The House


Consolers of the Critical

The statement in the press release regarding the new Raconteurs album, Consolers of the Lonely, was telling in its word choice—the album's quick recording-to-release turnaround was designed so no one party would have the "upper hand"—but the quote wasn't attributed directly to Jack White. I assumed it came from him because it's consistent with his twitchiness and his authenticity fetish, but I suppose it's irrelevant exactly who made the statement; what's significant about it is the hardline defensiveness it reflects.

While I can't say that it's an attitude that's entirely on point with regard to the broad critical community (the underlying competition among the most high profile music blogs to stay several months ahead of an arbitrarily defined curve, which I would speculate is the source of defensiveness here, really came to a head during the pre-release hype for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's first album and has only been scrutinized further thanks to Black Kids and Vampire Weekend), I also can't say that it's entirely unfounded. There is a definite impulse, as Ann Powers wrote in the Los Angeles Times last week, to be first, and a corresponding empowerment that accompanies it: Whether or not any one writer wants to admit to it, I like the idea that one of my reviews may have an impact on even one of the few people who read them.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: consolers of the lonely, jack white, raconteurs


Boarding Gate

[Editor's Note: This is the inaugural installment of a new House feature compiling links to reviews of new and recent theatrical films playing in North America. It is intended as a sampling of critical opinion and not a guide to theaters because, hey, it's a big world. If we've left out any titles, or if you'd like to call our attention to a noteworthy review, feel free to leave a comment below.]

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: 21, alexandra, be kind rewind, boarding gate, chapter 27, chicago 10, cloverfield, diary of the dead, doomsday, flawless, frownland, funny games, horton hears a who, in bruges, irina palm, jar city, juno, my brother is an only child, no country for old men, paranoid park, priceless, shelter, shotgun stories, stop-loss, the bank job, the counterfeiters, the grand


Dune

This week's episode is a tad bittersweet, as later in recording we get onto the topic of independent cinema (well, indie cinema, not Indiewood) and how it is being covered less and less in mainstream publications. The Hollywood Reporter ran a piece last week detailing how "more and more indie films have flooded the market (up from 501 in 2006 to 530 last year), [and] they are overwhelming critics." Tack on the recent cut-backs at Tribune—as we did last week—and a discussion on the state of freelance vs. staff critic is born. (This was before news came Monday from The Reeler that Nathan Lee had been let go from The Village Voice due to "economic reasons.") Vadim and I do spar a bit on the topic, so you're warned. On the brighter side, that's after the ten minute mark, when we know you all stop listening and go to Defamer or GreenCine.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: Dune, jeremiah kipp, john lichman, nathan lee, peter berg, the hollywood reporter, the reeler, the village voice, vadim rizov


Willie Nelson

Until a week ago, I hated Willie Nelson. Please understand: from ages 6 to 18, I grew up in Austin, Texas. Austin is a lovely city, full of Tex-Mex food, a bastardized cuisine equal parts queso, spicy meats and Mexican staples whose equal I have yet to find in NYC. (Authentic Mexican, sure; the greasy, cheesy Texas version, not yet. Please advise.) It has the nicest weather in Texas, and since everyone has A/C, we get by, unlike New York's sweltering shit-heap apartments in the summer. It has pretty hipster boys and girls fighting for their turf across from aggrieved UT fratboys, and one of the most supportive scenes for film production in the country.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: Band Of Horses, cease to begin, come into my house, no kids, Willie Nelson


Mulberry Street

"It's a neighborhood movie," says Jim Mickle, director of Mulberry Street. This gritty NYC horror film, set in a rickety apartment building on the lower east side, places its emphasis on the diverse, resilient locals who live there. Some of them have been tenants all their lives, and they all form a funny, wisecracking community of oddballs. There's Charlie (Larry Medich), the old guy who lives upstairs with his portable respirator, and Clutch (Nick Damici, who co-wrote the script with Mickle), a gruff but neighborly ex-boxer who has an unspoken affection for his upstairs neighbor, Kay (Bo Corre), a foreign woman who works at the bar down the street. Meanwhile, Clutch's daughter (Kim Blair) just got back into the city and is making her way from Harlem to the downtown area. They aren't caricatures, but lived-in, believable individuals—perhaps because they were based on some actual people that live upstairs from Dimici.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: bo corre, Jim Mickle, kim blair, larry medich, mulberry street, Nick DAmici


New Directors/New Films: Foster Child

An issue film that doesn't play like one, Foster Child hangs compellingly from the shoulders of its characters, and though the influence of the Dardennes is felt, director Brillante Mendoza doesn't aim for claustrophobic effect. Like Jeffrey Jeturian's The Bet Collector, part of this year's Global Lens series, the filmmaker's docu-realist gaze absorbs a Philippine community's way of life without prejudice or judgment, roving narrow streets and capturing seemingly unrehearsed episodes of joy and panic with equal fixation. Much of the movie consists of Thelma (Cherry Pie Picache) simply getting around town and doing the only thing she knows how: being a mother. Under her foster care is a strangely silent little boy named John-John (Kier Segundo), whom she tends to just as she would her own blood, feeding him, clothing him, and in one particularly expressive scene, bathing him until she makes the mistake of going to get a towel, thus allowing him to piss on the street and run off to get dirty again. The boy's seemingly uncontrollable need to urinate is a running gag as amusing as it is touching, and as in a scene where Thelma's son helps the boy aim his dingaling into a toilet bowl, the film attests to the role of motherhood in society and the way in which behavior is ingrained at an early age. The film's goodwill is only squandered once, when Mendoza condescends to Thelma's know-how when she walks into a pimped-out shower inside a luxe hotel room, all in the interest of expressing the differences between the haves and have-nots and point out the absurdity of a shower with too many knobs accomplishing just as much—if not less—than a bucket filled with water, but the focus he places on the bounty of family ritual is not easily forgotten, not unlike the final shot in the film, which literally and figuratively looks up to Thelma and the role she fulfills in her society.

Foster Child @ New Directors/New Films

This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.

  • print
  • email

TAGS: brillante mendoza, Cherry Pie Picache, foster child, Kier Segundo, new directors new films


Ballast

Now in its 37th year, the annual New Directors/New Films series kicks off tonight with a screening of the Sundance Film Festival prizewinner Frozen River. The schedule for the following week-and-a-half (closing night: Sunday, April 6th) is an outwardly eclectic mix of subjects, though whispers from several festival-fatigued colleagues suggest there's a lot of same-ol'-same-ol' chaff among the needle-in-the-haystack wheat—a par for the course reaction as far as these things go, helpful only in pointing up the ease with which cinephilic passion becomes masochistic drudgery. I attended only three press screenings (one of these was for a film I had seen several times before), but that was enough to glean something of a linking theme: the symbolic weight of one's home/homeland, literally evident via the plantations that figure as central locales in Eat, for This Is My Body and Moving Midway, and more figuratively explored via the cluttered downtown Manhattan loft (a repository for several characters' perpetually resonant memories and inescapably present-tense hang-ups) in Momma's Man. Such an observation runs the risk of reducing the New Directors series to some kind of singular, bastardized essence. No doubt the many writers who contributed to this festival preview (heroes all of 'em) would beg to add their own perspective, and that they have done in the entries below (all told, eleven of the series' twenty-six features are reviewed). Consider the result less a consumer's guide than a signpost marking a moment—use our collected observations to journey where you will. Keith Uhlich

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: ballast, eat for this is my body, frozen river, japan japan, la zona, megane, mommas man, moving midway, new directorsnew films, sleep dealer, slingshot hip hop, water lilies, xxy


Shotgun Stories

In Shotgun Stories, a mother comes to her son's doorstep at night to tell him that his father is dead. Pause. Crickets. Son responds, stone-faced, "When's the funeral?" Pause. Crickets. Mom: "You look in the paper." Pause. "You goin'?" "No." Shotgun Stories goes on like that for a mesmerizing 90 minutes. Glorious Southern fried sloth, in epic widescreen.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: Barlow Jacobs, david gordon green, Douglas Ligon, g. allan wilkins, Glenda Pannell, jeff nichols, michael shannon, Natalie Canerday, shotgun stories


Torchwood

One of the sweetest scenes of the season-opening "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was Gwen (Eve Myles), wide-eyed, explaining to Jack (John Barrowman) that the ring she was wearing was an engagement ring. Rhys (Kai Owen) had asked, and she'd said yes, because "Nobody else will have me." Throughout the season the writing team has done a good job of referring to the wedding without making too big a deal of it, which was a very good thing. Anyone who has ever been married or planned a wedding knows how the process can take over your life; the problem is, the details you're obsessing over are deathly boring to the rest of the world. "Something Borrowed," a wedding episode, Torchwood-style, avoids both the precious and the obnoxious, with shape-shifting aliens, tons of snappy dialog, and terrific action set-pieces; in the end, love and a really, really big gun conquer all.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: Eve Myles, gareth david-lloyd, jonathon lewis owen, Kai Owen, nerys hughs, phil lord, recap, sharon morgan, something borrowed, torchwood


Audio Podcast: Duel-ing Banjos

Duel

As part of House contributor Kevin Lee's endeavor to watch the 1000 greatest films of all time (as calculated by the website They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?), a screening of Steven Spielberg's Duel (ranked 820 on the TSPDT list and the 908th film from the list Kevin has seen) was organized last week, with Kevin, House Next Door editor Keith Uhlich, House contributor Steven Boone of the blog Big Media Vandalism, and Andrew "Filmbrain" Grant of the blog Like Anna Karina's Sweater. The screening was held at an especially apt venue, the DRV-IN at Grand Opening, currently the only drive in theater in Manhattan. DRV-IN will close its doors at the end of March but will reopen at a larger venue later in the year. Special thanks to Cindi Rowell for recording the audio.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: dennis weaver, duel, steven spielberg, tom cruise







The HouseCategories



The HouseThe Attic

More »



Site by  Docent Solutions