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Topics/Questions/Exercises of the Week — 5 June 2009

The DVD Release Of The Week: Is, most of the time, whatever The New York Times' Dave Kehr says it is, and this week it's Zeitgeist's double feature of Phillipe Garrel's I Can No Longer Hear The Guitar and Emergency Kisses. As per usual, the comments thread devoted to the piece at Dave's website is a knotty and erudite affair, starting off with some dork's snarky rejoinder to a Garrel/Mumblecore analogy before veering into more fruitful areas of inquiry/anaysis. None of the commenters as of this writing have been wonky enough to point out the sole ungood aspect of the release, which is that neither film is presented in an enhanced-for-16:9 format! Between the (limited) theatrical releases of Guitar and Regular Lovers and this DVD set, it's possible that a miniature Garrel revival is upon us. Except that IFC's domestic run of Garrel's latest, Frontier of Dawn, which stirred up a lot of controversy at Cannes, was a real blink-and-miss-it affair—although it seems that every on-line film writer in the tri-state area went to the BAM premiere party for it.

Also out on DVD this week: Spring Breakdown. Karina Longworth's sociologically accented review of the straight-to-video Amy Poehler-starring comedy actually makes one curious to see it. I've managed to procure a Blu-ray disc of the title. I may not actually provide anyone with a followup account of my viewing of the piece, however.

The internet abounds this week with tributes and memorials to the late and often great David Carradine. Reported details about his death are still tentative and contradictory. In the meantime, this report on an appearance by Carradine at the Aero Theater in March gives a good indication as to why some fans and friends had been concerned about him recently.

WTF? Story Of The Week: Godard "interested" in adapting Daniel Mendelsohn's The Lost: A Search of Six of Six Million. I've heard of the Hollywood Stock Exchange, but does there exist an actual sports book where one can bet on projects that are "announced" or that a director is "interested in?" Because if so, this one and the Scorsese Sinatra biopic have the longest odds, and I know a couple of compulsive gamblers who could use the "action..."

Armond White-ism Of The Week: "We’re given Dylanolatry where a lullaby from The Pixies,The Smiths, Nirvana or De La Soul would convey a genuine modern quest for relief." Mr. W. takes to task a character singing a young child to sleep with "Mr. Tambourine Man" in Away We Go, a picture I also disliked, for reasons that one might say run parallel to those of White's. I have to say I admire the restraint and critical detachment that inhibited Armond from including The Wedding Present in his list of modern musical relief givers—usually he can't resist. Exercise: What Nirvana, Pixies, Smiths or De La Soul number would you sing a small child to sleep with?

Meme Of The Week: "Reading The Movies," begun at The Dancing Image. Books on film and how they rocked the given blogger's world.

Idle Question: Apropos the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, how soon do you think the porno industry will respond with a release entitled Latina Justice?

Didn’t you know? Every conceivable twist of social circumstance has already been staged, enacted, stroked, and amped up by the porn industry. Once an actual event occurs (or hints at occurring), all they need do is press a button and poof… the DVD is the on the shelf, the download on the site, the blogger’s joke ready and waiting.
Since a day may not pass here at The Auteurs without a requisite Kubrick reference (on the forum, anyway), I’ll make one now: Johanna ter Steege from “I Can No Longer Hear The Guitar” was chosen by Kubrick to be featured in his aborted “Aryan Papers” project (Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” made that redundant, so Kubrick felt). It’s interesting to imagine Kubrick discovering her by having seen Garrel’s film. If so, it’s equally interesting to wonder what Kubrick made of Garrel’s art.
“What Nirvana, Pixies, Smiths or De La Soul number would you sing a small child to sleep with?” Provided they don’t really understand the lyrics yet (and most children won’t), Nirvana’s “Something in the Way” or “The Man Who Sold the World” (though, technically, that’s Bowie’s). This is why, if I ever have any, my children will be emotionally scarred little darklings … I think Radiohead’s “No Surprises” has a decent sleep-encouraging melody, too. I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t matter what you sing to children, as long as the melody is suitable. Forget the words. Just hum. Kids don’t care.
I’m a little skeptical about IFC’s new distribution initiative – apropos Gavin Smith’s most recent Film Comment editor’s note, I agree that releasing films in major markets while releasing only ‘on demand’ for smaller regions looks good, on paper. Except, that, um, things aren’t all that great in the so-called major markets either. During the recent “European Union” festival here in Chicago, IFC had about a dozen films playing on the big screen – but digitally projected. And let me tell you, the digital noise that come from blowing digi-beta up onto a large screen wreaks havoc with the fine film grain of Garrel’s black and white photography. It also became clear that the decision was already made as to which films would get some kind of theatrical release and which would be relegated to television premiers – hence, Summer Hours played in 35mm, only to then get a regular release a couple of months later (a release which is, thankfully, doing very well. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy or a better movie). In other words, seek a film out during a festival and get shitty digital projection, or wait aqnd watch it at home. Neither seems ideal for the demands that a figure like Garrel places on an audience.

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