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SPOTLIGHT: Sweeping Culture Daily

Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Bill Morrison’s “The Great Flood” at Nitehawk

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Jane Campion Speaks of “Inherent Sexism” at Cannes

Jane Campion, president of the main competition jury at the Cannes Film Festival this year and the first and only woman to win the Palme d’Or, spoke of the film industry’s “inherent sexism” during the press conference opening the festival this morning. She added, of course, that 20-percent of the films chosen for Cannes this year were made by women (although, as many others have pointed out, those numbers might not be true). But she wasn’t completely letting the festival off the hook. “But nevertheless it does feel very undemocratic and women do notice, you know,” Campion added. “Time and time again we don’t get our share of representation.” Sofia Coppola, along with the actresses Carole Bouquet, Leila Hatami, and Jeon Do-yeon join Campion on the main jury. Which means there are almost as many women on one jury as there are who directed films at Cannes this year. (more…)

Swiss Artist H.R. Giger Passes Away at 74

It’s being reported that Swiss artist H.R. Giger, famous for his sinewy designs used in Ridley Scott’s landmark sci-fi film “Alien,” for which he won an Academy Award, passed away on Monday from injuries he obtained after suffering a fall at his home in Zurich. He was 74 years old. The news was confirmed by the H.R. Giger Museum, a converted château in Gruyères, Switzerland, that that artist purchased in 1998.

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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?

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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.”

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

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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.

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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:

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