COLUMNS

  • Mule Serenade

    A BIZARRE, BRAZEN, AND OFTEN WONDERFULLY SURPRISING FILM, The Mule will slink into cinemas without the benefit of year-end awards season campaigning—its director and star, Clint Eastwood, is a two-time Best Director winner, but despite all his past prestige success, he has somehow managed to retain a distinct tang of the déclassé. His latest is a departure of sorts, for Eastwood’s last three directorial efforts, American Sniper (2014), Sully (2016), and The 15:17 to Paris (2018), comprise something of a trilogy dedicated to professional expertise put to service under extreme duress, each

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  • Revenge Remix

    Soda_Jerk, an Australian two-person filmmaking collective who have been making sample-based features since 2002, describes their new work as a “political revenge fable.” The film, TERROR NULLIUS (2018), takes on settler colonialism, racism, and misogyny with a punk frankness that prompted one of their funders to pull their association with the project, calling it “un-Australian.” The film debuts in New York across two nights at Anthology Film Archives on December 14 and 16, 2018. Here, Leo Goldsmith talks with the collective about their new work, the ethical responsibility of sampling, and the

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  • The State He’s In

    German filmmaker Christian Petzold may be cinema’s foremost melodramatist—an auteur, but for the people. For three decades, he has borrowed from various genres, most noticeably film noir, to ask questions about labor, love, and systems of oppression. Here, Artforum’s Matthew Carlson talks with Petzold about his career, now a focus of a retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center that runs through December 13, 2018. The retrospective, titled “The State We Are In,” includes his early student work; his collaborations with Harun Farocki; his newest work Transit (2018); and a small

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  • John Waters

    JEANNETTE: THE CHILDHOOD OF JOAN OF ARC (Bruno Dumont) An insanely radical heavy-metal grade-school religious pageant that is sung in French from beginning to end. The actors themselves seem like they might burst out laughing, but this is no joke. It’s the best movie of the year. You’ll hate it.

    AMERICAN ANIMALS (Bart Layton) A true-crime story with a brilliant ensemble cast and the real-life culprits and victims edited in, commenting throughout on the action. Adolescent group madness is a beautiful thing to watch.

    NICO, 1988 (Susanna Nicchiarelli) A small, sad, fearless biopic that asks

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  • Amy Taubin

    1 ADRIAN PIPER (Museum of Modern Art, New York; curated by Christophe Cherix, Connie Butler, and David Platzker, with Tessa Ferreyros) Thanks not only to the great Funk Lessons video, 1983–84, but to the way the entire installation let the viewer journey through the narrative of her life in art, Piper’s retrospective was, for me, a movie and more.

    THE IMAGE BOOK (Jean-Luc Godard) As befits a dying planet, in Godard’s scorched-earth film, montage stutters, memory frays, and yet the will to look, listen, and make art survives.

    ROMA (Alfonso Cuarón) A masterpiece of old-fashioned narrative

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  • Ed Halter

    O HORIZON (The Otolith Group) The most immersive cinematic work to date by Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun, this sensuously philosophical portrait of the West Bengal educational center Santiniketan also serves as a waking dream of alternative modernism.

    “BEFORE PROJECTION: VIDEO SCULPTURE 1974–1995” (MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA and SculptureCenter, NY) One of the finest moving-image gallery exhibitions in recent memory, curator Henriette Huldisch’s eye-opening show of video art from the cathode-ray era conveys the history of the medium with an all-too-rare precision, mingling

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  • J. Hoberman

    WORMWOOD (Errol Morris) I saw this six-episode, four-hour-long mix of documentary interviews and dramatic reconstructions in mid-December 2017 and have been haunted by it ever since. Wormwood delves into the notorious case of army biologist Frank Olson, who became the unwitting guinea pig of the CIA’s LSD experiments and in 1953 dove to his death from a hotel window. An examination of obsession as well as a chilling Cold War mystery, Wormwood entwines Olson’s story with that of his brilliant son Eric, who has devoted his life to (or thrown it away on) an attempt to know the unknowable.

    LE

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  • Melissa Anderson

    ZAMA (Lucrecia Martel) A significant departure for Martel, this bewildering, enthralling adaptation of fellow Argentinean Antonio Di Benedetto’s 1956 novel of the same name, the tale of an abject late-eighteenth-century magistrate, brilliantly diagnoses the sickness of empire.

    EIGHT HOURS DON’T MAKE A DAY (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) RWF’s proletariat paean from 1972–73—the first of several TV miniseries that the prodigious New German Cinema godhead would direct—stands as his warmest, most optimistic project, filled with utopian promise and a dazzling constellation of characters.

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  • James Quandt

    DEAD SOULS (Wang Bing) Wang’s epic eight-hour-long documentary about the Maoist reeducation camps of the 1950s collects the clandestine testimony of survivors in a heroic act of historical witness.

    2 THE IMAGE BOOK (Jean-Luc Godard) A surging requiem for a world addicted to its own annihilation.

    UN HOMME MARCHE DANS LA VILLE (1950) (Marcello Pagliero) The revelation of the mini-retrospective dedicated to the Italian-French auteur Pagliero at II Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, this neorealist noir set in Le Havre deserves classic status.

    THOMAS BAYRLE (New Museum, New York) The films and videos

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  • Home Truths

    I KNOW MONEY IS TIGHT, and given your $10.99 monthly Netflix bill, why should you pay for a movie theater ticket to see Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, a movie shot digitally that isn’t even in color, when you’ll be able to stream it anytime you like, beginning December 14? Trust me, if it’s at all possible, get to a theater. Financed independently and then sold to Netflix, Roma plays for three weeks in art cinemas worldwide before it begins its streaming life. Well, half-life. Some of you may know this writer as the fanatic who insists that Warhol’s 16-mm celluloid movies become “nothing at all”—thanks,

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  • Snide and Petulance

    THE FAVOURITE MAY BE MARKED AS A DEPARTURE for director Yorgos Lanthimos, but his recent work, unusual among his that of his peers in a film festival circuit that often rewards familiarity, has comprised a series of such departures, this following an English-language debut with The Lobster (2015) and an American excursion in The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017). Now we have Lanthimos’s first period film, set at the beginning of the eighteenth century during the reign of Queen Anne, though it’s a particularly irreverent and tawdry approach to the hallowed tradition of the English heritage film,

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  • Brush Folks

    TWO NEW FILMS ABOUT ARTISTS offer contrasting approaches to the biopic, a genre arguably subject to greater scrutiny of its claims to truth than any other. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Never Look Away coerces biographical details to augur the future genius of its painter protagonist, scrambling events to connect the dots and keep the story moving. Repudiating such conventions, Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate is a deeply personal portrait of the painter Vincent van Gogh, its handheld camera immersing us almost physically in the man’s anguished compulsion to paint as no previous film

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