June 24, 2009

Waltz with Bashir

Also this wee: Last Year At Marienbad, My Dinner with Andre, Choke Canyon

Highlight of the Week

Waltz With Bashir (Sony) Ari Folman’s years-in-the-making animated feature documentary on the subject of his experiences as a young Israeli soldier during the Lebanon War of 1982 may have flown under your radar, but that’s understandable. Having received enormous critical, festival and awarded praise, the bleak, beautiful, sometimes-sensual Hebrew-language film was still no match for its higher-profile awards-season competition. This is rather unfortunate because the film is a moving work and its technical merits are unlike anything audiences have previously experienced — not even Persepolis can hold a candle to this. Moreover, this praise should in no way undercut the film’s heart-wrenching narrative that plays out with equally innovative brilliance. To sum up: it’s a buffet for the senses in every respect. Extras: quality Folman commentary and Q&A, making-of. 

Also Available

Last Year At Marienbad (Criterion) Not quite as accessible as Alain Resnais’ previous landmark film Hiroshima Mon Amour, this is arguably one of the most impenetrable art films ever conceived — a cinematic Rorschach far less conventional than anything put out by fellow French New Wave pioneers. Throughout the fractured love triangle that occurs, our grip of time, space and certainty is radically shaken, requiring for us to put pieces together in attempt to form meaning out of a jigsaw of alleged memories. A stimulating challenge exclusive to open-minded cinephiles. Extras: audio interview with Resnais, making-of, two short Resnais-directed docs: Toute la mémoire du monde and Le chant du styrene.

My Dinner with André (Criterion) Most will recognize Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless) by his face and iconic voice, yet few will ever acknowledge him as more than a character actor. Their loss. Along with friend and theater director André Gregory, the actor-playwright co-scripted/co-starred-in this transfixing extended interaction that solely features the two scribers enjoying a brainy three-course meal at a posh restaurant in New York City, where Gregory’s outlandish critiques on modern living now, more than ever, seem applicable. One question remains: how can I score those Corky Saint Claire-made action figures? Extras: interviews with Gregory and Shawn by filmmaker and Louis Malle enthusiast Noah Baumbach, episode from the BBC program Arena, essays. 

Choke Canyon (Code Red) Stephen Collins (yep, dad from 7th Heaven) squares off against a heavy-polluting evil corporation led by an eviler Lance Henriksen, who in-turn enlists Quentin Tarantino fave Bo Svenson as a hired gun to wipe out the environmentalist do-gooder. Car chases, helicopter dogfights and a lot of wasted ammo ensue in this considerably goofy actioner courtesy of the man who gave us Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold and Gumball Rally.  Extras: commentary with (late) producer Peter Shepard, interview with Bo Svenson, vintage trailer.