Cinema

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

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

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

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

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”

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”

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

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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Collecting Movies with Caity Birmingham

May 19th, 2020

Caity Birmingham. photo by Caity Birmingham

Caity Birmingham is a production designer who lives in Los Angeles. We have been friends for a long time, and originally bonded over our mutual appreciation of teen movies. In addition to that genre, she also loves costume dramas and apocalyptic sci-fi. Caity works on feature films, and also does a lot of funny television, including “Comedy Bang! Bang!,” “Documentary Now!” and “Joe Pera Talks with You.”

Greg Carlson: Movies are not necessarily attractive as objects on a…

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“Le choc du futur” Shares the Sounds of Tomorrow

May 10th, 2020

Cinematic depictions of the creative process are as common as they are usually unconvincing. Whether encapsulated in a montage or stretched out over several scenes, images of painters painting, composers composing, writers writing, and rockers rocking are regularly meant to convey to the viewer a sense of awe or accomplishment when the final product is revealed. Frustration and failure can also factor in some of the best films about the struggles of making something out of nothing.…

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Rachel Harrison Gordon’s Dazzling Debut Short “Broken Bird” Part of SXSW Collection on Amazon Prime

May 2nd, 2020

As alternative viewing strategies for avid moviegoers seeking fresh content continue, the South by Southwest filmmakers who opted to join the Amazon Prime collection have benefited this week from attention that would have otherwise been more limited by the in-person version of the Austin, Texas showcase. One of the best films in the lineup is Rachel Harrison Gordon’s narrative short “Broken Bird.” Crafted with a level of sophistication and storytelling acumen rarely seen in…

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