Check Out John Waters’ Favorite Films of 2013

John Waters, reigning king of smutty brilliance has just released his picks for 2013’s best films—and of course, it’s right on point. Throughout the next month or so, we’re sure to see a slew of top ten lists from cinema’s most prominent forces but unlike Quentin Tarantino’s favorite films of the year, The Lone Ranger is thankfully kept aside for truly some of the greatest fiction and documentary features we’ve seen in the last eleven months—from Blue Jasmine to After Tiller.

Back in the summer, we ranked our top favorite films of 2013 six months into the year. Upstream Color, Frances Ha, Spring Breakers, and Before Midnight fell highest on our list, with an updated version a few weeks ago, adding Stories We Tell, Blue Jasmine, and a few notable others. Our next iteration will most definitely include Steve McQueen’s brilliant 12 Years a Slave, Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty and Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing. But for now, check out Waters’ Top Ten via MCN, which includes proudly boasts Harmony Korine’s psychotropic teen nightmare Spring Breakers as number one.

1. Spring Breakers
2. Camile Claudel 1915
3. Abuse Of Weakness
4. Hors Satan
5. After Tiller
6. Hannah Arendt
7. Beyond The Hills
8. Blue Jasmine
9. Blackfish
10. I’m So Excited

Check out our interviews with a handful of the filmmakers behind these features below:

From John Waters to the Coen Brothers, Here’s What You Should Be Seeing This Weekend in New York

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," according to Tom Robbins, but a weekend is still a weekend. The pleasure of a Friday night, the knowing the burdens of work week have a brief respite carry themselves into the following two days of leisure, and what better way to indulge in that leisure than heading to the cinema.

And this weekend, there are more than enough wonderful films showing around New York for you to disappear into. Whether it’s your favorite John Waters, the best of NYFF, or some of the most stunning new releases, there’s surely something to satisfy every cinematic appetite. I’ve founded up the best of what’s playing around the city, so peruse our list, and enjoy.  

 

IFC Center

Shepard & Dark
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Blue Caprice
Dark Touch
The Big Lebowski
Frances Ha
The Network
Slacker
Red River
Una Noche
Wild Style

Film Forum

After Tiller
Newlyweeds
Antoine and Antoinette
Speedy
Lost…Now Found

BAM

Female Trouble
Blue Jasmine
Enough Said
Charles Bradley: Soul of America 
Polyester 

Film Linc

Manakamana
A Touch of Sin
Alan Partridge
At Berkley
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Wind Rises
Child of God
Le Week-end
Norte, the End of History
Platform Agnostic, Brand Specific
Particle Fever
The Cosmonaut
In the Dark Room

Nitehawk

Donnie Darko
In a World…
Revenge of the Cheerleaders
Don Jon
Salinger
Thanks for Sharing
Back to the Future
Metropolis

Landmark Sunshine

Thanks for Sharing
Haute Cuisine
Short Term 12
We Are What We Are
Brazil

MoMA

Ginger e Fred
The Job/The Sound of Trumpets
Titus
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles
Todo Modo
Medea

Top 10 Films of 2013 So Far

Ignore the 12 month calendar, when it comes to movies, the year is divided into two seasons: before the fall, and after the fall. We get mid-level genre fare from January until May, along with a couple of second-tier blockbusters. Summer brings out the big franchise sequels, and a few well-reviewed indies as counter-programming. But any studio—large or small—that has a promising movie made with artistry and intelligence, usually holds it back till the unofficial beginning of Oscar season, heralded by three festivals (Venice, Telluride, and Toronto) that take place in early September.

In Hollywood wisdom, this is where anything aimed at adults begins the four month race toward Academy Award nominations—without which, box office prospects are considered severely impaired. So, what this means for moviegoers, is that for right months we bemoan the lack of anything good in cinemas, catch up on all the quality cable TV shows, then find ourselves scurrying to catch up with a sudden embarrassment of riches, many of which get lost in the hustle. It’s a sad state of affairs, but it’s the way things are, and hey, at least we get a few months when loving movies is not a zero sum game.  

And yet, 2013 has been a schizophrenic year. On the one hand, the multiplexes have been filled with the usual bloated lowest-common-denominator dreck, but on the other, indie movies have been much stronger than usual, and I can count at least 10 films released thus far that I would heartily recommend without reservation. So, without further ado, my personal best of 2013, at the unofficial half-way point before the quality onslaught begins.  

Honorable Mentions: Pacific Rim was dumb as a brick, and yet, a movie aimed at 12-year-old boys that made me feel (and cheer) like one. The Great Gatsby was an over-stylized mess, and yet a bold and unique interpretation of a classic text. Spring Breakers‘s hallucinatory fever dream eventually fizzled, and yet contained a balls-out brilliant performance by James Franco. World War Z was instantly forgettable, robbed of the novel’s socio-political satire, and yet an undeniably exciting thrill ride with some fantastically realized set pieces.  

10. Stories We Tell

While I wasn’t a fan of Sarah Polley’s first two directorial outings, there’s no denying the emotional power and skilled construction of her very personal documentary essay—which interweaves an entire family’s memories and secrets into a fascinating rumination on the various facets of  so-called "shared truths" and the different ways people construct narratives from the seen and unseen events of their lives.   

 

9. Mud

Though not as transcendent or mind-blowing as Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols’ third feature is a well-told, laid-back Southern yarn, that blends Twain and Dickens for a sweet yet unsentimental coming of age story set in the swamplands of the Bayou, as a young boy’s chance encounter with an ex-con brings his ideas and notions about love crashing into reality.  

 

8. Frances Ha

Like an episode of Girls directed by Woody Allen, Noah Baumbach makes his best movie since Squid and the Whale, with this rarest of beasts—a romantic comedy with no romance. Greta Gerwig creates a vivid, completely unique character, whose growth and maturation has, refreshingly, absolutely nothing to do with finding a man.  

 

7. The East

Brit Marling writes herself a great role in this smart, complex thriller set in a grass roots eco-terrorist cell. The moral nuances are embraced, the characters are believable and fully realized, the pace is exciting, and the themes urgent and relevant without ever being preachy.  

 

6. Blue Jasmine

Woody’s best movie since Vickiy Cristina Barcelona is a searing indictment of 1% entitlement, and in Cate Blanchett’s performance, contains the best special effect of the year. Her performance is a thing to be amazed by—a slow motion breakdown that is never less than utterly hypnotic, and no matter how despicable, still manages to somehow, strangely retain our sympathies due to its unavoidable, messy humanity.

   

5. The World’s End

Edgar Wright’s third and final film in the loosely connected "Cornetto Trilogy" (`after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) is hysterically funny, riotously entertaining, mind-bogglingly ambitious, and actually, genuinely about something: the dead end nature of nostalgia, the corporatization of culture, the effect of time on friendships, and the self-destructive yet utterly unique nature of the human ego, that sets us apart from all other species, animal or alien. Like Invasion of the Body Snatchers beating up the The Big Chill after a dozen pints at a stand-up comedy night, The World’s End is two completely different films unapologetically smushed together to make something brilliant and unique, and the final ten minute epilogue is the most brazenly left-field and inspired ending I’ve seen this decade.  

 

4. Short Term 12

Depicting the lives of a young couple as they navigate a roster of damaged, abused kids in a foster care facility, this absolute gem navigates truly treacherous terrain and somehow manages to avoid cheap sentiment and predictability, achieving its own kind of clear-eyed grace without ever hitting a false note. Brie Larson is a revelation as a woman whose no-bullshit  compassion with her young charges conflicts with her struggles to heal her own past, but the entire cast does stand-out work in this hard-hitting, deeply humane, genuinely important film about the actual skill it takes to love others, and ourselves.

   

3. Upstream Color

Shane Carruth’s second feature after the Sundance-winning Primer, is one of the boldest American art films of this young century, that practically invents its own cinematic language. There are elements of plot, there are characters, but the narrative follows the logic of dreams and emotions, which, if you surrender to their flow, provide a truly unforgettable trip (in all senses of the word). I’m not sure I can tell you what it all means—it involves identity-theft, fear of intimacy, alienation, love, and ur… pigs—but it made sense to me at a deeply sub-conscious level, and there are images and scenes forever burned into my brain, that still have me in awe. An uncompromised work of art by a true visionary auteur—this is the future of independently financed, independently made, independently distributed film, that breaks the mold of all pre-existing cinema within the prevailing, and failing, current system. A one-of-a-kind masterpiece, pure and simple.

   

2. Before Midnight

The perfect end to a perfect trilogy. Richard Linklater’s third and final rumination on romance is one of the most mature, realistic, yet deliciously enthralling depictions of a long term relationship, beyond its characters’ fantasies and idealized expectations of what love should be. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are mesmerizing in their conversational dance around each other’s alter egos, who, after 20 years and sojourns in three European countries, reveal layers and complexities that most films daren’t even attempt. Before Midnight works as a great stand alone movie, but as the third part of a larger whole, completes one of the strangest and genuinely romantic cinematic experiments of all time.

   

1. The Grandmaster

Absolutely avoid the dumbed-down butchered version currently screening in US cinemas, head down to Chinatown or `yes.asia.com’, and buy the full, uncut, 130 minute Chinese version, in all its overstuffed, culturally specific glory. This jaw-droppingly beautiful movie is like Dr. Zhivago with martial arts, an elegiac tone poem for the honor-bound, highly coded world of kung fu before it spread its reach to the outer world. Ostensibly a biopic of Bruce Lee’s teacher, Ip Man, it is above all, another masterpiece from Wong Kar-wai, and like the rest of his oeuvre,  a highly stylized, achingly romantic mood mosaic about beautiful, heartbroken smokers, with the added bonus of the most hands down awesome fight sequences since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  

 

 

And that’s it for the first eight months. The rest of the year begins with a bang now, as I head down to the Toronto film festival. Stay tuned for thoughts on Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, The Past, Prisoners,  and many, many more, as we collectively forget the calamities on most studios’ slates, believe in a world where art and commerce happily co-exist, and let the fall feast of films begin.  

Daniel Hardy lives in a cabin in the woods, watches a lot of movies, and occasionally writes screenplays for a living. 

From Scorsese to De Palma, Here’s What You Should Be Seeing in NYC This Weekend

We’ve finally reached the last stretch of our summer days, and although the beaches my be closing, there is plenty to look forward to on the film front. And whether you’re BBQ’ing your way through the weekend and relaxing on beach outside these humid streets or hiding away in your apartment savoring that extra day of doing absolutely nothing, you can always find the time to head down to the cinema and enjoy something wonderful.

This weekend there’s a generous plenty to choose from, whether you’re in the mood for classics or the summer’s best premieres. Take a look at the evil inside with Rosemary’s Baby or torture yourself with Taxi Driver and then discover the power of connection with Short Term 12 and fall into feeling with Ain’t Them Bodies Saints—just to name some options. But whatever your film fancy, there are a number of wonderful worlds to escape into this weekend. We’ve compiled the best of what’s playing in the city, so peruse our list, grab yourself a large box of candy and enjoy.

 

IFC Center

The Wild Bunch
Passion
The Canyons
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
El Topo
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Frances Ha
Jaws
Museum Hours
Our Nixon
Prince Avalanche
Rio Bravo
Una Noche

BAM

Blue Jasmine
Enter the Dragon
Fruitvale Station
The Spectacular Now
The World’s End
The Grandmaster

Film Forum

Rosemary’s Baby
Tokyo Waka: A City Poem
Demon Seed
Alien
Aliens
Total Recall
The Howling
Starship Troopers
Village of the Damned

Film Linc

Passion
Short Term 12
Twenty Feet from Stardom
Singin’ in the Rain
Re-Animator
In a World…
Far From Vietnam
Blackfish

MoMA

The River
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Never Fear (The Young Lovers)
Limelight
Steel Helmet

Museum of the Moving Image

Dog Day Afternoon
The Taking of Pelham One Two
Three Born to Win
Taking Off
The Panic in Needle Park

Landmark Sunshine

Taxi Driver
Short Term 12
Drinking Buddies
In a World…
The Spectacular Now
Afternoon Delight

Nitehawk

Moulin Rouge! Sing Along
In a World…
The Grandmaster
Drinking Buddies
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Frankenhooker
Car Wash
Rushmore

From Woody Allen to François Truffaut, Here’s What You Should Be Seeing This Weekend in NYC

Whether it’s classic Woody Allen or his latest ode to neurosis Blue Jasmine that you’re in the mood for, this weekend there’s plenty of reasons to head down to the cinema. With a generous mix of new releases—from your favorite fetish director Nicolas Winding Refn with Only God Forgives to Josh Oppenheimer and his chilling new documentary The Act of Killing—you can also find yourself disappearing into one of cinema’s most stunning film’s ever made, with L’Avventura still having its run at Film Forum.

So whatever your cinematic fancies, persue our list of the best films playing around New York City this weekend, grab yourself some Twizzlers, and enjoy.

BAM

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America
Experimental, Graphic Design, and Music Videos
The Secret of NIMH
 
 

IFC Center

The Big Lebowski
Dirty Wars
Escape From New York
First Comes Love
Museum Hours
 
 

Nitehawk

Fruitvale Station
Girl Most Likely
The Bling Ring
Broken Blossoms
Return to Oz
 
 

Landmark Sunshine

Blackfish
Annie Hall
 
 

Film Linc

Breaking Bad Season 1
City of the Living Dead
Apocalypse: A Bill Callahan Tour Film
Blackfish
Much Ago About Nothing
Bloody Daughter 
Muscle Shoals
 
 

Film Forum

L’Avventura
Computer Chess
The Servant
 
 

MoMA

Happy Anniversary
Shoot the Piano Player
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Fearless
Where the Wild Things Are
 
 

Museum of the Moving Image

Nashville
There Will Be Blood
Night of the Hunter
Making Bad: An Evening with Vince Gilligan

Looking Back on Cinema’s Most Captivating Unhinged Women

“Even so, I must admire your skill. You are so gracefully insane,” says Anne Sexton’s poem “Elegy in the Classroom.” And throughout cinematic history we’ve seen countless characterizations of women on the verge of a nervous breakdown, in the throws of psychosis, or those who have completely lost their footing in the world. These roles—from Mabel Longhetti in John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence to Kirsten Dunst in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia—create poignant vehicles in which women can dive down into the depths of their own souls and bring forth some of the most incredible performances of their career.   

This weekend, Woody Allen’s latest summer film Blue Jasmine premieres, and for the myriad reasons why this is one of his best films in years, it’s undeniable that Cate Blanchett and the completely bewitching performance she gives is by far the most enticing part. In my review of the film, I said noted that: In the way that you felt exhausted—both physically and emotionally—after seeing Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master—the actor’s stamina in the role a marvel to watch—I left my screening of Blue Jasmine feeling more shaky and distressed than when I entered, my own anxiety and emotions unraveled by Blanchett’s bewitching performance.   

And as the best part of truly enjoying a film is to leave with that sort of strong physical reaction, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the best unhinged female performances onscreen. From the terribly ill and psychologically possessed to those caught in the throws of everyday life’s small trauma, here are some of our favorites. Center your emotions and enjoy.

Gena Rowlands as Mabel Longhetti in A Woman Under the Influence

A housewife amidst an emotional breakdown who loves deeply but cannot express properly the pain within her heart.  

 

Béatrice Dalle as Betty Blue in Betty Blue

A volatile and highly-sexual woman who, after experiencing an emotional trauma, mentally unravels never to return.  

 

Julianne Moore as Linda Partridge in Magnolia

A pill-popping housewife who finally realizes her misdoings on her husband’s deathbed.    

Kirsten Dunst as Justine Melancholia

A manic depressive who finds herself finally at peace as the world comes to an end. 

 

Harriet Andersson as Karin in Through a Glass Darkly

A young woman recently released from the mental hospital suffers from hysteria on vacation with her husband and father.

   

Naomi Watts as Betty Elms / Diane Selwyn in Mulholland Drive

A possessed and devastated woman has become the shell of a person struggling to exist outside of a nightmare.

   

Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream

A lonely and self-conscious mother thinks she’s found the way to regain youth and admiration and loses her mind in the pursuit.

   

Isabella Rossellini as Dorothy Vallens in Blue Velvet

An emotionally unstable and horrifically frightened woman at the center of a murder.  

 

Bibi Andersson as Alma in Persona

A nurse put in charge of a mentally ill woman who finds their psyches melding into one.  

Gena Rowlands as Myrtle Gordon in Opening Night

An aging actress has an emotional and existential crisis after realizing her own morality and is haunted by the ghost of youth.

   

Candace Hilligoss as Mary Henry in Carnival of Souls

After a traumatic accident a woman is beckonded and possessed by an abandoned carnival.  

Elizabeth Taylor as Martha Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf

A mercurial aging woman in the throws of domestic turmoil.  

 

Charlotte Gainsbourg as She in Antichrist

A distressed, grieving woman goes to the woods with her husband and succumbs to the evils of nature.    

Margit Carstensen as Petra von Kant in The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

An absolutely shattered, selfish woman hopelessly in love with a woman whose affections have waned.   

Theresa Russell as Milena Flaherty in Bad Timing

A highly-emotional and volatile woman in love with a stoic man whose repressed urges push her away and lead her to a breakdown.

 

Julianne Moore as Carol White in Safe

An affluent housewives grows increasingly ill and falls prey to chemical sensitivity.  

 

Laura Dern as Nikki Grace / Susan Blue in Inland Empire

The world becomes a surreal nightmare when an actress adopts a persona.  

Juliette Binoche as Julie Vignon – de Courcy in Three Colors: Blue

A woman grieving the death of her husband and child.

Get a Closer Look at Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’ With a New Batch of Stills

Yesterday, we saw a peak at Cate Blanchett’s powerful performance in Woody Allen’s latest film Blue Jasmine. As the story of an emotionally spiraling housewife who moves to San Francisco to live with her sister, we can’t help but wonder which bag of tricks Allen picked this one from. As someone who has been churning out films in succession for years, it’s an incredible thing to watch the nuances of his work change—for better or worse—as the years go by. And speaking to the truth of life, Allen said that:

You start to think, when you’re younger, how important everything is and how things have to go right—your job, your career, your life, your choices, and all of that. Then, after a while, you start to realise that – I’m talking the big picture here – eventually you die, and eventually the sun burns out and the earth is gone, and eventually all the stars and all the planets in the entire universe go, disappear, and nothing is left at all. Nothing – Shakespeare and Beethoven and Michelangelo gone. And you think to yourself that there’s a lot of noise and sound and fury – and where’s it going? It’s not going any place… Now, you can’t actually live your life like that, because if you do you just sit there and – why do anything? Why get up in the morning and do anything? So I think it’s the job of the artist to try and figure out why, given this terrible fact, you want to go on living.
With Blue Jasmine‘s release but two weeks away, the film has been garnering praise, comparing its magic to the likes of his more antiquated works. Featuring an interesting cast that features Bobby Canavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Peter Sarsgaard, and Alec Baldwin, you can’t help but anticipate just how things will all mesh up together. So start amping up your neurotic excitement with a batch of new images from the film.
 
 
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See an Unraveled Cate Blanchett in a New Clip From Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’

After finding myself unsettlingly disappointed with Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love last summer, I thought it best to keep my anticipation for this next feature at bay. However, with his latest film Blue Jasmine—which premieres in just two weeks—it looks as though I may be able to dispel my fears and start counting down the seconds until I head to the cinema and get lost in the very particular world only Allen knows how to create.

And thanks to EW, we now have a first clip from the feature which highlights the film’s star Cate Blanchett in a desolate moment that makes you ache to see the film just for the brilliant perfomance she delivers (but let’s be real she could read the phone book and still be astoundingly brilliant). And as the story of a well-kept housewife who moves to San Francisco to live with her sister after her life gets turned inside out, the sprawling cast also includes Alec Baldwin, Andrew Dice Clay, Louis CK, Bobby Cannavale—to name a few. 
 
There’s no advantage to ageing. You don’t get wiser, you don’t get more mellow, you don’t see life in a more glowing way. You have to fight your body decaying, and you have less options," Allen said to the Guardian. Going on to say:
The only thing you can do is what you did when you were 20 – because you’re always walking with an abyss right under your feet; they can be hoisting a piano on Park Avenue and drop it on your head when you’re 20 – which is to distract yourself. Getting involved in a movie [occupies] all my anxiety: did I write a good scene for Cate Blanchett? If I wasn’t concentrated on that, I’d be thinking of larger issues. And those are unresolvable, and you’re checkmated whichever way you go.
So with the film’s premiere on July 26th, check out the first clip from the film HERE and start scheduling your nightly Woody Allen retrospective now.

Watch the First Trailer for Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’

In a truly saddening turn of events, Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love fell as my second least favorite film of 2012. But with his annual summer picture premiering right on schedule, it appears this time around things will be quite different. And after bypassing a debut at Sundance or Cannes this year, Allen’s latest feature, the Cate Blanchett led-Blue Jasmine already looks much rich and lively a film than To Rome. With a supporting cast that includes everyone from Andrew Dice Clay and Louis CK to Alec Baldwin and  Bobby Cannavale, the film tells the story of  a well-kept New York City housewife who moves to San Francisco to live with her sister after enduring an acute life crisis.

Speaking to the nature of filmmaking with the Guardian, Allen said:
"It’s a bad business. It’s a confirmation that the anxieties and terrors I’ve had all my life were accurate. There’s no advantage to ageing. You don’t get wiser, you don’t get more mellow, you don’t see life in a more glowing way. You have to fight your body decaying, and you have less options." In 46 years as a director, he hasn’t budged on his position that there’s only one response: watch a basketball game, play the clarinet. "The only thing you can do is what you did when you were 20 – because you’re always walking with an abyss right under your feet; they can be hoisting a piano on Park Avenue and drop it on your head when you’re 20 – which is to distract yourself. Getting involved in a movie [occupies] all my anxiety: did I write a good scene for Cate Blanchett? If I wasn’t concentrated on that, I’d be thinking of larger issues. And those are unresolvable, and you’re checkmated whichever way you go."
And now, the first trailer for the film has emerged and as Allen claims this to be a "serious drama," our hopes have suddenly sprung. Get excited and enjoy.
 

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