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Ye Olde Village Voice

A Search for a Corpse is So Much More in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
A few days into 2012, and we already have a favorite for the New Year’s best movie: Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. Read more… Read more – ‘A Search for a Corpse is So Much More in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’.
American History, from the Mind of Ken Jacobs, in Seeking the Monkey King
One of last year’s best films, Ken Jacobs’ Seeking the Monkey King is showing Saturday at Anthology as part of a program presented in support of Occupy Wall Street. An exhilarating audiovisual workout that simultaneously engages multiple parts of the brain, Jacobs’s 40-minute movie is a sort of hallucinatory jeremiad. Read more… Read more – ‘American History, from the Mind of Ken Jacobs, in Seeking the Monkey King’.
You Be the Judge in the High-Stakes Iranian Legal Drama, A Separation
A Separation—the fifth feature by Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi—is an urgently shot courtroom drama designed to put you in the jury box. Dispensing with preliminaries, it opens at a judicial hearing where, facing the camera that stands in for the judge, a quarrelsome husband and wife each make their case. Read more… Read more – ‘You Be the Judge in the High-Stakes Iranian Legal Drama, A Separation’.
Looking Back on Laura
Strange by even film noir standards, Otto Preminger’s 1944 Laura, which is showing in a new 35mm print at Film Forum, starts out with a voiceover narration delivered from beyond the grave by hornet queen Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb):) “I will never forget the weekend Laura died.” Read more… Read more – ‘Looking Back on Laura’.
The Year in Film: J. Hoberman’s Personal Best
The past 12 months brought a number of powerful, introspective, big-theme cine-statements, many of them by old masters (see below). Some pondered history—as well as its end. A few upended the old-fashioned movie-house paradigm. In recognition of the medium’s ongoing mutation, my annual list is bookended by two such extra-theatrical projections. Read more… Read more – ‘The Year in Film: J. Hoberman’s Personal Best’.
The Year in Film: Handicapping the Poll
“A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees,” per William Blake. Ain’t that the truth! Although listed by barely half of the 95 participating voters, Terrence Malick’s polarizing Tree of Life sits comfortably atop the 2011 Voice Film Critics’ Poll. Part Brakhage, part Tarkovsky, part Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang, Malick’s cosmic […] Read more – ‘The Year in Film: Handicapping the Poll’.
Taming Creatures: WWI gets Spielberg’d, Fincher’s new girl in town
Consummate technicians with bankable interests and personal trademarks, Steven Spielberg and David Fincher are something more than auteurs, but also something less—closer to skilled craftsmen than creative artists. Read more – ‘Taming Creatures: WWI gets Spielberg’d, Fincher’s new girl in town’.
Former Prom Queen Tries to Go Home Again in Young Adult
Described as a “psychotic prom-queen bitch,” the anti-heroine of Young Adult is a prize part that affords Charlize Theron one of the season’s prize performances—although, to judge from the voting at the New York Film Critics Circle conclave last week, few of my colleagues seem to agree. Read more… Read more – ‘Former Prom Queen Tries to Go Home Again in Young Adult’.
Back to the Cold War with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the 1974 spy novel generally regarded as the writer’s finest, is predicated on a pair of enigmatic personalities: the colorless bureaucratic master-spook George Smiley and the double agent the Soviets have planted near the top of British intelligence whom Smiley must unmask. Although not without violence, the novel […] Read more – ‘Back to the Cold War with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’.
Harvey Weinstein is Back — NY Film Critics
The big news to emerge from yesterday’s New York Film Critics Circle voting–held early this year to scoop the other year end awards–is, of course, the second coming of homeboy Harvey Weinstein. Not only was The Artist voted best picture and its director Michel Hazanavicius anointed Best Director but NYFCC perennial Meryl Streep, who stars […] Read more – ‘Harvey Weinstein is Back — NY Film Critics’.
Extreme Sex Addiction in Shame; Extreme Everything in Possession
Steve McQueen‘s first two films both star Michael Fassbender, feature virtually interchangeable titles, and are nearly as grueling to watch as they must have been to make. But where Shame might be almost as excruciating as 2008′s Hunger, it’s a lot less exalted. In Hunger, Fassbender’s imprisoned Irish revolutionary Bobby Sands starved himself to death; […] Read more – ‘Extreme Sex Addiction in Shame; Extreme Everything in Possession’.
Birth of Psychoanalysis in A Dangerous Method; Last Days of the Brothel in House of Pleasures
A Dangerous Method, the title of David Cronenberg’s viscerally cerebral new film, is something of an understatement. As cataclysmic as it is, this historically scrupulous science-fiction romance concerning the discovery of the unconscious mind might have been titled War of the Worlds or The Beast From 5,000 Fathoms. Adapted by Christopher Hampton from his play, […] Read more – ‘Birth of Psychoanalysis in A Dangerous Method; Last Days of the Brothel in House of Pleasures’.
Fantasy Island: Alexander Payne’s Feel-Good Hawaiian Excursion, The Descendants
As life-or-death dramedy, The Descendants poses several important questions: Why has it taken Alexander Payne seven years to follow up on his critically beloved, box-office boffo, merlot-squelching Sideways? And what has blunted this gifted writer-director’s edge? Payne topped his debut feature, the provocatively obnoxious abortion comedy Citizen Ruth (1996), with Election (1999), an even sharper […] Read more – ‘Fantasy Island: Alexander Payne’s Feel-Good Hawaiian Excursion, The Descendants’.
Satirizing War in Technicolor: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
For those combatant nations able to produce movies, World War II inspired all manner of morale-boosting epics. The Nazis conjured up the period extravaganza Kolberg; Japan released The War at Sea From Hawaii to Malaya. Hollywood uncorked Since You Went Away and, on behalf of our Soviet allies, Song of Russia. The Russians themselves had […] Read more – ‘Satirizing War in Technicolor: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp’.
Robert Gardner’s Visions
A man of many worlds, Robert Gardner is a descendent of Boston aristocrat Isabella Stewart Gardner (as in the Museum), the founder (and funder) of Harvard’s Film Study Center, and mainly the globetrotting ethno-aesthete of American cinema—a filmmaker whose documentaries have been hailed by the avant-garde’s godfather Stan Brakhage and anthropology’s grand dame Margaret Meade. […] Read more – ‘Robert Gardner’s Visions’.
Great Man Theories: Clint Eastwood on J. Edgar
A resounding “yes” to the question trembling on every lip: There is life after Hereafter! Clint Eastwood goes deep into Oliver Stone territory and emerges victorious with J. Edgar. Although hardly flawless, Eastwood’s biopic is his richest, most ambitious movie since the Letters From Iwo Jima–Flags of Our Fathers duo, if not Unforgiven. Read more Read more – ‘Great Man Theories: Clint Eastwood on J. Edgar’.
Not With a Whimper But a Bang: The End Times of Melancholia
The first thing you see in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia is a tight close-up of Kirsten Dunst’s face. Behind her, slow as molasses, birds are dropping from the sky. Brueghel’s The Flight of Icarus turns leisurely to ash; a passage from Tristan und Isolde swells on the soundtrack as lightning bolts flash from Dunst’s fingertips. […] Read more – ‘Not With a Whimper But a Bang: The End Times of Melancholia’.
Deserved Second Act for Paul Newman’s Sometimes a Great Notion
One great thing about Paris: New prints of old movies from the ’70s, ’60s, and even the ’50s get extended runs in large theaters, apropos of nothing. A nice thing about New York: It sometimes happens here, too, as with this week’s revivals of François Truffaut’s 1968 The Bride Wore Black and Paul Newman’s 1971 […] Read more – ‘Deserved Second Act for Paul Newman’s Sometimes a Great Notion’.
The Ghost of Hunter Thompson, A Tame Rum Diary
Written and directed by Bruce Robinson, The Rum Diary is what the Brits might call a rum movie—an oddly inoffensive piece and a personal project for its disconcertingly unengaged star, Johnny Depp. … Read more – ‘The Ghost of Hunter Thompson, A Tame Rum Diary’.
Pop Art Movement: On Roy Lichtenstein’s Three Landscapes
However commonplace today, gallery video or film installations were once seen as blatantly vanguard—evidence of art’s forward march beyond the portable, static object. A bit of this history is excavated at the Whitney with the belated local premiere of painter Roy Lichtenstein’s sole excursion into motion pictures, the 1969 installation Three Landscapes. Read more Read more – ‘Pop Art Movement: On Roy Lichtenstein’s Three Landscapes’.
The Perils of Communal Living in Martha Marcy May Marlene
As taut and economical as its title is unwieldy, Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene—a first feature that won the Best Director award last January at Sundance—is a deft, old-school psychological thriller (or perhaps horror film) that relies mainly on the power of suggestion and memories of hippie cult crazies… Read more Read more – ‘The Perils of Communal Living in Martha Marcy May Marlene’.
Dream Act: Town Rallies to Help an Immigrant in Utopian Le Havre
Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre is something of a comeback for the Finnish filmmaker. His warmhearted comedy of underdog working-class solidarity, made with a mixed Finnish-French-Senegalese cast in the French port city Le Havre…Read More Read more – ‘Dream Act: Town Rallies to Help an Immigrant in Utopian Le Havre’.
To Save and Project Fest: Long Live Cinema!
Digital might be the future of the motion-picture medium, but for film preservation, it’s a mixed blessing. Archivists polled in a recent Cineaste make it clear that digital technology is part of the solution—and part of the problem. Read more… Read more – ‘To Save and Project Fest: Long Live Cinema!’.
Weekend: When Godard Burned the Movie House Down
Jean-Luc Godard changed the course of film history with his debut Breathless (1960) and then again when he capped an unprecedented seven-year run with... Read more – ‘Weekend: When Godard Burned the Movie House Down’.
NYFF: The Lineup, Plus 5 Must-Sees
Golden anniversary approaching, the New York Film Festival maintains a singular position. Because it’s curated rather than competitive, the annua... Read more – ‘NYFF: The Lineup, Plus 5 Must-Sees’.
The Long Journey to Goodbye in Silent Souls
Russian director Aleksei Fedorchenko surfaced here back in 2005 with First on the Moon, an eccentric, wistful mockumentary inventing a Soviet lunar mi... Read more – ‘The Long Journey to Goodbye in Silent Souls’.
Ryan Gosling at the Wheel in the Retro Thrill Ride Drive
As stripped-down and propulsive as its robotic title, Drive is the most "American" movie yet by Danish genre director Nicolas Winding Refn. The film, ... Read more – ‘Ryan Gosling at the Wheel in the Retro Thrill Ride Drive’.
George Kuchar 1942-2011
​George Kuchar, the Bronx-raised filmmaker who began his career, along with twin brother Mike, at age 12, died this week in San Francisco after ... Read more – ‘George Kuchar 1942-2011’.
The Struggle: Black Power Mixtape and Bobby Fischer
"The revolution will not be televised." So Gil Scott-Heron asserted in 1970, and so it was not—at least not on American TV. As demonstrated by T... Read more – ‘The Struggle: Black Power Mixtape and Bobby Fischer’.
On Fire: Tsui Hark Back in Action with Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
Tsui Hark's visually sumptuous Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame is a strong comeback for the veteran Hong Kong wuxia-maker and anoth... Read more – ‘On Fire: Tsui Hark Back in Action with Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame’.
Serge Gainsbourg Boxed into a Biopic in Heroic Life
Sometimes it's easier for life to imitate art than vice versa—witness French cartoonist Joann Sfar's first feature, an ambitious attempt to cage... Read more – ‘Serge Gainsbourg Boxed into a Biopic in Heroic Life’.
The Good Old Days: Tales From the Golden Age and "Ostalgia"
The 1990s coinage ostalgie, which combines the German words for "east" and "nostalgia," describes a particular sort of longing. Ostalgie is not so muc... Read more – ‘The Good Old Days: Tales From the Golden Age and "Ostalgia"’.
Raul Ruiz, 1941-2011
​One of the most innovative and prolific narrative filmmakers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Chilean-born, Paris-based director Raul... Read more – ‘Raul Ruiz, 1941-2011’.
Robert Breer, 1926-2011
​A pioneering kinetic sculptor, a key member of the great generation of American avant-garde filmmakers, and one of the most influential animato... Read more – ‘Robert Breer, 1926-2011’.
With Friends Like These: John Sayles on the Philippine-American War in Amigo
John Sayles's Amigo aspires more to educate than entertain, but it's no less engrossing for that. Torn from the pages of history, if not those of Sayl... Read more – ‘With Friends Like These: John Sayles on the Philippine-American War in Amigo’.
On the Long and Winding Road of Raul Ruiz’s Epic Mysteries of Lisbon
Say what you will about 19th-century literature—they had stories in those days (and stories within stories). None of the 260 books authored by C... Read more – ‘On the Long and Winding Road of Raul Ruiz’s Epic Mysteries of Lisbon’.
Acid Flashback: On the Road with Ken Kesey’s Magic Trip
The subject of Magic Trip is the LSD-powered, cross-country road movie orchestrated by novelist Ken Kesey in the summer of '64. More than a footnote b... Read more – ‘Acid Flashback: On the Road with Ken Kesey’s Magic Trip’.
In The Future, Miranda July Grows Up
Is there such thing as a sincerely calculated naïveté? Or put another way, does Miranda July have any idea of how annoying she is? On the... Read more – ‘In The Future, Miranda July Grows Up’.
Shooting to Kill and Kill Again in French Adrenaline Pumper Point Blank
Point Blank, a French action film that has nothing to do with the 1967 (and highly Frenchified) John Boorman flick of the same name, opens with a bang... Read more – ‘Shooting to Kill and Kill Again in French Adrenaline Pumper Point Blank’.
Warren William: As Titan of Industry, King of Pre-Code
The talkies came, the stock market crashed, and Hollywood ran a race against hysteria. For those who like their movies short, snappy, and sensational,... Read more – ‘Warren William: As Titan of Industry, King of Pre-Code’.
Back to the Future: World on a Wire Is Just in Time
A virtually unknown, newly restored 1973 two-part telefilm directed by long-gone wunderkind R.W. Fassbinder at the height of his powers, World on a Wi... Read more – ‘Back to the Future: World on a Wire Is Just in Time’.
Scandal and Subjective Reality in Errol Morris’s Tabloid
As a documentarian, Errol Morris is less a humanist than a connoisseur of “human interest,” and Tabloid, his ecstatically received and queas... Read more – ‘Scandal and Subjective Reality in Errol Morris’s Tabloid’.
Ghetto Bards: Romeo & Juliet in Yiddish and Sholem Aleichem
Where once there were millions, there are now, at best, a few hundred thousand Yiddish speakers—mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews, klezmer revivalists, ... Read more – ‘Ghetto Bards: Romeo & Juliet in Yiddish and Sholem Aleichem’.
Robert Sklar, 1936-2011
​The New York film community was shocked and saddened this past weekend upon receiving news that Robert Sklar, longtime pillar of NYU's Departme... Read more – ‘Robert Sklar, 1936-2011’.
High School Outcast Finds His Place in Terri
A genially despised genre appealing to a constant and constantly expanding demographic, the high school movie has for years provided ambitious or oddb... Read more – ‘High School Outcast Finds His Place in Terri’.
Mystery Killer on the Loose, Observed, in Aurora
Romanian director Cristi Puiu’s follow-up to The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, a bleak comedy following a dying man from hospital to hospital, is in so... Read more – ‘Mystery Killer on the Loose, Observed, in Aurora’.
Cannes 2011
May 11 The Quest to Avoid Lady Ga-Ga Begins May 13 Good Movies Where Are You? May 16 The Tree of Life May 17 Cannes Has Issues May 18 Melancholia. Wow. May 19 Lars von Trier Kicked Out May 20 We the Jury May 23 The Winners May 25 Cannes Outdoes Itself Read more – ‘Cannes 2011’.