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Larry Clark (#110 of 11)

Film Comment Selects 2015: The Smell of Us

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Film Comment Selects 2015: <em>The Smell of Us</em>
Film Comment Selects 2015: <em>The Smell of Us</em>

Larry Clark is in full-on zeitgeist mode with The Smell of Us, yet another entry in the filmmaker’s growingly tiresome oeuvre, built entirely on the ways desire and disgust necessarily overlap in sexual preference and social formation. At least, these themes roam freely within the director’s work, though only rarely (in, say, Bully) do Clark’s films distance themselves enough from their material in order to gesticulate meaningful expression. That’s because Clark’s understanding of significance is one faultily tied to lived experience, as if all the on-screen toe sucking, ass licking, sagging skin, and hardcore fucking were evidence enough of its chafed authenticity. In an early scene, a bum named Rockstar (played by Clark himself) pisses his pants as he wantonly pours wine all over his face. That seems to be as reflexive a gesture as Clark can muster from the film’s thinly sketched presentation of a group of young Parisian skaters moonlighting as novice hustlers, replete with Clark’s typically poseur-voyeur aesthetics.

Body of Work Rosario Dawson

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Body of Work: Rosario Dawson

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Body of Work: Rosario Dawson

The story of Rosario Dawson’s discovery speaks to her enduringly cool credibility as an actress. A New York native who grew up in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Dawson had only a Sesame Street appearance under her belt when she was spotted, on her stoop, by budding director Larry Clark, who, at the urging of then-fledgling screenwriter Harmony Korine, went on to cast her in Kids. She was 15. Just as it did for fellow hip starlet Chloë Sevigny, Kids proved a major launchpad for Dawson, rather literally moving her from her doorstep and shuffling her into the public consciousness. She began attracting other directors in search of gals for urban dramas, and starred in Spike Lee’s He Got Game and Craig Bolotin’s Light It Up, a 1999 flick that took cues from Kids and Dangerous Minds.

But Dawson didn’t wait long to buck her impending typecasting. However unsavory the results, she pulled a 180 and took a part in Josie and the Pussycats, a—ahem—wannabe Spice Girls comedy for the MTV generation. The movie hardly soared, but it was an early indication of Dawson’s deft, enthusiastic knack for diversity, not to mention a taste of the fine musicality that’s periodically weaved its way into her work. Dawson has her limits. One of her virtues is also something of a hindrance: She’s a thoroughly modern actress, and give or take Roxana, her Persian princess in Alexander, she’s not quite cut our for period fare—corsets and all of that. But that hasn’t stopped her from building a terrifically varied filmography, or kept her from emitting a regal fire on screen.

Rotterdam 2013: The Island of St. Matthews and It Felt Like Love

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Rotterdam 2013: <em>The Island of St. Matthews</em> and <em>It Felt Like Love</em>
Rotterdam 2013: <em>The Island of St. Matthews</em> and <em>It Felt Like Love</em>

Kevin Jerome Everson introduced the world premiere of his 10th film, The Island of St. Matthews, at Rotterdam by saying that it’s like the others, but different: a familiar subject matter (“black folks in America,” as he put it) approached with a unique method. Indeed, his latest feature, shot on 16mm, is an unusual blend of documentary and avant-garde modes that broaches the historical, the theological, the economic, and the personal. A series of staged actualités sets the film into motion: a man walks along the top of a dam wall; another water skis along the Tombigbee River that runs alongside the Everson family’s town of Westport, Mississippi; others, draped in anachronistic white robes, perform a baptism; another tolls the bell of St. Matthews Church. Everson’s poetic sound design makes these disparate scenes, like postcards from a bygone era, glide into one another and, later, function as a sort of chorus in between verses of talking heads.

15 Famous Movie Bullies

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15 Famous Movie Bullies
15 Famous Movie Bullies

Serving as the latest bit of evidence that a camera, a cause, and a whole lot of headline-friendly promotion can net unwarranted prestige, the Harvey Weinstein-backed Bully begins its nationwide rollout this weekend, its demand to be liked carrying an ironic whiff of oppression. From the schoolyard to the psych ward, the bully was a cinematic staple well before becoming a hot-button news topic, and we’ve got examples to prove it. The meanies in Lee Hirsch’s new doc may commit acts of school-bus terrorism, but they’d cower to these soul-crushing jerks.