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Entries in politics (92)

Thursday
Apr242014

Tribeca: Eco-Thrills in "Night Moves"

Tribeca coverage with Glenn on the latest from Kelly Reichardt (Meek's Cutoff, Wendy & Lucy)

“Reserved, even by Kelly Reichardt’s standards.” That was the line I used to describe this Portland director’s latest, Night Moves, after its screening at Tribeca. Having premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival, it’s understandable that it didn’t make all that much noise in the intermediate months given it’s such a quiet, guarded film despite its eco-thriller roots and name cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard. Like all of Reichardt’s films, however, it is that very low-key ingredient that makes it memorable. While it doesn’t soar to the breathtaking heights of Meek’s Cutoff, which just like Night Moves took a genre prone to testosterone-filled violence and twisted it into a elegant mood piece, her latest is a surprisingly thrilling experience even when its director seems to be actively trying to go against those genre instincts.

Eisenberg and Fanning star as Josh and Dena, young environmental activists with an unclear history. He works at an organic farm while she works at a women’s retreat and spa while attending meetings big on ideas but low on execution. Despite not being terribly friendly to one another they are off purchasing a boat and joining Sarsgaard’s Harmon in a location out of the city. The three plan on blowing up a dam that was built to allow people to “play their iPods non-stop” and killed native species in the process. They are environmentalists, but others will call them terrorists. In fact, one of the very best moments in the film is a lingering shot of an armed police guard at a rural farmer’s market. Society has always looked upon the environmentally conscious with a suspicious unease – consider why green political parties can never truly rise up against their more capitalist competition despite most people agreeing that two party systems are corrupt and terrible either way you cut it. Maybe that’s just me getting carried away, however.

What I found so interesting about Night Moves is the way Reichardt handles the thriller elements. She uses silence and performance to spike tension. An extended scene where Dena purchases fertilizer, using her baby-faced (how does she now look younger than her sister Elle?) to manipulate and disarm the garden store employees, casually throwing in a blunt-forced nudge to the sexism that is still alive and well – “You’d sell it to me if I looked like those guys.”  She allows her actors faces to guide the audience. When the detonation occurs, her camera remains tightly focused on Eisenberg, Fanning and Sarsgaard; their reactions being the audience trigger rather than overbearing orchestral demonstrations and pyrotechnics.

This take on the material is to be expected from, say, a film about a woman and her dog or a desolate Oregon Trail western, but I imagine many audiences will bump heads with the way she handles it here. It reminded me a lot of Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, choosing to take a somewhat impressionistic approach rather than the sensationalist one that the material could typically result in. I appreciate that and these are always the type of films that tend to stick in my head longer than, say, Zal Batmanglij’s The East from last year. I didn’t too much like the way Fanning’s character devolved, especially given the way the screenplay by Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond had developed the feminine elements of the story, but even then the keen eye of Reichardt and cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt allow for an overcast beauty throughout.

There’s little here that Reichardt non-devotees will find to sway them, but for me she remains a brilliantly talented name in modern film. I would easily rank her alongside the likes of Aaron Katz (whose Land Ho I reviewed at Sundance and is also playing at Tribeca) and Sofia Coppola as one of the most interesting American voices working in today. Night Moves is reserved, but is grounded in a reality that is more thrilling than most of what Hollywood throws our way.

Wednesday
Apr092014

Roland Emmerich To Make His First Gay Movie "Stonewall"

Roland Emmerich will direct Jeremy Irvine in "Stonewall"Roland Emmerich is a size queen. I had the world's shortest interview with him while he was promoting Anonymous, a rare trip away from the ginormous epic blockbuster spectacles he prefers to make. But that was, in its own peculiar academic-enraging way, also supersized with CGI and a lusty embrace of conspiracy theories. In fact he ended our interview defending the size of his pictures.

It has to be big or I don't like it."

My mind raced back to that interview today when the news broke that Emmerich plans to make a drama about the Stonewall riots which poured gasoline on the then tiny embers of the gay rights movement. He'll film Stonewall before embarking on the long gestating Independence Day sequels. Young beauty Jeremy Irvine (War Horse, The Railway Man) has the lead role as a man who has a political awakening with the riots as backdrop.

That sounds quite a lot like the other movie about the Stonewall Riots which was also called simply Stonewall (1995). It followed a young gay looker (Frederick Weller) who got more politicized by dating a drag queen (Scandal's Guillermo Díaz when he was young and a tiny slip of a thing) with the Stonewall riots as backdrop.

Stonewall (1995) with Guillermo Díaz and Frederick Weller

I'm honestly a bit surprised though because when I interviewed Emmerich he didn't seem likely to do something that direct. Here's what he told me at the time.

NATHANIEL: You're an out director, you've donated to gay causes. But you do all these huge mainstream sci-fi movies. Would you ever do a gay film? 

ROLAND EMMERICH: If the right one comes along. I would love to put more openly gay characters in my mainstream movies which is something I'm really working on. Honest to god, I'm constantly trying, like, "who can i make gay?" [Laughter]. But i also don't want to do it blatantly. That's not good. It's all about integration, show it as a totally normal thing without making a big deal out of it. 

NATHANIEL: So what you're saying is that Universal Soldier is going to remain your gayest movie.

EMMERICH: [Laughs] 

I guess Universal Soldier (1992) will finally have to step down once Stonewall (2015) is a reality.

Wednesday
Apr022014

Can't Stop The Glitter. Or the Best Shots. 

glitter attack!True story. In the late 1990s after graduating college, before New York City and The Film Experience years, I was working as an artist at a company that specialized in parties and events. Every day in a big warehouse I was a hot mess of glue guns, paint rollers, foam shavings, and glitter. Glitter above all else. Three years later in New York City I was still finding glitter in the weirdest of places; that shit lasts forever.

I thought about this as soon as the opening credits of Allan Carr and Nancy Walker's Village People origin comedy, Can't Stop the Music (1980), our "HMWYBS" April Fools Selection. It was like the movie was blowing its glitter load in the first frame. Turns out there was no refractory period. The glitter just keeps on coming and not just over animated fonts. Dancers actually FLING physical glitter at each other and in the final scene it RAINS glitter. David Hodo (the construction worker) falls victim to the glitter the earliest in his introductory song, the ghastly "I Love You To Death" (pictured left). Hodo is now 66 years old and only stopped performing with the group last year. I bet you anything that he still finds glitter in the retirement home.

Surprisingly my choice for Best Shot is glitter free. But it's still really gay, don't worry. But no it's not this one...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar252014

Women's History Month: Laura Dern as Katherine Harris

Women's History Month continues with Adam Armstrong on Laura Dern in "Recount"  

Katherine Harris and Laura Dern as Katherine Harris

Born: Katherine Harris clawed her way into this world on April 5th, 1957 and, presumably, crawled to her mother’s boudoir to try her first crack at putting on lipstick and dabbling in the different shades of foundation. Rose to prominence as Florida’s Secretary of State during the 2000 election. 

Death (in politics): Still kicking, albeit no longer Florida’s Secretary of State. After a failed 2006 senate election run, she still combats jokes regarding her unfairly ridiculed makeup techniques during the 2000 election recount fiasco. 

In the 2008 HBO film Recount, we are introduced to Harris when she is awoken, startled, at 3:52 a.m. by a phone call on the night of the election. She groggily answers the phone while the voice on the other end heatedly asks who the winner of Florida’s Electoral College votes is. Clad in a frumpy William Shakespeare caricature illustrated t-shirt and a pleather wannabe biker jacket, perhaps from an earlier time when she envisioned Harleys and assless chaps instead of pant suits and podiums, she sprays a puff of breath freshener and walks into the midst of electoral chaos, ripe for the feast that’s to begin. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar232014

Link a Prayer

Hello Cinema our friend Amir started a podcast on Iranian cinema. It's an interesting listen even if you know nothing about the topic, particular the first section on how Amir and Tina came to love cinema
Coming Soon Ellen Page will star in Queen and Country based on a comic book about a British intelligence operative
Comic Alliance on the petititon to cast an Asian American as Iron Fist in the upcoming Netflix series. This is SUCH a good idea, because that character was obviously envisioned as white for very problematic reasons given that he's totally tied to Asian culture.

Shadow and Act there's a Spike Lee box set coming this June which will include the first ever Blu-Ray of Summer of Sam so that's great news.
/Film an infographic on Hollywood disasters. They love destroying New York City but it's not the only city they ruin
Vanity Fair rejected movie poster designs for Gravity
House Next Door a look back at Madonna's most beloved song "Like a Prayer" which just turned 25 years old!
Kevin Maguire the X-Men do the Oscar selfie 
Playbill a history of Les Misérables which is reopening on Broadway. It just keeps coming back. 

Release Date News
Everest, that mountain climbing adventure with Jake Gyllenhaal and Zero Dark Thirty's Jason Clarke (among others in a fairly stellar cast) will hit IMAX and 3D screens on September 18th. In case you didn't hear James Gray's long delayed The Immigrant will open (finally) on May 2nd, nearly a year after its Cannes debut - nothing like striking when the iron is hot! And because they're just never going to stop and neither is Hugh Jackman despite his vague protestations, the X-Men have dates scheduled through 2018

And Today's Watch(es)
Kevin Bacon goes a little Footloose on The Tonight Show (looking pretty good for 55) and it turns out Jennifer Lawrence recorded not one but two lipsynch numbers for American Hustle. The deleted one is to Santana's "Evil Woman" - I'm not embedding it here because it starts playing without asking it to. That is NOT okay in embeddable videos.