Browser: “Penelope.” Terry Gilliam. Cinema and the City. Whit Stillman. Denby’s Oscar rant.

1.
I found some time during my travels to jot down thoughts on an overlooked, underrated fantasy film — Penelope — and its relationship with other “Beauty and the Beast” tales.

2
Someday, Charlie Kaufman will make a movie about the career of Terry Gilliam, depicting the astonishing, relentless calamities that befall the imaginative director. Everyone knows that Heath Ledger died in the middle of filming Gilliam’s upcoming picture. If you’ve seen Lost in La Mancha, you know what I mean – the ongoing disasters (natural and otherwise) that overturned his Quixote film. Turn the clock back even farther, and there was Baron Munchausen‘s box office catastrophe, and before that… well, where do you start in talking about Brazil?

Well, did you know that Gilliam was recently hit by a car that was backing up… and his back was broken?

Here’s the latest on Gilliam’s life and achievements, a story stranger than any of his films.

3.
Michael Leary on “Where is the Cinema?”

4.
I’d like to follow that by asking Where is Whit Stillman? Articles like this one remind me how much I love what he’s done, and how much I’d like to see more.

5.
[url="http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2009/02/09/090209crci_cinema_denby"]David Denby goes on an admirable rant:[/url]

[quote]Is it the seamlessly blended amber and caramel colors, the slowly gliding camera work? Or is it the sentiments that fall like flakes of wet snow into the dialogue? Many elements join to make the beautifully crafted “Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” with a running time of two hours and forty-seven minutes, the best picture in years for a postprandial rest (popcorn division).

As you may have noticed, 2008 was not a great year for movies. There was nothing comparable to the hair-raising “There Will Be Blood,” or the ravishing “Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” or the sinister “No Country for Old Men,” from 2007.

Even so, a nod for best picture could have gone to more deserving movies, such as Jonathan Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married,” which settles down into a revelatory examination of a family’s anguish and joy; or “Happy-Go-Lucky,” Mike Leigh’s startling look at the power and the limits of goodness; or even the animated masterpiece “WALL-E,” with its vision of the end of industrial civilization and its ironic salvation in an anodyne space station decorated in cruise-liner moderne.

The total of thirteen nominations for “Benjamin Button” has to be some sort of scandal. “Citizen Kane” received nine nominations, “The Godfather: Part II” eleven, and this movie, so smooth and mellow that it seems to have been dipped in bourbon aging since the Civil War, is nowhere close to those two. In fact, of the five nominees for best picture—“Milk,” “Frost/Nixon,” “The Reader,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “Benjamin Button”—only “Milk,” a bio-pic with a thrilling sense of history and lots of jokes and sex, has the aesthetic life and human vitality that warrant its nomination.[/quote]

6. More to come, most probably.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.


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