Fall 2016

High Tide: Kenneth Lonergan on Manchester by the Sea

“…If it is true to say that, in essence, the tragic hero is intent upon claiming his whole due as a personality, and if this struggle must be total and without reservation, then it automatically demonstrates the indestructible will of man to achieve his humanity.” — Arthur Miller, “Tragedy and the Common Man” (The New York Times, Feb. 27, 1949) How should we grieve? When faced with inconceivable loss, most of us become amateurs, fumbling in the hope of recovery. Grief tends more to ugliness than elegance, and it has a nasty habit of overstaying its welcome. For Lee Chandler, […]

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Features

A Woman Above Everything Else

The camera pushes tight in on Natalie Portman’s distressed face, a layer of 16mm grain putting a slight filter on her perfect features. From the very beginning, we’re too close; the customary distance from an iconic first lady is gone. Also missing are biographical flashbacks, or early happy moments, or pretty montages locating Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy within the tapestry of her husband’s life and administration. No, Pablo Larraín’s Jackie, which follows the first lady in the days following John F. Kennedy’s assassination, begins in a kind of emotional media res, a heightened state accentuated by the dark chords of Mica […]

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  • Fatal Journey: Gianfranco Rosi on Fire at Sea

    With his last film, 2013’s Sacro GRA, Italian Gianfranco Rosi became the first documentarian to win the Golden Lion at Venice. He was also the first doc director to win the Golden Bear at Berlin with Fire At Sea, a disciplined, urgent look at the migrant crisis anchored on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, whose proximity to the African coast has made it a target destination for those fleeing their countries. It takes a while before the migrants appear onscreen: initially, Rosi divides his attention among various islanders, including a radio DJ whose tunes are heard all over the island […]

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  • In Character

    Before we hit the halfway mark in German filmmaker Maren Ade’s masterful Toni Erdmann, Winfried suddenly confronts his adult daughter Ines: “Are you even a human?” He’s been abandoned for hours in Bucharest’s largest shopping mall as she chaperoned the wealthy wife of her employer. For Winfried, it’s a moment of unexpected gravity that temporarily disrupts his shaggy-dog, prankster-father persona. Visibly wounded by the attack, Ines swiftly resumes her role as the sleek, self-controlled daughter, and fires back, “Of course you’d think that.” It’s painful and uneasy to watch, and, as with most of the scenes between Winfried (Peter Simonischek) […]

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  • Inside Looking Out: Barry Jenkins on Moonlight

    Occasionally a movie has the look and feel of something totally original, immediately allowing one to see the protean leap its maker has taken from novice to master. Someday, when the American movie landscape is no more, simply the purview of art historians who live on Mars or on ocean front property in what we used to call Indiana, people will still regard Barry Jenkins’s startlingly effective Moonlight as a unique and supple flower, the kind of heartrending experience that gives rise to the notion that motion pictures can be a lasting, emotionally resonant art form. Drawn from MacArthur “genius” […]

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Other articles

Also: Laughing Matters (and Not) Super 8: Randomly Accessed Memories Politics of Style: Restoring and Rediscovering Apparatus Films Happiness is Overrated: A New Book Examines the Arthouse Sub-genre, “the Feel-Bad Film” Parting Shot: Johnny Ma Editor’s Letter

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