Welcome to the latest episode of our official podcast, The Film Stage Show. This week, staff writer Danny King, associate editor Nick Newman and I review J.J. Abram‘s new entry in his flagship franchise, Star Trek Into Darkness. Before that, though, we run down our top 3 most-anticipated films of the Cannes Film Festival. Finally, we take a look at the films coming to theaters and DVD in the coming week, which include Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover Part III, Before Midnight, Side Effects and more. Then we give you our random recommendations of things we watched on our own this week.
Click below to download (right-click and save as…) or subscribe on iTunes.
00:00 – 27:53 – Introduction and Cannes Preview
27:53 – 53:52 - Star Trek Into Darkness Review
53:52 – 1:09:37 – Spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness
1:09:37 – 1:21:39 - Picks for Next Week and Closing Remarks
Opening music comes courtesy of Joy Division. Subscribe below:
There is truly something magical when you combine the French Riviera, the global film market and thousands of hungry filmgoers and critics. The end result is what has come to be known as the most prestigious film festival in the world, the Cannes Film Festival, currently in its 66th iteration. This is my third year in a row attending the festival as press for The Film Stage and every year the experience gets better and better.
From the Coen Brothers to Alexander Payne, Nicolas Wending Refn to Jim Jarmusch, there is no shortage of contemporary auteurs, as well as newcomers like Fruitvale Station‘s Ryan Coogler and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints‘ David Lowery – two talents who kicked off the year in Park City and have been invited to the fest. As the festival progresses, stay tuned for our continuing coverage on the site, check out the photo gallery below (or on our official Facebook page) to get a sense of the experience and follow my immediate reactions to films on Twitter.
The Archive is a collection of cinephile-friendly findings around the web, including rare or never-before-seen photos, interviews, footage or any other bits related to classic or independent cinema. If you have any suggestions, feel free to e-mail in or tweet to @TheFilmStage. Check out the rundown below.
Above, an unused Taxi Driver poster made for SpokeArt’s Martin Scorsese tribute show this year. [SeekandSpeak]
Listen to Steven Soderbergh and Mike Nichols‘ commentary for Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? [Cinephilia & Beyond]
The 84-year-old Alejandro Jodorowsky says he still has “four or five more pictures” left in him and that he’s “not in a hurry.” [LA Times]
See a 2001: A Space Odyssey comic from a Howard Johnson‘s children’s menu. [Dreams of Space]
Watch a trailer for BFI’s restoration of Werner Herzog‘s Aguirre, Wrath of God, set to hit UK theaters in June. [Criterion Cast]
A photo of Jenny Joseph posing for what would become the Columbia Pictures logo.
Films in nine frames. See a few examples below, including Battleship Potemkin, Metropolis, Bicycle Thieves and Lawrence of Arabia. [9 Film Frames]
A photo of Francis Ford Coppola and his The Godfather cast on set.
A trailer for F.W. Murnau‘s remastered Tabu: A Story of the South Seas, which hits Blu-ray on June 17th.
A photo of Orson Welles giving John Huston a piggyback. [@AdamScovell]
A 4k remastered Tokyo Story will hit Blu-ray in Japan in July. [Criterion Cast]
A photo of Alfred Hitchcock and his scripts.
There are a vast number of great films set in New York, but they are not, by mere default of their setting, “New York movies.” To be a New York movie is to capture something specific and elemental about the city, something that only the combination of sounds and images is able to evoke like the real thing. In short: atmosphere and character.
Frances Ha, the Noah Baumbach/Greta Gerwig collaborative ode to the city that never sleeps, will open this Friday, and it’s on this occasion that we’ve decided to count down 15 of the best New York movies. Our point of distinction that will force a number of great, seemingly obvious films off of the list. Yes, Annie Hall is excellent and deserves many plaudits, etc. But how much of an NYC title is that, really? When you think of Ghostbusters, is the city among the first things which spring to mind? Put it up against the set counted down here, and it might not seem like such a clear example.
Without further ado, here are a number of personal favorites, organized alphabetically:
25th Hour (Spike Lee; 2002)
As a general rule, any film which first offers the sounds of a beaten dog cannot be expected to take the easy route. Yet 25th Hour – to some minds, the best film Spike Lee has ever made – gives us something braver and better than just another down-and-dirty metropolitan tale: with its somber, graceful glances at New York in the immediate wake of 9/11, it’s almost incomprehensible that this film, so confident in its step, arrived some 15 months after the city’s worst day. Photographed in ways it would sometimes feel only Lee could manage, Manhattan takes clear precedence over its (otherwise excellent) yarn concerning, of all things, betterment achieved via sacrifice. Given 25th Hour’s time and place, such a narrative feels perfectly correct.
After Hours (Martin Scorsese; 1985)
This is not only one of Martin Scorsese’s finest pictures, but the true standout amongst chronicles of that city he calls home. Joseph Minion’s perfect screenplay brandishes the SoHo district like an Inquisition torturer using antiquated weapons of destruction, putting a fairly straight-headed word processor through a delightfully absurd night of misfortune. After Hours functions optimally as both entertainment and a fascinating window into New York City’s mid-80s period, here stripped down to its bare essentials as physical environments and human characters meld into one domineering enemy. The subway scene, alone, captures so much of its current insanity — in less than two minutes, and to greater effect than hundreds upon hundreds of other attempts.
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee; 1989)
Chalk this up to nearly 25 years in the cultural consciousness, but it is simply impossible to imagine Lee’s explosive masterwork as divorced from its Brooklyn setting. We need not distract from its impeccable construction or who’s-who cast of talent, but Do the Right Thing is, much like his later 25th Hour, a movie of urban atmosphere that uses Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy as a means of conveying tone and mood as much as its ever-loquacious protagonists. Loud, abrasive, flashy, and willing to dispense with all bullshit in its quest for something real — a two-hour microcosm of the place itself.
Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet; 1975)
Dog Day Afternoon is something of a singular achievement in the pantheon of New York cinema — not as an exemplary crime drama, but in its uncharacteristically succinct summation of the city’s tenor. Capturing diverse lifestyles through a small group of well-shaped bank inhabitants — including a pair of bandits, no less — and forces resting right outside, its dedication to correctly portraying “the now” is all the more appreciated nearly forty years removed.
Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick; 1999)
A unique entry, seeing as it’s the sole depiction listed, here, that strives neither for verisimilitude nor absolute coherence. Stanley Kubrick’s intentionally facile representation had (rightfully) confounded many upon first contact, but therein lies the gravity of its woozy dream logic; by this token, a common “New York doesn’t resemble New York” complaint misses such a number of precise intentions that it can only feel to be useless in an Eyes Wide Shut discussion. These sets still evoke Manhattan’s spirit and mood with complete force, in its mixture lending the film a disquieting funhouse mirror quality where all feels one or two degrees off from the place itself. And, sure: a resemblance to the single-street Seinfeld set carries separate, possibly equal amusement.
Beginning tomorrow, film fans and filmmakers alike will convene for one of cinema’s finest events, the Cannes Film Festival. Despite The Great Gatsby kicking things off, this year’s 66th edition is the perfect counterpart to the summer blockbuster season, showcasing a variety of films that are near the top of our most-anticipated of the year list.
Ahead of the festival, which sees a jury headed by Steven Spielberg, we’ve set out to rundown the 20 films that are highest on our radar. We’ll be sticking to premieres only, so if you want our takes on a few Sundance titles that are making their way to France just click on the respective titles: Fruitvale Station, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Magic Magic. For everything else, check out the list below in alphabetical order and let us know what you are most looking forward to in the comments.
All Is Lost (J.C Chandor)
Robert Redford is a smart, smart man. Not only does he spearhead the Sundance Film Festival, but he shapes the talent he brings there and tags along when it comes to future projects. We recently got the news that he’s attached to the next work from Ain’t Them Bodies director David Lowery and this year’s Cannes will see his collaboration with another recent talent. Coming off his fast-talking financial thriller Margin Call, director J.C. Chandor is going boldly and directly into the opposite direction with All is Lost. Led solely by Redford, the film follows our lead character at sea braving the elements and there’s reportedly zero lines of dialogue — excited yet? Check back after its May 22nd premiere when all will be revealed. - Jordan R.
The Bastards (Claire Denis)
More than a couple of years out from White Material — what was, to this writer’s mind, an underwhelming effort — one of modern cinema’s most revered names has roared back into the cineaste spotlight. Rundowns promise something a little juicy in The Bastards, but nothing amongst Denis’s intoxicatingly tactile filmography could be respectfully illustrated via mere words; this is an artist of sounds and images, the type who feels primarily concerned with how they enrich one another while spinning a narrative along the way. In The Bastards, let’s hope these pieces can converge as forcefully as her finest hours. – Nick N.
Behind The Candelabra (Steven Soderbergh)
After years of development, Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic finally hits the big screen, and its subject matter is no less interesting. The late entertainer was synonymous with excess, a fact that isn’t lost on the director; from the looks of the trailer and stills, there are more than enough colorful capes, bejewelled suits and frothy stage shows to go around. Michael Douglas, an actor best known for his hyper-masculine roles in films such as Wall Street and Basic Instinct, should garner the most attention as he tackles playing the flamboyant, secretly gay piano virtuoso. However, the unorthodox casting choices don’t end there, as Matt Damon, Dan Aykroyd and Rob Lowe also contribute to telling the true story of Liberace’s relationship with his young chauffeur. – Amanda W.
The Bling Ring (Sofia Coppola)
I mentioned on a recent episode of our podcast that Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring (due to hit theaters on June 14) is my most-anticipated movie of the summer, so it’s hardly a surprise that it’s also among the Cannes titles I’m most interested in gauging (even if the film was relegated to the Un Certain Regard section). Coppola is easily one of my favorite working American filmmakers: those who trivially dismiss her for only making movies about whiny rich people have apparently failed to notice the fact that her four features to date have employed vastly diverse, excitingly different aesthetics, her eye and ear changing and shifting with each passing film. (There is, too, the more essential point that great directors are always grappling with parallel themes and interests.) The movie has some sentimental value as well: it’s the last credited work of the late cinematographer Harris Savides. (The Bling Ring’s second credited lenser, Christopher Blauvelt, who shot Meek’s Cutoff, is no slouch in his own right.) It will be intriguing, too, to see where the film falls on the sun-drenched spectrum of 2013 movies about the American dream: from Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers to Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain, it’s clearly the most pervasive theme of the year so far. – Danny K.
Blood Ties (Guillaume Canet)
After crafting the taut thriller Tell No One, director Guillaume Canet is returning to crime drama territory with his English-language debut and he’s set to launch the project at Cannes Film Festival. Blood Ties sees the director going back to 1970s Brooklyn with the talented cast of Rust & Bone stars Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard, as well as Zoe Saldana, Clive Owen, Billy Crudup and James Caan. The remake of a 2008 thriller follows two brothers who are different sides of the law that team together and although it’s screening out of competition, we hope it’s a worthy Hollywood break-out for Canet. - Jordan R.
The Archive is a collection of cinephile-friendly findings around the web, including rare or never-before-seen photos, interviews, footage or any other bits related to classic or independent cinema. If you have any suggestions, feel free to e-mail in or tweet to @TheFilmStage. Check out the rundown below.
In honor of Fred Astaire‘s birthday today, watch him in a rare 1976 interview and see a photo with Audrey Hepburn above.
See a list of Ingmar Bergman‘s favorite films, including Andrei Rublev, Rashomon, Sunset Boulevard, La Strada and more. [Frederik on Film]
A 1976 photo of Sofia Coppola at age 4 in the Philippines helping her father storyboard Apocalypse Now. [@filmystic]
In honor of Max Ophuls‘ birthday this week, watch British film critic V.F. Perkins discuss his career.
Watch Audrey Hepburn make her film debut in a 1948 travel documentary. [Movies.com]
Listen to producer Walter Mirisch discuss the making of The Great Escape. [Film School Rejects]
See behind the scenes photos from Ridley Scott‘s Blade Runner. [iznogoodgood]
A “secret” film club is launching at the reRun Theater in Brooklyn. [First Showing]
As we’ve learned this past spring with Oz the Great and Powerful, popping a certain adjective into your title will not create any sort of transference to the actually quality of the respective film. Many will likely come to the same conclusion with this weekend’s The Great Gatsby, but we’re here to provide you with the rare examples when a film actually lives up to a the “great” its title suggests. Across a variety of time periods, including one of the most influential silent films, and genres (from animation to concert documentary and everything in between) one can see the rundown of the greatest ten “greats” below and let us know your favorite one in the comments.
The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin; 1940)
One of Charlie Chaplin‘s finest works, The Great Dictator truly lives up to its name. Mixing social commentary with his own impeccable brand of comedy, the entertainer proved once again his satirical bite was as perceptive and intelligent as anything in Hollywood. Featuring Chaplin as both dictator Adenoid Hynkel and his doppelganger, a lower class Jewish barber, the actor is able to bring out part of “The Tramp” persona that brought him to fame, as well as create a character as iconic as they come. Although it was banned in Spain, Italy and other various countries upon release, one can watch the entire film in full here. – Jordan R.
Great Expectations (David Lean; 1946 and Alfonso Cuarón; 1998)
One sleek and slender in beautiful black and white, the other exciting and vibrant in luscious color, both Great Expectations – David Lean’s in 1946 and Alfonso Cuaron’s in 1998 – mindfully mill through Charles Dickens’ timeless novel of rags to riches, crafting two wonderfully separate-but-equal pieces of work. Where Lean’s adaptation focuses more on the social commentary rampant in the source material, Cuaron extracts the extreme romanticism that exists within all the character relationships. Between both films, the novel comes to life quite vividly. - Dan M.
The Great Escape (John Sturges; 1963)
Perhaps the most fitting description of “great” on this list, the escape in this John Sturges is a nail-biter. In an attempt to break out 250 prisoners from a high-security German prison, we witness Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Donald, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn and more hatch a plan to do so. At nearly three hours, it’s a long, detailed journey but one well worth taking if you’d like to experience the ideal example of a classic Hollywood adventure. – Jordan R.
The Great Love/Le Grand Amour (Pierre Étaix; 1969)
The “great” in Pierre Étaix’s Le Grand Amour is anything but—these two supposed lovebirds are prone to the same desires as everyone else. The “other” great comic Frenchman of the 1960s stars alongside his wife Annie Fratellini as a couple whose marriage that opens on a shaky start as the man imagines all the other women he could be marrying instead before exchanging vows. 15 years later, things seem to be on solid ground…until Étaix’s new secretary (Nicole Calfan) has him going bonkers. As surreal as Luis Bunuel and inventive as Buster Keaton (most notably for a dream sequence involving motorized beds), Étaix frames love as an evolving desire and one that always appears differently to its beholders. There is never a real common ground when it comes to this most passionate emotion. - Peter L.
Since any New York City cinephile has an almost suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not likely to see in a theater again anytime soon, and many of which are, also, on 35mm. If you have a chance to attend any of these, we’re of the mind that it’s time extremely well-spent.
Museum of the Moving Image
One can continue to rock out in Astoria with the museum’s “Play This Movie Loud!” series. This week we return to The Beatles, with Richard Lester‘s A Hard Day’s Night screening in 35mm on both Saturday (5/11) and Sunday (5/12). Also screening in 35mm is Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin‘s landmark Gimme Shelter on Saturday (5/11). Rounding out the proceedings is Franc Roddam‘s The Who-centured Quadrophenia, screening in 35mm on Sunday (5/12).
You can read about the series here, and you will be able to access screenings with admission to the museum on a first-come, first-served basis.
This Brooklyn Institution have kicked off their “Booed at Cannes” series, which sees Michelangelo Antonioni‘s 1962 feature L’Eclisse screening all day today, Friday (5/10) in 35mm. Next up on the docket is David Lynch‘s prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Wild at Heart, both screening Saturday (5/11) in 35mm. Sunday (5/12) will see Jean Eustache‘s The Mother and the Whore screening in 35mm.
To offset the above, BAM will also be screening a selection of Looney Tunes cartoons on Saturday (5/11) morning, all in beautiful 35mm.
Often hailed as one of the greatest films ever made, Roberto Rossellini’s Voyage to Italy will continue at Film Forum this entire weekend, thanks to a newly constructed digital remastering. Tickets can be purchased right now.
A restored version of Terrence Malick‘s Badlands also begins its week-long run today, while Sunday morning (5/12) will bring a screening of Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Man Who Knew Too Much for Mother’s Day.
For a late night treat, Quentin Tarantino‘s Pulp Fiction has midnight engagements this coming Friday (5/10) and Saturday (5/11).
Starting today, Life of Brian will have a week-long run in 35mm, playing at midnight today (5/10) and Saturday (5/11) and in the morning for the next seven days.
Lastly, if you’d like some laughs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights plays relatively early in the morning throughout the weekend in 35mm.
What better way to start off your Sunday morning that with Paul Thomas Anderson? His Boogie Nights is having a one-time screening at 11:30am in 35mm on the 12th. If you are more into midnight fare, John Waters‘ Serial Mom and Mario Bava‘s Danger Diabolik are screening Friday (5/10) and Saturday (5/11).
If you are in the mood for some space horror, Ridley Scott‘s masterpiece Alien is screening at midnight this Friday (5/10) and Saturday (5/11).
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum will be kicking off their “Chinese Realities/Documentary Visions” series, including screenings of Zhang Yuan‘s Mama and The Story of Qiu Ju, Jiang Yue‘s The Other Bank, Duan Jinchuan‘s No. 16 Barkhor South Street and more all weekend. Sample the screening details at their site.
What are your weekend watching plans?
All directors start somewhere. Whether it’s music videos, commercials or short films, the stepping stones for a filmmaker leading up to their feature debut can provide vital exposure and a hint of what’s to come. With our recurring article The Early Works, we dive into the beginnings of a director who has a new film landing in theaters the upcoming weekend.
When one sees the flashy, lavish worlds of Baz Luhrmann, one may have believed this talent had an upbringing not unlike the lifestyle of Leonardo DiCaprio‘s character in The Great Gatsby. But this Australian-born director had rather humble beginnings, growing up in the farm-filled countryside, as his father ran a gas station, as well as a local movie theater. It was here where our director first fell in love with the cinema and enrolled in National Institute of Dramatic Arts.
While he didn’t get behind the camera until 1992, the director earned his chops, unsurprisingly, in the world of theater. Intiallly debuting as a one-act play in 1986, the first iteration of Strictly Ballroom grew into a hit on stage and then became his directorial debut and first film in his “Red Curtain” trilogy. Ranging from his acting debut to a memorable music video to an record-budgeted commercial, dive into Luhrmann’s early work below, as we extend the definition to include his non-feature directional output. And make sure to read our review of his latest film.
Winter of our Dreams (1981)
For our first example, Luhrmann’s debut early work was a decade before he even jumped in the director’s chair. Perhaps little known outside of his native land, his inital foray into the world of cinema was an actor. As a teenager, he made his debut in the John Duigan-directed film Winter of our Dreams, which followed a junkie prostitue in Syndey. Shot in just five weeks, the film was actually a modest hit in Austrialia and one can see a clip of a young Luhrmann and co-star Judy Davis below.
Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (1999)
If you grew up in 90′s then it was impossible to avoid this song. Taken from Mary Schmich‘s 1977 Chicago Tribune column, Baz Luhrmann transformed the text to song format with Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (also referred to as the “Sunscreen Song” on his 1988 remix album Something for Everybody. With the backing of the song Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good) by Zambian musician Rozalla, Luhrmann recruited Quindon Tarver, who contributed to his Romeo+Juliet soundtrack for this work. Check out the music video below in all of its MTV glory.
This year’s Tribeca Film Festival made an essential statement on where the festival is and where it is going. Initially springing up in Battery Park (which is sort of near Tribeca) in 2002, using the several waterfront venues including a Regal Cinemas across from Ground Zero, the festival grew rapidly by 2006 to include venues all over Manhattan (the festival’s reason: “9/11 happened to the whole city, not just Tribeca”). Throughout the years, the festival has gone through a phase of finding itself, becoming more (I hate to say it) celebrity-driven than ever this year. So, over a decade since its inception, where is Tribeca’s place in the festival world?
I’d argue it’s been adequately-sized to the point that it’s probably time for the festival to start growing. Our friends at Film School Rejects asked the question, “does Tribeca need an iconic theater to solidify it’s identity?” I’d argue Tribeca, at the very least, needs higher capacity venues. Then again, space is most certainly a problem in Manhattan. A vast majority of screenings at Tribeca’s core venues (especially on the weekend) went on “rush” early, including Adult World, which proved to be a festival hit, packing the house for the festival’s normally quite last Sunday night at 10:00PM.
Much larger, Toronto International Film Festival has an iconic theatre at the heart of the festival, The Bell Lightbox. The festival’s very own year-around palace of cinema and education, the Lightbox is situated near festival venues Roy Thompson Hall and Cineplex Scotiabank. Tribeca’s very own theater, the tiny Tribeca Cinemas by the Holland Tunnel, is more or less a private venue, used briefly on the final day of the festival this year.
SXSW, in the same peer class as Tribeca I’d argue, has high capacity venues in The Paramount and the Vimeo Theater at the ACC, along with the Topher this year. As Tribeca has the Tribeca PAC and a handful of multiplex screens (ranging in capacity from 125-600 seats), I’d say its time for bigger theaters to come online — surely the demand is there for the right picture. Sundance, like SXSW, mixes in high capacity venues and festival center, including multiplex screens, with satellite venues geared towards including local audiences. Tribeca attempted the same idea, having limited programming in the Rockaways this year.
Tribeca is still growing and finding itself, which is a fair assessment and perhaps representative of the realities of a festival in New York City. They also do not have the backing of major government programs the way Toronto and several European festivals do.
I have admired Tribeca’s community commitment since year one, including the family fun days and outdoor waterfront screenings. However, this year I wished for bigger and better venues for the public screenings. The Clearview Chelsea is quite good, and with Clearview’s recent sale to Bow Tie Cinemas, the firm has promised improvements to make the theater the flagship of its chain, while the AMC Loews Village 7 always feels claustrophobic, even late on a weekday night when you’re having a private show (normally in one of the theaters all the way upstairs).
The other suggestion I’d make is improving the energy of its midnight program. I was delighted by the insanity of Fresh Meat director Danny Mulheron, who, in the middle of his Q & A, told the programmer he looked like a “fat Bobby DeNiro.” Tribeca has always lacked the cult atmosphere of TIFF, where every night as the festival day concludes, folks make their way down to the 1200 seat Ryerson for “Midnight Madness.” It’s the only midnight show in town and ring leader Colin Geddes has cultivated (emphasis on the cult) an audience of hardcore cinephiles ready for whatever he dishes. The festival advertises it as “where shockin’ meets rockin’,” with a distinct party atmosphere. I attended a few Tribeca midnight shows and the energy level of the audience was non-existent.
The reason to attend a festival is the energy; if AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Carmike, Cineplex, etc. could harness the energy and excitement of a film festival and integrate the passion of a great experience into their daily operations, they will triumph (Alamo Drafthouse is currently winning that race). Tribeca, the time to grow and become more awesome is now. You’re entering your teen years, a period where we learn an awful lot about ourselves. With a seasoned management team that’s second to none, I imagine Tribeca will continue to showcase worthwhile new indie film from established talent, but I wish it would take a little more risk going forward. I understand the business case for showing a crappy Brooklyn based indie star-driven movie like A Case of You, but this is also the festival that introduced me to Amir Naderi (Sound Barrier) and Mark Street (Rockaway), two directors and two films that refuse to compromise and play by the rules.
Check out our rundown of our complete coverage from this year’s festival, starting with the the best films.
Adult World (Scott Coffey)
Adult World is a likeable, boarding on loveable, comedy staring Emma Roberts as Amy, a recent college graduate with a degree in poetry. Not exactly a lucrative degree, she finds herself $90,000 in debt, living at home with her parents whom she asks for “Stamp Money” to send out her work to literary reviews. Letting her down easily, her parents tell her it’s time for a job and after hunting, she sees a sign and it brings to Adult World, a mom-and-pop porn and sex toy shop in downtown Syracuse. Read our full review.
Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton (Stephen Silha and Eric Slade)
The Tribeca Film Festival continues its legacy of programming work about experimental film with Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton, an insightful documentary about the liberation, career and evolution of the prominent San Francisco-based experimental filmmaker. His story is perhaps less known than that of Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, Michael Snow, or Jonas Mekas. Big Joy we later learn is an apt nick-name for everything Broughton would embrace, that is until he stumbles back in the closet and gets married at the suggestion of a collaborator, Brakhage. Wasting away in the suburbs following The Bed (a heterosexual romp) he later finds its liberation with a man 30-years his junior, filmmaker Joel Singer. It is this later period, once Broughton again “comes out” following a slow period of creativity, that his work returns to “joy.” Read our full review.
A Birder’s Guide to Everything (Rob Meyer)
A Birder’s Guide to Everything is fun cinematic comfort food, deserving of a mainstream audience. I have a feeling its target demographic will eventually find it and love it. The film balances its tone, mixing light comedy with darker material, especially as David (Kodi Smit-McPhee) bonds with Ellen (Katie Chang), the only female in the expedition. She’s tired of being the “new girl” raised in a military family that continually moves around the world. David and Ellen share several touching moments in the third act, as the story resolves some of the tension between father and son, friends, and the general anxiety felt by teenagers of a certain age. Here’s a film that knows that and has a good deal of warm fun along the way. Read our full review.
The Kill Team (Dan Krauss)
The Kill Team’s subject is brutal enough to warrant discussion in the first place, onscreen or off: in late 2009 / early 2010, a group of U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan formed what the media would, later, call a “kill team,” the term denoting those who treated innocent Afghani civilians as creatures to be hunted with ease and, more importantly, minus any true consequences. Dan Krauss speaks to most of this small assemblage — save for the party’s coordinator, a figure whose lack of input only comes to obscure some central truth even further — but is not present himself, supplanting the role of interrogator with he who presents the reality of what, as we learn, words will never convey to the full extent of honesty. Read our full review.
Let The Fire Burn (Jason Osder)
The year is 1985. The extremist African-American liberation group MOVE has headquartered itself in a West Philadelphia house in a densely populated neighborhood on Osage Ave, a neighborhood that would be burned to the ground by the Philadelphia Police Department. Let the Fire Burn is a fascinating new documentary by Jason Osder using only found footage, telling this amazing story through taped depositions, news reports and the public access-broadcast footage of a commission to understand what happened on Osage Ave. Read our full review.