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Entries in religiosity (74)

Friday
Nov032017

Talking About Passion and the Films of Stephen Cone

by Glenn Dunks

In some ways, Stephen Cone is an unlikely name to warrant a retrospective. And yet in other ways, he’s a perfect choice. Those who already know this writer-director likely typify him, not incorrectly, by the way he infuses queer-leaning narratives with themes of religion and faith. But considering Cone’s films – of which he is likely best known for Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party from 2015 – have rarely ventured out of the queer film festival circuit and his earlier works remain virtually unseen, Talk About the Passion: Stephen Cone’s First Act is actually a well-timed way to learn about a filmmaker who is clearly doing enough right to stick around for a little while yet.

His debut as a feature direct after several short and medium-length titles was In Memoriam, a film that sits rather out of place among Cone’s filmography. Following a man who becomes curiously obsessed with the story of a couple who fell from their roof while drunk and who decides to make his own movie about their love, it plays very much like a low-budget stereotypical first film full of artistic flourishes and awkward narrative beats. It’s not a bad film, but it is also hard to decipher exactly what it was that Cone was attempting to say beyond a very basic reading that everybody’s story deserves to be taken seriously.

He followed that one quite quickly with The Wise Kids, released in the same year. This was the first time his own life as the son of a Baptist minister came into play on a feature (many of his shorts dealt with religious themes) and mixed with what I assume is his experiences of growing up gay (correct me if I am wrong). While it is certainly not averse to some of the same directorial greenness that he showed in In Memoriam, The Wise Kids proves a significant step up...

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Tuesday
Oct242017

Doc Corner: 'One of Us' and 'Thy Father's Chair'

by Glenn Dunks

Not content to let scientology corner the market in controversial religion exposes, directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady focus their attention on New York’s Hasidic community in their latest feature. A dramatic change of pace after last year’s celebrity bio-doc Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, the filmmakers return at least somewhat to the themes of their most famous film, the Oscar-nominated Jesus Camp. Yet despite the potential cross-over to be found in the pair that seek to uncover the alarming practises of organised religion, One of Us is a much different beast.

Unlike that earlier film, which trained its cameras on the inner-circle of a camp for raising the next generation of evangelicals, One of Us observes from the outside, following the stories of three individuals who have attempted to extract themselves from the community and tell some often haunting and traumatic tales of their times within it...

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Monday
Oct232017

Middleburg: Maggie Betts' "Novitiate"

Continuing our Middleburg Film Festival adventures. Here's Lynn Lee

Middleburg is the kind of idyllic Virginia town that makes me wish I had enough independent means to spend regular fall weekends there lodging at a cushy spa, riding horses, visiting local wineries, and binging once a year on Oscar-baity films before they get released in theaters.  As it is, I was happy to get a taste of the latter on a press pass to this year’s festival.  On Day 3, I joined Nathaniel in town (albeit at different events) and took in Maggie Betts’ Novitiate, Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck, and Dee Rees’ Mudbound.

Of the three, the one I knew the least about beforehand turned out to be the one I liked best.  Set at a convent in the 1960s around the time of Vatican II, Novitiate centers on the struggles and yearnings of young postulant Cathleen (Margaret Qualley of “The Leftovers” and The Nice Guys) and the fellow nun-aspirants and nuns around her.  That may sound like niche fare at best, but I hope Sony Pictures figures out how to market it because it’s an astoundingly assured, riveting debut feature...

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Friday
Oct132017

Podcast: Battle of the Sexes, Beach Rats, and mother!

NathanielNick, Joe and Chris try and catch up with movies the podcast hasn't covered

Index (42 minutes)
00:01 Battle of the Sexes
12:00 mother!, interpretations, Q & A culture
28:30 Michelle Pfeiffer and Darren Aronofsky
34:00 Beach Rats
39:15 silliness and sign-offs

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunesContinue the conversations in the comments, won't you? 

"the sink's not braced yet!"

Sunday
Oct082017

Nick's Foreign Film Take, Pt 1: Sheikh Jackson, First They Killed My Father...

by Nick Davis

There’s niche-marketing, and then there’s micro-targeting, and then there’s saying to your friend Nathaniel, “I hope you’ll still keep an eye out for Shahrbanoo Sadat’s Wolf and Sheep, even though Afghanistan didn’t select it as their Oscar submission.” We really do live in a weird bubble, but that is why one is grateful for The Film Experience, where folks are all the same kind of different as you. And as we all know, this site has been a longtime devotee of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in all stages of curation and competition. So, seizing the opportunity of a sympathetic audience, and amidst a season where many of the 84 movies put forward by their home countries as Academy Award contenders are floating around at festivals—big and small, rural and urban, American and elsewhere—I thought I’d weigh in on the titles I’ve caught.

Argentina, Zama
It’s an amazing vote of artistic confidence for Argentina to choose Lucrecia Martel’s deeply demanding, deeply rewarding colonialist-bughouse period drama as their contender. They passed over all three of her previous features as their submission, and as always, they had plenty of viable possibilities this year, including Santiago Mitre’s The Summit, an absorbing drama of North and South American political machinations. That movie’s somewhat televisual style might have made it palatable to some voters. Zama, by contrast, is as cinematic as they come. In fact, “they” don’t really come like this: a movie almost without establishing shots or hand-holding narrative cues, aggressive with its weird ambient sounds and literally eccentric frames. The movie telegraphs the protagonist’s escalating madness but without letting him go Full Aguirre and without entering the kind of outsized, Lynchian vortex that unmistakably makes the point: it’s easy to watch and think that you, not Zama, are failing to keep up. This seems like a Shortlist prospect with Oscar at the very best, but it’s also guaranteed to be among the year’s most extraordinary movies. Talk about a summit!
My grade:

Austria's Happy End, Cambodia's First They Killed My Father, and Egypt's Sheikh Jackson are after the jump...

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Tuesday
Aug152017

1963 Convo Pt 2: Lilies of the Field 

Previously, in this '63 Party:
The Supporting Actress Smackdown 
Podcast Conversation Part 1

To close out our little Oscar 1963 celebration, Nathaniel talks Lilies of the Field and more with this month's panel: Teo Bugbee, Keiran Scarlett, Séan McGovern, and Brian Mullin. 

Smackdown '63 Companion Podcast Part 2
(42 minutes)
In which we wrap up our discussion of big budget airport trifle The VIPs. Then the panel has differing opinions on the merits of the classic feelgood Lilies of the Field. Also up for discussion: Sidney Poitier's unique spot in Hollywood history, Denzel Washington comparisons, and an aside to Alfred Hitchcock and The Birds. And, as we say our goodbyes, we each offer up one must-see film from 1963 that we hope you'll watch.

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunesContinue the conversations in the comments, won't you? 

Smackdown '63 Conversation Part Two - LILIES OF THE FIELD