Monday, June 16, 2014

Link Round-Up: Post Cannes, Pre-Apocalypse

I gotta get a better system of making sure I update this...

My first book, Approaching the End: Imagining Apocalypse in American Film, is still due out in October. Here is the list of films I'll be tackling in it: Kiss Me Deadly, The Lady from Shanghai, The Big Heat, The Rapture, God Told Me To, Days of Heaven, Strange Days, The Terminator, They Live, and Southland Tales. There is also extended talk of Out of the Past, In A Lonely Place, In The Mouth of Madness, and The World's End.

I went to the Cannes Film Festival for the first time, and it was a truly spectacular experience. You can see my Top films of the festival here (and a complete ranking on Letterboxd), and a special Cinephiliacs episode recorded at the Palais. There were a few films I never got around to writing about (Techine, Lapid, and Ostlund in particular), but I did manage to write about the following films...
-Winter Sleep (Ceylan, Turkey) - Competition, Palm D'Or Winner
-Foxcatcher (Miller, USA) - Competition, Best Director
-Mr. Turner (Leigh, UK) - Competition, Best Actor Award (Timothy Spall)
-Maps To The Stars (Cronenberg, USA/Canada) - Competition, Best Actress Award (Julianne Moore)
-Goodbye To Language (Godard, Switzerland) - Competition, Jury Prize
-Mommy (Dolan, Canada) - Competition, Jury Prize
-Leviathan (Zvyagintsev, Russia) - Competition, Screenwriting Award
-Grace of Monaco (Dahan, France/USA) - Opening Night
-Timbuktu (Sissako, Mali) - Competition
-The Captive (Egoyan, Canada) - Competition
-The Homesman (Jones, USA) - Competition
-Welcome To New York (Ferrara, USA/France) - Marketplace
-National Gallery (Wiseman, UK) - Director's Fortnight
-Saint Laurent (Bonello, France) - Competition
-Amour Fou (Hausner, Austria) - Un Certain Regard
-Jauja (Alonso, Argentina) - Un Certain Regard
-Two Days, One Night (Dardennes, Belgium/France) - Competition
-Lost River (Gosling, USA) - Un Certain Regard
-The Search (Hazanavicius, USA/France) - Competition
-Hard To Be A God (German, Russia) - Marketplace
-The Tale of Princess Kayuga (Takahata, Japan) - Director's Fortnight
-Clouds of Sils Maria (Assayas, France) - Competition

Catching up with Cinephiliacs episodes, I've got two episodes from Philadelphia with Carrie Rickey on Clueless and Sam Adams on The Long Goodbye, and then Philip Loppate talking Charulata and Reverse Shot's Michael Koresky on The Seventh Victim.

And then there's my Criterion reviews! I've got looks at Riot In Cell Block 11, an investigation into the two different cuts of Red River, and a look at an essential bonus feature on the Blu of All That Heaven Allows - Mark Rappaport's Rock Hudson's Home Movies.

Two more Masters of Cinema Blus are on the way with booklets edited and compiled by yours truly: Elia Kazan's Boomerang! and John Cassavetes's Too Late Blues. More information on those at a later date.

Some stuff on Letterboxd: 
-New Stuff: Godzilla, The Amazing Spider-Man, Riddick
-Old Stuff: White Threads of the Waterfall, Utamaro and His Five Women, The Little Foxes, Melo, In Harm's Way

Friday, June 13, 2014

Frame of Reference: Kelly Reichardt's Night Moves

Night Moves, a decidedly didactic feature from Kelly Reichardt, is a film that is set deliberately within the closed-off minds of its protagonists, a set of eco-terrorists set on blowing up a dam in Oregon. Because of this lack of an outside, Reichardt does not offer an easy set of morality and politics to offer up to create a point of comparison. The closest the film ever comes to creating an antagonist is a local fertilizer seller who simply wants to follow the government’s rules about needing to send in a social security number in order to purchase the substance. Instead, Reichardt’s critique is crafted through her trademark minimalism, a film that examines the ripples of a pure ideology. The film’s protagonist Josh, played by a phenomenally minimal Jesse Eisenberg, is brimming with paranoia at every second. But he’s also rarely looking past the frame.

Using a genre for something more crafty and subdued was also buried deep within Riechardt’s last feature, Meek’s Cutoff, a Western with a shift of power so subtle it was lost on many audience members. Night Moves seems to be having somewhat of a similar reaction, with the recognizable genre elements overpowering her real motivations (there is also an issue that the director has decided to attack a liberal cause, a facet many critics have labored on). The totality of the director’s intentions are present throughout, especially during an early sequence when Josh and Dena (Dakota Fanning) meet up with their fellow conspirator Harlon (Peter Saarsgard) at a local diner. Each can’t trust the other, raising issues to each other about the loyalty of the other to the mission. These people are looking inward, not outward, and Riechardt always positions one against two within the frame.