New, Old, Borrowed, Blue

Something new, something old, something borrowed, something blue: you decide which is which in today’s cinema news.

2046.  Image courtesy of Sony Pictures ClassicsWong Kar Wai’s superb 2046 expands to San Francisco today, and probably other locales as well, and is not to be missed on the big screen.

It’s the kind of sumptuous treat that needs to be savored cinematically, even if you’ve been unimpressed by the DVD. (True confession: I admit to dozing off while watching it on DVD, but I was tired and it was late…) You simply need to give yourself over to the picture — and maybe get some caffeine in your system before going.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.  Image courtesy of Tartan Films USAPark Chan-wook’s SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE is unleashed upon New York and Los Angeles today.

This was actually the first of the director’s so-called “Vengeance Trilogy,” made in 2002 before OLDBOY, and I found it distinctly difficult to watch on DVD. I might even call the experience excruciating. Not that you can deny the director’s mastery of his art, so it might be recommended just on that basis. And, if you were curious about the startling change of subject matter between JOINT SECURITY AREA and OLDBOY, this is the bridge. Also in its favor: it does give a few (precious few) more details about the characters before the torture begins.

A State of Mind.  Image courtesy of Empire PicturesDaniel Gordon’s A STATE OF MIND plays Chicago this week, and has been getting good reviews.

The documentary follows two young North Korean gymnasts, which initially did not sound interesting to me, but the critics say the access the filmmakers received was quite good and has resulted in an engrossing picture. With all the (mostly deserved) attention South Korean cinema has been receiving, and with precious few filmed insights allowed into life in North Korea, this doc sounds like a valuable counterpoint to the cinematic fiction we’ve been allowed to feed upon.

Tropical Malady. Image courtesy of Strand ReleasingApichatpong Weerasethakul’s TROPICAL MALADY left many critics shaking their heads when it debuted at Cannes last year, but others declared it a masterpiece, and it won a Special Jury Prize. Strand Releasing opens it in Chicago today after engagements in New York and Los Angeles.

The director’s second film, BLISSFULLY YOURS, did absolutely nothing for me, but definitely had many fans. The plot description seems superflous, something about a love affair and the local legend that one of the lovers turned into a tiger and the resultant search for said beast. (Ahem.) If you like the man’s work and/or the outer edge of narrative film, check it out.

The World. Image courtesy of Zeitgest Films.Jia Zhang-ke’s THE WORLD received rapturous reviews from both Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) and Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader) and held on for two weeks in Chicago.

Naturally, I missed the engagement and now wish I had given it a chance on the big screen, despite my lack of enthusiasm about another of the director’s films. But Los Angeles residents can decide for themselves because it’s opening there today.

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