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Game of Thrones Recap Season 6, Episode 2, "Home"

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 2, “Home”

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 2, “Home”

Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is dreaming of better days, specifically his long-lost Winterfell, where he watches as his father, Ned, and uncle, Benjen, learn to spar. He even happens upon a slow stable boy, Willis, and realizes that this is an even more innocent version of the man who’s been protecting him in the present, Hodor (Kristian Nairn). This, of course, is an illusion, and the mysterious vision-sharing man known only as the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) soon pulls Bran back to his crippled reality. “You finally show me something I care about, and then you drag me away,” shouts Bran, and it’s hard not to hear echoes of the most ardent yet frustrated Game of Thrones fans, because the show’s sprawling narrative has room for no more than 10 minutes an episode for each character. That makes it increasingly hard to becoming truly invested in any of them, especially with a new subplot on the Iron Islands, where the possibly insane Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk), claiming to be the Drowned God, deposes his brother, Balon (Patrick Malahide), by flinging him over a rickety bridge in the middle of a storm.

New Directors/New Films 2011: Curling

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New Directors/New Films 2011: <em>Curling</em>
New Directors/New Films 2011: <em>Curling</em>

The last several years have seen the influx of a number of films about characters shielding either themselves or their families from the alleged dangers of the world, confining their lives to a greater or lesser degree to the relative safety of the domestic fortress. Call it Shut-In Cinema. To Ursula Meier’s Home, Anders Edström and C. W. Winter’s The Anchorage, Yorgos Lanthimos’s Dogtooth, and Bong Joon-ho’s segment in the anthology film Tokyo!, we can now add Denis Côté’s Curling, making its New York debut at New Directors/New Films. Rivaling The Anchorage, the best of the above listed works, in its combination of utter precision of detail and overwhelming sense of mystery, Côté’s film makes for instructive comparison with the movie it most superficially resembles, Lanthimos’s celebrated tale of overprotective parenting gone bonkers.

“Jan-Michael Vincent Is a Synonym for the ‘70s”: A Conversation Between Matt Zoller Seitz and Keith Uhlich

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“Jan-Michael Vincent Is a Synonym for the ’70s”: A Conversation Between Matt Zoller Seitz and Keith Uhlich
“Jan-Michael Vincent Is a Synonym for the ’70s”: A Conversation Between Matt Zoller Seitz and Keith Uhlich

A new day dawns and, from this side of the web, it seems business as usual. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been aware for a while now that my co-editor and friend Matt Zoller Seitz is leaving behind the world of print journalism.

It’s long been a point of conversation, one of those topics posited in off-the-cuff “what-if?” asides, always leading to deeper discussion, though no definitively stated absolutes. That is until a month ago when I received a nighttime phone call from Matt, his voice unwavering and decisive. “I’m out,” he said in regards to his seventeen years plus profession, going on to state his reasons, though, in that moment, he needn’t have justified his choice to me. It was unmistakably prepared for, and though I felt a twinge of wistful sadness (impossible not to), I was more happy for him and the potential futures he was now laying out before me, his tone crystal clear and infectious. There was a part of me that wondered if this wasn’t an extended prank, that we’d get to zero hour and he’d say—with a mischievous, Cheshire Cat grin—“Just kidding.” But the point of no return has passed. The clock has struck midnight. The DeLorean’s hit 88 mph. And, where Matt’s going, he don’t need roads.

All this to say that I think I’ve personally had enough time to deal with any resultant aftershocks of Editor Emeritus Seitz’s announcement, of his entrustment of The House Next Door to me, of the great responsibility that comes with that, and of my desire, determination, and commitment to maintain the continually high level of collaborative quality that Matt has instilled in this venture. It’s the least I can do, and I hope you’ll all (contributors, constant readers, and newcomers alike) come along for the ride—it’s far from over. Yet any passing of the torch requires more than just an announcement. As I say in the accompanying podcast conversation, I think we’re presented with markers in our life, signposts directing us down a certain path or away from it. Sometimes we heed said marker’s advice, other times we ignore it, but it always makes an impression, and we more often, whether regretfully or not, remember the road not taken. I thought it important that Matt and I create our own signpost, to mark a moment that shouldn’t come off as an end of things or a farewell, but as a present-tense point in time that has its own complicated history, ripe for retrospective exploration, and which portends a future filled with endless and abundant possibilities.

So we have done below: Laughed much. Explained and enlightened. Spoken from the heart and bared the soul—now to an audience. It remains only for me to thank Matt for his friendship and guidance, his trust and love, and to wish him well on his each and every future endeavor. You’re a brother to me, my friend. And an inspiration to many besides. Keith Uhlich

To download the podcast, click here. The conversation is transcribed in full below, with minor edits for style and clarification.

Home at Home

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Home at Home
Home at Home

Written, edited, and directed by the proprietor of this blog, Matt Zoller Seitz, the ensemble romantic drama Home is now available on DVD by way of Vanguard Cinema. The disc includes the movie, a trailer, a stills gallery, supplemental material about casting, shooting and sound design, and two director’s commentary tracks—one featuring anecdotes about production and editing, and a second, more personal track that discusses the significance of the house and fesses up to how the movie’s various subplots were drawn from life. You can rent Home through Netflix and buy it through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. For more information, visit the movie’s website, or see Vanguard’s page by clicking here.

All Politics Is Local: Kristian Fraga’s Anytown, USA

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All Politics Is Local: Kristian Fraga’s <em>Anytown, USA</em>
All Politics Is Local: Kristian Fraga’s <em>Anytown, USA</em>

I’ve avoided praising Kristian Fraga’s documentary Anytown, USA, about a brutal mayoral race in Bogota, New Jersey, for the same reason I’ve avoided praising any good movie directed by someone who happens to be my friend—because anything I wrote, no matter how intricately justified, would be read in some quarters as logrolling. But since Anytown is playing on one screen in Los Angeles this week, and will be gone as of Thursday, I’m putting aside my qualms and telling you, flat-out, that if you live anywhere near LA and you’re thinking about seeing a movie this weekend, forget every other choice; you owe it to yourself to see this one in a theater with an audience. It’s an accomplished and deceptively ambitious movie: a straightforward record of a particular time and place, a frank but affectionate portrait of small-town life, a satire on American hypocrisy, a mostly wry but sometimes ruthless comedy, and—most surprisingly—a cogent look at the tension between the crude iconography and childish hostility that erupt during close contests, and the deep-rooted human desires that make low tactics irresistible.

From its opening sequence—which shows incumbent Republican mayor Steven Lonegan fretting on election night, worrying that one of his two opponents, a Democrat and an independent, will unseat him—Anytown establishes its sneaky m.o., inflating familiar, even cliched images, devices and moods to Macy’s-parade-balloon dimensions, and then deflating them with little jabs of truth. The movie then flashes back to eight months earlier and paints an exuberant portrait of Bogota that combines the warmth of family anecdote and the fuck-you wit of a good political cartoon. Fraga’s faux-satirical tone makes the town seem like Harper Valley by way of The Simpsons’ impulse-driven Springfield. But the images work at cross-purposes; Anytown is photographed (by Jonathan Wolff, who shot my first feature, Home) in glazed, often faintly ethereal textures that recall the early Massapequa sequences in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July; in this fleet-footed prelude, as is the case throughout Anytown, Fraga asks you to hold two contradictory opinions or emotions in your head at the same time—superimposing the town’s idealized self-image on top of the roiling, often rancid facts of life during an election year, building the interplay between lies and truth into the very structure of the movie you’re watching.

Home Stretch

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<em>Home</em> Stretch
<em>Home</em> Stretch

From the department of If I Don’t Mention it, Who Will? : my feature debut Home finishes out a 13-month run on the festival circuit with a final showing at the Syracuse International Film and Video Festival this Friday, April 7, at 5:15 p.m. at the Menschel Media Center, 316 Waverly Ave. in Syracuse. If you’re in the area, stop in and check it out, or at least look me up so we can talk movies.

Home and Away

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<em>Home</em> and Away
<em>Home</em> and Away

I’m heading down to the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina this weekend for two showings of my first feature Home, which is still playing on the festival circuit. (For information, click here.) I look forward to festivals because they give me an excuse to mainline movies for two or three straight days and then talk about them with people who are not easily geeked out. The RiverRun schedule looks like a bonanza. There’s a lot of stuff in the lineup that I haven’t even heard of, much less seen. One of the titles that I have seen already is James Bai’s haunting modern Frankenstein movie Puzzlehead, a low budget sci-fi psychodrama that can stand proudly alongside any previous film adaptation of the novel. I will review it in New York Press next week.

Matt Zoller Seitz is the founder of The House Next Door.

Through the Looking Glass

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Through the Looking Glass
Through the Looking Glass

For those of you who haven’t clicked on the link on the right hand side of this page, Home is my first feature as a writer-director-editor. It’s a peculiar microbudget movie with 60 speaking parts, all set at a party in two floors of a Brooklyn brownstone (actually my own apartment in downtown Brooklyn). It plays March 2-8 at Two Boots Pioneer Theater, an underground venue that proudly bills itself as New York City’s smallest movie house. (To read the movie’s IMDb entry, click here.)

Home was shot in 2002 and 2003, edited and sound-mixed in 2004, and made its theatrical debut last year at Cinequest 15 in San Jose. It has been on the festival circuit since then (check the front page of Brooklyn Schoolyard for selected venues) and after this it will play March 17 and 19 at the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem North Carolina, and April 6-9 at the Syracuse International Film Festival. (For a 90-second trailer, click here).

I made the movie because I originally went to college to study filmmaking, got sidetracked into a long and satisfying career as a critic and reporter, but continued to think like a filmmaker whenever I watched movies or TV. My personal background explains why my criticism tends to be equally interested in form and content, often more the former than the latter. It also explains why Home is a elliptical movie, very realistic in certain respects and surreal in others, with kind of a hothouse atmosphere, a documentary approach to behavior, and a dry, admittedly strange sense of humor. The style is a mix of classical Hollywood compositions and camera moves and some fairly wild documentary stuff. The narrative blends scripted and improvised scenes, and the finale is open-ended and perhaps a bit ambiguous.