Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Her Brand is Global Connectivity

I talked to Brooklyn-based filmmaker Rachel Boynton, director of Our Brand is Crisis, about her latest film, Big Men, for The L.

Big Men and Our Brand is Crisis are both cautionary tales about global capitalism centered around Americans trying to control major aspects of life in another country -- the presidency of Bolivia in Crisis, and Ghana's newly discovered oil reserves in Big Men. Is that a theme you plan to keep exploring?
When I first got involved in documentary filmmaking, fresh out of college, I had a little more confidence in my own capacity to change the world. I was really interested in the idea of getting Americans to think about how they are related to the rest of the world.

As I have gotten older, my interests changed, I’ve changed, but I’ve remained consistently fascinated by the intersection of different ways of seeing. At the time that I finished Our Brand, oil prices were going though the roof. The price of oil was on everybody’s list. I didn’t have kids yet, and I was at the point in my life when I thought I could take on something kind of epic. The original idea was, I’m going to make a film about the oil business from inside the oil business. Read more

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Lunchbox

I went to The Lunchbox to see Irrfan Khan, that great soul, find his soulmate. Khan’s characters almost never get the girl. In movies like Life of Pi and TV shows like In Treatment, he generally plays a lonely existential hero, a man who feels and knows much more than most of us ever will but has no one to share his stories with. The Lunchbox, a love story in which the lovers don’t share any screen time, turns out to be a subtle variation on that theme. Read more


The Israel of Bethlehem is a hamster wheel of a world: Everyone keeps running as fast as they can, trying to protect the people they love, but nobody ever makes any progress. It’s also one big, hugely dysfunctional family, a place where everyone—Jews, Arabs and Bedouins—is intimately connected to everyone else, for better or (more often) much, much worse. Read more

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Like director Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi, Visitors uses lush cinematography, a nonstop Philip Glass score, and generous lashings of slow-motion and time lapse photography to half-seduce, half-hypnotize us into seeing familiar sights with fresh eyes. Ironically, Reggio’s signature style has been so widely copied in ads that it can feel a little tired itself, especially when a subject is shot from below against a sky with time-lapse clouds scudding by. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that this film had something profound to say even when I wasn’t sure what that was. Read more

Friday, January 3, 2014

100 Words On … It Should Happen to You

Even the generally feminist screenwriter Garson Kanin and “women’s director” George Cukor patronize their heroine, Gladys Glover (the great Judy Holliday), a pneumatic child-woman for whom, as her suitor (Jack Lemmon) keeps insisting, happiness lies in giving up her inchoate ambitions to be “part of the crowd.” But a gorgeous young Holliday, grounded yet flighty as a young woman determined to “make a name for myself” in New York, makes this gem sparkle in spite of its flaws. Read more

Saturday, December 21, 2013

My Top 10 for 2013

And here's my own Top 10 list for last year.

Her Read more

Friday, December 20, 2013

100 Words On … A Touch of Sin

Where most films by the great Jia Zhangke unfurl tales of everyday people cast adrift by the massive upheavals in China’s economy and social structure with a languor that almost masks their ferocity, A Touch of Sin burns like a comet. Read more

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The L Magazine's Top 20 Movies of 2013

Here's the L's list, which I contributed to... Read more

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Twice Born

Like Incendies, Twice Born is the story of a doomed romance and a loving family with secrets so toxic even the family itself doesn’t know them, set against the backdrop of a recent civil war. Also like Incendies, Twice Born is an intermittently powerful but ultimately unconvincing melodrama. Read more

Sunday, October 27, 2013

100 Words On ... Little Shop of Horrors

Based on the Broadway musical, not Roger Corman’s rough-edged black-and-white original, Frank Oz’s highly stylized rom-com takes its cue from Alan Menken’s zesty R&B score and Howard Ashman’s witty lyrics and book. Read more