If you’re a dedicated Cameron Crowe fan, you may have been forced to spend part of the last 15 years repeatedly explaining why. Since Almost Famous, Crowe’s non-documentary feature output has included two movies instantly/violently rejected by both critics and the public (Vanilla Sky, Elizabethtown) and one semi-soft family film that got a parody Twitter account and endless derision months before release solely due to the admittedly risible title We Bought a Zoo. His latest, Aloha, also has a dumb title and arrives savaged by Amy Pascal in emails made public as part of the Sony hack and ominously unscreened for press until the week of release, with reviews (predictably, unimaginatively brutal) embargoed until three hours before the first showtime. Aloha attempts to resolve two complex… Read more
In the late ’80s, a troubled gay kid named Travis Blue stumbled upon a film production in his sleepy hometown of North Bend, Washington. Fascinated, Blue watched as they transformed a local restaurant into a place called the Double R Diner. The production was for a television series titled Northwest Passage, later renamed Twin Peaks. When it aired in 1990, David Lynch’s cult masterpiece became for Travis not simply an obsession, but a world he wanted to literally inhabit. Taking Laura Palmer as real life role model, Blue spent the next decade lost in various underworlds and struggling with his own identity. His compelling story stuck a chord with his friend and filmmaker Adam Baran, who is making an audacious documentary about… Read more
Waiting to see TransFatty Lives at the Tribeca Film Festival, I was in line behind a woman who didn’t know what she was waiting to see. The couple in front of her were filling her in, telling her all about the filmmaker/subject of the film, Patrick O’Brien (once known as DJ TransFatty), his “journey” with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and how the terrible disease had affected their own lives. It wasn’t a downbeat conversation in the slightest. They had discovered O’Brien through his online videos, posted over the course of ten years, documenting his worsening condition not with depression and pity but with raw humor and a gusto for life. These videos were an inspiration to them. Much of that… Read more
New York these days: There’s a chain store on every corner, Times Square is a paved-over pedestrian mall with $6 hot dogs and, if you want voyeuristic thrills, you peer into the bedrooms of the luxury condos flush against the beautifully manicured, elevated High Line that’s transformed the West Side. No one wants to reflexively cling to a misplaced nostalgia, but given the blanding of the city’s physical landscape it’s not hard to imagine that the number of urgently jaw-dropping stories in the Naked City is decreasing daily. Fortunately, for those of us who associate New York with subcultural energies, emotional collisions and boundary-pushing artistry, we still have Josh and Ben Safdie, whose observant cinema, filled with tales of marginalized… Read more
Here’s the first trailer for James Ponsoldt’s David Foster Wallace biopic, The End of the Tour, which picked up several nice notices out of Sundance, if not from his family and literary estate. Starring Jason Segel as Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as the Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky, the two-hander winds through a leg of the former’s book tour for Infinite Jest. A24 will release the film on July 31.
Over the last several months, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has launched one of the better film podcasts out there, with guests including Paul Thomas Anderson, Olivier Assayas and David Cronenberg. (The podcast can be subscribed to on iTunes or listened to on Soundcloud.) But today’s doubleheader is particularly great and more than worthy of its own post. Sharing the episode are Josh and Benny Safdie, whose Heaven Knows What is this weekend’s must viewing, and Karl Ove Knausgaard, who has just released the fourth volume of his autobiographical magnum opus, My Struggle, here in the States and who talks about the role of cinema in his work.
AJA has slashed the price of their 4K CION camera in half to $4995. It’s part of their “Summer of Savings” promotion, which they say will run through the end of the summer. Other price reductions announced: Ki Pro Quad (their 4K recorder) is now $2995, Ki Pro Mini is $1495, Ki Pro is $2495, and Ki Pro ND is $2295. AJA customers who purchased the CION production camera before May 26, 2015 will receive two AJA Pak 512 SSDs for free, directly from AJA (valued at $2495). AJA is well known for their video hardware, and the Ki Pro file-based recorder, but they only entered the camera market last year with the CION camera. I went to a demo of the… Read more
Over at the Creative Capital blog, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men have posted a sober essay about the changes they’ve seen in the documentary funding landscape since 2000, when they received one of the organization’s first grants for their feature, The Yes Men. Two films and 15 years later, the two are still at it — creatively agitating for social change while producing actions and making documentary films. Their latest film, The Yes Men are Revolting, directed with Laura Nix, opens June 12, and it mixes their trademark anarchic political humor with more ruminative passages reflecting on aging, parenting and contemporary activism. The film opens with the two being sued for one of their pranks by the… Read more
Have you heard? The United Nations designated 2015 the “International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies,” and cinematography made the cut. But is IYL 2015 finally the year in which the dam burst of innovation subsides, and new digital cameras and techniques no longer threaten to drown us? Surveying the… Read more
I spent months complaining about the drug dealers on my doorstep. I didn’t like dodging their transactions or how they’d hover or call after me. But when one of them offered to help adjust my bike seat, witness to my prolonged and embarrassing struggle, an… Read more
Todd Haynes reteams with Cate Blanchett, after 2007’s I’m Not There, for his latest Palme d’Or contender Carol. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s semi-autobiographical novel The Price of Salt, Rooney Mara plays shopgirl Therese, who falls in love with the older, married Carol (Blanchett) in the… Read more
New York these days: There’s a chain store on every corner, Times Square is a paved-over pedestrian mall with $6 hot dogs and, if you want voyeuristic thrills, you peer into the bedrooms of the luxury condos flush against the beautifully manicured, elevated High Line… Read more