2004," blogs Sean Axmaker. "Like Varda's recent non-fiction films, these are more film essays than traditional documentaries and connected by the theme of photography and Varda's cinematic exploration of the art and meaning of the still image."

Shane Danielson won't be buying a Blu-ray player and explains why in the Guardian: "Thanks to the surpassing excellence of digital technology, we're now seeing the flaws of the past, every stray hair and blemish, every guide-wire and carelessly painted backdrop, with near-hallucinatory clarity — and as a result, the movies are losing a little of their ability to enchant. As a friend of mine, a cameraman, noted, there's a real problem when you're experiencing a visual image in a format superior to anything their makers could have anticipated when they shot it – not least, for the tough aesthetic (and even ethical) choices they now inspire."

DVD roundups. Noel Murray (LAT), Bryce J Renninger (indieWIRE), Stephen Saito (IFC), Slant and Michael Tully (Hammer to Nail).



Film Forum's Astaire & Rogers series, running Tuesdays through September 14, features Mark Sandrich's The Gay Divorcee (1934) and William A Seiter's Roberta (1935) today and tonight and the New Yorker's David Denby celebrates "two visions of the sublime" in Divorcee. Update, 9/1: More on the series as a whole from Livia Bloom in Filmmaker.

The Venice Film Festival opens tomorrow and In Contention's Guy Lodge lays out his schedule and anticipations, while the Telegraph's David Gritten sketches a few of the highlights in broad strokes. Roderick Conway Morris for the International Herald Tribune: "Marco Müller, now in his seventh year as artistic director, appears to be flying his colors as one of the 'Italianissimi,' as the patriots were dubbed in the 19th century. He has put 41 Italian productions in the festival's four official sections — nearly twice the 22 of last year — which include a Controcampo Italiano list of notionally avant-garde home-grown movies, and a sidebar retrospective of Italian comedies from the 1930s to 1980s.... The biggest non-Italian contingent is from the United States, with 19 productions, promising the presence of a number of big-names on the Lido."

The Architecture Biennale opened on Sunday and Oliver Wainwright's been covering it for Building Design: "'People meet in Architecture' is the rather quaint title of this year's biannual frenzy of cocktail parties and free bags in Venice, nimbly curated by Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA. Trumpeting architecture's noble role as a backdrop to the lives that inhabit it — or perhaps a sardonic critique of the Biennale format as an endless orgy of meetings and networking events — either way, the sentiment is a refreshing foil to the formally-obsessed offerings of the 2008 event."

Today, he's put on his 3D glasses: "The work of filmmaker Wim Wenders, this beguiling swoop through SANAA's undulating hymn to the open learning landscape is as true to the Biennale's title as could be, full of people meeting in architecture. But not only meeting. We are shown that the gentle curves of the Rolex Learning Centre induce trance-like states of nirvana in its users, cringe-worthy scenes of students closing their eyes in transcendental reverie accompanied by the saccharine voice of the building itself. 'I love the sunlight,' she purrs. 'And the sunlight clearly loves me.'"

Then, Toronto, opening September 9. Eye Weekly lists its must-sees and Row Three got 21 bloggers to present their top five most anticipated catches.

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