Writer’s Regret: My Favorite Articles from 2014

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My writing really took off this year, for which I thank so many people (Justine Smith, Sam Fragoso, Austin Trunick, Scott Beggs, Jill Blake, Peter Knegt, et al.). I’m very excited for the year to come.

In the meantime, here are some things that I wrote that I didn’t hate. 


“He seduces you,” says one corner of the cinematic triangle of Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats, referring to another corner. There are plenty of films about love, friendship, and love and friendship, but Dolan’s second film, about two friends in love with the same guy, does an impressive thing that few of those films can do: articulate the exact feelings of love and heartbreak through cinematic form. Several films capture moments of love, perhaps even recreate scenes easily identifiable, but the actual emotion itself is hard to render. Wordless, invisible feelings are rendered nearly tangible and very palpable on the screen. The film seems to bleed emotion.
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- So in Love: Heartbeats //The Movie Scene

– So in Love: Heartbeats //The Movie Scene


It’s hard to describe 25 year old Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner Xavier Dolan as anything but a wunderkind, even if you dislike his work. The rate of output, for one, is impressive, but the products themselves are astonishing. But what happens when an art house enfant terrible steps away from his comfort zone to deliver a straight (or, rather, queer) psychological thriller? Certainly one of the most outstanding, heart racing experiences I’ve had at the theater in ages.
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- Animal Farm: Tom at the Farm // The Movie Scene

– Animal Farm: Tom at the Farm // The Movie Scene


“What did you think of it?” a colleague asked me immediately after the screening, after I had heard his answer to the same question. I was at a loss for words, and inarticulately sputtered, “I have… feels.” It’s as concise as I could have worded it, so soon after the film, one I’d been anticipating for months. It was a film I would not stop talking about since its production had been announced, since it had premiered at Cannes, and since I had watched the trailer on a loop and teared up each time. My expectations were high. And though it was a messily worded response, it was not a terribly inaccurate way of distilling my reaction to Xavier Dolan’s fifth film Mommy. But, one word or one thousand, they won’t be a totally satisfying way of describing my reaction to Mommy,  the same problem I had with his first film I Killed my Mother. “Is this your Boyhood?” he asked, when I said I felt connected to the subject matter. I replied, “Yeah, this and I Killed My Mother are my Boyhood.”
It’s true, Dolan’s first feature, which he made at 18, is one of the most, if not the most, personal films I’ve ever experienced. And by “my Boyhood”, I mean that it’s the film that hits close to home. It’s jarring and almost soul-crushingly close to the relationship I have with my mother. But I fully admit that it’s also arguably the weakest in his filmography, filled with an indulgence that certainly may make sense both contextually and extra-textually (he was18), but grates quickly. (Its latter half also feels a bit unfocused, yet houses some of the strongest emotions.) To fully elaborate on how I feel about I Killed My Mother, and Mommy for that matter, would to divulge things about my personal life, a thing I have been, up until now, hesitant to do.
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- Mommy and Me: Why Xavier Dolan’s Film Is This Writer’s Boyhood // IndieWire’s /Bent 

Mommy and Me: Why Xavier Dolan’s Film Is This Writer’s Boyhood // IndieWire’s /Bent 

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– DIe Another Day: Skyfall and the Nolanization of James Bond // The Movie Scene


As she makes her way through the backstage behind the curtain at State University of New York at Purchase, one can tell all is not right with Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman). The camera trails in front her, sycophantically, as she is replete with hypnotic beauty in black and white, still standing out from the grey walls and dark surroundings. Her body quivers powerfully and almost orgasmically. The only thing the audience needs to see is Nina’s eyes to see nothing is right, even as her arms transform, and the camera steps forwards briefly to gaze upon the face that is covered in makeup to reveal that Nina has mutated into something else entirely. But is it real? Who is really seeing this? The cinematography in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan plays a crucial role in understanding the film’s depiction of psychosis. Nina is one of Aronofsky’s least sane characters, but utilizing various camera tricks and a kind of meta-reflexivity, there is a subtle insanity that works behind each shot to confuse the audience as much as Nina is, while the vérité style with which it is shot allows the film’s foundation to be primarily subjective. Few films play up schlocky horror against dramatic portrayals of mental illness so well, and Black Swan is one of them.
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- Camera as Psychosis: The Cinematography of Black Swan // The Movie Scene

– Camera as Psychosis: The Cinematography of Black Swan // The Movie Scene


As Anna (Morjana Alaoi) walks tepidly down the uncomfortably clean, chrome hallway, the overhead lights go on, one by one, revealing something akin to a claustrophobic passageway to Hell. There are pictures, blown up, on the wall. On them are bodies, gaunt, beaten, broken down, aesthetically comparable to Mengelian victims of experimentation. Up on the wall are “real life” martyrs, women and children who have submitted their bodies completely to pain. Their eyes are open, accepting not only every ounce of cruelty made upon them, but, seemingly on humankind in general.
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- Torture Worn: Martyrs // The Movie Scene

– Torture Worn: Martyrs // The Movie Scene


Oskar, the pre-pubescent protagonist of Let the Right One In, is about as pale as the snow that blankets the frigid landscape around him in Stockholm, Sweden. His hair is technically blonde, but looks so drained of its color it might as well be just as frosted as his skin. He’s emaciated, seemingly all skin and bone with no muscle to be found. His lips look like faint, thin grey lines on his face. He is, most importantly, androgynous looking. All of these elements that make of Oskar’s character, not to mention his slight personality, so timid and naïve, are enough to give the bullies at his school reason enough to violently harass him. Even at the tender age of 12, the roles in this society are set: if one does not demonstrate the perceived standard for masculinity (or, conversely, femininity, such as in Carrie), one is immediately ostracized. It’s nothing new. Oh, and Oskar just might be a young person in search of his queer identity.
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- Same Blood: Let the Right One In and Young Queerness // The Movie Scene

– Same Blood: Let the Right One In and Young Queerness // The Movie Scene


I had an absolutely outstanding #NYFF experience. So here are my top 5 favorite films of the festival and some other capsule reviews!
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- NYFF 2014: Kyle’s 5 Favorite Films and Other Ephemera // Sound on Sight

– NYFF 2014: Kyle’s 5 Favorite Films and Other Ephemera // Sound on Sight


The Blu-ray release of Her includes a short documentary called Her: Love in the Modern Age, a concise and straightforward survey of a bunch of people discussing how technology has changed the trajectory of romantic relationships in the 21st century. It’s not a very insightful doc, merely reiterating what Her said better and with more sincerity. In Her’s high-concept premise, Samantha’s existence as an intangible person doesn’t change the element of trust in her relationship with Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix). With that in mind, Zachary Wigon’s The Heart Machine takes Her’s skeletal idea and has its tone nosedive in the other direction. It just might be better than Her.
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- The Beat That My Heart Skipped: The Heart Machine // Movie Mezzanine

– The Beat That My Heart Skipped: The Heart Machine // Movie Mezzanine


Foxcatcher either doesn’t care or doesn’t want to establish exactly from whose perspective the film is, which is, in a way, a double edged sword. So much of the film takes pleasure in lacing every frame and action with ambiguity that it does, understandably, get frustrating. It at once wants to become intimate with its characters – Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and David Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), two Olympic gold medalists in wrestling, and John du Pont (Steve Carell), the “rich old guy” that recruits both of them to help his Team Foxcatcher to become best in the world – and get inside their heads, but these characters seem to push back against that very idea. So far as understanding them, we get nothing, which is a good thing.
There’s a lurking desire, something sinister and unsavory throughout. Through Miller’s camera and Greg Fraser’s (Bright Star, Let Me In, Killing Them Softly) cinematography, we inhabit various gazes. Gazes that want and year and need. But it’s hard to tell whose they are.
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- The Eye in Team: The Gaze of Foxcatcher // The Movie Scene

– The Eye in Team: The Gaze of Foxcatcher // The Movie Scene


It’s 2011 and we’re already tired of franchises. Well, at least the throwaway characters about to get gutted in Stab 6 are, as one of them sarcastically writes off Saw IV as “gross, not scary” and lacking “character development.” But then the scene we’re watching pulls out to reveal itself as opening scene to Stab 7, wherein Anna Paquin (who’s watching Stab 6) becomes the exact character type she complains about: “a bunch of articulate teens sit around and deconstruct horror movies as Ghost Face kills them one by one.”
She scathingly notes, “It’s been done to death.”
And while it might be hard to say that Wes Craven’s Scream 4, of which these movies within movies within movies are a part of, predicted the current atmosphere of franchise fatigue, it at least has the hipster-like sense of being tired of franchises before it was cool.
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- Looking Back on Scream 4, the Harbinger of Franchise Fatigue // Film School Rejects

– Looking Back on Scream 4, the Harbinger of Franchise Fatigue // Film School Rejects


A haze of smoke uncoils and dances in the air, slinking out from of the mouth of Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), part-time private investigator and, ostensibly, full-time pothead. So light and loony this character (and film) is,Inherent Vice almost comes as a surprise to those following the career of Paul Thomas Anderson, whose last few films have fit, for the most part, comfortably within a mode of seriousness. Vice, while hard to describe as frivolous, is not as married to that tone, instead taking on something goofier, funnier, and consistent with Anderson’s work; something enjoyably off-kilter.
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- NYFF2014: The Long Good High - Inherent Vice // The Movie Scene

– NYFF2014: The Long Good High – Inherent Vice // The Movie Scene


When I finally got around to seeing Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, the thing I kept saying to people was, “Isn’t it funny that this film needs to be seen in 3D and yet itself does not justify 3D’s place within cinema?” I still hold my “it’s fine” opinion on that film, denying its status as an Avatar-esque game changer, and I thought I’d have to keep searching for that. Luckily, I found it right off the bat at the New York Film Festival: Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language redefines not only 3D in film, but quite possibly film itself.
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- NYFF2014: Hello, “Goodbye” - Goodbye to Language 3D // Sound on Sight

– NYFF2014: Hello, “Goodbye” – Goodbye to Language 3D // Sound on Sight


I remember everything,” says a disparate female voice, as if in agony. “You remember nothing,” a male voice replies to her. He says it again. “Nothing.” The opening minutes of Alain Resnais’ 1959 debut feature Hiroshima, Mon Amour are arguably the most interesting, as they explore the irrevocable damage caused by the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. Bobbing in and out of hospital corridors, museum exhibits, and looking at survivors on the city streets, the themes of this opening ripple throughout the film. It is the film at its most potent and, in a way, most prescient. What is the difference between sympathy and empathy? Where is it useful and where is it dangerous? What is the difference between memory and experience, and memory and third hand witness? Nearly 60 years after Resnais’ film, we are living in a fairly interesting age where not only where mass media can cover international and domestic tragedies with immediate turnaround, even on the front lines, as it were. On Twitter, you could follow the events of Ferguson, MO or the events in Middle East, all in front of you in an instant. But the internet has also allowed this illusion of the eye witness account to proliferate exponentially. This has made sympathy and empathy, and the experience of tragedy, blurred and muddled, also making the questioning of those emotions more relevant.
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- The Awful Truth: Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima, Mon Amour // The Black Maria

– The Awful Truth: Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima, Mon Amour // The Black Maria


Grease is the word. Its first iteration was as a stage musical, conceived by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, first appearing on stage in Chicago in 1971, and then on Broadway in 1972. With book, music, and lyrics by Jacobs and Warren, the two tackled teenage life in its raunchy, dirty, often distressing reality. It’s not totally unlike West Side Story, but with a footing grounded more in the environment and culture of the teens, focusing on Danny Zucko (John Travolta) and Sandy Olsson’s (Olivia Newton-John) turbulent relationship. Most of the songs were written for the original stage production, though, in the 1978 film directed by Randal Kleiser, some contemporary songs can be heard (like “Blue Moon” and “Hound Dog”). In “Summer Nights”, “You’re the One I That I Want”, “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee”, “Greased Lightning”, and “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” the film reveals its muddy, complicated gender dynamics. What Jacobs and Warren did, that seems to have been forgotten since its controversial debut, is examine the various toxic elements of high school life, with the kind of morals that feel as if they’ve never gone away.
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- Mean Girls and Bad Boys: The Messy Gender Politics of Grease in 5 Songs // Movie Mezzanine

– Mean Girls and Bad Boys: The Messy Gender Politics of Grease in 5 Songs // Movie Mezzanine


He’s not allowed to play violent videogames,” my mother told them, my high school aged babysitters, as she left for work. The sound of an electro-revamping of John Barry’s James Bond theme managed to drown out the sound of the engine of my mother’s car before it had completely faded, or even left the driveway. And so, at the ripe age of seven, I became enamored of the James Bond I came to learn throughGoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64. And I’d make my way through the other Bond video games and, at some point later that year, I’d watch my first James Bond movie. And I would gobble up the franchise (up to Die Another Day, at least), and nothing, not even the original Ian Fleming novels would be able to quench my thirst for the man with the license to kill. (Fun fact: My useless talent is that I can name all the Bond films in backwards chronological order in under 30 seconds.) Before long, I would introduce myself to car salesman as “the biggest James Bond fan in the tri-state area), despite living in Connecticut. And then something changed…
I was, like every other James Bond purist, up in arms about the casting of a blonde and blue-eyed actor to play James Bond. But seeing Daniel Craig walk out of the sea in those powder blue shirts made me realize two things: 1) I was totally into dudes and 2) the rest of the James Bond franchise was kind of terrible. (Just kidding with that first part; that wouldn’t happen to me for another ten years.) And I blame Goldfinger.
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- The Spy Who Came Out of the Gold: Why I Hate Goldfinger // The Black Maria

– The Spy Who Came Out of the Gold: Why I Hate Goldfinger // The Black Maria


Full disclosure: I’m not completely well acquainted with the work of Kanye West, save for half a dozen songs and his very public persona. His egoism almost seems to speak for itself, but there a moments where even I, as someone who rarely listens to rap, understand that there’s more to him than meets the Tweet.
Perhaps part of West’s appeal is his ability to play off of himself intentionally. He has a good sense of humor, and there appears to be a self-awareness in his work, especially in his presentation of his public persona. Kanye West is, to my meager understanding, just as calculated of an artist as Lady Gaga or anyone else.
Spike Jonze, who was first a maestro of the music video before he moved into film, just might be the best person to continue to help hone West’s vaguely Joaquin Phoenix-à-la-I’m Still Here personality. Both Jonze’s cinematic and music video work often focuses on the surreal, environments that exist with a level of meta-awareness. From his Happy Days inspired Weezer video for “Buddy Holly” to the layered world of Being John Malkovich, from the sly smirk of Chris Walken dancing in Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” to the literarily surreal Adaptation., Jonze knows how to wink at the audience, but for a reason. In the aforementioned pieces, he’s able to explore (in various amounts of constraint), the power of nostalgia, the Freudian fallacies of desire, and the pain of sensitivity.
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- Once Upon a Time for Kanye West: Spike Jonze and Kanye West’s “We Were Once a Fairytale” // Sound on Sight

– Once Upon a Time for Kanye West: Spike Jonze and Kanye West’s “We Were Once a Fairytale” // Sound on Sight


It’s rarely a good idea to walk into a film with preconceived notions, but it’s rarely something a person can help unless they’re able to go completely blind. But, unless you’re at a festival, it’s hard to do that these days given the advertising saturation film culture. Even if you’re not intentionally surrounding yourself with it, chances are, it’ll still be in the background. So, that being said, I walked into If I Stay, a YA weepy movie based on a YA weepy novel by Gayle Forman, with average to low expectations. I thought, At worst, it’ll be forgettable. And somehow, I was so, so wrong.
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- Is That a Question?: If I Stay // The Movie Scene

– Is That a Question?: If I Stay // The Movie Scene


Moulin Rouge! is a mixed bag. It’s an idea that looks good on paper, but looks horrendous in execution. It’s a film where it should have the ability to make all the right emotional pivots, but succumbs to an ostentation that exists in its final product, making this a hallmark for director Baz Lurhmann’s career. I appreciate him, in an odd way, for injecting a very strange version of romance in his films, one that, in Moulin Rouge!, is wonderfully cynical and melancholy. In almost all of his work, his maximalism overshadows some of the most interesting aspects of the films (the sole exception beingStrictly Ballroom, his first feature): the post-modern comments on capitalism in William Shakespeare’s Romeo+ Juliet, the inherent frivolity of “freedom, beauty, truth, and love” inMoulin Rouge!, and the hollow decadence of the parties in The Great Gatsby. But everything wrong with him as a director can be distilled to one scene in the film: “El Tango de Roxanne”.
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- Two Left Feet: How “El Tango de Roxanne” Represents Everything Wrong with Baz Lurhmann // Sound on Sight

– Two Left Feet: How “El Tango de Roxanne” Represents Everything Wrong with Baz Lurhmann // Sound on Sight


*SPOILERS AHOY!*
At the end of The F Word, Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) and Chantry (Zoe Kazan) get married. This isn’t surprising, but it is, for me, disappointing. What’s to be most valued in this film, written by Elan Mastai based on the play Cigars and Toothpaste by TJ Dawe and Michael Rinaldi and directed by Michel Dowse, is its brutal honesty about the complicated dynamics of two friends who may or may not be attracted to one another and the concessions they have to make in order to not upset that dynamic. It essentially plays out like When Harry Met Sally…, but less inclined to make one person a victim or a pathetic figure. It lays out its options openly and realistically, acknowledging that people sometimes have to do painful things in order to maintain a kind of balance.
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- Concessions Stand: The F Word // The Movie Scene 

– Concessions Stand: The F Word // The Movie Scene 


Twenty-five years ago, Bedstuy erupted in animosity, the kinds that had been quietly building up without much fanfare. All it took was for a trashcan to be thrown into the window of a pizza parlor for much larger issues, one that transcended even the characters in the situation, to be brought to light when they had been largely ignored. Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” opens Spike Lee’s seminal film Do the Right Things, a track whose lyrics demand that these issues of racism and inequality in contemporary America be addressed. As it reverberates around the room when one watches it, one can feel that the track, indelible in music and film history, is a call to arms.
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- Fight, Not Flight: The Sound and Fury of “Fight the Power” in Do the Right Thing // Movie Mezzanine

– Fight, Not Flight: The Sound and Fury of “Fight the Power” in Do the Right Thing // Movie Mezzanine

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– The Top 20 Performances of 2014 // Under the Radar


The first hour of Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon does not seem like a queer film. There’s certainly political subtext there, but nothing queer, at least nothing overtly so. There is, instead, a link between Dog Day Afternoon and Vietnam, the Attica Prison riot, and a general tone of anti-establishment. Yet, a critical part of the story (even the true story on which the film is based) involves queer politics. So it seems almost strange that Dog Day Afternoon, it its sweltering atmosphere and tension and legendary performance from Al Pacino, isn’t better remembered as a queer film. The recent release of the documentary The Dog, which examines the life of john Wojtowicz, the man who inspired the film, demands that the film be reexamined in that context.
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- Why Dog Day Afternoon Should Be Remembered as a (Great) Queer Film // IndieWire’s /Bent

– Why Dog Day Afternoon Should Be Remembered as a (Great) Queer Film // IndieWire’s /Bent


As far as evil children movies go, the subgenre has little new to offer given The Bad Seed, The Omen, The Exorcist, and Children of the Corn. Each offered their take on why children are scum of the earth, and, for the most part, it was came from the angle of religious power. They’re either the spawn of Satan, in a weird cult, or the Devil himself. With regard to the violent nature and pure insanity of the Evil Child, Jaume Collet-Serra’s Orphan fails to bring anything particularly new. But that’s a good thing, because it doesn’t need to. Neither self-aware nor too self-serious, Orphanis bizarrely one of the most effective thrillers, perhaps primarily because of the high caliber performances from all of its players, particularly from young Isabelle Fuhrman.
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- Little Orphan Crazy: The Perverse Pleasures of Orphan // The Movie Scene

– Little Orphan Crazy: The Perverse Pleasures of Orphan // The Movie Scene


because of her unapologetic bombast. Too often, though, she may have been written off as “weird”, from her odd fashion decisions, her performance art appearances on TV, and, of course, her music videos. Gaga, née Stefani Germanotta, through her strange videos presents a vision, often of powerful women and the subversion of fame, through each of her music videos. Sometimes straddling the line between film and music video, Lady Gaga, though not always the director of these videos, is always the auteur behind them.
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- Find Your Jesus, Find Your Kubrick: Lady Gaga as Auteur // Sound on Sight

– Find Your Jesus, Find Your Kubrick: Lady Gaga as Auteur // Sound on Sight


Over the last couple of years, my friends have accused me of becoming more, shall we say, politically correct. Over dinner one night, my best friend told me, “You’re the most politically correct person I’ve ever met.” “Thanks!” I retorted. My mother called me the same a week later. I don’t like to really use being PC as a pejorative, but, yes, I’ve become increasingly more sensitive to the way things are said and portrayed in popular culture. As I explained to a friend back in December, I would rather be hyper sensitive to such material than completely desensitized to it. And while you could certainly argue that the culture as a whole has become increasingly more sensitive to the way things are portrayed in the media, from the representation of women and minorities to the effects of violence vs. sex, those barriers have ushered in slyer and smarter forms of comedy.
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- Blaze of Glory: Are We Too PC for Blazing Saddles? // The Black Maria

– Blaze of Glory: Are We Too PC for Blazing Saddles? // The Black Maria


If you try to elevator pitch any of Lars von Trier’s films, they sound like they come from the mind of an idiotic, perverse, trolling provocateur. “A simple woman has sex with other men at the wishes of God and her sick husband.” “An immigrant woman going blind starts imagining herself in a musical.” “A couple retreat to a cabin in the woods after the death of their child and there’s genital mutilation.” “As the world is about to end, one woman’s depression ignites a crashing finale to her wedding.”
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- The Romantic Cynicism of Lars von Trier // The Black Maria

– The Romantic Cynicism of Lars von Trier // The Black Maria


“To me, music is the soul of the film,” Xavier Dolan said in an interview with Slant Magazine in 2012, just as his third feature Laurence Anyways was about to makes it premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section. More than most directors, it seems, Dolan seems to blur the line between film and music video, bringing the two together tastefully, offering interludes that are just as important to the whole of the film as any dialogue scene. These scenes, perhaps, allow Dolan to exercise his more indulgent side, but they give his films a gorgeous full bodied appeal. Also giving him the opportunity to experiment with technique, Dolan brings an inventiveness and assuredness to both forms unlike any director.
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- His Soul to Make: The Music Video Stylings of Xavier Dolan // Sound on Sight

– His Soul to Make: The Music Video Stylings of Xavier Dolan // Sound on Sight


I hesitate to call myself a coffee addict, because, as they say, “admitting that you have a problem is the first step to recovery”. But I thoroughly enjoy it. I take my coffee with cream and sugar. I like it not because of its effects, but because it tastes good. It’s sort of comforting. And comforting is, oddly, how you could describe Jan Ole Gerster’s accomplished feature debut A COFFEE IN BERLIN (aka OH BOY!). Calling it “FRANCES HA with a guy” (like Eric Kohn did) is a compliment. But more than that, A COFFEE IN BERLIN is the best companion piece FRANCES HA didn’t even know it need.
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- Review - A Coffee in Berlin // Very Aware

– Review – A Coffee in Berlin // Very Aware


A couple weeks ago, I watched “The Normal Heart.” At least, I think it was a couple weeks ago? Or was it a month ago? The only thing I vividly remember about it was the scene in the bathhouse where Matt Bomer follows Mark Ruffalo into a steam room. And then, flashing forward to the present to reveal the date that the two are on, Bomer reminiscing about their casual encounter. And then Ruffalo asks amiably, “Wanna start over?” And then they have sex. (What can I say? I’m a huge Matt Bomer fan.)
But I feel the fact that a) I don’t really remember when I watched it and b) I don’t remember anything about the film beyond those scenes and lots of shouting is a problem. I don’t think I am in the minority of finding Ryan Murphy’s treatment of Larry Kramer’s play “fine”, so I wonder if I’m alone in forgetting it so quickly. The issue isn’t merely that the film is forgettable, but the fact that if “The Normal Heart” was supposed to represent something within the queer narrative, it may have failed.
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- Did ‘The Normal Heart’ End Up Really Mattering? // IndieWire’s /Bent

– Did ‘The Normal Heart’ End Up Really Mattering? // IndieWire’s /Bent


The pet preoccupation of young Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan is not, at first glance, particularly interesting. Mothers. Alright, someone says, he has mommy issues. But the issue runs far deeper than writing it off so dismissively. For Dolan, as a queer filmmaker, uses his experience, position, and talent to explore mothers with atypical approaches. The divide between a mother and their queer child is also nothing particularly new, but, for at least I Killed My Mother and Laurence Anyways, his maternal characters transcend the roles given to them to become much more.
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- All About His Mothers: The Role of Mothers in the Films of Xavier Dolan // IndieWire’s /Bent

– All About His Mothers: The Role of Mothers in the Films of Xavier Dolan // IndieWire’s /Bent


A young woman in her late twenties pirouettes, jumps, and spins through the streets of New York City as David Bowie’s “Modern Love” pounds in her head, on the screen, and in our hearts. It is not only the city that sparkles in Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, but Frances herself. Energetic, prone to folly, and warmly sincere, Frances is perhaps the best illustrated character to come out of film in ages, both a perfect fit for the contemporary environment she inhabits and yet timeless in how human she is.
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- “I Like Things That Look Like Mistakes”: The Perfect Imperfection of Frances Ha // The Movie Scene

– “I Like Things That Look Like Mistakes”: The Perfect Imperfection ofFrances Ha // The Movie Scene


With that butter slathered hair, the cream colored jacket and ambrosial dress shirt, and flamboyant nature in general, Javier Bardem’s Silva seems, at first, entirely antithetical to Daniel Craig’s James Bond. But their similarities is what makes the relationship dynamic intriguing. Silva knows how Bond operates and knows exactly how to get under his skin: by challenging Bond’s ideal of masculinity. This sly, subversive action can be summed up easily by the use of one song: The Animals’ cover of “Boom Boom”. Late in the twenty-third James Bond film, Sam Mendes’s Skyfall, Silva brings a massive helicopter and blasts the song towards Bond’s home, taunting him, practically begging for Bond to walk out so Silva can continue to play mind games with him. And with the use of that song, one can delve into the twisted dynamic between James Bond and one of the most memorable villains in the franchise.
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- "Boom Boom" and Bond’s Masculinity in Skyfall // Movie Mezzanine

– “Boom Boom” and Bond’s Masculinity in Skyfall // Movie Mezzanine


From putting his female protagonists through absolute Hell to tattooing the F-word on his knuckles, one might as well assume that the enfant terribleof art film, Lars von Trier, has been provoking reactions since his time in the womb. Though von Trier, at 57, is hardly a child by biological terms anymore, he still likes to get a reaction out of his audience and critics not unlike a willful toddler. So, he self-reflexively acknowledges this nearly innate desire to provoke by using a surprising, but decidedly telling track by Steppenwolf in his latest film, the sex opusNymphomaniac: “Born to Be Wild”. And what could fit better for the man behind Europa, Dancer in the Dark,Dogville, and Antichrist?
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- “Born to Be Wild” and the Provocation of Lars von Trier // Movie Mezzanine

– “Born to Be Wild” and the Provocation of Lars von Trier // Movie Mezzanine


It’s intoxicating. It has the power to the make someone do things out of the ordinary. It augments and manipulates the experience of living. Deep infatuation. Few films are able to pin that experience so accurately as Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats, a hyper stylistic, elegant piece of filmmaking about two friends who fall in “love” with the same guy. Dolan is able to articulate the spellbinding effect that infatuation has on the two characters through the use of two songs, “Bang Bang”, describing the competition between Francis and Marie, and “Pass This On”, depicting the obsessive nature of their infatuation. Carefully utilized in the film and played nearly consecutively, Dolan nails what it’s like to be obsessively enamored.
[…]

- Love, Ostentatiously: The Obsessive Infatuation of “Bang Bang” & “Pass This On” in Heartbeats // Movie Mezzanine

– Love, Ostentatiously: The Obsessive Infatuation of “Bang Bang” & “Pass This On” in Heartbeats // Movie Mezzanine

dogville

– “I Call Them Dogs”: Lars von Trier Calls Out Rape Culture // Movie Mezzanine


The number of films that are as comforting as bedtime stories are, for me, few and far between, but among the most lovely of those is Spike Jonze’s first solo effort Her. It makes sense, then, that Karen O, of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, would compose a lullaby for a film of such sweet sincerity, authenticity, and sensitivity. The track warmly and gently solidifies the momentary and transcendent experience of being in love and feeling comfort and safety with the one you adore. More than that, it quietly explores the transitory experience of intangible love, critical to understanding the realization of the relationship between the two main characters. The song, like certain moments in the film, is pure magic.
[…]

The Magic of “The Moon Song” in Her // Movie Mezzanine

– How Her Helped Me Fall In and Out of Love // The Movie Scene

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