Amy Taubin

  • Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog, 2021, DCP, color, sound, 127 minutes. Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch).
    film September 24, 2021

    Cats and Dogs

    EVEN WITH the New York Film Festival kicking off tonight with Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, I thought I had had enough of festivals, at least until 2022. Wild horses could not have dragged me to see Frances McDormand, whose every performance is more forced than the last, assay Lady M, although I would have liked to see Denzel Washington’s interpretation of the character whose name must not be spoken except within a performance of “the Scottish play.” (Were you under the impression that the “don’t speak his name” shit began with Voldemort?) And then, early yesterday morning, I went to a

  • Dash Shaw and Jane Samborski, Cryptozoo, 2021, 4K video animation, color, sound, 95 minutes.
    interviews August 23, 2021

    Dash Shaw

    BEST KNOWN as a graphic novelist—Bottomless Belly Button (2008); Body World (2010), New School (2013); Cosplayers (2014)—Dash Shaw has also made two animated feature films. The first was My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea (2014), an outsider’s vision of teenage angst which employs Titanic as a disaster movie template. The second, Cryptozoo (2021), again riffs on a Hollywood blockbuster, Jurassic Park, using his distinctive manner of drawing and painting that has become more sophisticated and complex in the years since High School. A cartooning major at the School of Visual Arts (he

  • Leos Carax, Annette, 2021, DDCP, color, sound, 120 minutes. Henry McHenry and Ann (Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard).
    film July 07, 2021

    Sound and Fury

    LEOS CARAX’S ANNETTE IS A MONSTER, a misery, an astoundingly raw movie/musical theater hybrid. It was the first film I saw in a screening room after fourteen months of pandemic isolation so circumstances may have played a part in my being so bouleversé. Also, I was sitting in the first row, the screen was very wide, and Carax doesn’t stint on close-ups. In any case, this is a film about a man who is fucking angry, and his anger went straight to my solar plexus, shaking me around for two hours. It also unleashed a torrent of associations, most of them cued by the director. In the end titles,

  • Andreas Fontana, Azor, 2021, DCP, sound, color, 100 minutes. Yvan De Wiel (Fabrizio Rongione).
    film April 28, 2021

    Adventure Time

    IN THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY EDITION of New Directors/New Films, the hippies pull more weight than the politicos, to borrow a ’60s dichotomy. There is a lot of journeying in these films—too much of it for my taste—couched as quests for spiritual enlightenment, or undertaken to discover the unity in all things, or to let go of the traumas of the past by, well, I’m not sure what means. ND/NF, which is jointly curated by programmers from the Museum of Modern Art and Film at Lincoln Center, is devoted to first and second independently produced features by directors from an ever-expanding world cinema.

  • Ana Katz, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet, 2021, DCP, black-and-white, sound, 73 minutes.
    film February 26, 2021

    Being There

    THE PRIZES WERE AWARDED a month ago, some very big deals have closed in recent weeks, and the Sundance Film Festival has closed its streaming platform, hopefully never to be used again—at least not as the primary means of connecting Sundance’s chosen movies to Sundance audiences. Having covered the festival for thirty-two years, the place—Park City, Utah—and my ten-day routine there is stamped into my neurological pathways, so it’s no wonder that I had flashes of déjà vu while sitting at home watching four or five movies a day on my desktop. One evening, checking in by phone with my Sundance

  • David Fincher, Mank, 2020, UHD video, black-and-white, sound, 131 minutes. Foreground: Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman). Background: Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried).
    film December 03, 2020

    Chasing Kane

    IN 1925, Herman J. Mankiewicz, theater critic and reporter for the New York Times and for the New Yorker in its first year, and the author of quite a few mostly failed Broadway plays, all of which qualified him for a seat at the Algonquin Round Table, received an invitation from MGM studios to move to Hollywood and be well paid to write for the movies. Pictures had not yet learned to talk, but soon they would, and in the meantime, Mankiewicz’s talent for narrative structure and succinct intertitles was in demand. Movie production, which until the end of World War I had been the work of hundreds

  • I May Destroy You, 2020–, still from a TV show on HBO. Season 1, episode 8. Arabella (Michaela Coel).

    Amy Taubin

    Amy Taubin is a contributing editor of Artforum.

    1

    THE HANDY, AFFORDABLE-TO-EVERYONE, MOVING-IMAGE CAMERA

    Dziga Vertov’s idea that the motion-picture camera could speak truth to power and therefore was essential to democratic social and cultural aspiration found ample traction in the 1960s, when an army of filmmakers waged resistance with 16-mm and analog video newsreels. This tradition today manifests in the countless nonfiction works largely shot with small video and cellphone cameras, among them two of the great movies of the year, Garrett Bradley’s Time, which focuses on activist Fox Rich

  • Lili Horvát, Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time, 2020, 35 mm, color, sound, 95 minutes. Marta (Natasa Stork).
    film October 09, 2020

    Critical Distance

    FOR CINEPHILES, CRITICS, AND INDUSTRY FOLK, the end of summer is announced by three overlapping North American film festivals: Telluride, Toronto (TIFF), and New York (NYFF). I usually make do with the last, although this year I had committed to going to TIFF before it became clear that “going” meant watching links in my own apartment—the same links that were shown to the paying public. There’s something to be said for not having to dash from theater to theater every day, for being able to turn off an indifferently received movie and queue up the next without even breaking for coffee. Yes, the

  • Garrett Bradley, America, 2019, three-channel 35 mm transferred to 4K video projection, black-and-white, sound, 23 minutes 55 seconds. Production still.

    CLOSE-UP: LOST AND FOUND

    AT FIRST GLANCE, Time, 2020, and America, 2019, two moving-image works by Garrett Bradley being showcased this autumn, have almost nothing in common. Time is a feature-length documentary portrait edited from two decades of low-tech video diaries kept by Fox Rich, a Louisiana mother of six and a justice-reform activist, as she struggled to win her husband Rob’s release from the prison where he was serving a sixty-year sentence. America is a multichannel installation of luminous, often ecstatic beauty, the touchstone for which is the 1913 Lime Kiln Club Field Day, created by and starring Bert

  • Michael Almereyda, Tesla, 2020, 2K video, color, sound, 102 minutes.

    ELECTRIC DREAMS

    WHEN MICHAEL ALMEREYDA was about sixteen, he often visited the much older comic-book artist Alex Toth, who lived in Hollywood, chain-smoked, and talked endlessly about Nikola Tesla, visionary inventor of the mechanism that, 135 years later, still harnesses and distributes alternating current. Our illuminated world is the world that Tesla brought into being just before the dawn of the twentieth century. You might presume that the credit should go to Thomas Alva Edison, but you would be wrong. In 1980, Almereyda dropped out of Harvard to finish a screenplay about Tesla that was then optioned as

  • Michael Almereyda, Tesla, 2020, 2K video, color, sound, 102 minutes.
    film August 21, 2020

    Electric Dreams

    WHEN MICHAEL ALMEREYDA was about sixteen, he often visited the much older comic-book artist Alex Toth, who lived in Hollywood, chain-smoked, and talked endlessly about Nikola Tesla, the visionary inventor of the mechanism that, 135 years later, still harnesses and distributes alternating current. Our illuminated world is the world that Tesla brought into being just before the dawn of the twentieth century. You might presume that the credit should go to Thomas Alva Edison, but you would be wrong. In 1980, Almereyda dropped out of Harvard to finish a screenplay about Tesla that was then optioned

  • Taghi Amirani, Coup 53, 2019, DCP, color and black-and-white, sound, 121 minutes.
    film August 19, 2020

    Plot Twist

    A REVELATORY INVESTIGATIVE DOCUMENTARY that is dense with detail and yet drives like a thriller, Taghi Amirani’s Coup 53 tells the story of how Mohammad Mosaddegh, Iran’s only democratically elected prime minister, was driven from office and replaced by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who would rule as an absolute monarch until he was sent packing by the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Since this is a story about Iran, it is also about the CIA and Big Oil. But the largely new wrinkle that Amirani’s film uncovers is the role that the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) played in maintaining what