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When the World Goes Kaboom

Alice Gregory | February 10, 2011

Gregg Araki’s Kaboom might just have the best promotional materials ever. The poster is rainbow and kaleidoscopic — like a still from a Fruitopia commercial but with people instead of pineapples. The press release describes it as “a hyper-stylized Twin Peaks for the Coachella Generation, featuring a gorgeous young cast.” Araki, a pivotal figure in…

Mike Leigh’s Another Year: Traditional Happiness Among the Sad and Lonely

Alice Gregory | February 3, 2011

Art house darling Mike Leigh is known for his improvisational kitchen sink realism. He’s a master of the sort of small talk that isn’t bleak. His films are like Petri dishes on which everyday Brits divide and join like little cells of concentrated emotion. In his latest venture, Another Year, Leigh makes the case for…

No Redemption for The Company Men

Alice Gregory | January 27, 2011

Bad movies can inspire perversity on the part of their critics — finely wrought condemnation and searing viciousness. Panning something can be cathartic, so much so that the pan itself sometimes redeems the schlocky thing that bore it. Then there are movies so bad that they inspire responsibility on the part of their critics, compelling…

Compelling Parts Can’t Carry the Whole in Twelve Thirty

Alice Gregory | January 20, 2011

Twelve-Thirty, the fourth feature film directed by Jeff Lipsky, is hermetically fantastic, scene-by-scene, with formal dialogue and stilted acting worthy of Eric Rohmer or Whit Stillman. Lipsky, who founded October Films and Lot 47 Films, was mentored by John Cassavetes early in his career, and like the famed auteur, he shares an instinct for improvisation…

Blue Valentine’s Exquisite Heartbreak

Alice Gregory | January 13, 2011

Trying to convince someone that you’re mad at them when really you’re sad at them is one of the hardest things to do. The moments in life that require the skill are always dire, the stakes inevitably very high. It’s almost impossible not to choke. Narrow your eyes too much, and you’re done for. Stretch…

Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere: A Beautiful Ride to Nowhere

Alice Gregory | January 6, 2011

Some cinema can be difficult but fortifying: slow, elliptical, and stark. Boredom — or patience — can pay dividends. But rarely does the inverse hold true; it’s seldom that we’re afforded the opportunity of enjoying but not liking a film. Somewhere, which has now been reviewed everywhere, is never boring, despite Sofia Coppola’s insistence upon real-time long…

Saint Misbehavin’: Wavy Gravy and the Culture of Fools

Alice Gregory | December 16, 2010

I grew up in California where kids are taught to pursue happiness above all else. The wealthiest people I knew were only incidentally affluent: They invented some kind of organic juice or they started Banana Republic way back when. There was no correlation between success and persistent hard work, between achievement and academic rigor. If…

His Opposites Attract: Ryan Gosling’s Twee-Man Allure

Alice Gregory | December 9, 2010

Occupying a singular role in someone else’s life is gratifying: knowing that you’re the only one who can cheer up that certain friend, knowing that you’re the only one your boss trusts to take charge when he’s out sick. This is what’s so great about sad-looking guys. It feels good when you’re the one who…

On Made In Dagenham and Doubting Your Own Sobriety

Alice Gregory | December 2, 2010

There are certain realities that can make a sober person feel stoned: the size of a “small” soda at the movies, Times Square at rush hour, the fact that slavery ended less than 150 years ago. In each case, the same mantra resounds: Are you serious!? Made in Dagenham, Nigel Cole’s dramatic retelling of the…

The Familiar Destruction of White Material

Alice Gregory | November 24, 2010

Due to the holiday, we are posting this week’s Girl on Film today instead of Thursday. We’ll be back on schedule next week. Africa “does” things to people. To white people, that is. It’s a trope with a wicked history. From Josef Conrad to V.S. Naipul to Norman Rush, our fiction is full of characters…