Gene Kelly retro at Film Society (thru Jul 26)

by on July 13, 2012Posted in: Essay

  Read More

Erich Von Stroheim retro at Film Forum (thru Jul 30)

by on May 28, 2012Posted in: Essay

  Read More

Migrating Forms Fest at Anthology (thru May 20)

by on May 11, 2012Posted in: Essay

Read More

Sunday Editor’s Pick: Mildred Pierce (1945)

by on May 6, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Sun May 13 at 1:00 at Museum of the Moving Image [Program & Tix]
The final day of “If Looks Could Kill” in this year’s annual Fashion in Film Festival at MoMI.

In the wake of Todd Haynes’ ultra-tasteful, fussy mini-series (playing at 4:00, see our blogroll here), we’ve been missing Joan.

Alt Screen contributor Imogen Smith, for The Chiseler:

Crawford’s career was guttering when she made her first noir entry, Mildred Pierce (1945), a triumphant comeback and a title role that perfectly summarized her strange blend of fiendish energy and quivering need, the hard face and big shoulders overlaid by strained refinement and undercut by rampant vulnerability. Mildred Pierce seamlessly fuses full-throttle melodrama and keen, unsparing social criticism. Mildred is an extraordinary everywoman: a housewife who turns her talent for baking into a successful chain of restaurants after splitting from her husband. A capable, hard-headed businesswoman, she’s also consumed by a neurotic obsession with her daughter, the snobbish and monstrously selfish Veda (Ann Blyth). Mildred and Veda represent two poles of noir femininity: the nurturing martyr and the greedy glamour-puss. The mother spoils her daughter, and the daughter lives off the mother she despises. Men are marginal, at least for Mildred, who is only interested in how she can use them.

The film finds a gaping hollowness in both the avaricious minx and the no-nonsense professional. Mildred gets everything a woman can have: love, marriage, motherhood, a career, a fur coat, yet none of it brings her real happiness. This was the paradox at the heart of the “woman’s picture.” It offered women in the audience wish-fulfillment fantasies—glamorous wardrobes, passionate love-affairs, high-powered jobs—and at the same time made suffering the defining female experience. These films reassured women that it didn’t matter whether they chose domesticity or a career, because either way they would wind up unsatisfied.

  Read More

Saturday Editor’s Pick: Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

by on May 6, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Sat May 12 at 7:00 at Museum of the Moving Image [Program & Tix]

The annual MOMI “Fashion in Film Festival” regularly dominates our slate of Editor’s Picks. This year’s installment, “If Looks Could Kill,” is no exception. Stahl’s singular and essential Technicolor noir melodrama, “the most frightening film that cinema has given us about the evils of jealousy,” (- Pedro Almodovar), is also part of “See It Big!“.

Guy Maddin for the Pacific Film Archive:

Veteran proto-Sirkian melodramatist extraordinaire Stahl (he had already made solid first versions of both Magnificent Obsession and Imitation of Life by 1935) creates this most propulsive tale of daddy-complex jealousy with the help of flawless snow queen pulchra Gene Tierney and Academy Award–winning Technicolor cinematography by lens god Leon Shamroy (available for gawking in a newly minted print). Has any woman ever looked more awfully gorgeous than when Tierney casts her father’s ashes across her chest in that luridly empurpled and incestuous consecration? A young Vincent Price is fantastic, as always, as the troubled girl’s jilted fiancé.

Matt Bailey sums up the film’s inclusion in the fest, for Not Coming to a Theater Near You :

Though the story is involving enough to make this film a classic, it is perhaps more rightly renowned for its incredible Technicolor cinematography and strikingly original set and costume design. The look of the film is difficult to describe other than to say that every blue in the film matches Gene Tierney’s eyes and every red matches her lipstick and to insist that this is not an exaggeration. This film features one of the most precisely engineered color schemes in the history of color movies and not a flower, book spine, or tchotchke in the frame clashes or distracts from the overall look. For this reason, even though it is firmly rooted in generic conventions, the film remains very much unlike any other ever made.

  Read More

Friday Editor’s Pick: Wild at Heart (1990)

by on May 5, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Fri May 11 and Fri May 12 at Midnight at Nitehawk Cinema [Program & Tix]

David Lynch’s wildly controversial pulp Wizard of Oz whatsit – winner of the Cannes Palme D’Or, but subsequently accused of simmering in its own weirdness and failing everyone’s Twin Peaks-fueled high expectations, is an Alt Screen fave.

Hal Hinson pretty much summarizes the critical steamrolling the movie suffered, for The Washington Post:

David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart” is unlike anything that’s ever been made before. It’s swampy and destabilizing in that subversive, perversely original, signature Lynchian way. But “Wild at Heart” isn’t the David Lynch movie that anyone could have hoped for — not his new fans, who’ve discovered him through “Twin Peaks,” or his older ones.


But Geoff Andrew finds plenty to love in the face of quibbles, for Time Out (London):

So much is exhilaratingly unsettling. Even more than a virtuoso shoot-out, two scenes – Stanton tortured by a gang of grotesques, a truly nasty car crash – exemplify Lynch’s ability to disturb through carefully contrived atmosphere; while the performances lend a consistency of tone lacking in the narrative (but ever-present in Fred Elmes’ fine camerawork). The film, finally, is funny, scary and brilliantly cinematic.


We tried to find some more defenders, and our valiant efforts weren’t entirely in vain.
  Read More

Thursday Editor’s Pick: The Front (1976) w/ Walter Bernstein

by on May 4, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Thurs May 10 at 7:15 at Jacob Burns Film Center [Program & Tix]

A very special evening, as legendary screenwriter Walter Bernstein (Fail-Safe, Semi-Tough) joins Jacob Burns board member and director Jonathan Demme for an onstage conversation following the film, inspired by Bernstein’s own experience on the Hollywood blacklist.

Vincent Canby for The New York Times:

Using a conventional comedy form older than Bob Hope’s girdle and an actor whose scope has been defined mostly by the method of his one-liners, Martin Ritt, the director, and Walter Bernstein, the writer, have made a moving, haunted film, “The Front” makes no attempt to examine the ideological debris of those years. It doesn’t deal in ideas but in plights. It dramatizes the experiences of some of the victims of that time when, on charges that never had to be substantiated, successful writers, directors, actors, producers could be blacklisted and thus denied employment in television and motion pictures.
The film’s inspiration is the casting of Woody Allen in the pivotal role of Howard Prince, a quintessential Woody Allen rat, an unsuccessful, amateur bookmaker who works in a bar as a cashier and has absolutely nothing on his mind except small schemes doomed to fail. “The Front” looks at the McCarthy period through the eyes of this epically self-absorbed coward, who, as is the way of cowards in such comedies, slips upon his finest hour as if it were a banana peel and slides to unexpected nobility.
Even in its comic moments “The Front” works on the conscience. It recreates the awful noise of ignorance that can still be heard.

  Read More

Wednesday Editor’s Pick: Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)

by on May 3, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Fri May 4 thru Thurs May 10 at 1:00, 4:35, 8:10 daily at Film Forum [Program & Tix]

A new print of Rivette’s hard-to-see, undefinable masterpiece in a full-length run at Film Forum.; according to David Fear, “”There’s cinema, and then there’s Céline and Julie Go Boating. Jacques Rivette’s free-form dissertation on the interzone between performance and spectatorship is the ideal filmgoing experience, even as the ‘story’ transcends all long-standing rules of narrative engagement. It’s the Ulysses of moving pictures: You can feel Rivette exploring the art form’s modes of expression and then erasing their borders, one by one.”

Dennis Lim just this week for The New York Times:

Duration and immersion are Mr. Rivette’s principal tools, preconditions for the participatory trance state that often descends on viewers of his films. His signature special effect is the uncanny impression that the story is being generated by the characters as we watch; or, spookier and more thrilling still, by the very act of our watching. This perceptual sleight of hand is central to the appeal of Mr. Rivette’s best-known and best-loved film, “Céline and Julie Go Boating,” from 1974, which is being revived for a weeklong run in a new print at Film Forum starting on Friday. It’s not just that the film holds up to repeat viewings; its very point is its seemingly infinite repeatability, its mysterious capacity to surprise both first-time viewers and those who know it as well as a magician reciting an incantation.
Telepathic co-conspirators on a shared adventure that may be a hallucination, Céline and Julie are also surrogates for the viewer in what becomes a parable of movie watching. The mansion that they take turns visiting is akin to an old cinema with an unchanging daily matinee. Partisan and highly vocal viewers, Céline and Julie delight in the creaky melodrama forming in their mind’s eye, even while mocking it, and in a mutinous act of active spectatorship, take it upon themselves to enter the film within the film and rewrite its ending.

  Read More

Tuesday Editor’s Pick: My Own Private Idaho (1991)

by on May 1, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Tue May 8 at 6:15 at at Film Society of Lincoln Center [Program & Tix]


FSLC continues their cumulative journey through “50 Years of the New York Film Festival” highlights. If you haven’t already, you need to read Dan Callahan’s deeply considered, semi-confessional feature on Idaho, followed by Matt Connolly’s meta-auteurist career profile of the stylistically protean director.


Gus Van Sant’s third feature film (technically, his fourth) is a landmark of both American independent filmmaking and art-fag aestheticism. It’s also the ultimate fetish object in the cult of River Phonenix, the youthful blonde actor whose tragically early death (drugs) came shortly after the release of Idaho.


Here’s a late interview with Phoenix, who’s a lot less charming here than he normally was on-screen, but it gives you an idea of what his attitude towards his art and career was like at the end. Asked to sum up the vagaries of movie stardom, Phoneix responds: “I found myself being blown by America’s film corporations.” Not coincidentally, that’s the first scene in Idaho.


  Read More

Romy Schneider retro at FIAF (thru Jun 26)

by on May 1, 2012Posted in: Essay

Test footage from Henri-Georges Clouzot’s unfinished L’Enfer (1964)

  Read More

Monday Editor’s Pick: The Pianist (2002)

by on May 1, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Mon May 7 at 7:30 at the Museum of Modern Art [Program & Tix]

MoMA celebrates the 10th anniversary of powerhouse company Focus Features thru May 20. And it’s time to forgive Adrien Brody for ruining your Oscar ballot a decade ago.


Charles Taylor for Salon:

In “The Pianist,” Polanski is saying what he has long wanted to say, confronting the roots of his own preoccupations and obsessions, and he allows nothing to get in the way. It’s his most emotionally direct film, at times even a brutally blunt film.The film has the simultaneous feel of being observed as it happens and of springing from a complete vision.
We all know about the horrors the European Jews faced. But no movie has ever presented them in quite this way. Like the dead-rotting face of Mrs. Bates subliminally imprinted on her son Norman at the end of “Psycho,” a death’s-head grin seemed to emerge on the very celluloid of pictures like “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown.” The black humor of those films was without compassion. The grim hopelessness of Polanski’s humor was the coping strategy of someone whose life had twice been marked by pure evil. You could understand where it came from and still be repulsed by it. There is no such distancing in “The Pianist.” Here Polanski is almost frighteningly open to the portrayal of inexplicable evil. At times I felt myself pulling away from the screen, as if Polanski were milking my response. When Nazis pick ghetto Jews out of a milling crowd and force them to dance, Polanski shows us a cripple on crutches falling to the ground. Polanski rubs our face in the obviousness of the cruelty, and it’s grating; that man seems doubly humiliated. And yet were Polanski to shrink from the worst it would seem inappropriately prim. He might almost be answering here for the grotesqueries his own films have relished.
“The Pianist” took the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival but almost immediately, the critical word coming out of Cannes was that it was Polanski’s most conventional movie, something like an old-fashioned well-made studio film of the ’40s. Is it the directness of the film that generated that response? Whatever the reason, classifying “The Pianist” as conventional doesn’t take into account how the film proceeds from the unblinking depiction of Nazi atrocities into territory which is artistically very risky, and how Polanski complicates the righteous anger the film stirs up in us. I think Polanski is attempting to put us in the shoes of Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody) by making the events of the movie so direct and overwhelming that they cannot be easily sorted out. He makes us feel but does not always tell us how or even what to feel. Nothing in the first half of “The Pianist” prepares you for the audacity of what comes after Wladyslaw, having been spared the death camps, lives as a worker in the ghetto before escaping and, with the help of various members of the underground resistance, hiding in a series of unoccupied apartments. In the last hour of the film, Polanski and Brody come close to making a great silent comedy about the Holocaust.

  Read More

Sunday Editor’s Pick: A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

by on April 29, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Sun May 6 at 1:00 at Jacob Burns Film Center [Program & Tix]

Jacob Burns’ “The Unlimited Possibilities of Cinema: Selected by Apichatpong Weerasethakul” lets Westchester’s Thai auteur superstar in residence curate a few of his favorite things.

Says the director:

I hardly dislike any film that I saw before I was 15. Each one — Star Crash, Cujo, Earthquake, Cannibal Holocaust, and so on—became one of my alltime favorites. But things changed. The theaters in my town were demolished, and I began to have more difficulty finding good films in multiplexes. I started to distrust cinema. Luckily, the films included here sustained the love. They were my new Evil Dead. They made my heart race and made me see the unlimited possibilities of the screen.


Weerasethakul will play host for the screening of Edward Yang’s recently rescued and widely beloved film, of which he says, “Many Taiwanese films remind me of my childhood. Edward Yang’s movies are full of references to growing up and trying to survive in Asia’s hierarchic world. This movie made me nostalgic for my school years and even got me to see my past in a different light. For me, this is Yang’s best film.”

A.O. Scott assures you it is well worth the four hour investment, for The New York Times:

American pop music is a tendril from the outside world that has penetrated this claustrophobic, hectic island, and it expresses the universal longings and the specific frustrations that dominate the lives of Mr. Yang’s characters. The film, at bottom a true crime story about a murder, seethes with the spirit of confused, ardent rebellion that you also find in Hollywood movies from the 1950s and early ’60s, like “East of Eden” or “Rebel Without a Cause.” Focused mainly on the restlessness of a group of young men, “A Brighter Summer Day” also belongs to a tradition that stretches from “I Vitelloni” to “Mean Streets” and beyond. Colored by Mr. Yang’s memories of the world he grew up in, it is one of those movies that, by slow accretion of detail and bold dramatic vision, disclose the structure and feeling of an entire world.
“A Brighter Summer Day” is, by critical consensus, Yang’s masterpiece. And it deserves that overused designation in several specific ways. In every aspect of technique — from the smoky colors and the bustling, off-center compositions to the architecture of the story and the emotional precision of the performances — this film is a work of absolute mastery. Its imaginative authority and the scale of its achieved ambition make it not just a wonderful movie but also an essential piece of modern cinema. The forging and unraveling of alliances — and the periodic eruption of battles that are sometimes comic, sometimes lethal — give “A Brighter Summer Day” its intrigue and momentum. It is a crowded, complex crime story that is also a tale of sexual awakening and an understated exercise in kitchen-sink realism. In short — or rather at mesmerizing, necessary length — this film has everything, and is well worth a day of your life.

  Read More

Saturday Editor’s Pick: Godzilla (1954)

by on April 29, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Sat May 5 at 4:00 at Japan Society [Program & Tix]

Japan Society hosts an Open House this weekend, so you can catch the original Japanese version of the grandaddy of monster movies for free. If you’d only seen the badly dubbed, American hackjob Raymond Burr version, you’re in for a totally different experience.
Wally Hammond for Time Out (London):

Forget CGI! Suitmation is back! Haruo Nakajima, the poor Toho Studios stuntman who lumbered around in latex as the nuclear-fire-breathing, cow-elephant shrieking, 40-metre-high rubber agent of apocalypse in this marvellous and highly moving 1954 Japanese original had a sweaty, dirty job. But it was no more dirty than the hack job the US distributors committed on Honda’s masterpiece when they released the 1956 Americanised, cut and dubbed version starring Raymond Burr that we’ve all grown to love and laugh at. We’ve waited 50 years to see Honda’s mega-budget original here. It’s an entirely different film. First of all – as restored early scenes of destroyed ships in seas facing the Bikini Atoll H-bomb tests, the Geiger-counters scanning children on the Odo islands or the ‘not-again’ conversations on Tokyo buses testify – Honda’s intention was to provide more than just a thrilling monster entertainment in the Ray Harryhausen mould (which it is). Deeply affected by witnessing the wartime Tokyo firestorms and the nuclear ruins of Hiroshima, he also wanted the film to be an allegory of nuclear warfare. However much this knowledge may deepen the impact of the fine performances (notably veteran Takashi Shimura as the idealistic palaeontologist and Akihiko Hirata as the brooding inventor of the potentially escalating Oxygen Destroyer), the meticulous model-work and superb production design of Eiji Tsubaraya and the minatory soundscapes of Akira Ikafube, we mustn’t forget that ‘Godzilla’ is after all a monster flick. But seen afresh in this cut, with Honda’s pulp poetry restored, this ballad of destruction reveals itself as one of the most exciting, enjoyable and moving of them all.

  Read More

Friday Editor’s Pick: Casino (1995)

by on April 28, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Fri May 4 at 7:00 at Museum of the Moving Image [Program & Tix]

The always dependable annual “Fashion in Film Festival” at MOMI picks “If Looks Could Kill” could kill as its theme and supplies a fine lineup of thriller, gangster, film noir, and horror. Things fittingly kick off with Scorsese’s lavish spectacle.

Says Jonathan Romney in the New Statesman: “My choice of best and most underrated film of the decade has to be Martin Scorsese’s sublime, misunderstood Casino – a sprawling, overreaching mess in some ways, but the nearest that recent US cinema has come to producing a ‘how-we-live-today’ statement of the Zola school.”
Alt Screen editor Nathan Lee for the New York Times:

“Goodfellas” in Vegas: that’s how a lot of people greeted Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” when it came out in 1995. After all, both movies took their screenplays from Nicholas Pileggi books that burrow deep into the muck and minutiae of organized crime. In both, Joe Pesci plays an unhinged thug. Equal in scope and ambition, these epic cautionary tales are about vice, capitalism and the American Way. Unmistakably, they are also about the virtuosity of their maker. “Casino” supercharges the “Goodfellas” paradigm: wall-to-wall pop music, crackerjack montage, a quicksilver camera that glides through the scenery with curving, craning, whiplash sinuosity. Yes, “Mr. Scorsese has been here and done this already,” as Janet Maslin wrote in her review of “Casino” in The New York Times, “but not with his new film’s blistering bitterness or its peacock extravagance.” And not with Sharon Stone (above, with Robert De Niro) in the performance of a lifetime as Ginger McKenna, an ambitious, unstable Strip hustler who catches the eye of the casino boss Sam Rothstein (Mr. De Niro, in a splendidly restrained performance that makes amends for his histrionics in “Cape Fear”). Mr. Scorsese is no more repetitive than Balzac and just as talented a historian. We should be so lucky as to see “Goodfellas” in Kansas, California or Washington

  Read More

Tuesday Editor’s Pick: Ju Dou (1990)

by on April 25, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Tue May 1 at 6:15 at Film Society of Lincoln Center [Program & Tix]

If you can believe it, FSLC’s ongoing celebration of each consecutive year of the New York Film Festival has already worked its way up to the 1990s.

David Noh for Film Journal International:

Think of the most gorgeously photographed film you’ve ever seen – Sunrise, The Wind, The Devil is a Woman, The Red Shoes, Touch of Evil, Lola Montes, Jules and Jim, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Makioka Sisters, etc.Think, in black-and-white or color, of the cumulative variation of shade and hue, angle and motion, and now add Ju Dou to the list. It happens to be one of the most beatiful films ever made.Yimou’s pure, visceral direction, filled with imagery that is at once both lush and economical, makes this a uniquely striking achievement.
Certain images in Ju Dou implant themselves on the memory with an empathic immediacy that goes far beyond the cliched “picturesquely Oriental” effects of scrolls, screen or, for that matter, many films. The main setting is a dyer’s plant of an indefinable period; yards and yards of cascading ochre, scarlet and orange cotton are the film’s unforgettably leitmotif. Their quick, billowing movement seems to inspire the protagonists’ passion-driven motives and embraces. The actual location was a mansion built during the Ming Dynasty – it is every bit as resonating a presence as any of the characters, and with it Zhang pulls off magisterial effects that equal and often surpass any in Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor. The film moves at a measured pace – not the excruciating retard of many Asian films – but dilatory enough to suggest the passage of time and the characters’ passive complicity in their fates.

  Read More

Thursday Editor’s Pick: Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

by on April 24, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Fri April 27 thru Fri May 3 at 1:30, 3:30, 5:30, 7:30, 9:30 at Film Forum [Program & Tix]

The last day to catch Film Forum’s stunning DCP restoration of Preminger’s scope compositions of Jean Seberg gallivanting in the Riviera, which Nick Pinkerton of The Village Voice considers of the 1950s’ “great underappreciated films.”

Richard Brody, also for The New Yorker:

Preminger’s caustic melodrama stars Jean Seberg as Cecile, a frivolous, sybaritic French girl of 17 who lives with her wealthy and philandering widowed father in all but incestuous complicity. While simmering with him on the Riviera, she finds her freedom threated by the his sudden plan to marry her late mother’s best friend, a stern, orderly fashion designer, and does her best to break up the couple, wit disastrous results. The spare, cynical drama gives rise to some of Preminger’s most ingenious stylistic flourishes, starting with the flashback structure, Cecile narrates from the standpoint of winder in Paris, a present tense tat unfolds in glossy black-and-white images pierced by her self-accusing stares into the camera. The past is depicted in sumptuous color, which renders the pleasures of sun, sea, and sky heavy with doom. The best is saved for last: at a climactic moment, offscreen voices conjure a staggering coup de théâtre that brings the dénouement to life in a series of indelible images. A brilliant, dialectical filmmaker, Premingers extracts the last ounce of anguish from the anguish of the mute witness.

  Read More

Wednesday Editor’s Pick: Four Nights of A Dreamer (1971)

by on April 24, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Wed May 2 at 6:50, 9:15 at BAMcinématek [Program & Tix]

Bresson’s adaptation of Dostoevsky’s White Nights seemed to be everyone’s favorite rarity discovery when the retrospective screened at Film Forum earlier this year (perhaps, in part, because it is far more light-hearted than his usual ennui). And if you never made it out of that standby line BAM grants you a second chance. Kristin M. Jones recommends catching this projected, “screening in a new print that allows an appreciation of its symbolic use of color—updates the story with sensuality, absurdity and a complex vision of contemporary loneliness.”

Let Dave Kehr also assure you, since the images for this film – never made available on VHS or DVD – are of lamentable quality, for the Chicago Reader:

Robert Bresson’s 1971 film is an exploration of romantic love rendered in the precise, austere style of his better-known studies in spirit (Lancelot du lac, Une femme douce). In the secular turn Bresson reveals an unexpected sense of humor and worldly irony. The transformation of Paris at night into a dream landscape pulsing with electric mystery is reminiscent of Minnelli, although the economy of expression is clearly Bresson’s. A very beautiful and essential film.

  Read More

Monday Editor’s Pick: Little Fugitive (1953)

by on April 24, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Mon April 30 at 7:30 at BAMcinématek [Program & Tix]
*Q&A with Mary Engel

BAM’s great “Brooklyn Close-Up” series checks in again with this irresistibly endearing Coney Island indie classic. Mary Engel, daughter of directors Ruth Orkin and Morris Engel, will be on hand to discuss the project, not to mention, Brooklyn Brewery sets up shop in the lobby from 6:30 to 9:30pm offering free samples of BAMboozle Ale.

Francois Truffaut famously declared, “Our New Wave would never have come into being if it hadn’t been for the young American Morris Engel, who showed us the way to independent production with his fine movie The Little Fugitive.”

Gary Morris for Bright Lights Film Journal:

It’s not hard to see why Little Fugitive, Engel and Orkin’s most famous and successful film, was so inspiring not only to the French but also to American auteurs like Cassavettes (Shadows) and Scorsese (Who’s That Knocking on My Door?). Like the two features that would follow it, Little Fugitive is a paean to the sights, smells, and sounds of New York, from the cramped but somehow comforting streets of Brooklyn to the dazzling chaos of Coney Island as seen through a child’s eyes. Engel and Orkin extrapolate the universal from the personal in this Homeric story of a little boy’s heroic trek alone through the vastness of an urban amusement park.
The film’s sometimes painterly visuals add resonance to the tiniest details — two toddlers grappling with each other on the beach; a couple making out on a blanket, their faces unseen; a mother spilling her baby’s milk. These shots seem at once casual, real, and artful, as if in recording the simple truth of an event the filmmakers have stumbled upon art. There’s a stunning sequence of a sudden, violent storm that clears the beach, and the filmmakers take great delight in observing the chaos. Among those scrambling toward shelter are a group of black kids delicately stepping through the huge puddles on the street just beyond the beach. In a lovely wordless passage, Joey wanders across the beach after the storm, at night, dwarfed by the enormity of the world around him and, one feels, by his own future.

  Read More

Sunday Editor’s Pick: Side by Side (2012)

by on April 22, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Tue April 24 at 8:30 & Sun April 29 at 2:30 at SVA
Playing Thurs April 26 at 7:00, Fri April 27 at 2:30, and Sat April 28 at 4:00 at AMC Loews Village [Program & Tix]

Perhaps the single most important movie at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Brooklynite filmmaker Christopher Kenneally joins forces with the perpetually astonished Keanu Reeves to tackle the forefront issue of digital vs. film, and recruit the industry’s most relevant talking heads to offer their two cents.

Everyone’s already talking about the potential demise of 35mm- whether we can fight it and whether it’s worth fighting – and this will be sure to get ’em talking more.
Gendy Alimurung introduces her most essential roundup on the situation and its ripple effects, for LA Weekly:

Today, the driving force isn’t so much a single movie as it is the studios’ bottom line — they no longer want to pay to physically print and ship movies. It costs about $1,500 to print one copy of a movie on 35 mm film and ship it to theaters in its heavy metal canister. Multiply that by 4,000 copies — one for each movie on each screen in each multiplex around the country — and the numbers start to get ugly. By comparison, putting out a digital copy costs a mere $150.
This year, for the first time in history, celluloid ceases to be the world’s prevailing movie-projector technology. By the end of 2012, according to IHS Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence Service, the majority of theaters will be showing movies digitally. By 2013, film will slip to niche status, shown in only a third of theaters. By 2015, used in a paltry 17 percent of global cinemas, venerable old 35 mm film will be mostly gone.
The repercussions will be vast — and felt down the entire length of the movie-industry food chain.

  Read More

Saturday Editor’s Pick: A Night to Remember (1958)

by on April 22, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Sat April 28 at 6:00 at Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theater [Program & Tix]

Most any movie warrants a trip out to this classic theater – the giant screen with the parting curtains, the $1 popcorn, and the live organ! Seriously, its right outside the PATH station guys. This weekend they join the Titanic anniversary bandwagon, with films depicting ship travel gone drastically awry.

Daniel Mendolsohn recently ruminated on our continuing fascination with the disaster, and elaborates on the film’s source text considerably, for The New Yorker.


Dave Kehr for The New York Times:

The most sober in tone and historically reliable of the Titanic films remains Roy Ward Baker’s British production of 1958, “A Night to Remember.” Working from a screenplay by his frequent collaborator, the suspense novelist Eric Ambler, and a best-selling book by Walter Lord, Baker solidifies the metaphor long attached to the Titanic story, turning the doomed ship into a microcosm, a representation in miniature of a society about to submerge itself into the horrors of World War I.
Making resourceful use of miniatures, Baker creates a sense of teeming spectacle on a relatively tiny budget. A specialist at placing vivid ensembles in constrained quarters (the boarding house in “The October Man,” the submarine in “Passage Home”), Baker sketches in dozens of supporting characters with a line or two of dialogue or a characteristic gesture: the clenched jaw and faraway eyes of the ship’s architect (Michael Goodliffe) say all there is to say about the failure of dreams.

  Read More

Recent Features

Gene Kelly retro at Film Society (thru Jul 26)

July 13, 2012

I'm happy again and like myself: 100 years of Gene.


Erich Von Stroheim retro at Film Forum (thru Jul 30)

May 28, 2012

The decadent realism of Hollywood's favorite sadist.


Migrating Forms Fest at Anthology (thru May 20)

May 11, 2012

Traveling through time and space at NYC's upstart experimental film fest.

View All →