Continue Watching

Exploring how and why we watch. by Jane Schoenbrun

  • Why I Spent Months Making An Archival Documentary about The Slenderman

    When I was thirteen years old I spent a good deal of my free time posting on an online message board dedicated to Wes Craven’s Scream film series. I was a nerdy, creative kid stuck in suburbia, and I’d stay up late on my parents’ basement desktop computer writing long, elaborate, I’m-sure-illegible fan fiction stories to post on the message board. This was a subculture on the forum: users would regularly post their own fictional horror stories (some inspired by the Scream movies, some original). The stories would often feature the characters from Scream mixed with new characters inspired by…  Read more

    On Jun 19, 2018
    By on Jun 19, 2018 Columns
  • Notes from Inside a Film Canon

    About a year and a half ago I made the wise decision to stop watching so much mediocre television and start immersing myself obsessively in film history. I wasn’t a total beginner: I had a video store growing up and a traditional film school education — Battleship Potemkin, The Searchers, all that good stuff. Plus I was armed with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of contemporary cinema, spurred on by my work as a festival programmer over the years. But I had (and indeed, still have) countless blind spots. I resolved to fill in as many as possible with the help of a…  Read more

    On Mar 29, 2018
    By on Mar 29, 2018 Columns
  • Art and Commerce Are Stuck in An Abusive Relationship

    Is there such a thing as a moral or “best” way to finance a movie in this country? Should filmmakers and artists be allowed to earn a living without having to worry about making their work commercial? What and where is the line when “art” becomes “entertainment”? And when “entertainment” becomes pure “product”? With the Trump administration’s proposed gutting of federal funding for the arts, these are some of the questions that have been rattling around my mind lately. I find them more difficult than ever to untangle. Questions about the relationship between art and commerce are exceedingly complex, not to mention…  Read more

    On Mar 21, 2017
    By on Mar 21, 2017 Columns
  • 20 Honest Observations from the Sundance Film Festival

    Twenty — It’s the first Friday of the Sundance Film Festival and I’m sitting in the lobby of the Park City Marriott. I’m making small talk with some friends about the festival and the election and the films we’re excited to see. There’s a TV mounted on the wall behind me live broadcasting Trump’s inaugural address. Someone makes a joke about how he’s doing everything he can to avoid looking up at the screen. I do the same, pivoting my body and adjusting my eyeline so as to avoid catching a glimpse of our new President’s grinning face. By being here,…  Read more

    On Feb 3, 2017
    By on Feb 3, 2017 Columns
  • Sundance: The Narrative Radicalism of Dee Rees’ Mudbound

    I implore you to go into Dee Rees’ wonderful Mudbound with an open mind. Here’s a warning to help you do so: this film is more narratively radical than you might imagine. It starts quietly. It’s patient, a true slow burn. It’s well-aware of this fact, even proud of it. At times you might perceive the film to be unfocused or fractured. You might be put off by some of the narrative techniques on display — for instance, the film’s heavy reliance on expositional voice-over. Or its overabundance of subplots (many of which remain unrelated to the central story). Or the fact that…  Read more

    On Jan 26, 2017
    By on Jan 26, 2017 Filmmaking
  • Sundance: David Lowery’s A Ghost Story is a Major Achievement and A Curious NEXT Entry

    It’s a rare privilege to see a contemporary American film as ambitious, emotionally honest, and just-plain-breathtaking as David Lowery’s Sundance entry A Ghost Story. Even from his microbudget beginnings, Lowery’s work has displayed a consistent fascination with American folklore and mythmaking. His films, whether big-budget Disney blockbusters like last year’s Pete’s Dragon, 2013’s love story Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, or his masterful 2011 short Pioneer, concern themselves with the notion of storytelling, its allure and its limitations. With A Ghost Story, Lowery continues to explore this fascination, now through the lens of the haunting genre, a tradition that stretches from…  Read more

    On Jan 24, 2017
    By on Jan 24, 2017 Festivals & Events
  • Sundance: Exploring the Implications of Amazon’s New Distribution Play

    Earlier this week, Amazon Video Direct (AVD, a department within Amazon focused on self-publishing distribution tools for filmmakers) announced an intriguing new opportunity available to Sundance 2017 feature filmmakers. Dubbed the “Film Festival Stars” program, AVD is offering, in exchange for a two-year worldwide SVOD (subscription VOD) contract (with one-year exclusive) an up-front “cash bonus” to Sundance titles on a sliding scale based on section ($100,000 for US Narrative Competition titles, $75,000 for US Documentary Competition Titles, and $25,000 for titles in the NEXT, Midnight, Kids, World, New Frontiers, and Spotlight sections). The deal also offers a preferential rate on…  Read more

    On Jan 20, 2017
    By on Jan 20, 2017 Distribution
  • Sundance: Are Trump Think Pieces Helpful?

    I write this a few hours before I’ll be hopping on a plane and heading to quaint and quiet Park City, Utah, where I’ll be covering the 2017 Sundance Film Festival for Filmmaker Magazine and surviving on a diet of tuna sandwiches I buy from 7/11 in-between screenings while, it goes without saying, hating myself. I’m lucky to not have a specific beat or set of overt marching orders for what to cover during the festivals. Sweet freedom. I don’t plan to just review films, nor do I plan to spend too much energy covering the “business of the festival”…  Read more

    On Jan 20, 2017
    By on Jan 20, 2017 Columns
  • The 50 Most Anticipated American Films of 2017

    The 2017 Sundance Film Festival is just a few days away, and with it begins a new cycle of stressing out about all of the movies that I haven’t been able to see yet. Hollywood operates on a very fixed theatrical schedule — leftovers dumped wholesale at the beginning of the year (I’m looking at you, Bye Bye Man), CGI franchises dominating the summer calendar, and Oscar bait rolling out from October on. Meanwhile, the landscape for smaller-budget but more adventurous films here in the States has developed its own windowing: the majority of American art films will premiere at…  Read more

    On Jan 16, 2017
    By on Jan 16, 2017 Columns
  • 2016’s Ten Best Shows Prove “Peak TV” is a Euphemism for Artistic Freedom

    The Ten Best TV Shows of 2016 10. Channel Zero: Candle Cove (Syfy) 9. Search Party (TBS) 8. Bojack Horseman (Netfiix) 7. O.J.: Made in America (ESPN) 6. Rectify (Sundance Channel) 5. The Americans (FX) 4. The Girlfriend Experience (Starz) 3. Steven Universe (Cartoon Network) 2. Atlanta (FX) 1. Horace and Pete (Independent) I’ve opted to buck established Top Ten List trends and include my picks for the best TV of 2016 right there at the top. I do this for two reasons: one, to spare you the exercise of having to scroll quickly through a collection of capsule-blurbs that…  Read more

    On Dec 21, 2016
    By on Dec 21, 2016 Columns
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