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BAMcinemaFest 2018: Aaron Schimberg’s Chained for Life

Aaron Schimberg’s film isn’t much of an argument, just a provocative discussion.

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BAMcinemaFest 2018: Aaron Schimberg’s Chained for Life
Photo: Cinereach

From King Kong to Beauty and the Beast, films have often grappled with romances between pretty women and males who, well, let’s say, fail to adhere to cultural standards of attractiveness. The latest is writer-director Aaron Schimberg’s meta Chained for Life, set behind the scenes of a campy horror flick featuring half a cast of what Tod Browning would have called freaks. The film’s leading man is Rosenthal, played by Adam Pearson (previously seen in Under the Skin), an English actor who has neurofibromatosis, which causes tumors to grow around nerves. Rosenthal’s leading lady is Mabel (Jess Weixler), a friendly and earnest actress without any such condition.

The wacky genre movie they’re making is overseen by Herr Director, played by Charlie Korsmo, who sounds like he’s doing a Werner Herzog impression throughout Chained for Life. (In one wonderful scene, Herr pretentiously expounds on the wonders of cinematic craft by way of a close analysis of Orson Welles’s appearance in The Muppet Movie.) Mabel stars in this film within a film as a blind woman who falls for Rosenthal’s character; her co-star, Max (Stephen Plunkett), plays a radical surgeon who operates on disabled and deformed patients. Max restores the sight of Mabel’s character, and she’s horrified by her lover’s appearance. And for her inability to accept him, she receives an ironic comeuppance straight out of Freaks.

But Chained for Life isn’t usually so over the top. Schimberg’s cast is prone to just sitting around the set of the genre movie they’re making, gently interrogating cultural concepts of beauty: how we define said beauty, and what we do to improve our own. Throughout, they explore such topics as chemical disfigurement and cosmetic surgery, raising questions such as what might drive a woman to augment her breasts. There are subtle suggestions that, say, “beautiful” people, the sorts who put special creams on their faces, are their own kind of cultish freaks. But Schimberg mostly avoids advocacy. Chained for Life isn’t much of an argument, just a provocative discussion.

That it focuses on the movie industry is, of course, no accident. Hollywood has produced a racket worth billions of dollars by commodifying beauty. Chained for Life underscores the point by opening with a lengthy epigram by Pauline Kael, about how actors are better looking than the rest of us, and that that beauty both aids their craft and pleases audiences. “Actors and actresses who are beautiful start with an enormous advantage,” she writes, “because we love to look at them.” Schimberg’s film doesn’t seem to ask for much from its audience—just to confront this fact, and get a conversation going.

BAMcinemaFest runs from June 20—July 1.

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Watch: Two Episode Trailers for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone Reboot

Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes.

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The Twilight Zone
Photo: CBS All Access

Jordan Peele is sitting on top of the world—or, at least, at the top of the box office, with his sophomore film, Us, having delivered (and then some) on the promise of his Get Out. Next up for the filmmaker is the much-anticipated reboot of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, which the filmmaker executive produced and hosts. Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes, “The Comedian” and “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” In the former, Kumail Nanjiani stars as the eponymous comedian, who agonizingly wrestles with how far he will go for a laugh. And in the other, a spin on the classic “Nightmare at 20,0000 Feet” episode of the original series starring William Shatner, Adam Scott plays a man locked in a battle with his paranoid psyche. Watch both trailers below:

The Twilight Zone premieres on April 1.

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Scott Walker Dead at 76

Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde.

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Scott Walker
Photo: 4AD

American-born British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer Scott Walker, who began his career as a 1950s-style chanteur in an old-fashioned vocal trio, has died at 76. In a statement from his label 4AD, the musician, born Noel Scott Engel, is celebrated for having “enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of the Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality.”

Walker was born in Hamilton, Ohio on January 9, 1943 and earned his reputation very early on for his distinctive baritone. He changed his name after joining the Walker Brothers in the early 1960s, during which time the pop group enjoyed much success with such number one chart hits as “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore).”

The reclusive Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde. Walker, who was making music until his death, received much critical acclaim with 2006’s Drift and 2012’s Bish Bosch, as well as with 2014’s Soused, his collaboration with Sunn O))). He also produced the soundtrack to Leos Carax’s 1999 romantic drama Pola X and composed the scores for Brady Corbet’s first two films as a director, 2016’s The Childhood of a Leader and last year’s Vox Lux.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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