There is much much more to this week other than Wall-E:
Encounters at the End of the World (2007) directed by Werner Herzog
Woefully missed (by me) at MSPIFF and later at the Lagoon, Encounters is one of those films I kicked myself for not seeing on the big screen. Maybe a nice test for a new Blu-Ray player?
Mister Lonely (2007) directed by Harmony Korine
Mister Lonely takes place in a commune full of people who are look-a-likes: Marilyn Monroe (Samantha Morton), Michael Jackson (Diego Luna), Charlie Chaplin (Denis Lavant) and so on. From the writer of Kids, and director of Gummo and Julien Donkey-Boy, Mister Lonely has an air of eccentricity, no? With me so far? The fact that this film was categorically panned across the board when it played at various festivals last year makes me all the more curious. I'm excited to check it out.
Up the Yangtze (2007) directed by Yung Chang
I was truly impressed with the sensitivity and clarity of this documentary. One part of this film is about the disparaging economic strata in China, and another part is about the reality of the Three Gorges Dam project for millions of people. Up the Yangtze tackles the subject head on (as opposed to Jia Zhangke's delicate Dong and Still Life that work in far more broader terms) without being too heavy-handed. It's a great document of one family who is displaced by the dam.
Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell (2008) directed by Matt Wolf
I read about Arthur Russell in regards to his connection to NYC's The Kitchen in the 70s, but hadn't fully investigated his music until after I saw this film at the Walker this summer. If you have any presuppositions about avant-guard music, especially from the 70s, Russell will completely break that mold. I totally fell in love with his music: "World of Echoes" and "Calling Out of Context" simply make me feel like I'm floating. Russell died at the young age of 40 in 1992, and much of his music remains obscure. Which is totally ironic, because it was way ahead of its time. Russell had one foot in the avant-guard camp and one foot firmly planted in pure pop. Wild Combination is a fitting tribute to Russell and his life.
Of Love and Eggs (2004) directed by Garin Nugroho
A sweet and intimate film from Indonesia that seems to bare very little connection to his 2006 mind-boggler Opera Jawa. It played at the Walkers Global Lens a couple years ago.
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008) directed by Alex Gibney
There are plenty of movies out there, fictional and otherwise, that try to box in Hunter S. Thompson. What Gonzo does is show that this man can not and should not be put in a box. Thompson is as frustrating to me as he is fascinating. This is Gibney's follow-up to his award winning Taxi to the Dark Side.
The Minoru Kawasaki Collection: Executive Koala (2005), The World Sinks Except Japan (2006), The Rug Cop (2006) directed by Minoru Kawasaki
Remember The Calamari Wrestler? Bless you if you do. (If you don't, you are probably a normal human being unwilling to spend time on films that are clearly absurd. Needless to say, these releases are not for you.) For the rest of us, Synapse films brings us three new Kawasaki masterpieces. Executive Koala is about Mr. Tamura, a business man who happens to be a Koala, is a junior executive at a pickle factory is Tokyo. But it seems that someone is out to sabotage he career. When he suggest merging with a South Korean kim chee company, Tamura's girlfriend ends up dead and he becomes the prime suspect. The World Sinks Except Japan is obviously a spoof to the Japanese blockbuster The Sinking of Japan. The Rug Cop is a satire of 70s cop shows. (If you have suspicions about the meaning of "rug cop," you are absolutely right.) These are the Airplane/Naked Gun movies of Japan.
David Lynch: The Lime Green Set
For those of you that have some extra money, here is a box set that is sure to be cool. A Crhistmas gift perfect for that creepy film freak in the family, like me. Here is what is included in the set: "Writer, director and artist David Lynch has personally selected these works, including many pieces new to DVD, and a Mystery disc of content taken from Lynch's own personal archives and available only in this box set. Includes Eraserhead - Remastered, Eraserhead Soundtrack, The Short Films of David Lynch, The Elephant Man, The Elepjhant Man Extras - DVD debut, Wild at Heart, Industrial Symphony No 1 - DVD debut, Blue Velvet - New Lynch approved 5.1 sound mix, Dumbland, Mystery Disc - DVD debut, 32 deleted or extended scenes from Wild at Heart, 40 page collectors picture book." Wowie zowie. One would have to assume that there is bound to be other colored sets.
Fanfan le Tulipe (1957) directed by Christian-Jaque
A French adventure film from Criterion - I'm sold by the cover alone.
Derek Jarman Collection: Sebastiane (1976), Tempest (1979), War Requium (1989), Derek (2008 - directed by Isaac Julien)
This is just a repackaging of DVDs already available from Kino. I can't see anything new except the box it comes in and overall cheaper pricing for the four.