Cinematographer Michael Fimognari on Shooting the Netflix Series Midnight Mass and Stripping Away Departmental Hierarchy with Red, Green and Blue Camera Teams

Midnight Mass (L to R) Hamish Linklater as Father Paul (Photo: Eike Schroter/Netflix © 2021)

In Midnight Mass, the arrival of a new priest upends the small, isolated fishing community of Crockett Island. It’s an original idea from writer/director Mike Flanagan, who made his name in the horror genre adapting Shirley Jackson, Henry James and multiple Stephen King opuses. Flanagan has been excavating the bones of Midnight Mass for years and at various stages it morphed from novel to film to series. The characters’ inner demons and struggles with addiction and faith mirror his own, with details taken from Flanagan’s youth as an altar boy on New York’s Governors Island. With the personal nature of the project, it’s no surprise that Flanagan turned to Michael Fimognari behind the camera. Since first teaming on 2013’s Oculus, they…  Read more


“Sending Your Script to Someone is Like Asking Them to Never Speak to You Again”: Fran Kranz on the Making of His Grief and Reconciliation Drama, Mass

Mass (Photo: Bleecker Street)

Two sets of parents enter a plain, drab room located down the hallway of an unassuming Episcopalian church. Their reason for meeting pertains to their respective sons, both of whom have died. One set of parents have lost their son to a mass shooter at his high school, the other set’s son was himself the mass shooter.  That is the basis for Fran Kranz’s emotionally raw debut feature, Mass, a film that is necessarily an actors’ showcase but also an exercise in pared-down filmmaking that finds tension and release in the subtlest of camera gestures. As the parents debate everything from potential warning signs to “nature versus nurture,” Kranz allows his cast (Jason Isaacs and Martha Plimpton as the grieving parents…  Read more


Death Ride to Osaka, The Equalizer and Escape Room: Tournament of Champions: Jim Hemphill’s Home Video Recommendations

Among graduates of the “Roger Corman film school,” Jonathan Kaplan doesn’t have the same level of name recognition as Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, or Francis Coppola, but he clearly learned the same lessons they did while plying his trade directing exploitation flicks for Corman’s New World Pictures. Although it might seem like the only thing Kaplan’s films have in common is that they have nothing in common – his filmography includes blaxploitation (Truck Turner), Oscar winning and nominated dramas (The Accused, Heart Like a Wheel), science fiction (Project X), Westerns (Bad Girls), and one of the greatest teen movies ever made (Over the Edge) – they’re all characterized by a propulsive energy and dynamic sense of graphic storytelling in which…  Read more


NYFF Critic’s Notebook: The Velvet Underground and The Girl and the Spider

Lou Reed in The Velvet Underground (Photo: Apple TV+)

Peter Buck, the guitarist for R.E.M., is often quoted as saying, "The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought one formed a band." Now it seems, all those bands are the subjects of documentaries. Finally, even the Velvet Underground. The eponymous film is one that Todd Haynes appeared destined to make. Popular music, rock’n’roll mythology and the vagaries of self-invented personas are a core of the director’s filmography, going back to the Super-8 transgression of Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, a melodramatic biopic of the ‘70s pop singer cast with Barbie dolls. Velvet Goldmine (1998) reframed glam-rock legend as a cross between Ziggy Stardust and Citizen Kane, and I’m Not There (2007) absorbed Bob Dylan’s…  Read more


Critic’s Notebook: The 2021 Camden International Film Festival

Listening to Kenny G

Nothing quite conjures good storytelling like a campfire (and maybe a bottle of whiskey to pass around). This knowledge is not lost on the Camden International Film Festival. Among its many strengths, which have carried the autumnal non-fiction showcase into its 17th year, is its homegrown conviviality and collegial informality. The vibe of “just a bunch of doc people sittin’ around talkin’” survives even a second year of pandemic-necessitated precautions and mixed “real life” and virtual screenings. At the end of Penny Lane’s stimulating and slyly hilarious Listening to Kenny G., the online screening of the movie segues into just such a scene. Lane – whose previous subjects have included Richard Nixon, contemporary Devil worshippers, and a legendary quack doctor…  Read more


The Year of the Hybrid: 9 Ways to Make the Most of a Hybrid Festival Premiere

Nixon protestors outside the premiere of 18 1/2

This is a very weird time for film festivals and filmmakers. During the first year of the pandemic, it was fairly simple:  Almost every festival around the world became online only. There were a few exceptions, of course: The Göteborg Film Festival in Sweden stranded one person on a tiny island for a week to watch every film. The Oldenburg Film Festival in Germany had living room premieres. And many festivals pivoted to drive-in and other outside venues (especially where the climate allowed for that). By summer of 2021, the feeling among festival organizers was that now that we have a vaccine, we’ll have this Covid thing in our rearview mirror and we can go back to live film festivals…  Read more


Socks, Scope and 35mm Projection: Mia Hansen-Løve on Bergman Island

Mia Wasikowska in Bergman Island

Filmmaking couple Chris (Vicky Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth) arrive at Fårö Island to begin a real-life residency for artists who wish to work in Ingmar Bergman’s former home. “All this calm and perfection, I find it oppressive,” she says; “soothing,” he counters. Mia Hansen-Løve’s seventh feature, Bergman Island, sets up a number of binaries, most directly in the film’s bifurcated structure: the first half is a third-person POV of Chris and Tony’s time on the island, the second a film-within-a-film of the project Chris is writing and recapitulating for Tony. (For schedule availability reasons, the second half was shot first, while the first was shot a year later.) Her voiceover guides the footage along as it echoes and transmutes the first…  Read more



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