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Sarno in New York, Porn in Berlin, More

The Films of Joseph Sarno is Anthology Film Archives' tribute to the "New York sexploitation legend," featuring five works screening from tomorrow through Sunday. Nick Pinkerton in the Voice: "Not among the sexual-revolution opportunists who self-advertised as First Amendment Freedom Riders, Sarno's soft-core psychodramas have been reappraised in the past decade on the merit of their own earnest, low-rent artistry (and through the efforts of home-video labels Something Weird and Retro Seduction Cinema, and writer Michael J Bowen, at work on a Sarno biography). In the years following a retro at 2003's New York Underground Film Festival, the owl-browed eminence was fested and feted across Europe."

Nicolas Rapold for Artforum: "Moonlighting Wives (1966), for all the semidreamlike stiltedness of the dialogue and pinup color scheme, dwells on an entrepreneurial woman's problems of fulfillment in business and love — even if the business, in what seems like an American epidemic at the time, was pimping out acquaintances.... Sarno sometimes shot dialogue scenes that rivaled Welles in depth of field and compactness of composition, in what he called 'fore-aft shots': Whether in a bedroom or kitchen, the two actors are positioned to face the camera as they leer or spar or speak their insinuating minds. Though the 'fore-afts' are often cited to demonstrate Sarno's filmmaking bona fides, the technique wasn't just a gesture to avoid reaction-shot monotony — there's a genuine erotic charge to witnessing provocation and reaction at the same time, along with the voyeuristic dramatic irony to the fiction of neither facing the other."

The San Francisco Film Society opens French Cinema Now tonight with director Marc Fitoussi on hand to present Copacabana, featuring Isabelle Huppert. Michael Hawley has an overview of the week-long festival.

 


The Pornfilmfestival Berlin opens tonight with Zach Clark's Modern Love Is Automatic, "the SXSW 2009 hit about a nurse who becomes a dominatrix," as Lauren Wissot sums it up at the House Next Door. That it's "an unabashed comedy ('Do you carry Shackled Monthly?' Lorraine [Melodie Sisk] drolly inquires at a fetish shop) reveals more about BDSM's fun, childlike creative essence than does any realistic detail." Back in August, Nick Schager wrote in Slant that Automatic "superficially resembles scores of mumblecore (and post-mumblecore) indies in that it's about twentysomethings searching — aimlessly, clumsily, desperately — for purpose and direction, as well as features, via its dominatrix plotline, a marketable out-there conceit. Yet Clark never succumbs to insufferable solipsism nor to cheeky look-at-this! shock tactics. Instead, he holds true to his simmering-sadness atmosphere during the captivating Lorraine and more annoying Adrian's [Maggie Ross] various role-playing stabs at finding happiness, and through to the film's stunning conclusion."

The International Rome Film Festival opens this evening with Massy Tadjedin's directorial debut Last Night, featuring Keira Knightley, Eva Mendes, Sam Worthington and Guillaume Canet, and runs through November 5. Martin Scorsese will be presenting a new digitally restored version of Fellini's La Dolce Vita. The festival will be staging a "broad and variegated tribute" to the film with a handful of exhibitions and a related retrospective.

 

IN OTHER NEWS


"The International Documentary Association has announced the nominees for the 2010 IDA Documentary Awards," reports indieWIRE's Peter Knegt, "with Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop, Laura Poitras's The Oath, Joonas Berghaell and Mika Hotakainen's Steam of Life, Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor's Sweetgrass and Lucy Walker's Waste Land making the list for the awards' top category. Winners will be feted on December 3rd at the Directors Guild Theater in Los Angeles at a ceremony hosted by award-winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock." The full list of all nominees follows.

Meantime, the European Film Academy has announced that its committee has selected three nominees for its 2010 documentary award, the Prix Arte: Berghäll and  Hotakainen's Steam of Life again, plus Patricio Guzmán's Nostalgia for the Light and Janus Metz's Armadillo.

Sad news from the Hollywood Reporter: Actress and filmmaker Lisa Blount, whose "turn as Lynette Pomeroy, the cynical, insecure best friend to Debra Winger's Paula in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination and helped launch her career," has died too young. She was 53. "Blount won an Oscar for best live-action short film as a producer on The Accountant (2001) along with her husband, Ray McKinnon, who directed and starred in the film."

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