By Ray Pride


LONG DAY'S JOURNEY 14Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Poetry, bliss, abandon: deep into Bi Gan’s indelible, narcotic masterpiece where a 28-year-old’s talent matches his imagination, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, the movie sinks into a sinuous, unbroken take, a gravity-shunning traveling shot in 3-D that lasts an hour. The director, whose first feature, Kaili Blues (2015), was equally attentive to time and duration in its movement across his native province of Guizhou in southwest China, creates gorgeous tableaux as well, fashioning fever dreams cool to the touch. While superficially the movie, called “Last Evenings On Earth” in Chinese, is neon-dreamt, lovelorn neo-noir, it is also topographical fantasia [Read more.]

Shadow.  Chinese censors withdrew Zhang Yimou’s latest film, One Second, set during the decade of Mao Zedong’s brutal Cultural Revolution, from Berlin in February. Shadow, a wuxia martial arts film set in a much earlier and much less controversial era, is on a par with his great, kinetic films like House of Flying Daggers (2004) and his martial arts masterpiece, Hero (2002). A variation on a Jingzhou epic, “The Three Kingdoms,” Shadow draws a canvas of blacks and grays and rain and blue-grays (with intermittent dashes of explosive color) in the style of traditional ink and wash Chinese paintings. Body doubles, the director says, hark back to ancient times. [Read more.] Playing nationwide: theaters.

Meeting Gorbachev. While never reaching for the ether (or ethereal) of his many great documentaries, Herzog’s four sit-down visits with Gorbachev are filled with spiky moments and unexpected questions that make the portrait compelling.  [Read more.]

Blaze (Blu and DVD).  Ethan Hawke doesn’t come right out and say what he’s up to in “Blaze,” but it’s snaky goodness: time and space, all in mind and out of whack. Splinters assemble and disassemble perspectives on a now-gone Austin, Texas songwriter, bright but lost, frustrated at the fall of each note, each sung syllable. Hard to live with; harder to ignore. Hawke calls “Blaze” a country-western opera, and the singer-songwriter at the center, Blaze Foley, “the Snuffleupagus of the outlaw country music scene,” whom he discovered via John Prine’s cover of the song “Clay Pigeons,” “one of the best country songs I’d ever heard.” (Townes Van Zandt, also fictionalized here, wrote and played with Foley.) Not only did Hawke discover Foley’s music, but also “Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley,” the memoir of his partner, Sybil Rosen. The form of the film is the form of a song: a song sung, yes, but also a song struck; a song moaned; a song performed; a song sold; a song sundered; a song, a song as subterranean river, sometimes a trickle, sometimes a truculent rivulet, and often, so often, a waterfall of eager, needful romantic yearning. [Read more.]



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“I remember very much the iconography and the images and the statues in church were very emotional for me. Just the power of that, and even still — just seeing prayer card, what that image can evoke. I have a lot of friends that are involved in the esoteric, and I know some girls in New York that are also into the supernatural. I don’t feel that I have that gift. But I am leaning towards mysticism… Maybe men are more practical, maybe they don’t give into that as much… And then also, they don’t convene in the same way that women do. But I don’t know, I am not a man, I don’t want to speak for men. For me, I tend to gravitate towards people who are open to those kinds of things. And the idea for my film, White Echo, I guess stemmed from that — I find that the girls in New York are more credible. What is it about the way that they communicate their ideas with the supernatural that I find more credible? And that is where it began. All the characters are also based on friends of mine. I worked with Refinery29 on that film, and found that they really invest in you which is so rare in this industry.”
Chloë Sevigny

“The word I have fallen in love with lately is ‘Hellenic.’ Greek in its mythology. So while everyone is skewing towards the YouTube generation, here we are making two-and-a-half-hour movies and trying to buck the system. It’s become clear to me that we are never going to be a perfect fit with Hollywood; we will always be the renegade Texans running around trying to stir the pot. Really it’s not provocation for the sake of being provocative, but trying to make something that people fall in love with and has staying power. I think people are going to remember Dragged Across Concrete and these other movies decades from now. I do not believe that they will remember some of the stuff that big Hollywood has put out in the last couple of years. You’ve got to look at the independent space to find the movies that have been really special recently. Even though I don’t share the same world-view as some of my colleagues, I certainly respect the hell out of their movies which are way more fascinating than the stuff coming out of the studio system.”
~ Dallas Sonnier