Quick and Cheap Reviews of Quick and Cheap Movies

Or, a quick fix of slick flicks.Devil's Pass: Found-footage Dyatlov Pass Incident investigation. Some fun Russian scenery; very nice twist at the end.Kill List: An aging contract killer goes in for One Last Job and things predictably go haywire. An unexpectedly emotional film; you can feel the regret and confusion of the characters, and their relationships are sharply-drawn. Also very twisty in the back half, with the final twist an especially nasty one. Much better than it had to be, … [Read more...]

“Icons in Transformation”: Ludmila Pawlowska

Powerful images of the Passion. … [Read more...]

“Haunted Hollywood”: I watch “Maps to the Stars”

for AmSpec: Part of the reason David Cronenberg’s new Maps to the Stars is so engrossing is that it’s two kinds of movie at once. The surface is all brutal Hollywood satire, the child star who only eats red Skittles and the washed-up actress demanding that her assistant fetch her Xanax and Kozy Shack pudding. This stuff is breathtaking: the massage therapist who helps his scantily-clad clients work through child abuse (“I’m going to press on a personal history point now”), the hateful cheek-kis … [Read more...]

Edward Gorey’s Tarot Set

YES PLEASE: Since he supplied us with a visual vocabulary for cutesy dread over many decades, perhaps it comes as no surprise that Edward Gorey designed a set of whimsical tarot cards. The set is called the “Fantod Pack,” the word fantod signifying “a state of worry or nervous anxiety, irritability” and thus possibly the most Edward Gorey word ever. (David Foster Wallace was fond of the word as well, using the phrase “howling fantods” multiple times in Infinite Jest; the main clearinghouse websi … [Read more...]

“Opening the Time Capsule: The Forgotten Era of Black Indie Film”

...forgotten indie films from '68 through '89?! WHERE DO I SEE THESE: Last week, the Film Society of Lincoln Center concluded its beautiful ode to an era, “Tell it like it is: Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986.” The survey of more than a dozen titles produced during the period, some never-before seen, offered a peak into an unheralded, often forgotten moment of visual storytelling which is responsible for some of the most impressive and richly nuanced portraits of black life in fil … [Read more...]

“Marilynne Robinson Returns to Gilead”: I review “Lila”

at AmCon--I think this piece turned out well: Ten years ago Marilynne Robinson began telling us the story of Gilead, Iowa, a tiny town surrounded by fields and farms. A droplet of water in which the whole world is reflected.She began with Gilead, a novel in the form of a long letter written from the dying John Ames to his young son. Ames situates the town in its historical context, showing how this apparently all-white enclave nonetheless falls under the shadow of racism, from the Civil War … [Read more...]

Kickstarter to Restore Pioneering African-American Cinema

Looks stellar. From Kino Lorber: Among the most fascinating chapters of film history is that of the so-called “race films” that flourished in the 1920s - ‘40s. Unlike the “black cast” films produced within the Hollywood studio (such as Stormy Weather or Green Pastures), these films not only starred African Americans but were funded, written, produced, directed, distributed, and often exhibited by people of color. Entrepreneurial filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux,  Spencer Williams, and Richard D … [Read more...]


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