Nick Pinkerton

  • José Luis Guerín, The Academy of Muses, 2015, HD video, color, sound, 92 minutes. Emanuela Forgetta.
    film August 24, 2016

    The Other Woman

    THE CATALAN FILMMAKER José Luis Guerín has been making movies for more than thirty years now, in the process never achieving more than niche notoriety. In part this may be attributed to the elusiveness of his work, which has moved freely between documentary and fiction, the literary and the cinematic, hard narrative and heady philosophy, a series of switchbacks that have made it difficult to scent his trail or predict where he might pop up next. This low profile suits Guerín’s films, which, though often urban in setting, are struck through by deep reserves of solitude—he is particularly taken

  • Jacob Ciocci, FREEDOM ISN'T FREE/I'M NOT CRAZY, IN AN INSTITUTION, SOCIETY IS CRAZY, IN AN INSTITUTION, 2016, digital video, color, sound, 5 minutes.
    film July 21, 2016

    Gold Finger

    THE WONDERFUL, HORRIBLE WEB 2.0 YEARS, with their bounty of image, information, and emotion, have been accompanied by the emergence of a pervasive satirical style whose basic tenets are overkill and gluttony. Like the parent who finds you with a cigarette and makes you smoke yourself sick on the whole pack, these are works that say “So you like garbage, huh? Well open wide, ’cause here comes the whole landfill!” Some of the more popular manifestations can be found in the Adult Swim aesthetic (exemplified and transcended by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim), the ZOMFG mashups of TV Carnage and

  • Leo McCarey, Love Affair, 1939, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 88 minutes.
    film July 13, 2016

    Piano Lessons

    DIRECTOR LEO MCCAREY was an on-set improviser, routinely jettisoning reams of screenplay to be replaced, he hoped, by happy (and funny) accident. When the muse was proving elusive, he would retreat to a piano he kept at hand for just such occasions, and tickle the ivories until the music coaxed her out of hiding. The atmosphere of collaborative creativity that he fostered during a career that began in the 1920s acted as an incubator to the star personas of Laurel and Hardy and Cary Grant and, in Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), got star performances from two less heralded names, Victor Moore and

  • Hirokazu Koreeda, Our Little Sister, 2016, color, sound, 126 minutes.
    film July 08, 2016

    Family Ties

    HIROKAZU KOREEDA’S OUR LITTLE SISTER provides more than a few picturesque views—though at bottom it’s about the torturous process that needs to be gone through before those views can be enjoyed, of letting down a fixed smile long enough to relieve a jealously guarded core of anger. The film is set in a family home populated entirely by young women, people who are honestly fond of one another to the point of being mortified at the prospect of causing each other pain. Nary an unkind word that’s said between them isn’t almost immediately regretted, and the presence of aggrieved masculine ego that

  • Wang Bing, ’Til Madness Do Us Part, 2013, HD video, color, sound, 227 minutes.
    film June 10, 2016

    Mad World

    ’TIL MADNESS DO US PART is a movie in constant motion, with nowhere at all to go—at times the handheld camera seems literally to be bouncing off of the walls. Even when the frame is still, in the background there are always bodies in listless traffic, shuffling along on their fixed paths. We can infer that we are inside a madhouse; indeed, a closing text specifically informs us that Wang Bing’s documentary was shot between January and April of 2013 at a mental institution in Yunnan Province, in the southwest of China. Save for a brief interlude, the action is entirely kept within the walls of

  • Hong Sang-soo, In Another Country, 2012, color, sound, 89 minutes. Lifeguard and Anne (Yu Jun-sang and Isabelle Huppert).
    film June 02, 2016

    Binge Drinking

    A WHILE BACK it occurred to me that I should really do something about my drinking. One day in a moment of clarity I looked around and discovered that whole swathes of my life were shrouded in a fog that gave my memories the uncertain, jumbled aspect of a dream, and I couldn’t even trust to my recollections of intimate interpersonal relationships. I think this was about ten or twelve years ago—I can’t recall exactly—and I never did get around to putting a plug in the jug, instead just floating along merrily, merrily, merrily. If any of this, even just the mental fog bit, sounds the slightest

  • Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, The Tales of Hoffmann, 1951, 35 mm, color, sound, 113 minutes.
    film May 18, 2016

    Silver Age

    FOR THE SECOND TIME in as many years, cinephiles and archivists from the world over convened at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, for the Nitrate Picture Show, a weekend-long marathon of movies projected on silver nitrate film. Silver nitrate or just plain “nitrate” is film made of gelatin emulsion laid on a nitrocellulose backing. Until the middle of the last century there was nothing special about silver nitrate projection—nitrate was the only kind of motion-picture film that there was. Nitrocellulose, also known as guncotton, was cheap, durable, and flexible enough to serve

  • Terence Davies, Sunset Song, 2016, 65 mm and HD video, color, sound, 135 minutes. Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn).
    film May 13, 2016

    Isn’t She Lovely

    SUNSET SONG, set in the remote, raw northeast of Scotland, is a film of tranquil calm and rending, elemental emotional outbursts—which is to say, it is very much a Terence Davies picture. Davies broke through to international acclaim with Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) and The Long Day Closes (1992), autobiographical films that brought to the screen the texture of his boyhood in the working-class Liverpool of the 1950s and early ’60s, then principally turned his attention to adapting, in a manner that never felt less than entirely personal, the works of other artists: John Kennedy Toole,

  • Gilles Groulx, Le Chat dans le sac (The Cat Out of the Bag), 1964, black-and-white, sound.
    film May 06, 2016

    Directors’ Cut

    FOR THOSE INTERESTED in the windfall of innovatory midcentury documentary filmmaking, recent weeks have been awfully hectic. The Criterion Collection has just released a four-movie Blu-ray collection of The Kennedy Films of Robert Drew & Associates, last month New Yorkers had access to a Film Forum retrospective of the work of Albert and David Maysles, and now Anthology Film Archives is hosting a thirteen-day, seventeen-program, thirty-something-film series dedicated to “Québec Direct Cinema.” 

    To US audiences, the films produced under the auspices of Québec Direct Cinema may be less well known

  • Lazar Stojanovic, Plastic Jesus, 1971, color, sound, 73 minutes.
    film April 15, 2016

    Lazar Tag

    IN 1971, before it had a first run in its native land, Plastic Jesus was confiscated by the Yugoslavian government of Josip Broz Tito, and its young director, Lazar Stojanovic, was thrown in the clink by a military court for “anti-state activities and propaganda.” His stay lasted several months or a few years, depending on the account, but at any rate it was plenty of time to think over what he’d done. Well, Tito died before the dawn of MTV, Yugoslavia began its anguished atomization not long after the fall of Communism, and now Stojanovic is presenting the New York premiere of his Belgrade

  • Roberto Minervini, The Other Side, 2015, color, sound, 92 minutes.
    film April 08, 2016

    Border Patrols

    THROUGH THE YEARS so many films have been said in reviews and calendar copy to “blur the boundaries” between documentary and fiction filmmaking that we might reasonably expect that the work is done by now, and that those lines—never a legally well-defined border to begin with—are well and truly blurred, there’s no putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, and that a handful of tropes of representation that were once given to constitute documentary realism were a fluke in the history of the medium rather than its essence.

    If there’s still some purpose for boundaries, it must be to determine what

  • Sam Peckinpah, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, 1973, 35 mm, color, sound, 122 minutes.
    film April 01, 2016

    No Future

    THERE ARE THE ARTISTS that you admire, and then those who you feel, right in the solar plexus, right between the eyes. When it comes to filmmakers, I couldn’t count every name in the former category, but the tally of the latter probably comes in at less than a dozen. It’s here that a tendency to gush comes in, and as someone who has been known to state when in my cups that the scene of Slim Pickens’s gutshot death in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) is enough to justify the whole of the American experiment, it is perhaps irresponsible for me to try to write about Sam Peckinpah.

    The complete