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Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Big mountain skiing

In 1920s Germany there emerged a genre called “mountain films.” They were fictional mountain-climbing adventure stories that strained the limits of cinematic technology and the endurance of actors as they ventured to places where movies had never gone, in the snowy wilderness on the roof of the world. Many scenes from the documentary Steep rekindle the cobalt blue aura of those old German films. Steep concerns the origin and growth of big mountain skiing (or “extreme skiing” to use the current cliché), a sport that involves climbing beyond the well-manicured hills of the ski resorts and onto the craggier summits.
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

Badly bruised in Bruges

Ray (Colin Farrell) casts a wary eye on the picture-book surroundings of the Belgian city of Bruges, keeps his head down and scrunches his face behind the upturned collar of his wool overcoat. Along with his partner Ken (Brendan Gleeson), Ray is a British hitman who was sent there on holiday in order to make himself scarce for a few weeks.
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

Soviet-era surrealism

Sergei Parajanov was less interested in telling stories than plunging the viewer into the world, the consciousness, of his protagonists. The Soviet Armenian director paid a high price for the persistence of his vision. Hounded by censors and jailed repeatedly, Parajanov managed nonetheless to complete nearly a dozen films before his death in 1990. The international acclaim he earned on the film festival circuit in the 1960s and ’70s prevented the Communist authorities from doing their worst.