Category Archives: the big screen

“Normalcy can feel awfully precarious, like a comforting dream blotting out a nightmarish reality…”–a.o. scott

take shelter, the new jeff nichols written/directed film, opened in limited release friday and is already garnering high praise both for the story and the acting.  michael shannon, the reigning madman across the water, continues to solidify his place as one of today’s best working actors with roles characterized by fury and lunacy (as exemplified in revolutionary road and his current turn in hbo’s boardwalk empire), jessica chastain is fresh off her triumph with malick’s tree of life, and nothing says the advent of winter like a stellar apocalyptic film, ruminating over and warning of lives of quiet desperation, the struggle against impermanence, and the fraught beauty of survival.  the added layer for me is that my old high school chum dave wingo (fellow plano survivor and leader of the band ola podrida, who also has done beautiful work for david gordon green’s amazing films) did the score. hi dave wingo.  come visit again before too long.  and see you guys at the angelika.


“looking in the mirror staring back at me isn’t so much a face as the expression of a predicament.”

“A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity. When for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. It’s as though it had all just come into existence.
I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.”
— Christopher Isherwood (A Single Man)

maurice sendak, “tell them anything you want, just be honest”

“(people ask) why are you stuck in childhood? i don’t know.  i guess that’s where my heart is.”

sunday night film screenings at the ace hotel

tonight, showing of new film, “tell them anything you want,” about author maurice sendak, with lance bangs and spike jonze around for q&a after.  free but once capacity hits, forget it

the woodmans, minus one

“Francesca’s pictures and quotations evoke an ambitious, driven young woman impatient for recognition, who is cursed with that volatile combination common to artists: a voracious ego and a fragile psyche. The word frequently used to describe her is “intense.” Making herself the center of so much of her work could only magnify that intensity. As a precociously brilliant student at the Rhode Island School of Design, she arrived there already knowing exactly what she wanted to accomplish. One fellow student recalls that she exuded a “rock star quality.”

Her story suggests the perils of becoming the subject of your work. As long as your creative fires burn, you are propelled forward. But if you are consuming yourself in the process, what is left when the fire begins to sputter?”

from the nytimes review, above, and read more from the piece here

this documentary, which was one of the films i was most saddened to not get into at last year’s tribeca film fest due to tix being sold out, is a composite rendering of the life, work, death and impact on the family of the suicide of artist francesca woodman.  the daughter of a family of artists, woodman was most notoriously known for her nude self-portraits with her body the subject, prior to her death at age 22 from throwing herself out a window. for the next week or so film forum is running the layered biopic, which interweaves her writings, art and her family’s story of her, illuminating the negative space she created and they have yet to fill.

blue valentine

just got back from seeing derek cianfrance’s new film, one of the most honest depictions of the devolution from love to divorce i’ve seen.  there are the requisite critical naysayers but whatever;  you either feel it or you don’t.  as sad as parts of it are, i’m left with dean’s words in my head, the guy in the film, talking to a coworker early on about what to do about this girl he just met and can’t get out of his head:

“you know when a song comes on and you just gotta dance?”


sunday mass: terrence malick’s new film: the tree of life

from the badlands director & one of our great contemporary film humanists, comes what looks to be his most grandiose and all-encompassing story yet. one grown man, lost, searching, telling the story of his struggle to reconcile the conflicting lessons of his childhood from his parents (his mother’s espousal of love/grace versus his father’s emphasis on will and self-interest), to find his place in the world, to forgive, to redeem himself, connecting him to nothing less than both the beginning and end of time, all life, the universe.
not since the trailer for “no country for old men” did i know immediately who and what this was, and move to the edge of my seat. forget the celebrities, just listen and watch the cinematography. “someday we’ll fall down and weep, we will understand it all, all things.” unfortunately, we still have to wait until 5/27/11, if it does finally release according to the scheduled date. this would have been a perfect holiday release, but is rather an odd pick for going into summer blockbuster season.