Friday, September 28, 2012
Here and There will play on September 29, October 2 and October 10 as part of the 2012 New York Film Festival.
Here and There is as studiously unself-dramatizing as its subject, whose signature song, which functions as the movie's theme, includes the refrain, "I just want to be humble with real people." A fictionalized biography, it reimagines a slice from the life of Pedro De los Santos Juárez, a 30-ish amateur musician from a small town in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Read more
Stockton, New Jersey resident Larry McConkey is a cinematographer and award-winning Steadicam operator whose credits include contemporary classics like Three Kings, Miller’s Crossing, Kill Bill, The Sopranos, and Goodfellas. (The photo above is of him shooting a scene for Hugo.) McConkey will talk about his work at a meet-the-filmmaker dinner in Lambertville on October 7 to benefit the ACME Screening Room. He talked to me last Saturday from his home in Stockton, after a late night of shooting Boardwalk Empire in New York City.
That long, unbroken shot in Goodfellas where Henry(Ray Liotta) takes Karen (Lorraine Bracco) into the Copacabana through the back door is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time. Is it one of your personal favorites?
Yeah, yeah. I started out really early with using Steadicam in motion pictures, so I was able to help define what it could do. Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
LA is home to more Armenians than almost anyplace else in the diaspora, so it was probably inevitable that we’d eventually get a movie about Armenians in Glendale. Too bad it had to be this aggressively bland bit of pablum, which plays like a faux-funny sitcom.
Slathered in clumsy layers of makeup, cowriter/coproducer Vahik Pirhamzei plays the title character, an Armenian variation on the Magical Negro. Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Skilled at establishing a deadpan look and tone but not always successful at maintaining narrative tension, Snowman’s Land is a pretty good addition to the robust subgenre one imdb listmaker calls “dark comedies with pesky corpses, botched kidnappings, murderous blunders, & accidental deaths.” Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Director Neil Berkeley’s first feature is as puckish as its subject, so steeped in artist Wayne White’s creative juices that it makes you want to go straight home and start making things. With his bright blue eyes, mountain-man beard, gently sardonic humor, and highly calibrated bullshit meter, White comes off as a funny, charismatic, endlessly inventive character, though he’s also a bit of a curmudgeon. In the words of Matt Groenig, one of several semi-underground art stars who contribute funny, insightful quotes, he’s “A little Zack Galifianakis, a little Snuffy Smith, a little Unabomber.” Read more
Monday, September 3, 2012
Most of us think we know a thing or two about the modeling business, regardless of whether our first thoughts are of bulimia or Bulgari. But Girl Model cuts through our preconceptions of the industry, following a painfully young Russian girl and the talent scout who finds her, documenting one round in an endless dance of seduction, betrayal, and emotional and financial abuse. Read more
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Where did longtime production manager and novice director Christopher Kenneally get the cojones to turn so many masters of the art of cinema (Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, David Fincher, Ellen Kuras, Vilmos Zsigmond, Walter Murch…) into uninterestingly shot talking heads for his visually prosaic, narratively clayfooted film? Well, thank goodness he did. His frank, sometimes funny, and always knowledgeable subjects say enough interesting things to make this documentary worth seeing—if only just, and probably only for those of us with an unhealthy interest in movies. Read more
Monday, August 27, 2012
Sleepwalk with Me, a first movie by comedian and now writer-director Mike Birbiglia, seems at first to be a string of funny anecdotes about his (or his alter ego’s) early slog as a stand-up comic and this really weird thing he’s had to deal with: a form of sleepwalking that has caused him to do some serious damage to himself while sleeping. But it turns out to be a pretty heartfelt and very likeable story about holding onto a relationship longer than you should because you reall,y really like each other, even if you aren’t quite in love. I talked to Mike this week filmmakers at the Crosby Street Hotel, where he was promoting the film, about movies versus other formats, what dreams are really like, and why comedians make great directors.
I have this theory that times of great technological changes make for periods of creativity in filmmaking, because a lot of people start playing with the new toys before things have time to solidify into a rut. And one trend I see coming out of how cheap and easy it is now to shoot and edit something and get it out there, if only on the internet, is that there’s a groundswell of comedians making really good movies and TV shows. I’m thinking Bernie Mac and Louis C.K. and Lena Dunham and Tina Fey and Jon Stewart on TV, and Judd Apatow and the people he’s helped spawn, including Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, in the movies. Do you feel like that’s a trend you’re part of?
Yes, I do. That’s really true what you say about technology. But comedians have always made movies—back to Buster Keaton, Woody Allen. Read more
Monday, August 13, 2012
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Red Hook Summer, Spike Lee’s latest movie, is the most recent entry in what this often great and always interesting director calls his “chronicles of Brooklyn,” which also includes She’s Gotta Have it, Do the Right Thing, Clockers, Crooklyn, and He Got Game. I talked to Spike this week about his new movie and more in his Fort Greene production office.
What they say about journalism, that it’s the first rough draft of history, could also be said of most your films. Plus, you’ve popped up as a sort of an expert witness on black history in other people’s films, like Hoop Dreams, When We Were Kings, and Brooklyn Boheme.
[laughs] Yeah, I’m trying to cut that down. Can’t talk on every documentary. Can’t do it!
How much of that comes from having a conscious desire to correct the record because so much of black history has been pretty much swept under the rug, and how much is it just that these are the stories you are interested in?
I think artists reflect who they are, their culture. That’s what it is. I mean, Kurosawa, what’s he gonna do? He’s not gonna make a movie about Eskimos. What did Fellini do? Visconti? Satiyajit Ray? Artists tend to do stuff about what they know, who they are, how they grow up, their environment. Read more