9 items from 2015
Though director Olivier Assayas’ latest project, Idol’s Eye, looks to have been shelved due to funding issues, his film Clouds of Sils Maria is just getting prepped for theatrical distribution here in the states after wowing audiences on the festival circuit. The film premiered at Cannes to a warm reception thanks to its charactorially complex and mysterious tale of an aging actress and her personal assistant which coaxed a pair of stunning performances out of Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in the leading roles.
After the film’s North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September, I had the opportunity to sit down with the soft spoken, but cinematically articulate Assayas to discuss how he came to center the film around aging and how a person’s relationship with art changes as one ages, as well as the film’s strong resemblance of Ingmar Bergman »
- Jordan M. Smith
Ingmar Bergman leaves his mark the way a nightmare leaves a scar. His films haunt you, they're hard. You confront the difficulty, it mends, and you're stronger for it. He maintained a strict intimacy in his work environment. His cast and crew rarely succeeded more than 30 closely knit members, and even fewer remained while shooting. With this light ensemble he produced classics in surplus that explored grand ideas with minimal means. But when I say classic, I don't mean the way people consider Forrest Gump one. I mean a hard classic, the kind that filmmakers pay their inspirational dues, and critics and historian's sob over with glee.
They're what you'd consider a "Capital-g Great Film", which means the experience can prove grueling for those lacking the trained appetite. And for those initiated, prepared to combat the attrition, there's that hard-earned reward to bask in later. What distinguished films like Persona, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Aaron Hunt)
The latest in his series of video essays for the Criterion Collection brings :: kogonada face to face with Ingmar Bergman — more precisely, to the Swedish auteur’s use of mirrors in relation to women. Set to a reading of Sylvia Plath’s Mirror (“I am important to her/she comes and goes” nicely encapsulates Persona, at the very least), this short montage considers the meditative reflections — and interior revelations — across several of Bergman’s films. Watch above, and stay tuned for a longer :: kogonada/Bergman essay, set to accompany the Cries and Whispers release. »
- Sarah Salovaara
Editor's Note: RogerEbert.com is proud to reprint Roger Ebert's 1978 entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica publication "The Great Ideas Today," part of "The Great Books of the Western World." Reprinted with permission from The Great Ideas Today ©1978 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
It's a measure of how completely the Internet has transformed communication that I need to explain, for the benefit of some younger readers, what encyclopedias were: bound editions summing up all available knowledge, delivered to one's home in handsome bound editions. The "Great Books" series zeroed in on books about history, poetry, natural science, math and other fields of study; the "Great Ideas" series was meant to tie all the ideas together, and that was the mission given to Roger when he undertook this piece about film.
Given the venue he was writing for, it's probably wisest to look at Roger's long, wide-ranging piece as a snapshot of the »
- Roger Ebert
Alex Ross Perry is a more than promising young director. He courageously combines intimacy, humor and a sense for cinematic language and form. Nevertheless, his latest, Queen of Earth, is a step back for the young director in terms of maturity and individuality, especially compared to his impressive Listen Up Philip. In Queen of Earth, the director aims at the same time for greatness and modesty. The modesty comes from working with fewer people, fewer locations, and a smaller budget than in his previous film while the greatness follows in the footsteps of directors like Ingmar Bergman and Roman Polanski. To be frank, one can easily speak of a rather cheap copy/combination of Persona and Repulsion. But there is something in the faces of his characters...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
Terrence Malick is having a busy week, which for the director who formerly took ages between films, must rank among his busiest. Malick has first been working on a documentary called Voyage of Time that will incorporate footage from The Tree of Life and be “a celebration of the universe, displaying the whole of time, from its start to its final collapse,” according to a press release via HitFix. One version of the film will be just 40 minutes long, will feature narration by Brad Pitt, and will appear on IMAX screens. Another longer version will appear in traditional theaters and will be narrated by Cate Blanchett. Neither version has a release date just yet but are being planned for 2016.
His latest film however, Knight of Cups, is about to premiere at the Berlinale on February 8 (watch the trailer here), and the full plot revealed for the film sounds perfectly Malick-esque. »
- Brian Welk
Everyone knows Woody Allen. At least, everyone thinks they know Woody Allen. His plumage is easily identifiable: horn-rimmed glasses, baggy suit, wispy hair, kvetching demeanor, ironic sense of humor, acute fear of death. As is his habitat: New York City, though recently he has flown as far afield as London, Barcelona, and Paris. His likes are well known: Bergman, Dostoevsky, New Orleans jazz. So too his dislikes: spiders, cars, nature, Wagner records, the entire city of Los Angeles. Whether or not these traits represent the true Allen, who’s to say? It is impossible to tell, with Allen, where cinema ends and life begins, an obfuscation he readily encourages. In the late nineteen-seventies, disillusioned with the comedic success he’d found making such films as Sleeper (1973), Love and Death (1975), and Annie Hall (1977), he turned for darker territory with Stardust Memories (1980), a film in which, none too surprisingly, he plays a »
- Graham Daseler
Premiering at the Berlin Film Festival in the summer of 1972, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant didn’t open to ecstatic reception. Treated with the sort of contempt that artistic endeavors later recuperated as being ‘ahead of their time’ are often subjected to, conservative audiences dismissed it as bleak and artificial, while queer audiences denounced it as an exploitational freak show. Decades later, time has come for a reexamination of one of Fassbinder’s finest achievements, arriving early on in his titles inspired by the works of Douglas Sirk, for which the title of this most certainly evokes. Shot in ten days, and presumed to have been written by Fassbinder by hand on a flight from Berlin to Los Angeles, it features three of his most beloved actresses, each with whom he shared a different type of relationship. Bitchy, catty, melodramatic and pretentious, it’s »
- Nicholas Bell
Paul Thomas Anderson learned to make movies by watching movies. Each of his films bears the ghostly fingerprints of his masters and mentors: the obsession and one-point perspective of Kubrick; the tough-guy veneers and fetid societies that sated the first decade of Scorsese’s career; the intense meditative stares of Jonathan Demme, constantly reminding us that we are, of course, watching a film—we’re immersed in it, but we are spectators, non-participants, in the hands of an artist. Anderson has never created voyeuristic or naturalistic films, never approached Cinéma vérité, and he’s never tried to feign an amateur aesthetic. He crafts films indebted to the grand ambience of New Hollywood, rendered unnaturally lucid and diligently composed. To watch one of Anderson’s films is to get a condensed lesson on the artisanship and history of American cinema.
But Anderson’s most obvious early influence—one he has name-checked, »
- Greg Cwik
9 items from 2015
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