Nick Pinkerton

  • Tay Garnett, Her Man, 1930, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 83 minutes.
    film March 29, 2016

    Cracking the Code

    IF YOU WERE TO DEVISE the platonic ideal of a pre-Code movie it would probably look quite a bit like Tay Garnett’s 1930 barrelhouse melodrama Her Man, which transposes the Frankie and Johnnie story—then recently recorded to great acclaim by musician Jimmie Rodgers—to a blind tiger in Havana, where the dregs of all nations congregate and copulate.

    While Film Forum programmer Bruce Goldstein has made pre-Code his bailiwick for years, the Museum of Modern Art gets to plant its flag on Her Man, which will be playing at Fifty-Third Street along with four other Garnett films and Chester Erskine and

  • Anna Rose Holmer, The Fits, 2015, color, sound, 72 minutes.
    film March 16, 2016

    New to You

    NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS, jointly cohosted and coprogrammed by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, has through its forty-five-year history acted as a slightly chancier analog to the New York Film Festival, willing to roll the dice on properties who are as-yet unproven, at least with NYC audiences.

    As I am far from the first person to note, the status of a “New Director” has never been conferred according to a hard-and-fast law. (The criterion has in the past half-jokingly been stated as “New to us.”) To take one example, I first became aware of the film work of

  • Frances Stark, [THIS IS NOT EXACTLY A CAT VIDEO] w/ David Bowie’s “Star Man”, etc., 2007, video, color, sound, 10 minutes 9 seconds.
    film March 04, 2016

    That Obscure Object of Desire

    THE AMORPHOUS MIGRATING FORMS FESTIVAL is regular in nothing, not even in calendar placement—its seventh installment arrives a year and some change after the last, which fell in December of 2014. Closest in spirit to the programming at Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s Light Industry, Migrating Forms may be said to cater to the slim Venn diagram overlap between the new-media-hip Rhizome crowd and the old-school Film Comment cinephile.

    Reflected in the title of the fest, which emerged from the ashes of the former New York Underground Film Festival, is an ambition to adapt the idea of a festival to a culture

  • Carlos Hugo Christensen, No abras nunca esa puerta (Never Open That Door), 1952, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 85 minutes.
    film February 10, 2016

    Dead Can Dance

    IF YOU CALL IT FILM NOIR, they will come. At least this is the conventional wisdom in repertory film programming, where it has been proved time and again that postwar noir is money in the bank. This goes for the American films with the French names and the German Expressionist lighting, as well as various international equivalents in crime melodrama (the British “spiv” film, French movies by Becker and Melville). The Museum of Modern Art was turning them away at the doors for “Mexico at Midnight: Film Noir from Mexican Cinema’s Golden Age” in 2015, and now they’ve gone to the other powerhouse

  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Hail, Caesar!, 2016, 35 mm, color, sound, 106 minutes. Baird Whitlock (George Clooney).
    film February 05, 2016

    True Hollywood Story

    JOEL AND ETHAN COEN’S HAIL, CAESAR! is the most deliriously enjoyable photoplay to open wide in what’s thus far been a pretty barren new year—and also a seriously funny comedy of ideas, a film of Das Kapital and Capitol Studios, of hermeneutics and the dialectic, all given the bickering story conference treatment.

    An ensemble piece set in the twilight of the studio-system era, Hail, Caesar! concerns the goings-on in and around the lots of Capitol. The backbone of the story—and the foreman on Capitol’s production line—is Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), the studio’s head of physical production, a

  • Pablo Larraín, The Club, 2015, color, sound, 97 minutes. Father Silva, Father Vidal, Father Ortega, and Father Ramírez (Jaime Vadell, Alfredo Castro, Alejandro Goic, and Alejandro Sieveking).
    film February 02, 2016

    Middle Men

    PABLO LARRAÍN’S THE CLUB is a purgatorial piece of work—I say this as a recommendation. It begins with an image that combines paradisal peace and deferred satisfaction. A man stands on the beach with his dog. The man describes circles in the air with a furry object attached to a pole by way of a string, and the dog, a greyhound, gives chase, back and forth, leaping and snapping, round and round and round.

    The dog is in training for the regular local races that are the sole entertainment outlet for a group of four older men, including the trainer, Vidal (Alfredo Castro, a frequent Larraín

  • George Cukor, Let’s Make Love, 1960, 35 mm, color, sound, 119 minutes. Amanda Dell (Marilyn Monroe).
    film January 20, 2016

    You Don’t Know Jack

    TO THOSE UNFAMILIAR with the name Jack Cole, he is probably best introduced through some names that should be known by even the casual student of Hollywood razzle-dazzle. Cole was a performer and choreographer, today considered the father of American jazz dance, and a direct line can be drawn from him to Bob Fosse, who would marry Cole’s onetime assistant and collaborator, Gwen Verdon. In Hollywood, Cole established himself as a go-to for star-making routines for actresses, even or especially those who were untested as dancers. He was the architect of Rita Hayworth’s “Put the Blame on Mame”

  • Ken Jacobs, Orchard Street, 1955/2015, 35 mm, color, 27 minutes.
    film January 07, 2016

    First-Come, First-Served

    THE IDENTITY of the Museum of the Moving Image’s First Look festival, spread across three weekends in January, is tied to its very firstness—after the holiday debauch and hangover, it’s New York’s premiere festival showcase of the new year. Come its fifth iteration, the fest’s identity has also gelled in some other important ways, as it emphasizes the experimental and noncommercial documentary. In many cases, sorry to say, this will also be the last look that a NYC theatrical audience gets at these movies.

    In its short life, First Look has snagged a few significant New York premieres—Mati Diop’s

  • Orson Welles, Chimes at Midnight, 1965, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 115 minutes. Doll Tearsheet and Falstaff (Jeanne Moreau and Orson Welles).
    film December 30, 2015

    All’s Welles

    IT’S PART OF THE STOCK COMEDY on actors that certain soaring parts in the Shakespeare folio fire the ambitions of young performers seeking immortality: Think Richard Griffiths’s old ham Uncle Monty in Withnail and I (1987), bemoaning that he “will never play the Dane.” Orson Welles knew that Shakespeare wrote for all the ages of man, and by the middle of the 1960s he was past the age of being fitted for black tights and strutting the boards with Yorick’s skull in hand. In a 1969 interview with filmmaker and Hollywood historian Peter Bogdanovich, Welles would define his limits as an actor as

  • David O. Russell, Joy, 2015, 35 mm, color, sound, 124 minutes. Joy and Tony (Jennifer Lawrence and Édgar Ramírez).
    film December 23, 2015

    Joy to the World

    DAVID O. RUSSELL’S JOY, a biopic of home-shopping television personality and Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence), focuses on its subject’s early years of struggle, though toward the end we get a glimpse of Joy as the self-made tycoon of later days, installed in her office behind the imposing desk from which she runs her empire, which doubles as a buffer from the world.

    It’s a potent image, recalling the conclusion of Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind (1956), in which Dorothy Malone, scion of Texas oil royalty, is left alone in her deceased father’s office, shouldering a new

  • Nathan Silver, Stinking Heaven, 2015, digital video, color, sound, 70 minutes. Ann (Hannah Gross).
    film December 10, 2015

    Monuments of Passaic

    A TALE OF REHABBED JUNKIES shot on junky, rehabbed video equipment, Nathan Silver’s Stinking Heaven is a singularly bleak smash-up psychodrama. Silver’s fifth completed feature since 2009 comes in at a slender seventy minutes; he works at a brisk clip, and like the much larger filmography of South Korea’s Hong Sang-soo, Silver’s work thus far can be experienced as a series of evolving drafts, reworkings that give the feeling of working toward something rather than acting as a testament. In addition to Stinking Heaven, this year Silver premiered a four-minute squib of a short, Riot, a reediting

  • Antonio Pietrangeli, I Knew Her Well, 1965. 35 mm, black and white, sound, 99 minutes.
    film December 03, 2015

    A Kind of Loving

    ANY OVERVIEW of the career of Antonio Pietrangeli has to ask what might have been, for the Italian director died prematurely, very much in his prime, and before he could cement his legacy. The last feature that he lived to see to completion, I Knew Her Well (1965), was his most popular and remains among his best-regarded, a bittersweet comedy-drama starring Stefania Sandrelli as a teenaged provincial proletariat freshly arrived in Rome, oblivious as showbiz vampires feed off of her youth and beauty, tossing her a few nugatory, ultimately unsustaining rewards in return.

    Unlike, say, Jean Eustache,