Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Art and Life in “Madeline’s Madeline”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | August 29th, 2018

The borders of the real and imagined assume a prominent place in Josephine Decker’s “Madeline’s Madeline,” the new feature from the talented filmmaker of “Butter on the Latch” and “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely.” As a richly layered metanarrative that utilizes the vehicles of acting, performance, and improvisation as the means to explore a complex emotional triangle involving a troubled young woman, her mother, and her theater teacher, Decker’s movie is a visual and auditory odyssey. Newcomer Helena Howard is explosive as the titular teenager, an intense explorer and deeply committed student who channels her demons into a series of stage exercises overseen by Molly Parker’s out-there coach Evangeline.

In what many admirers will see as a shrewd piece of cross-casting opposite Parker, Miranda July is Madeline’s concerned mom Regina. As the events unfold, audience allegiance to the parent and the role model shifts alongside the confused and frustrated Madeline. Decisions made by each person escalate the drama, and Decker handles the works -- manipulations, humiliations, and aggressions both micro and macro -- with supreme skill. While many of the cruel actions elicit gasps, none read as false.

The unidentified mental health issues faced by Madeline and the character’s subjective interactions with her world guide the presentation of the content. Decker, working again with cinematographer Ashley Connor, plays with textures so convincingly that “Madeline’s Madeline” quickly transcends the simplistic formula in which a person’s fraying perception is expressed via filmmaking technique (like “Repulsion” or “Black Swan” or dozens and dozens of other examples). Connor, operating a custom rig that allows for close physical proximity to the actors, transforms her roving lens into a character.

Chris O’Falt notes that Connor’s camerawork has a “liquid-like aspect to the focus, and the image is often slightly doubled or warped, while out-of-focus translucent objects come into the edges of frame to cause pockets of soft, sometimes colorful blurring.” Some viewers will be put off by Decker’s level of comfort with abstraction and shifting depth of field, but for those willing to embrace Madeline’s perilous journey, with all its highs and lows, the style is integral to the story. In this sense, “Madeline’s Madeline” demands repeat viewings to unpack the dazzling manner in which Decker uses the cinema to probe the nature of the creative process itself.

In one of the movie’s most electric scenes, Evangeline invites Madeline to a dinner party at her home in what some viewers will mark as an inappropriate violation of teacher-student boundaries. Decker’s acute awareness of Madeline’s age and vulnerabilities shapes the film into a potent bildungsroman, despite -- or perhaps due to -- the outsize talent possessed by both Madeline and Howard. The growing pains dramatized here can make you squirm, and the threat of violence is clear from the beginning of the movie. Howard is given a perfect canvas on which to paint a masterpiece of a screen debut, as Evangeline’s questionable if not unethical decision to use Madeline’s personal experiences as the basis for her theatrical piece simultaneously flatters Madeline with attention and pushes her to the very edge of destruction.

“Madeline’s Madeline” will open in Minneapolis on August 31, 2018.

Recently in:

BISMARCK – Backed by police and educators, state legislators hope to curb violent crime and rising suicide rates by proposing bipartisan legislation that would allow police to temporarily confiscate firearms from those deemed…

It is no secret that our world is becoming more and more computerized. Over the course of a few decades, computers and the Internet have transformed from being solely objects of luxury or business to a ubiquitous part of 21st…

Wednesday, January 23, at 6-8 p.m.Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave. N, FargoMeet featured artists and learn about the Human Rights Arts Festival. The North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival is a traveling juried exhibition that…

A couple of days before Christmas, a video of “Virgin Island Vicky,” went viral. Her real name is irrelevant, but she’s a Minot native. The video shows her going on multiple public racist rants while she and her beau were on…

The Epic Battle Between Milk And WaterI didn’t realize our neighbor state Wisconsin had over 15,000 lakes until I Googled. Well, it might depend on how you count them according to size and acreage. We know that Minnesota has…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

All About Food

​Curry in a Hurry

by HPR Contributor

By Nataly Routledgenatalyroutledge@googlemail.com My least favorite thing about being a college student is the limited selection of food that I am comfortable making with minimal ingredients and minimal effort. Plus, I liked to try…

Music

To Broadway and back

by HPR Contributor

By Ryan Jankeryan.janke78@gmail.comCelebration of Women and Their Music kicks off this Thursday at the Spirit Room in Fargo, and Nina Grollman will be back in town to light up the stage with a brand-new sound. High Plains Reader…

Compared to the Betsy West and Julie Cohen documentary “RBG,” Mimi Leder’s period biographical slice “On the Basis of Sex” is nowhere near as notorious as one might hope, but the hagiographic reverence for Ruth Bader…

By Nataly Routledgenatalyroutledge@googlemail.com"Snowgeese" for Charles BeckBy Timothy MurphyThe flock is whorled like a translucent shelland intricate as the tubing of a horn,its embouchure, the soft foot of a snaillighting on…

by Ryan Jankeryan.janke78@gmail.comFargo-Moorhead Community Theatre presents “A Christmas Story: The Musical” which is underway at the Stage at Island Park and will run through December 22. It has been promoted as a show both…

Those who have been reading my articles for a while may remember when I interviewed Zachary Tooker about the Level Two Comedy Club at the Radisson in Fargo. While the club may have unfortunately closed, Tooker has not ceased…

by Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comphotography by Logan MacraeEver wish you could go to your favorite brewery without leaving your house? Finally, you can (sort of). Kilstone Brewing is now doing limited can releases of some…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.edu"People spend so much time mocking Trump or waiting for him to be impeached. And the danger with this kind of obsession with a single person is that you don’t see the system that produced him."—…