Film

  • WHEN LARRY MET LAWRENCE

    I ALWAYS THINK I’ve misremembered the title, or that the name itself is a red herring: Why is it Women in Love when the most infamous scene from Ken Russell’s 1969 film—an adaptation of D. H. Lawrence’s 1920 novel—features Alan Bates and Oliver Reed, both nude and sweat-slicked, their dongs jouncing, wrestling in front of a roaring fire? The lusty grapple lasts three minutes and feels like thirty. “Was it . . . too much for you?” one man asks the other, panting.

    The query could apply to nearly any segment of Russell’s third movie, his breakthrough. (Within the next ten years, the English

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  • Borelinale

    LAST NOVEMBER, A GROUP OF LOCAL FILMMAKERS PUBLISHED AN OPEN LETTER in Der Spiegel criticizing the Berlinale as the weakest of all international film festivals and calling for “a new beginning”: a clear reference to festival director Dieter Kosslick, whose contract runs out next year. Given the poor programming he has overseen and the subsequent general decline of the festival’s stature, the Berlinale is no longer at the level of Venice or Cannes as a serious forum for a rigorous assessment of the state of the art. Rather than listening to his critics with an open mind, Kosslick and his sycophants

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  • Meta Man

    QUENTIN TARANTINO WAS JUST A TYKE PLAYING DIRTY DOZEN with G.I. Joes in his backyard and “meta” was a mere prefix when English director-writer Mike Hodges’s Pulp (1972) poked its proto-postmodernist nose out a wormhole. This elusive contender for the title of “Curiouser and Curiouser Movie of 1972” then vanished into the footnotes of star and coproducer Michael Caine’s career. Riffing, for starters, on Mickey “I, the Jury” Spillane and Lewis Carroll, Pulp has an inexplicably serene sense of its B-movie preposterousness, and is awash in droll echoes and allusions. A quarter century of hardboiled

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  • Mixed Messages

    “HAVE YOU HEARD OF ‘AFROFUTURISM’?” responds the young artist, when her photographer asks why she’s hanging that ridiculous arrangement of electrical sockets over her painted face. “It’s this thing . . . It’s really big right now . . . and white people really like it for some reason.”

    With the international premiere of the brief, bold, and hilarious art-world satire This One Went to Market?, 2018, from Nairobi-based filmmaker Jim Chuchu’s brilliant new Web series We Need Prayers (2018–), produced together with the twelve-member strong Nest Collective, the Forty-Seventh International Film Festival

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  • Lazy Sunday

    APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL ONCE JOKED in an interview that he made films for his audience to fall asleep to. Well, perhaps it was more like a half-joke. The director’s SleepCinemaHotel (2018), one of the highlights of this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam, puts this idea into practice. Installed in the Zaal Staal of the city’s Postillion Convention Center WTC, the twenty beds on platforms of varying heights could be booked by guests for an overnight stay to take in the 120-hour-long film—featuring footage Apichatpong compiled from the archives of the EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam

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  • Final Cut

    ONE OF THE WORLD’S most prolific filmmakers, the late, great Raúl Ruiz is on view again at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which is presenting part two of the retrospective it began in December 2016, one of the highlights of the year. This round offers such rarities as The Insomniac on the Bridge (1985), The Blind Owl (1987), Comedy of Innocence (2000), and Mammame (1986)—a film record of Jean-Claude Gallotta’s nine-person dance performance. It also includes Night Across the Street (2012), Ruiz’s final film, and a weeklong run of Time Regained (1999), his adaptation of Proust’s In Search of

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  • A River Runs Through It

    “WHY THE HELL IS GREGG ARAKI HANGING OUT WITH A BUNCH OF GROSS JOCKS ANYWAY?” This might be the natural question to ask after watching the director responsible for evil treats such as The Doom Generation (1995) and Nowhere (1997)—not to mention the ghoulish Mysterious Skin (2004)—direct an episode of Riverdale, the CW’s 2017 reactivation of the Archie comic-book mythology as supposedly dark teen drama. With Araki’s freakier impulses tamed to meet the demands of network television, his explosive presence can be hard to detect. Nobody is smoking; nobody is a goofy homosexual hot for oblivion played

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  • Dark Comedy

    THIS YEAR is the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Ingmar Bergman. It is being celebrated with a retrospective at Film Forum in New York and multiple events throughout the year at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley—a wonderful opportunity for film buffs to acquaint or reacquaint themselves with one of the giants of film history. From the mid-1940s through the mid-1950s, Bergman wrote screenplays and directed more than a dozen movies. But after the international success of the elegant comedy Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)—the source of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music—followed

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  • Dear You

    HOW LUXURIOUS TO BE ALONE in a theater for a double-bill screening of two love-rhymes-with-hideous-car-wreck films at Spectacle Theater. French director and actor Emmanuelle Bercot’s Backstage (2005) and German director and writer Eckhart Schmidt’s Der Fan (1982) suggest that fandom, like a diamond, is forever. In each, the center of gravity is a younger girl pining for an older pop star, seeing her idol as the physical embodiment of the love that she longs for—at least as a one-way ticket out of banality.

    Horror makes a major of the minor, an opera out of suggestion, and treats fantasy as

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  • Valeska Grisebach’s Western

    IN THE VERY FIRST SHOT of Western, a German/Bulgarian production written and directed by Valeska Grisebach and released this month, a tall, lanky, casually dressed man crosses a street, walks toward the camera, and enters a building. The shot, like the man, seems nondescript—typical, in fact, of the film’s unfussy demeanor and in keeping with its working-class atmosphere. It’s representative of a style and a territory that this director blends with uncanny skill. Like the work of Argentinean filmmaker Lucrecia Martel, Grisebach’s films are few and far between, but each leaves an indelible

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  • Point of No Return

    I.

    INTERVIEWER: Is Laura Palmer really dead?

    DAVID LYNCH: Ummm. [Thirteen-second pause.] I’m pretty sure.

    —Lynch on CBC Radio, 1990

    LAURA WAS DEAD, but her problems kept hanging around. It was as if they hadn’t buried her deep enough, to quote from her best friend’s scream by Laura’s grave in the Twin Peaks, Washington, cemetery where her body, unwrapped from plastic, had been inhumed six days earlier in 1989. One problem was the body itself. Another was the family, where odds are made. As for the rest, they were the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself, the only thing worth writing

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  • Journey to the East

    MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI ARRIVED IN CHINA IN MAY OF 1972, about seven hundred years after Marco Polo and a few months after Richard Milhous Nixon. The People’s Republic of China, established in 1949, was then coming out of more than a decade-long period of almost total diplomatic estrangement, the thaw overseen by premier Zhou Enlai with the permission of the sick, senescent, and increasingly erratic Mao Zedong after the official close of the morally and materially catastrophic Cultural Revolution. During the preceding period of isolation, precious few images of China had been seen abroad, and so

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