The delirious excess and unstable allegories of Darren Aronofsky’s mother! make it both a work of auteurist genius and a second-year term paper by someone who just discovered Borges. Its uncompromising commitment to fever dream logic places it high on the list of Aronofsky’s most essential deep-dives into shallow pools, while also courting charges of both insulting obviousness and self-adoring incomprehensibility.More
In Kelly Reichardt’s masterful 2013 meditation on terrorism Night Moves, we’re slowly introduced to a trio of disaffected young people staging a dramatic intervention: the explosion of a dam. Memorably, and in true Reichardt fashion, that explosion, which by all standard narrative conventions should occupy the film’s central spot, registers in the narrative instead as a muted, distant noise.More
IT has broken every record in the book, except maybe something related to professional curling, or to sequels (which it — It — will remedy next year, where I have it on good information that the entire second half of Stephen King’s adapted magnum opus will involve the grown-up children of Derry, ME becoming curling champions battling Pennywise, The Metaphysical Curling Clown in its final moments, and maybe securing their victory with the help of also the Curling Turtle Who Curls).More
Much has been made of the unconventional, even “game-changing” financing model that Steven Soderbergh employed to get his new Logan Lucky out to the world. And much more will be written about whether or not it “worked,” whether its success revolutionized the film industry — saving the mid-budget movie by wresting profits and control from the suits and placing them back in the hands of the creators — or if its failure spells doom for the model.More
Ah, the week of August 6th through 12th, the glory days of film-streaming in our new economy that is working out terrifically. What have you got for me, corporate overlords?
Netflix is very proud, I assume, to announce its quadruple punch of Black Site Delta, Diary of an Exorcist – Zero, Naked, and White Gold, which sounds like a terrible, kind of sticky evening at a Manhattan cinemateque circa 1977.More
Christopher Nolan is known, celebrated, and critiqued for two things: rigid attention to the clockwork nature of his spectacles, and a particular coldness to character. In Dunkirk, he splits the difference.
From Memento on, Nolan’s films seem much more enamored of mindfuck narrative structures than the people who populate them.More
In a rather hilarious reflection on Josef von Sternberg’s The Scarlet Empress, the sixth of his seven films starring Marlene Dietrich, historian Alex von Tunzelmann is unimpressed with the history on display.
The reign of Empress Elizabeth (1741-1762) didn’t include nearly so much torture as the first few frames of The Scarlet Empress would indicate, and the Iron Maiden wasn’t even invented for another 100 years!More
For tonight’s matinee, we showcase three films exploiting what might be called Architectural Horror, which is a term I just made up right now and immediately decided to copyright so please don’t use it or I will have to talk to the lawyers.More
If memory serves, I was about 6 or 7 when I first saw George Romero’s The Night of the Living Dead. It’s one of those film-viewing experiences that left an indelible imprint: I distinctly remember that feeling of sympathetic helplessness, the emerging sense that this was not going to end well, along with the viscera and brutality, the total bleakness of the film’s climax.More
Although their SNL shorts and music videos are generally cherished by comedy and/or cannabis enthusiasts, the Lonely Island boys haven’t had the best of luck on the big screen. Hot Rod raced through both theaters and the public consciousness, raking in all of $14M at the box office; a few years later, the Jorma Taccone-helmed MacGruber failed to recoup its budget, outpaced, as Matt Singer once pointed out, by Furry Vengeance, “starring Brendan Fraser as a real-estate developer at war with a raccoon.” It would’ve been hard for Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping to fall any lower on the scale of profitability than that cult-favorite MacGyer parody.More