13 items from 2013
Co-directed by Mark Peranson and Raya Martin, La última película is several things at once: a documentary pretending to be fiction (and vice versa), a reflexively cinephillic ode to materiality, a deconstruction and/or exploration of disparate forms, a meditation on the (false) apocalypse of the world and cinema, and an (experimental) comedy. Its one-line synopsis is as follows: "a famous American filmmaker travels to the Yucatán to scout locations for his last movie. The Mayan Apocalypse intercedes." Inspired by Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie and its subsequent documentary cousin The American Dreamer (both 1971), La última película taps into a sort of artistic freedom of spirit, an all-too-rare ecstasy of moviemaking-as-adventuring. It is a manifesto by implication for the liberation of film from convention, and as thought and life. Starring American independent filmmaker Alex Ross Perry (The Color Wheel, Impolex) and Gabino Rodríguez (Greatest Hits, Together) as the filmmaker protagonist's Mexican guide, »
- Adam Cook
Robert J. Flaherty’s 1922 “Nanook of the North” set the standard for documentaries: An impartial filmmaker points his camera at a subject to give audiences a glimpse into a different world. It eventually emerged that Flaherty staged had some scenes, and the blurred lines between neutrality and dramatic license have been confusing audiences ever since.
This year, several documakers are taking things a step further. In three very different ways, Alex Gibney with “The Armstrong Lie,” Joshua Oppenheimer (“The Act of Killing”) and Sarah Polley (“Stories We Tell”) have made films that question the role of documentarians and the objectivity of their works.
The directors of both “Armstrong” and “Killing” set out to make uplifting films, but circumstances gave them very different results. Polley’s film (from Lionsgate) starts out as a traditional docu, in which she interviews relatives and acquaintances about family lore. It’s like a Canadian version of “Rashomon, »
- Tim Gray
Cinema, as Jean-Luc Godard wrote, is truth 24 times a second. Documentaries both prove and disprove the point; but the truth is their strongest weapon. Here, Guardian and Observer critics pick the 10 best
• Top 10 arthouse movies
• Top 10 family movies
• Top 10 war movies
• Top 10 teen movies
• Top 10 superhero movies
• Top 10 westerns
• More Guardian and Observer critics' top 10s
To best understand this 1929 silent documentary, one ought to know that its director, the exotically named "Dziga Vertov", was actually born David Abelevich Kaufman in 1896. Some say the name derives from the Russian word for spinning top, but the pseudonym is more likely an onomatopeic approximation of the sound made by the twin reels of film as the director ran them backwards and forwards through his flatbed editor. For Vertov, film was something physical, to be manipulated by man, and yet, paradoxically, he also saw it as a medium »
Documentaries embody the adage that the truth is stranger than fiction. They shine a torch into the darkest corners of the earth and tell the stories of extraordinary people; both the famous and the forgotten. The invention of home video (and, more recently, the camera phone) has effectively made directors and documentarians of us all. But let’s start at the beginning.
In 1896, the Lumière brothers wowed the world with their L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat, a silent, fifty-second film of a train leaving a platform. There’s the tale (perhaps apocryphal) of the audience at its first public screening frantically trying to escape the train racing through the screen towards them. The power of film, and indeed the documentary, was unleashed.
- Dan Wakefield
Article by Tom Stockman
The big guy once known as ‘The 8th Wonder of the World’ is celebrating his 80th birthday. A landmark accomplishment in cinema and fantasy, King Kong still holds the power to astonish and inspire, so in honor of its 80 years, here’s a look at the movie’s groundbreaking production and significant legacy.
Carl Denham, who brought Kong from Skull Island to New York, was an adventurous, globe-hopping filmmaker and the same was true of Merian C. Cooper, the mastermind behind the movie King Kong. Born in 1893, Cooper had been an aviator and hero in the First World War. He began his movie career in the mid-1920s at Paramount Pictures where he teamed up with Ernest B. Schoedsack, a pioneering motion picture photographer and news cameraman who would become his filmmaking partner. Their first successes were a pair of ambitious anthropological documentaries inspired by the »
- Tom Stockman
As everyone knows, films are generally the product of a team of artisans and technicians, a conspicuous collaboration between the nebulous nature of art and the mechanical makeup of industry, but for Ben Rivers, filmmaking is a personal, one man expedition into the unknown. Armed with a 16 mm hand held camera and an eye for poetic austerity, Rivers ventures into the backwoods of Scotland to film a kindred heart in a burly self-sustaining recluse named Jake Williams for his first feature, Two Years at Sea. In doing, he returned to the terra incognita where he lensed This Is My Land and a segment of I Know Where I’m Going, a pair of shorts that broaden his experimental cinema work while harkening back to Robert Flaherty’s one man operation of Nanook of the North, but without the hands-on direction or the cloistered cultural fascination of his documentary forefather. Rivers »
- Jordan M. Smith
The full Fantasia 2013 lineup has now been revealed, and we have here the third and final wave of titles to share. Prepare to drool!
From the Press Release:
The Fantasia International Film Festival is proud to announce the rest of our 120-feature lineup that comprises our 2013 event, along with a string of additional details that mark our 17th edition as a standout. Fantasia will engulf the city of Montreal from July 18-August 6, 2013. Be sure to visit the Fantasia Film Festival website for detailed essays on every title announced here, as well as all films previously disclosed over the last weeks.
Before we get started on titles... Meet Our 2013 Juries
Main Competition For The Cheval Noir Award For Best Film
Jury President: Laura Kern (Critic, Curator, managing editor, Film Comment)
Jean-Pierre Bergeron (Actor, Director, Screenwriter)
Samuel Jamier (Co-Director of the New York Asian Film Festival, Programmer at Japan Society)
Jarod Neece (Senior Programmer and Operations Manager, »
- The Woman In Black
The Fantasia Film Festival is taking place from July 18th to August 6th in Montreal and will feature over 100 films from around the world. We gave you a look at the initial lineup last month and now have an additional list of Fantasia 2013 films that will be screening, including Curse of Chucky, You’re Next, and Frankenstein’s Army:
A rarity among genre franchises, the Child’S Play series (begun in 1988) has retained the sure-handed guidance of original screenwriter/creator Don Mancini throughout killer doll Chucky’s decades’-long reign of horror. Mancini, who will be hosting our “scar-studded” world premiere, graduated to the director’s chair with 2004’s Seed Of Chucky, after having co-written or written every entry in the series. His longevity with the project is, of course, matched by the fiendish voiceover work by »
- Jonathan James
The 26th annual Images Festival will be taking over Toronto on April 11-20 with an epic series of experimental film screenings, media installations, expanded cinema performances, workshops, artist talks and tons more. With so much going on, the Underground Film Journal is just listing all the screening events below. For everything Images has to offer, please visit their official website.
Before the screenings list, here are some of the highlights:
Opening Night: Accompanying the documentary imagery of prolific filmmaker Robert Todd will be live music performed by electronic music deconstructionist Tim Hecker. Plus, there will be a new audiovisual work by SlowPitch called Emoralis, which pairs images of snails with crackly and droning rhythms.
Closing Night: Corredor will be a live performance piece combining South American imagery by artist Alexandra Gelis, accompanied by live music by drummer Hamid Drake and saxophonist David Mott.
Live Performances: Jodie Mack will provide live »
- Mike Everleth
I've mentioned before how several years ago I created a list using Roger Ebert's Great Movies, Oscar Best Picture winners, IMDb's Top 250, etc. and began going through them doing my best to see as many of the films on these lists that I had not seen as I possibly could to up my film I.Q. Well, someone has gone through the exhaustive effort to take all of the films Roger Ebert wrote about in his three "Great Movies" books, all of which are compiled on his website and added them to a Letterbxd list and I've added that list below. I'm not positive every movie on his list is here, but by my count there are 363 different titles listed (more if you count the trilogies, the Up docs and Decalogue) and of those 363, I have personally seen 229 and have added an * next to those I've seen. Clearly I have some work to do, »
- Brad Brevet
I've mentioned before how several years ago I created a list using Roger Ebert's Great Movies, Oscar Best Picture winners, IMDb's Top 250, etc. and began going through them doing my best to see as many of the films on these lists that I had not seen as I possibly could to up my film I.Q. Well, someone has gone through the exhaustive effort to take all of the films Roger Ebert wrote about in his three "Great Movies" books, all of which are compiled on his website and added them to a Letterbxd list and I've added that list below. I'm not positive every movie on his list is here, but by my count there are 362 different titles listed (more if you count the trilogies and Decalogue) and of those 362, I have personally seen 229 and have added an * next to those I've seen. Clearly I have some work to do, »
- Brad Brevet
Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb...
Mark Cousins writes for Sight & Sound and discusses the limited-outlook on film we all establish for ourselves – creating our own “bell jar” of preferences and “likes”:
"In the past, the movie explorer went on her or his journey beyond the bell jar, was changed by getting there, and wrote or programmed afterwards, having learned from that change. Nowadays explorers blog as they go. The adventure is more live. They try to give those of us who are inside the jar the proxy experience of travelling with them, marvelling with them, unravelling with them, turning into something else with them, looking back at where they came from with them … voices all over the map that combine to provide some sort of picture of the movies."
Read the full article “Outside the Bell Jar” in the April 2013 edition of Sight & Sound.
As a member »
- Flickering Myth
Happy People: A Year In The Taiga was originally a 4-hour documentary made for Russian Television by filmmaker Dmitry Vasyukov about fur trappers living in a remote part of Siberia. It was reportedly an epic, if fairly routine nature account centering on the lives of the indigenous people of the village of Bakhtia at the river Yenisei in the Siberian Taiga. Vasyukov’s camera followed them over a period of one year and showed how these natives, whose lives revolve around fur trapping, have barely changed over the last centuries. With no interference from, and barely any access to, the civilized world, they have lived their lives according to nothing but their own cultural traditions (and a weakness for Russian Vodka).
Vasyukov’s filmmaking style is simple and matter-of-fact. He follows the natives training their dogs, building their boats and setting their traps, giving the audience a clear sense of »
- Tom Stockman
13 items from 2013