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Bamboozled, Showboat and Vitalina Varela: Jim Hemphill’s Home Viewing Recommendations, March 27, 2020

Bamboozled

Although it borrows liberally from earlier films like A Face in the Crowd, The Producers, and Network, there’s nothing else quite like Spike Lee’s 2000 satire Bamboozled, the most ferociously funny movie of the writer-director’s career as well as one of his most formally adventurous. It’s a movie of extremes, raucous in its gleeful willingness to offend (as Mel Brooks said of The Producers, it “rises below vulgarity”) and relentless in the psychological trauma it inflicts on both its characters and its audience, with Lee’s mission being nothing less than a history of racist representation in American pop culture and a state of the union address at the end of the decade that gave us everything from In Living Color…  Read more

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“Avoid Time Blur”: at CPH:DOX, the Red Heaven Filmmakers on Surviving Isolation

Red Heaven

Keeping calm and carrying on (digitally, that is) during the global pandemic, CPH:DOX fittingly launched its five-day CPH:CONFERENCE series with a program titled “Science is Culture.” The “day celebrating the value of science in society and exploring how new approaches to science storytelling can engage the audience” was moderated by Jessica Harrop, supervising producer of science-centric doc studio Sandbox Films. (And impressively so. Not only did Harrop seem to be downloading questions directly from my head, but she kept the proceedings running swiftly and smoothly, all while sheltering in place from her Brooklyn apartment no less.) While every discussion was filled with insightful dos and and often surprising don’ts (I’m talking to you, Neil deGrasse Tyson -- or at least keynote…  Read more

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“We Needed a Killer Concept Trailer”: Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham on Crip Camp, Battling the Health Care System and Working with the Obamas

Crip Camp

The 1970s: an oil and energy crisis, numerous coup d'états (some failed, some successful), a massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics, the rise (Margaret Thatcher, Augusto Pinochet) and falls (Richard Nixon) of world leaders, the beginning (Lebanon) and end (Vietnam) of drawn-out wars, and a New York-based serial killer who terrorized young adults because his neighbor’s dog ordered him to. Oh, to go back again! Stateside, the '70s saw further proliferation of rock music, drugs, second-wave feminism, the Black Panther movement and general  political unrest and upheaval. Titled after a since-closed Catskills camp for disabled youth that was itself something of a liberation movement, Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham's Crip Camp documents LeBrecht’s camp experience as a hormone-raging teenager diagnosed with spina…  Read more

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True/False Film Fest 2020: The Value of the Theatrical Experience (Coronavirus Remix)

How to Disappear

"You guys are going to spend the next year stuck quarantined with buskers," a friend wrote on my way to True/False, which seemed to be sliding just under the wire of possibility even before I got there--a foreboding confirmed by day two, when SXSW became the first film festival to cancel. Onscreen, every handshake and hug was charged with an unintended jolt; in the theaters, elbow bumps were exchanged, nervous jokes made and telltale pools of soapy foam collected at the bottom of bathroom sinks. On its last day, True/False added one of SXSW's now-homeless premieres, a special by (noted landlords' rights advocate) Hannibal Buress, to the lineup. Drawn by the unexpected light of stand-up comedy, a line of hundreds…  Read more

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“People Live on Hope When There’s Limited Freedom”: DP/Director Gonzalo Amat on The Man in the High Castle and SEAL Team

Gonzalo Amat on set

Two of the most elegantly directed and photographed shows on television and streaming right now—and two of the most disparate in terms of their visual style and tone—share a common filmmaker, cinematographer and director Gonzalo Amat. I first became aware of Amat’s work as director of photography on The Man in the High Castle, Amazon’s bold and nerve-shredding adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel that imagines an alternate America ruled by Japanese and German powers following a US loss in World War II. In its fourth and final season, The Man in the High Castle jumps between multiple realities and dimensions, juggling dozens of major characters without ever losing its penetrating emotional focus, thanks to consistently strong writing and…  Read more

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Sheltering in Place: The Independent Film Community Faces the Coronavirus Shutdown

It was February, 2020. At New York’s Steiner studios, the largest studio lot outside of LA, people were busily prepping Lin Manuel Miranda’s highly anticipated directorial debut, Tik, Tik…Boom! The movie was set to begin shooting in two weeks, and Jessie Pellegrino, a seasoned assistant prop master, paused her work to sit through a mandatory Netflix HR meeting. Near the end of the session, one of her colleagues raised his hand. “What’s Netflix’s plan for us if coronavirus forces our shoot to shut down?” The HR rep responded the best she could at the time. They were working on it; they were tracking it closely. Pellegrino remembers finding the question alarmist. But it stuck in her mind like a mental…  Read more

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Back to One, Episode 104: Miriam Shor

Miriam Shor is unrecognizable as Lorraine Ela in the powerful new Netflix film Lost Girls. It’s the kind of performance that doesn’t feel performed, that doesn’t get recognized often because it’s invisible. We talk about that phenomenon this half hour, and break down a hilarious moment from the show Younger, where Shor played the beloved character Diana Trout. She talks about the importance of feeling like she is in collaboration with a director, and how being cast in a role you don’t think you’re “right for” can help you grow. Plus much more! Back To One can be found wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher. And if you're enjoying what you are hearing, please subscribe…  Read more

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“You Staying Healthy?”: Joel Potrykus Pandemic-Calls Indie Film Dudes

Writer/director Joel Potrykus, who broke down the anxieties of the filmmaking process recently for Filmmaker, is doing what a lot of us are doing in this time of quarantine: checking in to see how our friends are doing. Here, in a video by Ashley Young, he lets us eavesdrop as he finds out how folks like director Dustin Guy Defa, Oscilloscope's Dan Berger, Neon Indian's Alan Palomo,  Indiewire's Eric Kohn and the harder-to-get writer/director Alex Ross Perry are handling the isolation.

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