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Entries in Arabian Nights (4)

Sep 22 2015

TIFF: Two More Foreign Language Oscar Submissions

2015's TIFF has concluded and we tried to catch a few of the Foreign Language Oscar submissions while we were there.We've already written about Colombia'sEmbrace of the Serpentso here are two more official entries from Norway and Portugal

Oscar Trivia Notes: Portugal holds the sad statistic of being the country with the most annual submissions (32 in total) to have never been nominated.This category was established as an annual competitive event back in 1956 and Portugal began submitting in 1980 - they've missed only a few years of the competition since.Norway has fared better. Though Israel,Mexico,and Belgium,lead this particular statistic,Norway is stuck in a tie for fourth place with Greece for "the most nominated country that has yet to win the foreign film Oscar."Norway has been nominated five times.More fun statshere.I'd suggest thatThe Wavedidn't have a prayer of being nominated except that the last time Oscar went for a Norwegian film it was a similarly conventional mainstream adventure (Kon-Tiki) so who knows.

The Wave(Norway,Roar Uthaug)
The best thing one canand shouldsay about this disaster epic from Norway is that it's just as good as your average American entry in this crowded genre and it does that with a significantly lower budget while sticking closer to plausible science in its action sequences.It keeps things more intimate,keeping a tight focus on one family and a group of coworkers,and building slowly to the money shot disaster.The tsunami doesn't happen until well into the running time butThe Wavekeeps you interested regardless.It's no surprise that Norway submitted it since it is amassiveblockbuster there.According to the director's intro at the public screening over half a million people at home had already bought tickets to it in less than a month.(Can you imagine 10% of the US population going to any single movie in a month's time frame?It just doesn't happen.I thinkAmerican Snipercould argue it got there but not in one month's time!) StillThe Wavehas the same ugly problem of valuing one blond family's welfare over everyone else's entire existence that gotThe Impossibleinto trouble with critics.AlthoughThe Wavehas a better excuse for its total whiteness since it's Norway (which is very white) not Thailand!ButThe Waveis even more ruthless about placing the sanctity of this one family's unity and love and survival above anyone else,though I shan't spoil why that is.Nevertheless the movie is exciting to watch,the three principal actors are charming (includingAne Dahl Torpwho also starred in Norway's submission last year1001 Grams) and Norwegian movies can always be counted on for sublime scenery -- even when that scenery turns malevolent -- but boy is this thing cliche-ridden and predictable!B-

Arabian Nights Volume 2: The Desolate One(Portugal,Miguel Gomes)
I attended the middle feature of this trilogy,the one that was Oscar submitted because the director claims you needn't see the three films in order,withNickandAmiras my final film of TIFF. They both emerged from the screenings with missionary zeal about its brilliance.Nick considers the trilogythemovie event of the year.I'm not as gaga for it though I admit that part of that may well be that I a) didn't get it and b) I have a well known lack of tolerance for artists that can't self-editandlong running times and a 7 hour three part movie in which every sequence (that I've seen) has dead space pushes these buttons for me in a big way.I'll let Amir review the trilogy proper since he's a true fan but I will say despite my reservations on the length of the project as a whole and even this third of it (which is itself over 2 hours long) it is often quite funny and provocative in its pile-up of politics,storytelling idiosyncracies,and nonsensical events (as an example of the latter at one point a character turns invisible and seems to teleport with a muscle flexing grunt and this has nothing at all to do with the storyorthe sceneorthe narrationorthe political content as far as I can gather)

Dixie is a born starMiguel Gomes,who previous directed the whatsitTabu(that critics were also besotted with),is in his own way as weird and singular an auteur as Thailand's Apichatpong Weerathasakul.His movies could not be accidentally mistaken for anyone else's and that,should you be in doubt,is a huge compliment.This trilogy is NOT an adaptation of the classic Arabian Nights but just borrows its structure with this version ofScheherazadetelling us fables about poverty,politics,and social justice that are drawn from / comment on the Austerity period in Portugal that impoverished many of its citizens.

To make this trilogy project even more confusing,each volume has multiple stories within it.Volume 2 has three plus separate stories: the first is about "a man without bowels"who is being hunted by the police;the second,my preference,is about a Judge trying a case in what looks like an ancient greek theater which becomes more and more absurd and abstract and continually finds new people to blame as it progresses;the last is the story of an raggedy poodle named "Dixie"and her rotating people who have to keep giving her up.Dixie is a total cutie and won "the Palme Dog"at Cannes.

To make this volume even more confusing,the story of Dixie has several nested stories within it about the residents of a particular apartment building which have nothing at all to do with Dixie though other pets come into play (Gomes movies seem fascinated by animals be they dogs,alligators,parrots,cats,or whatnot).Describing the abundant oddity is nearly impossible: people turn invisible,cows speak at trials,naked ladies bake cakes.Real Oscar Bait,people!WTF

Related: There are now 61 official submission titles so make sure to check out the updated foreign film charts.

Current Predictionsplus all time stats/trivia
Afghanistan through Estonia15 official
Ethiopia through The Netherlands25 official
Norway through Vietnam21 official

The full official submission list will be published around October 1st with probably about 10 more titles joining this current lineup.Generally speaking at least one of the previously announced titles mysteriously vanishes or is replaced when the official list is published.

Jun 01 2015

Podcast: Two Transatlantic Conversations

This new unconventional episode of the podcast features two guests and two conversations.First Nathaniel calls Australia to check in withGlenn Dunksto see what he's been up to cinematically since leaving NYC.And then a conversation withGuy Lodgein London about his experience at this year's Cannes Film Festival.


  • 00:01 - 02:30 Intro: Nathaniel (feat.Annie Lennox)
  • 02:26 - 19:15  Glenn From Australia:Mad Max Fury Road,The English Patient,Nicole Kidman inStrangerland,54 The Director's Cut,Film Preservation
  • 19:16 - Guy from London: LovingArabian Nights,The Lobsterand Todd Haynes'Carol,Cannes Jury Prizes,The Assassin,Son of Sauland the Foreign Film race,Maryland,and hating Paolo Sorrentino'sYouth

Please to enjoy and continue the conversation in the comments.You can listen at the bottom of this post ordownload from iTunes tomorrow.

Cannes,London,and Australia

May 23 2015

Palm Dog.The Tradition Continues."Woof Woof"

We're working on collecting fashions and awardage for two final big Cannes posts before tomorrow's closing ceremony awards but this one deserved it own specialbonepost as appetizer.The most famous recipient of the Palm Dog prize at Cannes is still Uggie fromThe Artist(2011) but the tradition continues each year and the lucky dogs were honored at the UK Film Centre this year,which is apparently the 15th year of the award.

Palm Dog"Dixie"fromArabian Nights(Portugal).The Canine actor's name is"Lucky"who is a Maltese terrier and poodle mix.Apparently she steals the show in the second half of the six hour (gulp) movie.You can read more about this picture in ourWe Can't Wait 2015 preview

Grand Jury Prize:"Bob the Dog"fromThe Lobster(Greece).Bob is played by father and son canine team "Jaro"and "Ryac".It's fitting that two dogs played this role since apparently Bob is a reincarnation of a man's brother in the film!?That film sounds wackier and wackier the more we hear of it though I actually don't want to hear any more before seeing what is surely one of 2015's oddest film experience.This movie from the director of the Oscar-nominatedDogtoothwasalso featured in our We Can't Wait preview.

Je Suis En Soldat

Palm DogManitarian Award: This special prize went to France'sJe Suis En Soldat,which stars Louise Bourgoin and Jean Hugues-Anglade,and is is about dog trafficking in Eastern Europe.The award was given to the film as a way celebrate the fostering of relations between the human race and men,women,and children's best friend."

THRwas mixed on this Un Certain Regard entry

Other dogs people were rooting for this year that came up empty-handed were the sheepdog from Iceland'sRams,the labrador from China'sMountains May Departand the rottweiler fromGreen Room.Congratulations to all the doggies and their trainers.

Previous Cannes-related news

Mar 08 2015

We Can't Wait!#15: Arabian Nights

Team Experience is counting down our 15 most anticipated for 2015.Here'sAmir...

Who & What: This is Portuguese auteur Miguel Gomes's first feature film since2012'sTabu.It is based on the Middle Eastern folklore collection,"One Thousand and One Nights".The original text has a framing device involving the Persian princess Shahrzad,narrating the 1,001 tales to her husband,King Shahryar.Modernised to take place in today's Portugal,hit by the economic crisis,Gomes's film will see the princess narrating fictionalized versions of factual stories about the financial pains of the Portuguese.We've seen some pictures,heard a lot of promising words from Gomes about his approach and the structure,and know the film clocks at a whopping 6 hours and 37 minutes.

Why We're Excited About It: Gomes.Gomes.Gomes.He is one of the most exciting directors working today and has made consistently intriguing films since his first short,Entretanto.He built a fan base with 2008'sOur Beloved Month of Auguston the festival circuit and found more traction four years later with his sensational romantic masterpiece,Tabu.Since then,he has made another short film,the wild,experimental political comedy,Redemption.ForArabian Nights,he's reunited with the strikingly handsome Carlota Cotta and is working with Apichatpong Weerasethakul's regular cinematographer.I'm personally further excited by the prospect of an adaptation of Middle Eastern folklore,since that hasn't happened in decades – and no,Prince of Persiadoesn't count.

Carlota Cotta (and Ana Moreira) in "Tabu"an earlier collaboration with GomesWhat If It All Goes Wrong?Looking back at Gomes's earlier work,assures that there's little to worry about in this regard.The biggest concern is the running time.The film is broken into three sections:The Restless,The DesolateandThe Enchanted,which could mean they will be released separately.Then again,if they are released as one package… 6 hours and 37 minutes?We love you Miguel but you'll be testing our patience.

When: The Portuguese release date is set for October.Gomes premieredTabuin Berlin,but that ship has already sailed.Cannes is the likeliest destination at the moment,which,combined with the domestic release date,gives a glimmer of hope that it'll play at TIFF in the fall.