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The We And The I (#110 of 4)

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2013

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Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2013
Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2013

From Budd Wilkins’s introduction to Slant Magazine’s Top 25 Films of 2013: “Reports of cinema’s demise, as it turns out, have been greatly exaggerated. Granted, celluloid is about as dead as the dodo, and delivery systems are in flux (pretty soon, audiences will be as likely to catch the latest Hollywood tent pole streaming on their wristwatches as in a multiplex), but the century-old urge to dream another life within the four edges of a frame, to transmute image and sound into something more potent than either alone, remained refreshingly untrammeled. Given the precarious position of the medium, beholden to the ever-shifting tectonics of finance, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many films took the constituent building blocks of their own construction as their theme.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors’ individual ballots. Happy reading.

20 Great Shots from the Films of 2013

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20 Great Shots from the Films of 2013
20 Great Shots from the Films of 2013

I looked back on the year and thought about single cinematic images that knocked me flat. Or produced an actual “wow.” Or somehow encompassed a film in a strange way. Many of them rushed back immediately. Others sprung to mind when I skimmed through my list of films seen. In accordance with my favorite movies of 2013, many of which are featured here, I was surprised by what I responded to most. I noticed some trends. Evidently, I’m drawn to sunsets, running water (preferably colored), and, rather unoriginally, red. I also kinda like trash. Some of these shots speak for themselves, while others require the images that come before them, or after them, sometimes successively, to achieve their respective impacts. Presented in no particular order, each has a backstory, save the last, which is summed up with a heartbreaking, note-perfect line. This is a very personal list, and I could’ve easily bumped the total to 50 or more. Don’t see your favorite shots in the roster? Share your thoughts (or, ya know, a link to a screengrab) in the comments.

Film Comment Selects 2013: The We and the I

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Film Comment Selects 2013: <em>The We and the I</em>
Film Comment Selects 2013: <em>The We and the I</em>

Waiting for an F train at the Delancey Street station a few summers back, I witnessed a display of condensed teenage effusiveness that seemed to have been loosed from the very heart of a classic musical, with two groups of kids engaging in an amazingly raucous cross-track dance battle. Taking place across a feverish bus trip home on the last day of school, Michel Gondry’s The We and the I is basically the cinematic equivalent of such an explosion of adolescent magic, a delirious representation of incipient personalities in bloom, its form as amorphous and reckless as the vibrant youths it portrays.

A magnificent ethnographic experiment, the film comes as the end product of a long working association between the French director and students at a Bronx high school. Gondry apparently spent two years laying groundwork and forming relationships, finally coming up with a loose, collaborative script, in which the bus is established as a performative space, a venue for the 30 or so teenagers to vent their fears, doubts, and insecurities. Almost all the action takes place in this enclosed world, except for a few quick jaunts into whimsical fantasy, with some oddly staged flashbacks and one increasingly prominent viral video. Using the connection between these dramatic flights of fancy and the more realistic action on the bus, the director manages to tell their stories in a naturalistic way that’s tinged with intermittent moments of homespun enchantment.