Andrew Haigh (#110 of 9)

Looking Recap Season 2, Episode 5, "Looking for Truth"

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Looking Recap: Season 2, Episode 5, "Looking for Truth"

HBO

Looking Recap: Season 2, Episode 5, "Looking for Truth"

In last season's “Looking for the Future,” the episode that transformed Looking from a muddled collage of character sketches into a lovely, harmonious portrait of three men struggling to grow up in the midst of adulthood, Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and Richie (Raúl Castillo) amble through Golden Gate Park toward Land's End, discovering the seeds of their romance in the process. The water that has passed under the bridge in the time since is the subject of “Looking for Truth,” a beautiful companion piece to “Looking for the Future”: It has the feeling of a first date, but ends with a reckoning, run through with the conviction that we can never really leave the past behind us.

Berlinale 2015 45 Years and Mr. Holmes

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Berlinale 2015: 45 Years and Mr. Holmes
Berlinale 2015: 45 Years and Mr. Holmes

Andrew Haigh's 45 Years tells a domestic tale that sounds familiar in its broad outlines: that of a long-lasting marriage that undergoes a profound shift as a result of a blinding revelation that brings up a well of behavioral changes and attendant doubts. In this particular case, the revelation comes early in the film, as Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay) gets a letter in the mail that informs him that the body of his first love, Katya, has been discovered in the Swiss Alps. Though he repeatedly tells his wife, Kate (Charlotte Rampling), that he still loves her, she begins to fixate on signs that suggest otherwise: Among other things, he takes up smoking again and rummages around the attic late at night to look for photographic mementoes of his long-lost old flame. All of this takes place mere days before their wedding-anniversary party; similar to Alex Ross Perry in Queen of Earth, Haigh structures his film around the days of the week leading up to the anniversary bash, with title cards marking each day.

Looking Recap Season 2, Episode 2, "Looking for Results"

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Looking Recap: Season 2, Episode 2, "Looking for Results"

HBO

Looking Recap: Season 2, Episode 2, "Looking for Results"

“When you're little, you just are really happy,” Patrick (Jonathan Groff) remarks to Kevin (Russell Tovey) as they loll in bed after a midday tryst. “But you don't fully know exactly why.” This faint note of nostalgia runs through “Looking for Results” in subtle, slightly skewed ways, but it's omnipresent nonetheless. The result each character seeks is, in essence, simplification, the ignorant bliss of childhood, and the result each one arrives at instead is a whole mess of unforeseen consequences. “Delete, delete, delete,” Patrick wishes when he encounters Richie (Raúl Castillo) near episode's end, but in life as in Looking, there's no going back.

HBO’s Looking: It’s Not Gay Normalcy; It’s Aspirational Television

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HBO’s <em>Looking</em>: It’s Not Gay Normalcy; It’s Aspirational Television
HBO’s <em>Looking</em>: It’s Not Gay Normalcy; It’s Aspirational Television

“Find something real.” That's the tagline stamped on the ads for HBO's gay-centric series Looking, and, in the wake of the pilot episode, whether or not something real can be found depends on who you ask. Writing for BlackBook, Amanda Stern says this “essential new show” is “textured in something that feels a lot like reality,” and is “stripped of the self-conscious sexual referencing that reinforces stereotypes.” In a (hopefully) semi-satirical Esquire piece, which Salon's Daniel D'Addario calls “astoundingly homophobic,” Mick Stingley (who is straight) suggests that Looking is too real for his desired comfort and entertainment levels, saying it “commits the heinous sin of being gay and boring,” and that its lack of “mincing” stereotypes results in “a portrayal of gay life [that's] normal, tedious, and bland.”

Tribeca Film Festival 2012: Yossi

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Tribeca Film Festival 2012: <em>Yossi</em>
Tribeca Film Festival 2012: <em>Yossi</em>

At the end of 2002's Yossi & Jagger, director Eytan Fox left us with a simple yet highly suggestive close-up of a man haunted by both grief and regret. Fox's newest film, Yossi, picks up this man 10 years later and finds him still wrestling with inner demons. Even now, as a professional doctor, Yossi (Ohad Knoller) still grieves for Lior “Jagger” Amichai, the man with whom he carried on a secret love affair as a soldier in an Israeli army troop before he died in Yossi's arms during combat on the Lebanese border. Worse, Yossi has yet to publicly acknowledge the affair; he remains closeted, resisting both the advances of a female colleague at the hospital and the urgings of a recently divorced male colleague, secretly trolling gay online-dating websites to get his fix.

One of Yossi's virtues is Fox's refusal to boil his main character down to an easy psychological framework. Fox and screenwriter Itay Segal mostly imply the reasons behind Yossi's state of mind, trusting us to intuitively grasp the reasons behind his fragility. It helps that Knoller is a skilled enough actor who can wring maximum expressiveness out of minimal gestures; in his unkempt face and bleary eyes, Knoller allows one to see the strain of Yossi constantly bottling up his emotions.

SXSW 2011: American Animal

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SXSW 2011: <em>American Animal</em>
SXSW 2011: <em>American Animal</em>

If Andrew Haigh, the director of Weekend, the earnest, prosaic, and mostly unsurprising British drama that won an Emerging Visions Audience Award at South by Southwest last night, is considered a fresh new voice in cinema, then what about Matt D'Elia, who shows more breathtaking audacity in his debut feature, American Animal, than Haigh shows in his Richard Linklater-ish romantic talkfest? Don't get me wrong: Weekend, for all its gay-themed subject matter, is agreeable and sometimes quite moving. What it lacks is the brash confidence that American Animal exudes in abundance, the confidence of an artist willing to risk driving its audience up a wall in order to realize a defiantly unique personal vision. You won't necessarily warm to everything D'Elia throws at you, but you certainly won't leave the film without some kind of opinion on it.