At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
January is “The Month of Coincidence” at Film Space. February, “The Month of Hard-pressed Women.”
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, January 23: Magnolia (1999) by Paul Thomas Anderson – 188 mins – US, Drama. Starring: John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Melora Walters, William H. Macy, Jeremy Blackman, Michael Bowen, Melinda Dillon, April Grace, Luis Guzmán, Alfred Molina, Michael Murphy, Felicity Huffman, Henry Gibson. Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 35 nominations. Rated R in the US for strong language, drug use, sexuality, and some violence. Generally favorable reviews: 77/75 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Critics say Magnolia is an ambitious, lengthy work that ultimately succeeds due to the interesting stories and excellent ensemble performances.
In a single day in Los Angeles, a number of interconnected lives are changed forever. A lonely police officer (John C. Reilly) falls in love with a disturbed cocaine addict (Melora Walters). Her father (Philip Baker Hall), the host of the game show "What Do Kids Know?" has terminal cancer and tries to make amends for his past mistakes. A former champion of the show (William H. Macy) struggles to find love while the current champion (Jeremy Blackman) suffocates under the pressures of being a boy genius. An elderly man (Jason Robards) lies on his deathbed, tended by nurse Phil Parma (Philip Seymour Hoffman), while his trophy wife (Julianne Moore) wrestles with grief and guilt, and his estranged son (Tom Cruise), an infomercial host, teaches workshops on how to trick women into having sex. Throughout all of this, past deeds are lamented and strange forces loom in the air. Director Paul Thomas Anderson's follow-up to Boogie Nights is an extravagant, emotional epic inspired by such films as Robert Altman's Nashville and Short Cuts, with a sprawling cast of characters searching for love and meaning in a chaotic world. The cast delivers uniformly excellent performances, most notably Tom Cruise's Oscar-nominated role as the sleazy Frank T. J. Mackey.
Chiang Mai Mail, Mark Whitman: Paul Thomas Anderson is certainly one of the finest directors working in the USA today. Magnolia is a complex film which boasts a magnificent ensemble cast, a clever music score – and it confirms a talent which was compounded by last year’s film There Will Be Blood, a magnificent version of Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!
Roger Ebert: The kind of film I instinctively respond to. Leave logic at the door. Do not expect subdued taste and restraint, but instead a kind of operatic ecstasy.
Chicago Tribune, Michael Wilmington: The kind of brilliantly weirdo picture that, by all rights, shouldn't have gotten made at all but this time, miraculously, was.
About the Director: Paul Thomas Anderson was born in Studio City, California, and grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He attended a number of schools, and was involved in filmmaking at a young age. As a high school student, he made the 30-minute mockumentary The Dirk Diggler Story (1988), about a well-endowed male porn star (inspired by John Holmes, who also served as a major inspiration for Boogie Nights).
After a brief stint as an English major at Emerson College and an even shorter time at New York University, Anderson began his career as a production assistant on television movies, music videos, and game shows in Los Angeles and New York. He later made Cigarettes & Coffee (1992), a short with five vignettes set in a diner. The film was screened at the 1993 Sundance Festival, where it received considerable acclaim. In a few years, Anderson made his first full-length feature, Sydney, which was retitled Hard Eight (1996).
Anderson's breakout film Boogie Nights, revisiting his Dirk Diggler character in a full-length major motion picture, was released on October 10, 1997 to critical and commercial success. It was one of the best-reviewed films of the year and is widely considered one of the finest depictions of the porn film industry. The film revived the career of Burt Reynolds (who was nominated for an Oscar) and launched Mark Wahlberg and Julianne Moore onto the A-list of serious actors.
Anderson's next film was the ensemble piece Magnolia (1999), which tells the story of the peculiar interaction among the lives of several individuals in the San Fernando Valley, California. Interweaving nine separate yet connected storylines, Magnolia featured many intricately blocked extra-long shots, in a style quite distinct from that of mainstream Hollywood films. Magnolia was featured on over 150 critics’ top 10 lists of 1999, and received three Academy Award nominations, for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Cruise), Best Original Song for "Save Me" by Aimee Mann and Best Original Screenplay. In an interview after the film's release Anderson was quoted as saying "... what I really feel is that Magnolia is, for better or worse, the best movie I'll ever make."
Anderson returned with the comedy/romance feature Punch-Drunk Love (2002), starring Adam Sandler. The story centers on a beleaguered small-business owner embarking on a romantic journey with a mysterious woman. Sandler won positive reviews for his role in his first major departure from the mainstream comedies which made him a star. The film earned only $17 million despite a $25 million budget.
Anderson's most recent film, There Will Be Blood, was a loose adaptation of the Upton Sinclair novel Oil! The budget of the film was $25 million, and it gained $40 million in sales. It starred Daniel Day-Lewis, who won an Oscar for Best Leading Actor for his role, as well as Paul Dano who received a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Anderson was nominated for Best Director from the Directors Guild of America. The film also received eight Academy Award nominations, tying with No Country For Old Men for the most nominations. Anderson received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, losing all three to the Coen Brothers for No Country For Old Men.
In December 2009 Variety reported that Anderson was working on a new script tentatively titled "The Master,” about a "charismatic intellectual" that founds a new religion in the 1950s. Frequent Anderson player Philip Seymour Hoffman was reported to be attached as the lead.
Anderson is known for films with large ensemble casts and interweaving storylines, as in the case of Boogie Nights (1997) and Magnolia (1999). Anderson is a member of the first generation of "VCR filmmakers," much like directors Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, and Kevin Smith, who learned the craft not in film schools, but by viewing thousands of movies on video.
Anderson's stylistic trademarks include a constantly moving camera, logistically difficult steadicam-based long takes (such as the three-minute opening shot in Boogie Nights).
At Film Space Saturday, January 30: See How They Run / Embrassez qui vous voudrez (2002) by Michel Blanc – 103 mins – France/ UK/ Italy, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance. Generally favorable reviews: 74 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Michel Blanc's adaptation of Joseph Connolly's novel Summer Things/ Vacances Anglaises romps through scene after scene of riotous romantic upheaval and treachery. The story follows two eccentric families on vacation together in Touquet, France. One family, however, is privately bankrupt and can only afford a trailer on the outskirts of town. Casual infidelity and small deceits are the norm, as almost each character, young and old, becomes involved in a summer tryst. Class issues figure widely throughout the film, pressurizing relationships to their breaking point, and even driving one of the characters to suicide. Poignant moments of real loneliness complement the silly madness of sex and love, and become the motivation for utter debauchery. Unexpected attractions between disparate characters reinvent the bourgeoisie, or bringing true desire to the surface. As the vacation comes to a close, everyone either seems more resolved about their lives and loves, or driven to new extremes of psychosis, long past help. An incredible ensemble cast makes this well-written film memorable, including director Michel Blanc as Jean-Pierre, a deluded husband, and Charlotte Rampling as Elisabeth, the wise but vulnerable matriarch. Although the film flip-flops between earnest and comedic problems of money, monogamy, and longing, there is clearly only one way to escape from these pressures, and that is to fool around.
February is “The Month of Hard-pressed Women” at Film Space
At Film Space Saturday, February 6: Marie Antoinette (2006) by Sofia Coppola – 123 mins – US/ France/ Japan, Biography/Drama/ History. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Judy Davis, Rip Torn, Rose Byrne, Asia Argento, Molly Shannon, Shirley Henderson, Danny Huston, and Steve Coogan. Generally favorable reviews: 65/61 out of 100.
Rotten Tomatoes: Lavish imagery and a daring soundtrack set this film apart from most period dramas; in fact, style completely takes precedence over plot and character development in Coppola's vision of the doomed queen.
Philadelphia Inquirer Steven Rea: A gorgeous confection, packed with gargantuan gowns and pornographic displays of pastrystuffs, Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette is also a sharp, smart look at the isolation, ennui, and supercilious affairs of the rich, famous and famously pampered.