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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
Dylan Gelula brings a captivating authenticity to her characters that makes them seem like they go on living outside the frame. Look at her work in Flower, Support The Girls, and First Girl I Loved, to name a few. Her latest performance as Maggie in the SXSW winner Shithouse is a revelation. It snuck up on me and left me moved and in awe. On this episode she talks about her instinctual, untrained approach to this craft that she claims she hasn’t fully wrapped her arms around yet. I ask her about some specific moments from Shithouse and about working with first time director and co-star Cooper Raiff. She professes her love of Mike Leigh, and tells us something good… Read more
A glance back at the economic suffering of the post-crash Obama era that feels barely a day removed from the nation’s present multitude of crises, Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland is much more existential road movie than social tract. While it communicates something newsy about the pitiful state of things for the American worker, the story tracks an introspective quest, dramatized against the splendiferous, wide-open horizons of the American West. The odyssey of a Nevada woman who loses her home and takes to the road after the closing of her town’s gypsum mine, the film fits loosely into a body of work that includes both fiction and nonfiction, lines that Zhao handily straddles: The Florida Project, American Honey, American Factory, Bombay Beach and… Read more
When director Kinji Fukasaku adapted the yakuza novel Graveyard of Honor for the screen in 1975, he was coming off of an extraordinary streak of Japanese gangster films that began with Street Mobster in 1972 and ended with New Battles Without Honor and Humanity in 1974. In between were six other yakuza pictures that transformed the genre in the same way that Francis Coppola reinvented the American gangster movie with the Godfather films. Like Coppola, Fukasaku was intent on deepening and critiquing the conventions he was working with, and in placing his stories at an intersection between myth and socioeconomic commentary; Graveyard of Honor was in many ways the culmination of this project, a crime tale set against the backdrop… Read more