Nick Pinkerton

  • Ruben Östlund, Force Majeure, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 118 minutes.
    film January 17, 2015

    Force to be Reckoned With

    FORCE MAJEURE, the Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s fourth feature, was along with Paweł Pawlikowski’s Ida one of 2014’s handful of breakout foreign art-house successes. They are both movies whose qualities are on the surface self-evident, and Östlund’s puts its themes and roiling inner turmoil before a viewer with crystalline clarity. Force Majeure begins with a family on a ski holiday posing as a perfect unit for a photographer, and proceeds to reveal them as anything but, as their experience of a controlled physical avalanche induces an uncontrolled emotional one.

    Force Majeure is a concise,

  • John Huston, Reflections in a Golden Eye, 1967, 35 mm, color, sound, 108 minutes. Leonora Penderton (Elizabeth Taylor).
    film December 19, 2014

    Late Great

    JOHN HUSTON doesn’t have a flawless track record as a film director, but few have so perfectly embodied the idea of what a film director ought to be. With his deliciously drawn-out, folksy baritone and those long, eloquent hands, Huston exuded authority—a quality which other directors were happy to take advantage of. When Otto Preminger needed someone to play a Boston prelate in The Cardinal (1963), he tapped Huston for the job, and so launched his parallel career as an actor. Orson Welles, whom Huston had employed in his 1956 Moby Dick among other films, invited Huston to star in his The Other

  • John Reilly and Stefan Moore, The Irish Tapes, 1974, video, black-and-white, sound, 58 minutes.
    film December 10, 2014

    Heads in the Cloud

    TRYING TO DEFINE the parameters of the Migrating Forms festival, I’m tempted to say that, more than any other New York fest, it imagines what cinema will look like when and if it wholly leaves behind the twentieth-century definition of “cinema.” Making such a statement, however, would ignore some essential things about MF, now in its sixth year and its second at BAMcinématek, like the importance of film history to the fest, which has established a tradition of important retrospectives—for Jean-Pierre Gorin, Glauber Rocha, and Anne Charlotte Robertson previously, and of William Greaves (

  • Pee-wee’s Playhouse, 1986–90, still from a TV show on CBS. Cowboy Curtis and Pee-wee Herman (Laurence Fishburne and Paul Reubens).
    film October 22, 2014

    State of Play

    PEE-WEE’S PLAYHOUSE ran for five critically acclaimed seasons on CBS Saturday mornings from 1986 to 1990, producing a grand total of forty-five episodes. The third season was limited to two episodes by the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike. After the fifth season, burned out by the workaday grind of the production, Paul Reubens, the creator of the Pee-wee Herman character and star of the show, put the character on hiatus. (The attrition is even evident in the product—the series finale is a clips show!) When, in the following summer of 1991, Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure while

  • Bill Morrison, Beyond Zero: 1914–1918, 2014. 35 mm color, sound, 39 minutes.
    film October 15, 2014

    Dead Alive

    OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, Bill Morrison—a man whose ability to conduct archival footage like Toscanini could a symphony orchestra was never in doubt—has emerged as one of our premier screen historians, matching his established interest in film as the fading physical representation of collective memory to single historical milieus and events. This new stature is largely based on the strength of two short features, The Miners’ Hymns (2011) and The Great Flood (2013), the latter of which had successful theatrical engagements in New York and Los Angeles earlier this year.

    Today Morrison’s visibility

  • Eldar Shengelaia, Blue Mountains, or Unbelievable Story, 1984, 35 mm, color, sound, 97 minutes.
    film September 23, 2014

    Friends and Family

    I’M OPPOSED ON GENERAL PRINCIPLE to the assumption of audience ignorance—“Ten Movies You’ve Never Heard Of” and so on—but in the case of “Discovering Georgian Cinema,” an exception can be made. The two-part program, arranged by Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive in collaboration with New York’s Museum of Modern Art and playing more or less simultaneously at both institutions, offers a look at work that is scarcely available beyond the Black Sea, and on 35-mm exhibition prints, to boot.

    Sergei Parajanov, perhaps the most internationally renowned Georgian-born filmmaker on the basis of works like

  • Peter Strickland, The Duke of Burgundy, 2014, color, sound, 101 minutes.
    film September 18, 2014

    Unknown Knowns

    FAREWELL TO LANGUAGE reconfirmed both acolytes and apostates in their opinions of Jean-Luc Godard, Christian Petzold’s Phoenix was the scene of the big critical tug-of-war, and Tusk found Kevin Smith making movies among the Canadians—by and large a polite, pacific people who have done nothing to deserve such a cruel fate. This year’s Toronto International Film Festival, it can be said, was largely a matter of known quantities.

    If this TIFF was lacking in unexpected revelations from heretofore unknown filmmakers, there were big showings by directors who aren’t household names with most moviegoers.

  • John Waters, Polyester, 1981, 35 mm, color, sound, 86 minutes.
    film September 05, 2014

    Waters’s World

    THE LAST NEW MOVIE to be directed by John Waters, A Dirty Shame, came out in US theaters almost exactly ten years ago. Despite being an infectious sex farce with a chewy, eager-beaver central performance from Tracy Ullman, it failed to turn a profit. Today, Waters’s film catalogue is only one of this one-man industry’s holdings, and “John Waters” the brand has never been so ubiquitous—but the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s comprehensive “Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take?” is a chance to reconsider the works on which the legend was built.

    Like another auteur specializing in odd

  • Chris Marker, Level Five, 1996, Betacam SP, color, sound, 106 minutes.
    film August 15, 2014

    Magic Marker

    CHRIS MARKER, the French multimedia artist who more than any other individual has been identified with creating the essay film, was always an outlier, an anomaly, and this exceptionalism continued even after his death in 2012 at age ninety-one. Marker was remarkable, if not unique among artists of his generation, in having designed a digital monument to his own body of work, an online footprint that would remain once he himself was gone. This was Le Musée de Marker, an archive and gallery located on the island of Ouvroir, in the online virtual world of Second Life, which since 2003 has provided

  • Patrick Lung Kong, Teddy Girls, 1969, color, sound, 107 minutes.
    film August 12, 2014

    Hong Kong Gardener

    LAST SUMMER, the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens hosted a complete retrospective of the films of Wong Kar-wai, with Wong in person, impossible to miss in his famous shades. Very few of his fans, however, recognized the beetle-browed, seventysomething man with jutting cheekbones whom Wong bowed before upon meeting, as a pupil bows before a master. This is a matter that MoMI intends to address with a retrospective of that very same figure: “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: The Cinema of Patrick Lung Kong,” running August 15 to 24.

    Patrick Lung Kong was born Kin-yui Lung in 1934 to a family that

  • Charles Chaplin, The Great Dictator, 1940, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 125 minutes.
    film August 04, 2014

    This Means War

    THE FIRST WORLD WAR began one hundred years ago this summer, which is another way of saying that this is the hundredth anniversary of the modern world. The historical convulsions set in motion by the events of 1914 changed everything—arts and letters no exception. When hostilities were opened, the Italian Futurists clambered for the clangorous front, while the disillusion of Dada and Neue Sachlichkeit waited on the other side of the trenches. Many of the chief litterateurs of decades to come passed through the crucible of the war: Louis-Ferdinand Céline, a French cuirassier, rode into battle on

  • Joseph Losey, Eva, 1962, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 135 minutes. Eve Olivier and Tyvian Jones (Jeanne Moreau and Stanley Baker).
    film July 25, 2014

    Back to Blacklist

    “DON’T TELL HIM ANYTHING.” In 1963’s The Damned (aka These Are the Damned), a sign bearing this motto is passed through a classroom of cloistered children—in fact prisoners being kept under constant surveillance by government forces. Such a scene takes on different implications when you know the story of its director, Joseph Losey, one of scores of Hollywood personnel who found themselves out of work beginning in the late 1940s because they were presently or previously affiliated with the Communist Party USA, and were unwilling to clear themselves by going through the degradation ceremony of “