MCN Columnists
Kim Voynar

Voynaristic By Kim VoynarVoynar@moviecitynews.com

Sundance: Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary, The Magic Life of V and Walden

What sets “Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary” apart is that about midway through the film there’s a plot twist, followed by another plot twist, followed by a period of tense relationship between documentarian and subject that left Berman sad, morose, feeling badly used, and uncertain as to whether he’d ever finish his film. It’s here that “Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary,” not unlike “Winnebago Man,” becomes a film as much about the filmmaker unearthing deep and sometimes unpleasant truths about himself and ultimately becoming part of his own film, as it is about the subject the film thought it was going to be when it grew up.

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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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Quote Unquotesee all »

The Atlantic: You saw that the Academy Awards recently held up your 2001 acceptance speech as the Platonic ideal of an Oscar speech. Did you have a reaction?

Soderbergh: Shock and dismay. When that popped up and people started texting me about it, I said, “Oh, it’s too bad I’m not there to tell the story of how that took place.” Well. I was not sober at the time. And I had nothing prepared because I knew I wasn’t going to win [Best Director for Traffic]. I figured Ridley, Ang or Daldry would win. So I was hitting the bar pretty hard, having a great night, feeling super-relaxed because I don’t have to get up there. So the combination of a 0.4 blood alcohol level and lack of preparation resulted in me, in my state of drunkenness crossed with adrenaline surge. I was coherent enough to know that [if I tried to thank everyone], that way lies destruction. So I went the other way. There were some people who appreciated that, and there were some people who really wanted to hear their names said, and I had to apologize to them.
~ Steven Soderbergh

 

“I have made few films in a way. I never made action films. I never made science fiction films. I never made, really, very complicated settings, because I had modest ambitions. I knew they would never trust me to have the budget to do something different, so my mind is more focused on things I know. So they were always mental adventures I wanted to approach and share. Working for cinema with no – not only no money, but also no ambition for money. I was happy and proud [to receive the honorary Oscar] because of that, that [the Academy] could understand what kind of work I have done over 60 years. I stayed faithful to the ideal of sharing emotion, impressions, and mostly because I have so much empathy for other people that I approach people who are not really spoken about. I have 65 years of work in my bag, and when I put the bag down, what comes out? It’s really the desire of finding links and relationships with different kinds of people. I never made a film about the bourgeoisie, about rich people. about nobility. My choices have been to show people that are, in a way, more common and see that each of them has something special and interesting, rare and beautiful. It’s my natural way of looking at people. I didn’t fight my instincts. And maybe that has been appreciated in the famous circle of Hollywood.“

Agnes Varda