New reviews: ‘Flight of the Red Balloon’ and ‘Love Songs’

flightoftheredballoonposter.jpgJust a couple of capsule reviews this week. First up, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s lovely Flight of the Red Balloon:

The shadow of Albert Lamorisse’s 1956 fantasy “The Red Balloon” hovers over Hou Hsiao-hsien’s drama…. Hou’s first film made outside of Asia is his most emotionally turbulent, yet he remains, like the balloon, outside looking in, a compassionate but distant observer capturing it all with a graceful restraint and floating beauty that ultimately carried me away with it.

I liked Love Songs almost as much:

Christophe Honore continues his tribute to the French New Wave (begun with the SIFF 2007 feature “Dans Paris”) with this playful, polysexual romantic musical…. Honore drops the brightness and joy of the form into the chilly, gray winter of Paris to explore love and loss and intimacy. It is a joy, from the cute songs and sudden bursts of comedy to the profound and affecting sadness of one lover mourning the death of another while finding the strength to go on.

You can read both reviews here.

I also interview director Garth Jennings about his new film, Son of Rambow (which is scheduled to be released in Seattle on May 9), for the “A Moment With…” series.

Director Garth Jennings was in Seattle nearly a year ago to present his second feature, the lively, fantasy-strewn comedy “Son of Rambow,” at the opening night gala of the 2007 Seattle International Film Festival. The story — a quiet, imaginative kid in an austere religious sect and a “bad boy” troublemaker with absent parents shoot a “Rambo”-inspired adventure with a home video camera — was a real audience pleaser, warm and imaginative and full of the joy of creation. A timely release seemed inevitable, yet it finally opens in theaters Friday.

“We had things to work out in regards to the licensing of the ‘Rambo’ clips,” explained Jennings (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) in a phone interview, which he squeezed in en route to the Philadelphia Film Festival. “It was all very amicable, and it’s all worked out great, but it just took a while to go through that procedure.”

Read the complete interview here. I’ll run the complete interview when the film opens.

SIFF screenings began this week and I didn’t get a chance to see the preview of Iron Man, which I confess has my inner comic-book/action fantasy geek very excited. But friend Mark Rahner at the Seattle Times has a review of the film (“The payoff of casting Downey is as big as the risk. He’s not in the movie, he owns it in a way that makes it hard to imagine without him.”) and a lively interview with Robert Downey, Jr.

Q: Did you pick “Iron Man” because you’re insecure about wearing tights?

A: [Laughing.] Look, everything has an upside and a downside. The upside is the suit’s really cool. The downside is I’ve got like bowling-pin calves. I really could have made the most of the tights.

Q: Why did you — a Serious Actor — want to do a superhero blockbuster?

A: Because I want to do good movies and I want to do movies that people are going to see, and the good factor to me — the edge was taken off knowing that [director Jon] Favreau was doing it, because he’s the only guy who I’ve seen as an actor and a writer before who has only made good movies.

Q: There were some people who thought your past made you inspired casting for Tony Stark, who’s infamous for being Marvel’s alcoholic alter-ego.

A: I don’t know, it kind of operates on three levels, one being “Wow, isn’t that art imitating life?” And then the idea of how can you pay this [his past] off later on? And talking to Shane Black who wrote “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and “Lethal Weapon” … he said the great thing about this is you can have a scene where Tony gets frustrated, he gets hammered and he puts on the suit and goes and [Downey chuckles] flies around drunk or goes out to a bar for another drink or whatever. Anyway, it makes for an interesting scenario, I’ll tell you that much.

Read the complete interview here.

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website (www.streamondemandathome.com). I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View (www.parallax-view.org).. I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly, GreenCine.com, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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