Tag Archives: The Showcase Film Series

Note from Roger – Neruda

This one is at the top of the list for my must-see, year-ending films for 2016!

Posted  by Larry Gleeson

Dear Cinephiles,

NERUDA is a fireworks display of a movie about poetry and politics – directed by brilliant Chilean director Pablo Larrain who also directed this year’s JACKIE.   Just like the latter film, NERUDA – about the Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Pablo Neruda, this film is not your typical biography.   Do not miss one of the best foreign films you’re likely to see this year.

Below is an article about the film from the Los Angeles Times. NERUDA is currently playing at the Riviera Theatre.

See you at the movies!
Roger Durling

Click here for tickets

 

neruda

Pablo Larraín’s ‘Neruda’ is a richly imagined biographical fantasia
By Justin Chang – Los Angeles Times

“Neruda,” an intoxicating puzzle of a movie directed by Pablo Larraín, chronicles a strange, harrowing episode from the late 1940s, when the Chilean government’s crackdown on communism drove the great poet and politician Pablo Neruda underground. Specifically, the film unravels the tricky game of cat-and-mouse between Neruda and an ambitious police inspector named Oscar Peluchonneau, who sought to track down the dissident artist whose writings had struck a dangerously resonant chord with the working class.

There was, in fact, no Oscar Peluchonneau — or at least, none who fits the description blithely concocted by Larraín and his screenwriter, Guillermo Calderon. The charm of “Neruda” lies in its insistence that there may well have been, and that it scarcely matters if there wasn’t. Drolly and persuasively, the movie demonstrates that when it comes to evoking the artist and the nature of his art, historical fidelity and literal-minded dramatization go only so far. Fiction, lovingly and imaginatively rendered, can bring us much closer to the truth.

“We must dream our way,” Neruda once wrote, and it is nothing short of enchanting to encounter a biographical drama that, rather than merely shoving that quote into its protagonist’s mouth, treats it as a guiding aesthetic and philosophical principle. Like (and yet completely unlike) “I’m Not There,” Todd Haynes’ fragmented 2007 cine-riff on Bob Dylan, “Neruda” is less a straightforward portrait of a great contemporary poet (and eventual Nobel laureate) than a rigorously sustained investigation of his inner world.

Although informed by the busy workings of history, politics and personal affairs, “Neruda” proceeds like a light-footed chase thriller filtered through an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” by the end of which the audience is lost in a crazily spiraling meta-narrative. Who exactly is the star and author of that narrative is one of the film’s more enticing mysteries.

Initially it seems both roles must be filled by Pablo Neruda, played with prickly, preening brilliance by Luis Gnecco (“Narcos”), who donned a wig and gained more than 50 pounds to achieve his remarkable physical resemblance to the real deal. The key to the performance is that, despite the shimmering inspiration of Neruda’s poetry, neither Gnecco nor Larraín seems to feel any obligation to make Neruda himself a particularly inspiring figure.

From the opening scene, a political gathering wittily set in an enormous public lavatory, Neruda, a senator and member of the Chilean Communist Party, is shown to be a proud and vociferous critic of his country’s leadership. But in the very next sequence, a lavish party crammed with half-naked revelers, the film presents the idea of Neruda as a Champagne socialist — a vain, hedonistic hypocrite who, like so many left-wing elites, loves “to soak up other people’s sweat and suffering.”

That damning bit of mockery is delivered by the aforementioned detective, Oscar Peluchonneau (played with mustachioed elan by Gael García Bernal), who slyly complicates the film’s notions of authorship and agency. When Chilean President Gabriel González Videla (Alfredo Castro) outlaws communism in 1948, responding to mounting Cold War anxieties, Peluchonneau eagerly leads the manhunt for Neruda, who has gone into hiding in the port city of Valparaíso with his second wife, the painter Delia del Carril (Mercedes Morán, excellent).

Many of the individual scenes in “Neruda” serve a fairly clear narrative purpose. We see the poet consorting with his allies, arguing with his wife, and disobeying his party-appointed bodyguard (Michael Silva) to slip out for a frolic at a nearby brothel or bohemian enclave. We rarely see him writing, though his poems are shown being secretly distributed and playing a huge role in keeping the communist movement alive underground. But even these relatively simple moments are transformed and complicated by the sheer audacity of Larraín’s stylistic conceits.

In the hands of the editor Hervé Schneid, an extended conversation between two people might span three or four different locations, transporting the viewer without warning from a private room to a perch overlooking the Chilean countryside. Elsewhere, Sergio Armstrong’s sensuous digital photography evokes the mood of the past even as it encourages us to view the film as a formalist construct, from the faded, purplish coloration of the images to the use of phony-looking rear projection in the driving scenes.

In one of Larraín and Calderon’s most telling flourishes, it is Peluchonneau who provides the film’s running voice-over commentary, often in contrapuntal harmony with Neruda’s journey. The two men are almost never seen in the same frame, and yet the ever-mobile camera seems to ping-pong restlessly between them, as though blurring them into one shared, active consciousness.

Peluchonneau’s words may be sardonic and self-flattering, but as the film advances and his own footing in the narrative begins to shift, they also take on their own mysterious, downright Nerudian poetry. (A few verses from his posthumously published “For All to Know” might seem appropriate here: “I am everybody and every time/I always call myself by your name.”)

“Neruda’s” formal spryness and nontraditional appreciation of history will come as little surprise to admirers of “Jackie,” Larraín’s other great bio-experiment of the moment, or his 2012 drama, “No,” a compelling snapshot of the end of the Augusto Pinochet regime that also starred Bernal (with Gnecco and Castro in prominent supporting roles). His filmography, which includes such festival-acclaimed favorites as “Tony Manero,” “Post Mortem” and “The Club,” has sealed his reputation as one of the most distinctive and continually surprising talents in world cinema, though nothing he’s done to date has forced him to take such intuitive leaps, to abandon realism so completely, as “Neruda.”

Unspooling the picture earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival, Larraín confessed that, even after making the movie, he wasn’t at all sure he knew who Neruda was. And in a typically counter-intuitive gesture, “Neruda” doesn’t pretend to know, either. It keeps the man at a playful distance, firm in its belief that the art will sustain our interest, long after the passing of the artist and his historical moment. It’s possible that Pablo Neruda himself would have concurred with this sentiment, though Oscar Peluchonneau might have begged to differ.

sbiff-showcase

(Source: sbiff.org)

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Note from Roger – On The Map

Almost any basketball fan from the 1970’s, especially UCLA Bruin fans, is sure to enjoy and appreciate On The Map. – HollywoodGlee

11162014-Roger-Durling_t479Dear Cinephiles,

ON THE MAP is everything you want an underdog story to be: suspenseful, inspirational, heartfelt and, ultimately, uplifting. It will make you stand up and cheer! A slam dunk!

Attached is a rave review from the LA Times. It plays tonight (Tuesday) at 5:00pm and tomorrow at 7:30pm at the Riviera Theatre.

See you at the movies!
Roger Durling

Click Here for Tickets

on-the-map

‘On the Map’ reveals the basketball contest that gave Israel a sense of sporting and national pride
By Kenneth Turan – Los Angeles Times

Sport, it’s been said, is the toy department of our culture, but even diversions can have their moment of unforeseen socio-political relevance.

That’s what happened in 1980, when a young U.S. Olympic ice hockey team surprised the mighty Soviets and won the gold medal in a contest that’s been described as the Miracle on Ice.

In a different sport three years earlier, and as detailed in the genial documentary “On The Map,” Israel experienced a similar epochal moment that shifted the national culture.

That was when the country’s Maccabi Tel Aviv team, with six Americans led by the charismatic Tal Brody, won the European Cup basketball championship in a tournament that had resonance above and beyond the final victory.

For it was after Maccabi’s miraculous semi-final win over CSKA Moscow, the fearsome Red Army team, that the over-the-moon Brody told a television interviewer, “We are on the map. And we are staying on the map — not only in sports but in everything.”

Israeli director Dani Menkin has been especially thorough in telling this classic against-all-odds sports story. He interviews Brody and his teammates, Israeli sports figures and American basketball luminaries like coach Digger Phelps, former NBA Commissioner David Stern and an enthusiastic Bill Walton, a former teammate of Brody’s on America’s 1970 national team.

Menkin also helps us understand why that casually uttered Brody phrase became a sensation, resonating in Israel for decades in a way that is fascinating from a historical perspective but also leads to some reflections about what is different in the world today.

The key figure in “On the Map” is obviously Brody, a fluid 6-foot-1 point guard from Trenton, N.J., who had the skills to be drafted 12th by the then-Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards) in 1965.

But before the NBA season began, Brody went to Israel to compete in the Maccabiah Games, and that experience turned him in a completely different direction. Encouraged by the owners of the Maccabi Tel Aviv team and the celebrated Gen. Moshe Dayan, he decided he wanted to be part of something bigger than the NBA, he wanted to take basketball in Israel to another level.

This idea took firmer shape in the early 1970s, when other American players, some Jewish, some not, were persuaded to join Brody. The last piece of the puzzle, 6-foot-10 center Aulcie Perry, was signed after a competing center ate so much at a team banquet that the coach was afraid he would hog the ball.

No Israeli team had ever gotten past the first round in the European Cup tourney, but “On the Map” focuses in a game-by-game way on why the 1977 event turned out to be different.

Each contest had its own drama, and we both hear about it through memories and watch chunks of the contests themselves via game footage and home movies shot by rabid fans.

That semi-final game against the U.S.S.R. was problematic for several reasons, starting with the fact that the Soviets did not recognize Israel at the time and initially refused to even play before a neutral court was found in the tiny Belgian town of Virton.

Given that CSKA Moscow had several players from the national team that had beaten the U.S. in the 1972 Olympics, the Tel Aviv team shouldn’t have had a chance, which gave Israel’s victory so much resonance that former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, also interviewed here, says it helped sustain him during nine years in a Siberian prison camp.

While the final game against an Italian team was so watched in Israel that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin postponed the announcement of his resignation until it ended, Brody’s quote became the memory that lasted.

It was, in its exuberance, perfect for a time when Israel was seen and saw itself as a plucky underdog on the world stage. Whether justifiably or not, that perception has changed, and without really meaning to, “On the Map” brings today’s situation into sharper focus.

(Source: sbiff.org)

SBIFF The Showcase – Tampopo

NEW RESTORATION OF THE 1985 JAPANESE COMEDY MASTERPIECE!

Screening:
Sunday November 6 @ 2:00pm
Monday November 7 @ 7:30pm
Tuesday November 8 @ 5:00pm
Wednesday November 9 @ 7:30pm
at the Riviera Theatre
2044 Alameda Padre Serra

Juzo Itami’s rapturous “ramen western” returns to U.S. screens for the first time in decades, in a new 4K restoration. The tale of an enigmatic band of ramen ronin who guide the widow of a noodle shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe, Tampopo serves up a savory broth of culinary adventure seasoned with offbeat comedy sketches and the erotic exploits of a gastronome gangster. Sweet, sexy, surreal, and mouthwatering, Tampopo remains one of the most delectable examples of food on film.

TAMPOPO
Written & Directed by Jûzô Itami
Starring Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Koji Yakusho, Ken Watanabe, Rikiya Yasuoka
Country of Origin: Japan
Running Time: 115 min
Subtitled

tampopo

Tampopo is right up there with Ratatouille and Big Night when it comes to peerless movies about food.”
Joe Morgenstern – Wall Street Journal

“It’s a funny story beautifully told.”
Gene Siskel – Chicago Tribune

“Charming and touching, with lots of sumptuous meals to inspire you to get cooking.”
David Parkinson – Empire

“The movie, which Itami calls a ‘Noodle Western,’ is a rambunctious mixture of the bawdy and the sublime.”
Hal Hinson – Washington Post

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(Source: sbiff.org/tampopo/)

SBIFF Showcase Film Series Presents Command and Control

A chilling nightmare plays out at a Titan II missile complex in Arkansas in September, 1980. A worker accidentally drops a socket, puncturing the fuel tank of an intercontinental ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead in our arsenal, an incident which ignites a series of feverish efforts to avoid a deadly disaster. Directed by RobertCommand and Control.jpg Kenner (FOOD, INC.) and based on the critically acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser (FAST FOOD NATION), COMMAND AND CONTROL is a minute-by-minute account of this long-hidden story. Putting a camera where there was no camera that night, Kenner brings this nonfiction thriller to life with stunning original footage shot in a decommissioned Titan II missile silo. Eyewitness accounts — from the man who dropped the socket, to the man who designed the warhead, to the Secretary of Defense— chronicle nine hours of terror that prevented an explosion 600 times more powerful than Hiroshima.

Here’s what critics are saying:

“Despite the high stakes, Command and Control is fun to watch, in the manner of good suspense thrillers and disaster films.”
– Chris Packham, Village Voice

“What gives Command and Control its urgency are both its wealth of information and the implications of its story.”
– Mark Jenkins, NPR

“The pace of the drama is riveting, as it jumps back through the decades to place the accident in the context of the nuclear arms race.”
– Joe McGovern, Entertainment Weekly

 

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Entry way of the Santa Barbara Riviera Theater. (Photo credit: sbmerge.com)

Screening at the Riviera Theatre

Sunday October 9 @ 2:00pm
Monday October 10 @ 7:30pm
Tuesday October 11 @ 5:00pm
Wednesday October 12 @ 7:30pm
The Riviera Theatre is located at
2044 Alameda Padre Serra, Santa Barbara, CA

Click here for tickets.

See you at the cinema!

COMMAND AND CONTROL
Directed by Robert Kenner
Written by Robert Kenner, Eric Schlosser
Country of Origin: USA
Running Time: 92 min

 

(Source:www.sbiff.org)