Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cinematheque Ontario Summer Season 2009

Cinematheque Ontario has officially announced their summer 2009 season line-up of films and it begins Friday, May 22! Cinematheque Ontario is a "screening programme dedicated to presenting the history of world cinema on the big screen in carefully curated retrospectives." It is a venue that provides access to great films—from various eras and originating from all over the world—that we might not have access to outside of a university cinema studies classroom. You might be able to rent or download some of them, but here you get a chance to see important domestic, North American and foreign classic, historical and contemporary films on a big screen for a true cinematic experience. Read on for my recommendations.

The summer season of Cinematheque Ontario promises to be great and is packed with must-see films. Coinciding with the exhibit Surreal Things at the Art Gallery of Ontario from May 9 to August 30, the film line-up features many Surrealist classics. In May, there will be Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L'Âge d'or (1930), collaborations between artist Salvador Dalí and director Luis Buñuel; the first film in Jean Cocteau's famous Surrealist Orphic trilogy, The Blood of a Poet from 1931 and the 1931 Jean Vigo short Taris, roi de l'eau; a trio of short films including two from Germaine Dulac—La Coquille et le clergyman (1927) and Thèmes et variations—and one from Henri Storck, Pour vos beaux yeux from 1928. The Surrealist theme continues in June with the classic 1924 Dada short Entr'acte, directed by René Clair, as well as a free screening of several short films by Man Ray (and one from Marcel Duchamp) spanning from 1923 to 1929.

The Cinematheque programme Fallen Angels: The Films of Otto Preminger, running from May 29 to July 2, focuses on classical Hollywood films by the great American director. Several of Preminger's films feature starlet Gene Tierney: the 1944 film noir Laura, Whirlpool from 1950, and Where the Sidewalk Ends from 1950. Among many other films, the programme also includes the 1939 mystery crime drama Anatomy of a Murder, starring James Stewart and Lee Remick.

A special event programme to catch is Nouvelle Vague: The French New Wave, Then and Now, running from July 3 to August 22. The best of these include Jean-Luc Godard's most accessible cerebral film, Breathless from 1959, as well as two great films from François Truffaut—the bohemian romance-drama Jules et Jim from 1961 and The 400 Blows from 1959.

Films to see in May include Alfred Hitchcock's psychoanalytical thriller from 1945 Spellbound, starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck, as well as Sergei Eisenstein's monumental propaganda film from 1925— featuring intellectual montage techniques—Battleship Potemkin. In
June, don't miss Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 thriller Blow Up, set in swinging '60s London. In July, check out the 1953 slapstick comedy from Jacques Tati, Les Vacances de M. Hulot, part of the programme Scatterbrained Angel: The Films of Jacques Tati, running from July 31 to August 11. Also make sure to see the Italian neo-realist classics Bicycle Thieves directed in 1948 by Vittorio de Sica, Rome Open City directed in 1945 by Roberto Rosselini, and La Strada directed in 1954 by Federico Fellini. The latter two of these films are part of the special event programme Signore and Signore: Leading Ladies of the Italian Cinema, running from July 10 to August 21.

For more information, check out Cinematheque Ontario's complete schedule of film screenings as well as the list of ticket prices. Unfortunately, according to Cinematheque's General Policies, it looks like as of April 5, 2009, you will no longer be able to use a Cinematheque ticket stub to gain free admission to the AGO.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Viktor & Rolf Design Costumes for Opera

Avant-garde Dutch fashion designers Viktor & Rolf—who have a gorgeous new interactive website complete with enchanting musical score—have created costumes for Robert Wilson's adaptation of the romantic opera Der Freischütz (The Freeshooter) by Carl Maria von Weber. The project is a natural extension of Viktor & Rolf's penchant for the surreal, the outrageous and the dramatic, as well as their runway shows staged as spectacles or performance art productions. The duo used almost one million Crystallized™ Swarovski elements to create the garments. This marks their second costume collaboration with Wilson—in November 2004 they created looks for 2 Lips and Dancers and Space for the Netherlands Dance Theatre.

According to, the wardrobes for the soloists of Der Freischütz will take the form of "3D constructions in bright saturated hues and words emblazoned across the front of panels and shoulders, while the choir will adopt traditional German inspired costume - think dirndls and lederhosen." The image above left is Viktor & Rolf's whimsical floral design—"she will be a huge singing bouquet of flowers"—for the character Agatha, played by Juliane Banse.

The opera premieres at the Festspeilhaus Baden-Baden in Germany on May 30, 2009. For more images of the stunning costume collaboration as well as a Q&A with the designers, see the post from The New York Times' Blog The Moment.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Musical on the Life of Yves Saint Laurent in the Works

According to Women's Wear Daily, French singer Alain Chamfort and songwriter Pierre-Dominique Burgaud are working on creating a musical based on the life of Yves Saint Laurent. The stage production will chronicle the late couturier's rise to fashion icon, beginning with his early days designing at Christian Dior. On the songs, Saint Laurent's partner Pierre Bergé commented, "They are very good. They are moving."

Yves Saint Laurent passed away from brain cancer at the age of 71 in June 2008.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

dZihan & Kamien Release Third Studio Album "Music Matters"

Austrian downtempo house and acid jazz music duo dZihan & Kamien released their third studio album "Music Matters" on Couch Records late last month in Europe. They have begun to once again challenge their musical sensibilities, exploring melodies and songs in a new, more organic way. They have also enlisted the Icelandic singer, songwriter and trombone-player Helgi Jonsson to lend vocals to the recordings. On their website——the pair explains that the recordings were made in a "vintage" way, quite opposed to how they approached their previous outings, "Freaks and Icons" and "Gran Riserva". Intentionally avoiding their usual reliance on electronic techniques of sampling, cutting and editing, on "Music Matters" they perform and play almost all instruments themselves.

"Music Matters" is very eclectic overall and the tempo ranges greatly across songs, from high energy dance or electro tracks to mid-tempo pop songs to slow guitar or piano laden ballads. There is a hint of the duo's usual penchant for jazz, house and dance styles on songs like "Busted", but the album heavily incorporates elements of alternative rock and pop in tunes like "Take a Minute", "The Time" and "Summer Fever", aspects of folk in songs like "I Wish", and edgier electro pop in other tracks like "Bazooka" and "My Music". Although it is clear they are exploring a new musical direction here, dZihan & Kamien's own signature style is imprinted indelibly on the songs and their traditional emphasis on melody shines through.

No word yet on a North American album release or tour—hopefully we can expect both soon! Visit the dZihan & Kamien website to listen to full streaming samples of "Music Matters" and other albums.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Maison Martin Margiela Launches Houseware Line

According to Women's Wear Daily, last week Maison Martin Margiela unveiled its new furniture and home decor prototypes at the international furniture and design fair Salone del Mobile in Milan. Some of the new items on display include trompe l'oeil wallpaper, bookshelves, lamps, carpets and wool rugs. Completion of the project is still ongoing and will either take the form of objects and furniture designed in a self-produced line or in the creation of one-off partnerships. Maison Margiela will moreover accept commissions from individuals, may become involved in public interior design and architecture, and could collaborate with hotels and restaurants.

According to the brand's chief executive officer Giovanni Pungetti, "Margiela has always produced objects to complement the stores, but it used to be more about style than business. We thought the Salone would be a good opportunity to introduce the new direction in which the Maison is expanding. There are no limits. This installation is a visual stimulus, from fashion to lifestyle and atmosphere."

The home decor collection will be put into production and sold in Maison Margiela stores or showrooms next year. In the designer's inimitable avant-garde and tongue-in-cheek style, recycled bottles will become lamps, a chair can turn into a swing, and a calendar is constructed of white cotton sheets, which can be used as napkins.

View a slideshow of images from the Milan furniture fair at Women's Wear Daily.