5 items from 2015
Jenni Olson begins The Royal Road, her latest emotional excavation of Hollywood nostalgia via Benning-esque 16mm landscape portraiture, by self-referentially quoting Michel Chion on the shadowy pretext of off screen voiceover after reflecting in her own dryly articulated voiceover on the monologue that opens Billy Wilder’s classic allegory of broken La dreams, Sunset Boulevard. Though Olson’s film revolves around another stretch of California highway, the 600-mile El Camino Real strip, the cinematic reference leads us down a winding poetic path on which Hollywood history, the neglected record of the Mexican American War and Olson’s own unrequited romantic pursuits come together with the same sort of mannered meditation that won her San Francisco Film Critics Circle’s Marlon Riggs Award for The Joy of Life back in 2005.
Pitting rigorously composed images of modern day Los Angeles and San Francisco against her own gender dysphoric voice, she explicates an »
- Jordan M. Smith
Much like her 2005 debut, “The Joy of Life,” Jenni Olson’s sophomore feature, “The Royal Road,” is a poetic film essay that uses landscape photography and voiceover narration to ruminate on a wide swath of topics — all historical, whether first-person romantic, exploring California’s Spanish colonial past, or referencing Hollywood’s cinematic back pages. Experimental in its docu/narrative hybrid yet emotionally accessible, this beguiling meditation is a marginal commercial proposition that should nonetheless win over more adventurous viewers and programmers. Showcases for gay and avant-garde filmmakers should be prominent supporters as pic travels the fest circuit.
The title refers to the tangle of local roads, now supplanted by freeway, that once constituted the primary route between Northern and Southern California. El Camino Real was the territory’s first and most important thoroughfare, stretching from San Diego to Sonoma missions as Spain laid claim to more and more Western terrain »
- Dennis Harvey
The award, named after the late general counsel to the WGA, is given each year to the WGA member whose script “best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties that are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere and to which Selvin devoted his professional life.”
Nagle will be recognized at the 2015 Writers Guild Awards L.A. ceremony on Feb. 14 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza.
“Margaret Nagle’s script for ‘The Good Lie’ raises profound issues of resilience and survival in the face of unspeakable atrocities,” said Wgaw president Christopher Keyser. “The struggles of the Lost Boys of Sudan in her film remind us how desperately all human beings strive for freedom. But what makes Nagle’s screenplay particularly heart-wrenching »
- Dave McNary
Sundance world premiere "The Royal Road" looks to be one of the most ambitious documentary projects at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Watch the trailer below. From Frameline Film Festival cofounder and Lgbtq film exhibitor Jenni Olson comes this deeply personal cinematic docu-poem that intertwines three story skeins: a primer on the Spanish colonization of California, the unrequited pursuit of two women in San Francisco and Los Angeles and a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock's Sf-set "Vertigo" along the lines of Chris Marker's 1983 avant-garde documentary essay "Sans Soleil." Featuring a voiceover cameo from playwright Tony Kushner, the film has an official synopsis from Sundance: "Deceptively simple landscapes serve as the framework for the film's lyrically written voiceover, which combines rigorous historical research with a stream-of consciousness personal monologue and relates these seemingly disparate stories from an intimate, colloquial »
- Ryan Lattanzio
'Selma' movie review: Politically salient in the early 21st century and 'beautiful in all the ways of cinema' (photo: David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. in 'Selma') The title of director Ava DuVernay's historical drama Selma tells us what the film is about, while implying what it isn't about. In other words, Selma is not about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- wonderfully played by British actor David Oyelowo -- even though the reverend is the film's gravitational center and its emotional weight accrues to him. Just like what took place in Selma, Alabama, back in 1965. In fact, Oyelowo's presence is as transfixing as that of the young Ben Kingsley in his transformative interpretation of Gandhi in Sir Richard Attenborough's 1982 titular classic about one of Dr. King's inspirational figures. Unlike Gandhi, however, Selma is a single canvas on which a few months in Dr. »
- Tim Cogshell
5 items from 2015
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