Errol Morris’s third film, The Thin Blue Line and his latest, The Unknown Known, serve as instructive bookends for the director’s career thus far. While it’s unfair to equate Harris, who was convicted of killing a man in 1985, with Rumsfeld, who has never directly committed a homicidal act, both films are complex portraits of subjectivity and the evasion of culpability, and have more in common with each other than not.
Jim’s runaway holiday spirit leads to an uncomfortable clinch in the break room.
Watching a film for a second time, years after an initial viewing, can be a reminder—harsh or soothing—of how far we’ve come. This is clearly true of films seen for the first time in our adult years since childhood, after we’ve fine-tuned our critical faculties, and maybe fallen in love, maybe had sex, maybe seen a bit more of the world. But in some instances, even shorter time spans between viewings can make us acutely aware of ourselves, and of … Read More
It’s a December release, but Inside Llewyn Davis feels like February. It feels like the day after a snowfall in New York, when the pristine white blanket of last night has turned into a sponge for car exhaust, the gray mid-day after, when yesterday’s snow, half-melted, transforms every curb into a slushy moat, and every street crossing becomes an Olympian long jump.
Most of the time a workable narrative is vital, because movies are to be watched, and so they still have to be watchable over an extended and unalterable period of time. Yet there seems to be something new in the water as of late, and it struck me as I watched the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis. There are many ways to characterize and/or position the movie, and here’s one that seems to me to be unavoidable: as a failure … Read More
This time of year, we’re asked to bring our A-game, to navigate an onslaught of family bonding and constant, mandatory merrymaking. It’s not for sissies. My personal approach is to carve out a few nights to fake being sick, stay home with my television, and enjoy the company of no one. Not only is me-time a necessary sanity-saver, it gives me a chance to indulge in holiday movies that just won’t feel appropriate come January.
This year’s new rules for the Academy Award for Best Documentary will drastically change the voting process, favoring more recognizable and popular titles. During the process of whittling down this year’s 149 eligible docs to the final five nominees, time-stressed documentary branch members may only watch and therefore nominate the most recognizable of titles. As HBO’s Sheila Nevins told Variety, “The underdog is not going to make any noise. Only the ones that are most known will be seen.”
Jim takes getting into the holiday spirit a little too far.
The transition to sound cinema marks the moment when Hollywood filmmaking would become more like a true industry, with less of an artisanal feel. The new technology necessitated that the studios would have to collaborate with the music and radio industries, and become more competitive in their distribution practices to attract a wide enough viewership to stay afloat. These multiple-language reflect an era-defining method of churning out the most product for the most markets rather then the highest quality single … Read More