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The Auteurs Daily: In Theaters, 7/8

The Auteurs Daily

Julie & Julia

Universal knows full well what it's up to, releasing the trailer for It's Complicated today. Evidently, this Nancy Myers-directed rom-com - set for a Christmas Day release, if you know what I mean - is about how Alec Baldwin thought he was over Meryl Streep - but whoops, isn't. Sort of like moviegoers around the world. For the Boston Globe's Ty Burr, "Streep stands as a figure unique in a century of Hollywood history: a 60-year-old woman who's also a vastly popular box-office draw." What's more, "She hasn't sold out; rather, she has lifted her young fans to an appreciation of what acting can be - what deep, abiding pleasures it offers, and how many endless insights into humanity."

"Meryl Streep has two irresistible performances running side-by-side this summer," notes Slate's Dana Stevens, "her role as Julia Child in Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia and her promotional tour on behalf of same." As for the first, Bethany Jean Clement sums up what seems to be the general consensus in the Stranger: "Half of this movie is marvelous. The idea of Meryl Streep playing Julia Child is manifestly fantastic, a loop of genius, and the reality surpasses the idea." And the other half? Well, see Sean Burns (Philadelphia Weekly), Dan Callahan (Slant), Ellen Fox (Current_Movies), Ann Hornaday (Washington Post), Robert Horton (Herald), Jonathan Kiefer, Keith Phipps (AV Club), Christopher Orr (New Republic), James Rocchi (Redbox Blog), Joshua Rothkopf (Time Out New York), AO Scott (New York Times), Dana Stevens (Slate), Robert Wilonsky (Voice) and Stephanie Zacharek (Salon).

Meantime, at Moving Image Source, Dana Polan writes on "generous pedagogy of Julia Child and The French Chef"; Kerry Lauerman gets "10 minutes with Meryl Streep" for Salon; and there's this marvelous bit of online viewing from Slate: "The Many Voices of Meryl Streep."

Here in The Notebook, Dave McDougall has taken on two other films opening tonight - actually, Alejandro Adams's Canary screens only tonight at Rooftop Films in New York, and Dave hosts a roundtable discussion with Craig Keller, Michael Sicinski, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky. In the Voice, Jim Ridley writes: "Micro in budget, macro in ambition, accomplishment, and scope, Adams's slyly withholding film prompts multiple viewings - and deserves them." Interviews with Adams: Michael Tully (Hammer to Nail) and Karina Longworth (SpoutBlog).

Dave McDougall is a friend of Andrew Bujalski and he's pretty upfront about that as one - but only one - of the reasons Beeswax resonates with him. Salon's Andrew O'Hehir is fairly confident that this'll be the film that'll do "Mumblecore" in once and for all. To Wednesday's Beeswax roundup, let's add reviews from Steve Erickson (Gay City News), James Hansen, AO Scott (NYT) and Scott Tobias (AV Club). Nick Dawson talks with Bujalski for Filmmaker and Filmbo posts a clip featuring Bujalski's "Tribute to Extras."

"Is there a less diluted apogee of the Gonzo-autuerist ideal than artist, critic, and avant-garde cheerleader Jonas Mekas?" asks Joseph Jon Lanthier in Slant. Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania opens for a one-week run at New York's Anthology Film Archives. More from Nick Pinkerton in the Voice.

"In a film as purportedly self-reflexive as Cold Souls, the decision to cast Paul Giamatti as himself presumes that we recognize the actor's persona as fully and immediately as that of, say, John Malkovich," writes Leo Goldsmith in Reverse Shot. "But when we see the actor breathily rehearsing the title role of Uncle Vanya, chewing scenery before the stage has even been set, we realize that Giamatti's usual character - at least, the one that Cold Souls wishes to exploit - is paper-thin, working better on the periphery than in the center of the narrative." More from Mike D'Angelo (IFC), Manohla Dargis (NYT), Anthony Kaufman (Voice), Dan Kois (Movieline), John Lichman (Current_Movies), Phil Nugent, Tasha Robinson (AV Club), Michael Joshua Rowin (L), Joshua Rothkopf (TONY), James van Maanen and Stephanie Zacharek (Salon). Scott Tobias talks with Giamatti for the AV Club and Giamatti and director Sophie Barthes are guests on the Leonard Lopate Show.

"A B-movie-style throwback that's consistently diverting and blissfully free of morals and messages, A Perfect Getaway is just the thing for the summertime movie blahs: it's a genuinely satisfying cheap thrill." So says Manohla Dargis in the NYT; more from Sean Axmaker, Tim Grierson (Voice), Jeremiah Kipp (Slant) and Scott Tobias (AV Club).

"'Horror' isn't the most accurate descriptor for I Sell the Dead, and 'comedy' doesn't cover it either," writes Noel Murray at the AV Club. "Perhaps 'light gothic' would do." More from Manohla Dargis (NYT), Liz Kilduff (L), Nicolas Rapold (Voice), Nick Schager (Slant) and James van Maanen. Online listening tip. Aaron Hillis (GreenCine Daily) talks with Larry Fessenden and director Glenn McQuaid.

"Based on a 2002 bestselling novel by Zülfü Livaneli, Bliss creakily illustrates the clash between ancient, abhorrent custom and modernity," writes Melissa Anderson in the Voice. More from Stephen Holden (NYT), Joseph Jon Lanthier (Slant), Nicolas Rapold (TONY) and James van Maanen; indieWIRE interviews director Abdullah Oguz.

"Part documentary, part fiction and all cloying affectation, Paper Heart doesn't seem to care about its subjects, whose insights are incredibly slight," writes Karina Longworth (TONY), who lays out two more troubling aspects of the film at the SpoutBlog. More from Jeannette Catsoulis (NYT), Keith Phipps (AV Club), Matt Prigge (Philadelphia Weekly), Andrew Schenker (Slant), Henry Stewart (L) and Robert Wilonsky (Voice). Interviews with Charlyne Yi: Jane Clayson (On Point), Aaron Hillis (IFC) and S James Snyder (Voice).

Mesrine

The British papers have been prepping UK audiences all week long for today's release of the first part of Jean-Francois Richet's Jacques Mesrine biopic starring Vincent Cassel, Mesrine: Killer Instinct (the second part, Public Enemy #1, opens over there on August 28). John Lichfield has "unmask[ed] the man behind the bloody myth" for the Independent; similarly, Philip Horne for the Telegraph, which has also listed its top ten gangster films. "Cassel injects a jolt of wild energy and ambiguity into what could easily have been another flatulent, apologist gangster epic," writes David Jenkins in Time Out London. More from Peter Bradshaw (Guardian), Ryan Gilbey (New Statesman) and Anthony Quinn (Independent).

Perhaps the most promising review to appear anywhere this week appears in the Japan Times. The headline over Mark Schilling's rave reads, "The future king of Japanese animation may be with us," and it refers to Mamoru Hosoda, whose The Girl Who Leapt Through Time caught many an eye in 2006: "Focusing on an epic computer game battle, Summer Wars is an ambitious step forward for Hosoda - and a marvelously sure-footed one it is." It "may contain familiar elements, beginning with its bashful, moonstruck young hero, but it combines them in ways fresh, contemporary and dazzlingly imaginative. Unlike most mass audience anime that look back nostalgically to a historical or folkloric past or ahead to various futuristic fantasies, dark and otherwise, Summer Wars is totally of the current, postmillennium moment."

Mac
So because a writer says, Hey, full disclosure, the guy who made this film is also a friend of mine, I’m supposed to like, what, put that in my back pocket and just forget about it? That’s ridiculous. That’s not journalism or criticism, that’s cronyism, and it’s unprofessional and one of the things I really don’t care for when it comes to film writing on the Internet. Maybe the next step is to just let the filmmakers themselves review their own films.
Mac, first a question. Have you read Dave’s piece? Second, an answer to your question: No, of course, you’re not supposed to forget about the fact that the reviewer and filmmaker happen to know each other. That’s the point of the reviewer’s bringing it up in the first place; he wants you to keep this in mind. It helps clarify rather than cloud the issue of Dave’s take on the characters in BEESWAX and Andrew Bujalski’s overall arch of development as a filmmaker. Third, if we’re going to start banning certain people from writing about certain movies, who would you like to have draw up the rules of qualification?

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