Before he became a director, Jan de Bont was the cinematographer on some of the most visually intricate, elegantly lit movies of the 1980s and early ’90s, including Paul Verhoeven’s The 4th Man and Basic Instinct, John McTiernan’s Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October and Ridley Scott’s Black Rain. When de Bont made his directorial debut in 1994 with Speed, the film’s kinetic energy and precise attention to light and composition were no surprise; what made the picture a classic was how finely attuned the visual choices were to the nuances of performance. Speed made Sandra Bullock a star, confirmed Keanu Reeves as a viable action hero and was packed with colorful supporting turns by Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels,… Read more
In his short films, compulsive shooter John Wilson combines a nervous voiceover with impossible amounts of nonfiction footage; the joke often alternates between the unexpected metaphorical/pun juxtaposition of dialogue with shots selected from his vast archives and sometimes nerve-wracking encounters with assorted eccentrics. That seemingly free-form structure, in which Wilson’s voice ties many disparate elements together, was established in shorts with titles like How to Walk to Manhattan and How to Keep Smoking. Now it’s been expanded in the six episodes of the first season of his HBO series, How to With John Wilson. Nathan For You’s Nathan Fielder is an executive producer, and the family resemblance is evident in sometimes nervewracking encounters with strangers—e.g., an anti-circumcision activist happy to strip down on his bed… Read more
Filmmaker is now out with its annual 25 New Faces, our picks of directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers who are exciting us right now. Click here to read this year’s list.
I first became aware of director Rich Newey’s work a few years ago when I caught his “Dreamland” episode of the sci-fi series Stitchers; working from an audacious script by Lynne E. Litt, Newey deftly juggled styles and tones with an inventiveness and confidence that led me to seek out his other episodic work on shows like Blindspot and The Fosters. I was consistently impressed by both his precise, expressive visual style and his sensitivity to dialogue and performance, skills on prominent display in his terrific new feature Killing Eleanor. The film tells the story of Natalie (Annika Marks), an addict in and out of rehab who gets a visit from Eleanor (Jenny O’Hara), a terminally ill woman who has an… Read more
The original Borat wasn’t really a movie so much as a cultural flashpoint, with Sacha Baron Cohen trolling average Americans into casually revealing their racisms (it doesn’t take much!) in between public provocations, many of which invited the possibility of an ass-beating. Fourteen years later, it’s hard to recapture the charge of that very particular cultural moment and nobody really wants to hear “My wife” ever again, so what are we doing here? Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (full subtitle: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) is mostly tedious or borderline unwatchable for much of its running time in ways that are eminently predictable—but when, 70 minutes in, Baron Cohen finally gets around to making… Read more
The 19th edition of New York Asian Film Festival spotlighted films with women both in front of and behind the camera, emphasizing a specific focus on women filmmakers across the region. And while it was exciting to see women directors and stories highlighted in a festival lineup, these examples were exceptions to the rule. Among NYAFF’s slate of over 50 films and television episodes, only ten were directed by women. Men are overrepresented in film industries globally, especially in Asia where patriarchal values are so deeply entrenched in culture and society. Among the ten female directors represented in NYAFF’s lineup, five hailed from South Korea (three who helmed feature films and two who directed episodes of the television series SF8).… Read more
You know Matthew Del Negro from Scandal, Goliath, The West Wing, or as Cousin Brian on season four of The Sopranos, or maybe, like me, you were wowed by his comedic tour de force as Jason Allen Ross in Netflix’s Huge In France. He’s currently filming his second season as Detective Chris Caysen on Showtime’s City on a Hill. He also hosts a great podcast called “10,000 NOs” where he has deep conversations with people who’ve overcome rejection on the way to success in their field. He’s just written a book of the same name which draws on his own story of survival as an actor, and it’s a gold-filled “must read.” In this hour he talks about his journey… Read more
With a list of credits that includes Annabelle, Hush and The Bye Bye Man, cinematographer James Kniest has spent a fair share of his career toiling in horror. “I somehow got into doing all these dark genre films and episodics, which I like a lot,” said Kniest, “but I often times say jokingly, ‘Can’t I just do a romantic comedy?’” The Haunting of Bly Manor fulfills half of that request. The second installment in Netflix’s Haunting Of anthology series, Bly Manor is a gothic romance that leans heavily into the latter. When the horror does arrive, it’s less jump scares and more peering into the existential dread of loss. Like its season one predecessor, The Haunting of Hill House, Bly Manor takes its inspiration… Read more