Friday, September 28, 2012

Here and There

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.

Talking to Steadicam Pioneer Larry McConkey

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.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

As cheeky as its stripped-down, Pink Panther-esque Ennio Morricone score, this 1970 Italian satire starts at the apartment of a beautiful masochist, Augusta (Florinda Bolkan). “How are you going to kill me this time?” she asks her thin-lipped, cold-eyed lover (Gian Maria VolontĂ©). “I’m going to slit your throat,” he says. And so he does, after which he methodically plants damning evidence against himself and then heads back to work—as a high-ranking cop. What the what?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Waiting Room

In this scrupulously realistic and ultimately optimistic documentary, Peter Nicks creates what appears to be a chronicle of a day in the life of an overburdened Oakland emergency room, while actually doing something considerably more complex and ambitious. Cherry-picking his main stories from dozens shot over five months in 2010, he homes in on just how emergency rooms function as primary care practitioners for the vast American army of the uninsured.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Uncle Rafael

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.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Snowman's Land

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.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beauty is Embarrassing

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.”

Monday, September 3, 2012

Girl Model

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.