REEL 13

Read our Blog Posts

REEL 13 Blog
  • March 24, 2016

    For the Love of Chantal Akerman: NYC’s Cinematic Tribute at BAM, Film Forum, Anthology Film Archives, and Museum of the Moving Image

    Still from No Home Movie, courtesy of Icarus Films

    Still from No Home Movie, courtesy of Icarus Films

    The films of Chantal Akerman sculpt time. Her signature static frame, which often lingers without any corporeal presence in the shot, emphasizes time’s disregard for mortality. Faced with stillness, we feel the tick of the watch as the camera observes with an uninterrupted gaze—frequently lasting several minutes, an eternity on film. Unable to outrun time by a series of quick cuts, Akerman’s subjects instead move steadily towards an aestheticized disappearance. In this, Akerman makes the viewer physically aware of time; an aspect that renders her oeuvre difficult to digest for some.

    The importance of Akerman’s defiant cinema has not completely revealed itself, but this spring’s city-wide celebration of her work brings us closer to understanding her impact. BAMcinématek will present a comprehensive retrospective April 1—May 1, opening with the New York theatrical premiere of her final film, No Home Movie. Film Forum will offer a free-to-the-public run of Marianne Lambert’s documentary I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman, accompanied by the short film But Elsewhere Is Always Better, for one week, March 30—April 5. They will also screen a new restoration of Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles April 1—7. Anthology Film Archives, which Akerman credited as a major source of inspiration, will run No Home Movie and Là-bas in mid-April. In Queens, Museum of the Moving Image will screen D’Est April 2—3. For purchase, Icarus Films is set to release a boxed set of rare titles, Chantal Akerman: Four Films on March 29.

    It’s hard to watch No Home Movie and I Don’t Belong Anywhere without feeling the chill of Akerman’s recent death. In No Home Movie, shot by Akerman on a handheld camera, we get a sense of Akerman’s intimate connection with her mother, who was at the heart of Akerman’s work. Echoes of her most famous film, Jeanne Dielman, reverberate through the dialogue and architecture of the film—particularly in the first conversation between Akerman and her mother about potatoes, which is a Proustian morsel for audience members familiar with Jeanne Dielman. Though she is no longer with us, there are instances throughout the film that attest to Akerman’s existence—a reflection in the window, breathing caught by the in-camera audio, and, of course, shots with Akerman actually in the frame. But as much as these glimpses confirm her presence, they also call upon the lack.

    A self-described nomad, it would seem that for Akerman home is not so much a physical place as it is a feeling. With the death of her mother came the loss of a central home, an anxiety that Akerman touches on in I Don’t Belong Anywhere. “Now that my mother is no longer there, there is nobody left,” said Akerman to the camera. “That’s why now I’m afraid. I think that now that my mother is no longer there, will I have something to say?” Intermixed with interviews (including musings about her commercial attempt, A Couch in New York) and footage from her films, I Don’t Belong Anywhere is an invaluable document of Akerman’s insights into her own work and a fitting closing word on her final film. My only complaint: we don’t—and never will—get enough time with her.

    In advance of the screenings, NYC-Arts will feature brief news coverage of the BAM retrospective on tonight’s episode. The full episode will be available here.

    By Brittany Stigler

  • March 17, 2016

    SCREENING NOTES: Arnaud Desplechin’s My Golden Days at the Film Society of Lincoln Center

    MyGoldenDays

    The last time we saw Paul Dedalus and Esther, Arnaud Desplechin’s long-term lovers, was twenty years ago in My Sex Life…or How I Got into an Argument, and if Mathieu Amalric has his wish, the next time will be in another 30 years. “We’d be old and so mean. And we’d really hate each other…and it would be good, but just we’d be eighty, not before that,” said Amalric in a story that Desplechin shared after a screening of his newest film, My Golden Days, at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

    Honey-tinged with nostalgia that an adult Paul claims not to have, My Golden Days is essentially a three part coming-of-age story held together by what Desplechin described as his “Russian song.” “It’s a period film. The main one, with Esther, is happening during the fall of the wall,” he explained. “I knew on a musical level, it would make sense to me to have this Russian song going all the way through the whole film, driving my character.”

    Desplechin’s Russian song also makes a material appearance in the form of a Stravinsky recording, Two Sacred Songs. “It’s a piece that I love of Stravinsky, and it’s influenced by Hugo Wolf,” he said, “and I love to think in the audience there was Herrmann and Stravinsky in Los Angeles, both of them listening to Hugo Wolf, and one of them composed the score of Vertigo and the other one composed The Two Sacred Songs.” In this way, Desplechin’s nod to Bernard Herrmann’s Vertigo score in My Golden Days becomes obliquely tied to Stravinsky as well, though Desplechin’s love of Herrmann goes far beyond Stravinsky.

    “It’s a complaint that I have from the composer [Gregoire Hetzel],” Desplechin said of his affection for Bernard Herrmann. “We did a few films together, and on each new film he says, ‘will you go on harassing me with Bernard Herrmann?,” said Desplechin before continuing, “And I think…I won’t stop.”

    As in Vertigo, the score for My Golden Days utilizes the concept of the leitmotif to signal Esther’s presence. “When Esther appears the during the party they have at home, you have the slow motion picture on her crossing the corridor,” he explained, “and you have this motif, you know, coming from Vertigo, and it’s as if she was appearing as a ghost or spirit.” Even without the motif, however, Esther’s presence would make itself known—through letters, through direct addresses to the camera, through force of adolescent will.

    Esther’s declaration of self, her toughness, and even her arrogance are what draw Paul to her in the first place. “I love the first appearance of Esther, sitting on this rock. And she’s like a statue, and she’s impenetrable,” said Desplechin. “Nothing can hurt her. She’s the woman with three husbands. She’s the queen.” But it’s Esther’s emotional development that sustains the narrative. She becomes vulnerable: “She was like a statue, and she’s becoming human. She’s becoming a woman at the end of the film.” This is a foil to Paul, whose maturity and rationality at the beginning of the film clash with the enraged, childish man that we find at the end. “It’s as if he was waiting for his late 40s to become an adolescent at last.”

    While we watch Paul and Esther change, their constant pull toward each other remains the same. Throughout the film, in homage to Truffaut, Esther and Paul read and write to each other. The letters allow for the characters to be present despite physical separation. Similarly, the books that the couple share traverse space to bind them to each other. In one of the final scenes, the pages of a book that they once read together fly through the air and surround Paul, bringing Esther and her memory to him once again. The reason, as Desplechin succinctly put it before the screening: “It’s a romance…It’s a romance.”

    My Golden Days opens this Friday (3/18). The Film Society of Lincoln Center will host a Q&A with the director on Friday (3/18) at 6:30 PM and on Saturday (3/19) at 1:30 PM.

    By Brittany Stigler

  • March 17, 2016

    ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMMING: Veritgo, City of Gold, Isabella Morra

    REEL 13 is still on hiatus for March pledge, but we haven’t taken our eyes off the great films playing around the city. While you’re waiting for us to return to your home theater on March 26th, here are some films to help you avert movie malaise. Sticking to the typical REEL 13 lineup, we present you with our favorite classic, indie, and short films playing in a theater near you.

    vertigo

    CLASSIC FEATURE
    Vertigo
    Metrograph – 3 PM, 9 PM

    Sometimes films of the bygone studio era exist today with a nostalgia that makes them look like mere novelties when rewatched. This is not one of those films. Named the best movie of all time by Sight and Sound in their most recent decennial poll, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo persists as a piece of cinematic mastery. Never before or since has there been a film experience quite like this narrative of crime, desire, and mental illness within the Hitchcockian trademarks of allegory, illusion, and mystery.

    CityofGold

    INDEPENDENT FEATURE
    City of Gold
    IFC Center – 10:50 AM, 12:20 PM, 3:35 PM, 5:20 PM, 7:30 PM, 9:35 PM

    In following Los Angeles Times writer Jonathan Gold, the first ever food critic to win a Pulitzer Prize, City of Gold explores the enclaves of Los Angeles culture and cuisine found not in high-end restaurants or Hollywood film set craft service tables, but in mini-mall dives, neighborhood delis, and food trucks. Through the simple acts of meals and conversations, Gold frames food as a celebration of the diversity of stories from migrants, natives, and transplants who can come together, if for a moment, to share a tasty experience. Scenes of Gold’s own family and career history add flavor to the documentary, but cuisine remains at the center of it all as the critic, with his endless curiosity and enthusiasm, shows how the real beauty of the city might be found in a mom-and-pop restaurant.

    IsabellaMorra

    SHORT FILM
    Isabella Morra
    Museum of Modern Art – 1:30 PM

    In the event you cannot find a short film in the REEL 13 library* to sate your moving image desires, MoMA plans to screen a lineup this Saturday of shorts from all corners of the globe. The last in the lineup, Isabella Morra, illustrates a slice of French suburban life about a group of children left to their own devices in the outdoor confines of a housing project. With a story loosely based on an account of the daughter of an early-16th-century Italian baron, director Isabel Pagliai documents the children’s interactions within an ambience of shouts, silences, and ice-cream van chimes. With the vulgarity of youthful expression and the loneliness of children’s surroundings, the film gives a brief glance at the innocence, futility, and power struggles on the journey to adulthood.

    By Aaron Linskens

  • March 10, 2016

    ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMMING: Masculin féminin, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, Ernie Gehr: CARNIVAL OF SHADOWS

    REEL 13 may be taking a break for March pledge, but we haven’t taken our eye off of the great films playing around the city. While you’re waiting for us to return to your home theater on March 26th, here are some films to stave off your cinematic ennui. Sticking to the typical REEL 13 lineup, we present you with our favorite (French) classic, indie, and short films playing in a theater near you.

    Masculin Feminin

    CLASSIC (FRENCH NEW WAVE) FEATURE
    Masculin féminin
    Metrograph – 11 PM

    Critically acclaimed for its portrayal of the political climate of 1960s France, Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin féminin is both a critical and comedic take on the philosophical differences between the sexes. Screening as part of newly opened Metrograph’s Jean Eustache series, the film has an important place in the history of Eustache’s career:

    After Jean-Luc Godard finished this rigorous and funny New Wave delight—about the political and pop cultural engagements and blind spots of the newly ascendant “Ye-Ye” youth generation in sixties Paris—he donated unused film from the shoot to an actual child of Marx and Coc-Cola, Jean Eustache. Thanks to the generous gift, Eustache was able to make Santa Claus Has Blue Eyes, also starring Masculin féminin’s Jean-Pierre Léaud. –Via Metrograph

    SongsMyBrotherTaughtMe

    INDEPENDENT FEATURE
    Songs My Brothers Taught Me
    Film Forum – 9:15 PM

    Set on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, a place characterized by the beauty of prairie vistas and the melancholy of Wounded Knee, Songs My Brothers Taught Me presents a coming of age narrative within a stunning yet tragic landscape. At the center of a look at Lakota Native American life, a high school senior and his preteen sister make their way through facets of reservation life, such as horseback riding in the Badlands, the illegal sale of alcohol, and the waning yet persistent presence of Native American customs. In her debut feature, writer-director Chloé Zhao mixes moments of tenderness and beauty with scenes of violence, alcoholism, and abject poverty as she illustrates the diversity and complexity of a historically marginalized and stereotyped culture.

    zoom_1444758332_erniegehr@2x

    SHORT FILM
    Ernie Gehr: CARNIVAL OF SHADOWS
    The Museum of Modern Art – Continuous – TRT: ~20 minutes

    While our shorts library is always available, if you are out and about in the Midtown area, why not stop by MoMA Film to take in Ernie Gehr’s multiscreen video installation? Taking early-20th-century shadowgraph toys as inspiration, the digitally projected images, which move across the screen in a way reminiscent of early animation, are adapted from five different paper subjects: At the Circus, Carnival in Nice, John Sellery’s Tour of the World, Street Scenes, and Gulliver’s Travels. The resulting installation is a serious study of abstraction and genre cinema presented in a playful and meditative tone. Accompanying the installation are 30 of the original prints and new photographs by Gehr.

  • February 19, 2016

    Staff Picks: Witches’ Brew at BAMcinématek; Embrace of the Serpent at Film Forum

    The_Witch

    BAMcinématek – Witches’ Brew – through February 29

    As a young girl, I wanted nothing more than to be a witch. Beyond the cheeky nose twitchers of family hour television lived my cinema witch, the embodiment of a certain kind of feminine power that I didn’t quite understand but wanted to be part of nonetheless. Like for so many girls in the 90’s, The Craft became a sort of manifesto. Surrounded by tornado candles, we chanted “light as a feather, stiff as a board” at our slumber parties, imagining ourselves as part of a secret sisterhood. For the first time, we had something that the boys couldn’t steal.

    That’s not to say the witch, especially as represented by cinema, is an entirely liberating symbol. Often, she must either slip around in the shadows or stifle her powers into a mundane domestic reality, using her magic to stir batter. And love, if it is be had, comes as a great sacrifice. “Love is stronger than witchcraft,” Veronica Lake assures her lover before sealing her wizard father into a bottle of liquor in I Married a Witch. What we wouldn’t do to have our own family, to not have to live a loveless life obscured in a rotting tree or dusty spell book.

    Luckily, over the next couple of weeks, there are plenty of discussions to be had over the witch’s place in society thanks to BAMcinématek’s program Witches’ Brew (running Feb 16—Feb29). In celebration of Robert Eggers’ chilling directorial debut, The Witch, BAM will be screening “18 tales of female empowerment of the supernatural kind.” The series represents a variety of witches, from Kenny Ortega’s broomstick flyers in Hocus Pocus to Mario Bava’s sumptuous revenge seeker in Black Sunday. While it’s too late to see the silent and Satanic Häxan, there’s still time to catch Dario Argento’s ballet of gore, Suspiria (Feb 20). And of course, one would be remiss to skip out on Richard Quine’s Bell, Book and Candle (Feb 29), which is a perfect mix of love, literature, and magic (and the loss thereof).

    The complete series can be found here.
    By Brittany Stigler

    Embrace_the_Serpent

    Film Forum – Embrace of the Serpent – through March 1

    For all its reverence in the history books, the Amazon rainforest as a setting for a Hollywood movie typically exists with an opacity and mystique that lends itself to quests for secret treasure, searches for magical or spiritual transcendence, or conflicts with heathens and cannibals. In temporarily leaving Western civilization, the white protagonist will have to overcome the presumed danger therein, sidestepping threats posed by Mother Nature and a lack of Christianity.

    On the surface Embrace of the Serpent looks that way too. Two white explorers in search of a sacred healing plant experience a cultural clash in meeting dangerous men and animals along the Columbian Amazon. While going back and forth between each explorer’s account, which take place 30 years apart, and telling the whole story through the eyes of their skeptical shaman guide, the film chronicles the appalling change of the region over time.

    Writer-director Ciro Guerra confronts the tragic history of the region while jumping between the explorers’ roughly identical routes. Theo (loosely based on German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg) makes his journey with the Western-clothed native, Manduca, and the shaman, Karamakate, who is the last of a tribe killed off by the rubber barons. Decades later, Evan (loosely based on American biologist Richard Evans Schultes) travels with an older Karamakate, who has become a broken man in his survivor’s remorse.

    Each expedition, in a nod to Heart of Darkness, contains quiet moments of peaceful reflection contrasted with terrifying sequences of violence, illustrating the abuse, enslavement, and murder of indigenous people enacted by white settlers along the Amazon in the early 20th century. The scene of a Spanish missionary’s indoctrination of a group of orphan boys provides a twisted version of a shepherd tending to his flock. The horror culminates in a scene at a mission where a cult-like congregation follows a self-proclaimed white messiah to extreme ends.

    As the film’s fulcrum, Karamakate paces the story with his insights, actions, and presence, as he grapples with his own anger, loneliness, and grief. Through the lens of Western culture, he seems intriguingly exotic and foreign, like a tribal man on the cover of National Geographic. In the context of the colossal sadness of genocide, religious hypocrisy, and social injustice, Karamakate feels like a powerful image of a shell of a man. As the last remnant of a culture, he is a portrait of alienation even in his homeland, and to look at him is to take a glimpse at everything that was lost.

    Film Forum will screen Embrace of the Serpent through March 1. This is the first Columbian film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

    By Aaron Linskens

Page 4 of 64« First...23456...102030...Last »
©2016 WNET All Rights Reserved.   825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019