MCN Columnists

Movie City Indie

Pride, Unprejudiced: DEKALOG, THE NEON DEMON, CITY OF GOLD

Made for Polish television for 1988 broadcast, the ten short films of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s glorious masterpiece, Dekalog, are loosely based on the ten commandments, loosely enough that the then-47-year-old filmmaker resisted identifying which installment was based on which commandment

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Pride

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?”

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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.”

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Pride, Unprejudiced: A Brighter Summer Day; Hail, Caesar!

Its multitude of astonishments include a sure, novelistic mastery of accruing details in an expansive shape that is built upon observation of the smallest moments, gestures, blood-boiling fixations, fetish objects, mortal desires, moral frustrations.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“To be a critic is to be a workaholic. Workaholism is socially conditioned: viewed favourably by exploiters, it’s generally ruinous to a worker’s mental health. When T.S. Eliot said criticism was as inevitable as breathing, he failed to mention that, respiratory problems notwithstanding, breathing is easy. Criticism is reflexive before reflective: to formalise/industrialise an involuntary instinct requires time, effort and discipline. The reason we seek remuneration, as opposed to the self-hatred of being a scab, is because all labour should be waged…

“Criticism, so the cliché by now goes, is dying. None of the panel discussions on its death agony, however—including those in which I’ve formally participated—come at it from the wider perspective that the problem surely needs. They defend the ways in which criticism functions in relation to the industry and to the public, but they fail to contextualise these relationships as defined by ultimately rotten and self-harming imperatives.

“Criticism was a noble profession so long as only a few could practice it for money; when the field expands, as it has with a so-called ‘democratisation’ of our practice, those few lose their political power. Competition grows and markets are undercut: publications are naturally going to start paying less. Precarity is both cause and effect of a surplus workforce: the reason you’re only as good as your last article is because there are plenty of other folks who can write the next one in your place. The daily grind is: pitch, or perish.

B”ut criticism, so a counter-cliché goes, is not dying. An irony: this is an elite sport that is no longer elite in terms of who is able to practice it, but in economic terms it’s clutching to a perverse and outmoded hierarchical structure. It’s more meritocratic than ever, now: which is to say it isn’t meritocratic at all. That’s a paradox in bad need of a resolution…”

~ Michael Pattison Manifestoes Film Criticism

“It’s easy to forget when you’re reading a critic every single week or multiple times a week, that most of us who do this job, and have been doing it for a long time, understand that this is basically a parasitic profession. I don’t mean in the sense that we’re evil bloodsucking creatures, but we couldn’t exist if we didn’t have something to analyze. And I’m always conscious of that. So whether I like or don’t like a particular thing you do, my point of view is always that of an appreciator. I just like to be in the world that you create.”
~ Matt Zoller Seitz To Sam Esmail

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