MCN Columnists

Movie City Indie

Jonathan Demme in the Modern World: On MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (2004)

Unlike his actors, Demme saw John Frankenheimer’s film on its first release. “I saw the original when I was a teenager,” he tells me. “I was an avid moviegoer, I saw everything,” he says, hardly taking a breath. DEMME: Everything, everything. I was really hooked on movies at a very young age. The Manchurian Candidate,…

Read the full article »

Pride

FIFTY-PLUS FILMS FOR 2016

In 2016, I saw as many movies as most years (even if when I couldn’t review them all on first release), and I took an additional month to catch up and make room for some second and third look-sees. May the coming year reveal distribution and exhibition creativity to match the grand diversity of movies in 2016.

Read the full article »

Pride, Unprejudiced: Sunset Song, Weiner, The Invitation

A high point among so many, flawed only by a small, smoothing cut, is in the Weiner-Abedin kitchen one morning, when Abedin is asked how she’s doing. She pauses, there’s a cut, she says flatly, “It’s like living in a nightmare.” She smiles, all poise and resolve and red lipstick and white teeth and hightails it out of the frame. Second only to that is Weiner turning to his interrogators in the back of his car, “Isn’t the fly on the wall technique, doesn’t that have a little to do with the notion of not being seen or heard, you just kind of pick up what goes on around you?”

Read the full article »

Pride, Unprejudiced: LOUDER THAN BOMBS With Joachim Trier

“Gabriel Byrne gave him credit by saying that he had never worked with a cinematographer that was so involved, which means he’s there, he knows the blocking, he’s emoting, Jacob Ihre, I’ve seen in our collaboration both start laughing and start crying during scenes we shot, because he’s very engaged with what’s going on. Which I think he doesn’t laugh too loud or weep too loud But that matters. There is a tradition, you know, this tradition, this kind of close-up esthetic in Scandinavian cinema, from Dreyer through Bergman. On some level, I love being serious about that.”

Read the full article »

Quote Unquotesee all »

Who are the critics speaking to?
Nobody seems able to answer the question of how you can make theatre criticism more appealing, more clickworthy. One answer is to be a goddamn flamethrower every week, be a bombthrower, to write scorched-earth reviews. Just be completely hedonistic and ego-driven in your criticism, become a master stylist, and treat everything in front of you onstage as fodder for your most delicious and vicious language. That’s one road. And people may enjoy your writing. The thing that’s sacrificed is any sense of a larger responsibility, and any aesthetic consistency. I don’t think anyone is following that model right now—just being a complete jerk.

Well, Rex Reed is still writing.
Ah. Well, you can also be a standard bearer, and insist that work doesn’t measure up to your high standards. But I think the art makes the standards. I’m not going to sit there and say, “This is the way you do Shakespeare.” I believe that every play establishes its own standards, and our job is to just evaluate it. But everybody’s looking for the formula for how to talk about culture so that people who don’t have any time to read want to read about it. Is there something beyond thumbs-up, thumbs-down criticism? I would hope there’s a way to talk about a theatre event in real time—meaning while it’s still going on—in a way that’s engaging, funny, witty, and evaluates the elements of the thing. But it’s like if you had a friend who was like, “Gee, are you working out? You look great. But that’s a terrible haircut.” Nobody wants that person around.
~ Time Out’s 17-Year Theatre Critic, David Cote, Upon His Exit

“Now I am awake to the world. I was asleep before. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up either. They said it would be temporary. Nothing changes instantaneously. In a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”
“The Handmaid’s Tale,” Bruce Miller