Monica Chapter One

Doron Max Hagay’s MONICA – Chapter One

Doron Max Hagay is back with Chapter Two of his Monica the miniseries, picking up where Chapter One left off after the fruition of her HBO Documentary; new episodes are in post-production with streaming availability set for this spring. In the time being, Hagay has condensed the first six episodes of the miniseries into a 35-minute film.

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PARIS BELONGS TO US Blu-ray Review

The films of Jacques Rivette have long been a proverbial white whale for many a cinephile, that is up until recently when the majority of his oeuvre finally made their way to physical media formats with Out 1 recently released as a box set through Kino Lorber as well as a collection of his work presented in an 8 disc set by Arrow Films. Now, the starting point of his career, his debut Paris Belongs To Us, has found a home on the shelf of the Criterion Collection.

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UNSUNG INDIES: Vanessa McDonnell’s JOHN’S OF 12TH STREET

McDonnell fully immerses the viewer in the world of John’s of 12th Street, guiding the audience through the in-the-kitchen execution of the menu to the restaurant-managing of stock deliveries and discrepancies to the actual patrons themselves (the film even follows along on take-out deliveries). She keeps it simple (or at least gives the appearance of simplicity) letting the ambiance speak for itself while the community inside do much of the heavy lifting, most everyone has a story to tell (or an anecdote or philosophy to share) and McDonnell kindly provides the allure of an audience.

I knew Her Well 7.5

I KNEW HER WELL Blu-ray Review

Angelo Pietrangeli’s name is not one that comes up all too often in discussions pertaining to important filmmakers throughout history to cinema; it’s barely one that barely even surfaces when those discussions limit themselves to Italian filmmakers, a name apparently lost through the decades buried underneath the constant praise of the works of Antonioni, Rossellini, Fellini, Pasolini and more.

JCL1 7.5

JONNY COME LATELY Review

The undercurrent of that romantic relationship percolates throughout the grainy 16mm frames, absence or reluctance of dialogue suggest a force of repression present, lighting and music also hinting towards untold emotional malaise. Deragh Campbell’s posture and movements speak a mixed language of downtrodden and longing, seemingly on the cusp of a timid revival with her significant other, Sam (Kentucker Audley), and on the verge of total collapse at the same time.

New Cops 5

NEW COPS Review

In what Morton himself describes as a “labor of laziness”, New Cops definitely has the look and feel of a half-hearted project come to that’ll-do fruition. However, the film does retain a certain amount of charm given the production model, a series of tangent strains weaved together haphazardly soaking in low-key humor. Never taking itself seriously, Morton’s film also benefits from a short run-time (clocking in at 52 minutes), staying ahead of the curve and exiting before the routine grows tiresome.

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DEATH BY HANGING Blu-ray Review

The release of Oshima’s Death by Hanging (1968) - on Blu-ray/DVD and Hulu Plus - marks the fourth installment of Oshima’s oeuvre to the Criterion Collection, the first of his work from the sixties (excluding the Eclipse Series 21: Oshima’s Outlaw Sixties box-set, which includes five films from that time period). In the chronology of his filmography Death by Hanging slots in between Japanese Summer: Double Suicide (1967) and Three Resurrected Drunkards (1968), while also being his second feature-length to focus and explore the tenuous relations between the Japanese and the Koreans. That’s a total of 9 feature films that have been released under the Criterion umbrella, not to mention the seven other films available by Criterion on Hulu Plus.

You Wont Miss Me 9.5

UNSUNG INDIES: Ry Russo-Young’s YOU WONT MISS ME

When it comes to the soul set out on display in Ry Russo-Young’s You Won’t Miss Me, the subject of ownership remains indistinguishable; working from a screenplay, co-written with lead actress Stella Schnabel, which appears to contain a number of illustrations of unmitigated truth interspersed with dramatizations of breaking into the acting business. Whether these naked portrayals free from pretense stem from Schnabel’s personal life (perhaps, playing a version of herself) or Russo-Young’s (or they may even be an assemblage of collected experiences) is irrelevant since both present the character of Shelly with such conviction and consideration they render her life experiences an unquestionable actuality.

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Slamdance 2016: EMBERS Review

The notion of a dystopian future is nothing new in cinema; its existence has been around for quite some time given that concept lends itself well as a fertile playground for both writers and directors in the realms of creativity with a vast expanse of narrative canvas brimming with potential, ample space equipped to house an abundance of imaginative furnishings as artistic latitude is awarded amongst the various departments. Anything and everything is available for construct with the ability of restructuring and/or inventing new operational outlines for a yet-to-be determined world.

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SLAMDANCE 2016: DRIFTWOOD Review

With Paul Taylor being a cinematographer, working on recent releases such as The Winds That Scatter and Wake Me When I Leave, it is not surprising that his first foray into directing would focus exclusively on visuals in order to convey his narrative, ridding the film from the constraints of dialogue effectively redirecting all focus onto the movements and body language of the actors in an attempt to present an unadulterated production of visual storytelling, stripped bare of the extraneous proving the power of purified imagery.

Chemical Cut 5.5

Slamdance 2016: CHEMICAL CUT Review

Inspired, in large part, by her own experiences navigating the modeling profession in Los Angeles, writer/director Marjorie Conrad mines the painful yet somewhat amusing (and at times, slightly bizarre) memories of that stretch of time, familiarities - both flattering and unbecoming - stripped bare and presented for the world to see. Conrad appears to be introducing herself to the world of film through a debut biopic feature with the central performer being a version of herself reenacting the motivating sequence of events that inevitably led to the production of this film.

Tears of God 2 9.5

FOR FUTURE REFERENCE: TEARS OF GOD

Death is abundant in Tears of God, the feature-length debut from writer/director Robert Hillyer Barnett (co-written with Diamando Proimos), manufactured at the hands of others or cultivated within the familiar palms of their own. Either way, death is a pervasive condition afflicting the congregation of a small church (of sorts) nestled in the snow-covered, mountainous landscape where they worship and suffer; live and, ultimately, die.

WakeMeWhenILeave2 6.5

WAKE ME WHEN I LEAVE Review

A slumbering sojourn in the confines of intricate dreams and recollected memories, whether they be misappropriated and/or accurately depicted, the truth of which is far from discernible as the puzzle pieces of the film’s domestic investigation remain mostly unidentifiable.

Field Niggas

TOP 50 OF 2015 (#25 – #1): Kevin Rakestraw

At the beginning of this week I posted the first half of my Top 50 films of 2015 (#50 through #26). Today is the day I finish this list (and any further list-making endeavors until this time next year), here are the rest of my picks from 2015.

Sabbatical

In Conversation with SABBATICAL’s Brandon Colvin

No other film has stuck with me, from this year, more so Brandon Colvin’s Sabbatical. I still find myself drifting off into the ether of my thoughts, reevaluating and dissecting the muted occurrences (as well as the circumstances of said occurrences) of Colvin’s film. I’ve talked about it extensively on various podcasts and even wrote about it for the site, but I was finally able to discuss the film with the man himself.