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Podcast - 1996 Cannes Competition Revisit

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Entries in politics (163)

Tuesday
May242016

Review: Weiner

To paraphrase Jean-Luc Godard: if you want your movie to hook an audience, all your story needs is a girl and a smoking gun. In Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s queasily absorbing political documentary Weiner, the two smash against one another on the dick pic-riddled smartphone of disgraced former congressman, Anthony Weiner of New York.

Capturing Weiner’s catastrophic 2013 New York City mayoral campaign from within the scrum and beyond the sack, the film scrutinizes the self-obsession of its candidate against his noble political ideals, and the media’s lethal manipulation of the former and abject disinterest in the latter. It is also a thrilling and meticulous account of a campaign staff in free-fall, with the candidate mistaking the whir of escaping air for flight. If D.A. Pennebaker’s The War Room shows us how the machinations of campaign politics successfully operate around pitfalls and personal indiscretions along the trail, Weiner demonstrates how the media can lethally wedge a dildo right between the gears.

More after the jump...

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Tuesday
May172016

Doc Corner: Revisiting 'Fahrenheit 9/11' and It's Cannes Influence

Glenn here. Each Tuesday we bring you reviews and features on documentaries from theatres, festivals, and on demand. In celebration of not just the Cannes Film Festival, which is underway right now, but also the release of my book Cannes Film Festival: 70 Years out now through Wilkinson Publishing, we're looking at only the second documentary to win the Palme d'Or. The book is a glossy trip through history, looking at the festival's beginnings, the films, the moviestars, the fashions and the controversies. You better believe I convinced my editors on a double-page Nicole Kidman spread!

Just earlier this year I said of Michael Moore’s most recent film, Where to Invade Next?, that it was “utterly disgraceful” and that it was bound to “truly be one of the year’s worst movies.” That film was on my mind as I sat down to rewatch the director’s 2004 Palme d’Or winning documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11. Would the impact of that initial viewing of Fahrenheit 9/11 remain all these years later now that my eyes and mind are much wider? It’s a little bit of yes and a little bit of no. ...more after the jump.

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Saturday
May142016

Q&A: Everybody Wants Drop Dead Gorgeous Editing & Combative Personalities

It's the time again: Reader Questions hooray. I picked 8 to answer this week. Thanks to everyone who asked. I can't answer all but who knows - the unanswered might well inspire something down the road, conciously or otherwise. You never know...

MARSHA: Are people like Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump just so evil and insane that they are beyond parody, or are there actors and directors you can think of who could convey their humanity and worldview?

NATHANIEL: Marsha, I promised I wasn't going to talk about politics until September, remember?!? Don't tempt me.  All I will say is that a great actor can perform magic even under impossible circumstances. Remember how deep Julianne Moore was able to go with Sarah Palin?

JB: Can we discuss Drop Dead Gorgeous. In spite of having all the right ingredients, it's never quite hit cult (gay) status like I always assumed it would. Why do you think that is?

lots more after the jump...

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Monday
May092016

Yes No Maybe So: Southside With You

Manuel here. Seeing as today seems to be the first day where New York City seems to have finally begun to embrace Springtime, it's no surprise I found myself lured by the warm, sunny vistas in Richard Tanne's first trailer for his Sundance flick Southside with You. The film follows the first date of an African-American couple in Chicago. Not just any couple, mind you. It's the Obamas' first date. That obviously raises the stakes though from the looks of it (and from the notices out of Sundance) the film still plays like a low-key romantic drama focused more on the couple's dynamics with a pair of eye-catching performances at its heart.

And so, let's put the trailer through our patented Yes/No/Maybe So format after the jump to see whether Tanne's film is ready for its close up.

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Wednesday
Apr272016

New Actor Obsession: Dominic Rains

Confession: I normally remember actresses names with their faces straightaway even if they've only had a bit role that impressed me. Sometimes actors take a few roles to reel me in as if I'm face blind. And so it was at Tribeca where Dominic Rains took the Best Actor prize for his strong sympathetic work as Osman, an Afghani journalist transplanted to rural California in Ian Old's The Fixer (2016). All throughout the picture I was like "who is this guy?" like I'd never seen him before only to discover thereafter that I'd already seen him AND loved him in two other movies. In my defense the Iranian-American actor, born in Tehran and raised in Texas, looks different in each of his key roles. But still! I'd never let this talent slip by me with an actress no matter what they did with their hair and costumes.

Rains was the mohawked punk rocker in the little-seen but high-energy Taqwacores (2010) and the sleazy drug-addled pimp in the stunning Iranian vampire picture A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014).

More after the jump...

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Wednesday
Apr202016

Review: Confirmation

Kieran, here. Politics, even at their most abstract are ultimately personal. At its best moments, HBO's Confirmation directed by Rick Famuyiwa’s (Dope) and written by Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) understands this. Anita Hill’s (Kerry Washington) 1991 allegations of sexual harassment against Justice Clarence Thomas (Wendell Pierce) on the eve of his confirmation to the US Supreme court is a subject about which few who can remember are indifferent. Who was lying and about what? What did the Anita Hill’s testimony say about the positions of gender, race and political alignment in this country? These are the kinds of questions that evoke vociferous, often angry opinions and the film doesn’t offer up easy answers.

The truth of whether Clarence Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill is secondary. Thomas, as rendered by Pierce in what is actually a small role with few spoken lines, is a beleaguered public figure, forced to defend himself and deal with the consequences these allegations had on his personal and professional life. I say this not to imply that Thomas is innocent (I’ve always thought he was guilty). But, as is often the disgusting and sad truth about men who commit these crimes, they’re not always technically lying when they maintain their innocence under oath. In order for it to truly be a lie, these men would have to believe that they did anything wrong in the first place. Whatever mental gymnastics Clarence Thomas had to go through in order to get to this place, his own words and Pierce’s subtle but precise performance clearly illustrate that Thomas does not believe he was guilty of any wrongdoing. When the film is examining the implications of a culture that allows men to make these leaps and how it turns victims into villains, it shines and Pierce is a key component of what makes this element works. He opts not to turn Thomas into a monster for it’s not the “monsters” who violate women and irrevocably damage lives. They are simply people, a much truer and scarier fact to fathom.

more...

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Wednesday
Apr132016

HBO’s LGBT History: Larry Kramer in Love and Anger (2015)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at the recent doc Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures which works as a nice primer on the famed photographer and, as is par for the course for films on gay icons from a certain era, as a portrait of a man working tirelessly to make the most of his ever winnowing time: Mapplethorpe died at age 42 of AIDS complications. We’re not going too far afield this week, as we’re focusing on a documentary on “America’s angriest AIDS activist” in Jean Carlomusto’s Larry Kramer in Love and Anger.

Kramer should be familiar to you. We’ve previously encountered him and talked about his righteous anger when we talked about The Normal Heart, and by that point he had already made HBO appearances in The Out List, Vito, and Outrage. That enough should be a reminder that there’s no way of talking about American gay rights activism of the last three decades without talking about Larry Kramer. Carlomusto’s film expediently moves through Kramer’s biography; from his time at Columbia Pictures, to Women in Love and Faggots, through the Gay Men’s Health Crisis group and The Normal Heart to ACT UP and his latest health scares and marriage...

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