After making a minor splash with 2002’s sensuous feminist triptych Personal Velocity, director Rebecca Miller has yet to register strongly on the film world’s radar again. That’s unfortunate because her follow-up, 2005’s The Ballad of Jack and Rose, remains an overlooked gem. Retaining the earthy tactility of the previous feature, this effort is simultaneously more intimately focused and more grandly ambitious, as visually rewarding as it is morally challenging.
Romance, the feeling, is a key component to most of Terrence Malick’s films, but he’s heretofore ducked and dodged from Romance, the genre. Days of Heaven, with its pulpy con plot beginnings, comes closest, but he maintains the same distance he did in Badlands by utilizing a dispassionate observer as our point of view into its world. As his career has gone on, he’s abandoned more and more such literary devices nearly every time out, coming closer to the pure shit (some critics would drop the article) of a lived cinema. Beginning with To the Wonder in 2012, he has gradually rid himself of plot, narrative coherence, or sometimes even common sense, chasing the Eden his characters so often find and lose. Song to Song is reportedly the last film he’ll make, for now, in this mold, and rightly so. Here he has perfected it. Here he has tired of sailing past his Indies, and found peace in consummated love.
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 provided just that challenge.
Terrence Malick’s films are usually hit or miss with me and Badlands, his first feature length film, was a miss. One thing that I struggle with in film is when characters don’t seem to care about anything. Badlands is a great example of characters like this. Sissy Spacek watches her father get gunned down in front of her and she has less of a reaction then when her dad shot her dog earlier in the film. Martin Sheen’s Kit, who does the shooting, seems to barely care. Even the people that Kit shoots barely seen inconvenienced by it. He shoots his old garbage route buddy Cato, who just lies down in bed and checks himself out in the mirror while bleeding to death. If the characters don’t even care about their own deaths, how is the audience supposed to get invested?
Repertoire 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.
The Music Box Theatre is always a good bet for rep screenings but this is a particularly good week. Kicking off the weekend are a pair of popular midnight screenings, with full audience participation encouraged: The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003, 35mm) on Friday and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975, 35mm) on Saturday. If you’ve never seen The Room or Rocky Horror at a sold-out screening at the Music Box, you haven’t seen ‘em.
Since Disney found box office success with the recent Jungle Book, Pete’s Dragon, and Cinderella movies, the Mouse House is now determined to turn every animated classic into new live-action remakes. The movie studio has 80 years of storylines and characters to mine from, and it’s only a matter of time before Disney remakes all of the classics. But for now, Beauty and the Beast is the latest from the Walt Disney Company, as the new live-action remake will surely dazzle audiences, while also reminding them that this is just a cover version of the original animated film from 1991.
If the breadth of stylistic variances among documentary filmmakers is any indication of the genre’s range and scope, it almost feels like anything can be a subject for a solid documentary. Sometimes it’s a question of “is the subject a match for the director?” After all, let’s face it: Alex Gibney couldn’t make In Jackson Heights and Frederick Wiseman isn’t the expressionistic whistle-blower responsible for Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.
As beautiful as Olivier Assayas’ films appear, they are certainly enigmatic. The filmmaker is not interested in a world that is clear, explicable, cut, and dried. It is intentional that his viewers leave with questions about what was real or imagined, and whether there can ever be a clear line between the two. In Personal Shopper, he dives into the world of ghosts and spiritualism, and Assayas’ dreamy quasi-reality perfectly surrounds such a subject.
Congratulations! With your recent purchase of a brand new Roku/Apple TV/Amazon Fire Stick you’re ready to – as Obi-Wan Kenobi said – take your first step into a larger world. That larger world is, of course, the world of chord cutting in which a seemingly endless supply of streaming apps, services, and content are available instantaneously at your fingertips. But with so many options of things to watch spread out across so many different services changing literally by the day, what’s worth binge watching before it expires and you’d have to – (GASP) – pay for it? Allow Crossing the Streams to be your official guide to what’s worth watching before it expires, what’s just been made available, and what’s just plain damn good.
Watch It Now
It’s important to take the news about any titles leaving Netflix with a grain of salt for two reasons: First, just because a title is due to expire doesn’t mean Netflix won’t renew the rights sometime between then and now; and second, a lot of the big titles are due to expire right before April Fool’s Day, so it all could be an elaborate (albeit neither charming nor humorous) prank being pulled by Ted Sarandos and co.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV Series (Netflix): The title that first made us all aware of both Joss Whedon as a unique creative voice and Sarah Michelle Gellar as a badass female vampire hunter just celebrate its twentieth anniversary. While the AV Club has been doing a stellar job of commemorating the series, there’s no better way to celebrate Xander’s ill-advised sweater decisions then by bingeing the entire series before it leaves Netflix on March 31st. Granted, all seven seasons will still be available on Hulu but if you’re not fortunate enough to have access to your co-worker’s brother’s Plus account then you’ve only got a few weeks left until you gotta start asking around to old college friends who owned every season on DVD.
At once remarkably audacious and kind of dumb, One Million Years B.C. is, if nothing else, beautifully, perfectly a film of its time. Released in 1966, it anticipates and in some ways one-ups the tripped-out journey to the past for which 2001: A Space Odyssey would be so celebrated, beginning with an abstract voyage through space and landing on a primitive people who never once speak a comprehensible dialect. The conflict is clear enough though – in a hunter/gatherer society, a tribe is fighting amongst themselves for what little food is available. This fight leaves Tumak (John Richardson) banished, and soon enough fighting dinosaurs. Righteous. He wanders the ancient landscape until he comes upon paradise in the form of scantily-clad women fishing in the ocean, seemingly lead by Raquel Welch, who live in harmony and make art and dance and have a sort of genuine civilization going. The 1960s are strong with this one, friends.