Cinema

Different Places: Jeffrey McHale’s “You Don’t Nomi” Dances with the Legacy of “Showgirls”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 2nd, 2020

Jeffrey McHale’s “You Don’t Nomi” lines up a colorful gallery of defenders and detractors ready to reflect on the serpentine journey of Paul Verhoeven’s 1995 spectacle “Showgirls.” Contemplating the movie’s gradual redemption as a kind of cult trash masterpiece balanced on the wire between self-aware satire and so-bad-it's-good embarrassment, McHale has made a potent film essay investigating the boundaries of camp, reception, and artistic intention. No matter how one…

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Natalie Erika James’ Horror Debut “Relic”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 2nd, 2020

Natalie Erika James delivers a strong directorial debut with “Relic,” another Sundance 2020 world premiere now available on demand. Working from a screenplay she co-wrote with Christian White, James thoughtfully explores mother-daughter relationships, the icy grip of dementia, and the inevitability of human mortality. Situating her core themes within the corner of art-house horror often identified as the slow-burn variety, James mostly skips the jump scares in favor of creeping…

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Collecting Movies with Mallory O’Meara

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 19th, 2020

photo courtesy of Mallory OMeara

Filmmaker and screenwriter Mallory O’Meara is the author of “The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick.” Patrick was an artist and designer responsible for, among other things, creating the look of the Creature from the Black Lagoon -- despite never receiving due credit for her work.

With her friend Brea Grant, O’Meara hosts the literary podcast “Reading Glasses,” which can be found at maximumfun.org.

“The Lady from the…

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Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow” a Stirring Tale of Friendship

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 12th, 2020

Both Jim Jarmusch’s contemporary classic “Dead Man” and Kelly Reichardt’s newly released “First Cow” open with cosmic epigraphs. The former uses Henri Michaux’s idiosyncratic line, “It is preferable not to travel with a dead man.” The latter begins with “The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship,” from William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell.” Reichardt’s choice of Blake, along with the presence of Gary Farmer in a small but key role, pays homage to…

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Shannon Murphy’s “Babyteeth” a Strong Feature Directorial Debut

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 28th, 2020

Writer Rita Kalnejais adapts the script of her own 2012 play “Babyteeth,” and Shannon Murphy, delivering her feature directorial debut, guides a fantastic ensemble of performers to success in what could have been an all-too-familiar dying-young melodrama. The depiction of terminal illness is so tried and true as a storytelling device that I can’t help but think of Roger Ebert’s pointed cinematic rule dubbed “Ali MacGraw’s Disease,” which notes that “the only symptom is…

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Da 5 Bloods

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 22nd, 2020

One of the most effective storytelling strategies in Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” is the application of the simple and elegant dichotomy. Lee has long enjoyed exploring dualities, as the apparent bifurcation of moral choice-making appeals to our human nature: black and white, yin and yang, stop and go, yes and no. It is, however, the complementarity and interconnectedness of seemingly polar opposites that moves toward the complexity and richness that cannot be found in a heads/tails…

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Collecting Movies with Brady Daley

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 15th, 2020

photo provided by Brady Daley

Brady Daley does UI/UX design, data visualization, and media production in Seattle, where he lives with his girlfriend Erika, dog Phinneas (Finn), and his girlfriend’s cat Annie, who hates him. He primarily collects horror but also rescues and archives special interest, conspiracy theory, and instructional titles he fears will be lost to time.

Greg Carlson: Erika worries she will find you crushed beneath the collection in your office. How do you keep your movies organized?
Brady Daley:…

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Icon’s Daughter Guides “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 7th, 2020

Natasha Gregson Wagner, known to David Lynch fans for her performance in “Lost Highway,” guides viewers through an intimate but tightly controlled portrait of her iconic mother in “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind.” Available on HBO following a Sundance premiere in January, the biographical documentary is directed by veteran “making of” maestro Laurent Bouzereau, frequent chronicler of Steven Spielberg projects and architect of dozens of other behind-the-scenes shorts.…

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Josephine Decker Casts a Spell with Elisabeth Moss as “Shirley”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | May 31st, 2020

Another significant 2020 title skipping theatrical release for digital platforms, Josephine Decker’s “Shirley” premiered at Sundance in January, where Decker received a U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Auteur Filmmaking. “Shirley” marks yet another career milestone for the dynamic filmmaker as she moves in the direction of wider accessibility and potentially larger audiences without abandoning the sharpest hallmarks of her breathtakingly personal storytelling techniques.…

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“The Assistant”: Kitty Green’s Important Workplace Drama

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | May 23rd, 2020

The most compelling and powerful idea in Kitty Green’s compelling and powerful film “The Assistant” resides in the network of complicity protecting the predator/stand-in for Harvey Weinstein and those like him. Green expresses, in the microcosmic minutiae of office-life orbit, a detailed picture of institutionalized harassment and mistreatment. Even though the movie’s particular events are set within the film industry, Green’s message is universal: for every man in a position…

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