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ND/NF 2010, 3/30; Orphans, Truffaut, “Star Wars”

The Auteurs Daily

Evening Dress

"Anchored by a revelatory performance by Alba Gaia Bellugi, The Evening Dress is a keen portrayal of a girl caught uncomfortably in that nervous, confusing, seemingly perilous crawlspace between girlhood and womanhood," writes Ed Gonzalez in Slant.

[Update, 3/30: "Inflicting a cute kid with a fatal attraction sounds like a stunt offering exploitative fun, but while there are many tense, thriller-like buildups and payoffs, [director Myriam] Aziza is more interested in the Rohmeresque moral intricacies of the situation," writes Justin Stewart in L Magazine. This separates it from something like Notes on a Scandal, in which gossip and psychological grotesqueness are paramount. With smooth, non-flashy craftsmanship, and the assistance of two fantastic lead performances, Aziza makes the scandalous quietly profound."]

Also screening for the first time on Tuesday in this year's New Directors / New Films series are two titles for which we already have roundups, but just briefly, first, Nick Schager in Slant: "A dysfunctional family drama pitched like a Buñuelian black comedy laced with horror, Dogtooth unnerves with a rigorous focus and technical dexterity that's apt to stun and amaze." More from Howard Feinstein (indieWIRE) and Michael Tully (Hammer to Nail). Those roundups: Toronto and SXSW.

"Winner of the Silver Lion at last year's Venice Film Festival, [Shirin[ Neshat's debut feature, Women Without Men, is based on a novel with magical-realist flourishes by author Shahrnush Parsipur (who also has a delightful turn as a brothel madam in the movie)," writes Lauren Wissot in Slant, "and like its source, the film's images are painstakingly crafted and painfully alive. Which makes this film about the death of a democracy, and which opens with a suicide, all the more compelling." More from Brandon Harris (Hammer to Nail); and the Venice roundup.



The Orphan Film Symposium, convening at the newly renovated SVA Theatre in New York from April 7 through 10, "has become an international summit for those interested in the study, preservation, and exhibition of 'orphan films.' Narrowly defined, an orphan film is a motion picture abandoned by its owner. More generally, the term refers to all manner of films outside of the commercial mainstream: silent and sponsored films, independent, industrial and avant garde work, home movies, advertisements, and other ephemeral moving images. The films on display are rediscovered gems, orphans that have been adopted and saved from neglect and deterioration." Tom Hall highlights a handful of selections.



Having just wrapped its series on Stanley Kubrick, Not Coming to a Theater Near You launches another. Evan Kindley: "Over the course of the next month, in which we will review all of Truffaut's films, we will reconsider the career arc of this acknowledged master of cinema while refusing some of the easy narratives of that development. In turn, we hope to get a better handle on a complex filmmaker whose work can appear deceptively simple. Whether Truffaut emerges in the end as a 'great' director is ultimately less important than that we make some effort toward seeing his work as a whole, attending to the weaknesses along with the strengths, the celebrated with the obscure — and in this way, perhaps, remain faithful to the spirit of the politique des auteurs after all."

Star Wars Modern is the blog discovery of the day, found via Joanne McNeil's terrific entry, "The Editor and the Curator (Or the Context Analyst and the Media Synesthete)." SWM is written by John Powers, a sculptor whom you may also remember as the author of the Triple Canopy essay, "Star Wars: A New Heap."

Star Wars

While we're on the subject, Film Salon's just run Paul Hiebert's interview with Alexandre O Philippe, whose The People vs George Lucas debuted at SXSW a couple of weeks ago; at Techland, Steven James Snyder argues that the "first 34 seconds of Star Wars, the first shot of action post-scrawl, is still probably the best opening sci-fi scene ever filmed"; and Catherine Grant points us to a see-it-to-believe-it video of Michael Rakowitz talking about his exhibition at the Tate Modern in London (through May 3), The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one's own which "traces links between western science fiction and military-industrial activities in Iraq during and after Saddam Hussein's regime."

One more online viewing tip. Henry Jenkins, in conversation with Tron creator Steve Lisberger, parts one through 21. Don't balk; these clips run just a few minutes each and cover all things sci-fi and transmedia.

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