At this point, to add even another sentence of fawning, if well-deserved, praise for My Bloody Valentine's Loveless seems pointlessly tautological. Yes, a quarter century after an album's release is theoretically a prime moment to reflect on its legacy and influence. But that legacy was secured nearly as soon as Kevin Shields's symphony of noise was released, at which point its revolutionary layers of guitar effects immediately began inspiring a generation of music nerds and gear geeks to start their own bands. After all, the album, along with My Bloody Valentine's debut, Isn't Anything, almost singlehandedly spurred the formation of an entirely new genre in shoegaze.
Zurich Film Festival
One of my primary curiosities coming to Zurich—in addition, of course, to exploring the historic city and its surrounding natural wonders—was to get a better sense of independent German-language cinema beyond the more recognizable names circulated in international festivals. This niche is well represented here in the Focus section, which spotlights works from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, though oddly enough, a large percentage of the films competing in this sidebar are actually set elsewhere. Case in point: Berlin-based director Alexandra Balteanu's well-meaning but interminable Vanatoare, a visually sloppy (lots of bumbling widescreen handheld work in low light) piece of Romanian miserabilism that's as much about a rundown, puddle-strewn highway underpass in perpetually overcast Bucharest as it is about any of its interchangeably down-and-out characters.
For over two decades, Cirque du Soleil has made a living by gussying up the circus, leaning on their French-Canadian roots to transform the American big top into their more pronounced “grand chapiteau.” The steampunk aesthetic of Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosity provides a clear and winning way in which to wring magic from the old, and features several stunning illusions, many of which—like a whimsical cardboard cutout of a train that weaves through the aisles before chugging onto the stage as an elaborate, gigantic costume—seem like a live-action homage to Georges Méliès.
Steve James displays his usual savvy for picking culturally resonant topics in his latest documentary, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. This time it's the oddly underreported story of Abacus, the eponymous family-owned Chinatown business, which is the only U.S. bank ever indicted for fraud in connection with the subprime mortgage scandal of the late 2000s. The rest of the film's title comes from journalist Matt Taibbi, who explains that the banks actually responsible for the crisis were all deemed “too big to fail,” so none were prosecuted for their crimes. “Too big to fail translates to small enough to jail, and Abacus is small enough to jail,” he says.
New York Film Festival
That so much of the archival footage from Karl Marx City is banal only makes it more troubling. The material comes from the surveillance records of the Stasi, the East German secret police that conducted extensive domestic surveillance during the Cold War era to weed out the disloyal. As such, the copious video of public spaces—buildings, streets, parks—speaks to the totality of the state's monitoring of citizens, so extreme that all of those areas aren't simply documented, but covered from every conceivable angle, allowing directors Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker to piece together continuity editing of 30-year-old footage. As Epperlein grimly notes at one point, the high level of coverage used to spy on unaware citizens walking around the city produces perhaps the closest thing to documentary truth, a complete record of lives unperturbed by knowledge of the cameras.
Double Play Films
It's generally agreed upon that one should allow themselves a few hours of decompression and acclimation when first landing in a faraway city, but as I drowsily touched down for the 12th annual Zurich Film Festival after an arduous 10-hour flight, time was not on my side, so I rushed instead to a film that captures something ineffable about the frazzled traveler's mindset. Gabe Klinger's Porto, my first taste of the festival at an evening showing, is about bemusedly roaming in half-light through a foreign city while periodically drifting in and out of recollections of a potent recent relationship gone sour.
- Alexandru Papadopol
- anton yelchin
- Candela Recio
- Cosmo Jarvis
- Dorian Boguță
- Dragoș Bucur
- florence pugh
- Francesco Carril
- gabe klinger
- Itsaso Arana
- Jonás Trueba
- La Reconquista
- Lady Macbeth
- Lucie Lucas
- Ovidiu Dunel-Stancu
- Pablo Hoyos
- Paul Negoescu
- Two Lottery Tickets
- William Oldroyd
- Zurich Film Festival
As with Terrence Malick's most recent works, To the Wonder and Knight of Cups, the most alien visions in Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience aren't those of swirling galactic detritus or primitive sea animals, but those from our contemporary, built environment. The Burj Khalifa, viewed from the night sky above Dubai, looks like an astonishing and abstract assemblage of black-and-white panels molded into a spire. An otherwise unremarkable industrial complex seems to have one inhabitant: a little girl in a dark dress playing with a rock. Obsessively manicured suburban lawns are notably absent of life.
It's no exaggeration to claim that Peter Brook is one of the most influential theater directors of the latter half of the last century. The English-born theater maker, and established filmmaker in his own right, is internationally hailed, revered even by some, as a kind of guru whose work is a constant search for the essence of theater. His 1968 book The Empty Space is a seminal work of theater analysis, and his productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1960s and 1970s (Marat/Sade, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night's Dream) are celebrated for their groundbreaking innovation.
Since then, he's developed and staged a series of adventurous productions around the globe. In New York City, Brook's experimental staging of The Tragedy of Carmen re-lit and revitalized Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater in 1983, and in 1987, his elemental nine-hour production The Mahabharata, based on the ancient multi-volume Sanskrit epic from India, restored life to a long-defunct movie theater in Brooklyn.
That venue, now the BAM Harvey Theater, has been an integral part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's arts programming ever since. It's to this same stage that the 91-year-old director brings his latest, Battlefield, a small-scale production featuring four actors and a drummer, which is also based on the classic Indian text that inspired him three decades ago. When I reached Brook by phone earlier this month, he spoke from his office at the Théâtre Bouffes du Nord, his home base in Paris since the mid-'70s.
Anne Tarver stares at herself in the mirror, then reaches into her purse to apply some lipstick. She nods, perhaps approvingly, at this familiar mask she wears and then walks down a corridor. Something in Virginia's soundtrack, performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, hints that something is “off,” as does the ominous glow of an emergency exit as Tarver—and the players who control her—wait in line for whatever it is that lies just around the corner. Just as quickly as this foreboding dread is summoned, though, it vanishes, and Tarver simply walks across a stage: She's graduating from the FBI, and this is the ceremony at which she receives her badge. And then, just as abruptly, that eerie sensation returns: a jump cut empties the auditorium of people and a previously unseen cassette player broadcasts the out-of-place sound of a beeping hospital monitor. Where is Tarver, really?
Those overwhelmed by Rive's unapologetic difficulty can't say they weren't warned. From the game's title, which means “to tear something apart violently,” to the start menu, which only offers you the option of a Hard Mode, or even the opening level, redolent of a steroidal Gradius, there's rarely a moment in which the multidirectional machine gun mounted atop the protagonist's Spidertank comes to rest. And should an underwater area temporarily disarm that tank, rest assured that enemy turrets can be hacked to provide additional firepower. There's a reason Rive's scavenging hero is named Roughshot, just as the carefully designed set pieces serve to justify the fact that you aren't allowed to freely roam Galaxian Service Vessel #6.