Berlin Viewing 1

By Robert Koehler

Good, the first controversy at the Berlin film festival. Why “good”? Controversies keep you warmed up, which you need to do in Berlin, where the snow fell today for the first time since Thursday’s opening with the Coens’ wonderful and genuine Charles Portis adaptation True Grit.

But to the real stuff: Don’t believe the trades on the first excellent competition film, Ulrich Koehler’s Sleeping Sickness. (No, there’s no relation–not that I know of.) In the least problematic of the three English-language trade reviews, my Variety colleague Boyd Van Hoeij incorrectly observes that the film “mostly …

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Searching for Palm Springs 3

By Robert Koehler

Even the Rain is a Ken Loach film directed by Iciar Bollain. Even more, it’s a film by Paul Laverty, Loach’s regular screenwriter. The film is a useful object in this regard: By watching Even the Rain (in Palm Springs because of its status as Spain’s foreign language Oscar submission), it’s clearer than ever that all of Loach’s recent films written by Laverty (up to and including Route Irish, one of the worst films ever to screen in a Cannes competition) are less films by Loach than films by Laverty. The same Laverty formula in the …

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Searching for Palm Springs 2

By Robert Koehler

Missing a film for eleven months since its premiere, particularly if it won an overrated but nevertheless weighty prize like Berlinale’s Golden Bear, can create an odd mix of sensations, with frustration (how I missed it in Berlin in the first place) to excessive anticipation (from the sheer wait). It can’t be allowed to cloud judgement, but it’s a challenge to sweep away when the film is finally seen. That was what I was going through this morning with the first screening in Palm Springs of Semih Kaplanoglu’s Honey, the final part of his Yusuf trilogy …

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Searching for Palm Springs

By Robert Koehler

Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Francois Ozon–the ideal trio combo to launch the latest edition of the aggressively middlebrow Palm Springs Film Festival, which promotes a certain brand of world cinema that continues to view Europe as the center of the world. And if it stars Deneuve, all the better. The film? You may have heard of it, even though it astoundingly, amazingly, inexplicably, ridiculously hasn’t screened at a US festival until this very moment. (The closest location was Toronto, on the heels of its world premiere in Venice, which got it because Cannes stupidly passed on it …

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AFI FEST 2010

AFI FEST starts up today in Hollywood, and this year, I’m the Editor of the Festival blog, AFI FEST NOW, as well as an Associate Programmer. I’ll be introducing the screenings of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, A Screaming Man, Free Radicals, Kubrick’s Lolita, and the double feature of Kim Ki-young’s 1960 classic The Housemaid (which can be viewed for free in its entirety at MUBI, here) and Im Sang-soo’s new remake. I’ll also introduce the Hong Sang-soo double feature, HaHaHa and Oki’s Movie, and I’ll facilitate the Q/A …

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Updates

Though I haven’t updated in a couple weeks, I’ve been up to my ears in film viewing. Some recent projects:

• I’ve written the program notes for LACMA’s “20th Anniversary Tribute to the Film Foundation,” which starts today. I’ve also guest-blogged about it for my Save Film at LACMA partner, Debra Levine, at her blog, artsmeme.

• I’ve been working as an Associate Programmer (screening submissions) for this year’s AFI FEST (November 4-11) and I’m starting back up as the Editor of the festival’s website this year–AFI FEST NOW. Additionally, I’m always on the lookout for good …

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