Winter 2020

Parlays and Teasers

I first learned of Josh and Benny Safdie’s Uncut Gems—a comedy/drama built around the self-delusions, self-destructions and unbridled compulsions of a midtown Manhattan diamond dealer—back in 2011. The brothers had just completed their first feature as a directing duo, Daddy Longlegs (Josh previously directed 2008’s The Pleasure of Being Robbed), and shared a 161-page early draft. Much of the ingenious plotting of their new film was missing, but the character of that dealer, Howard Ratner, screamed out. Indelibly portrayed by Adam Sandler eight years later, Howard is a perpetual motion machine of mishap, whose schemes spiral more and more painfully […]



Self Reflection in Theater Two

Over the past year, various reckonings—from continued collective and individual action around #metoo to protests against institutions accepting donations from the Sackler family, Warren B. Kanders and oil giants like BP—that media and arts institutions have gone through have brought the weaponization of cultural capital via art-world philanthropy onto the front pages of newspapers. Meanwhile, in the U.S. documentary film field, the way we’re talking about who holds power and how it’s dispensed has remained narrowly focused.  Film festivals have jumped into this fray with public forums, panels and talks at which emboldened filmmakers and a new crop of festival […]

  • Hits & Misses 2019: Surveying the Success of the Sundance Film Festival’s Theatrical Releases

    The times, they keep a-changin’. In its immediate aftermath, the story out of Sundance 2019 was its bounteous acquisition market and record-setting sales numbers—from New Line’s $15 million purchase of Blinded by the Light to Amazon Studios’ $27 million splurge on Late Night and Brittany Runs a Marathon. By the summer, a different narrative began to emerge. While these top acquisition titles earned millions of dollars at the box office, they all still under-performed in theatrical release. Then, Amazon Studios’ veteran head of theatrical distribution Bob Berney left the company, a departure that potentially signaled shifting priorities at what had […]

  • Fast, Cheap and Good

    “I’ve wasted the greater part of my life looking for money, and trying to get along… trying to make my work from this terribly expensive paint box which is…a movie. And I’ve spent too much energy on things that have nothing to do with a movie. It’s about two percent moviemaking and 98 percent hustling.” — Orson Welles I never heard “hustling” mentioned in film school, college theater or acting class. I agree with Mr. Welles about the two percent moviemaking part of the equation; it’s just that, for my kind of independent filmmaking, the other 98 percent is self-reliance. […]

  • Every Day I Write the Book

    Creating cinema without concern for the economic system in which you operate is a privilege few can exercise. Like most filmmakers I know, I make films not only as a form of expression but also as a means of financial subsistence. I wrestle with the impact this dependency has on my work on a daily basis. Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, a film that she pitched as being about “art and women and money,” examines the complex relationship between profit and power in storytelling. Gerwig’s adaptation of the century-and-a-half-old text boldly restructures the narrative and further blurs the line between author […]


Other articles

Also: Sonic Menace: Composer Mark Korven on Scoring Robert Eggers’s The Lighthouse Photographing Memory: DP Rodrigo Prieto on the “Three-Headed Monster” Used to Shoot Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman Where Do I Go From Here? Southern Subjects When the Streaming’s Over: The Fight to Save Vulcan Video The Inner Reaches Out of Space Editor’s Letter

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