It's been a week of unusual releases, and by that I don't (necessarily) mean the movies themselves, but rather the releases - the ways and means.
It started on Monday with a global launch coinciding with the United Nations Summit on Climate Change. Franny Armstrong's The Age of Stupid "was distributed to over 500 theaters worldwide in over 45 countries in a live-via-solar-powered-satellite premiere that attracted over one million viewers (according to estimates reported by the filmmakers)," notes Chuck Tryon. In his interview with Armstrong for SF360, Sean Uyehara adds that it was more than a screening; Kofi Annan spoke and Thom Yorke performed, for starters. "Crowd-funded by a profit-sharing partnership comprising a mere 228 people and groups, including a hockey team and a women's health center, who each invested portions of its £450,000 budget, The Age of Stupid is a destabilizing experience," writes Scott Thill for Wired. It depicts what's "effectively made the world uninhabitable by 2055," writes Andrew Schenker in Slant. "[W]hile steeped in an inevitable negativity, her film is nothing if not rousing (though less through its sci-fi scare tactics and more via its portrait of the widespread damage already being inflicted on the planet), and if its mode is unapologetically didactic, then in a society in which 60 percent of the people believe, scientific evidence to the contrary, that man has no appreciable impact on climate change, then perhaps a round of didacticism is precisely what we need." More from James McNally.
Back in February, I suggested that Sally Potter's Rage, which pretends to be a YouTube diary, were actually presented as such - that is, each little actorly moment performed by this or that Big Name would be posted individually and made accessible via a variety of platforms. Turns out, that's what's happening somewhat with the project after all, at least via Babelgum (there are also all-but-simultaneous releases on DVD, in UK theaters and so on; Ambrose Heron, thankfully, has the tedious details). "Potter's movie is, in any case, a self-conscious bit of voguing, a talking-head satire on the fashion industry that despite its pretensions and fatuities is surprisingly watchable," finds Michael Atkinson at IFC. More from Joseph Jon Lanthier (Slant), Jonathan Romney (Independent) and Armond White (New York Press). Kenji Fujishima talks with Potter for the Wall Street Journal.
As if in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Summit, Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story began its rollout on Wednesday, heading towards a wider opening on October 2. I've been diligently updating its entry since the premiere in Venice.
"Casually dismissed by those who place a premium on things like narrative, visual lucidity, and editorial smoothness, writer/director/emotional exhibitionist/mumblecore forefather Henry Jaglom trudges forth undeterred, making his self-financed, self-distributed, unapologetically personal portraits of hopeless LA neurotics searching for self-fulfillment." His latest is Irene in Time, which opened Wednesday. Scott Foundas in the Voice: "As in many of Jaglom's more middling efforts, moments of genuine insight alternate freely with those of banal psychologizing, but even then, there can be no denying that the filmmaker has an ear for a certain brand of self-absorbed discourse often overheard in restaurants and bars in the shadow of the Hollywood sign." More from Jeannette Catsoulis (New York Times), Andrew Schenker (Slant) and Armond White (NYP). James van Maanen interviews Jaglom.
"In Search of Beethoven plays like a good, if necessarily condensed critical biography," writes Andrew Schenker in the Voice. More from Neil Genzlinger (NYT), Joe Leydon (Variety) and James van Maanen. Since Wednesday at the Cinema Village.
"Imagine each of us arrives in this life equipped with a kino-eye, and that we're given the task of producing a mix-tape of our favorite sights and impressions," writes Andrew Chan in Reverse Shot. "Michael Almereyda has turned in his first draft of the assignment, Paradise, and it's a film intoxicated by the exponential possibilities of its form." More from David Fear (TONY), Mike Hale (NYT), Aaron Hillis (Voice), Jeremiah Kipp (Slant), Lucy Raven (Bomb) and Andrew Schenker (L). Through Wednesday at MoMA.
John Krasinski's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men "is less adaptation than remix, self-contained loops of a preexistent source," writes the L's Mark Asch, who has much more on the book and the movie at Stop Smiling. "But it's an honorable failing, being a shade too faithful to stories that implore us to pay closer attention to one another." More from Sam Adams (IFC), Chris Barsanti (Filmcritic.com), David Edelstein (New York), David Fear (Time Out New York), Stephen Holden (NYT), Noel Murray (AV Club), Mark Peikert (NYP), Andrew Schenker (Slant), Chuck Wilson (Voice) and James van Maanen. Reviews from Sundance. Aaron Hillis talks with Krasinski for IFC.
Karina Longworth in Time Out New York on Coco Before Chanel: "The first of two French films about Coco Chanel to hit the States between now and January (look for Jan Kounen's Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky later this year), Anne Fontaine's biopic transforms the designer's early life into highbrow guilty-pleasure gold." More from Melissa Anderson (Voice), David Edelstein (New York), Michael Guillén, Michael Koresky (indieWIRE), Anthony Lane (New Yorker), Mary Pols (Time), Julian Sancton (Vanity Fair), Nick Schager (Slant), AO Scott (NYT), Benjamin Sutton (L), Scott Tobias (AV Club) and James van Maanen. "Interest in the couturier has never really waned, but 2009 has taken shape as a banner year for all things Chanel." For the NYT, Ruth La Fera scans the movie, a television mini-series and a handful of recent and forthcoming books. Also in the NYT, Kristin Hohenadel profiles Fontaine. Gendy Alimurung meets Audrey Tautou for LA Weekly; Kyle Buchanan interviews her for Movieline; and she's a guest on the Leonard Lopate Show. Michael Slenske talks with Alessandro Nivola for Interview. Earlier: Reviews and related stories from April, when the film opened in France.
"In honor of Dutch provocateur Theo van Gogh - who was murdered in 2004 by an Islamic extremist, angered by one of his films - Van Gogh's producers initiated an English-language trilogy of remakes based on his early two-handers." Aaron Hillis in the Voice: "Steve Buscemi's Interview was canned and limp. Next at bat is director and star Stanley Tucci's Blind Date, which similarly suffers from the restrictions of the project." More from Simon Abrams (Slant), Matt Connolly (NYP), David Fear (TONY), Nick McCarthy (L) and AO Scott (NYT).
"The latest in a lengthy line of ostensibly inspiring pedagogical documentaries, The Providence Effect presents interviews and archival footage regarding the unlikely, yet consistent, success of Providence St Mel, a private K-12 situated in one of Chicago's least savory neighborhoods," writes Joseph Jon Lanthier in Slant. More from Jeannette Catsoulis (NYT) and Ernest Hardy (Voice).
"The Blue Tooth Virgin starts out feeling a little too 'inside Hollywood' and only grows more so as it rolls along," writes Neil Genzlinger in the NYT. "By the end, this small film about scriptwriters ends up being mostly for scriptwriters, despite appealing performances from the two leads." More from Diego Costa (Slant) and Vadim Rizov (Voice). James van Maanen talks with director Russell Brown and star Austin Peck.
"A hard-drinking, sports-loving lad learns to be a father and a man after his wife's freak death in The Boys Are Back, a middling drama based on Simon Carr's memoir," writes Nathan Rabin at the AV Club. "The film makes good use of the vulnerability lurking just underneath Clive Owen's rugged male-model good looks; his big, sad eyes and effortless charisma make him a natural to play sensitive hunks. Not surprisingly, Boys works much better as an Owen vehicle than a movie - it's a great, meaty part in a decidedly less-than-great film." More from Monika Bartyzel (Cinematical), Justin Chang (Variety), Adam Keleman (Slant), Brian Miller (Voice), AO Scott (NYT) and Keith Uhlich (TONY). Interviews with Owen: Kyle Buchanan (Movieline) and John Foote (In Contention). Online listening tip. IFC's Matt Singer and Alison Willmore discuss "one of our favorite leading men, saluting his presence, his choice in roles and his ability to read the silliest of voiceovers without a hint of irony."
"The awful truth about no one from the Fame movie or TV show going on to become famous may not yet have dawned on the cast of this new and bizarrely pointless remake," writes the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw. "Because there they all are, a whole new generation of volatile, yearning unknowns, now with mobile phones instead of leg-warmers, but basically it's the same deal. And they are all eagerly signing on for the curse of Fame, like a happy band of cult hippies following Jim Jones into the jungle." More from Jeffrey M Anderson (Cinematical), Alonso Duralde (MSNBC), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), David Jenkins (Time Out London), Christopher Orr (New Republic), Mary Pols (Time), Tasha Robinson (AV Club) and Andy Webster (NYT, where Melena Ryzik reports on a set visit). Getting famous is a whole different deal now than it was in the 80s, notes Julie Klausner in Salon.
"An Internet sensation since 2002, blogger and self-professed asshole Tucker Max has built a cottage industry documenting his drunken sexual conquests with women he has slightly less contempt for than those who don't succumb to his charms," writes Andrew Grant, introducing us to I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell in Time Out New York. "Hating him is part of the shtick, naturally, and his clever critic-proofing isn't lost on the producers of this painfully unfunny adaptation of Max's online missives." More from Simon Abrams (NYP), Mimi Luse (L), Vadim Rizov (Voice), Tasha Robinson (AV Club) and Nick Schager (Slant).
"If you're dying to know what it might be like to see a movie made entirely by robots you could do worse than Surrogates," writes Josef Braun. "This new Disney product is top to bottom a sleek, smooth and fully deodorized work, completely devoid of such pesky eccentricities as can occasionally spontaneously pop out of the human imagination." More from Jeffrey M Anderson (Cinematical), Manohla Dargis (NYT), Alonso Duralde (MSNBC), Trevor Johnston (TONY), Keith Phipps (AV Club), Tim Robey (Telegraph) and Stephanie Zacharek (Salon). Todd Gilchrist talks with director Jonathan Mostow for Cinematical.
Image: Coco Before Chanel.