Fall 2014

In the Eye of the Storm: Laura Poitras on CITIZENFOUR

Red tail lights glow in an inky black tunnel. In voiceover, a woman’s voice softly reads. “Laura,” the email begins. The sender writes of encryption, passwords, the government documents he intends to send and the reason he addressed this email to her. “You’ve been selected,” Laura speaks, as the sender goes on to explain that every phone call she makes, trip she embarks on, person she befriends will be observed, recorded, surveilled. “This is a story few but you can tell.” With this cool, measured voiceover, drawing us into her life at the moment it changed forever, documentary filmmaker Laura […]



Vanishing Act: David Fincher on Gone Girl

Marriage might be an attempt at a lifelong emotional bond, but it’s also a contract enforced through mutual brutality. Disappointments mount, responsibilities shift, a struggle for power inevitably ensues between the partners; control is hard won and often gained only through compromises at best, coercion at worst. In most marriages, that brutality is only psychological, and the loss of the unmarried self — the version of you that attracted your significant other in the first place — never brings out the knives when you or your spouse realize what a lousy existence you’ve traded in for. (And we haven’t even […]

  • Glory at Sea: Mike Leigh on Mr. Turner

    Within a career that’s now in its fifth decade, Mr. Turner is only the third period film Mike Leigh has made, but, ironically, it’s the first he’s shot digitally. The picture captures the last 25 years of revered British painter J.M.W. Turner’s life — already famous, his days are filled with awkward visits from an ex-wife and daughters, confrontations with both artistic rivals and lesser painters, and the salon visits that constitute the business of being an artist in the mid-1800s. Timothy Spall deservedly won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his turn as the eccentric Turner, who walks […]

  • Digital Tableaux: Cinematographer Dick Pope on Mr. Turner

    “Turner was progressive,” says cinematographer Dick Pope. “He was not a Luddite. He was very forward-looking. And if he was making the decision today, whether to shoot on film or digital, with all the tools and control of the palette [digital] offers, Mike and I felt that he would choose digital.” “Mike,” of course, is Mike Leigh, and “Turner” is J.M.W. Turner, the 19th-century painter of roiling seas and fiery vistas containing a near-religious quality of apocalypse. Together, Leigh and Pope have made Mr. Turner, a rare artist biopic that imbues within its visual strategies a sense of its subject’s […]

  • Freeze Out: Ruben Östlund on Force Majeure

    Amidst the red-carpet mayhem of any major international film festival, critics tend to adopt a sort of cinematic shorthand — a private language of allusions and descriptors. It didn’t take long for Force Majeure to earn its seemingly ready-made sobriquet: “the avalanche movie,” further confirmed by the film’s theatrical poster. Force Majeure does indeed revolve around an avalanche — a controlled blast in the mountains of a ski resort in the French Alps, watched by a vacationing Swedish family with awe until, as it hurtles its way toward the restaurant terrace where they are enjoying their breakfast, awe suddenly curdles […]


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