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Conversations Between: Sky Hopinka and Theo Anthony Discuss maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore

maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore (courtesy of Grasshopper Film)

There’s a moment in Sky Hopinka’s 2017 short film, Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary, where for just a few frames, a layer of video floats on top of the subtitles. Blink and you’ll miss it, but in those frames something deeper winks back at you. Subtitles often float like oil on top of water; they are in the image but not of the image. But in Sky’s films, language is not a metatext. It’s organic, dynamic, always in the process of becoming something else. Language shapes and is shaped, carries and is carried, by the specificity of the time and the place and the people that it flows between. In just those few frames, all of this is…  Read more

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“Stupid Questions are the Best Questions, and Mistakes are What People Call ‘Style'”: Christopher Doyle on Pandemic Production, Creativity and Shooting Gus Van Sant’s Gucci Series

Christopher Doyle

The seven-episode Ouverture of Something That Never Ended has garnered millions of views since it was posted on YouTube in November. Sponsored by Gucci, the series marks the latest collaboration between director Gus van Sant and cinematographer Christopher Doyle, HKSC, following the features Paranoid Park and Psycho. (Overture is co-directed by Van Sant and Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele,) Shot on location over a three-week period in the fall, the series was Doyle's first chance to work under new Covid-19 protocols. Extensive testing and social distancing were among the steps taken during the production.  With over 100 films to his credit, Doyle has worked in a variety of styles and with some of cinema's most innovative directors. Before the pandemic struck he…  Read more

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Trailer Watch: Iva Radivojević’s Aleph

Aleph

A world premiere I'm highly anticipating out of the upcoming 2021 edition of New Directors/New Films is the second feature from Iva Radivojević, Aleph. From New Directors: In her magical, unpredictable second feature, Belgrade-born, globe-hopping artist Iva Radivojević has created a labyrinthine vision inspired by the writings of Jorge Luis Borges. Using a variety of visual styles that miraculously cohere into one unified and unique aesthetic, the multihyphenate filmmaker and her collaborators offer an episodic structure bending time and space, in which one character seems to unwittingly pass the narrative baton to the next, fashioning a film whose scope extends from Argentina to Greenland to South Africa, with plenty of pit stops along the way. Ultimately, they are all part of…  Read more

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Back to One, Episode 149: Danny Deferrari

In this epic episode, we really get to know the talented actor Danny Deferrari, who plays Max in Emma Seligman’s brilliant and hilarious new film Shiva Baby, and I’m eternally grateful for it. He talks about appreciating the “emotional language” that Seligman speaks and the heavy life situation that was weighing on him during that movie. He takes us through his early training as an actor, his formative and important seasons at the Williamstown Theater Festival, and the trials and tribulations that brought him to his “Holy Trinity of Artistic Safety.” I break down how a small performance of his was successful because I didn’t even know he performed it, and much much more! Back To One can be found wherever…  Read more

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“Fish is Expensive to Keep Purchasing and Replacing”: Emma Seligman on Shiva Baby

Fred Melamed, Rachel Sennott and Polly Draper in Shiva Baby

From its double-entendre title to the hilarious sightgag of a closing scene, Emma Seligman’s debut feature, Shiva Baby, is universal in its uncomfortable awkwardness and specific in how it chooses to bathe in it. Adapted and expanded from her NYU thesis short, Seligman’s film follows Danielle (Rachel Sennott), a young Jewish New Yorker who has taken to sex work to solidify her funds. After concluding a session with a client, Max (Danny Deferrari), Danielle heads to Flatbush to meet up with her parents (Polly Draper and Fred Melamed) and attend the shiva of a family friend. Faced with unending nagging and third-degree questioning of her plans for the future, Danielle’s day worsens when Max shows up with his shiksa wife…  Read more

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“Every Image is Goodbye”: Cam Archer on Grief, Walks Home and His MoMA-Premiering Short, His Image

His Image

"Dreamy visuals of teenhood — cool hair, telephones, starkly lit bedrooms, troubled outsiders — are laid over structured soundtracks that blend distinctive background ambiences with catchy songs," is how Mike Plante described the early short films of Cam Archer for Filmmaker in 2006. The occasion was the release of Archer's first feature, Wild Tigers I Have Known, which joined an emerging body of work that Plante called "art films for teens." But when we next caught up with Archer, it was just after the Cannes Directors Fortnight premiere of his second feature, Shit Year, starring Ellen Barkin, and his focus had shifted. The story of a retiring actress staving off regret and sadness, the film recalled for me corrosive Hollywood portraits…  Read more

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Defending Your Life, The Producers and Spaceballs: Jim Hemphill’s Home Video Recommendations

Defending Your Life (Courtesy Criterion Collection)

The best film by America’s greatest comic filmmaker arrives on Blu-ray this week in the form of Criterion’s release of Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life. Some Brooks partisans might argue on behalf of the more acidic and self-flagellating Modern Romance or the more influential Real Life (and if you caught me on certain days I could probably be convinced that Mother is as great a movie as anyone has ever made), but Defending Your Life is the director’s most philosophically dense, emotionally satisfying, and conceptually ambitious comedy, an inquiry into the meaning of existence as serious as Tree of Life or 2001 but with more laughs per minute than Duck Soup. Brooks stars as Daniel Miller, an advertising executive who…  Read more

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“The Script Had to be Drunk — Drunk Alongside the Characters”: Director Thomas Vinterberg on Balancing Humor and Sadness In His Unexpectedly Life-Affirming Another Round

Another Round

A besotted cinematic sub-genre consists of films about drinking -- liquor, bars and the imbiber's life. Whether the lives portrayed are rowdy and boisterous ones, or, as is often the case, destructively out-of-control, these films -- ranging from Days of Wine and Roses and The Lost Weekend to Leaving Las Vegas -- usually map their character arcs alongside their characters' physical and social deterioration; they wind up as cautionary tales. A recent film that took a different approach is the Ross Brothers's hybrid documentary, Bloody Noses Empty Pockets, which captured the woozy exuberance of one intoxicated day/night while not eliding some of its subjects' small-scale tragedies. And another is Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round, which is both very much about drinking…  Read more

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