Just when I think art-house cinema is dead in the U.S., I hear some good news that makes me realize all is not lost. Recently, Hou Hsiao-hsien's latest "Three Times" opened at Chicago's fading movie palace the Music Box, and made about $10,000, according to the distributor IFC Films, for one of the biggest openings of the year for the venue. Jonathan Rosenbaum, Michael Wilmington, and Robert Ebert all went to bat for the movie, showing that Chicago's critics can still deliver audiences, even for the Taiwanese auteur whose hypnotic cinema has been often relegated to only festival slots.
Leave it to the good folks at Zeitgeist to pick up another art-house gem. Variety reported today that the mini-distrib acquired all U.S. rights to Nuri Bilge Ceylan's incisive Cannes standout "Climates," the follow-up to the director's masterful "Distant." After seeing the movie, I must admit I was doubtful that the film would get much deserved big-screen time in the U.S. After all, Distant made less than $100,000 in the U.S. (Three Times, incidentally, just passed that mark.) But as beautiful, soulful and mordantly funny as Distant was, there may be something more accessible about Climates, with its sharp-as-knife view of male and female relations that should be familiar to followers of Bergman as much as "Sex and the City." Followers of digital filmmaking should also be sure to check it out: Ceylan takes the crispness of Hi-Def and transforms it into the perfect reflection of the characters' cool distance.