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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
Netflix has just dropped the first teaser for Mank, David Fincher’s first film since 2014’s Gone Girl. Working from a script by his late father, Jack, Mank re-examines the writing of Citizen Kane. Its title hints at the presumed agenda, which is to re-litigate the issue of whether screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz was the true force behind Orson Welles’s debut. It’s worth noting that Jack Fincher never had a screenplay credited to him in his life, although his IMDb page claims that "He once wrote a Howard Hughes biopic before it was decided to go with John Logan [sic] script for The Aviator (2004) instead.” Mank is currently slated for limited theatrical release in November, then arrives on Netflix December 4th.
In 1963, the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover began wiretapping Martin Luther King, Jr. with the goal of undermining his authority as a civil rights leader. Utilizing a wealth of newly discovered and declassified files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, as well as newly restored footage from the period, MLK/FBI delves into the Bureau’s deeply questionable methods and motives for surveillance, while painting a portrait of King that does not shy away from uncomfortable truths. Directed by Sam Pollard, best known as Spike Lee’s editor on films like Clockers and Bamboozled, MLK/FBI builds upon a lifetime of work committed to exploring the history of American race relations. Consider Pollard’s multiple writing, directing, and producing credits on the epic documentary… Read more