Monday, July 27, 2015
Produced by Lorne Michaels, written by Saturday Night Live head writer Colin Jost, and featuring SNL stars new and old (among them Cecily Strong, Fred Armisen, Bobby Moynihan, and Will Forte), this subtlety-free mash-up of American Graffiti, American Pie, and pretty much every other American celebration of—and farewell to—adolescence puts a whole new spin on the phrase "summer camp." Introduced as a collection of stereotypes, the characters never develop enough to become relatable, and the humor is pretty much all on the level of an ice sculpture of a woman on her back with her legs spread, or a crooked cop who brays about the contraband he's peddling in a voice so loud it hurts.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
A Royal Shakespeare Company veteran who is equally at home in Gandalf’s long, pointy hat, Ian McKellen wears his greatness lightly. When we spoke this week at the Lowell Hotel, he started by raiding the sandwich plate and eating with enthusiasm while interviewing me a bit about how Slant makes money. Exhibiting a skeptical curiosity, a talent for close observation, and a healthy if self-mocking ego, all of which must serve him well as an actor, he was a delightful conversationalist, peppering his remarks with playful gestures and tart or mischievous asides.
McKellen was in town to promote Mr. Holmes, a lovely character study in which he plays an aged Sherlock Holmes who struggles with memory loss and the dimming of that great mind while trying to solve the mystery of his own prickly personality. He also talked about being a grand marshall of last month’s historic gay pride parade here in New York and about the art of finding a character’s DNA through the way that he moves.
So this was just your first time as grand marshal for the New York gay pride parade?
Yeah. I have done it before in San Francisco and Oslo. And next month I’m going to do it in Manchester, for the second time. But this was the first time in New York. This was a biggie. Actually reminded me of San Francisco, which, you can imagine, is a big one.
The Act of Killing, documentary director Joshua Oppenheimer’s first film about the 1965 genocide in Indonesia, jump-started a national dialogue about an atrocity that had been a toxic secret for decades. Largely unknown in the rest of the world, the killings were actively celebrated in Indonesia, where the perpetrators, who are still in charge of the government, described their gruesome deeds in heroic and triumphant terms. After something more transformational than merely revealing buried truths or eliciting the easy sympathy of moviegoers for victims from a far-off time and place, Oppenheimer sought out perpetrators, not victims, to tell the story of the genocide, inviting them to reenact their crimes for the cameras. It is deeply unsettling to watch mass murderers matter-of-factly act out some of their more horrific deeds, often enlisting terrified locals to reluctantly reenact the tortures, rapes and murder they are still traumatized by. It is even more disturbing to get to know the perpetrators well enough to see ourselves in them.
In The Look of Silence, the second of his films about the genocide, Oppenheimer switches to a victim’s point of view.
Monday, July 13, 2015
One of the best actresses of her generation, Laura Linney has a knack for making cool, even somewhat icy characters seem sympathetic. Her latest is Mrs. Munro, the beleaguered housekeeper to Ian McKellen's Sherlock Holmes in Bill Condon's Mr. Holmes. In the film, an elegiac tale about the detective toward the end of his life, Holmes struggles with the steady disintegration of his magnificent memory and tries to put his emotional affairs in order, finding unexpected inspiration in a friendship with Mrs. Munro's precocious son, Roger, played by Milo Parker. Meanwhile, her pained absorption of his high-handed, unintentionally rude treatment helps trigger a primal memory that haunts Holmes for reasons he struggles to understand, giving him one last mystery to solve.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
The 23-minute-long shot that opens 10.000 KM is an unshowy tour-de-force that accomplishes its aim with impressive economy, introducing us to an attractive young couple and setting up their coming separation without ever feeling contrived or expository. It starts with Alex (Natalia Tena) and Sergi (David Verdaguer) in mid-fuck, capturing the intensity of their physical connection and the teasing ease of their banter as well as the important fact that they’re trying to get pregnant. Then they get out of bed and the camera follows them through their cosy Barcelona apartment as their comfortable morning routine is disrupted by big news: Alex has been offered a year-long photography residency in LA. Initially supportive, then resentful, Sergi sulks while Alex apologizes, tries to justify her desire to have a rewarding career as well as a family, and finally concedes to Sergi’s wishes. By the time he relents, urging her to go, we have a visceral sense of their dynamics.