Leos Carax’s The Lovers on the Bridge is, quite simply, one of my favorite films. So I was thrilled to write about Kino’s new Blu-ray release for The Film Stage.
The Lovers on the Bridge (Leos Carax)
Nine years before the fin de siècle came the brutal romance of Leos Carax’s The Lovers on the Bridge— well, nine years if you lived in France. American audiences could not experience Carax’s wounded, fragile love story until 1999, just one more bit of controversy for an already controversial film. Thankfully, Lovers now has a rightful place amongst the classics of the twentieth century. Starring Carax’s frequent leading man Denis Lavant as a street performer and a twentysomething Juliette Binoche as a one-eyed artist, it’s a film as noteworthy for its locale — Paris’s Pont Neuf bridge — as it is for its acting. Nevertheless, Lavant and Binoche are breathtaking, just like the glorious fireworks that explode during the film. Kino Lorber’s stunning Blu-ray release features a wonderfully insightful essay by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky as well as a fine video essay by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin. But the real treat is the film itself, a crucial effort from the filmmaker who would find his greatest success with 2012’s Holy Motors. While the latter is one of the most memorable efforts of the last decade, there’s no question that The Lovers on the Bridge is Carax’s mightiest achievement. – Christopher S.
It was truly an honor to interview (by email) director Hirokazu Kore-eda for The Film Stage.
There is no filmmaker in the world more attuned to the complexities of family life than Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda. Consider the emotional upheaval that faces the parents and children of 2013’s Like Father, Like Son, or the relationship between the sisters of 2015’s Our Little Sister. Koreeda’s latest film following those two gems, After the Storm, continues his warm but ever-truthful gaze at what bonds people together. (Film Movement opens Storm on March 17 in New York and Los Angeles.)
Set against the backdrop of an approaching typhoon, Storm is the story of a failing author (Hiroshi Abe) struggling to pay his child support, and his attempts at rebuilding relationships with his son (Taiyo Yoshizawa) and ex-wife (Yoko Maki). As sweet and funny as the last two great Kore-eda films, Storm also has the sharp insight of earlier masterpieces like Nobody Knows and Still Walking.
Currently working on his next film, Kore-eda answered some brief questions about Storm, working with his “alter-ego” Hiroshi Abe, and his experience directing child actors.
The Film Stage: After the Storm continues your focus on the shifting dynamics of family. What drew you to this story of a father and son, and this stage of their lives?
Hirokazu Kore-eda: I wanted to depict the concept of fatherhood with this film. [In addition], I wanted to make a film that cuts out a part of one’s long life. I think a part of life is better.
Did the idea of the typhoon come before or after the rest of the story?
I had the idea of a typhoon from the very beginning. I actually started to write the script on the night of a typhoon. After my father passed away, my mother started living by herself in the housing complex where I grew up. When I went back home for the New Year, I noticed the changes. The kids had left, and only the trees had remained and grown up. Seeing this gave me the idea to make a film about the housing complex. The first scene that came to mind was a walk through the complex with grass that had become very beautiful in the morning after a typhoon. Since I was a child I’ve always wondered why the complex was so beautiful after a typhoon. Though nothing changes, it seems like a complete transformation happened overnight. I wanted to describe that moment… Although a typhoon can destroy ordinary life, in most cases it purifies everyday living.
You work so well with children, in this case actor Taiyo Yoshizawa. Do you direct your young actors differently than your adult actors? Are there any other filmmakers whose work with children has influenced your approach?
Usually I don’t provide a script to kid actors. I only explain to them the setting of a scene and give them the dialogue verbally without telling them the whole story of the film. I don’t know if I am influenced by others, but if so, it’d be Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s films, Ken Loach’s Kes, and Robert Benton’s Kramer vs. Kramer.
You’ve worked with Hiroshi Abe before. What made him right for this role?
In my 40s and 50s, I identified with the roles that Abe played in Still Walking and the TV series Going Home, so he is special for me. He is like my alter-ego. After Still Walking, both of us became fathers, and I think this is reflected in our characters. I think it’s wonderful that a director, an actor, and the roles we create grow up together.
Your films are known for their emotional impact, but also their warmth. When dealing with a drama such as After the Storm, how do you juggle the heavier, dramatic elements with the humor that’s also a trademark of your work?
I want to add the serious sequences into scenes of ordinary living. I think people tend to laugh when they want to cry. It applies to the feelings of characters and audiences as well.
What can you tell us about your upcoming film, The Third Murder?
I’m still in the process of editing the film, but the story is about an attorney, a murderer, and the family of a victim.
My March Buffalo Spree column opens with an always fascinating film fest.
Film screenings are back in full swing this month following a bit of a post-holiday lull in January and February. Hollywood unleashes some biggies, as well, including a new King Kong entry (Kong: Skull Island) and a live-action Beauty and the Beast from Disney. But if you are looking for truly unique offerings, you’ll find them on this list.
Buffalo International Jewish Film Festival: It is year thirty-two for BIJFF, making it one of the area’s longest-lasting film festivals. It’s a yearly treat, really, one featuring scores of unique films, many which are making their local debuts. As with past festivals, the 2017 installment opens with a kick-off party. Scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 6 at the Screening Room (the Boulevard Mall, 880 Alberta Drive in Amherst), the evening will include a movie snack buffet station, beverages (cash bar), a film, and one free ticket to any other film during BIJFF. The festival itself starts on March 17 and runs through March 23, with all screenings at the Dipson Amherst Theatre. The lineup features a number of gems, including A Borrowed Identity, the story of a Palestinian Israeli teenager who attends a Jewish boarding school; The Women’s Balcony, a dramedy about a close-knit congregation that ranked as Israel’s highest-grossing film in 2016; and Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, a documentary about the creator of All in the Family and Good Times. Check bijff.com for plot summaries and times. (Kick-off party at 7 p.m. on March 6; festival March 17-23 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; bijff.com)
Roycroft Film Society—Mustang: One of the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the eighty-eighth Academy Awards, director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s film tells the moving story of five sisters living in a Turkish village. It’s an emotional powerhouse with a memorable conclusion, and a fine Roycroft Film Society selection. (4 p.m. on March 12 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)
Buffalo Film Seminars: Three unique foreign classics are featured in this month’s Buffalo Film Seminars lineup. (There is no film on March 21.) First is Robert Bresson’s heartbreaking Au Hasard Balthazar on March 7, the unforgettable story of a donkey’s sad life and death. The 1972 Iranian film Downpour, directed by Bahram Beizai, screens on March 14. Lastly is Akira Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala on March 28. The Russian language film was the great director’s comeback success after a difficult period that even included a suicide attempt. (7 p.m. on March 7, 21, and 28 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html)
Old Chestnut Film Society—Dreamboat:This 1952 comedy stars Clifton Webb and Ginger Rogers. (7:30 p.m. on March 10 in the Community Room of the Phillip Sheridan School, 3200 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore; oldchestnut.com)
Thursday Night Terrors—The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Now this is unmissable. The best known film in the second series of Thursday Night Terrors is Tobe Hooper’s still-disturbing horror classic about grave-robbing cannibals. It still frightens, and it still looks quite unlike any other film. (7:30 p.m. on March 30 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; facebook.com/thursdaynightterrors)
Renee Lear—Every Shot from Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera as an Animated GIF: Here is a fascinating project featured in March and April at Hallwalls, in which the video artist and filmmaker reorganizes the 1929 silent film Man with a Movie Camera as a series of animated GIFs. For more on the Torontonian’s work, visit reneelear.com. (March 10-April 28 at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave.; hallwalls.org)
TCM Big Screen Classics—All About Eve: There few films sharper than All About Eve, the gloriously “bumpy” tale of veteran Broadway star Margo Channing (Bette Davis) and upstart Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). The latest installment in the ongoing TCM Big Screen Classics series film will be shown in its original aspect ratio. (2 and 7 p.m. on March 5 and 8 at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 at the Riviera Theatre: North Tonawanda’s Riviera started a Harry Potter film series in January, and the eighth film brings it all to a close on March 12. Deathly Hollows Part 2 is the rare final installment that truly satisfies, and does so with vivid action and real emotional depth. It culminates in a final scene that wonderfully calls back the original film, while looking ahead to the future. (Doors open at 2:30 p.m., film begin at 3 p.m. on March 12 at the Riviera Theatre and Performing Arts Center, 67 Webster St., N. Tonawanda; rivieratheatre.org)
Family-Friendly Film Series: The library’s Crane Branch hosts a family-friendly film on the second Saturday of every month. Call 883-6651 for info on this month’s selection. (11 a.m. on March 11 at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library Crane Branch, 633 Elmwood Ave.; buffalolib.org)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Live from the Opéra National de Paris at the Dipson Amherst: This month’s simulcast is George Balanchine’s ballet adaptation of Shakespeare’s Midsummer. (2 p.m. on March 27 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; dipsontheatres.com)
Sword Art Online—The Movie: The hit anime series Sword Art Online comes to the big screen for a one-night-only movie event. Visit fathomevents.com for the rest of the Fathom Events lineup. (8 p.m. on March 9 at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)
Fredonia Opera House—The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism:The Opera House presents a high-definition production exploring the exhibition “The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement” at the Florence Griswold Museum in Connecticut. Also scheduled this month are simulcasts of La Traviata and Idomeneo, on March 11 and 25, respectively. (7:30 p.m. on March 30 at the Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St., Fredonia; fredopera.org)
Focus 45—Tim Wagner, Film Projection 101: Film technician Tim Wagner will discuss motion picture projection skills in the digital age in this special talk. (Noon on March 11 at the Curtis Theatre at the George Eastman Museum, 900 East Ave., Rochester; eastman.org)
The Seasons in Quincy—Four Portraits of John Berger at Hallwalls: If there is one absolute must-see in March, it is the March 7 Hallwalls’ screening of The Seasons in Quincy—Four Portraits of John Berger. This collection of four essay films serves as a fitting study of Berger, the storyteller who just passed away in January. Actress Tilda Swinton is among the filmmakers involved in the project, which explores Berger’s time as a farmer in the remote Alpine village of Quincy. The Seasons was an extraordinarily ambitious five-year project, and this Buffalo screening is tremendously exciting. (7:30 p.m. on March 7 at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave.;hallwalls.org)
Weekend Matinees and Ice Guardians at the North Park: The North Park’s ongoing matinee series kicks off the month with Belle and Sebastian, but please note that this is not a concert film featuring the wonderfully twee Scottish legends behind the classic album If You’re Feeling Sinister. No, this is a 2013 French family film about a plucky orphan and his dog. It screens at 11:30 a.m. on March 4 and 5. Next up, on March 11 and 12, is 1995’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, a film based on the long-running superhero series that nineties kids adore. Outside of the weekend matinee realm is Ice Guardians, a documentary scheduled for a special screening at 9:30 p.m. on March 15. This look at the tough road face by many National Hockey League enforcers has drawn great acclaim. (North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Ave.; northparktheatre.org)
Cultivate Cinema Circle—The State I Am In: CCC’s four-film retrospective of the early films from director Christian Petzold begins on March 1 with 2000’s The State I Am In. This story of two ex-terrorists in hiding in Brazil with their teenage daughter sounds like another bold work from the filmmaker behind two recent masterpieces, Barbara and Phoenix. (7 p.m. on March 1 at Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, 617 Main St.;cultivatecinemacircle.com)
“Throwback Thursdays” at the Riviera: It’s hard to argue with any of the selections in the Riviera Theatre’s latest screening series. February featured the likes of Gone With the Wind and Casablanca, while this month includes greats like Singin’ in the Rain (March 2), Citizen Kane (March 9), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (March 16), and Funny Girl (March 23). (7 p.m. on March 2, 9, 16, and 23 at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., N. Tonawanda;rivieratheatre.org)
The Screening Room: A typically packed Screening Room schedule begins on March 2 with a one-night only screening of the documentary Dying Laughing. This exploration of stand-up comedy features heavyweights like Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Kevin Hart, and Sarah Silverman. Returning to the Screening Room on March 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, and 11 is the beloved Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Rounding out March is your grandmother’s favorite film, The Sound of Music. It screens on March 25 and 26. (Check screeningroom.net for times; all events at the Screening Room, 880 Alberta Dr., Amherst)