Released today on DVD, "Disgrace," stars John Malkovich in the adaptation of South African J. M. Coetzee's 1999 novel, the first feature film by Australia-based filmmakers Steve Jacobs and Anna-Maria Monticelli. Jessica Haines (left) co-stars.
Serious area film buffs may be noticing a curious lull about now -- for years now, end-of-April-beginning-of-May has been spring film festival season in Central New York. It still is downstate, where TriBeca's been running full blast. West of here, the re-named Rochester 360/365 festival opens next Wednesday with James Ivory's "The City of Your Final Destination" (2009), the first Merchant Ivory Productions film made without the late Ismail Merchant, who died in 2005. Ivory will be on hand for that, which is doubly significant for the region because the George Eastman House has just acquired the Merchant-Ivory film archive.
But this year, the Syracuse International Film festival makes a move to mid-October for its main events, though SYRFILM has been busy with monthly special screenings at the Palace in Eastwood since mid-winter, has hosted several visiting filmmakers and just completed its annual round of public pre-screenings of festival entries.
Word was, there'd be another kind of run-up over the summer to this year's SYRFILM. Actor John Malkovich is expected to arrive here in August to shoot "Hotel Syracuse" with Israeli director Haim Bouzaglou. Set in the venerable old downtown landmark, which also houses SYRFILM's offices and has been a sometime festival screening venue, this film is a project put together by SYRFILM's Owen Shapiro. It would be the second film collaboration with Bouzaglou, whose already-completed, Syracuse-made "Session" will opens this year's festival in the fall. Final green light on the Malkovich project still awaits the signing of the lead actress, so far a carefully guarded secret.
Meanwhile, another Malkovich film released this week on DVD. "Disgrace" has had scant upstate screen time except for four showings earlier this spring at Cornell Cinema. This 2008 film brings South African J. M. Coetzee's Booker prize-winning 1999 novel of the same name to the screen, the first feature-length film by Australia-based husband and wife team Steve Jacobs and Anna-Maria Monticelli. "Disgrace" is a difficult and unsettling film, but Malkovich's daring performance as David Lurie has been widely and I think correctly praised as worth the price of admission; it was certainly worth the drive to Ithaca. Whether or not SYRFILM eventually arranges a local screening once Malkovich is here, you don't have to wait.