Monthly Archives: July 2015

Laurence Anyways (2012), Xavier Dolan ★★★★★

I added this to my queue immediately after watching Xavier Dolan’s Mommy (2014), which also stars Suzanne Clément, and like Mommy, she just about steals Lawrence Anyways also. You seat yourself and strap in, and at the end of the ride, you try to reflect on what you’ve just seen. It was hours after I watched it yesterday afternoon that I reflected on the opening scene. Faces. Expressions. People looking. People looking with that look. Like there’s a hand growing out of your forehead. Then she walks into the mist and the film starts.

Netflix Refines Its DVD Business, Even as Streaming Unit Booms — July 26, 2015

Netflix Refines Its DVD Business, Even as Streaming Unit Booms

* 3,400 discs zip through the rental return machine each hour, five times as many as when teams of Netflix employees used to process the discs by hand.

* Netflix now counts more than 65 million streaming members in more than 50 countries and plans to expand across the world in the next 18 months. But that breakneck growth comes at a cost: The company expects its streaming business to just break even globally through 2016

* DVD-by-mail operation, known for envelopes that wind up under sofa cushions and viewed by many as an anachronism in an era of lightning-fast streaming.

* Netflix has 5.3 million DVD subscribers, a significant falloff from its peak of about 20 million in 2010; still, the division continues to churn out hundreds of millions of dollars in profit each year.

* Netflix has not put a life expectancy on its DVD division.

* “If you cut back on service, you are going to lose your subscriber base,” said Hank Breeggemann, general manager of Netflix’s DVD division, who has worked for the company for 13 years. “Expect us to continue to ship DVDs for the foreseeable future.”

* “What’s interesting is that although the business is in a slow decline, there is still a huge demand there,” Mr. Breeggemann said of the DVD side, noting that Netflix had about 93,000 titles on DVD and next-day delivery service for 92 percent of its subscribers.

* At its peak, Netflix operated about 50 distribution centers across the country. Now that number is down to 33.

The Secret of the Grain (2007), Abdellatif Kechiche ★★★★★

One big happy family. The father is separated or divorced from the mother, who’s children protect their brother against his wife, their sister in law, and the father’s girlfriend and her daughter, and his dream which the girlfriend’s daughter is the driving force forging him ahead. From the opening scene, it’s like you’re watching a Dardenne brothers’ film. Another Big Night, so to speak. And I thought the dance in Jean Renoir’s The River was the be all end all.

Crumb (1994), Terry Zwigoff ★★★★½

What a family. I was reminded of a couple other documentaries; Grey Gardens (1976) and The Beales of Grey Gardens (2006). As with the GG series, it starts, follows the action, and extends beyond the end of filming – making discoveries along the way that could not have been imagined. As with Zeigoff’s Ghost World (2001), you’ve got 78 rpm music, and in at least one scene you see TZ’s collection in the background in a staged setup. Do watch it again with Roger Ebert and TZ’s commentary.

I remember reading R. Crumb comics in the hippie shops that sprung up on the street I walked to school every morning in the late 60s and 70s.

a couple other films from last week…

Carlos (2010), Olivier Assayas 320 minute 3 part tv series ★★★★

Quality tv. Not that hard to believe, what with Fanny and Alexander 4 part series, The Decalogue 10 part series, Mysteries of Lisbon 6 part series, True Detective first season. Carlos fits right in there, and Olivier Assayas has not disappointed yet.

Cranes Are Flying (1957), Mikheil Kalatozov  ★★★★

Stars Tatiana Samoilova, who is also in Letters Never Sent (1959).

Frontier (2003), David Zellner ★★★

Stars Dazed and Confused’s Wiley Wiggins.

A Time to Live, A Time to Die (1985), Hou Hsiao-hsien ★★★

Hard to accurately rate these films as the ebay dvds for this and Boys from Fengkuei have sections that refused to play more than a few seconds a minute, and I almost gave up until it finally continued on. The English subtitles don’t seem as refined as The Puppetmaster.

The Boys from Fengkuei (1983), Hou Hsiao-hsien ★★★

See A Time to Live, A Time to Die above.

Chocolat (2000), Lasse Hallström ★★★★

That makes two Chocolat’s this month; Claire Denis’ 1988 film on the 15th, and now Lasse Hallström’s with Juliette Binoche, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp, and Carrie-Anne Moss. Completely different, Hallström’s film has more title sequences.

Lasse Hallström’s filmography certainly is impressive: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011), Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009), The Cider House Rules (1999), My Life as a Dog (1985) (which I need to see next).

I don’t know why I put this one off so long, though it may have been due to the often seen dvd cover art with Binoche and Depp, and though I normally choose films by who directs it, I’ve been following up on her filmography, and she so far has never disappointed. With the clamour for more strong women’s roles, this film fits the bill, along with a couple other recent viewings: Alexandra (2007), Cranes Are Flying (1957), Elles (2011), and Incendies (2010).

Alexandra (2007), Aleksandr Sokurov ★★★★★

I was introduced to Aleksandr Sokurov by Mark Cousins’ documentary, The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which mentions Russian Ark, my first Sokurov film, and Mother and Son (which I need to see!).

The story slowly unfolds; why are we riding this train? Is she in danger? Information is scarce, but you are filled in as her journey slowly reaches it’s destination. Each scene is unmistakably shot by Aleksandr Sokurov, as you recognize the beauty and emotion – even from the inside of a tent.

Galina Vishnevskaya, who plays Alexandra, was a Russian soprano opera singer, and Mstislav Rostropovich’s wife. There was a press conference with Galina on the netflix dvd and Sokurov said he wrote the script with her in mind and if for some reason she couldn’t do it, he would not have made the film.

[spoiler]  I did not realize this film is about the Second Chechen War.  [/ spoiler]