COLUMNS

  • Tourist Trap

    JAPAN AND UZBEKISTAN have a friends-with-benefits relationship, one that sees the world’s third-largest economy and its sogo shosha investing in and importing the formerly-Soviet Central Asian nation’s resources—some radioactive (uranium), some laxative (dried fruit)—and bolstering a miscellany of Uzbek projects, from industrial modernization to Covid-19 response to tourism. Such a transactional bond doesn’t exactly sound like the stuff from which movies are made. 

    Yet Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Tourism, its national cinema agency Uzbekkino, and a handful of Japanese production companies teamed up

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  • Chasing Kane

    IN 1925, Herman J. Mankiewicz, theater critic and reporter for the New York Times and for the New Yorker in its first year, and the author of quite a few mostly failed Broadway plays, all of which qualified him for a seat at the Algonquin Round Table, received an invitation from MGM studios to move to Hollywood and be well paid to write for the movies. Pictures had not yet learned to talk, but soon they would, and in the meantime, Mankiewicz’s talent for narrative structure and succinct intertitles was in demand. Movie production, which until the end of World War I had been the work of hundreds

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  • John Waters

    Film director John Waters is working on a novel titled Liarmouth. His last book Mr. Know-It-All (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019), was just released in paperback.

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    BUTT BOY
    (Tyler Cornack)

    A jaw-dropping, deadpan, bowel-bonkers thriller about a heterosexual dad who after a routine visit to his proctologist becomes a serial killer and inhales his victims up his ass, I kid you not. First a dog, then a child, and finally the very cop who pursues him. The finale takes place inside Dad’s rectum. Ah, they don’t make ’em like they used to!

    2

    SWALLOW
    (Carlo Mirabella-Davis)

    What can I say? I love movies

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  • Amy Taubin

    Amy Taubin is a contributing editor of Artforum.

    1

    THE HANDY, AFFORDABLE-TO-EVERYONE, MOVING-IMAGE CAMERA

    Dziga Vertov’s idea that the motion-picture camera could speak truth to power and therefore was essential to democratic social and cultural aspiration found ample traction in the 1960s, when an army of filmmakers waged resistance with 16-mm and analog video newsreels. This tradition today manifests in the countless nonfiction works largely shot with small video and cellphone cameras, among them two of the great movies of the year, Garrett Bradley’s Time, which focuses on activist Fox Rich

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  • James Quandt

    James Quandt, Senior Programmer at TIFF Cinematheque in Toronto, is the editor of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Austrian Film Museum, 2009) and Robert Bresson (Revised) (Indiana University Press, 2012).

    Of the hundreds of films I have watched during the coronavirus lockdown, most were classics on the Criterion Channel or Kanopy, so my pandemic Top Ten is culled exclusively from the superbly curated 2020 New York Film Festival.

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    1

    THE WOMAN WHO RAN (Hong Sang-soo)

    Hong’s brisk, bucolic social comedy comprises a series of seemingly equable conversations that are inevitably invaded by neighborly dispute,

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  • Erika Balsom

    Erika Balsom is a reader in film studies at King’s College London. Most recently, she is the coeditor of Artists’ Moving Image in Britain Since 1989 (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art/Yale University Press, 2019).

    1

    “DEFIANT MUSES: DELPHINE SEYRIG AND THE FEMINIST VIDEO COLLECTIVES IN FRANCE IN THE 1970S AND 1980S” (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; curated by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez and Giovanna Zapperi) and “OUT OF THE SHADOWS: THE PIONEERING WORK OF ATTEYAT AL-ABNOUDY, ASSIA DJEBAR, JOCELYNE SAAB, HEINY SROUR” (Courtisane Festival, Ghent, Belgium)

    In this strange

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  • Cassie da Costa

    Cassie da Costa is a staff writer for Vanity Fair and a commissioning editor for the queer and feminist film journal Another Gaze.

    1

    SHAKEDOWN (Leilah Weinraub)

    Finally available to stream (on Pornhub.com) after years of distribution roadblocks due to the documentary’s nudity, Weinraub’s film develops a new theory of entertainment and economics in its portrait of the eponymous Los Angeles lesbian strip club.

    2

    BEAU TRAVAIL RERELEASE (Claire Denis)

    It’s not really a title you can satisfyingly translate to English, and the film feels like that too. Janus’s restoration, supervised by cinematographer

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  • Short Circuit

    THE SHARJAH FILM PLATFORM—the third edition of Sharjah Art Foundation’s film festival—opened earlier this month, in a country whose low coronavirus cases have allowed it to resume regular, though masked operation. But the weeklong platform seemed like a telegram from another time—or a harbinger of what’s to come. Whenever life returns to normal, and whatever that normal is, our viewing habits will have changed significantly from the cinematic paradigm, with its collective, focused, and non-serial engagement with singular subjects. The festival’s focus on shorts gestured toward the freedom in

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  • Dance Dance Revelation

    I TRAVELED TO SEE Jeremy Shaw’s Phase Shifting Index, 2020, at the Frankfurter Kunstverein after I’d had my “mind blown”—I keep describing it that way—by his Quantification Trilogy, 2014–18, currently on view at the Julia Stoschek Collection in Berlin, where Shaw is based. For nearly two decades, the Vancouver-born artist has made work that very much sets out to blow your mind while also thematizing mind-blowing as such. His 2004 video DMT shows close-ups of people’s faces as they come up on the psychedelic drug and try to describe what it feels like. This Transition Will Never End, 2008–, also

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  • Byrne Medicine

    IS AMERICAN UTOPIA A STATE OF MIND or a state of obliviousness? A bohemian house party transplanted to Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood or a cunningly intellectualized, Dadaist turned soccer dad musical of It’s a Wonderful Life? This concert film collaboration between the singer-conceptualist David Byrne and the director Spike Lee is “of the moment” but feels either brazenly or haplessly out of sync with actual America. In the lifetime between the show’s Broadway run back in late 2019–early 2020 and this doom-struck October, social uplift wrapped in musical euphoria has become suspect. “Precarity” having

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  • Critical Distance

    FOR CINEPHILES, CRITICS, AND INDUSTRY FOLK, the end of summer is announced by three overlapping North American film festivals: Telluride, Toronto (TIFF), and New York (NYFF). I usually make do with the last, although this year I had committed to going to TIFF before it became clear that “going” meant watching links in my own apartment—the same links that were shown to the paying public. There’s something to be said for not having to dash from theater to theater every day, for being able to turn off an indifferently received movie and queue up the next without even breaking for coffee. Yes, the

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  • TIME IS THE BEST AUTHOR

    NEARLY THIRTY YEARS of filming the same face, the same body: The old chestnut that “every fiction film is a documentary of its actors” takes on special meaning in the many works Tsai Ming-liang has made with Lee Kang-sheng since first chancing on him outside a Taipei arcade in 1991. “Without this face, I don’t want to make films anymore,” Tsai said eighteen years later. Is a greater declaration of love possible? Lee has appeared in nearly every one of the Malaysian director’s projects since their meeting, whether these were destined for television, cinema, the gallery, or VR. Although Tsai’s

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