Edgar G. Ulmer could make something out of nothing. Houdini of the poverty-row filmmakers, he cranked out remarkable B-pictures in the best sense of the term, economical and bristling with caustic energy. His best films — the dark as night “Detour” or horror-classic “The Black Cat” — are far better than most Hollywood productions of the period, with little of the puffery and half the budget. According to legend, Ulmer shot some of his films in as little as six days, a remarkable achievement. Some of those later cheapo films — “Murder is My Beat” and “Ruthless” specifically, from what I’ve seen — have been ignored for too long and are in need of critical reconsideration.
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Archive for the ‘Film’ Category
Andrzej Zulawski’s “Possession,” a movie about love if your idea of love is being so consumed by your partner that you spew blood out of your mouth, will screen this weekend as part of a three-film program at Anthology Film Archives dedicated to literal amour fou. I’m not even going to pretend I know what’s happening during most of “Possession,” but here’s a quick breakdown: Mark (Sam Neill), a spy of mysterious origins who returns home to his wife Anna (Isabelle Adjani), who wants a divorce. When she leaves, he starts to go crazy with jealousy. Then he finds out the man she is having an affair with isn’t actually a man, but some creature pulled deep from the trenches of her subconsciousness. In between there are doppelgangers, bodily fluids, and Adjani’s long freakout in an underground tunnel that resembles an exorcism choreographed by Pina Bausch. The camera, spinning more and more wildly, often through the empty streets of Berlin, as the movie becomes unhinged, adds to the delirious feeling. You won’t leave the movie feeling good, but you can safely walk away knowing that, as bad as it gets, it will never get this bad. Or will it? (more…)
“Vengeance is Hers,” one of the strongest and most exciting film programs of the year, runs at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from February 7-18. Focusing on female revenge films (quite a few made by female filmmakers), the series displays the varied cinematic forms that theme has taken — from low budget trash to melodrama to screwball comedy. The series begins tonight with a newly restored 35mm print of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Medea” (1969), starring opera legend Maria Callas, a brilliant moment of casting. (more…)
Yesterday, I wrote about the films of artist Isaac Julien, which are screening at the Museum of Modern Art in conjunction with “Ten Thousand Waves,” his nine-channel installation that hangs over the atrium of the museum, immersing the viewer in a panoramic meditation on Chinese culture. Today, we have trailer for Julien’s new project, a seven-screen installation called “PLAYTIME.” Currently on view across both Victoria Miro gallery spaces in London (one has the installation, the other photographs from the project), “PLAYTIME” features actors James Franco and Maggie Cheung, auctioneer Simon de Pury, and more, dealing with questions of migration and capital. Watch the trailer below:
At the end of Michael Snow’s “Wavelength” (1967), the artist’s epochal work of experimental cinema, the camera, engaged in a gradual zoom across a loft in downtown New York, lands on a photograph of the calm waves of the sea. Much has been written about the film and its influence, but I’ve always been intrigued by that unsettling final image. Why a photograph?
Tonight is the opening of “Further Rituals of Rented Island,” a film series at Anthology Film Archives in New York in conjunction with the exhibition currently on view at the Whitney Museum. Co-curated by J. Hoberman, Andrew Lampert, and Jay Sanders, the program, which runs through January 21, will feature work by Richard Foreman, Yvonne Rainer, Chantal Akerman, Jack Smith, and more. The series will begin with a screening of Vito Acconci’s “The Red Tapes” (1977), along with restorations of two early 8mm films, “Flour/Breath Piece” (1970) and “Gargle/Spit” (1970). View the entire schedule of films below.
Jane Campion, whose “Top of the Lake” was our favorite television series of 2013, has been named the jury president of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, set to take place from May 14 to 25. The director has premiered many of her films there, including “Bright Star” and “Sweetie,” and is the only woman to win the coveted Palme d’Or prize for 1993’s “The Piano.” The rest of the jury members have not yet been announced. “It is a mythical and exciting festival where amazing things can happen, actors are discovered, films are financed, careers are made,” Campion said in a press release. “I know this because that is what happened to me!” (more…)
If you use the popular online streaming service Netflix, you’ll be all too familiar with their hilarious subcategories — or as they call them, “personalized genres.” These are branches of the typical genres Netflix uses to categorize movies and more helpfully (I guess) determine which movies will be right for you. Just last night, as I was flipping through movies on Netflix trying to decide what to watch, I was introduced to a new category, based on what I’ve viewed in the past: Cerebral Films with a Strong Female Lead. Sounds good to me. But how far do these categories go? (more…)
Shia LaBeouf, who seems like he can’t go even a few months without getting himself in some kind of publicity hassle, respond to claims yesterday that his new short film, “HowardCantour.com,” plagiarizes the work of graphic-novelist Daniel Clowes. The accusations, first reported by Buzzfeed, were serious, calling the film a “direct adaptation” of Clowes’s 2007 graphic novel “Justin M. Damiano” — the film apparently uses lines of dialogue directly from the book. “I’ve never spoken to or met Mr. LaBeouf,” the artist told BuzzFeed. “I’ve never even seen one of his films that I can recall — and I was shocked, to say the least, when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did six or seven years ago and passed it off as his own work. I actually can’t imagine what was going through his mind.” (more…)
This is a thing that’s happening, because Hollywood never saw a good thing they didn’t want to smother. It’s being reported that Jason Segel will play deceased writer David Foster Wallace in “The End of the Tour.” Jesse Eisenberg will co-star as journalist David Lipsky. The film is based on Lipsky’s book, “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself,” itself based on a Rolling Stone article, which followed Wallace on his press tour for his novel “Infinite Jest.” James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now”) will direct, and all the trade papers are mentioning that he worked at Rolling Stone in college, as if that somehow gives him more credibility in making this movie. I have only one question: Will this be a bromance? Please tell me they are making a David Foster Wallace bromance. (more…)