Advertisements

Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Candyman (Rose)
2. Happy-Go-Lucky (Leigh)
3. Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong)
4. The Thin Blue Line (Morris)
5. Taxi Driver (Scorsese)
6. The Blues Brothers (Landis)
7. I Vitelloni (Fellini)
8. Grizzly Man (Herzog)
9. 3-Iron (Kim)
10. Days of Heaven (Malick)

Advertisements

The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Breathless (Godard)
2. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (Lynch)
3. Black Girl (Sembene)
4. The Art of Sitting Quietly and Doing Nothing (Alonzo)
5. Within Our Gates (Micheaux)
6. Wanda (Loden)
7. Memories of Murder (Bong)
8. Meet Me in St. Louis (Minnelli)
9. North By Northwest (Hitchcock)
10. My Friend Dahmer (Meyers)


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Godard Mon Amour (Hazanavicius)
2. Happy Death Day (Landon)
3. Los Olvidados (Bunuel)
4. Golden Exits (Perry)
5. Cooley High (Schultz)
6. Breathless (Godard)
7. Failan (Song)
8. Zama (Martel)
9. Medium Cool (Wexler)
10. Some Like It Hot (Wilder)


Maggie Scrantom’s ATOMS OF ASHES

The following review appeared at Time Out Chicago today. I hope everyone sees this wonderful short.
Screen shot 2018-03-21 at 1.51.04 PM.png

Women of the Now, the female-centric video and event production company founded by local director Layne Marie Williams (An Atramentous Mind), celebrates its one year anniversary with a short-film showcase at the New 400 Theater this Sunday, April 25. There is plenty of exciting work included in the 3-hour lineup but writer/director Maggie Scrantom’s Atoms of Ashes deserves special mention.

Atoms of Ashes is a surprisingly confident, even masterfully made dramatic short, especially considering that Scrantom, an actress who has appeared on Chicago Med and Chicago P.D., has no directing credits yet listed on the Internet Movie Database. Written with Hilary Williams and June Thiele, Scran offers a poetic examination of one woman’s grief in the wake of having a miscarriage. Beginning with a shot of an ultrasound and continuing with scenes of a would-be mother (Siobhan Reddy-Best) imagining a future of quality time spent with a daughter who will never be born (Kara Grace Williams), this emotionally affecting, sci-fi-tinged mood piece combines powerful but wordless performances with an evocative score, quotes from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which appear onscreen as hand-written text, and startling visual effects involving the solar system, to conjure, not unlike Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life in miniature, a sense of the cosmic and the eternal. The result is an exhilarating journey through cycles of love, loss and rebirth that seems to encapsulate the entire universe in seven minutes.

More information about Women of the Now’s 2018 Anniversary Showcase can be found on the WOTN website.


Mercury in Retrograde on the Radio / Samantha’s Amazing Acrocats at the Siskel

27654806_1989773294629998_8927380975392060885_n
My film Mercury in Retrograde will be featured on two radio shows this weekend in advance of our screenings at the Gene Siskel Film Center. First up: you can listen to me talk about the film on Saturday, February 10 at 9am on the popular “Live from the Heartland” show (88.7FM in Chicago or online at WLUW.org). Then on Sunday, February 11, tune in to hear the great Najarra Townsend and me reminisce about making MiR at 8am on Gary Zidek’s invaluable “Arts Section” show (90.9FM in Chicago or online at WDCB.org).

Speaking of the Siskel, I will be moderating a Q&A there with director Jacob Feiring following a screening of his documentary Samantha’s Amazing Acrocats at 3pm this Saturday. Much like last year’s surprise hit Kedi, it’s a must-see for lovers of both cats and cinema. Hope to see you there!


The Safdie Brothers’ GOOD TIME at the Music Box

I wrote the following review of the Safdie brothers’ Good Time, my favorite American film of 2017, for Cinefile Chicago. It opens at the Music Box Theatre in 35mm tonight.

good-time

Benny and Josh Safdie’s GOOD TIME (New American)

Music Box Theatre – Friday-Thursday, 9:30pm, and Friday and Saturday, Midnight

The American heist movie enjoyed something of a resurgence in 2017 with the releases of LOGAN LUCKY, BABY DRIVER and GOOD TIME. While the first two of these films are enjoyable, comedic, populist entertainments, the Safdie brothers’ movie is, by contrast, a trickier, more troubling and ultimately more satisfying thing: a breathlessly paced thriller centered on an unlikable protagonist (who is brilliantly played by a charismatic actor) that continually challenges viewers by making disturbing asides about racism in contemporary America—beginning with the fact that the pre-credits heist is pulled off by the main characters, brothers Connie and Nick Nikas (Robert Pattinson and co-director Benny Safdie), in blackface—while also never slowing down enough to allow us to process what’s happening until it’s over. This provocative mishmash of contradictory elements, and the almost-assaultive quality with which they’re put across, has proven too much for some critics, including the New York Times‘ A.O. Scott who accused the Safdie brothers of dubiously including “racial signifiers” that he feels can be interpreted in a multitude of ways but that the filmmakers ultimately don’t care anything about. My own take is that the Safdies are subtly but unambiguously critiquing Connie Nikas for the way he plays the race card throughout the film. Just look at the memorable scene set in Adventureland: Connie uses his white privilege to his advantage, breaking and entering an amusement park after hours to find a bottle of abandoned LSD worth thousands of dollars then walking away scot free with his white criminal accomplice while allowing two innocent black people to take the fall and go to jail. The scene is about as damning of an indictment of racial profiling as one could ask for. I suspect what really makes Scott uncomfortable is the fact that the Safdies are asking viewers to admire Connie’s cleverness in thinking on his feet and improvising a plan as he goes along while simultaneously finding him morally reprehensible. I also don’t know what Scott is talking about when he faults the film for its “bad lighting” and “avoidance of prettiness,” qualities that are much better ascribed to the Safdies’ previous film, the urban junkie-drama HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT. While the two films do share a similar sense of gritty verisimilitude (especially in the extensive use of exterior New York City locations, which harkens back to the Film School Generation of the 1970s in the way it seemingly turns urban spaces into a giant playground), GOOD TIME is also much more daring in how it juxtaposes its “street cred” with a bolder sense of aesthetic stylization—one where helicopter shots, neon lighting, bodies-in-constant-motion and a pulse-pounding electronic score all blend together into a gorgeous and expressionistic swirl. At the end of the film, when Connie’s luck has finally run out for good, we see him in an extreme overhead shot attempting to run from the police but looking as helpless and trapped as a rat in a maze. It’s a marriage of form and content worthy of comparison to Fritz Lang or Alfred Hitchcock, a moment of pure cinema to renew one’s faith in the medium. (2017, 101 min, 35mm) MGS


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Our Hospitality (Keaton)
2. 24 Frames (Kiarostami)
3. Call Northside 777 (Hathaway)
4. Phantom Thread (Anderson)
5. Young Mr. Lincoln (Ford)
6. Notting Hill (Michell)
7. Porto (Klinger)
8. Phantom Thread (Anderson)
9. Waiting for Kiarostami (Khandan)
10. 24 Frames (Kiarostami)


%d bloggers like this: