Author Archive

BYOStones: Awaiting The Fate Of Thanos

Friday, April 19th, 2019

All Parts: A Review of Alex Ross Perry’s HER SMELL

Friday, April 19th, 2019

Her_Smell_stills_don_stahl-242“I can’t point to any movie, recent or otherwise,” writer-director Alex Ross Perry has noted of his intently, intensely ambitious sixth feature, “that combines the two things I wanted to explore in ‘Her Smell’: lowbrow popular music and highbrow theatrical productions going back to Shakespeare’s five-act tragedies.” In 2015, Perry reports, he watched a raft of plays in a rash of theatergoing in New York City, including productions of “Hamlet” and “The Merchant of Venice,” and lots of Broadway musicals, particularly “Les Miserables,” soaking instead of eking. [Read More.]

Fluid Mechanic: Claire Denis Talks High Life

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

High Life Mia Goth

Claire Denis’ “High Life” is measured out in parcels of time: past, present, later, before. (And maybe even a little bit of “never.”) A crew of men and women convicts has been rocketed into space, toward the certain death of a black hole and its gravitational crush to conduct experiments rather than die on earth. Their small ship, “7,” is designed like a prison, with compartments segmented off a harsh corridor. Juliette Binoche, as “Dr. Dibs,” is clandestinely conducting her own experiments in human life, violating her charges to create life high in space while the human body is bombarded with the menacing effects of space travel, including radiation. We meet Monty (Robert Pattinson) and a baby girl named Willow, and then the events among the crew that led to these last two humans alive. [Read More.]

Spoilers Endgame

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Subtweeting The South Korean Spoilers?

BYO Oh-Oh-Oh

Monday, April 15th, 2019

Notre Dame

Vertiginous Scale: Thoughts on WELCOME TO MARWEN

Monday, April 15th, 2019

Welcome to Marwen is something else, but what is it?

“The calamity of movie history is not the follies that get made but the follies that don’t get made,” Pauline Kael wrote in 1976 in her New Yorker review of Bernardo Bertolucci’s mad yet magisterial epic 1900.

“This film is about Bernardo Bertolucci’s need for myth, and his self-denial,” Kael continued. “For those who are infatuated ‘with what they loathe, the battle with themselves never stops. 1900 has all of Bertolucci’s themes and motifs; one could call it the Portable Bertolucci, though it isn’t portable. It’s like a course to be enrolled in, with a guaranteed horror every hour. 1900 is a gigantic system of defenses—human fallibility immortalized. The film is appalling, yet is has the grandeur of a classic visionary folly. Next to it, all the other new movies are like something you hold up at the end of a toothpick.”

Similar thoughts swirled in my mind as I marveled throughout the last-minute screening a few days before Christmas 2018 of Robert Zemeckis’ Welcome to Marwen. [Read more.]


Unapologetic Stuff: A Review Of KNIFE + HEART

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

KNIFEHEART“Knife + Heart” (Un couteau dans le coeur) has all kinds of stuff. It’s a tumultuous original, dragging worlds of cinema sensation that came before screaming and punching behind it. Begin with “Phantom of the Paradise,” stir in “Peeping Tom,” and “Body Double”; don’t stop at “Poison” or “Cruising” and “Blow Out.” Sex and art commingle in a story reportedly based on fact, and there are no apologies. Vanessa Paradis plays a director of gay pornography in 1979 Paris, fixed on her resistant editor, surrounded by murder after murder of those she knows. Film editing and film projection are among the fetish objects in this 16mm and 35mm-shot visual cornucopia; a contemporary who is as keen a fondler of kino-apparatus and fraught sensation would be Peter Strickland, of “Berberian Sound Studio” and “The Duke of Burgundy.” But where Strickland is a cool-tempered pasticheur of fetish-fragrant texture and light, Yann Gonzalez is a gleefully grandiloquent giallo-style gut-slicer. Porn, sex, murder ensue. [Read more.]

American Charmer: A Review Of The Brink

Friday, April 5th, 2019

The-BRINK-2Alison Klayman’s “The Brink,” an avatar of cinema-vérité observation, arrives in a hush and escalates with precision. Recording political consultant and purported intellectual powerhouse Stephen K. “Steve” Bannon after his dismissal from the arms of Trump power, captured by a filmmaker-cinematographer-sound recordist on their own, edited to a fierce ninety-minute form from day-after-day of close observation of a year in a life of wheeling and huffing and dealing and puffing.

“Facts, just factoids, right now,” Bannon demands in a darkened, shabby room, cracking open another Red Bull, tousling the hair that had once stranded atop a young, somewhat handsome face. He’s trying to lose thirty-five pounds, he says. After leaving the Trump-o-sphere, he says he read articles, looked into the comment section, where, he says, he was called “‘this gross-looking, Jabba the Hutt drunk.’” He looked “scary,” he agrees.

[Read more.]

BYO Yet Another Weekend In Holding Pattern

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

VP Endorsing Anti-Abortion Film

Monday, April 1st, 2019

Kent Jones on Arriving With DIANE

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Kent directs diane

Mary Kay Place offers a performance of grandeur, one that is measured yet seemingly effortless, at the heart of “Diane.” Her breath in the narrative directorial debut of Kent Jones is essential, inhabiting the self-sacrifice of a passing generation of women, and by the end, approaching grace. Diane, whom Jones has described as a composite of several aunts but especially his mother, cares for everyone around her in small-town Massachusetts, but does not tend to herself or her own needs. A life ensues… Place is surrounded by essential performers, including Jake Lacy as her son who can’t shake his addiction, and Andrea Martin, Estelle Parsons, Joyce Van Patten, Deidre O’Connell, Phyllis Sommerville, Glynis O’Connor and Paul McIsaac. Intrigued viewers should discover the story’s emotional contours for themselves; we spoke of the origins of the project. Jones, whose books on film include his collected criticism, “Physical Evidence” and a rich collaborative volume with Olivier Assayas on the French filmmaker’s career, collaborated on documentaries with Martin Scorsese before making 2015’s “Hitchcock/Truffaut.” (Jones is also the director of the New York Film Festival.)

There’s a density of experience condensed and refracted through how you use the land, the topography of where Diane lives and drives and drives through. That’s true. You know I did live it. It was very important to me, I was compelled to craft a movie out of that very experience, something cinematic. From the time I was very young, I lived with [these surroundings], and it developed in my mind over the years. I’m glad of that, that it lived in me for that long, because that’s part of the movie, it was the life that I grew up in, in Massachusetts.

There are filmmakers whose work we both know. For instance, the Dardennes have been insistent that their soil is the soil for their filmmaking. They’re not going to make someone else’s movies, like latter-day Truffaut movies set in Paris, they’re gonna make films in their patch of Belgium. Yeah. I mean, I know them, and… That’s something I really respond to in their work. There’s a quote somewhere from Ezra Pound, where he says, all your metaphors should come from the natural world, from the world around you, not some big metaphor that came out of nowhere.

With those guys, for instance, when you get to the end of The Son, and they take the pieces of wood and wrap the wood in heavy cloth and put it in the back of a truck, you know what you’re seeing is a metaphorical burial, once and for all, of his sons. It happens completely within the material of the world in which they’re living, and what they do, and what he’s training them to do. It’s also at the very beginning of the movie, we hear the sound of a table saw. It comes right at the moment that he recognizes the boy, very early on, and it’s mixed in such a way that it sounds like a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo. It’s an amazing thing, and something that it is very inspiring to me about them. Making a movie where I have the passage of time, and so all of the [scenes with] driving, I’m going to use that. Driving from that place to that place to this place and back-and-forth. It becomes something else as well.

The opening line of your conversation in the press notes sounds like the start of a novel, a distant cousin of “A Hundred Years of Solitude.” It reads, “When I was very young, I wanted to make films—I took a long time to get there, but some things take as long as they need to.” Yeah, well, yes.

It has that sound, but instead of a novel, we have the movie. Could you talk about that? Paul Schrader, of course, has a favorite line like that, too, he’s used so many times, varying Bresson, “It’s taken me so long to come to you.” Right. [laughs]. I think that I was always looking at making movies, and I when I say that, I mean narrative movies. The time it took me [to direct my first feature] was probably more a matter of reticence and intimidation than the sheer machinery. What I finally came to understand was reticence and intimidation are meaningless. You make it anyway. I inched my way toward that by writing, then as I was writing, shedding certain things from very early on, in the way that I wrote. And then getting to make documentaries about filmmaking, and then as a critic becoming more and more interested in the real divergence between the way that films are made and the way that is often is imagined how they are made. And working with Arnaud Desplechin [as co-writer of Jimmy P.], being on peoples’ sets. I was working on another movie that didn’t happen. And it was Olivier Assayas who said to me—that movie had a lot of producers, and we had this amount of money already and were going to get more—and he said, you know, nobody is going to make your film but you. You’re the only one who’s going to direct, nobody else. The way that he has often made movies, something that is possible in France, that is not so possible here, you just start shooting with ten dollars and there’s this momentum behind it and somebody’s got to pay for it. That’s the way he made Irma Vep. He’s right in the sense that other people are going to come up with the money, but you have to prove that you need to make it and stick by it and not stop until you get it done. You know?

Schrader also has that cold metaphor of criticism versus production he’s — being a critic on the outside versus being on the floor, shooting— —I know! I’ve heard the metaphor, I know exactly what it is. Keeping the baby alive versus the autopsy. Y’know… I know Paul and I love Paul, but I think… he’s wrong about that. It doesn’t feel right to me. On the one hand, it implies that in keeping the baby alive, you’re delusional in some way; maybe the baby deserves to die! [Laughs.] Or something like that… and then on the other had, writing criticism is not being a pathologist, it just isn’t. You’re engaged with something that’s alive, you’re alive and you’re responding to it. It’s not the same thing. I’ve never agreed with that metaphor and I remember getting it when I interviewed him for a piece for Cahiers du Cinema. It never seemed right to me…

I’ve always liked his mottos and apothegms. They’re neat and elegant formulas.

So, overcoming reticence, to go beyond being a friend, or observer, or amanuensis, or collaborator with people like Scorsese, Desplechin and Assayas… The times I’ve met them, obviously it’s different, it’s glancing, but I haven’t been intimidated, because of their infectious enthusiasm and energy. These filmmakers are all garrulous and full of ideas. These are guys, Marty, Olivier, Arnaud, these are people who are friends, and they really encouraged me, they saw where I was, they respected it, and then in very different ways, from very different viewpoints, all encouraged me. James Gray as well, who is a friend, the thing is that its not… I don’t know… It’s a matter, what’s the jumping-off point? It’s precisely that. Olivier and I did a talk in Vienna around the time that we did that book published by the Vienna Film Museum. Olivier talked about making movies, and he said, well, the most basic way that I can put it is that I do what I’m afraid of. If you do what you’re afraid enough, then the question of intimidation and reticence becomes beside the point. These become emotions that you experience, and they’re like clouds dissolving into the air, or you just experience them and so what? That was essential for me.

You know, you started by talking about the Dardenne brothers, and I would refer back to their experience making [an early feature] and when they were intimidated by the crew, and the crew basically wound up overruling them, and what resulted was a relatively good movie, but a movie that they didn’t want to make. We’ve all seen those movies, I’ve seen those movies made by other people, and you can always tell when they’re not there, in the movie, for one reason or another. Those guys took two years thinking about it and decided how they were going to work. And that’s what they did.

Diane opens Friday, March 29 in Los Angeles and New York before opening in other cities, including Chicago, and on video-on-demand.

BYO Flying Or Pink Elephants

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

A Review of US (some spoilers)

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

Within Peele’s fabric of film and cultural and historical homages and references, there is still a full-on Jordan Peele movie. And part of a Jordan Peele movie is a quiet roar of allusion after allusion. Peele’s homework for his sensational star, Lupita Nyong’o, included, according to Entertainment Weekly, “The Birds,” “The Shining,” “Dead Again,” the original “Funny Games,” “The Sixth Sense,” “A Tale of Two Sisters,” “Let the Right One In,” “The Babadook” and “It Follows.” Each and every one of those movies can be seen readily refracting facets of “Us.” Through Peele’s gift for mimicry, “Us” still stands apart as its own creation. “Us” is “Us” and those are them. (Peele also locates “Rosemary’s Baby,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Vertigo,” “The Lost Boys” and “Jaws” in his onscreen cosmology.) [Read more.]

BYO Americans: US

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019


BYO Slow Weekend

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

Box Office Results, Boxofficemojo:

Captain Marvel (4,310) – $69m
Wonder Park (3,838) – $13m
Five Feet Apart (2,803) – $10.5m




Friday, March 15th, 2019

Climax Daddy: The Modern Dance With Filmmaker Gaspar Noe

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

CLIMAX-Still-5Gaspar Noé’s “Climax” is a rude, refined, gyroscopic, hurtling mash-up, as the Argentine-French filmmaker has put it, of heaven and hell, smack in “the heart of winter 1996” in a remote schoolhouse where a mass of young dancers celebrate before an American tour. But someone spikes the sangria and celebration spirals into suffering. “Heaven” includes a bravura dance number with a ravishing range of bodies in orchestrations of sensual motion and the camera brandishing its lavish mobility for moments on end; “Hell” is palpitating paranoia, mental and physical, of the sort Noé has trafficked before (as in 2009’s “Enter the Void”) [Read more.]

BYO Carol Danvers

Sunday, March 10th, 2019
Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL..Goose ..Photo: Chuck Zlotnick..©Marvel Studios 2019

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Goose ..Photo: Chuck Zlotnick..©Marvel Studios 2019

Kenneth Turan Marshals Mixed-Cliché Academy Defense That Somehow Invokes The Eating Of Irish Babies In The Second Sentence

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

“I come not to bury the academy, but not necessarily to praise it either. Rather I come, with a nod to Jonathan Swift, with a modest proposal for people to cut it a little slack.”
Kenneth Turan Marshals Mixed-Cliché Academy Defense That Somehow Invokes The Eating Of Irish Babies In The Second Sentence

BYO Another Long Weekend Presenting Everything Live

Friday, February 15th, 2019