The oft-heard label “Iranian vampire western,” which highlights the pop, postmodern, and cross-generic character of Ana Lily Amirpour’s fresh and potent A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, inflates its self-proclaimed hype and to-date majority critical evaluation. By these measures, its salient quality is hipness. A minority of writers have taken a more sociological tack. From a PC vantage point, the director is the first-generation daughter of Iranian immigrants. In addition, vampire films scream tooth-and-nail for ideological deconstruction. You need only scrape the veneer of a film that is largely surface to uncover its denunciations of generalized misogyny, social stratification, and physical abuse, and more specifically, the fundamental structure of contemporary Iranian society. The jabs run deepest and most oblique… Read more
The sad news of Mike Nichols’ death at age 83 had me searching for something beyond the usual The Graduate highlight reel that would illustrate what seems to me like his greatest directorial virtue: the ability to keep a tonal straight face when confronted with material whose comic or dramatic potential could quickly push matters way over the top. This Catch-22 clip serves the purpose: the famous speech explaining what Catch-22 actually is is dwarfed by the airfield it takes place on, with jets and vehicles surrounding Yossarian (Alan Arkin) and Doc Daneeka (Jack Gilford). The choreography, both human and mechanical, is immaculate and clearly extremely difficult to pull off, something like epic-era David Lean making a comedy. Catch-22 is hardly the catastrophic disaster it was initially… Read more
The biggest, the smallest, the most, the more-times-than-anyone-else — filmmaker Sam Green has revisited a common childhood fascination, The Guiness Book of World Records, for his latest “live documentary,” The Measure of All Things, receiving its New York premiere at The Kitchen this week. It’s Green’s third work combining film, music and his own on-stage narration — a hybrid film/theater form that’s proved surprisingly popular in performing arts venues around the world. Indeed, when so many filmmakers are trying to figure out a “new model” for their work, Green has turned himself into a touring artist, finding new, less jaded audiences for his wonderfully essayistic work. Below, we asked Green about his development as a performer, that touring model and… Read more
A considerable crowd of critical praise has coalesced around the work of Josephine Decker, most notably this “A Star is Born” piece from her longtime champion Richard Brody. Kevin B. Lee at Fandor put forth a more tempered assessment of Butter on the Latch and Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (ending their week run at the IFP Media Center today), but he also compiled this beautiful, elliptical montage of the imagery in the two films. Narrative and/or stylistic misgivings aside, it is undoubtedly clear that Decker buttresses her films with a visceral atmosphere, achieved through fine details, ethereal lighting and playful camerawork, courtesy of Ashley Connor.
Currently raising funds on Indiegogo is an ambitious animated feature by filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming, Window Horses. With a lead character voiced by Sandra Oh, the film uses the medium of poetry to explore ideas of cross cultural exchange. From their Indiegogo page: In this coming-of-age story, Rosie Ming, a young Canadian poet, is invited to perform at a Poetry Festival in Shiraz, Iran, but she’d rather be in Paris. She lives at home with her over-protective Chinese grandparents and has never been anywhere by herself. Once in Iran, she finds herself in the company of poets and Persians, all who tell her stories that force her to confront her past; the Iranian father she assumed abandoned her and the… Read more
In this Q&A from a recent Toronto screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, stars Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood are in fine form as they take to the stage to discuss why all the actors in the film were Canadian (Canadian actors didn’t need visas to live in the UK at the time), trade interpretations of what that ending means, and share a plethora of production anecdotes. Other highlights include Dullea’s reminiscences of how he came to be involved in the sequel 2010 and the two recalling Gene Hackman and Warren Beatty’s post-screening reaction: Beatty told the pair they were lucky to be in the film, while Hackman “just growled” at them. And note that Keir Dullea now looks pretty… Read more
Blood can’t be any other color, but there are plenty of things — like spacesuits and bathroom walls — that can. In this punchy, to-the-point supercut, Rishi Kaneria draws from 2001, Full Metal Jacket, The Shining, Barry Lyndon and other Kubrick films to make a case for the director’s love of the crimson.
15 years after his death at the age of 70, director Stanley Kubrick remains more than ever a figure of admiration, fascination, and curiosity – and the pleasure his work provides seems, at this point, to be as infinite as the universe depicted in the final act of his 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. A secretive and private director during his lifetime (though nowhere near the recluse he was largely reputed to be by the international film press), in death Kubrick’s process has steadily become more and more transparent, with a growing number of books, articles, and documentaries devoted to his work and a hugely successful traveling art exhibition composed of documents and artifacts from his archives. The latest… Read more
David Lynch can be a tough interview — check out my attempt back in 2001. Patti Smith does a bit better in this joint interview on the BBC2 Newnight’s Encounters series. They both discuss their memories first hearing the song “Blue Velvet,” and Smith’s reflexive… Read more
I am walking into a play, my most highly anticipated production of the year – Ivo Van Hove’s adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 film Scenes from a Marriage at New York Theater Workshop in the East Village. Obviously Bergman is a cinematic legend; he’s also… Read more
“We have to make artful films,” declared Tabitha Jackson at this morning’s DOC NYC keynote. Her thoughtful and engaging address — accompanied, half-jokingly, by what she dubbed her first attempt at Powerpoint — was filled not with statistics about audience reach or NGO partnerships but… Read more
In July of 1964, director Monte Hellman and actor Jack Nicholson went to the Philippines to shoot two war movies back to back: Flight to Fury, which Nicholson also wrote, and Back Door to Hell. By June of 1965, Hellman and Nicholson had shot two more movies,… Read more