MOVIES ON BIG SCREENS – August 28, 2009

Well, folks, it’s another absolutely loaded weekend in New York City theaters. We’ll get to new releases first, then point you in the direction of enough enticing repertory action to keep you in the dark all weekend long:

NEW RELEASES

Still Walking — When Hirokazu Kore-eda introduced his masterful drama at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, he expressed worry that it might not click with non-Japanese viewers. Yeah, right. Just about everyone I’ve spoken to agrees with me that Still Walking plays like a sterling foreign film adaptation of our their own awkward family gatherings. Be sure to read Brandon Harris’ review, and be surer to catch Still Walking on the big screen if you can (or on IFC On Demand if that’s your only option). It is, without question, one of the year’s finest pictures.

At The Edge of the World — Here’s my take: The Cove = Michael Bay; At the Edge of the World = Werner Herzog. While that might be a simplistic, trite way to compare these two similarly themed (and just about simultaneously released) eco-thrillers, I think the comparison has merit, at least in an aesthetic, energetic sense. No offense to the composer of At the Edge of the World, but the film’s incredibly misguided score threatened to toss me all the way overboard. Even taking that into account, I would still recommend Dan Stone’s action doc, which is a consistently riveting spectacle. Though to attribute the film solely to Stone doesn’t seem right, as he wasn’t actually there for the tumultuous shoot. Seven brave videographers risked their own lives to capture this dangerous adventure. This film belongs to them.

We Live in Public — Even thinking about Ondi Timoner’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning film makes me want to cut off my electricity and join a monastery. In Josh Harris, Timoner has found the seemingly definitive symbol for internet exhibitionism run creepily amuck. Timoner uses an amped up filmmaking approach—quick cutting fueled by a pop music soundtrack—to tell Harris’ story. At times, it becomes difficult to discern if this choice was made to reflect the corny energy of the early dot-com era, or if it’s too poppy for its own good. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. As a time capsule of a truly strange period in recent history, it’s essential. As a warning about how not to misuse technology, it’s perhaps even more vital.

Big Fan — To be fair to Robert Siegel, I need to see his directorial debut again before I can pass a more definitive judgment on it. My only viewing was in the midst of Sundance overload and I worry that my third act detachment from the story was a reflection of my own tired physical state. That’s what separates the pros from the ams, I suppose, but I’m at least fessing up to it. I will say that I dug the King of Comedy-esque tone that Siegel creates. Big Fan is either a blackly comic drama, or a disturbingly dramatic comedy. Or is that the same thing? Whatever the case, Kevin Corrigan is as funny as he’s ever been, and Patten Oswalt is solid as an overgrown child with an unhealthy attachment to his favorite NFL team.

REPERTORY

Tokyo Story (IFC Center) — Last week, Come and See on the big screen and now this week, Tokyo Story? If I ever think of moving away from New York City, remind me not to. I imagine the clever kids at IFC Center made this selection to coincide with the release of Still Walking. Don’t miss this latest chance to catch one of the all-time greats on the big screen.

30 Years of First Run Features (Walter Reade) — Running from August 26th-September 4th, this tribute to the distribution company founded by Seymour Wishman features much goodness to chew on. This weekend’s schedule includes: Lizzie Borden’s Born in Flames (1983), Jan Svenkmajer’s Alice (1988), Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March (1986), Michael Apted’s 49 Up (2005), and many more.

Best of NewFest (BAM) — Some of the year’s finest work is screening as part of this two-day series. I personally highly recommend the following: David Barba and James Pellerito’s Pop Star on Ice (Johnny Weir will be in attendance!), Tina Mabrey’s Mississippi Damned, and Kimberly Reed’s Prodigal Sons.

The New York Film Critics Circle at 75 (MoMA) — This weekend brings three classics to MoMA: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Goodfellas, and everyone’s favorite nine-hour Holocaust documentary, Shoah!

— Michael Tully

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