Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

DB here.

As we close out the first day of 2012 I’m going to take this time to look forward to whats ahead and to comment on some things that you may have seen commented on via Twitter.

First thank you for your patience with the New Years Trailers experiment. It was something that was kicked around by a couple of us here at Unseen. When we talked about it it was a seemingly good idea, but I'm not sure it was wholly successful.

The death this past week of writer/director/actor Don Sharp was a loss. Sharp was a director who helped set the tone for what we think of as the Mod British 1960’s with work on Hammer films (and later the TV series) such as Rasputin the Mad Monk, The Christopher Lee Fu Manchu films, and TV show the Avengers. In the 70’s he did action films like Callan, Hennesy, a version of the 39 Steps (which spawned a TV Show) and Bear Island before moving on to things like A Woman of Substance. His films were never the best of the best, but they were almost always enjoyable popcorn fare. He will be missed.

Also reported on Twitter was the glee I got from seeing Arthur Christmas. This is a great Christmas film about one of Santa’s son’s who goes to great lengths to make sure no one is forgotten. Its warm and funny and certain to become a classic once everyone gets a chance to find it when it hits home video (though it’s still playing in the odd matinee so if you can go see it.)

As you already know by the inclusion of the film on my Worst of the Year list as a Dishonorable Mention, I was not particularly happy with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Yes, it has some great action set pieces, but the film is soulless and lacking in anything resembling characters. It’s a film that exists purely for the big action sequence. I am completely perplexed at how Brad Bird, a man responsible for some of the best character driven films of the last 15 years could make a film so empty. By the half way point in Dubai I was bored by it all.

My first film of the year was the critical hit Drive with Ryan Gosling. This is the second film I saw this year with the same title and with a similar philosophical bend in a 12 month period. The earlier film was by Japanese director Sabu and was so much better. As I said the film plays like an existential remake of The Transporter but with a low brow 80's soundtrack and bland performance by Gosling (that's not acting, its staring). I know its based on a novel, but it seems more like a riff on similar 70's and 80's films like Two Lane Blacktop, Vanishing Point, To Live and Die in LA, not to mention the similar titled The Driver from Walter Hill. Its not a bad film, as such, it's just that I think the people who are praising it haven't seen the earlier, better films in the genre. To me it's the one film that the critics have praised from 2011 that has left me wondering what film they saw.

I should remind you that tomorrow night I’ll be posting the film finds of the year. I’m following that up with my picks for the best/favorites on Tuesday night.

What’s coming up beyond that? This week are five mind bending films that make you go WTF was that. The week after is some really good random titles I had been meaning to get to and finally have. That will be followed by a week of Buster Keaton films, then nine days, and I'm still not sure how many titles, for Chinese New Year. Mr C is oranging it all and is still tinkering so you'll have to keep reading to see what shows up. From there we’ll have a week of Tarzan films, Women in Prison films, Alien invasion documentaries and lots of other goodies. (I have plans into June so don't expect anything to stop any time soon)

A new year means that the film festival season is starting all over again.

Look for extensive coverage of the Korean Cultural Service screenings which start on the 10th. The line up of the first four weeks is incredible, with two already having played New York at the New York Asian Film Festival in 2009 and 2010. These are group of films you really should see if you haven’t already. Details can be found here. Full reviews of every film will run a few days before each screening.

I have tickets for a couple of screenings for the New York Jewish Film Festival at Lincoln Center. There is a ton of good stuff this year and I’m hoping to get to more than the three films I have tickets to. The trouble this year is that the job that pays the bills has gotten complicated so I’m still not sure if I can take off for all I’d like to do.

I have tickets to see Haywire the Steven Soderbergh action film on January 17. It’s a sneak preview with the director and star in attendance. (Follow this link for details for both Haywire and the Jewish Film Festival).

For those who want to know what else is coming up at Lincoln Center you maybe interested to know that after the Jewish Film Festival there will be a Dance on Film series, the Complete Bela Tarr series and a look back at the work of Raquel Welch. In between will run assorted goodies including the Film Societies continuing look back at the NYFF on Tuesdays and the Family series on weekends.

Tickets go on sale for the BAM Kids Fest Wednesday. This is a winter festival aimed at kids up to ten. Last year I went to the screening of Moomins and the Comet Chase with John, Randi and Bully. The movie was great and the festival looked to be fun if you’re of the right age. Bully is and he had a blast. (We never officially ran a review of The Comet Chase, but don’t worry one has been scheduled)

I want to mention that we are just past the half way point at the Studio Ghibli retrospective at NYC’s IFC Center. This is all of the feature films from Nausicaa to Ponyo. Even if you have seen the films, but only on home video you really should go see them BIG. If you don’t live in New York you are in luck since G Kids is touring the retrospective around the country.

As for Gkids, their New York International Children's Film Festival runs from March 2 to 25. I'll let you know when tickets go on sale.

Just to remind you that we will take requests. Just email me with your ideas and we’ll give’em a go (just be patient about our posting the reviews)

I think that's it for now. Time to shuffle off to bed and get ready for the day job in the morning. I hope the holidays were good for you. Thanks for reading.

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