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Entries in Directors (201)

Friday
Dec112015

Women's Pictures - Dee Rees's Bessie

Considering how often Pariah is called "a critical darling," it's disappointingly shocking that it took another 4 years for Dee Rees's next movie. Bessie is an HBO biopic of singer Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues, who rose to prominence in the 1920s and died in a car accident in the mid-1930s. When the movie premiered earlier this year, Angelica Jade Bastién wrote a fabulous personal review of it which I highly suggest you read. As Angelica points out, Rees's sophomore effort is a well-directed film that gets a lot right, even though it falls into a lot of the typical biopic pitfalls.

While the plotline of Bessie's meteoric rise, humbling fall, and return to semi-greatness followed a predictable biopic path, what really struck me about this collaboration between Dee Rees and Queen Latifah was how unapologetically individual it was. Unfortunately, fact-based films about black characters, if they are expected to attract a wider (whiter) audience, incorporate white characters to a large degree. Selma and 12 Years A Slave both have white antagonists who gain a lot of screentime - in the case of 12 Years A Slave, it was enough screentime to net Michael Fassbender an Academy Award Nominations.

In Bessie, blackness and queerness dominate...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec102015

Team Experience: The Best of Brokeback Mountain

Ten years ago Brokeback Mountain arrived with truly bracing power.

10 years later Brokeback Mountain has lost none of its power

It was the rarest of things: an honest to god "instant classic". The phrase is overused but once in a while hyperbole proves true. The Oscars were stingy with it (just three prizes) but ten years on the film is as sturdy and majestically irreducible as the mountains that haunt the protagonists. When you're watching it you're breathing rarified air - not from the high altitudes of Wyoming but further on up, think cinematic heaven. The invaluable Ang Lee won his first Best Director Oscar for the film and it's easy to see why given the sensitivity of the performances (early career peaks from four promising ascendant stars), the classicism of the filmmaking, and his unshakeable hand as he sutures the neo western to the romantic tragedy with the thread of American masculinity.

I asked our contributors if they had a favorite scene they'd like to share with us and here were their responses.

FAVORITE SCENES IN BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec072015

Podcast: The Danish Girl, Youth, Macbeth, Chi-Raq

Nathaniel, Nick, Katey, and Joe all return for the latest episode of the podcast in which we discuss four new films that definitely bear their auteur's signature for better and worse. Listen in and continue the conversation in the comments. The more the merrier.

42 minutes 
00:01 NBR & NYFCC debrief
05:40 The Danish Girl
16:28 Macbeth's feeling of inevitability...or is it monotony?
22:56 Paolo Sorrentino's Youth, a bit of The Great Beauty and a lot of Jane Fonda
33:00 Spike Lee's new urgent joint Chi-Raq
39:45 Joe's new job & Nick's sudden activity

Further Reading for Context:
Nick's Danish Girl tweet
Nathaniel's Category Fraud Screed
Decider
Nick's "Favorites" Countdown
NBR & NYFCC

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes

Youth, Danish Girl, Macbeth

Friday
Dec042015

Women's Pictures - Dee Rees's Pariah

Anne Marie returns after a brief break...

Over the course of this year, the purpose of our weekly "Women's Pictures" has been to explore the vast variety of female filmmakers. We've seen that women are not only present and working, but also highly diverse in their genre, style, and subject matter. Gender has often been a factor, but it has rarely been a focus. For the last month of the year, we're going to be watching films by two directors for whom gender, sexuality, and race are their focus: Dee Rees, and Celine Sciamma. Though both filmmakers have comparatively small filmographies, they have already established themselves as new, strong voices in contemporary cinema.

Dee Rees's 2011 film Pariah, based on the short of the same name, is an empathetic examination of a person usually invisible in cinema: the young black lesbian.

more...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec022015

Can "Creed" Go 12 Rounds With Oscar?

In the past 48 hours I've screened The Revenant, Joy, and Creed. Since the first two are still under embargo we're not allowed to speak of them yet. I will say these non spoilers that The Revenant continues the tradition of Inaritu's love of miserable arguably suicidal men, and Joy continues in the tradition of David O. Russell sandbox like playgrounds for actors eager to play with their new parts. But...embargo!

As movie buffs well know, the original Rocky was a smash hit when it premiered in December 1976, becoming the biggest box office hit of that year, making a star of Sly Stallone, charting a #1 single ("Gonna Fly Now"), and earning an incredible 10 Oscar nominations. It eventually won Picture, Director, and Editing on the big night. And against unreal competition too: Network, Taxi Driver, Bound for Glory, and All The President's Men. The Rocky series spawned a few popular sequels but eventually exhausted its welcome as film franchises do. Creed, smartly plays like both a straight sequel (VII) and a spinoff or rebirth with Rocky Balboa passing the franchise torch to Apollo Creed's son Adonis (Michael B Jordan).

So let's talk Creed and Oscar and the ways it could well factor into the Oscar race after the jump...

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Tuesday
Dec012015

John Waters Top 10 List: Fairy Tales, 3D Sex, Tasteful Trangression

John Waters with Patty Hearst at the "Carol" premiereAh one of our favorite bad taste good --no... singular taste traditions of year-end end look backs has arrived: the annual John Waters Top Ten List at ArtForum. Though the Baltimore film icon hasn't made a feature film in over ten years he still says active as a celebrity for which we thank him. Try and imagine the world without him; we never want to!

His top ten lists generally contain at least one or two titles we haven't even heard of (rare for us don'cha know) and that's true again with #1 and #9 right here. They're also always a mix of smart, beautiful, queer, and head scratching choices -- I'm sorry but Love is NOT a good movie even if it does contain, as John Waters raves, "heterosexual rimming -- in 3D!"

John Waters 2015 Top Ten List
01 HELMUT BERGER, ACTOR (Andreas Horvath)
02 CINDERELLA (Kenneth Branagh)

Yes, you heard me, Cinderella. I fucking love this Disney film.

03 THE FORBIDDEN ROOM (Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson)
04 TOM AT THE FARM (Xavier Dolan)
05 MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (George Miller)
06 CAROL (Todd Haynes)

Maybe the only way to be transgressive these days is to be shockingly tasteful. This Lana Turner–meets–Audrey Hepburn lipstick-lesbian melodrama is so old-fashioned I felt like I was one year old after watching it. That’s almost reborn.

07 THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (Marielle Heller)
08 TANGERINE (Sean Baker)
09 FLY COLT FLY: LEGEND OF THE BAREFOOT BANDIT (Adam Gray and Andrew Gray)
10 LOVE (Gaspar Noé)

when will Xavier Dolan movies ever get on a respectable US release schedule? Tom at the Farm an excellent 2013 movie was only just released in the states in 2015

His commentary is always great fun -- his take on Xavier Dolan's tense grief thriller Tom at the Farm is especially John Waters but hugely spoiler-filled -- so go read if it you're so inclined.

 

Thursday
Nov122015

AFI Awards: Mustang, James White, and More...

Deniz & AliceThe Los Angeles AFI Festival, presented by Audi, ends tonight with the premiere of Paramount's The Big Short with it's all star (male) cast. But two women we're instant new fans of were the winners. First time feature director Deniz Gamze Ergüven and second time feature director Alice Winocour both had films in the fest (Mustang, which they cowrote and Ergüven directed, and Disorder, which was titled Maryland when it first debuted at Cannes, which Winocour wrote and directed.) Mustang opens in NY & LA a week from tomorrow. Disorder is due in March next year. They're both very much worth seeing so keep an eye on these two very talented women. I know we will. 

NEW AUTEURS AWARDS

Jury:  Inkoo Kang (TheWrap), Sheri Linden (The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Times) and Nigel M. Smith (The Guardian).

New Auteurs Grand Jury Award: Land and Shade (César Augusto Acevedo)
The jury cited it's  "visual eloquence, formal rigor and emotional power" in painting a portrait of a rural family in Colombia and its observations about the explotation of the poor and environmental degradation

more prizes follow...

Click to read more ...

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