Spring 2013

Funny Girl: Noah Baumback and Greta Gerwig on Frances Ha

In 2008, Noah Baumbach surprised many people by teaming up with Joe Swanberg, first on a couple of Saturday Night Live Digital Shorts (which Baumbach directed and Swanberg shot), and then on Alexander the Last, Swanberg’s fourth feature, which Baumbach produced. The director of The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding seemed to have little in common with the most prolific of the mumblecore directors, but the association was indicative of a desire on Baumbach’s part to reinvent himself and find new ways of working. For his 2010 comedy drama Greenberg, Baumbach recruited Swanberg’s former muse (and […]



Caught On Film

In Medan, Indonesia, when the government was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar Congo was one of many small-time gangsters who hawked movie tickets and plotted petty crimes in front of cinemas showing American movies. He and his buddies, who translate “gangster” as meaning “free men,” were enlisted as death squads after Communists cut off imports of U. S. films, such as their beloved Elvis Presley musicals. More than a million intellectuals, ethnic Chinese and alleged Communists and leftists were murdered. The “movie theater gangsters” were always eager to dance across the road to garrote an alleged Communist or […]

  • Third Time Around

    It began with a glance. When Céline hurried down the aisle of the Vienna-bound train, did she notice Jesse first — or he her? It’s been so long since the two met — 18 years! — and so much has happened since then (divorce, commitment, children). It’s easy to forget that Jesse and Céline were once proverbial strangers on a train. But the couple still sees each other, sees through each other as only romantic partners can, and their romance has spanned millennial change. What was once a Gen X, pre-Internet love affair has aged into a full-blown, middle-age relationship — […]

  • Relative Truths

    Over the course of two narrative features, and now a documentary, Sarah Polley has made a habit of taking on unexpected subjects, all the while managing to produce a remarkably consistent body of work. Polley’s films explore the vagaries of relationships and intimacy, and in particular, the challenges of marriage. Filled with tonal shifts and narrative reveals, Polley’s naturalism is always accompanied by flights of fancy and spontaneous moments of romance that may twist against the viewer’s sympathies. Her 2006 debut, Away from Her, stars two aging icons of cinema, Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent and the ever-radiant Julie Christie, as […]

  • Frame of Reference

    What does it mean, in 2013, to photograph — to reproduce — a painting? Does it, as Walter Benjamin wrote in his 1936 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” drain the painting of an essential “aura,” even as it makes the image itself accessible to a much larger audience? Does it, as John Berger elaborated in his 1972 book and television program, Ways of Seeing, alter the painting’s meaning, rendering the original a symbol of capitalist exchange? Or, in today’s image-sharing world of Tumblr, is reproduction nothing more than whimsical statement of affinity, of a […]


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