On Jan. 1, 2009, two hours after the New Year’s stroke of midnight, a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer fired upon and killed an unarmed Oscar Grant on the platform at Oakland’s Fruitvale Station. Grant had been returning home to East Bay from San Francisco with friends when a fight broke out in the subway car. Cops pulled a number of people off the train, and with Grant face down and restrained, an officer named Johannes Mehserle shot him in the back. Later, Mehserle would say he meant to draw his Taser instead of his pistol. The incident was recorded […]
David Lowery made waves last year in the independent film world with the news that Ain’t Them Bodies Saints — the follow-up to his little-seen $12,000 feature film St. Nick (2009) — had attracted the stellar cast of Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster. It quickly became one of the year’s most anticipated independent films, premiering at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Critic’s Week. The film begins with a robbery and shootout, and a young couple torn apart. Bob Muldoon (Affleck) is sent to prison, leaving his pregnant girlfriend Ruth Guthrie (Mara) to raise their daughter alone […]
While making After Tiller, Lana Wilson and Martha Shane struggled to get support from granting agencies cautious about supporting a film about such a hot-button topic as third-trimester abortion. In response to the pair’s bid for support, one major film grant organization said, “We’re waiting to see where this movie comes down.” Or, in other words, “We can’t support the film unless we support the way you depict this contentious issue.” The genius of After Tiller is that it doesn’t “come down” anywhere. It doesn’t make a case or take sides. At a time when documentaries about major political and […]
James Ponsoldt’s new movie, The Spectacular Now, is hard to talk about. Just describing its plot — a slacker high-school senior on the romantic rebound falls for the school’s shy girl as they bond over parent problems — doesn’t do it justice. And if you throw in notice of lead character Sutter’s drinking problem, then you prompt speculation about Ponsoldt’s choice of material. This is his third movie in the row about an alcoholic! (Full disclosure: Robin O’Hara and I produced the first, Off the Black.) Step into The Spectacular Now, however, and you’ll find yourself drawn into a world […]
Stunning black-and-white photos of movie theaters — old-style palaces and tacky multiplexes alike — sit underneath the credits of The Canyons, the 18th feature from veteran director and screenwriter Paul Schrader. Except rather than evoke the majesty of the 20th century’s dominant art form, they depict its collapse. These theaters are guttered, wrecked, their seats torn out, signage empty, neon fixtures torn and dangling from the ceilings. Some of these theaters — vintage single-screen Art Deco houses — are surely no longer viable in the modern era. The demise of the pictured strip-mall multiplexes, however, is most likely the product […]
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A few months ago I went to the Los Angeles premiere of a horror film, Aftershock, directed by Nicolás Lopéz and produced by Eli Roth. Roth stars as an American who travels to Chile to visit local friends, but what starts as a romantic comedy about a trio of losers trying to get laid shifts dramatically and horrifically when a massive earthquake hits. Roth, in a khaki suit, plaid shirt and blue tie, looked more the producer than director of horror films such as Hostel and the upcoming The Green Inferno. He introduced Lopéz with generous praise. Roth had known […]
Editor’s Note: The subject of this article, the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, is developed and operated by IFP, also the publisher of Filmmaker. Cantankerousness is a disease that can affect even the smartest among us — back in the day, Socrates protested his ideas shouldn’t be written down, fearing that there was no way the written word could capture the meaning and emotion of the human voice. But instead of honoring the wise old man’s wishes, his young pupil Plato recorded his inspiration’s objections, using the very medium that Socrates was so set on strangling at its […]