MOVIE JOURNAL: J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things
The third feature by China’s first Tibetan filmmaker, Pema Tseden, “Old Dog”—screening at the Museum of Modern Art daily from May 15 through May 20 as part of their excellent series “Chinese Realities/ Documentary Visions”—is a spare documentary fiction, or situation documentary, with strong intimations of allegory.
Life is a cabaret, old sport, or maybe halftime at the Super Bowl in Baz Luhrmann’s overhyped and overheated 3D adaptation of “The Great Gatsby”—the fifth time Hollywood has taken on the 1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald novel that many consider the greatest novel in the American language.
Canada’s erstwhile “sweetheart,” the former child star, sometime political activist, doggedly independent Sarah Polley excavates her tangled family history in this verbose but generally fascinating documentary hybrid—part home movie, part psychodrama, part reconstruction, part investigation, and part meta-narrative.
A fixture at Cannes and a disciple of Eric Rohmer, Hong Sang-soo is not only the most consistent of South Korean directors but, as I’ve said, the most Frenchified. He’s already set one of his 14 features, the 2008 “Night and Day” in Paris; “In Another Country” (newly out on DVD from Kino Lorber) brings France to the sleepy Korean resort town that seems to be Hong’s favorite setting, in the person of the great, apparently ageless Isabelle Huppert.
A youthful movie in more ways than one, Olivier Assayas’s “Something in the Air” evokes an irretrievable past even as it manages to embody the total excitement of a particular historical moment and even, self-reflexively, the trajectory of the French director’s career. This quasi-autobiographical evocation of student politics and European hippie counterculture circa 1971 is also a crypto sequel or perhaps a prequel to “Cold Water”, the extended party movie with which Assayas made his reputation in the mid ‘90s.
A documentary case study of Aquarian Age mysticism, “The Source Family” (opening May 1 at the IFC and VOD thereafter) confounds the conventional cult narrative with its “happy ending”—and thereby inspires a bit of boredom.
The showiest member of the new Mexican cinema, Carlos Reygadas is part stuntmeister, part visionary—a wildly ambitious post-Warhol impresario who, often working without a screenplay, seeks out exalted landscapes and orchestrates conditions where nonprofessional actors are compelled to expose themselves, sometimes cruelly, on camera. Continue Reading
Thinking about the ‘60s, I took a look at a new DVD release from Icarus Films: “Last Summer Won’t Happen,” a film hour-long bit of reportage by Peter Gessner and Tom Hurwitz, shot mainly in the East Village, during the autumn of 1967.