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“If You Have Racist Beliefs, They Want You to Say So at Dinner”: Yaara Sumeruk on Her Doc Short, If We Say That We Are Friends

Making its world premiere at the recently concluded Camden International Film Festival was New York-based, Argentinian/South African director Yaara Sumeruk’s short doc, If We Say That We Are Friends, which, in a taut 17 minutes, sits the viewer down into the midst of a warmly unusual conversation on race taking place across dinner tables in the Cape Town South African township Khayelitsha. The organizers of Dine with Khayelitsha arrange for relatively well-off South Afrikaners from the city to hear first-hand about life in the townships by joining residents for dinners of African food in their homes. (Formed in 2015, the program has since expanded to townships beyond Khayelitsha.) In this smart and assured short film, Sumeruk, whose work traverses doc,…  Read more

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“It Was a Story that Played Out Almost as a Psychological Thriller and Yet it was True”: Ed Perkins on Tell Me Who I Am

Tell Me Who I Am (photo: Netflix)

Tell Me Who I Am, the Telluride-premiering feature from Academy Award-nominated (for Best Documentary Short Subject) director Ed Perkins, digs into the stranger-than-fiction saga of Alex Lewis, one half of an identical set of twins, who at the age of 18 lost his memory in a motorcycle accident. Upon awakening from a coma the only person Alex was able to recognize was his brother Marcus — the mirror image he would come to rely on to relearn pretty much everything, from the mundane (down to brushing his teeth) to his very sense of self. In turn, Marcus devotes himself wholeheartedly to the project of healing his sibling both physically and mentally. So much so that he makes the fateful decision…  Read more

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“A Black and White Movie in a Stupid Aspect Ratio”: Robert Eggers on The Lighthouse

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse

Eulogized debuts draw ravenous, patient cynics, who stalk the scent of a fledgling’s success to their second movie, hoping their foe might slip. Robert Eggers, a name of contention after headlines announced he would remake Nosferatu (TBD) before his Sundance debut The Witch was released theatrically for audiences to decide if he were worthy themselves, has made his second move.  The Lighthouse, a sophomore effort especially susceptible to readied blows, has made it back with critics on the festival circuit and will now see appraisal from the mainstream on its theatrical bout. But the film expels farts and sailor vulgarity, an impenetrable raunch and silliness that upsets its cinephilic self consciousness and the cynics’ fight to declare it one big affectation. …  Read more

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Gemini Man: Tax Credits at 120fps

Will Smith in Gemini Man

There are only 14 US theaters capable of showing Gemini Man at 120 frames per second—only in 2K, not the intended 4K (Ang Lee is making movies for the future). Going to one of those 14, NYC’s AMC Lincoln Square, is disorienting even before the movie begins. The Dolby theater has its bass jacked to the point that a bumper encouraging the purchase of soda and popcorn generates rumbles so intense the seat pulsates beneath, as if an ice cube dropping into an ice-cold Coke should equal an earthquake right below—it’s all very silly and hyperbolic, and Gemini Man (to its infinite credit) does not resort to similar overkill to literally shake viewers up. Another pre-show bumper is designed to show that laser…  Read more

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31st Annual NewFest to Feature 160+ LGBT Films, With an Emphasis on Marginalized Global Voices

Music for Bleeding Hearts

Two teen girls lust for each other in post-Dust Bowl Oklahoma. A pregnant writer visits her parents in China and confronts her father’s closeted homosexuality. A Filipina punk-rocker is sent from Manila to the countryside and falls in love while attending an all-girls Catholic school. A meek farmhand and a police officer become lovers despite the oppressive anti-gay legislation in rural Siberia. A trans TSA agent grapples with the prospect of de-transitioning in the face of ostracization.  These varied narratives account for a mere fraction of the films that will screen at the 31st annual NewFest, also known as New York’s LGBT Film Festival, which will run from October 23-29, with screenings held at Cinépolis Chelsea, the SVA Theater, and…  Read more

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Sibling Subterfuge: Choi Woo-Shik and Park So-Dam on Parasite

Park So-Dam and Choi Woo-Shik in Parasite

Bong Joon Ho may have shifted his subject from genetically engineered super pigs (Okja) and setting from a speeding, class-stratified train (Snowpiercer), but it’d be wrong to assign his Palme d’Or winning Parasite to a new league of subtlety. That’s not a knock — vulgarity is the name of the game for this “Korean New Wave,” in which Bong, and now Parasite, have an evolving role. Bong’s metaphors have shrunk in size for his latest, but they’ve increased in number, becoming part of a loud, meta, and self-parodying dialogue. Ki-woo (Choi Woo-Shik), the son in Parasite‘s working-class family, interacts with the film’s metaphors most directly and is the only one that acknowledges them aloud. But every character here is an…  Read more

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Back to One, Episode 79: Tim Heidecker

I didn’t know if Tim Heidecker was going to show up for this interview, or if I was going to get his boorish, abusive, dim alter ego, Tim Heidecker. Luckily Tim Heidecker leaves Tim Heidecker in the On Cinema universe. That project he started with Gregg Turkington is comprised of an ongoing series called On Cinema at the Cinema, various spin-off series including The Trial of Tim Heidecker, special episodes, segments, tweets, songs, and now the feature film Mister America. In this half hour, I ask Heidecker to lift the hood on his performance style and the evolution of his comedy from the brilliantly absurd Awesome Show with Eric Wareheim, to the super subtle realism of Mister America. Back To…  Read more

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Festivals & Events

This Action Lies

TIFF 2019, Last Days: Uncut Gems, Atlantis, Jallikattu, This Action Lies

At Marriage Story‘s TIFF premiere, the audience applauded the Netflix logo; a night later, the same happened for A24 at Uncut Gems. The latter makes slightly more sense—rightly or wrongly (no comment), A24 has coherent brand cachet in positioning itself as Art-Fixated rather than purely profit-motivated—but…  Read more

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on Sep 16, 2019

 

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