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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Screening Gotham: March 10-12, 2006


A few of this weekend’s worthwhile cinematic happenings around New York:
–Just as the ethos and logistics of horror filmmaking are famously friendly to independent filmmakers, the war genre is often perceived as the domain of explosives, costumes and other big-budget accessories out of indies’ reach. But Brooklyn filmmaker Ari Taub spent the last decade proving that perception wrong with The Fallen, opening this weekend at the Pioneer Theater. A meditative glimpse at World War II as seen through the eyes of American, German and Italian troops on the European front, The Fallen expertly navigates the war’s moral crises without stretching its no-budget premise beyond credulity or craft. Rather, Taub invests everything he has in story, and the labor of love pays off dramatically. In other words: Don’t expect Saving Private Ryan, but maybe something even better.
–The New York Underground Film Festival continues at Antholgy Film Archives this weekend with programs all day Saturday and Sunday. Chiefly interesting among these is Google Me This, featuring a couple dozen underground filmmakers and visual artists scavenging Google Video for the most bizarre, dismaying and generally obscure movies on the Web. Also of interest: the shorts program Happy Together, which includes NYC filmmaker Shiri Bar-On’s Making Me Happy and a somehow-enthralling documentary about a Swedish tax worker. On a weekend where filmgoing alternatives include Failure to Launch and The Shaggy Dog, trust me: Paying Tax is Sexy really is sexy.
–Check it out: Lionsgate rereleased Crash! And hey! Look over there! A swarm of locusts!

3 Responses to “Screening Gotham: March 10-12, 2006”

  1. Dave Bourla says:

    It’s truly amazing that a lame film like this with no plot gets this much attention.

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“Yes, good movies sprout up, inevitably, in the cracks and seams between the tectonic plates on which all of these franchises stay balanced, and we are reassured of their hardiness. But we don’t see what we don’t see; we don’t see the effort, or the cost of the effort, or the movies of which we’re deprived because of the cost of the effort. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice may have come from a studio, but it still required a substantial chunk of outside financing, and at $35 million, it’s not even that expensive. No studio could find the $8.5 million it cost Dan Gilroy to make Nightcrawler. Birdman cost a mere $18 million and still had to scrape that together at the last minute. Imagine American movie culture for the last few years without Her or Foxcatcher or American Hustle or The Master or Zero Dark Thirty and it suddenly looks markedly more frail—and those movies exist only because of the fairy godmothership of independent producer Megan Ellison. The grace of billionaires is not a great business model on which to hang the hopes of an art form.”
~ Mark Harris On The State Of The Movies

How do you make a Top Ten list? For tax and organizational purposes, I keep a log of every movie I see (Title, year, director, exhibition format, and location the film was viewed in). Anything with an asterisk to the left of its title means it’s a 2014 release (or something I saw at a festival which is somehow in play for the year). If there’s a performance, or sequence, or line of dialogue, even, that strikes me in a certain way, I’ll make a note of it. So when year end consideration time (that is, the month and change out of the year where I feel valued) rolls around, it’s a little easier to go through and pull some contenders for categories. For 2014, I’m voting in three polls: Indiewire, SEFCA (my critics’ guild), and the Muriels. Since Indiewire was first, it required the most consternation. There were lots of films that I simply never had a chance to see, so I just went with my gut. SEFCA requires a lot of hemming and hawing and trying to be strategic, even though there’s none of the in-person skullduggery that I hear of from folk whose critics’ guild is all in the same city. The Muriels is the most fun to contribute to because it’s after the meat market phase of awards season. Also, because it’s at the beginning of next year, I’ll generally have been able to see everything I wanted to by then. I love making hierarchical lists, partially because they are so subjective and mercurial. Every critical proclamation is based on who you are at that moment and what experiences you’ve had up until that point. So they change, and that’s okay. It’s all a weird game of timing and emotional waveforms, and I’m sure a scientist could do an in-depth dissection of the process that leads to the discovery of shocking trends in collective evaluation. But I love the year end awards crush, because I feel somewhat respected and because I have a wild-and-wooly work schedule that has me bouncing around the city to screenings, or power viewing the screeners I get sent.
Jason Shawhan of Nashville Scene Answers CriticWire