29.February.2012: Nearly a year after detained Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s This Is Not a Film was smuggled from Tehran to Cannes, and only a few days after his countryman Asghar Farhadi won the Best Foreign Film Oscar for A Separation, the clandestine movie opens at Film Forum for a two week run today. Among the fresh raves for the film, A.O. Scott writes that “While This Is Not a Film bristles with a topical, real-world urgency pointedly excluded from the Surrealist project, it is also a provocative, radical and at times surprisingly playful meditation on the nature of representation. Using modest, ready-to-hand techniques and a format that seems to emphasize the most banal, literal-minded, artless aspects of picture taking, Mr. Panahi has constructed a subtle, strange and haunting work of art.” Graham Fuller adds that “The political resonance of the quotidian elements in [Panahi’s earlier] films is present in every image of This Is Not a Film.”
Also at Film Forum beginning this Friday is “This Is DCP,” a series focused on changing exhibition technology. From the Film Forum notes: “While we’re more than ever committed to showing classic films on film, the tremendous advances being made in transferring classics to DCP (Digital Cinema Package), the industry standard, just can’t be ignored. The best DCPs scan original negatives at such a high rate that all of the attributes of a photochemically-produced 35mm (or even 70mm) print—the detail, color density, film grain, etc.—are vividly re-created and even exceeded. But is watching a DCP the same experience as watching a film print? The jury is still out, so for this one-week series, we’ve chosen the crème de la crème of classics on DCP and have invited Sony Pictures’ Grover Crisp, one of the true giants of film restoration, to explain things on opening weekend.” The series brings up many of the issues raised in scholar David Bordwell’s series of articles cinema’s transition to digital, the last of which (“Pandora’s Digital Box: From Films to Files”) was posted yesterday.
Hal Hartley’s Meanwhile has its US premiere at New York’s IFC Center tonight. The director will be there in person, as he will on subsequent Wednesday screenings of The Book of Life and Flirt. Several of the indie stalwart’s earlier films are now streaming on Fandor, and Kevin B. Lee highlights some of the director’s finest moments for Keyframe.
My Dinner with André fans rejoice: Dave Itzkoff reports for The New York Times that André Gregory and Wallace Shawn are working on another film collaboration, this one an adaptation of Ibsen’s Master Builder to be directed by Jonathan Demme. “Like Vanya on 42nd Street,” Itzkoff writes, “Wally and André Shoot Ibsen will be set in a single location, but Mr. Demme said it would have a different aesthetic. ‘It’s like a Hitchcock movie with a vein of humor running through it.’” To which one might respond: don’t all Hitchcock movies have a vein of humor running through them?