This morning, Independent Spirit Award nominations were announced, boasting a diverse group of emerging artists and acclaimed filmmakers from Todd Haynes and Ed Lachman to Sean Baker and Cary Joji Fukunaga. The awards will be presented on February 27st so check out a selection of the nominees below and for the full list head here.
Best Feature Anomalisa Producers: Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman, Dino Stamatopoulos, Rosa Tran
Beasts of No Nation Producers: Daniel Crown, Idris Elba, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Amy Kaufman, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Riva Marker
Carol Producers: Elizabeth Karlsen, Christine Vachon, Stephen Woolley
Spotlight Producers: Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar
Tangerine Producers: Sean Baker, Karrie Cox, Marcus Cox, Darren Dean, Shih-Ching Tsou
Best Director Sean Baker, Tangerine Cary Joji Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation Todd Haynes, Carol
Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, Anomalisa
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
David Robert Mitchell, It Follows
Best Screenplay Charlie Kaufman, Anomalisa
Donald Margulies, The End of the Tour
Phyllis Nagy, Carol
Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight
S. Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk
Best First Feature The Diary of a Teenage Girl Director: Marielle Heller
Producers: Miranda Bailey, Anne Carey, Bert Hamelinck, Madeline Samit
James White Director: Josh Mond
Producers: Max Born, Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin, Melody Roscher, Eric Schultz
Manos Sucias Director: Josef Kubota Wladyka
Producers: Elena Greenlee, Márcia Nunes
Mediterranea Director: Jonas Carpignano
Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Chris Columbus, Jon Coplon, Christoph Daniel, Andrew Kortschak, John Lesher, Ryan Lough, Justin Nappi, Alain Peyrollaz, Gwyn Sannia, Marc Schmidheiny, Victor Shapiro, Ryan Zacarias
Songs My Brothers Taught Me Director/Producer: Chloé Zhao
Producers: Mollye Asher, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Angela C. Lee, Forest Whitaker
Best First Screenplay Jesse Andrews, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Joseph Carpignano, Mediterranea
Emma Donoghue, Room
Marielle Heller, The Diary of a Teenage Girl John Magary, Russell Harbaugh, Myna Joseph, The Mend
Best Male Lead Christopher Abbott, James White
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea
Best Female Lead Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriquez, Tangerine
Best Supporting Male Kevin Corrigan, Results
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Best Supporting Female Robin Bartlett, H.
Marin Ireland, Glass Chin
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anomalisa
Cynthia Nixon, James White
Mya Taylor, Tangerine
Best Documentary (T)error Directors/Producers: Lyric R. Cabral & David Felix Sutcliffe
Producer: Christopher St. John Best of Enemies Directors/Producers: Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville
Heart of Dog Director/Producer: Laurie Anderson
Producer: Dan Janvey
Re-run in celebration of FIAF’s “Theater & Cinema” series. Clouds of Sils Maria will screen this afternoon and this evening. Get your tickets here.
With his last film, Something in the Air, filmmaker Olivier Assayas revisited the sentiment of his profound and poetic early films to give an autobiographical look at an artist’s coming of age. With his latest cinematic endeavor, Clouds of Sils Maria, the acclaimed French director again reaches into the past—but this time through the eyes of the performer, re-teaming with one of his first collaborators, actress Juliette Binoche. Exactly 30 years ago, Assayas received his first screenwriting credit on André Téchiné’s César Award-winning Rendez-vous, the film which also catapulted Juliette Binoche to international stardom. Whereas that film told the story of an ingenue on the precipice of her career, Clouds of Sils Maria brings us into the world of seasoned, internationally celebrated actress, Maria Enders, at the peak of her career.
Written for and around Binoche, the film begins when Enders is invited to perform in the revival of the play that made her a star twenty years prior. Having originally played the role of Sigrid (an enticing young woman who drives her boss, Helena, to kill herself), now in her matured age Enders must take on the role of Helena, opposite an infamous tabloid-dwelling Hollywood starlet (Chloë Grace Moretz). To prepare for the role, Enders escapes to Sils Maria, an isolated and serene location in the French Alps. To help her rehearse, she brings along her devoted assistant, Valentine, played by Kristen Stewart in the most wonderfully nuanced and natural performance of her career—and one which made her the first American woman to win France’s César Award. With Assayas’ keen sensitivity to the human condition and the everyday suffering of artistic expression, Clouds of Sils Maria unfolds as an intimate and cerebral chamber drama that hits at the nexus of between performance, celebrity, and empathy.
Earlier this year during the New York Film Festival, I sat down with Assayas to discuss how Binoche lured him into making this film, the weird energy of Kristen Stewart, and how woman are far more interesting subjects than men.
Looking back at Something in the Air, this film feels like a strong departure from that and in a very different register—was that a conscious decision for you?
Yeah, I mean this film kind of happened to me, and it came to me via Juliette Binoche. She’s the one who said to me, “Why don’t we make a film together?” It was not planned; there was no strategy there.
Is that how you generally approach most of your films?
Yes, although some are more concrete. When I’m making a movie like Carlos, I make it because it comes to me in a weird way, and then it grows and grows. I try to get rid of it, but it doesn’t go away, so I end up having to do it. Something in the Air was more controlled, and it was something I knew I wanted to make and knew it was the right time to make it. This movie, in a certain way it echoes movies I’ve done, like Irma Vep, which also dealt with an actress playing her own part. It’s also an extremely different film, but ultimately has something to do with a part of my life, which is this relationship with Juliette Binoche.
We started together and met via cinema because we were both involved in this movie, Rendez-vous, thirty years ago. That was her first big part as an actress and basically put her on the map and it was my first screenwriting credit, which really helped my career. So when Juliette calls me and says we should make a movie together, it’s something that has an instant echo and means something. I know why she’s calling me and saying that, and I know she has a point even if I don’t know what that point is yet at the time.
What is it about Juliette as an actor and a woman that continues to fascinate you?
It’s extremely difficult to answer that question and be completely honest about it. Juliette has done a million things and has such a big career, and my initial doubts in doing this film were about what I can do with her that she has not done a million times. I wanted to make something that wouldn’t feel like we were going over the same ground and doing the same thing over and over again, so it had to be something that would make the film interesting to me and to her. It was not a given, like, oh wow we’re going to make a film together, it was more cautious.
I know she’d made films with Abbas Kiarostami, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Bruno Dumont, and she ‘s done all those movies in the past with Leos Carax—so where do I fit in? What can I bring her that is very specifically what she has not already done. The reason I called her back three days later and said, yeah, maybe let’s try, is because I felt that she had never really played herself. So why not turn the problem around and instead of thinking of what kind of part I could write for Juliette, why not try to imagine what kind of movie I could build around her, using whatever I know of her as the inspiration for the film.
So is this a story you would not have told if not for her involvement?
No, it’s a movie that totally has its roots in what I know of Juliette, what I don’t know of her, and what I fantasize about her. It’s also the echo of our shared past. In a sense that Rendez-vous was a movie about how a very young girl becomes an actress, it ends in more of less the same place where Sils Maria ended. I haven’t seen the movie more or less since it was made, so I’m not sure I remember everything precisely, but it’s kind of a ghost story and deals with life, art, and creation. So this movie is totally fueled by our shared memories and the personality of Juliette, with the fact that she has a career in French and English.
I’ve always thought of Juliette as a woman who transcends age. Of course she has to deal with it internally, but in her roles and performances, she simply continues to evolve.
Exactly, yes. Let’s say that’s part of the subject of the film, it’s how some actresses have the capacity to transcend aging but still have to deal with it in one way or another. I suppose I would have made a similar movie around Isabelle Huppert.
After making your last two films with male protagonists, was it refreshing to go back and tell a woman’s story? Do you find you connect to women more as an artist?
Yes, yes. I missed it. It inspires me. Although in different ways, most of my movies were really centered on woman. It’s only in the last stage of my career that I’ve been getting somewhat interested in making boys films. It’s mostly because I had never made them so all of a sudden there was something new about it for me, but my inspiration has mostly been about women. It’s always very hard to explain or understand, but it has to do with that fact that woman are more interesting.
Historically, they are in a more interesting position. The position of women in modern society is changing, and it’s transforming society. Contemporary woman have to deal with reinventing their position in society, regarding their work, family, and their love life. It’s the most important change in modern society, so it’s exciting because there are more interesting dynamics than the identity of men who feel threatened, which basically creates the worst and most stupid aspects of modern society.
How did Kristen Stewart come into the picture? Considering you wrote the film around Juliette, did you initially have anyone in mind to play opposite her?
Not really. I didn’t write with someone specific in mind. I just know that the moment I sat down and started imagining who could be Valentin, the name of Kristen instantly jumped from the page.
Was there a particular role of hers that caught your attention?
I liked her in every movie I’ve seen of her. Even in movie like The Runaways, I thought she was so amazing as Joan Jett. I was not so fond of the film, I think it could have a million times better, but the way she grasped that character and embodied it, it was believable. She had that punk rock energy, and few actresses can do that. I met her a couple of times in real life, thanks to my producer because he had produced On the Road and they became friends. That film was in festivals when Something in the Air was traveling around, so we bumped into each other a few times. I really liked her, and I liked her presence. She has a weird presence, but she has a kind of intensity, which is what translates best on screen.
She and Juliette have a simpatico relationship and fantastic energy between them. Was that something that grew instantly and organically or did you work with them to build that dynamic?
It just happened. I don’t work with actors, I film them, but I don’t work with them in the sense that I don’t rehearse. I don’t do reading and I don’t give them comments on the psychology of the character or backstories. I’m just not interested in that, it bores me to death. I believe in spontaneity and recording in the documentary way of what happens when the actors say the lines for the first time. So you can say I film rehearsals, but another way of putting it is, that what you see in the film happens to be rehearsals, it’s like the first time they say those words, and it’s magical.
That’s where I connected the most with Kristen. I’m less organically attached to Juliette’s process. She needs to work and she needs rehearsal, but I did not give her rehearsal. She needs a coach, but I did not give her a coach. She kind of resents that still, but it’s not my culture and I don’t like it. If they want to rehearse in front of the mirror in the bathroom, I don’t have a problem with it, I just don’t want to know about it. I just want to know that whenever they are on set things will come out with a certain degree of spontaneity. So Kristen is the opposite of Juliette in that way—she learns her lines in the morning and thinks she’s done after we’ve filmed one or two takes.
That’s also evident in their characters and performances, as Juliette/Maria is so heightened and theatrical, whereas Kristen/Valentine provides a more mellow, naturalistic foil.
Exactly, and ultimately it’s not really something you can predict. You don’t know what is going to happen between two actresses in a scene. They could have disliked each other because they’d never met, so anything could have happened. Here we were extremely lucky that there was this instant bond between them and an instant connection.
Thinking of the discussions in the film, do find that theater imitates life more than life imitates theater?
Let’s suppose art is what happens at a later stage and is what happens when a playwright is writing. In the middle, what is happening is a human being trying to understand the emotions of another human being. We not so much into art as within struggling to be able to share the suffering and emotion of the fellow human being. It’s very basic and the beauty of what acting is about. Actors, they’re simultaneously part of the artistic process, they’re part of the creation, and what they bring is some human reality. They can’t fake it, they have to find one way or another to go beyond the issue of art and make it about understanding.
I could sense some strong connections between this film and R.W. Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Did that serve as a reference for you?
Yes, very early on. It was actually the first idea I had. I thought they would be rehearsing Petra von Kant, but then I realized that it didn’t exactly fit in, it’s the wrong pacing. When you’re dealing with a play there are a lot of words involved, so Petra was not the same rhythm and it’s much longer scenes than whatever I could afford if I wanted to make this movie interesting. So I had to make an extremely condensed version of some key moments from Petra von Kant.
Clouds of Sils Maria begins its theatrical run this weekend at IFC Center.
It’s been over a decade since the final episode of The X-Files and we’re still longing for more. We’ve wanted to believe our favorite duo, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully would return to our screens, and now our wishes have come to fruition. Fox has just announcedthat The X-Files’ six-episode revival event will have its premiere Sunday, January 24, at 10 p.m. Following Sunday’s debut, the show will move to Mondays at 8 p.m.
Stayed tuned, as more info is sure to roll in, and in the meantime, take a look back on some of our favorite Mulder/Scully moments below and revisit the whole series on Netflix streaming now.
Come July, it’s not only the heat that’s going to make you work up a sweat, as Magic Mike XXL finally lap dances its way into the world. As the follow up to 2012’s Magic Mike, we’re all going to be swooning as Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, and Joe Manganiello hit the stage for another round of stripteasing delight. Bowing out from the directing duties, this time around Steven Soderbergh plays cinematographer, editor, and producer to the film, with Gregory Jacobs in the hot seat as director and Tatum as cowriter.
Adding Jada Pinkett Smith, Amber Heard, Michael Strahan and Elizabeth Banks to the cast, this time the movie won’t only be confined to one steamy location, as Jacob tells Peoplethat, “It’s a road-trip picture. Mike and the guys get back together, and adventure ensues…They look incredible…Their shirts are off an appropriate amount, let’s put it that way! I don’t think anyone’s going to be disappointed.” Bless.
And today you can see a sexy new trailer for Magic Mike XXL. So to celebrate, and because let’s be honest, any day is a good day to celebrate Channing Tatum, enjoy a look back on some of the multi-talented hunk-actor-producer-writer’s finest moments—from the magic that is 21 and 22 Jump Street to his performances in such dramas as Side Effects and Foxcatcher. Check out the trailer below.
Brother-sister duo The Fontaines know they can’t be pigeonholed. Merging the eclectic sounds of dream pop band Beach House and American jazz legend Miles Davis, two of their most prominent inspirations, nineteen-year-old Charlotte and twenty-four-year-old Hank are calling their sound “New-Wop.” While it certainly falls into a category of retro pop, their creations unswervingly escape any poignant comparisons.
Premiering today on BlackBook, the duo’s video for “Charlotte Fontaine” continues the unavoidable familial feel to the band and their music, introducing a nearly comical stage mom vs. pageant daughter storyline to accompany the swoon-worthy track and its quirky finish. “This video was inspired by hours spent watching ‘Heathers’ and ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High’,” says Hank. “I wanting to do something a little bit in that vein.”
Check out the video below, and learn more about The Fontaines here.
From David Cronenberg at BAM and Jean Renoir at FIAF to Bonello at Film Society and Elaine May at MoMa, check out the 15 films you should be seeing in New York.
***MONDAY, MAY 4***
MIKEY AND NICKY, Elaine May MoMA
This is a weeklong run of MoMA’s recently struck 35mm print of Mikey and Nicky, the third of Elaine May’s brilliant contributions to 1970s American cinema, after A New Leafand The Heartbreak Kid. (Ishtar, from 1987, also has its fierce partisans.) In this noir chamber piece, set over a long, tense night in some of the seedier redoubts of Philadelphia, a jittery John Cassavetes becomes convinced that a local mobster has put a price on his head. As he looks to childhood friend and small-time crook Peter Falk for salvation, old wounds and new treacheries arise.
On the run after killing a molesting stepfather, dressed-as-a-boy Louise Brooks is befriended by Richard Arlen and falls in with Wallace Beery’s band of hoboes. Long-thought-lost silent classic, with Brooks’ best pre-German work and dazzling location work on speeding trains. William Wellman, Jr., author of a new memoir, Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel (published by Pantheon), will introduce the screening. Copies of Mr. Wellman’s book will be available for sale at our concession, with book signing to follow the screening.
Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) in command. But on a seemingly routine mission, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone—tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space. “Shows us the glory of cinema’s future” (Time).
Other Gravity – Trisha Baga
Multimedia artist Trisha Baga, whose work explores “the acts of looking and recognizing, and the gap in between,” created this 3D projection for her 2013 mixed-media installation, Gravity, named after Cuarón’s film.
HOUSE OF PLEASURES, Bertrand Bonello The Film Society of Lincoln Center
“I could sleep for a thousand years,” drawls a 19th-century prostitute—paraphrasing Lou Reed—at the start of Bonello’s hushed, opium-soaked fever dream of life in a Parisian brothel at the turn of the century. House of Pleasures is, among other things, Bonello’s most gorgeous and complete application of musical techniques to film grammar, his most rigorous attempt to sculpt cinematic space, his most probing reflection on the origins of capitalist society, and his most sophisticated study of the movement of bodies under immense constraint. A shocking mutilation, a funeral staged to The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin,” a progression of ritualized, drugged assignations and encounters: Bonello captures it all with a mixture of casual detachment and needlepoint precision.
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST, Bertrand Bonello The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Bertrand Bonello stars as “Bertrand,” a filmmaker approaching his next project with a peculiar obsession—monstrosity. Convinced it should be the central theme of his film, he fixates on the notion of monstrous imagery, visiting museums and even hiring a mysterious art historian (played simultaneously by Jeanne Balibar and Géraldine Pailhas) to help him find the painting that best embodies the idea (considering works by Francis Bacon, Caravaggio, and others). But to his shock, the mania consuming his mind begins to manifest itself in his body as a monstrous red stain takes shape on his back. A disquieting yet fascinating (and funny!) mixture of body horror and character study, co-starring Barbet Schroeder as a physician and Joana Preiss as Bertrand’s wife, Barbe.
Set in a country manor, this classic farce follows members of high society—smartly dressed in Chanel— as they sit down to extravagant dinners, hunt rabbits, get ready for a costume ball, and sneak in and out of each other’s bedrooms. Made just before the outbreak of the second World War, Renoir’s labyrinthine film is a powerful and prescient satire of a philandering ruling class.
She has a shock of white hair, signature thick, round black glasses – and is adorned by a vast number of fabulous bracelets and necklaces. You’ve probably seen Iris Apfel at galleries, openings, flea markets, and in the pages of The New York Times’s Styles section. “My mother worshipped at the altar of the accessory,” confides the 93-year-old fashion icon to 87-year-old legendary documentarian Albert Maysles, long famous (with his brother David) forSALESMAN, GIMME SHELTER, and GREY GARDENS. Iris is a master of bravura style: mixing valuable antiques, colorful plastic doodads, Native American handicrafts, and high-end costume pieces, all to wonderful effect. The furthest thing from an empty-headed fashionista, she is witty and disarming, unpretentious, and full of the kind of wisdom you wish your grandmother had imparted.
Losing the Thread – Vivian Ostrovsky
Complemented by Vivian Ostrovsky’s short paean to fashion, LOSING THE THREAD. In the spirit of Iris Apfel, it’s a funny and stylish compendium that conflates Coco Chanel, Charles Bukowski, Fellini’s 8½, Soviet fabrics from the 1920s, Man Ray’s art, and much else.
Movies on the Radio and Spinning on Air host David Garland comes to BAM to discuss the work of three-time Academy Award-winning film composer Howard Shore, who wrote the music for this brilliant mind-melter. A writer and cockroach exterminator (Weller) gets hooked on his own insecticide, accidentally kills his wife, and winds up in the frighteningly surreal Interzone, where typewriters transform into giant talking bugs and shadowy agents peddle a drug called The Black Meat. William S. Burroughs’ bizarro Beat novel finds its perfect interpreter in David Cronenberg, who brings it to the screen with all its weirdness and melancholy fully intact.
1932. USA. Directed by David Butler. With Will Rogers, Jetta Goudal, Joel McCrea. Business and Pleasure is one in a series of “Innocents Abroad” comedies from Fox Film Corp. featuring the Oklahoma sage Will Rogers as a no-nonsense Midwesterner forced to contend with the cultural eccentricities of foreign lands. This time, Rogers is an aw-shucks manufacturer of razor blades whose family vacation in Arabia provides cover for his attempt to purchase the secret of “Damascus steel” from Bedouin chief Boris Karloff. McCrea is a stuffy New York playwright who warms to the blue eyes of Rogers’s corn-fed daughter (Peggy Ross), while silent star Jetta Goudal, in her final film, employs her own heavily lidded orbs to vamp Rogers on behalf of his business rivals. Rare 16mm print. 78 min.
THE SPEECH OF PRIME MINISTER TANAKA and HOME TOWN MoMA
The Speech of Prime Minister Tanka – Kenji Mizoguchi
1928. Japan. “The only surviving film produced by Showa Kinema, the first company of pioneering sound-film producer Yoshizo Minagawa, records a speech by conservative Prime Minister Giichi Tanaka, who served from from 1927 to 1929, when he resigned after a dispute with the Emperor. The film features Tanaka standing in front of black drapes, talking directly into the camera as he presents his position on issues ranging from the economy to diplomacy and foreign policy. The identity of the cameraman is unknown, as is the exact date of shooting, but the film passed state censorship on February 6th, 1928, shortly before elections for the House of Representatives, the lower house of Japan’s Diet. As a historical record, the film is important since it not only constitutes Japan’s earliest surviving sound film, but also provides a record of concerns central to Japanese politics in the late 1920s.” In Japanese; English subtitles. 6 min.
Home Town – Kenji Mizoguchi
1930. Japan. Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. With Yoshie Fujiwara, Shizue Natsukawa, Isamu Kosugi, Takako Irie. “Home Town was the first sound film both of its director, Kenji Mizoguchi, and of his studio, Nikkatsu, who co-produced it with sound-film pioneer Yoshizo Minagawa’s second company, Mina Talkie. Yoshie Fujiwara, a European-trained tenor who was the leading Japanese opera singer of the time, played the lead role. A part-talkie, it combines the mobile camerawork of the scenes shot silent with a self-conscious exploration of the rich potential of the new medium, especially in the use of the title song as performed by Fujiwara. The star’s fame, coupled with the novelty of sound, helped to win a limited degree of commercial success and some favourable reviews for this entertaining melodrama. As Mark LeFanu writes, ‘the soundtrack brings Tokyo to life. There is a fine sense of documentary immediacy…. As in many films on the cusp of the silent era, sound is used here with an experimental confidence—a verve, a bravura—that was subsequently lost as sound movies “naturalised” themselves by concentrating merely on registering dialogue clearly.'” In Japanese; English subtitles. 86 min.
1934. Japan. Directed by Yasujiro Shimazu. With Yukichi Iwata, Choko Iida, Yumeko Aizome, Yoshiko Okada, Den Obinata. “Our Neighbour, Miss Yae is considered the representative work of director Yasujrio Shimazu, and one of the major achievements of the 1930s shomin-geki (the drama of the urban lower middle class). Shimazu’s penchant for understated melodrama and his blending of humour and pathos are perfectly expressed in this delicate study of family life and romance. Both in tone and style (an often static camera; a focus on the resonances of interior spaces), comparisons with Ozu are almost inevitable, but Shimazu’s looser, somewhat less formal style has its own distinctive pleasures. Typical of its genre, the film creates characters who are both meticulously detailed individuals and exemplary of the 1930s Japanese family as a whole, allowing viewers to identify closely with their experiences and feelings. The result is a moving, funny and subtle study of prewar Japanese domestic life.” In Japanese; English subtitles. 76 min.
1932. Japan. Directed by Yasujiro Shimazu. With Yaeko Mizutani, Joji Oka, Ureo Egawa, Choko Iida. “Though little known in the West, Yasujiro Shimazu was a key figure in prewar Japanese cinema, one of the pioneers of the gendai-geki (film of contemporary life), and, as patron of such younger directors as Heinosuke Gosho, Yuzo Kawashima, Keisuke Kinoshita, Senkichi Taniguchi, Shiro Toyoda, and Kozaburo Yoshimura, who served as his assistants at Shochiku, a crucial influence on postwar Japanese film. First Steps Ashore, the story of a sailor who begins a love affair with a woman he saves from suicide, was Shochiku’s second sound film and Shimazu’s first. It is a reworking of Josef von Sternberg’s silent classic The Docks of New York(1928) transplanted to the waterfront of Japan’s cosmopolitan port city, Yokohama. Shimazu’s film borrows some of Sternberg’s lustrous lighting techniques as well as plot elements, but also draws on the influence of Japaneseshinpa (“new school”) theatre. Star Yaeko Mizutani was one of the biggest names both in shinpa and in early Japanese sound film, and her sensual, sultry performance is among the film’s greatest assets.” In Japanese; English subtitles. 88 min.
Soundcheck host John Schaefer joins philosopher Simon Critchley (author of the recently published book Bowie) for a conversation about the film that made David Bowie a screen icon. A human-like alien (played by alien-like human Bowie) crash lands on Earth to retrieve water for his planet, but instead discovers pain, loneliness, and the sick soul of American society. Nicolas Roeg’s science-fiction mind-bender is a provocative parable about diseased capitalism in a television-obsessed culture told in a swirl of hallucinatory imagery.
Indie Rockers Born Cages have a knack for orchestrating refined yet easily-accessible Pop Rock. Previous tracks like “Rolling Down The Hill” have helped to put the up-and-comers on top of the blogosphere, which has since propelled them onto a tour with Dreamers, another one of our favorites.
Premiering today on BlackBook, Born Cages’ new track “Bigger Than Me” is reminiscent of The Killers’ work back in their heyday, when songs like “Somebody Told Me” ruled radio stations. The liberating and infectious single has us feeling ready for summer, although its inspiration stems from a darker source. About the track, which will be on their upcoming album I’m Glad I’m Not Me (out 6/2), singer/guitarist Vlad Holiday says the following:
“I’d been noticing a fan of the band make some rather dark and depressing posts on his Tumblr blog. I suppose I didn’t think too much of it. One day I saw him post a picture from the hospital, with a caption that led me to believe this wasn’t just an accident. When I reached out to him, he told me he attempted suicide by jumping off a five-story parking garage. He told me he was now in recovery, in miraculously good condition actually, but that mentally he was still broken. He told me how music has helped him get through rough times, and specifically how one of our songs did just that. As a musician, I guess that’s one of the greatest goals you can aim for with the music itself – to have it play a role in helping someone get through a terrible time. But in that moment I thought, no – that song didn’t do enough, then. So I started working on ‘Bigger Than Me,’ which was to be the fastest song that’s ever come out of me. The verses describe the specifics of this person’s story (and his then-username “the devil dressed in white”), while other parts of the song reflect things I personally struggle with each day. ‘I wanna lose control of everything I’ve ever known,’ or ‘I wanna be a part of something bigger than me.’ This song ended up becoming very therapeutic for me. The lyrical themes started with this very specific story of a young kid just trying to make it through the next day with his head still screwed on, and ended up with something even broader and more relatable (to me at least) than anything I’ve ever written.”
“Bigger Than Me” is the sixth IG track from the forthcoming album and will be available for sale with the pre-order on May 4th at iTunes here: http://geni.us/borncages.
Sundays may be a “wan, stuff shadow of a robust Saturday” or a day of “forced leisure for folks who have no aptitude for leisure,” but a weekend is still a weekend. We wait for the pleasure of a Friday night, knowing the burdens of the work week have a brief respite, and what better way to indulge seeing some great films—be it new to you treasures or your favorite classics. And this weekend from BAM and MoMA to The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Nitehawk Cinema there are more than enough wonderful films showing for you to happily disappear into. Here are 19 films that have us running straight to the theater.
***FRIDAY, MAY 1***
STEP UP 3D, Jon M. Chu BAM
This visually dazzling hip-hop musical gives filmed dance an innovative 3D update. The wisp of a plot—in which a ragtag group of young New York City hoofers compete to win an epic dance battle—is just a pretext for the nonstop stream of exhilarating dance sequences, in which the novel use of three dimension gives the breathtaking displays of popping, locking, and spinning a visceral jolt.
JON M. Chu’s Bieber is bigger than life in this slick monument to a pop culture sensation. Part behind-the-scenes documentary, part Madison Square Garden concert spectacular, it’s all engagingly engineered to drive legions of tweeny bopper fans to hysterics. For non-Beliebers, it’s a frighteningly effective glimpse of the teen-idol-generating hype machine.
This stereoscopic cinematic collage directed by Nadia Ranocchi and David Zamagni collects fragments of day-to-day routines to explore the ways in which energy is harnessed and expended.
Kubrick meets Stephen King: in the deserted off-season at a massive, isolated resort hotel, new caretaker Jack Nicholson descends into madness, with wife Shelley Duvall and their son the only witnesses. “Critic’s pick! Gloriously diabolical.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times
THE BIG LEBOWSKI, Joel and Ethan Coen Nitehawk Cinema
It may be just, like, our opinion man but the Coen Brother’s The Big Lebowski details cinema’s most loveable loser, Jeffrey Lebowski. Confused with the other Jeffrey Lebowski (the millionaire), his rug gets peed on and that sets off an adventurous chain of events with nihilists, porn producers, writers in iron lungs, and performance artists throughout Los Angeles. But really, man, ‘The Dude’ and his Vietnam-reminiscing partner Walter would much rather be bowling. It’s hard not to just quote the whole movie right here because, let’s face it, we’ve watched it a dozen times and its brilliance only gets better with age. Coitus.
1940. USA. Directed by Roy Del Ruth. Screenplay by Sam Hellman, Darrell Ware, Lynn Starling, John O’Hara, from a story by Erna Lazarus and Scott Darling. With Joel McCrea, Nancy Kelly, Roland Young, Mary Boland, Lyle Talbot. Roy Del Ruth’s minor contribution to the “comedy of remarriage” cycle casts McCrea as an impecunious horse fancier who finds that his alimony payments to his ex-wife (Nancy Kelly) are interfering with his equine interests—so he tries to marry her off to his boring best friend (Lyle Talbot). Complications ensue at a weekend house party hosted by Mary Boland and populated by supporting stalwarts Roland Young, Cesar Romero, and Elisha Cook, Jr. 83 min.
1994. Canada. Directed by Bruce LaBruce. With LaBruce, Stacy Friedrich, Mikey Mike, Chris Teen, Vaginal Creme Davis, Richard Kern. LaBruce’s quasi-autobiographical sophomore effort tells the story of “Bruce,” a porn auteur with avant-garde ambitions. Though he’d made a name for himself with movies like Pay Him as He Lays and My Hustler, Myself, Bruce finds his star fading and his career on the wane; like Marcello Mastroianni in Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, he’s a frustrated director, and like Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8, his passions are the stuff of his undoing. Offering Bruce his last chance at fame is Googie, an up-and-coming art-film darling with designs to exploit his ailing reputation as a way to cement her own. LaBruce delivers this decline-and-fall saga with insouciant wit, all while aggressively lifting elements from film history (“There’s no copyright on a good line,” Bruce muses). Acutely self-aware and replete with hardcore action, this may be the most meta-cinematic blue movie ever made. 100 min.
INGRID CAVEN: MUSIC AND VOICE, Bertrand Bonello The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Part of the cinematic troupe of R.W. Fassbinder (to whom she was briefly married) and the ostensible subject of Jean-Jacques Schuhl’s fictionalized biography Ingrid Caven (winner of the Prix Goncourt), Ingrid Caven is perhaps best known an extraordinary musical performer, a kind of cabaret singer pushing the genre into the 21st century. Filmmaker Bertrand Bonello (House of Pleasures) attended one of her performances at the Cité de la Musique; he was so affected by it that he knew he just had to film her. Caven offers a rich repertoire of songs in French, German and occasionally English; at times, she dispense with words and simply plays with sounds. Her pieces range from traditional ballads to abstract performance pieces. Really a tribute from one artist to another, this is a unique opportunity to experience Ingrid Caven’s special magic.
THE PORNOGRAPHER, Bertrand Bonello The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Bonello emerged as a major filmmaker with this ambitious, tragic meditation on what would become two of his recurring obsessions: the use of sex as economic capital, and the post-’68 state of political radicalism in France. Jean-Pierre Léaud, in a variation on his role in Olivier Assayas’s Irma Vep, plays an aging filmmaker struggling to adapt to a new mode of cinematic production—but in this case, his favored genre is pornography. He’s hoping to reconnect with his estranged son and, at the same time, complete his erotic masterpiece despite the interventions of a crude producer. His inability to realize either hope is, in Bonello’s eyes, a kind of national failure. A film of tough love and great intelligence, The Pornographer laid the groundwork for many of Bonello’s later achievements.
HOUSE BY THE CEMETARY, Lucio Fulci Nitehawk Cinema
A New York professor moves out to the sticks to pick up the work of a colleague who got into a bit of a Shining situation when he murdered his mistress and then killed himself. Undeterred by his friend’s grotesque end, the good doctor packs up the wife and kid and moves into a dilapidated mansion that comes complete with a basement door that’s been nailed shut and a ghostly young girl that constantly tells everyone to get the hell out of there.
Right before the end of the Cold War, John Milius’ Red Dawn taps into the 1980s fear of the possibility of Soviet troops invading small town American. Of course, in good ol’ movie making magic, we see a true American ideal vision as a group of teenagers team together to fight against the common enemy. Through surviving only with hunting rifles, pistols, and bow-and-arrows in the winter and eluding the KGB who hunts them, these “Wolverines” wage a seriously group up guerilla warfare to save themselves, their town, and their country.
1999. Great Britain. Directed by Bruce LaBruce. Cinematography by James Carman. With Steve Masters, Eden Miller, Tom International, Ralph Steel. Produced for the adult film studio Cazzo Film, Skin Flick is simultaneously a work of pornography and a reworking of the genre that is disturbing and titillating in equal measure. The movie revolves around a gang of neo-Nazi London skinheads who lead a life of petty theft, queer bashing, and general thuggery—when not having passionate sex with one another. (The hypocrisy of the situation is lost on them.) Bored and broke, the crew decides to terrorize an interracial gay couple while they’re at home in their bourgeois flat, and the scenes that follow are not soon forgotten. “LaBruce has never been squeamish when it comes to leveling criticism at queer fetishism of race, class, and control,” the artist Scott Treleaven once wrote. “So is it repugnant? Satirical? If it weren’t for LaBruce’s trademark slapstick scenes, caustic commentary, and over-the-top porno flick stylings, it could even be dangerous.” 67 min.
2004. Germany. Directed by Bruce LaBruce. Cinematography by James Carman. With Susanne Sachsse, Daniel Bätscher, Andreas Rupprecht, Dean Monroe, Anton Dickson. In LaBruce’s mercilessly funny lampoon of terrorist chic, a group of leftist German radicals plot to kidnap the son of a wealthy banker, just as the Red Army Faction captured industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer and held him for ransom in 1977. The plot thickens when Gudrun, the leader of the cabal, proclaims that her straight male comrades must shake off the chains of heterosexuality. Against a backdrop of walls adorned with pinups of Che Guevara and Ulrike Meinhof, she orders them to sleep with one another as proof of their commitment to the struggle, and soon all the rebels become willing combatants on the battleground of the bedroom. Pulsing with slogans for the homosexual intifada—THE REVOLUTION IS MY BOYFRIEND, MADONNA IS COUNTERREVOLUTIONARY, HETEROSEXUALITY IS THE OPIATE OF THE MASSES—and drawing liberally on the tropes of both porn and propaganda, The Raspberry Reich is a smart and steamy bit of re-education. 90 min.
Goodbye to Language: The only film to receive a round of applause mid-screening at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival (where it won the Prix du Jury), Jean-Luc Godard’s brilliant, mind-bending experiment in 3D follows a stray dog who wanders from town to country and, over the course of some seasons, observes what seems to be a couple falling in love, then falling apart. Impossible both to summarize and to forget, this groundbreaking work by one of the greatest living auteurs “offers up generous, easy pleasures with jolts of visual beauty, bursts of humor [and] swells of song (The New York Times).
Chromatic Frenzy: Kerry Laitala’s abstract play of color and darkness captured with Chromadepth 3D.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams: In Werner Herzog’s historical documentary, the inimitable Werner Herzog guides audiences on a mystical trip into France’s rarely glimpsed Chauvet Cave, site of the world’s oldest known man-made art. By turns eccentric (witness a characteristically Herzogian detour into the wild world of albino alligators) and transcendent, this awe-inspiring documentary uses stereoscopic technology to transportive effect.
Aurora Borealis: Director Ikuo Nakamura captured the Northern Lights in 3D, creating a stereoscopic image of the phenomenon by placing 2 cameras 5 miles apart.
TIRESIA, Bertrand Bonello The Film Society of Lincoln Center
This lyrical and disturbing modern update of the myth of Tiresias is perhaps Bonello’s richest and most elusive work to date. Tiresia—played in the first half of the film by Clara Choveaux and in the second by Thiago Telès—is a Brazilian transsexual working in the red-light district of Paris. Recovering after being kidnapped by an obsessive male aesthete who, disgusted when her hormone treatments start to wear off, blinded her and left her for dead, she finds that she has developed the gift of prophecy. There follow a series of revelations—including the real identity of Tiresia’s abductor—that push Bonello’s politics of the body to new, provocative depths.
A WOMAN LIKE ME, Alex Sichel and Elizabeth Giamatti The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Join us for a special screening in memory of Film Program alumna Alex Sichel (’95). A Woman Like Me is a hybrid documentary that interweaves the real story of director Alex Sichel, diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2011, with the fictional story of Anna Seashell (Lili Taylor), who tries to find the glass half full when faced with the same diagnosis. The documentary follows Alex as she uses her craft as a filmmaker to explore what is foremost on her mind while confronting a terminal disease: parenting, marriage, faith, life, and death. When we are stuck between a rock and hard place, can our imagination get us out? The film was awarded Special Jury Recognition for Directing at SXSW 2015.
TRANSATLANTIC, Felix Dufour-Laperriere Anthology Film Archives
Since 2003 Montreal-based filmmaker Félix Dufour-Laperrière has made numerous short experimental films and animations, which balance narrative and formal exploration and remain closely linked with the visual art world. For his first feature-length work, the impressionistic, experimental documentary TRANSATLANTIC, he filmed the crew of a cargo ship during its crossing of the Atlantic. Combining beautifully composed, highly compelling sequences of the crew members at work, at play, and in solitude, with openly lyrical, often dreamlike passages that express the more poetic dimensions of the sailors’ experiences, he has created a ravishing and hypnotic film. Through the eyes of the sailors we see both their deep love of life at sea and their exhaustion in the face of the intensity of this unforgiving environment. Machinery rumbles, waves pound the bow, the hull cracks and squeaks under the pressure of a storm. The immense vastness of the ocean surrounds them in every direction. The ship is both a metaphor and a microcosm: an island of men in the midst of the great unknown.
This is a weeklong run of MoMA’s recently struck 35mm print of Mikey and Nicky, the third of Elaine May’s brilliant contributions to 1970s American cinema, after A New Leaf and The Heartbreak Kid. (Ishtar, from 1987, also has its fierce partisans.) In this noir chamber piece, set over a long, tense night in some of the seedier redoubts of Philadelphia, a jittery John Cassavetes becomes convinced that a local mobster has put a price on his head. As he looks to childhood friend and small-time crook Peter Falk for salvation, old wounds and new treacheries arise.