COLUMNS

  • Trial Runs

    THE ANNUAL FIRST LOOK SERIES at the Museum of the Moving Image provides an opportunity for adventurous New Yorkers to see international movies not likely to show up elsewhere. Among the must-sees in this year’s edition, which opens January 11, are three titles focused on Russian history, past and present. Sergei Loznitsa’s Donbass (2018), the opening-night feature, with the director present, is a somewhat absurdist rumination on the civil war that continues to plague Ukraine. Conflating contrived situations with newsreel-worthy facts in mosaic-like fashion, the movie is composed of long-take

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  • X Post Facto

    ON PRINCIPLE, I appreciate holiday counter-programming, and this year into next, the Christmas season festivities at the Quad are a nasty wonder. “Rated-X” is an ultra-democratic selection of movies that once received an “X” from the MPAA ratings board, which throughout its history has been composed largely of retired people from Los Angeles and Orange Counties who have the time to look at unreleased movies all day and give them ratings that supposedly are meant to protect children, but occasionally adults, from seeing things that could have a deleterious effect on society. (I’m not kidding: In

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  • 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 prestige and success, he has somehow managed to retain a distinct tang of the déclassé. His latest film is a departure of sorts, for Eastwood’s last three directorial efforts, American Sniper (2014), Sully (2016), and The 15:17 to Paris (2018), make up 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 that has 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 its 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, a small selection of films that have influenced

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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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