Festival Reports

Africa at Sundance 2014: The Quest for Global Humanity »

Concerning Violence

By Boukary Sawadogo. Sundance Film Festival is to independent cinema what Hollywood is to mainstream commercial cinema around the world. The best of independent filmmakers’ works compete for awards but also for visibility…

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Berlinale 2014 Festival Report »

Free Range (Ballaad maailma heakskiitmisest)

By Yun-hua Chen.  The 64th Berlinale opened with Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, a fitting festival film that set a playful tone and brought glamour to town, thanks to which we saw the…

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November Film Festivals in Berlin: Afrikamera, Interfilm, and Around the World in 14 Films »

Le Passé

By Yun-Hua Chen.  November in Berlin is a busy month for film buffs in the capital, as there are three major independent film festivals: Afrikamera, Interfilm, and Around the World in 14 Films.…

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The 19th Annual Cucalorus Film Festival »

I Used to Be Darker

By Brandon Konecny and Jacob Mertens. Tucked away on the coast of North Carolina, there is a festival dedicated to the weirdly beautiful, the perversely provocative—a lovingly programmed lineup, taking shape as an…

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AFI 2013 Festival Report »

The Congress

By Michael Miller. AFI Fest unspooled along Hollywood Boulevard November 7-14, 2013 to almost entirely full houses. The event permits a sizable number of free tickets available to the public via an online…

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Interview

Diva Directors Around the Globe: Spotlight on Isabel Coixet »

Isabel Coixet by Mauricio Retiz

By Anna Weinstein. Spanish filmmaker Isabel Coixet has directed ten features and three documentaries in the past twenty-five years.…

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Diva Directors Around the Globe: Spotlight on Susanne Bier »

Susanne Bier, af Les Kaner

By Anna Weinstein. Oscar-winning Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier has directed fifteen films since 1991. Her film Brothers (2004) inspired…

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An Interview with Sharon Badal – Short Film Curator for the Tribeca Film Festival »

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  By Gary M. Kramer. Sharon Badal is the shorts film curator for the Tribeca Film Festival. This year,…

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Cinema Journeyman: An Interview with Mark Cousins »

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    By Paul Risker. In 2011 Mark Cousins became film journalism’s Odysseus when he concluded his six-year journey…

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Tomorrow’s Machine: An Interview with Filmmaker Caradog James »

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    By Paul Risker. Caradog James’ sophomore feature, the science-fiction drama The Machine (2013), shares its genre sibling’s habitual tendency…

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Scripting for the “Old Hands”: An Interview with Charles Agron and Tobin Bell on Dark House »

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By Michael T. Toole. Victor Salva has long had a popular career in the horror genre with titles such…

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Filming Living History: An Interview with Award-Winning TV Documentary Producer, Michael Rossi »

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By Noah Charney. February saw the release of a new, highly-acclaimed documentary film called The Rise and Fall of…

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Waking to Life: An Interview with Tom Gilroy on The Cold Lands »

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By Paul Risker. More than a decade has passed since actor Tom Gilroy stepped behind the camera to direct…

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MOST RECENT

  1. Diva Directors Around the Globe: Spotlight on Isabel Coixet
  2. Diva Directors Around the Globe: Spotlight on Susanne Bier
  3. Africa at Sundance 2014: The Quest for Global Humanity
  4. An Interview with Sharon Badal – Short Film Curator for the Tribeca Film Festival
  5. Rising On a Bad Wind: Hayao Miyazaki’s Sad Farewell
  6. The Lying Camera of De Palma’s Snake Eyes
  7. Cinema Journeyman: An Interview with Mark Cousins
  8. Oculus: Another Look In the Haunted Mirror
  9. Rare Chance for New Yorkers to See the Films of Wheeler Winston Dixon
  10. The Raid 2 – A SXSW Review
  11. Out of the Furnace: The Question of Adversarial Cinema
  12. Tomorrow’s Machine: An Interview with Filmmaker Caradog James
  13. The Superficial Ugliness of The Great Beauty
  14. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or, Nothing You Believe is True
  15. Demise and Redemption: Throne of Blood and The Hidden Fortress on Criterion
  16. Alain Robbe-Grillet’s L’Immortelle Finally Released on DVD and Blu-ray
  17. Crowded Out, Fenced In: Pirjo Honkasalo’s Concrete Night
  18. Joe – A SXSW Review
  19. The Secret World of the Warrior Elites: 007, Fukuyama and Tom Jones
  20. Contemporary Romanian Cinema: The History of an Unexpected Miracle (2013)
  1. Jeremy Carr: Thank you very much for reading and for the positive response. I’m particularly pleased you found the...
  2. Matthew Sorrento: It is an eye-opening film, Kyra. We may think we know much about the subject (even if we are...
  3. Wheeler Winston Dixon: Upon reflection, I agree with Gwendolyn Audrey Foster’s criticism above. As she has...
  4. Wheeler Winston Dixon: I have never liked Miyazaki’s films, and this seems the most problematic of all. I...
  5. Gwendolyn Audrey Foster: I strongly suspect that Lupino would not have even made this film were it not for her...

Review

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Rising On a Bad Wind: Hayao Miyazaki’s Sad Farewell »

By Daniel Lindvall.  The year is 1918 and we are somewhere on the Japanese countryside. Jiro is a young boy obsessed with airplanes. One night he dreams about flying a…

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The Lying Camera of De Palma’s Snake Eyes »

By Jeremy Carr. As with much of his work, especially in the last 15 years or so, one’s response to Brian De Palma’s Snake Eyes (1999) was to a large degree…

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Oculus: Another Look In the Haunted Mirror »

By Wheeler Winston Dixon. Oculus is a rather pretentious title for a rather straightforward movie, but despite the assembly line nature of its’ construction, the film still has something going…

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The Raid 2 – A SXSW Review »

By Jacob Mertens. The Raid 2 opens with a wide shot of a man kneeling beside a freshly dug grave. Facing his inevitable death, the film captures him as a…

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The Superficial Ugliness of The Great Beauty »

By Daniel Lindvall. “Do you know why I eat only roots? Because roots are important,” explains a 104-year-old nun to the greying author and playboy Jep Gambardella, main character of…

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or, Nothing You Believe is True »

By Wheeler Winston Dixon. I’m teaching a class right now in comic book movies, partly to trace the history of the genre from the 1940s on – when they began…

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Demise and Redemption: Throne of Blood and The Hidden Fortress on Criterion »

By Matthew Sorrento. To regard the “First Murder” of the Judeo-Christian tradition as a parable on fratricide is to miss the greater point. The brother turning on his own does…

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Alain Robbe-Grillet’s L’Immortelle Finally Released on DVD and Blu-ray »

By Wheeler Winston Dixon. Many years ago, in 1969, when I was working as a writer for Life magazine under editor Thomas Thompson, one of the highlights of my working…

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Crowded Out, Fenced In: Pirjo Honkasalo’s Concrete Night »

By Daniel Lindvall. François Truffaut’s classic first film, The 400 Blows, ends on a beach. Antoine Doinel (played by Jean-Pierre Léaud, who must have been about 14 when the film…

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Joe – A SXSW Review »

By Jacob Mertens.  To call Joe anything but a return to form for director David Gordon Green would be a disservice. And that has nothing to do with how terrible…

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Contemporary Romanian Cinema: The History of an Unexpected Miracle (2013) »

A Book Review by Brandon Konecny. In the introduction of his Post New Wave Cinema in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, published in 1989, Daniel J. Goulding writes, “Among…

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Only Lovers Left Alive – A SXSW Review »

  By Jacob Mertens. A man and a woman lie naked on a bed of black satin, their pale skin holding the frame like a match struck in a dark…

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Grand Piano (2013) »

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By Danny King.  In the press notes for Grand Piano, director Eugenio Mira states the following: “Having been raised by wolves like…

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The Spartans Meet The Muppets, or 300: Rise of an Empire »

300: Rise Of An Empire (2013)EVA GREEN as Artemesia

By Wheeler Winston Dixon. It would be a mistake to dismiss director Noam Murro’s sword and sandal “historical” pageant 300: Rise of…

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The Selfish Giant: Greetings from History »

Conner Chapman in The Selfish Giant

By Axel Andersson. Oscar Wilde’s tale about the selfish giant who built a high wall around his garden can be thought about…

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God’s Little Acre (1958) »

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By Jeremy Carr.  When he wasn’t genre hopping from Film Noir to Westerns to epic spectacles and war films, the perpetually underrated…

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Gravity (2013) »

GRAVITY

By Jacob Mertens. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) drifts in zero gravity, curled into a fetal pose with eyes closed, as if…

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Les Cousins (1959) »

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By Christopher Neilan.  In 1958, twenty-seven year old cahiers du cinema critic Claude Chabrol spent his wife’s inheritance money shooting his debut…

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Autumn Sonata (1978) »

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By Jeremy Carr. “A mother and a daughter. What a terrible combination of feelings and confusion and destruction.” So says Eva (Liv…

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Shackled (Belenggu): A Well-Mounted Disappointment »

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By Wheeler Winston Dixon. I wish I could say kinder things about this film, especially since it’s clear that this was a…

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) »

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By William Repass.  Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street begins with a simple equation: money is a drug. “Enough of this shit…

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Hollywood Exiles in Europe »

Hollywood Exiles

A Book Review by Wheeler Winston Dixon. Let’s just start by saying that this is an excellent book. I get stacks of…

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American Hustle (2013) »

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By Jacob Mertens. David O. Russell’s American Hustle begins with a title card stating “Some of this actually happened,” and for once…

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The Cinematic Palette from Feudal Japan – Gate of Hell »

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By Giuseppe Sedia.  Beyond any artistic value or aesthetic significance, the critical response to Gate of Hell (1953) provides a rare glimpse into…

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The Conformists: Creativity and Decadence in the Bulgarian Cinema 1945-89 (2011) »

The Conformists (1)

A Book Review by Brandon Konecny.  A full historical account of Bulgaria’s cinema under Communism—given the topic’s obscurity and the lack of…

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Kiss the Water (2013) »

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By Cleaver Patterson. When someone is the subject matter of a film memoir, they must have a magical quality if they are…

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Rififi (1955) »

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By Jeremy Carr.  The blacklist that shrouded the Hollywood community in suspicion, paranoia, and tragedy during the 1940s and ’50s, a steadily…

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Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013) »

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By Bill Fech.  David Lowery’s quiet western drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints came and went from theaters like a passing tumbleweed. The…

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) »

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By Jacob Mertens.  “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right,…

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Following (1998) »

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By Andrew J. Douglas.  Anticipating an early effort by a respected filmmaker—let alone one known for work that is at once thoughtful,…

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All is Lost: Great Forces at Sea »

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By Matthew Sorrento. The choice of writer-director JC Chandor to cast Robert Redford in All is Lost was astute, if not fortunate.…

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12 Years a Slave: Commendable and Interesting »

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By Axel Andersson. At first it looks like an ornate latticework, but there is no way to separate the scars from the…

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The Invisible Woman (2013) »

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By Danny King.  For his first two stabs at directing, Ralph Fiennes has selected subject matter that seems typical of an actor-turned-director…

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Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie (Revised Edition), Tony Lee Moral, (2013) »

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A book review by Liza Palmer. In 2004, I had the pleasure of reviewing the first edition of Tony Lee Moral’s Hitchcock…

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) »

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By Cleaver Patterson. A book like J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was always going to be too big in size and…

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In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter (2012) »

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By Robert Kenneth Dator. Every single bit of visual stimulus that comes to the human brain via the visual cortex must be…

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Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music (2012) »

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A Book Review by Jack Curtis Dubowsky. Henry Mancini—the iconic composer of ‘Moon River,’ ‘Peter Gunn,’ ‘Baby Elephant Walk,’ ‘The Pink Panther,’…

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Trouble in Paradise (1932) »

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By Adam O’Brien. Like Roberto Rossellini, Ernst Lubitsch is a filmmaker whose greatness is both clear and very difficult to articulate. Penetrating…

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Anikó Imre’s A Companion to Eastern European Cinemas (2012) »

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A Book Review by Brandon Konecny.  The increasing visibility of Eastern European films—those of the Romanian New Wave, especially—in the United States…

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Seconds: the “Lost” Frankenheimer Returns »

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By Matthew Sorrento. Prominent for years on American television, John Frankenheimer’s Seconds had disappeared by the advent of DVD and remained unavailable…

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3:10 to Yuma (1957) »

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By Jacob Mertens.  In film, there is often a feeling of moral certainty. A protagonist has a line drawn for him by…

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Stranger by the Lake (2013) »

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By Mark James.  Call it Le Cruising. French filmmaker Alain Guiraudie stages a stripped-down rendition of William Friedkin’s 1980 gay serial killer…

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Colossal Youth (2006) »

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By Oana Chivoiu.  Pedro Costa’s landmark is an aesthetic of austerity that resonates with the thematic content in his features dealing with…

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Whitewash: An Austin Film Festival Review »

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By Jacob Mertens.  Left buried in the formidable winter of Northern Quebec, Bruce (Thomas Haden Church) dwells in the cramped cabin of…

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Features

The Mother’s Role in Bergman’s Persona »

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By Terence Diggory. CONTENTS The Critical Audience Dramatis Personae Child’s Play Alma Mater Sons and Lovers Fear of Lying Fear of Dying…

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True Love, Pride, and Passion: Re-viewing Stephen Frears’s Dangerous Liaisons (1988) »

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By Lesley Brill. In Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s Les Liaisons dangereuses (most of the plot of which Frears’s Dangerous Liaisons follows faithfully),…

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One-Location Films and How They Achieve Their Success »

Buried

By Victoria Tickle. One-location (or one-room) films are films that do exactly what they say on their metaphorical tins: their narratives take…

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Our Children, or the Importance of Medea »

Nos Enfants

By Christopher Sharrett. Joachim Lafosse’s Our Children (Á perdre la raison, a.k.a. Loving without Reason, a much more sensible title) put me…

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The Invisible Cinema of Marcel Hanoun »

L'Été

By Wheeler Winston Dixon. “With poor and derisory resources, with the help and goodwill of those who have worked with me, I…

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The Noir Vision of Max Ophüls, Romantic Fatalist »

Caught

By Wheeler Winston Dixon. Max Ophüls, born Maximillian Oppenheimer on 6 May 1902, Saarbrücken, Germany, was a director known primarily for his…

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1970s Rape-Revenge Films and their Remakes: Changing Representations »

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

By Victoria Tickle. Rape-revenge films are a controversial sub-genre of films that have been the subject of many critical debates surrounding feminism,…

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The Archaeology of Abjection in The Exorcist »

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By Will Dodson. Warner Home Video released a new Blu-ray set of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist on October 8, coinciding with the…

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Light From the Screen: Cinema, Painting and Spectatorship »

The Strange Case of Angelica

By Wheeler Winston Dixon. Noël Coward once observed that “television is for appearing on – not for looking at,” but as the…

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Yayoi Kusama: The Orgy of Self Obliteration »

Yayoi Kusama

By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. As an internationally acclaimed Japanese/American artist, Yayoi Kusama rejects any Orientalist assumptions about her work or her self.…

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Charles Burnett’s Inner City Portrait: Revisiting Killer of Sheep and the post-Watts crisis on film »

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By Jamie Isbell. Charles Burnett’s UCLA thesis feature Killer of Sheep (1977) has become something of a retrospective masterpiece. A cult artifact…

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Elvira Notari: A Woman in Search of Desire »

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  By Rossella Scalia. My first encounter with the director Elvira Notari occurred randomly, as almost always happens with important meetings. I…

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Reconsidering The Landscape of the Homoerotic Body in Claire Denis’s Beau Travail »

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By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. I begin, as my title suggests, with a quote from Agnès Godard, the cinematographer of Beau Travail (1999):…

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“Rip It Up and Start Again:” Scream 4 and Post-? »

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By Will Dodson. Wes Craven’s Scream 4 is in many ways a fitting capstone to the 9/11 decade, thus the title of…

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Looking with Julia’s Eyes: Gender, Spectatorship, and Contemporary Spanish Horror Cinema »

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By Ian Olney. Over the past decade or so, the Spanish horror film has undergone a striking renaissance. During the final years…

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Alice Guy’s La Vie du Christ: A Feminist Vision of the Christ Tale »

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By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Alice Guy is a filmmaker whose body of work is still a site of contestation for modern critics;…

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Wong Kar-wai: a Cantonese Auteur »

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By Shashank Saurav. “Sometimes they think the way we work is very stylish and romantic, but actually it’s the way we can…

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Andy’s Gang, or Saturday Morning of the Living Dead »

Froggy Doll

By Wheeler Winston Dixon. “There was a character that hung out in a clock called Froggy, the Magic Gremlin, and they used…

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Beyond the Hills, or The Woman’s Prison »

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By Christopher Sharrett. It amazes me that so few reviewers noted emphatically that Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills (2012), like his earlier…

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Touching the Wild Things: Haptic visuality in Where the Wild Things Are »

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By Kelly Burt. The film Where the Wild Things Are (2009), based on the 1963 children’s book of the same name by…

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Looking at the Landscape of Childhood in Ivan’s Childhood and Germany Year Zero »

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By Devapriya Sanyal. The two great wars of the twentieth century would change everything for humankind once and for all; both materially…

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Life with Betty White: Performing the Authentic Proto-Feminist in Pioneering Early Television »

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By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Betty White has always been ahead of her time. This has been both a blessing and a curse.…

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Inside The Asylum: The Outlaw Studio That Changed Hollywood »

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By Wheeler Winston Dixon. “Anyone can make a $100 million dollar movie, but to shoot a feature film in 12-14 days, with…

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The Politics of Critical Reception and the Marxist Feminist Sublime in Carlos Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux »

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By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. “Fortunately, somewhere between chance and mystery lies imagination, the only thing that protects our freedom, despite the fact…

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The Eternal Father: Two Films by Derek Cianfrance »

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By Christopher Sharrett. I hesitated as I began this essay, chiefly because I came across some interviews with Derek Cianfrance, whose work…

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Spaces of Resistance: Film Festivals and Anti-Capitalism »

Promotional night for the BRFF at The Cube, Bristol.

By Anthony Killick. Film festivals have always operated as nodes in a network of global power relations. Set within this field of…

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The Best Years of Our Lives: a Revaluation »

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By Christopher Sharrett. While writing an essay on the post-Vietnam film Rolling Thunder, I thought of William Wyler’s much-applauded 1946 film The…

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The Disquieting Aura of Fabián Bielinsky »

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By Wheeler Winston Dixon.            “I said no to Hollywood. There you have no freedom to create.” (Bielinsky to Federico Fahsbender)…

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Family Friendly Torture Porn »

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By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. “Watch new blood on the eighteen inch screen The corpse is a new personality Watch new blood on…

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Re-Birth of a Nation or Why Django Has More to Say about Contemporary America than the Other “Historically Accurate” Films »

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By Celluloid Liberation Front  “The former enemies of North and South are united again in common defence of their Aryan birthright.” (D.W.…

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The Shining 2.0 or: How New Media Changed Film Analysis »

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By Hampus Hagman. In Iron Man 2 (2010), Tony Stark discovers that his deceased father has left behind coded sketches for a…

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Zero Dark Thirty: Embarrassed No More »

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By Christopher Sharrett. I write this comment on Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty more out of a sense of moral obligation and…

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The Future Catches Up With The Past: Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets »

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By Wheeler Winston Dixon. “Targets are people…and you could be one of them!” (Tagline for Targets) Peter Bogdanovich got his start as…

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Out of the Furnace: The Question of Adversarial Cinema »

By Christopher Sharrett. I did not see Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace during its initial run some months ago, in part because I thought little of Cooper’s Crazy Heart…

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Bruno Dumont and the Revival of the Human, Part 3 »

By Christopher Sharrett. To Part 2. Hadewijch Hadewijch is the first of two films (the second is Hors Satan) directly focused on the pursuit of the spiritual. I should say…

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Bruno Dumont and the Revival of the Human, Part 2 »

By Christopher Sharrett. To Part 1. L’Humanité Bruno Dumont’s second film has been termed by certain commentators a “remake” of La Vie de Jésus. The notion is bewildering. Yes, both…

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La Vie de Jésus

Bruno Dumont and the Revival of the Human, Part 1 »

By Christopher Sharrett. Bruno Dumont is among our most important filmmakers, a fact that has gone mostly unnoticed outside Europe. His particular significance seems unrecognized in the US. There are…

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Surviving the Monster Mom: Child’s Pose »

By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. “I hope it’s like a mirror.” (Călin Peter Netzer on Child’s Pose) “They fuck you up, your mum and dad / They may not mean to,…

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The Narcissistic Sociopathology of Gender: Craig’s Wife and The Hitch-Hiker, Part 2 »

By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. To Part 1. While Dorothy Arzner’s Craig’s Wife (1936) revolves around a pathological female who is undone by her desperate attempts to conform to the norms…

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Killing Them Softly

Hollywood Nomad: Andrew Dominik’s Aussiewood »

By Stephen Gaunson. “I live here now and I don’t like going home.” (Andrew Dominik qtd. in Sperling 2012) “I wouldn’t mind shooting again in Australia but I have no…

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Missing in Action: The Lost Version of Vanishing Point »

By Wheeler Winston Dixon. Much has been deservedly written on Richard C. Sarafian’s existential road movie Vanishing Point (1971), a shambling, glorious wreck of a film that nevertheless manages to…

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The Narcissistic Sociopathology of Gender: Craig’s Wife and The Hitch-Hiker, Part 1 »

By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. It’s instructive to study the work of Dorothy Arzner and Ida Lupino in context with one another. Though at first glance, one might easily conclude that…

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Preliminary Notes on the Monochrome Universe »

By Wheeler Winston Dixon. Lately I’ve been thinking about black and white movies, and how they’ve almost completely disappeared from the current cinematic landscape.[1] There are occasional projects shot in…

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Lost Highway

“Illusion and Reality” Films: Genre and Apotheosis »

By Brian Russell Graham. A great many of the most popular films of recent decades are characterized by a character’s struggle to separate illusory worlds from ordinary reality. Examples range…

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From Gangster to Master: the Forgotten Edward G. Robinson »

By Matthew Sorrento. I. The Look Robinson’s legion of fans grew after the actor delivered an intense desperation as Rico Bandello in Mervyn LeRoy’s Little Caesar (1931). A hood who…

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Rocky Balboa and the Politics of Urban Renewal »

By Jon Kraszewski. Coming at the end of a film series that had degenerated into useless portraits of cartoonish characters and simplified visions of social issues, the 2006 film Rocky…

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