Fall 2013

A Speck in the Ocean

At sea — we have all felt it, paradoxically unmoored even in our hyper-connected age. In only two pictures, that sense of disconnection, emotional confusion and fear is the metier of New York-based writer/director J.C. Chandor. His 2011 debut film, Margin Call, was a tightly focused drama about Wall Street traders fighting for their financial lives amidst the economic meltdown. Unfolding over 24 hours, Margin Call is a talky and claustrophobic movie plumbing the specific ethical quandaries of our current political moment. Assuredly directed and extremely well-acted, it would seem to have set Chandor up to make any number of […]

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Features

History, Continued

Documentaries are supposed to shine a light on the world, but some tackle subjects that are more pressing and timely than others. Over the course of her career, Egyptian-American director Jehane Noujaim has created films that are prescient to the extreme. Her 2001 debut, Startup.com, co-directed with Chris Hegedus, chronicled the genesis of the govWorks website just as the dotcom bubble burst. Noujaim’s 2004 follow-up, Control Room, focused on the way the ongoing Iraq War was being presented by news channels, particularly the Arabic news network Al Jazeera. Both films had their world premieres at the Sundance Film Festival, using […]

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  • The Happiest Place on Earth

    The memories of our childhood are owned, their copyrights controlled by giant multinational corporations. Whereas the fantasy figures of the 20th century hail from centuries-old sources — the Brothers Grimm, Greek and Norse mythology — their contemporary incarnations, found on T-shirts, lunchboxes, mugs, iPhones and in video games, constitute precious intellectual treasure, their value diligently upheld by World Trade Organization rulings. Or, to phrase things a bit differently: If you’re an independent filmmaker, make sure your lead actor isn’t wearing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt you haven’t cleared! Despite the forces aligned against pop culture-deploying media artists in our mash-up, remix […]

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  • Voices From the Street

    A first feature by Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq (chosen for Filmmaker’s 2012 25 New Faces of Independent Film), These Birds Walk is an observational documentary following the hopes of a young Karachi runaway named Omar. The boy, no more than 10-years-old, escapes his rural village and, as the film begins, is ready to run away from his city youth home. Omar is befriended by Asad, a young ambulance driver who works near the orphanage, which is maintained by one of Pakistan’s great philanthropists, elderly Abdul Sattar Edhi. Two questions resound through Omar’s days, through ups and downs: Where is […]

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  • Hot to the Touch: Abdellatif Kechiche on Blue is the Warmest Color

    When Adèle eats spaghetti, it’s a sensual affair. The camera studies every move of her mouth, every lick of her fingers and knife. Her eyes are saucers. Her full lips pout. Unlike the slurpy absurdity of noodle-eating in Juzo Itami’s Tampopo, in Blue is the Warmest Color, spaghetti is no laughing matter; it’s a matter of love. And, since it’s directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, it’s also a matter of class: Adèle’s comfort food indexes a working-class background that cannot be left behind. “That is a theme that one could say is central across all my films,” Kechiche said to me […]

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