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Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Hollywood’s Obsession With Real-Life Tragedy

Now that the mystery behind the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 is seemingly closer to reaching its tragic conclusion (and no, it wasn’t a black hole), what is the next step? Do we support the families who’ve lost loved ones? Do we investigate how this happened, and what could have been done to prevent it? Do we examine our own tabloid-crazy obsession with the entire thing, and look at how it might have made the situation worse?


Lessons of Darkness at New Directors/New Films

Toward the beginning of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Charles Marlow, the sailor at the center of the novel’s journey, comments on the fading light of civilization. “It had ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery — a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over,” the character remarks. “It had become a place of darkness.”


Films at SXSW 2014: A Doc, Stop-Motion Animation, and a Music Video


Edgar G. Ulmer’s “Bluebeard” at Nitehawk Cinema

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.


Amour Fou on Valentine’s Day: “Possession” at Anthology Film Archives

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…)

Maria Callas as “Medea” in “Vengeance is Hers” Series at BAM

“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…)

Watch the Trailer for Isaac Julien’s “PLAYTIME”

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:


Filmmaker Michael Snow at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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: Further Rituals of Rented Island at Anthology Film Archives

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 Named Cannes Jury President

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…)