NYFF ’15: In The Shadow of Women and No Home Movie

In The Shadow of Women In The Shadow of Women

Slotting a festival schedule is one of those tasks that falls subject to a number of outside variables, namely, filmmaker and celebrity availability. One would figure that less thought goes into structuring a press and industry schedule, where 10 AM screenings are decidedly void of glamour, and yet the occasional revelatory double feature presents itself, in which two disparate filmmakers appear in dialogue. Case in point: back-to-back screenings of Philippe Garrel’s In the Shadow of Women and Chantal Akerman’s No Home Movie proved a joint exercise in obstruction, fostering a shifting interplay between objects and protagonists, despite their very different surroundings. Garrel isn’t exactly treading new territory with In the Shadow of Women; like last year’s Jealousy, it’s another exploration of struggling…  Read more


NYFF Critics’ Notebook: The Sky Trembles and The Earth is Afraid and the Two Eyes are Not Brothers

The Sky Trembles and the Earth is Afraid and the Two Eyes are Not Brothers The Sky Trembles and the Earth is Afraid and the Two Eyes are Not Brothers

The Sky Trembles and The Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes are Not Brothers (you can memorize the title after reciting it enough times — don’t fret) opens with a small fleet of ’80s Mercedes-Benz coupes, trailed by dune buggies, speeding across a desert. A chase scene entered in media res? The armed-escort arrival of dubious capitalists on the trail of some as-yet-underexploited resource? (Is there any more potent symbol of ostensibly removed colonialism’s lingering presence than the unkillable, diesel-fueled Mercedes that still stalk the globe?) As the sun sets and the caravan moves closer, the camera inches from a far-off, locked-down wide lens perspective to closer views moving around the procession, until we finally realize the dune buggies bear cameramen. This is a film shoot, and when…  Read more


Pop Star: Partisan

Vincent Cassel in Partisan Vincent Cassel in Partisan

With the dark, seriously accomplished Partisan, first-time Aussie feature director Ariel Kleiman and co-screenwriting partner Sarah Cyngler have created an eerie and disturbing but highly effective hybrid that resists pigeonholing. This is a special blend, which not only pushes the envelope but rips it open as well. They sidestepped the usual: the staple of the British boarding-school coming-of-ager; the familiar genre of films about disturbed children housed in government and private institutions; and the regularly reinvented category of urban juvenile gang thrillers. Partisan is a most welcome black sheep. The film is not only about kiddies stuck in a cult; it is also a closely observed portrait of its warped authoritarian leader, fortyish Gregori — stressed accent on the second syllable —…  Read more


“I Didn’t Really Like Directors”: The Fits Filmmakers Anna Rose Holmer and Lisa Kjerulff at the Venice International Film Festival

Anna Rose Holmer and Lisa Kjejuiff Anna Rose Holmer and Lisa Kjejuiff

About 4,500 miles away from my home state, I find myself back in Ohio. What’s cool about a film festival is experiencing stories from different places all over the world on the same screens all day everyday. What’s not cool about a film festival is spending more time experiencing Ohio on a screen than discovering Italy outside on the street. But in the case of two Cincinnati-based stories programmed in the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, I was delighted to be transported home. I use “home” loosely. I’m actually from Cleveland, and it’s not as if the stop-motion iteration of a downtown Cincinnati hotel room from Charlie Kaufman’s newest film Anomalisa is altogether familiar. The Cincinnati suburban public school from…  Read more


“If You Read the Script You’re Not Gonna Want to Do the Movie”: Mark L. Lester on Commando

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando

Thirty years ago this month, director Mark L. Lester changed the course of action cinema forever when he solidified Arnold Schwarzenegger’s persona in the gloriously excessive Commando. Schwarzenegger was already a star thanks to the Conans and The Terminator, but Commando is the film that established the identity he would revisit in film after film – and that introduced the “bigger is better” combination of exaggerated action and comedy that producer Joel Silver would apply to his Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, and Predator series, among many other pictures. Those movies would be heavily influenced by Commando’s vivid palette and precise attention to cinematic space and geography, both of which stand in stark opposition to the style one finds in more recent…  Read more


NYFF ’15: Right Now, Wrong Then and Maggie’s Plan

Right Now, Wrong Then Right Now, Wrong Then

About three-quarters of the way into Hong Sang-soo’s deja vu diptych Right Now, Wrong Then, the camera zooms in on a pair of women alternately shielding their eyes and ogling a drunken man as he strips before their dinner table. It’s a classic instance of attraction/repulsion, a train wreck one can’t quite turn away from despite knowing exactly where it’s headed. The same could be said for Hong’s latest outing, which is certainly no train wreck, but nevertheless employs a structure that redoubles the film’s first hour from a slightly skewed angle, pushing the reinvention conceit of In Another Country into subtler, more challenging territory, which ultimately begets two variations on a melancholic outcome. Despite all of Hong’s whimsical prowess when it comes to detailed narrative constructions, this time only the…  Read more


“We Basically Had Pianos Falling the Whole Time”: The Creative Team of MA at the Venice International Film Festival

Lauren Smitelli, Riel Roch-Decter, Brian McOmber, Celia Rowlson-Hall, Andrew Pastides, Allison Pearce and Aaron Schnobrich Lauren Smitelli, Riel Roch-Decter, Brian McOmber, Celia Rowlson-Hall, Andrew Pastides, Allison Pearce and Aaron Schnobrich

Barefoot on a sandy shore of the Mediterranean coast, I’m only mildly bothered by the luxury cruise ships obstructing the horizon. It’s an otherwise picturesque pre-dusk afternoon in Venice, and I’m focused mostly on keeping up with Celia Rowlson-Hall, who sets an intimidating pace as we walk along the beach. She’s a speed walker and talker, totally unfazed by the sharp rocks that I continue to stumble over. It’s silly when I say I’m uncomfortable being barefoot to a person who has “no problem being naked on camera. If there’s any feeling of being exposed,” she says, “it’s only in the directing.” Rowlson-Hall’s first feature film, MA, had its world premiere at the 72nd Venice Film Festival just the previous…  Read more


Do No Harm: Lana Wilson and Martha Shane on After Tiller

Dr. Susan Robinson in After Tiller Dr. Susan Robinson in After Tiller

While making After Tiller, Lana Wilson and Martha Shane struggled to get support from granting agencies cautious about supporting a film about such a hot-button topic as third-trimester abortion. In response to the pair’s bid for support, one major film grant organization said, “We’re waiting to see where this movie comes down.” Or, in other words, “We can’t support the film unless we support the way you depict this contentious issue.” The genius of After Tiller is that it doesn’t “come down” anywhere. It doesn’t make a case or take sides. At a time when documentaries about major political and social issues, with very few exceptions, unabashedly and openly push one agenda or another, Wilson and Shane’s film stands out…  Read more



Psycho (Illustration by Kent Osborne) Psycho (Illustration by Kent Osborne)

The Seven Arts of Working in Film: A Necessary Guide to On-Set Protocol

Welcome to your first day on a film set. Perhaps you’ve gotten a new job as a production assistant. Perhaps you’re still in school and have been given an opportunity as an intern, or you’ve recently been asked to help out with a friend’s production.…  Read more

Apr 14, 2015

VOD Picks

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    Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Drama
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    10/6/15 MOD VOD
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    Heaven Knows What Drama
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Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden

IFP Screen Forward: 5 Questions for Documentary Producer Julie Goldman

One of the most prolific documentary producers around, Julie Goldman, takes the main stage this afternoon at IFP’s Screen Forward conference to talk about the evolving practice of non-fiction production. With producing credits going back to 1997, Goldman has produced or executive produced such notable…  Read more

on Sep 22, 2015