Just popping our head in for a second to point out what’s new this week (and into next week â€” you try coming up with content for the films opening on January 5th) on IFC News:
"How could the new Eric Rohmer film not be awardable, simply because distributors have lost their nerve and/or their ability to market to an increasingly dumbed-down populace?" writes Michael Atkinson. "Born to kvetch, I offer up my favorite dozen-plus-three straight-to-disc U.S. debuts this year, the likes of which would fill up my year’s top ten list if we were playing fair." And so he does.
The rest of the IFC News team offers personal picks of moments/performances/highlights/losses from the year that was that we’d rather not let go overlooked.
I really couldn’t have imagined that I’d be writing a story that had serial killing and a drug-addict prostitute at its center. You might think that’s the stuff of generic films, but I had this unique experience of being a juror on a murder trial. When it was over, I felt like I knew this young woman who was the victim. Over time, each of the witnesses had offered up a different little detail about who she was. I pieced together a portrait of her, and her life really sprang into bold relief for me. After we convicted the guy, I was still left with this weight that I couldn’t shake, and the way I deal is to write about it. So I started taking notes, thinking about all these other people who were there, how none of us had known one another before we were pulled into this courtroom, and how murder creates this kind of community.
R. Emmet Sweeney offers a history of the backstage musical:
The backstage musical has gone through a plenty of mutations since then, but it’s really the only remnant of a once dominant genre to survive the demise of the studio system. The latest iteration is the early Oscar favorite "Dreamgirls," which follows a strikingly similar story arc to the "Broadway Melody" of 77 years earlier.
Instead of a vaudeville act, "Dreamgirls" is focused on a Motown girl group whose rupture also comes about because of a man and his fickle heart (and thirst for power) â€” the manager played by Jaime Foxx. It’s not just the tried and true story formula that "Dreamgirls" has inherited from its forebears, but a whole history of technical and directorial innovation.
Tykwer‘s camerawork is frequently witty: through the use of clever lighting, Jean-Baptiste is introduced nose-first, and a shot of a door with two keyholes suggests a nostril’s eye view of the world. But there seems to be a fundamental flaw in the film version of "Perfume," in its focus on a sensory experience that is wholly absent from cinema: smell. A movie could captivatingly portray a person gifted with exception vision or hearing, but smelling is quite different. Without a "Polyester" Smell-O-Vision-style gimmick, Tykwer must somehow approximate Jean-Baptiste’s olfactory prowess, which leads to a lot of close-ups of his nose, flash frames of objects (flowers, fruit, entrails, dung) and a lot of heavy breathing on the soundtrack.