Read our Blog Posts

REEL 13 Blog
  • June 23, 2017

    Staff Pick: BAMcinemaFest 2017


    This week brings the start of BAMcinématek’s ninth annual BAMcinemaFest, a consistently bright spot in New York City festival programming. With an ambitious (and eclectic) lineup featuring premieres from both new and familiar figures in independent cinema, this year’s festival opened last night with Aaron Katz’s suspenseful new film, Gemini, and will run through June 25, closing with Alex Ross Perry’s Golden Exits.

    Golden Exits

    En el Séptimo Día

    For those familiar with the area surrounding BAM, Perry’s Golden Exits feels a bit like a homecoming. Shot in the adjacent neighborhood of Park Slope, the film captures the distinct burnt reds and browns of the area’s architecture with textural accuracy, providing a lolling backdrop to the mental and spatial anxiety that courses through the narrative. This sense of space also helps to ground the film’s vaguely-related characters as they work through a disturbance that comes by the way of a young Australian assistant (Emily Browning). As an outsider, Browning’s character reveals the tenuous connections between the rest of the ensemble, which includes Adam Horowitz, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Louise Parker, Lily Rabe, Analeigh Tipton, and Chloë Sevigny (in addition to a cameo by NYC programmer Jake Perlin). The result is as unnerving as it is humorous.

    Presenting a different side of Brooklyn is Jim McKay’s En el Séptimo Día, the festival’s centerpiece and McKay’s first feature in north of a decade. Following a group of undocumented workers from Puebla, Mexico in the days leading up to soccer championship, the film is set between Brooklyn’s Sunset Park and Carroll Gardens, establishing a subtle contrast between the moneyed patrons of the restaurant where Jose (the film’s main character) works and the members of his team. The film’s sensitive, and often funny, portrayal of how the characters navigate their daily struggles being undocumented workers far away from their families reveals the vital role of community.



    A Spotlight selection alongside David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, Gillian Robespierre’s Landline takes us across the East River to Manhattan, where sisters Dana and Ali (Jenny Slate and Abby Quinn, respectively) deal with infidelity and familial bonds. A comedy set in the 1990’s, the film engages place in the more abstract notion of home—both in its evocation of another place in time (populated, as the title suggests, plenty of landline phones—long, curly cords included) and Dana’s return to her childhood home. A tender observation how relationships change over time, Robespierre’s treatment of sisterhood and family foils the domestic partnerships in the film in a way that speaks to how we idealize such bonds, often failing to take into account the possibility of all-too-human shortcomings. Finn Wittrock, John Turturro, Edie Falco, and Jay Duplass round out the cast.

    But lest I lead you to think all of the festival’s films are New York-centric, there are several standouts, including Gemini, that feature other locales. Take for example, Kogonada’s stunning feature film debut, Columbus, which takes place in the architecturally rich town of Columbus, Indiana. The mastermind behind the Supercut video essays, Kogonada turns his talents toward the small, Midwestern town that is known for holding great examples of modernist architecture from designers such as Eero Saarinen and I. M. Pei. Here, Columbus, too, uses place as a way to further the examination of identity, making the film—though set in a very specific (and strange) place—feel universal.

    You can find a full list of films here. Be sure to look out for dates featuring Q&As with special guests.

    Brittany Stigler


  • June 9, 2017

    Bulletin Board: Night School, Varda, and Dietrich

    Night School
    Opens June 9
    IFC, various times
    *Q&A with director Andrew Cohn Friday, June 9, 6PM; Saturday, June 10, 4:05 PM and 6PM; Sunday, June 11, 4:05 PM*

    If you had a second chance, would you take it even if it meant doing what seems impossible? Andrew Cohn’s new documentary Night School addresses this question by following the lives of three Indianapolis residents as they balance the struggles of daily life with earning a high school diploma as adults. Structured around an upcoming exit exam that determines whether or not they will graduate, the film weaves in and out of the personal and academic lives of Greg, Melissa, and Shynika to show the circumstances that led them to drop out of high school in the first place, the challenges that they must face in their present situations to complete their degree, and what they stand to gain as a result.

    June 9, 12, 13
    Metrograph, various times

    Screening as part of Metrograph’s series, Marlene, Maximilian Schell’s unusual documentary of the same name came after adamant refusals on the part of its subject, Marlene Dietrich. A result of much persistence on the behalf of Schell, Dietrich finally agreed to participate in the film with the caveat that she would only appear in voiceover. Though she was contracted, as Dietrich reminds Schell in his interview, to do “40 hours of talking,” the recording that makes its way into the final cut often includes Dietrich refusing to answer her Judgment at Nuremberg co-star’s questions, noting that much of what he seeks is in her book. For his part, Schell paired the audio with stills and clips from her expansive career to create an enigmatic portrait of the star.

    Varda in California
    Runs through June 13
    BAMcinématek, various times

    Now in its final weekend, BAMcinématek’s Varda in California series showcases films from the period French New Wave director Agnès Varda spent in California. Taken as snapshots of time and place from the outside, Varda’s treatment of California ranges from the political (Black Panthers (1968)) to undeniably loopy (Lions Love (…and Lies) (1969)) and the personal (Uncle Yanco (1967) (her first American film)). There’s still time to catch all of the films from the series this weekend, which includes Lions Love (…and Lies), Mur Murs, Black Panthers, Documenteur, Uncle Yanco, and Model Shop (directed by her late husband and filmmaker Jacques Demy).

  • March 23, 2017

    Bulletin Board: David Lynch, Raw, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and The 400 Blows

    By Meredith Coleman

    Blue Velvet

    Blue Velvet

    Staff Favorite: The Films of David Lynch
    IFC Center
    March 24th– April 6th (various films and times)

    Starting on March 24th, the IFC Center is celebrating the director David Lynch with a retrospective of his films. Lynch’s films stay with you. He creates these scenes, these memorable moments, which linger and replay in the mind. For this Bulletin Board, I thought I would focus on two of my favorite films of his that will be showing during this retrospective.

    Blue Velvet (March 24th– April 3rd, various times)

    In Blue Velvet, we are taken below the surface, below a falsely perfect picture of suburbia. The opening idyllic scenes of suburban life, with the bright roses blooming, the fireman waving hello, the kids crossing the street, disintegrate as we zoom in, go underneath the ground, and uncover the mysteries hidden beneath the outward superficial shows of perfection. Blue Velvet is a memorable, intense film that is very much worth seeing.

    Mulholland Dr. (March 25th– 31st, various times)

    After I saw this film for the first time, I immediately wanted to see it again. Rather than have a traditional linear narrative, in Mulholland Dr., this kind of linearity disappears. There is a complete lack of continuity, with you, as a viewer, being left not knowing exactly what is reality and what isn’t as you watch the film. And this is what makes it so compelling and thrilling to watch.

    I really recommend going to see one of these films, or both, at the IFC Center!



    Angelika Film Center
    (various times)

    This film has been getting quite a lot of attention. I mean, it is a film that made people faint when watching it. The film is about a vegetarian starting veterinary school, but when she is there, faced with hazing rituals, she eats raw meat for the first time, and something happens…she begins to desire human flesh.

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    Rubin Museum of Art
    March 24th at 9:30PM

    What would happen if you could erase your memories? If you could undergo a procedure that wipes out your recollections of a past relationship, making those you might’ve once, or still, care about disappear from your mind? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind addresses this question. It is a thought-provoking, beautiful film that explores loss, love, and what it means to forget.

    The 400 Blows

    The 400 Blows

    The 400 Blows
    Film Society of Lincoln Center
    March 29th at 2:30PM

    The 400 Blows is a key example of the French New Wave, a movement that included filmmakers such as François Truffaut, as well as Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda, Eric Rohmer, amongst many others. The film tells the story of Antoine Doinel, a young adolescent growing up in Paris, who is regarded as a troublemaker by many of the adults around him. The 400 Blows is one of those films that everybody should see at least once.

  • March 17, 2017

    Bulletin Board: Landscapes and New Horizons

    Still from Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

    Still from Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

    The Prison in Twelve Landscapes / The Illinois Parables
    Museum of the Moving Image
    Sunday, March 19, 6:30 PM

    Screening as part of New Adventures in Nonfiction
    Brett Story in person for The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

    If we were to crack open our country’s landscapes, we would find a record of human progress mixed with, as both Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes and Deborah Stratman’s The Illinois Parables suggest, a history stained by actions taken against each other. While the use of geographic space as a way of exploring abstract powers—such as the prison industrial complex, racism, and colonialism, to name a few—grounds both of these films, the double billing reveals the adaptability of the landscape as a cinematic device. Here, where Stratman’s exploration of landscape and politics approaches inquiry through the poetics of space, Story appears to use the landscape as a way of reflecting the rippling effects of both physical and metaphorical prisons. Differences be what they may, taken together, the films’ use of landscape is an important reminder that we all share this country—even if, at times, the only connective tissue we can seem to find is the actual ground we walk on.

    Still from Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women

    Still from Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women

    Certain Women / Meek’s Cutoff
    Saturday, March 18, 6:45PM and 9:00PM

    Screening as part of the series Kelly Reichardt
    Kelly Reichardt in person for both films

    Speaking of landscapes, Kelly Reichardt’s use of the American landscapes factors largely into her recent film, Certain Women. Based on series of short stories by Maile Meloy, the film divides into three sections to portray the lives of women in the contemporary west. What results is a thoughtful meditation on relationships, routine, and the smaller aspects of life that weave together to create the far-stretching webs that connect individuals. Certain Women will follow a screening of Reichardt’s devastating tale of survival, Meek’s Cutoff.

    Still from Guy Defa’s Person to Person

    Still from Guy Defa’s Person to Person

    New Directors / New Films 2017
    MoMA and Film Society of Lincoln Center
    Running through March 26

    Celebrating its 46th run, MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films 2017 features a diverse selection of films from an impressive roster of emerging filmmakers. This year’s festival opened with Geremy Jasper’s Patti Cake$, which follows a young, aspiring rapper from New Jersey. Dustin Guy Defa’s Person to Person, a short film-turned-feature that paints a portrait of New York City through the lives of 42 characters, will close the series.

    New Directors/New Films runs from March 15—26. For tickets click here

  • March 13, 2017

    Staff Pick: Agnès Varda takes New York

    Agnès Varda. Photo courtesy: French Institute Alliance Française

    Agnès Varda. Photo courtesy: French Institute Alliance Française

    By Brittany Stigler

    Agnès Varda is a gleaner. Like the potato-collecting subjects of her documentary The Gleaners and I (2000), Varda takes notice of otherwise discarded material and infuses it with a second life by casting her gaze toward the unobserved. What wasn’t captured in the frame of a photograph or a film? How does the very material of film—the stock on which images rest—change in purpose over time as the reels become increasingly unused? From a three panel video triptyque to a miniature greenhouse constructed from strips of super 8 film, these questions fill the gallery space of Blum & Poe, where a selection of her work from 1949 to the present is on exhibit for the first time in New York City until April 15th.

    But as much as Varda is a gleaner, she is also a potato, as she declared recently at the French Institute and the Alliance Française de New York (FIAF) during a discussion of her work as a visual artist. Likening herself to the heart-shaped potatoes she collected and observed in Gleaners—watching with her characteristic curiosity as they aged, budding eyes and taking on the promise of a new life—Varda, too, continues to sprout. “People like definition, and this or that. I like to feel like I’m everything. I have three lives: as a photographer, a filmmaker, a visual artist.”

    Considered to be the “grandmother”—or as Varda joked, the dinosaur—of the French New Wave, her foray into the visual arts is a relatively new adventure for the director. And, yet, the move seems fitting for the artist who, after all, began her career as a photographer. Calling attention to this history, the photographs on display at her Blum & Poe show represent a selection of images from an exhibition Varda held in the courtyard of her Paris home in 1954. Their current configuration, arranged in a straight line that wraps around the room, prompts the viewer to circle around the photographs—some of which include familiar images found in her films. Purposeful or not, the effect replicates the precise cyclical feeling that resonates through her depiction of time in other works.

    Evocation d'une exposition de 1954, 1949-1954. Photo Courtesy: Genevieve Hanson

    Evocation d’une exposition de 1954, 1949-1954. Photo Courtesy: Genevieve Hanson

    This understanding of the past as it relates to and makes up the present marks a defining quality found in Varda’s films and visual art alike. “I’ve been crossing the time for years,” she said when asked about her use of time as a theme. To be sure, however, her relationship to the past is not born out of nostalgia. “The past doesn’t mean too much to me because it’s always there. Not as a memory thing. As making it alive again,” she clarified. “The past is there. You take it and bring it on the table. It’s still alive.” For Varda, the past is always present.

    Cinema, she explained, lends itself to this rearranging of time. “In film, the cinema language accepts that you go from one place to another…Sometimes, you can put the time, shut the time together and say, ‘hey, that went before’ and install…and it’s still alive” This is demonstrated in her film, Jacquot de Nantes (1991), which focuses on the life and work of her late husband and fellow Left Bank director Jacques Demy. Screening at FIAF on March 14th, the film blends documentary footage of an elderly Demy with clips from his films and reimagined footage about his childhood shot by Varda, showing that the past can come before and after footage from the present and still create a reality that makes sense—even if the parts are out of order. Her films, in this way, replicate how life is actually experienced: a constant blend of what has happened and what is happening.

    Le Triptyque de Noirmoutier, 2004-2005. Photo Courtesy: Genevieve Hanson

    Le Triptyque de Noirmoutier, 2004-2005. Photo Courtesy: Genevieve Hanson

    Now, in her visual art, Varda expands her concept of time along a new axis to include moments that happen simultaneously in the present. Take, as an example, her current triptyque video installation at Blum & Poe, Le Triptyque de Noirmoutier, which features a central video flanked on either side by two separate videos that seem, at first, unrelated to the centerpiece. Projected onto three independent wooden panels, the triptyque can be closed down to show only the central image—what you would see at the cinema—or opened up to enlarge the frame of reference to include the two other panels. As the piece progresses, figures from the main video come in and out of the center panel, emerging or leaving the scenes on the side panels. Here, Varda grapples with the question of what lies beyond of the privileged space of the traditional cinema screen. What do you miss when you restrict the field of vision? What can’t cinema show?

    When I attended the Blum & Poe show on a chilly Saturday afternoon following its opening, I stumbled upon Varda in the gallery, speaking to patrons about her work. In the room containing Le Triptyque de Noirmoutier, she demonstrated to us how to properly open and close the triptyque, noting at what point the “action really comes”—which happened to, of course, be when the characters take on lives both outside and inside the center panel. As she opened the panels of the triptyque, she extended the horizon of the film to reveal a beach and a china cabinet, expanding up the lives of her characters in the process. In that moment, the action seemed to echo her promise in The Beach of Agnes (2008): If we opened people up, we’d find landscapes. If we opened me up, we’d find beaches.”

    Upcoming Screenings:

    FIAF: Agnès Varda: Life as Art
    Jacquot de Nantes: Tue, Mar 14 at 4 & 7:30pm

    FIAF: Agnès Varda: Life as Art
    Lola: Tue, Mar 21 at 4 & 7:30pm
    Jacques Demy’s first film,

    Exhibition Info:

    Blum & Poe: Agnès Varda 

    March 2 through April 15

Page 1 of 6612345...102030...Last »
©2017 WNET All Rights Reserved.   825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019