"Romanian films set in the era after the fall of Communism suggest the nation suffers a hell of a hangover from the ideology," writes Steve Erickson in Gay City News. "For instance, Corneliu Porumboiu's Police, Adjective attacks draconian drug laws left over from the old regime. Tuesday, After Christmas presents a very different vision of Romania. Its characters can afford to buy expensive Christmas gifts; one of them picks up a 3,300 Euro telescope. It may not be entirely accurate to call the film apolitical, but the most political thing about it is its avoidance of Eastern European miserabilism and its depiction of people who could be living much the same lifestyles in Western Europe."
Damon Smith introduces an interview with director Radu Muntean for Filmmaker: "Tuesday, After Christmas, which premiered at Cannes last year, opens on a dreamy scene: sunlight bathes a naked couple, middle-aged Paul (Mimi Branescu) and pretty, elfin Raluca (Maria Popistasu), who laugh and frolic in bed, teasing each other with an ease and gentleness that underscores their closeness. Minutes pass before we understand that Paul is married, and Raluca, a twentysomething dentist, is his lover. At home, Paul is attentive and affectionate toward his wife Adriana (Mirela Oprisor) and playfully paternal with his school-age daughter Mara (Sasa Paul-Szel), who is about to be fitted with braces. The couple make plans for the holidays; everything appears to be fine on the surface, though we know Paul is experiencing inner turmoil about his divided life that he increasingly finds hard to hide."
"'Realism' and 'minimalism' — the terms often used to describe the tough, stripped-down movies that have been coming out of Romania in the past decade — seem both obvious and inadequate when applied to Mr Muntean's work," writes AO Scott in the New York Times. "Like his most recent films, The Paper Will Be Blue (2006) and Boogie (2008), Tuesday, After Christmas diagrams, with remorseless, sympathetic clarity, the behavior of a man who is at once willful and passive. Its formal economy is startling and subtle. The whole thing consists of a few dozen shots, with the camera moving only when it needs to. But nothing essential is missing, and the story is hardly simple. This is the realism of an M.R.I. scan or the X-rays of Mara's mouth that Raluca shows to Paul and Adriana. The camera discloses truths that are ordinarily hidden from view and that, once revealed, are open to endless, agonizing interpretation."
"The warts-and-all frankness hides a kind of overcaution," finds Nick Pinkerton in the Voice. "Every possible turnoff into melodrama is passed — into humor and sentiment, too — until Muntean achieves the dubious perfection of never violating his defined parameters of peepshow realism."
More from Joe Bendel, Benjamin Mercer (Reverse Shot), Noel Murray (AV Club, A-), Joshua Rothkopf (Time Out New York, 4/5), Henry Stewart (L), Amy Taubin (Artforum), Scott Tobias (NPR), Martin Tsai (Critic's Notebook), Ryan Wells (Cinespect) and Armond White (New York Press). Earlier: Reviews from last year's Cannes, when Daniel Kasmas reviewed Tuesday, and New York. More interviews with Muntean: David Fear (TONY) and Gary Kramer (Slant). At Film Forum through June 7.
ALSO IN NEW YORK
"In truth he's very much a mainstream filmmaker, even a throwback, you might say, to the old-school studio directors who prided themselves on their ability to tackle any kind of movie — comedy, musical, thriller, intimate drama — in any setting and on any scale."
That's Terrence Rafferty in a New York Times profile of Norman Jewison, who's in the city on the occasion of a retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center that opened yesterday and runs through Monday. Jewison will be on hand to introduce many of the screenings or for Q&A sessions afterwards, as will Robert Osborne (The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, 1966; see Brynn White's fun roundup for Alt Screen), Lee Grant (In the Heat of the Night, 1967; see Joe Leydon's recollection of watching it for the first time), casting director Lynn Stalmaster (Gaily, Gaily, 1969), lyricist Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof, 1971), André Previn (Jesus Christ Superstar, 1973), Sony Pictures Classics President Michael Barker (Rollerball, 1975), Meg Tilly (Agnes of God, 1985) and Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck, 1987).
"As a founding member of Canyon Cinema, the San Francisco-based artist Bruce Baillie has been a force in true American independent filmmaking since 1960," writes Steve Dollar in the Wall Street Journal. "The impressionistic Castro Street (1966), now part of the National Film Registry, turns a railroad odyssey into a dream-poem of American industry through artful superimposition and graceful tracking shots that mimic the path of the rails. It's part of an 82-minute program of Mr Baillie's films that will be introduced by the filmmaker on Friday [at Anthology Film Archives]. His visit is tied to museum programs devoted to the Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who has cited Mr Baillie as a major influence. He will screen his 1970 feature Quick Billy [image above], and join the Thai director for a Q&A on Thursday at the New Museum."
NOT IN NEW YORK
Karina Longworth in the LA Weekly: "If an auteur's body of work is defined by the outliers — the films that seem to bend the strictures of a director's identifiable style while still unmistakably bearing his signature — then the must-see of LACMA's upcoming Tim Burton film series, pegged to the museum's massive exhibit of the filmmaker's nonmoving work, is Saturday's screening of Ed Wood, which Burton will introduce." The Fantastical Worlds of Tim Burton runs through June 18, accompanying the Museum's Tim Burton exhibition, on view through — nice touch, this — October 31. Bobby Solomon has a preview at The Fox Is Black. For more LA-area goings on, see Phil Coldiron.
The third edition of Kibatsu Cinema, "a celebration of the odd and the eccentric in Japanese pop culture and contemporary Japanese film," opens tomorrow in Vancouver and runs through the weekend.
The Chicago Reader's JR Jones rounds up "This Week's Movie Action." And if you're in Melbourne, Screen Machine has your to-do list.
IN OTHER NEWS
From Chris MaGee comes news that Hiroyuki Nagato passed away over the weekend at the age of 77. "Right from the beginning he was destined to have some kind of life in Japan's motion picture industry. Nagato's grandfather was Shozo Makino, often cited as being the first proper director in Japanese film history… and his father was actor Sadako Sawamura, star of such films as Gate of Hell and The Burmese Harp. Nagato's younger brother is actor Masahiko Tsugawa…. Nagato would eventually enroll in Kyoto's Ritsumeikan University, but dropped out to star alongside Yujiro Ishihara and his future wife [Yoko] Minamida in Takumi Furukawa's adaptation of Shintaro Ishihara's novel Season of the Sun. It was this film that launched Nagato into super stardom. He would follow up this role with appearances in such classic films as Shohei Imamura's Pigs and Battleships and The Insect Woman, Yoshishige Yoshida's Akitsu Springs and Takashi Miike's Gozu and Izo."
On Monday evening, Fritz Schediwy was giving a reading at the Schiller Theater in Berlin when he suffered a heart attack. Doctors were able to revive him, but he died that night in the hospital. He was 68. Primarily known for his work in theater, Schediwy also appeared in films by Werner Schroeter and in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz.
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