The House


Looking

Though Looking is a series rightly known for its rather frank discussions and depictions of sex, it's also finely attuned to the rhythms of friendship—the type of affection at the center of "Looking for a Plot." The focused three-hander, which finds Patrick (Jonathan Groff), Dom (Murray Bartlett), and Doris (Lauren Weedman) in Modesto for her father's funeral, lends new meaning to Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine," piped onto the empty, glittering dance floor of a Modesto gay bar known as the Brave Bull. "I used to think maybe you loved me," we hear, as the main trio lets loose the night before the burial. "Now, baby, I'm sure."

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TAGS: bashir salahuddin, jonathan groff, katrina and the waves, Lauren Weedman, looking, looking for a plot, mary kay place, murray bartlett, recap, Russell Tovey, walking on sunshine


Girls

"Ask Me My Name" traces the course of a single night that spirals unpredictably out of control. The episode opens with a brief prelude to the evening that presents Hannah (Lena Dunham) in a position of newfound stability: She's landed a job as a substitute teacher and displays surprising confidence in the classroom. Following a lesson on Oedipus Rex (the inspiration, she informs her students, "for the whole concept of the MILF"), she has a meet-cute in the teachers' lounge with fellow teacher Fran (Jake Lacy). They flirt, he asks her out, and the show's title card appears on screen accompanied by a burst of exultant melody. Both professionally and romantically, Hannah seems primed to flourish.

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TAGS: adam driver, ask me my name, Gillian Jacobs, girls, jake lacy, lena dunham, recap, zachary quinto


Sigourney Weaver

1. "Sigourney Weaver Interview." For Interview, Jamie Lee Curtis interviews her fellow actor.

"I work so hard, and out of the raw material that is the script and talks I have with the director, the writer, I create, I hope, a very specific person who wouldn't have otherwise existed. However, do I then attach and hang on to the finished product? No. The experience of the creation of the character is what feeds me, what excites me, challenges me. I just finished this movie with J.A. Bayona, called A Monster Calls [co-starring Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones, expected in 2016], which was a challenging movie for all of us. It's from a novel written by Patrick Ness. But, after the experience, I let it go, because I know the director's going to go in; the alchemist will take over and do something else with it."

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TAGS: bidisha, brit awards, daniel engber, envious moons, interview magazine, Jamie Lee Curtis, joyland, madonna, noah baumbach, richard larson, sigourney weaver, steven shaviro, television, the universe of things, vulture, while we're young


The World of Kanako

Tetsuya Nakashima's The World of Kanako follows ex-cop Akikazu Fujishima (Kōji Yakusho) as he bludgeons and growls his way through the grade schools, shopping malls, drug dens, and criminal underworld of Tokyo in search of his estranged teenage daughter, Kanako (Nana Komatsu). Divorced and unemployed, his mind addled from abusing prescription drugs, Akikazu has zero investment in his world. When his ex-wife (Asuka Kurosawa) tells him of their daughter's disappearance, Akikazu uses the event as a pretense to go on a violent rampage, insulting and assaulting everyone he comes across in a journey that quickly reveals itself to be less about finding his progeny than about getting revenge against the world for all of the perceived injustices that he's ever suffered. Angry, sweaty, and disheveled from the start, he never bothers to change his one increasingly bloodstained suit, though this doesn't prevent him from entering schools and shopping malls to physically and verbally abuse schoolgirls and their female teachers.

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TAGS: asuka kurosawa, film comment selects, hiroya shimizu, kōji yakusho, nana komatsu, satoshi tsumabuki, Tetsuya Nakashima, the world of kanako


Voice Over

Voice Over sketches a portrait of an upper-middle-class family in Chile, flitting from one highly charged plot point to the next (a birth, a funeral, an illicit affair, the dissolution of a marriage) without probing too deeply into any of the characters or feelings involved. That can make it feel a bit like an upscale soap opera, as beautiful sisters Sofia (Ingrid Isensee) and Ana (María José Siebald), their flawless skin generally lit to a caramel glow, speculate in upscale settings about other members of their family, with an occasional break to have sex (Sofia with an inappropropriate boyfriend; Ana with a blandly supportive husband) or take care of their children.

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TAGS: cristián jiménez, daniel castro, film comment selects, ingrid isensee, maría josé siebald, paulina garcía, voice over


Madonna

1. "Express Yourself: The Making of Madonna's 20 Greatest Music Videos." The directors who worked alongside the MTV-era maverick tell their stories. (Below is Mary Lambert on her "Like a Prayer" clip.)

"I knew that we were pushing some big buttons, but I sort of underestimated the influence and bigotry of fundamentalist religion and racism in this country and the world. I always think that, if my work is successful, it goes beyond my intentions and in this case it definitely did. The most important thing was to force people to reimagine their visual references and really root out their prejudices. Using burning crosses to reference racism to religion. Why not a Black Jesus? Why can't you imagine kissing him? I wanted to speak about ecstasy and to show the relationship between sexual and religious ecstasy. I think that subconsciously a lot of people understood this and were either enthralled or outraged by it. Consciously, I don't think a lot of the audience would have made this interpretation."

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TAGS: andrew grant, bbc, camille paglia, carrie & lowell, filmmaker, Jeff Reichert, jenny lou ziegel, john boorman, like a prayer, madonna, mary lambert, matthew porterfield, michael koresky, pitchfork, reverse shot, rolling stone, ryan dombal, sufjan stevens, take what you can carry, zsuzsanna kiràly


High Society

French cinema has the fortunate tendency of representing girls as actual human beings, instead of pretty adornments twirling around a male lead. Alice (Ana Girardot), the girl in High Society, might have been reduced to a supporting-role function of her own working-class life had she not run into Agnès (Aurélia Petit), a well-connected and well-coiffed designer. Agnès helps take Alice out of the hood to develop her creative skills and get into a renowned fashion school. A support that Agnès soon regrets, as the girl ends up falling for Agnès' son, Antoine (Bastien Bouillon), forcing lower and upper classes to make contact beyond fleeting bursts of philanthropy.

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TAGS: ana girardot, aurélia petit, Bastien Bouillon, film comment selects, françois ozon, high society, Julie Lopes-Curval, young and beautiful


The Americans

"You have a conscience, Philip," Gabriel (Frank Langella) says during an exchange of Afghan weed and wary glances in tonight's episode of The Americans, as Philip (Matthew Rhys) hesitates to take advantage of Kimmy (Julia Garner), the teenage daughter of a high-ranking CIA official. "There's nothing wrong with that," Gabriel continues. "But conscience can be dangerous." Releasing the tension of "Open House" and "Dimebag," "Salang Pass" turns inward, constructed from nostalgic smiles and pangs of guilt. For Philip and Elizabeth (Keri Russell), conscience is dangerous because it's instinctively honest, always interfering with the work at hand—which is, as Philip acknowledges, the work of making the lie real.

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TAGS: costa ronin, frank langella, Holly Taylor, Julia Garner, karen pittman, Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich, rahul khanna, recap, salang pass, the americans


American Sniper

1. "Evil Against Evil." Niles Schwartz on the fascinating incoherence of American Sniper.

"As a consequence of real life, American Sniper's rehabilitation of Chris, where he gradually overcomes the PTSD that he's been rejecting by reaching out to physically wounded veterans, is tragically overwhelmed by the horrific return of the repressed. I regret that sounds like a trivialization of an actual tragedy, but the film's conclusion is, for me, an all-too-appropriate way to express the insoluble character of America's last 15 years, with its rampant and contradictory foreign invasions coupled with disengaged psychological hermeticism. Chris Kyle says goodbye to his wife and children before taking a young vet with PTSD to a gun range, where we know the young man will—inexplicably—shoot Chris. Taya's perspective of the mysterious young man waiting for Chris by a truck is one of the most unsettling images in recent memory, the film's third angel of death recognized by the knowing audience, or perhaps another doppelganger heralding a terrifying psychosis we/Chris/America cannot snap out of. Eastwood again invokes The Godfather, as the husband's enigma and burrowed sins walk away from the gaze of a long suffering wife, the closing door blotting her out from what calls him away."

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TAGS: academy awards, american sniper, daniel kasman, evan johnson, guy maddin, independent spirit awards, jason bailey, niles schwartz, peter strickland, slavoj žižek, slawomir sierakowski, the duke of burgundy, the forbidden room


The Golden Era

"I can't tell if anyone will read my stuff later. But I'm quite sure that the gossip about me will go on and on," laments writer Xioa Hong (Wei Tang) on her deathbed. Ironically, despite pointedly registering that complaint, The Golden Era does just what she dreads. Shunting her writing to the side to focus on her tragic love life and early death, Ann Hui's film reduces an intriguing sounding woman—one who, by the film's own account, made a name for herself as a writer without conforming to conventional mores, either about how to write or how to behave—to a Camille-like figure of pity, picturesquely tubercular, ill-used by men, and admirable mainly for the gallantry with which she faced an avalanche of bad luck.

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TAGS: ann hui, film comment selects, the golden era, wei tang, xioa hong







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