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23 Paces to Baker Street, Mildred Pierce, Linklater and Almodovar, and More: Jim Hemphill’s Home Video Recommendations

Mildred Pierce

In a career-spanning interview with Polly Platt for the DGA oral history series, director Henry Hathaway dismissed his 1956 thriller 23 Paces to Baker Street as a throwaway, one of those studio assignments he took without much relish. It’s yet another example of why filmmakers cannot be trusted when it comes to their own films, for while the material is slightly shopworn (and owes an enormous and obvious debt to Hitchcock’s Rear Window), Hathaway frames it with meticulous care and artistry. The movie follows Van Johnson as a blind playwright who thinks he overhears a crime being plotted; after the authorities dismiss him as a crackpot, he sets out to investigate with the help of a woman who loves him…  Read more

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Alone Inside: Kristi Jacobson on Her Penetrating Documentary about Solitary Confinement, Solitary

Solitary (Photo courtesy of HBO)

Kristi Jacobson was nominated for the Truer than Fiction Spirit Award for her artful and incisive documentary on solitary confinement, Solitary. The film plays this month on HBO, and filmmaker Alix Lambert interviewed Jacobson for our Winter issue. With Solitary, filmmaker Kristi Jacobson offers her audience an experience both visceral and intimate inside the notorious Red Onion supermax prison in Wise County, Virginia. Jacobson, who spent a year filming at the prison, examines the devastating effects of solitary confinement by introducing us to the men who are incarcerated as well as to the guards and others who work at the prison. With elegantly composed images and careful, eerie use of sound — and without statistics, archival footage and narration —…  Read more

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Meet the Team Behind Zucchini, the Blue-Haired, Swiss Boy That’s Stolen Hollywood’s Heart

My Life is a Zucchini

If comforting hugs could be delivered in visual form, My Life as a Zucchini would be the warmest of them all. Kindhearted but not sugarcoated, Claude Barras’ first animated feature has quickly become a global phenomenon, winning many international awards and now an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. Its most delightful victory, however, is in dealing with hardship and tragedy with honest tactfulness wrapped in colorful design. Social realism filtered through the magical physicality of stop-motion is the recipe at the root of this touching adaptation of French scribe Gilles Paris’s novel, for which Girlhood director Céline Sciamma served as screenwriter. As unconventional as the pairing might appear, it resulted on film that is a masterclass in the…  Read more

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~29 Movies Shot on 35mm Released In 2016

This is my third time rounding up the previous year’s US theatrical releases shot in 35mm, and this year’s number is substantively lower than 2014 (39) and 2015 (~64). This seems like an anomaly, not a permanent trend: following the high-profile push by J.J. Abrams et al. to force studios to pony up for a certain amount of Kodak celluloid for the forseeable future, the company seems solvent enough (and they’re bringing back Ektachrome!). Some celluloid regulars (Spielberg, Nolan, Abrams, Tarantino) sat the year out, while Woody Allen jumped to digital, and there are fewer straggler releases that were completed three or four years ago that were still shot on film. As usual, my tally does not account for exclusively 16mm-based…  Read more

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“I Have a Problem with that Whole Narrative of Coming from Someplace Bad and Getting Out of It”: Micah Magee on Her Debut Feature, Petting Zoo

Petting Zoo

Favorably compared by Variety to fellow Texas filmmakers Terrence Malick and Rick Linklater, San Antonio-raised Micah Magee has been based in Europe for over a decade. But despite having made several shorts there, when it came time to direct her first feature her heart returned to the Lone Star state. Petting Zoo, shot in San Antonio and cast primarily with locals with little acting experience, is a deeply felt coming-of-age story that captures what its like to be young in Texas as perhaps no film has before. Based on Magee’s own experiences of teenage pregnancy, Petting Zoo follows Layla (in a breakthrough performance by Devon Keller), a high school senior with little family support who turns down a scholarship to…  Read more

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Watch: Jessica Dimmock’s Doc on Senior Transgender Women, The Convention

The Convention

The Convention is filmmaker Jessica Dimmock’s short documentary about a convention comprised of transgender senior women. She writes: The film explores the annual Esprit gathering, where transgender women in their senior years who have been closeted their whole lives gather for a week of shared experience and understanding in a logging town in Northern Washington. For the attendees, many of whom are not out to their wives or children, this may be the only week of the year that they are not in hiding. I traveled to this event many times over the past years while Christopher LaMarca and I were filming our documentary, The Pearl. The film is part of Shatterbox Anthology, a series from Refinery 29 and the…  Read more

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Filmmaking

~29 Movies Shot on 35mm Released In 2016

This is my third time rounding up the previous year’s US theatrical releases shot in 35mm, and this year’s number is substantively lower than 2014 (39) and 2015 (~64). This seems like an anomaly, not a permanent trend: following the high-profile push by J.J. Abrams et…  Read more

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Feb 22, 2017

Festivals & Events

Bright Nights

Berlin Critic’s Notebook 2: Bright Nights, A Fantastic Woman

Thomas Arslan’s flaccid anti-Western Gold, which screened here in Competition four years ago, spoiled what could have been a brilliant hat-trick for the Berlin School alumnus following Vacation and In the Shadows. With Bright Nights he’s back in great form, once again showcasing his flair for precise, intimately scaled dramas.…  Read more

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on Feb 16, 2017

VOD Picks

@FilmmakerMag

  • Photographer, provocateur, poet: Ren Hang has died at 29: Shanghaiist shanghaiist.com/2017/02/25/ren…
  • RT @kylebuchanan: All 5 directors nominated for Best Foreign Language Film just issued a remarkable joint statement. https://t.co/3AAmpGDXfm
  • @JasonGuerrasio You and Richard did a great job!
  • Finally pulled from our archives this interview I love w/ @BandryBarry from 2009 re “Medicine for Melancholy.”… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…
  • RT @mattsinger: THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS opens today in limited release with basically no promotion. I loved this movie at TIFF: https:/…
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