House Logo
Explore categories +

Ti West (#110 of 11)

BAMcinemaFest 2016 Ti West’s In a Valley of Violence

Comments Comments (...)

BAMcinemaFest 2016: Ti West’s In a Valley of Violence
BAMcinemaFest 2016: Ti West’s In a Valley of Violence

A tentativeness courses through Ti West’s films. Watching them, one often feels as if the filmmaker’s approaching a boundary—separating genre trope from searing idiosyncrasy—that he doesn’t always manage to cross. West crossed this line in Trigger Man and, fitfully, in The Sacrament, which climaxed with an unsettlingly intimate staging of a Jonestown-like mass poisoning that calls into question the invasiveness of the film’s very formality. In these moments, West’s reverence for genre filmmaking merged with his gift for behavioral portraiture, fashioning a horror film that felt contemporary in its concern with media as offering only an illusion of “all access” to its subjects.

Film Comment Selects 2014: The Sacrament Review

Comments Comments (...)

Film Comment Selects 2014: <em>The Sacrament</em> Review
Film Comment Selects 2014: <em>The Sacrament</em> Review

With The Sacrament, director Ti West has bitten off more of a premise than his classically modest barebones approach to horror movies can presently chew. The film opens with text describing the working practices of VICE Media, which specializes in “immersion journalism.” VICE reporter Sam (AJ Bowen) explains to us that colleague Patrick (Kentucker Audley) has received a letter from his long-lost addict sister, Caroline (Amy Seimetz), stating that she’s living in a new recovery group somewhere in a suspiciously undisclosed country. Patrick is invited to join her, and Sam, understandably suspecting a potential breaking story about a religious cult, tags along with a cameraman, Jake (Joe Swanberg), in tow to shoot footage for a potential feature.

What the VICE crew initially finds, after a long helicopter ride and a prolonged navigation through a variety of forbiddingly armed wilderness checkpoints, is an encampment called Eden Parish, a cult that’s obviously informed by real groups such as the Peoples Temple Agriculture Project (better known as Jonestown) and the more recent Church of Wells. And, for a while, it appears that West is really on to something, as The Sacrament initially suggests that he’s willing to extend an unusual amount of empathy to a group that embraces sustainable farming, inexpensive medical treatment, and pretty damn good bluegrass music.

Venice Film Festival 2013 The Police Officer’s Wife, Locke, & The Sacrament

Comments Comments (...)

Venice Film Festival 2013: The Police Officer’s Wife, Locke, & The Sacrament

Venice Film Festival

Venice Film Festival 2013: The Police Officer’s Wife, Locke, & The Sacrament

From the rough-hewn humanism of Gary Oldman’s Nil by Mouth to the shiny Hollywood treatment of the Ike and Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It? and everything in between, cinema has found a host of ways to portray domestic violence. But rarely can the subject have been addressed in as conceptually high-handed, chilly, and patronizing a manner as in Philip Gröning’s 175-minute slog The Police Officer’s Wife. Perhaps aiming to evoke the ruptured fabric of the small family unit on which the film focuses, but achieving only a frustratingly distancing effect, Gröning employs a self-consciously fragmented structure. The film unfolds in 59 discrete passages of varying length, each of which is bookended by excruciatingly unnecessary, fade-in-and-out captions reading “Beginning of Chapter” and “End of Chapter.” The Venice crowd initially laughed at the clanging pomposity of this device, and then became progressively, audibly, more irritated; it had easily the most walkouts of any film I saw at the festival.

15 Famous Movie Hotels

Comments Comments (...)

15 Famous Movie Hotels
15 Famous Movie Hotels

This weekend offers a little something for the wee ones, in advance of everyone’s favorite make-believe holiday, Halloween (when, you know, you can wear stuff like this). Hotel Transylvania features the voices of Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, and CeeLo Green, and it tells the tale of a five-star resort where monsters can go to—get this—be safe from us humans. Hollywood loves to boost its products’ escapist qualities by setting them in get-away-from-it-all locales. From L.A. to Vegas to Thailand, the stops on our list boast some very memorable hotels, which vary in their abilities to accommodate, relax, and terrify.

SXSW 2012: V/H/S

Comments Comments (...)

SXSW 2012: <em>V/H/S</em>
SXSW 2012: <em>V/H/S</em>

Some anthology films have the innate capacity to withstand the occasional subpar self-contained segment without souring the film’s overall experience. A movie like V/H/S, a gathering of found-footage horror shorts from buzz-worthy names in independent film, feels more like a cinematic experiment or a test in storytelling than a true feature film, so viewing it becomes more about seeing how each director (Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, and the online film collective Radio Silence) responds to the challenge rather than how the segments come together as a whole. Some of the film’s pieces don’t shine as brightly as others, yet it doesn’t change the fact that watching V/H/S is a gruesome and twisted blast.

Aside from their surface-level similarities (namely, being horror stories told through POV found footage), the segments are loosely tied together by a thin plot involving a gang of low-life criminals hired to steal a mysterious videotape from a spooky, rundown house. All they’re told is that they’ll recognize the desired footage when they see it, so the group begins watching a pile of VHS tapes one by one, witnessing an array of horrific and unnatural events as caught on video.

Sundance Film Festival 2012: Shut Up and Play the Hits and V/H/S

Comments Comments (...)

Sundance Film Festival 2012: <em>Shut Up and Play the Hits</em> and <em>V/H/S</em>
Sundance Film Festival 2012: <em>Shut Up and Play the Hits</em> and <em>V/H/S</em>

Shut Up and Play the Hits, Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern’s documentary about the emotional toll that LCD Soundsytem’s final live show had on frontman James Murphy, dances around the fact that the band was essentially a solo act. (Though Murphy performed all of the instruments on LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled debut, a number of people, Nancy Whang and Pat Honey among them, became an integral part of the band’s sound after Murphy took the album on the road.) This is presumably the reason why Murphy is the only person associated with LCD Soundsystem who’s interviewed in the film and therefore gets to tell us what the end of the band signifies.

Since we know Murphy isn’t retiring from making music, why are we seriously mourning the death of what was originally a one-man band? The answer is we’re not really mourning, because Murphy isn’t completely serious about burying the band. The doc starts with a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek epitaph: “If it’s a funeral, let’s have the best funeral ever.” Still, there’s genuine sentiment behind that opening intertitle. This is shown in footage of Murphy dazedly walking around after the band’s final performance and later during a lunchtime interview conducted by Chuck Klosterman. He also tells the crowd at Madison Square Garden that he wears his father’s watch while performing for good luck, which suggests he’s sentimental about the prospect of ditching the band. But isn’t it enough that Murphy will just move on to his next project?

SXSW 2011: Silver Bullets

Comments Comments (...)

SXSW 2011: <em>Silver Bullets</em>
SXSW 2011: <em>Silver Bullets</em>

Considering the frank, graphic sexuality and obviously semi-autobiographical portrayals of relationships in Joe Swanberg’s movies, it feels slightly odd to say that Silver Bullets, a film missing most of the director’s usual erections and ejaculations, ranks as his most intimate effort so far. Like his other films, it still centers on a relationship tempted with infidelity, but through this, and through a plot involving the production of two vastly different independent films, Swanberg ponders out loud the role of the filmmaking process in the lives of the creators, and whether or not the resulting films are worth the strain and possible damage the process can cause.