"Disco and Dantean inferno, Pablo Larraín's Tony Manero portrays a dead-eyed survivor who is 'stayin' alive' during the bloody years of Augusto Pinochet's regime in Chile." James Quandt for Artforum: "Set in Santiago's bas-fonds of grubby cantinas and crumbling cinemas in 1978, the year Saturday Night Fever was released in Chile and half a decade after Pinochet seized power in a US–backed coup, Manero turns one man's obsession with his eponymous alter ego into a scary, airless metaphor for cultural imperialism and the psychosis of fascism."
Michael Atkinson for IFC.com: "The film has an early Scorsese-ian set of factors — our hero Raúl's impenetrable showbiz obsession echoes The King of Comedy, too — but it also feels very 21st century-indie, all handheld grit, impatient jump cuts and brooding urban malaise."
Out on DVD from Kino, which is also releasing Aleksandr Sokurov's The Sun this week, "not a conventional biographical portrait by any definition," notes Sean Axmaker, "but rather a reflection in the inner life of [Emperor Hirohito], a man who was considered a god by his people and treated as such. The style is dreamy and dislocating, purposefully blurring the passing of time and confusing the sense of space." More from Paul Matwychuk and Heather Noel on the DVD Afternoon podcast.
"There is no middle ground in Sergio Leone's West," writes Sam Adams in the Los Angeles Times. "His magisterial, half-mad westerns deal in sweeping long shots and incandescent close-ups, but he has little use for the comfortable medium shot that French cinéastes call the 'plan américain.' The all-or-nothing approach was dictated in part by the limitations of Techniscope, the cut-rate widescreen process that made it difficult to focus on the middle distance. But Leone was given to extremes in any case, a tendency that comes to glorious fruition over the course of the films in MGM's The Man With No Name Trilogy, to be released this week on Blu-ray."
For Gary Tooze, "This set is a real dichotomy as in one respect the films are so enduring that an endorsement would seem a no-brainer — but in another regard the video transfers seem to have limitations that some fans and serious HD enthusiasts will find too disappointing." See, too, of course, "Eastwood @ 80."
For the New York Times, Dave Kehr reviews Word Is Out: Stories From Some of Our Lives ("Three decades on, coming-out stories may have become commonplace in indie films and television movies, but it is impossible not to be moved by these quiet accounts of self-discovery and affective courage"; Milestone), Meredith Monk: Inner Voice, which "emphasizes the connections between Ms Monk's working methods and Buddhist practice" (First Run Features) and Gerald Peary's For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, which "observes a few surviving members of the breed in their natural habitat — film festivals, domestic and foreign — as they hunt, fight and pontificate, occasionally about movies but more often about their own impending demise."
Here in The Daily Notebook, Glenn Kenny finds "it's instructive sometimes to watch [Lino Ventura] in a film more ordinary, if only to see just how real a piece of the real deal this tough-and-tender character lead was. Georges Lautner's Les tontons flingueurs from 1963 is just such a film."
Viewing (2'32"). The NYT's AO Scott on Mira Nair's "vibrant" Monsoon Wedding (2001).
DVD roundups. Sean Axmaker, Brad Brevet, Peter Martin (Cinematical), Noel Murray (LAT), Bryce Renninger (indieWIRE) and Slant.
FESTS AND EVENTS
Brian Darr has a massive roundup of goings on in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Everything Is Terrible! and the Quest for the Magick Krystal Tour!, featuring an all-new live show and the new movie, 2Everything2Terrible2: Tokyo Drift, begins tonight in Chicago before setting out on an all-summer-long trek across the nation.
IN OTHER NEWS
The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips: "A brief (40 minutes) but compelling HBO tribute to [John] Cazale, premiering Tuesday, carries the title I Knew It Was You, referencing the moment — and what a moment, the kiss-of-death moment in Havana — when Michael Corleone tells Fredo he's onto him, and that it's too late to make amends." Updates: Terrific piece on Cazale by Joe Gross in the Austin American-Statesman; and the Playlist interviews the doc's director, Richard Shepard.
Grimly reaping: Artist Louise Bourgeois and poets Peter Orlovsky and Andrei Voznesensky.