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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Pride, Unprejudiced: The Fits, DePalma

thefits02The Fits (Oscilloscope, $40 Blu, downloads)

Oh glorious subjectivity. Motion and emotion trounce text in The Fits, debut writer-director-producer Anna Rose Holmer’s patient, powerful, dreamy debut feature. Center frame is a young wonder named Royalty Hightower as an alienated eleven-year-old tomboy named Toni, who strives to become one of The Lionesses, a dance team in the West End of Cincinnati. Repetition, routine, formation (then fainting: figures that flew, falling in inexplicable mass hysteria). Toni learns by watching. Toni learns by doing. Rhythms, then routines, establish, recur. Toni’s an outsider, working inward, realizing her self, her potential, her power as the camera observes, enables, ennobles her modest, yet major journey. The dreamy, joyous The Fits is elegance and simplicity supreme. The eye-widening, ear-opening, syncopated score is by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans.

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De Palma (Lionsgate, $25 blu, downloads)

My second filmmaker interview for the college newspaper was with Brian De Palma and it was a catastrophe. A teaching moment, you would dub such scorch nowadays and leave the details to memory. Let’s say I poked, and let’s say he punched. That short, sharp punch-up didn’t make me any less fascinated with the precision of his dream-like narrative progressions, his obsession with the uneasy relationship of the watcher and the subject. “Being a director is being a watcher,” De Palma tells Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, his acolytes behind the camera of the one-man show De Palma“I think that Brian is, if not the main one, one of those few directors who you know automatically, this is what a movie feels and breathes and looks like,” Paltrow tells Filmmaker magazine, arriving at a tender morsel of critique absent from the film itself. The form of their documentary, shot across thirty hours several years ago, grew from conversations the three had had over lunches and dinners, and its pungent retellings project-by-project across the decades of De Palma’s career are the better for it. Some may be cynical about an extended conversation with a filmmaker often held in disrepute by sniffy cultural arbiters, with many thinking along the lines of Noah Cross, who, in Chinatown, observed that “Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.” And if you’re the last auteurs holding to independent ideals of the film brat clique that included George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Paul Schrader? Baumbach and Paltrow are beyond that politique with their pal auteur, content to illustrate his vivid anecdotes with appropriate images and footage as De Palma unfurls an abundant filmography in chronological order.

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch