MCN Columnists
Kim Voynar

Voynaristic By Kim VoynarVoynar@moviecitynews.com

Sundance 2015 Review: The Second Mother

The intelligent, sometimes biting social commentary woven throughout the film is somewhat reminiscent of Lucretia Martel’s 2008 Cannes entry The Headless Woman, but where that film relied on ethereal cinematography and wove its social commentary enigmatically and almost abstractly, The Second Mother tackles similar issues of class division and human dignity primarily through humor and studies in contrast: Val’s unquestioning acceptance of the social construct versus her smart, modern daughter’s questioning of “the way things are.”

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Voynaristic: The Kids Are (Not Quite) All Right

I realize it’s not the popular thing to say, but I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you that I finally got around to seeing The Kids Are All Right and it was just … all right. Look, it’s not a bad film, by any means. In fact, it may even be a pretty good film. But the best film of the year? Or even in the top ten best films of the year? Not quite.

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Arthouse Redux: Claire Denis: A Little Restraint Goes a Long Way

There are filmmakers who use their medium purely to entertain, or to preach a particular message, or to guide their audience down the path of a particular story, tightly controlling and manipulating their audience’s reactions to what’s on the screen: milking the laughs, exagerrating the conflicts, torquing up both the actions and the reactions of…

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Arthouse Redux: The Fine Art of Balancing Politics and Filmmaking

Since I brought up Walter Salles‘ and Daniela Thomas‘ Linha de Passe in last week’s Arthouse Redux column, I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss that film in greater depth while also revisiting their earlier film, Foreign Land. Salles is perhaps better known to American audiences for his solo directorial efforts with…

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Arthouse Redux: How Very Verite of You

Filipino arthouse director Brillante Mendoza’s 2007 film Tirador (Slingshot) opened in NYC this weekend, but I’m still thinking of the film he made a year later, Serbis. In one of those instances of cinematic scheduling perversity, Tirador is releasing after Serbis, which debuted at Cannes in 2008 after Tirador played at Toronto in 2007. It…

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Long Live the Film Festival

Film festivals are having a rough time of it lately. CineVegas is on hiatus this year, the specter of financial woes hung heavy over the recently concluded Palm Beach International Film Festival, and now Gen Art, after just concluding its New York festival a couple weeks ago, is shuttering completely after 16 years of art and parties….

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Revisiting Synecdoche

SPOILER WARNING : This column is an analysis of Synecdoche, New York and contains heavy spoilers. I saw Charlie Kaufman‘s sublime film Synecdoche, New York for the third time at this year’s Ebertfest. I was interested to overhear the post-screening conversations outside the Virginia Theater after the screening, because I’ve always connected strongly to Kaufman’s work, and…

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Why Kick-Ass Isn’t Reprehensible, Morally or Otherwise

Now that I’ve reviewed Kick-Ass, the movie, I thought I’d take a moment to write about the most controversial aspect of the film: Hit-Girl, the 11-year-old vigilante trained by her father to kill bad guys. The part of Hit-Girl, played rather brilliantly by the now-13-year-old Chloe Moretz, begs the question (yet again) of where the lines in…

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Anime, Hot Chicks and Feminism

What’s so great about anime and manga? And isn’t most of it sexist and objectifying of women, anyhow? I am not an anime expert, but I do know about vile attitudes towards women, and in general, I find more in anime and manga that’s empowering towards women than vile. While it’s true that some anime…

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Kevin Smith vs. Film Critics

By now you’ve probably heard about this whole  Eric D. Snider, who Tweeted back thusly: “I don’t care what @thatkevinsmith thinks about movie reviews unless he paid to read them.” Let’s be clear here: attending free screenings is a privilege, not a First Amendment right, but it is a privilege that, generally speaking, benefits the…

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From Rapunzel to Tangled? Disney’s Dicey Decision

Hot on the heels of Kathryn Bigelow‘s historic moment as the first female to win a Best Director Oscar for making a decidedly “guy” film comes word via the LA Times from Disney that they’ve changed the title of their upcoming animated adaptation of Rapunzel to Tangled. Apparently someone at the Mouse House did a little research into why The…

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Thoughts on Oscar Night: Bigelow, Precious and a Screenplay Snub

Finally. History was made Sunday night when Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director. Surprisingly, there’s not been much posturing about whether Bigelow won the award because her work actually merited it above the work of the other nominees, or whether she won because it was “time” for a woman…

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Male vs. Female? On Double Standards in Film Criticism

A comment on a post over on Glenn Kenny’s blog got me pondering: Do the mostly male, mostly heterosexual writers who dominate the business of reviewing films have two standards — one by which they review films aimed at women, and another by which they judge films aimed at men — and does such a double-standard…

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The Care and Feeding of Your Indie Film on the Fest Circuit

When I was at the Oxford Film Festival last weekend, one of the things I was asked to do was moderate a panel called “Speed Pitch,” in which filmmakers had the opportunity to sign up to pitch their ideas (either the film they had in the fest, or other projects they have in the works)…

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So Many Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

Published under 1,000 Monkeys. When people I interact with in my professional life learn that I have five children (and a grandchild, even!) they are often astonished. These days, the idea of someone having a large family is (at least outside of homeschooling or Amish circles) a bit out-of-fashion. I get asked a lot of…

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Oscar, Schmoscar

I haven’t been able to get that excited about the Oscars this year. Probably it’s partly because I was pretty much out of the movie loop for five or so months dealing with illness, but partly, to be honest, it’s this whole idea of ten best picture nominees that has me feeling decidedly “meh” about…

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Of Romance and Fairy Tales, and Happily Ever After

Published under 1,000 Monkeys. Do such things as “true love” and “soul mates” actually exist outside the realm of fantasy and fairy tales, or are we just setting ourselves up from childhood with an unrealistic expectations of what our romantic relationships as adults are going to be? There was a time, back when I was…

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Review Roundup: Avatar, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Lovely Bones and Up in the Air

Avatar Avatar, James Cameron’s first film since the record-breaking Titanic way back in 1997, doesn’t quite live up to it’s hype, but it’s nonetheless a solid enough effort bolstered by some stunning visuals that immerse the viewer in the world Cameron has created. The world in question is a place called Pandora which, as it…

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And Now, the Rest of the Story

Published under 1,000 Monkeys. You have a lot of time to read when you’re laid up recovering from surgery. Thankfully, a friend gave me a gift I will treasure forever, Donald Miller‘s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. One of the things Miller talks about in this book is Story (yes, in the Robert McKee sense)  —…

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It’s Beginning to Look at Lot Like Sundance

Each December, in addition to the flurry of screeners that come whirling down the chimney for the consideration of film critics far and wide, comes the announcement of the lineup of the Sundance Film Festival. Some years the fest is pretty awesome, other years it’s mundane, but there’s always that hope, that sense of anticipation when the press releases…

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas