The House


Earth Made of Glass

Deborah Scranton's documentary Earth Made of Glass doesn't exactly unearth any new idea or notion about the Rwanda genocide, but it still serves as a well-researched, educational guide, disclosing facts and outlining events integral to the genesis of hate against the Tutsis, the country's minority tribe. There is a special slant to the film, though, and it comes via two individuals who offer their very personal perspectives of what occurred to them during and leading up the tragedy that took place on Rwandan soil in 1994. President Kagame, the commander who led the uprising to overthrow a Hutu-dominated government, lays out the clear facts about the roles of Belgium and France in the divergence between the tribes over the past 60 years in Rwandan history. The other story chronicled belongs to Jean-Pierre, a man desperately still searching for the truth surrounding the brutal slaying of his father at a small-town roadblock. Jean-Pierre's narrative is both moving and uncomfortable to take in, as he urgently probes local townspeople fearful of giving up the truth.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: deborah scranton, earth made of glass, rwanda, tribeca film festival


Fences

Sometimes an actor just has to come home to roost to rediscover just what they were put out there for in the first place. After churning out a score of lackluster thrillers in the last decade, Denzel Washington has turned his sights back to the stage, which is where he was originally discovered and promptly landed a lucrative gig on TV's St. Elsewhere. After a hugely successful but critically slammed 2005 Broadway version of Julius Caesar, Washington has now turned his sights to one of the great 20th-century black male roles, that of Troy Maxson, the ex-Negro League sanitation worker/back-porch prophet from August Wilson's galvanizing 1987 drama Fences. The first thought that came to mind when this casting was announced was that Washington was too handsome, too presentable to disappear into Troy's baseball metaphor-ridden weariness, a not-charmless blowhard who has quickly become a gust of constant hot air sucking the oxygen right out of his own backyard. Well, turns out I was very wrong.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: august wilson, chris chalk, cort theatre, denzel washington, fences, james earl jones, kenny leon, russell hornsby, santo loquasto, stephen mckinley henderson, viola davis


M.I.A.

Stripped of its YouTube permissions at least twice in its immediate afterbirth, but proliferating now like the illicit piece of footage it was always meant to be, Romain Gavras's apocalyptically brutal music video for M.I.A.'s "Born Free" has disturbed a lot of people, perhaps most notably among them, the ginger set. (Full disclosure: I speak on their behalf. Though age has darkened what locks stand atop my scalp into burnt umber, rest assured that in my heyday, my head could have been illuminated and used to ward off ships at sea.)

On first listen, "Born Free" is a propulsive piece of punk-pop, a new primal scream from one of pop music's most adept voices of dissent. With an accelerating snare roll-off, it electrifies a sample of Suicide's "Ghost Rider" with gutbucket rock drums that sound as if a Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello surfer epic just ran up against a tsunami. Over it, bathed in viscous distortion, M.I.A. ruminates, "I was close to the amps staying under cover/With my nose to the ground, I found the sound." No one listening will be the slightest bit surprised that introspection fuels something so unyieldingly hard, so BPM-addicted.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: born free, brian de palma, ghost rider, m.i.a., music video, peter wakins, punishment park, romain gavras, suicide, the fury


Because there wasn't enough violence in our last Links for the Day, Christina Aguilera recently called for a man who coughed during a promo interview for her upcoming album, Bionic, to be shot. Her new video premieres tomorrow!

Joshua Green over at The Atlantic posted a short but convincing case for Sarah Palin not running for president in 2012. There's also an even more convincing follow-up, in which he takes on colleague Andrew Sullivan.

Pixar has unveiled a fake TV commercial, purportedly from 1983, promoting a new character from Toy Story 3, Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear. Another toy you never had as a child, if you were lucky, Baby Laugh A-Lot:

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to keithuhlich@gmail.com and to converse in the comments section.

  • print
  • email

TAGS: andrew sullivan, baby laugh a-lot, bionic, christina aguilera, joshua green, lots-o -huggin bear, pixar, sarah palin, the atlantic, toy story 3


Every Day

A quaint but inane portrait of a modern-day Big Apple family, Richard Levine's Every Day begins with Ned (Live Schreiber), a TV writer for a sexually provocative cable show, tucking his youngest son into bed, followed by a montage of breakfast foods being prepared, highlighting Ned's normal middle-class world. But soon the complexities of Ned's life are exposed: He's increasingly uneasy about his high school-aged son Jonah's (Ezra Miller) burgeoning homosexuality, and he frequently argues with his wife Jeannie (Helen Hunt) about whether Jonah should attend a gay-friendly prom. Also, Jeannie takes in her ailing curmudgeon father, a veteran who drinks too much and dreamily reminisces about his glory days as a drummer in a jazz band. Jonah and Jeannie's matters are somewhat pushed aside and ignored, though, as Ned becomes overwhelmed by the stressful demands and deadlines of his TV producer boss, played by the eccentric Eddie Izzard. As Ned has difficulty tackling a storyline involving a pill-popping adulterer, he is paired off with his sultry co-worker Robin (Carla Gugino) to spice up the show; the clear, sexual tension between the two writers bubbles over, and a predictable, unfaithful encounter in Robin's indoor pool—san clothes—occurs.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: brian dennehy, carla gugino, eddie izzard, every day, ezra miller, helen hunt, live schreiber, richard levine, tribeca film festival


The Killer Inside Me

Writing in 1998 about the early films of British director Michael Winterbottom, critic Michael Atkinson described the filmmaker's work as being "shot and cut like a heart attack." He was referring to the "acidic, uncompromising" quality he found in Butterfly Kiss, Jude, and Welcome to Sarajevo, which he claimed made these exercises in overfamiliar genres "seem so new you feel as if you're inventing them with your eyes, right now." While, in the decade-plus since Atkinson's article appeared, Winterbottom has continued to make startling, inventive films that often rethink familiar forms, there's little in that critic's evaluation that one could meaningfully apply to the director's latest effort, The Killer Inside Me. Adapting Jim Thompson's novel into a stylish if conventionally minded genre piece, Winterbottom's period psychological thriller features two scenes of startling violence, but they're far more unpleasant than shocking, light years from the meaningful jolts that enliven the best of his work.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: butterfly kiss, casey affleck, jessica alba, jim thompson, jude, michael winterbottom, the killer inside me, the road to guantanamo, tribeca film festival, welcome to sarajevo


The Arbor

Suggesting a condensed version of Michael Apted's Up! documentary series, The Arbor paints a lurid, complex portrait of the very young English playwright Andrea Dunbar and her now-grown, mixed-race child Lorraine. With the use of interviews and taped recordings of family members and friends, director Cilo Barnard reconstructs a vivid, rippling world where a mother's internal turmoil has a lasting effect on her children, coming off as tactfully artificial yet devastatingly authentic; Barnard hired actors to mouth and mimic the recorded interviews of family members and staged locations similar to those in West Yorkshire, England, lived in by the Dunbars, generating a heightened, elevated relational impact within these theatrical modes, while still maintaining the validity of the documented, spoken words of the actual Dunbar family. The actors don't exactly perform reenactments of the events recited in the interviews, but rather face the camera head-on—as if they were the interviewees themselves.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: christine bottomley natalie gavin, cilo barnard, manjinder virk, neil dudgeon, the arbor, tribeca film festival


At Your Own Risk: A Saint's TestamentDerek Jarman's films are, already, such a naked, passionate, intimate portrait of their creator and his ideas that one wouldn't expect that Jarman would have had much energy left over to pour into written autobiography. Nevertheless, Jarman was a prolific writer as well as a filmmaker and artist, and his creative pursuits in multiple artistic forms constitute a unified body of work; the books are every bit as essential as the films to those who wish to understand Jarman. The University of Minnesota Press has thus done a valuable service in reissuing three of these books: Chroma, Jarman's collection of writings on color, his 1989-90 diary Modern Nature, and At Your Own Risk: A Saint's Testament, a loose autobiographical book that traces Jarman's experiences of society's reactions to gayness.

At Your Own Risk is a very angry book, and rightfully so. Jarman was writing in the last years of his life, as he entered the advanced stages of AIDS-related illness, starting to go blind as many of his friends died from the same disease that he knew would soon enough claim him as well. Moreover, he was writing from within a culture that had, throughout his life, consistently restricted and tormented homosexuals, legislating their behavior and, with the onset of HIV/AIDS, all but ignoring the problem until it dawned on everyone that heterosexuals were being affected too. Jarman's book is structured by decades, from the 1940s to the then-nascent 1990s (the book was written in 1992, two years before Jarman's death), and in each decade-spanning chapter, Jarman chronicles how gays were treated by society and how his own dawning understanding of his sexual identity developed.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: at your own risk a saints testament, blue, caravaggio, chroma, derek jarman, modern nature, the angelic conversation


The White Meadows

Mohammad Rasoulof's recent arrest in his native Iran alongside collaborator Jafar Panahi (Rasoulof was released; Panahi remains behind bars) raises issues cannily reflected by the Iron Island director's latest, The White Meadows. A gorgeously wrought fable trading in subtle, if nonetheless unmistakable, social commentary, Rasoulof's film employs indigenous folklore for a poignant critique of oppression and the sorrow it spawns, following middle-aged Rahmat (Hasan Pourshirazi) as he travels to remote islands collecting the tears of the grief-stricken. Each of Rahmat's destinations are inhospitable places intrinsically related to the misery of their inhabitants, as the waterworks collected by Rahmat in a small glass pitcher bear the same brand of pungent saline found in these landscapes' expansive white salt flats. Rasoulof presents a world awash in briny sadness, save for Rahmat, whose duty is carried out with a quiet, nonjudgmental dignity. Yet no mere silent witness to unhappiness, Rahmat—who, during the course of his odyssey, is joined by a young boy and a blind man—seemingly views his task as a therapeutic calling, amassing his countrymen's tears in a glass bottle as a means of providing absolution for the dead, as well as a small measure of healing for the mournful.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: hasan pourshirazi, mohammad rabbani, mohammad rasoulof, mohammad shirvani, the white meadows, tribeca film festival, younes ghazali


William Vincent

A turgid experiment in elliptical lyricism, William Vincent plays like a hybrid of Pickpocket, In the City of Sylvia, and The Passenger, except far more pretentious than even that description suggests. Jay Anania's film follows a man who goes by the name of William Vincent (James Franco) as he strolls Manhattan's sidewalks, his starting point murky—having cheated death by skipping a doomed flight home from Japan, he assumed a new identity and residence in Chinatown—and his destination unknown. Splintered into fragments, and told largely in retrospect as a mysterious woman named Ann (Julianne Nicholson) reads a letter written by William, Anania's story slowly reveals a basic plot involving amateur thief William's recruitment by a crime boss (Josh Lucas) and his subsequent, frowned-upon relationship with Ann, employed by said kingpin as both a lover and a whore. Such a conventional narrative recap, however, implies a lucidity and momentum that doesn't exist. Every scene is an exercise in drawn-out affectation, with the characters' silent stares at each other, gazes off into nothing, and pauses between dialogue exchanges—all set to meaningful piano twinkles and drum beats—so distended as to intimate parody, an impression exacerbated by William twice telling enforcer Vincent (Martin Donovan) that his comments sound like something from a movie.

More >>

  • print
  • email

TAGS: james franco, jay anania, josh lucas, julianne nicholson, martin donovan, tribeca film festival, william vincent







The HouseCategories



The HouseThe Attic

More »



Site by  Docent Solutions