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Next Fest 2017: Lemon, by David Bax

11 Aug

“It’s time for a new you. The old you doesn’t work anymore.” This specific sentence is spoken by Isaac (Brett Gelman) a struggling actor, as a part of commercial in which he isn’t wearing any pants. The line is not just a summation of the entire mission statement of advertising; it’s clearly about Isaac as well, in a bitterly funny way. That sardonic tone is the essence of Janicza Bravo’s Lemon. The accepted portmanteau for this type of story is tragicomic. But Lemon, Bravo’s first feature film, can’t seem to get the tragedy/comedy balance right.

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BP’s Top 100 Movie Challenge #38: Fanny and Alexander, by Sarah Brinks

11 Aug

I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list provided such a challenge.

I watched the theatrical version of Fanny and Alexander, a shortened version of its full five-hour television version. Even then, the film was still over three hours. Though it was long, I did enjoy it. While the film is a fascinating family drama, I was most interested in the film when it was a ghost story.

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Good Time: Don’t Feel Safe in New York City, by Scott Nye

10 Aug

“That was like the Coen brothers on speed!” the buffoonish man behind me cried, and loathe though I was to find accord with him after an hour and a half of repeating the onscreen action to his attending partner, I had much the same thought myself. After the bracing heroin drama Heaven Knows What and the new participation of Robert Pattinson, I had certain expectations of the team’s (co-directors Josh and Ben Safdie, co-writer Ronald Bronstein) attempt at a crime film – almost wall-to-wall hilarity was not among them.

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The Chicago Rep-port 8/11-8/17, by Aaron Pinkston

10 Aug

Repertory screenings may not be as abundant in Chicago as they are in LA/NY but when you look around, there are many theatergoing delights. The Chicago Rep-port is a weekly(ish) series highlighting the best and most compelling repertory screenings in the Second City.

Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N State St

The next two entries in the Siskel’s series on Italian horror auteur Mario Bava, The Baroque Beauties of Italian Horror, offer the filmmaker’s masterpiece and gem starring a horror icon.

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Criterion Prediction #101: Une femme douce, by Alexander Miller

9 Aug

Title: A Gentle Woman / Une Femme Douce

Year: 1969

Director: Robert Bresson

Cast: Dominique Sanda, Guy Frangin, Jeanne Lobre, Claude Ollier

Synopsis: A placid pawnbroker reflects on his unlikely relationship with his wife, shortly after she unexpectedly commits suicide.

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Home Video Hovel: The Paul Naschy Collection, by Dayne Linford

9 Aug

One of the best things about cinema over this last century, characterized by this art form perhaps above all others, is the way it has left thousands of little pockets, obscure cinematic worlds unto themselves, just waiting for you to discover them. In that vein, I recently dove into The Paul Naschy Collection, a set of five films featuring the talents of Naschy, a widely beloved, Spanish B-movie star, producer, writer, and director I’d never heard of before. Though often far from perfect, I personally found viewing these disparate films to be rather delightful, a fun dip into an aspect of cinema history that’s almost never touched upon.

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The Only Living Boy in New York: Another Nice Guy to Avoid, by David Bax

9 Aug

Two young New Yorkers peer over a concrete wall, waiting for the protagonist’s father to emerge from his workplace in order to catch him having an affair. This is one of the defining scenes and promotional images from Gillian Robespierre’s Landline. It’s also—coincidentally, of course—a moment from Marc Webb’s The Only Living Boy in New York. The two films have little in common otherwise but, through no fault of Webb’s, the comparison is likely to be made and also likely to not do Only Living Boy any favors. Whereas Robespierre’s film is youthful in its semiautobiographical details, Webb’s, with its screenplay by Allan Loeb (this year’s The Space Between Us), is just plain juvenile.

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Ingrid Goes West: My Story, by David Bax

9 Aug

Matt Spicer’s Ingrid Goes West makes a promise with its title that it fulfills with its location photography; namely, to skewer a certain regional subtype of people who inhabit the liminal space between West Los Angeles and Coachella. From Abbot Kinney Boulevard to Joshua Tree (with a detour to North Hollywood for drinks at Tonga Hut), Spicer finds plenty of hyper-specific references to roll into his takedown of sunny vapidity. Still, it would be misleading to stop at calling Ingrid Goes West an L.A. movie. It addresses larger, more dominant elements of our social and cultural moment. If only it knew what it wanted to say about them.

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BP’s Top 100 Movie Challenge #37: Once Upon a Time in the West, by Sarah Brinks

8 Aug

I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list provided such a challenge.

This is my first Sergio Leone western. I tend to love westerns, and while Once Upon a Time in the West won’t go down as one of my favorites, it is an excellent entry into the genre. The biggest challenge for me with the film was the pacing. While I appreciate that the film takes its time, it is often slow to the point of distraction. I am curious to see if this is a consistent element on Leone’s films or if it is a specific choice for this film.

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Musical Notation: Laurie Anderson

8 Aug

In this episode, West plays music from two films directed by Laurie Anderson, for which she also wrote the music.

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