Cinema

Feels Good Man: Arthur Jones Looks at the the Life and Death of Pepe the Frog

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

Director Arthur Jones makes his auspicious feature debut with “Feels Good Man,” an engrossing and timely documentary that examines the phenomenon of artist Matt Furie’s Pepe the Frog. Created by Furie in 2005 for the comic “Boy’s Club,” Pepe’s now iconic visage morphed into a surprisingly durable meme -- made all the more confusing and controversial when internet trolls and supporters of the alt-right nationalist movement adopted and appropriated Pepe as a symbol of white…

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Collecting Movies with Matt Dreiling

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 24th, 2020

CM MD Mighty Wind - photo provided by Matt Dreiling

Matt Dreiling worked for twelve years as a cameraman, gaffer, and cinematographer on feature films, documentaries and commercials. A few years ago, he fled Hollywood with his girlfriend for the wilds of Montana to begin the second act of his career.

Dreiling is the author of “Black Sunday,” a graphic novel about the horrors of the American Dust Bowl. “Black Sunday,” published by American Gothic Press, is available at Comixology.com.

Greg Carlson: What is the current state of your…

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Lost at Sea: Peter Medak Is Haunted by “The Ghost of Peter Sellers”

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

Peter Medak, the veteran filmmaker who met with early career success directing Peter O’Toole in “The Ruling Class,” puts together a fascinating cautionary tale in “The Ghost of Peter Sellers.” Haunted for more than four decades by the catastrophic disaster of his ill-fated relationship with the legendary comic genius, Medak revisits the painful memories of his “collaboration” with Sellers on the DOA feature “Ghost in the Noonday Sun.” Approaching 80 when he decided to…

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Can You Hear Them? Alison Ellwood Chronicles “The Go-Go’s”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 13th, 2020

The line is repeated so often that it does an instant, sexist disservice to the band’s greatness: The Go-Go’s were the first group composed entirely of women who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to climb to the top of the charts. And the next cold fact, cited more than once in Alison Ellwood’s new documentary on the group, rings with the subtext that no matter how good they were, in an industry dominated by men, misogyny, and the gatekeeping of the…

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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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