Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Three Music Films by Mathieu Amalric at the New York Film Festival 2017

Barbara Hannigan subject of two of Mathieu Amalric's films
The New York Film Festival screened three short documentaries by Mathieu Amalric who is best known as being an actor. Amalric started behind the camera and made the switch when director Arnaud Desplechin began to cast him in roles.

Amalric has directed more films than the 17 listed at IMDB. I say that with certainty since the films that played the New York Film Festival are not listed in his credits. While he is a very good director of fiction films, it is in his documentaries that he truly shines to the point it could, and should be argued that he is one of the finest documentary filmmakers working today

C’est presque au bout du monde (France, 2015, 16m)
Short film made at the request of the Paris Opera is a portrait of Barbara Hannigan warming up her voice and rehearsing for a performance. Stunningly shot the film is an almost too intimate portrait of an artist getting ready to give her best. It is a sensual experience as the marriage of word and music come together to create something tactile.

Zorn (2010-2017) (France, 2017, 54m)
Let me cut to the chase- this is one of the best films of the New York Film Festival and of 2017. It also may very well be one of the best documentaries ever made - I'm talking top three or five.

Started as a project for TV this film spun out of control and has been, and still is, a work in progress. This is a portrait of musician John Zorn as shot by a close friend. There are no voice overs, no explanations, there is simply Zorn over the years performing, joking, laughing and watching with his friends and other musicians. Clearly shot on the fly by someone with whom Zorn trusts completely this is a documentary that is unlike any other. There is a level of ease and openness no other music documentary has ever had because no other music doc was shot like this, piece meal here and there when friends were just hanging out.

It will amaze and delight you even if you don't know Zorn's music simply because this is so inside  as to make you feel like  you were there.

I need to mention Amalric's use of editing. Watching the film you will quickly realize that his use of sound and image is unlike most things being done today. Working with editor Caroline Detournay he has made a film that stays in your eyes and ears long after the film has finished.

A masterpiece and one of the truly best music docs you will ever see.

(Now if he would only finish it)

Music Is Music (France, 2017, 21m)
Again working with Barbra Hannigan and editor Caroline Detournay, Amalric gives us a portrait of Hannigan as she is putting together her latest album, and the Girl Cray suite in particular.We watch as Hannigan conducts the orchestra and is prodded into singing along with her.

A more fully formed portrait of Hannigan, this is delightful piece that really takes us into the soul of the performer. It is a wonderful little film that makes you wish that this was longer and covered the making of the whole album.

And this is also a fantastic showing of Amalric as a manipulator of sound and image as he sucks us into becoming intimate with the woman at it's center.

Worth tracking down.

(This film is available on Hannigan's latest CD which comes with a DVD full of extras)

Below is the Q&A that followed the NYFF screening where Amararic, Hannigan and Detournay discuss the making of the films

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Metrograph explores the history of Gothic


30+ Films Tracing the Evolution of Gothic to Goth Culture on Screen
from Nosferatu and Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages to The Craft and Lost Highway
A long, twisting road touched by fingers of cold fog connects 18th and 19th century Gothic fiction to the goth subcultures of the 80s and 90s. This rich literary genre is matched by an equally fascinating cinematic legacy, borrowing from the morbid imaginations of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Brontë, Bram Stoker and, yes, Stephenie Meyer, and beset with images of crumbling castle keeps, blood-thirsty vampires, and black-clad mistresses of the dark. It is a legacy that spans from German Expressionism to Golden Age Hollywood to Hammer Films to the morose creations of young American filmmakers inspired by the burgeoning goth/ industrial/ death rock music scene in the 1980s. First used as a derogatory term to describe the excesses of a 12th-century architectural style, the term "Gothic" was reclaimed by Romantic revivalists who gloried in excess, as Gothic cinema and the goth subculture would later be defined in small part by their over-the-top, baroque qualities and a touch of willful kitsch, seen here in films by figures as diverse as James Whale (Bride of Frankenstein, 1935), Paul Morrissey (Blood for Dracula, 1974), and Gregg Araki (The Doom Generation, 1995).  “Goth(ic)," beginning December 1, brings together a mob of melancholy monsters, hexed aristocrats, Udo Kier as Dracula, the unparalleled '90s ensembles of The Craft (1996), and more! Velvet choker optional, but recommended.
Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (Benjamin Christensen/1922/1968/91 mins/DCP)
Mad Dane Christensen stirred up this heady brew of a film, an “expose” on the hidden history of the occult that combines re-enactments, animations, and a bevy of Boschian imagery to make what might be the proto-cult movie. Shown here in the condensed 1968 version narrated by Beat icon William S. Burroughs in his unmistakable Midwestern drawl and featuring a hectic, hallucinatory jazz soundtrack by a combo featuring Jean-Luc Ponty.

Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau/1922/81 mins/DCP)
The O.G. bloodsucker, in many ways Murnau’s unlicensed adaptation of Bram Stroker’s Dracula is still unrivalled in the sense of disgust and creeping dread it sustains. Max Schreck’s spindle-fingered vampire Count Orlok is a verminous nightmare, the uncanny horror of his presence augmented through the use of fast-motion and reverse negative photography and ingenious shadowplay with a life of its own.

Dracula (Tod Browning/1931/85 mins/35mm)
“Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.” All of modern vampiredom issued out from under the cloak of Bela Lugosi’s suave, seductive Transylvanian Count, his every carefully-enunciated line reading the stuff of legend. Working with Freaks director Browning and German Expressionist veteran cinematographer Karl Freund, Lugosi helped kick off the Universal horror cycle of the 1930s, creating the definitive screen interpretation of Dracula along the way.

Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale/1935/75 mins/35mm)
Long before Susan Sontag codified “camp,” Whale mastered it in this sequel to his Universal hit, which brought back Boris Karloff’s monster and Colin Clive’s Dr. Frankenstein, then added Ernest Thesiger as the imperiously, impossibly fey Doctor Pretorius and Elsa Lanchester in a double role as both the bouffanted bride and, in an opening which imagines the first imagining of the monster, as Mary Shelley.

Wuthering Heights (William Wyler/1939/104 mins/35mm)
Emily Brontë’s 1847 tale of the doomed romance between surly Yorkshire gypsy-cum-gentryman Heathcliff and Catherine, the love of his childhood years, has been filmed many times, though never so beautifully as in this richly atmospheric Wyler production that goes only as far as Chapter 17 in Brontë’s book, starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in the lead roles, with a pre-Citizen Kane Gregg Toland successfully evoking the fog-wreathed English moors in southern California.

Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock/1940/130 mins/35mm)
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again…” Hitchcock never won Best Director outright, and he was still a newly-arrived UK import when this gothic thriller, starring Joan Fontaine as a nameless young woman who becomes enamored with a saturnine, aristocratic widower (Oliver, fresh from Wuthering Heights), took Outstanding Production (later “Best Picture”) honors. A marvel of directorial assurance, which turns the screws with assurance and panache.

House of Usher (Roger Corman/1960/79 mins/35mm)
The first of Corman’s eight-film cycle of deliriously stylish, extravagantly colorful Edgar Allan Poe adaptations has the director’s go-to star Vincent Price as Roderick Usher, accursed owner a mansion hemmed in by a blasted black swamp and his conviction of being under a hereditary curse. Shown with Jean Epstein’s own Usher, a mélange of themes from several Poe tales, and an influential lodestone of the surrealist cinema.

The Innocents (Jack Clayton/1961/100 mins/DCP)
The deep focus black-and-white CinemaScope photography of Freddie Francis establishes the feeling of a terrible, lucid dream in Clayton’s adaptation of Henry James’s celebrated psychological horror tale “The Turn of the Screw,” starring Deborah Kerr as a governess who finds herself harassed by supernatural visions while minding two young children in a remote manse. One of the most frightening haunted house stories ever made, and an influence on John Carpenter’s Halloween, among countless other films.

The Haunting (Robert Wise/1963/112 mins/35mm)
The “Old Dark House” setting, a staple of Gothic fiction, was given a new lease on life in this harrowing cinematic dark ride by former Val Lewton director Wise, an ingenious work of devilish, leering camera trickery in which an ensemble cast including Julie Harris and Russ Tamblyn are assembled for a stay at a mansion which appears to house a very unquiet poltergeist. 
The Devil Rides Out (Terence Fisher/1968/95 mins/DCP)
Through the sunny counterculture Utopianism of the 1960s, England’s Hammer Film Productions remained lurking in the shadows. The Devil Rides Out shows Hammer at the height of its powers, reuniting a steely, imperious Christopher Lee and maestro Fisher, working from Richard Matheson’s superb adaptation of Dennis Wheatley’s novel. Investigating a satanic plot leads Lee’s Duc de Richleau, on the side of good for once, into a black magick circle led by Charles Gray, and face-to-face with occult horrors.  

The Tomb of Ligeia (Roger Corman/1964/82 mins/35mm)
Price is back front-and-center for the finale of Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe cycle, here playing another isolated 19
th century nobleman brooding amidst lavish period décor—this time he’s condemned by vision problems to wear tinted glasses, and haunted by the spirit of his deceased first wife, which lives on in the persecutorial presence of a malignant black cat. With a script by future Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne, channeling the poetry of Poe. 
Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told (Jack Hill/1967/81 mins/35mm)
There’s more than a touch of southern-fried Gothic in this unclassifiable drive-in number by Hill, who finds an unsettling balance of farce and tragedy while reworking the classic “hereditary curse” tropes. Chauffeur Lon Chaney, Jr. attempts to cover up the cannibalistic indiscretions of his charges, the Merrye family, as distant relations try to sell their house out from under them.
Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski/1968/137 mins/35mm)
Satanists are on the loose in Central Park West in Polanski’s slow-burn thriller, which gives new meaning to the phrase “pregnancy scare.” Young couple Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes make friendly with elder neighbor couple Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer, but when isolated and expecting her first child, Farrow’s harried Rosemary starts to wonder why everyone is so eager for her to get a daily dosage of tannis root.
Blood for Dracula (Paul Morrissey/1974/106 mins/35mm)
Cult actor Udo Kier straps on the fangs for Warhol Factory house director Paul Morrissey, playing a sickly, dying Dracula in search of virgin blood in the 1920s Italian countryside who thinks he’s found salvation when he arrives at the family seat of the Marchese de Fiore (Vittorio De Sica), home to the nobleman, his three beautiful, blooming daughters, and—to his great misfortune—the meddling, Marxist caretaker (Joe Dallesandro).
Fascination (Jean Rollin/1979/80 mins/DCP)
A genre unto himself, the Frenchman Rollin was a one-man industry turning out supernaturally-tinged, erotically-charged films connected to the legacy of 1920s surrealism, movies that had the feeling of sad fairy tales. Fascination is one of his best and best-loved, a hypnotic, dream logic-driven period piece set in motion when a thief takes refuge in a château presided over by beautiful Brigitte Lahaie and Franca Maï, a film that begins with abattoir home remedies and leads to swinging aristocrats and swinging scythes.  

Nosferatu the Vampyre (Werner Herzog/1979/107 mins/35mm)
Herzog brashly took up the mantle of German Expressionism in revisiting the unhallowed soil of Murnau’s masterpiece, with old foe and collaborator Klaus Kinski as the pestilent Count and Isabelle Adjani as the owner of the pale, slender neck that he so dearly desires to drink of. Working for the first time with international financing, Herzog was able to unleash horror on a truly epic scale, with both Mexican mummies and an ocean of rats playing in his symphony of terror. 

Possession (Andrzej Żuławski/1981/124 mins/35mm)
Easily the most harrowing divorce drama ever made, Żuławski’s one-of-a-kind genre pastiche has spy Sam Neill returning to his Berlin home from a mission abroad to discover that wife Isabelle Adjani wants suddenly to split up. Launching an investigation into the reasons for her ever-more-alarming behavior, he discovers a truth more sinister—and nauseating—than his wildest suspicions, as Zulawski’s highly-choreographed cinematic delirium and Andrzej Korzyński’s pulsating score push things light years past over the top. 
The Hunger (Tony Scott/1983/97 mins/35mm)
A lush vampire romance with sex and style to spare, much of it provided by stars Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie, a couple of posh, centuries-old nightclubbing New York bloodsuckers who, when one begins to show the first signs of aging, recruit assistance from Susan Sarandon’s geriatrics researcher, then find themselves in a very, very attractive throuple. Yes, that’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” artists Bauhaus in a brief cameo.

Vampire Hunter D (Toyoo Ashida/1985/80 mins/DCP)
Call it goth futurism: In the year 12,090 AD, the decimated remains of humanity live on as chattel for the ruling vampire class. Some, though, have chosen to fight back—like Doris Lang, who, rather than become the bride of Count Magnus Lee, employs the services of the eponymous D. Chic and ultraviolent, with an iconic look supplied by Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano.

Gothic (Ken Russell/1986/87 mins/35mm)
Russell goes back to ground zero of gothic horror, to the dark and stormy night at Lord Byron’s Lake Geneva villa in 1816—also depicted in Bride of Frankenstein—that led to Mary Shelley writingFrankenstein and Dr. John William Polidori writing The Vampyre. With Natasha Richardson (in her film debut) and Julian Sands as the Shelleys, Gabriel Byrne as Byron, Timothy Spall as repressed homosexual Polidori, and a parade of mind-bending hallucinatory visuals set to Thomas Dolby’s synth score. 

The Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher/1987/97 mins/35mm)
A paragon of high 80s style and Schumacher’s finest hour, The Lost Boys transfers the vampire legend to sunny beachfront Santa Carla, California, where brothers Corey Haim and Jason Patric run afoul of a vampire gang run by Kiefer Sutherland. (As in Near Dark, the trouble starts with a teenage crush.) Imminently quotable (“Death by stereo!”) with hooks to match courtesy a doomy pop soundtrack anchored by Gerard McMahon’s “Cry Little Sister.”

Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow/1987/94 mins/35mm)
Southern farm boy Adrian Pasdar takes a fancy to pallid stranger Jenny Wright, but later has occasion to regret it when he meets her “family”—a gang of hungry, pistol-packing vampires terrorizing the southwestern countryside in a roving RV, their number including Lance Henriksen and the lamented Bill Paxton. An brilliant breakout by Bigelow, who combines ravishing romanticism, pitch-black comedy, and repurposed western iconography.

Beetlejuice (Tim Burton/1988/92 mins/35mm)
With her delivery of the line “My whole life is a dark room… One. Big. Dark. Room,” Winona Ryder cemented herself as a goth girl heroine for the ages, a brooding teen in widow’s weeds relocated by her parents to a creaky manse that happens to be haunted by the unquiet spirits of owners Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, egged on in mischief-making by Michael Keaton’s Ghost with the Most, whose own hidden motives are rather more malevolent.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola/1992/128 mins/35mm)
Coppola at his most deliriously baroque, Gary Oldman wearing cinema’s most iconic updo, a puppyish young Keanu Reeves trying to make his way back to Winona Ryder, and Anthony Hopkins as vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing—it’s all here in this opulent production which returns to the original Stoker text and draws out all of the piercing sexual ache and romantic longing.

Cemetery Man (Michele Soavi/1994/105 mina/35mm)
A late flowering of Italian genre cinema to rival anything from the Golden Age of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Soave’s adaptation of the popular comic series Dylan Dog starring lantern-jawed Rupert Everett as the minder of the Buffalora cemetery, where the newly dead require diligent re-killing. Brings an absurdist sense of humor, fatalist romanticism, and dynamic camera sense to the zombie movie, with a beguiling ending that’ll have you saying “Gnah?”

The Crow (Alex Proyas/1994/102 mins/35mm)
Both a star-making vehicle and a memorial to its late star, Brandon Lee, Proyas’s Detroit-set story of the titular undead superhero’s one-man war against the criminal underworld is acutely attuned to the grimy glamor of post-industrial rot, with Lee’s commanding leading man turned backed by a grunge/ industrial/ shoegaze soundtrack that’s a classic in its own right. Based on James O’Barr’s independent comic.

Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan/1994/123 mins/35mm)
Years in the making, this Grand Guignol adaptation of Anne Rice’s 1976 novel of the same name was deliciously overripe by the time that it finally hit screens courtesy of Crying Game director Jordan, who gives the necessary pomp and swirl to the story of the centuries-long tutelage between vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) and his newly-turned charge, Louis (Brad Pitt), from 18th century Louisiana to the present day.

The Doom Generation (Gregg Araki/1995/83 mins/35mm)
In what he cheekily dubbed his “Heterosexual Film,” Araki follows a trio of gorgeous, disaffected youths with primary color-coded names (James Duval, Rose McGowan, Johnathon Schaech) across an all-American hellscape rendered in assaultive artificial colors, their flight a channel-surf through bizarre celebrity cameos, preceded by a run-in with a pack of homophobes portrayed by band Skinny Puppy.

The Craft (Andrew Fleming/1996/101 mins/35mm)
A stone-cold sleepover classic, The Craft has Robin Tunney’s new arrival at a Los Angeles high school discovering her telekinetic abilities and subsequently attracting the attention of a nascent coven of witches made up of Neve Campbell, Rachel True, and Fairuza Balk. It’s all fun and games at first, but the violent emotions accompanying of teenaged friendships and grudges become dangerous when sorcery is involved.

Lost Highway (David Lynch/1997/134 mins/35mm)
Lynch has always been a filmmaker unusually attuned to pop music, and at the time of Lost Highway he was deep into goth-metal crunch. The film is a noir-inflected, shape-shifting southern California deathtrip, features several slabs of Rammstein, a Marilyn Manson cameo, and a soundtrack compiled by Trent Reznor, then very far from Academy Award-winning respectability.

Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke/2008/122 mins/DCP)
The Young Adult source material wasn’t promising, but thanks to director Hardwicke’s deep understanding of and love for teenage self-dramatizing, the lushly melancholy atmosphere of the Washington State setting, and the enormous charisma of very young leads Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart, Twilight came out a modern pop classic, introducing the pleasures of pale posturing angst to a whole new generation.

Philippe Garrel: Part 2 at Metrograph

Largest U.S. Career Retrospective of Garrel Continues November 10 with
Un Ange passe (An Angel Passes), La Naissance de l’amour (The Birth of Love),
the Newly Restored Le vent de la nuit (Night Wind)and more! 

Garrel's Regular Lovers Receives Extended Engagement
Beginning November 5
Metrograph’s Philippe Garrel retrospective, the most complete ever undertaken in North America, continues in November, on the mission described by Nicholas Elliott when discussing the first part of the retro in 4Columns, to “finally establish [Garrel] here as the towering post-New Wave filmmaker that he is recognized as in France.” Part 2 includes a mid-70s masterwork of stark poetry (Un Ange passe), major works from the 1990’s starring major figures of French cinema, including Catherine Deneuve and Jean-Pierre Leaud, three recent works starring son Louis, and a special engagement of the modern-classicRegular Lovers
Un Ange passe (An Angel Passes) (1975/79 mins/35mm)
Many of the familiar faces in the Garrel universe—father Maurice, Laurent Terzieff, Bulle Ogier, and Nico in a stunning live performance sequence, framed by the dark of the night sky.  A bridge between the silentLes Hautes Solitudes and the narrative L'enfant secret, this is one of the most singular works of a singular career.
Les ministères de l’art (1989/52 mins/Digital) with Rue Fontaine (1984/17 min/35mm) andPhilippe Garrel, Artiste (Françoise Etchgaray/1999/50min/Digital)
A tender salute to the generation of French filmmakers, the Post-New Wave, the generation which happens to be Garrel’s own. Featured figures include Jacques Doillon, Chantal Akerman, Juliet Berto, and Léos Carax, though the central figure is the absent Jean Eustache, who had taken his own life in 1981. With Rue Fontaine, Garrel’s contribution to the omnibus film Paris vu par… 20 ans après, and Philippe Garrel, Artiste - an interview with the filmmaker.
La Naissance de l’amour (The Birth of Love) (1993/94 mins/35mm)
Jean-Pierre Léaud and Lou Castel (both of whom made their acting auspicious debuts in the equally auspicious directing debuts of François Truffaut and Marco Bellocchio, here are found trying to shake off the doldrums of middle-age and romantic confusion by getting out of Paris together. Gorgeously photographed by the legendary Raoul Coutard in black and white, this self-analytic study in arrested adolescence plays out against the backdrop of the ongoing Gulf War, which brings with it the additional sting of political disappointment. Original score by John Cale.

Le Coeur fantôme (The Phantom Heart (1996/87 mins/35mm)
A variation on the figure of the romantic triangle, one which endlessly fascinates Garrel, Le Coeur fantômestars Rego as a painter who begins a new relationship with a university student after leaving his unfaithful wife, only to find himself gutted with guilt over leaving his two children behind. Richly textured, and evidence of Garrel’s unusual, little-commented-on gift for directing children. “Unjustly overlooked” - Kent Jones.

Le vent de la nuit (Night Wind) (1999/95 mins/DCP)
A meeting between two elemental forces of the French cinema, Garrel and Catherine Deneuve, Le vent de la nuit looks back to Garrel’s stern, cold productions of the 1970s, depicting a world where suicide is the only escape from the incessant demands of the past. With Deneuve as an unhappy housewife, Xavier Beauvois her young lover, and a lovely score courtesy of John Cale. A marvel of sustained rhythm and tone. New Digital Restoration, overseen by cinematographer Caroline Champantier.

Un été brûlant (A Burning Hot Summer) (2011/95 mins/DCP)
With his usual psychological acuity, Garrel explores the manner in which couples measure themselves against one another. Louis Garrel’s painter is married to actress Monica Bellucci; when a film takes her from Paris to Rome, they travel there together and meet with another, younger couple, Jérôme Robart and Céline Sallette—but when the women start to bond, their conversations cause them to call into question the happiness of their relationships. “I’ve dedicated the film to Frédéric Pardo.  I wanted to immortalize a part of him in the film but without lapsing into fetishism." – Philippe Garrel

La jalousie (Jealousy) (2013/77 mins/DCP)
In the first film to be completed after the death of his father, Maurice, Garrel has his son Louis playing a character based on the old man, an actor specializing in the French classics, in the process of leaving one woman for another, only to find himself tormented by jealousy as he settles in with young Claudia (Anna Mouglalis). “It is almost uncanny how well you feel you know these people, even as their motives and behavior remain opaque to one another.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
L’ombre des femmes (The Shadow of Women) (2015/73 mins/DCP)
In his most recent film Garrel returns to the subject that fascinates him above all others: The dynamics of coupledom, and the deceptions and omissions that intimacy breeds. Stanislas Merhar and Clotilde Courau are a fortysomething pair working together as filmmakers, each unfaithful to the other. Co-written with wife Caroline Deruas and legendary Buñuel collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière, this exquisite miniature offers an acute study in imprisoning intimacy and masculine pig-headedness.
Sundays Beginning November 5
Special Monthlong Engagement
Regular Lovers
Philippe Garrel's Career-Spanning Masterwork Screens with Actua 1, His May '68 Short
May ’68—and after–the moment of collective uprising, the comedown of returning to a world fundamentally unchanged—is an event absolutely central to Philippe Garrel’s worldview. After decades of distortion and misinformation on both the French right and left, to further agendas and re-write history, Garrel felt compelled to portray the period as it was by someone who was there, and correct the historical record for future generations. François is our guide (played by Garrel's son Louis), a young poet who goes from the exhilaration of the barricades to the exhaustion of drug addiction and aimlessness. Shot in 1:33Academy ratio (full-frame) black-and-white that makes the 1960s seem near to the 19th century, the film combines youthful romance with adult rue, and introduced Garrel anew to the United States. A vintage 35mm print of Regular Lovers screens with Actua 1, his thought-to-be-lost short film shot by a twenty year old Garrel, in May ‘ 68. A Film Desk release.

INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE FILM FESTIVAL, November 9–12, 2017 at The Museum of the Moving Image

Festival to feature U.S. Premieres of The Brawler by Anurag Kashyap and Pahuna,produced by Priyanka Chopra

The opening night film is Dark Wind by Nila Madhab Panda, and the Festival closes with Prakash Kunte’s Cycle.
Three films are from the underrepresented northeast of India, and half of all the Festival’s films are directed by women.

NEW YORK, NY, October 17th, 2017 — After a successful launch in 2016, Museum of the Moving Image and The India Center Foundation present the second annual India Kaleidoscope Film Festival (IKFF), to take place from November 9 through 12, 2017. India Kaleidoscope is a new festival that will present film lovers with a chance to immerse themselves in the unique sights and sounds that make up the Indian regional, independent film landscape. These films, which explore the most relevant and pressing topics facing the subcontinent, are being made by today’s most progressive filmmakers working in regional languages. This year, India Kaleidoscope will span seven different regional Indian languages and include new programming initiatives that bring independent regional Indian cinema to an even wider audience.

“The India Center Foundation is delighted to present India Kaleidoscope again with our friends and partners at MoMI,” said Priya Giri Desai, a Founding Director of The India Center Foundation. “It’s an honor to offer these cinematic works to the film-going community and to give exposure to new sights, sounds and languages from across the Indian subcontinent.”

MoMI Chief Curator David Schwartz said, “India Kaleidoscope, in just its second year, is already making a great impact as a showcase for the incredible diversity of Indian cinema, with its focus on artistic and independent films from the many regions of this sprawling, culturally rich country."

“Indian cinema today is independent and regional language cinema, and these films represent the best and most exciting work from the country. We are thrilled to present this eclectic and wholly original selection of films and filmmakers to the New York and U.S. audience,” said Sudeep Sharma, festival programmer.

India Kaleidoscope Film Festival 2017 will screen eight feature films, seven of which will be  U.S. or North American premieres. Most films will feature directors in person, and half of the directors are women. The Opening Night film is Dark Wind (Kadvi Hawa).

Other highlights include the U.S. premiere of The Brawler (Mukkabaaz) by acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap and Pahuna, a film produced by actress Priyanka Chopra (ABC’s Quantico). In an effort to expand IKFF to wider audiences, this year’s closing night screening will be held at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Theater in Manhattan. See below for full lineup. All films will be screened with English subtitles.

The IKFF 2017 programming committee includes Priya Giri Desai (The India Center Foundation), Ashok Sinha (The India Center Foundation), Priyadarshini Shanker (NYU Cinema Studies), Anupama Kapse (Loyola Marymount), Tristine Skyler (writer and producer), Ritesh Mehta (Film Independent) and Sudeep Sharma (film programmer); with additional programming support from Uma da Cunha and Christina Marouda (Museum of the Moving Image, IFFLA).

Tickets: Tickets for Opening Night are $30; all other tickets are $15 (with discounts for Museum members at select levels). This year, IKFF will also have festival passes.Tickets will go on sale at the following link, beginning October 18

Location for most screenings: Museum of the Moving Image Summer M. Redstone Theater 
36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria, Queens, New York 11106 | Phone: 718-777-6800

Location for closing night screening: SAG-AFTRA Foundation Theater, 
 247 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019



Don't miss our full program of features, shorts and events for the 6th edition happening in upstate NY this November!

Ithaca Fantastik returns with our Festival Favorite & Midnighters blocks, spotlight on Bill Lustig's BLUE UNDERGROUND, THE STRANGE COLORS OF GILLES VRANCKX art show and much, much more!

Check out the trailer for our retrospective spotlight on ITALIANO PSICHEDELIKO HERE!

Ithaca, NY, Oct. 17, 2017 – Ithaca Fantastik (IF) will unleash its sixth annual film festival Nov. 3–12 in Ithaca, NY. With little more than two weeks to go IF is announcing its full features and short film lineup. With 37 films from 20 countries, the IF team promises this year’s festival will be a Fantastik ride—so buckle up!

2017 has been a prolific year for genre films and IF programmers have narrowed the field to thrill every flavor of Fantastik fan. In LET THE CORPSES TAN, Belgian duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani pay visual homage to Italian gangster films. Marc Meyers’s award-winning MY FRIEND DAHMER, based on the graphic novel of the same name, follows the teenage years of the budding serial killer. Ryan Prows’s mesmerizing and gritty LA tale LOWLIFE takes viewers on a high-energy organ-harvesting misadventure. And Deborah Haywoods’s beautifully disturbing and deeply personal PIN CUSHION explores intergenerational bullying in a small but toxic English town.

Playing to a full range of IF6’s retrospective theme—Italiano Psichedeliko—with a contemporary eye, Rupert Jones’s murder-mystery, KALEIDOSCOPE, mesmerizes with lush visuals and amazing performances from Sinead Matthews and Toby Jones. Rainer Sarnet’s NOVEMBER plunges vanguard film-lovers into a surrealist maelstrom of faith, witchcraft, and love, while German tale FREDDY/EDDY ushers in a doubled and troubled soul from the mind of Tini Tüllmann.

Any pure horror lovers in the room? Giddens Ko’s MON MON MON MONSTER blows minds with its thoughtful subtext on bullying dressed with gory violence. A Taiwanese echo to Haywoods’s PIN CUSHION, this film takes no prisoners. The same can be said about Gabriela Amaral’s FRIENDLY BEAST: What starts out as a classic social drama makes a sharp turn into more graphic territory demanding self-reflection. And for undead action, Robin Aubert’s LES AFFAMÉS—an art house Zombie film full of deep social commentary—is a brilliant homage to maestro George Romero’s ghoul metaphor.

Sometimes, real life is more Fantastik than fiction. Brad Abrahams’s documentary, LOVE AND SAUCERS, tells the improbable story of David Higgins’ intimate love for an alien and the art that followed. For sheer genre joy, Australian mockumentary TOP KNOT DETECTIVE is Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce’s madcap love letter to late-night Japanese television—from Lone Wolf and Cub and Mute Samurai to Message from Space and Space Sheriff Gavan.

IF completes this year’s smorgasbord with the crazies:  Adolfo Kolmerer and William James’s SNOWFLAKE, the prodigal son of Pulp Fiction and Synecdoche NY, with producer Eric Sonnenburg here for the sceening; Thomas Berg and Frederik Waldeland’s super-weird, laugh-out-loud VAMPYR VIDAR; and Jimmy Henderson’s JAILBREAK with its roots in HK martial arts cinema, Jean Paul Ly’s choreography, dynamic camerawork, and the incisive power of a Tony Jaa elbow strike. These films will inspire guilty pleasure and deep love with their absolute audacity and inventiveness.

IF also shines a spotlight on BLUE UNDERGROUND, Bill Lustig's distribution company, with the 4K restoration of Gary Sherman’s DEATH LINE, a direct transfer from the camera negative—as close as you can get to a director’s true vision! Another new 4K transfer, Bob Clark’s DEAD BY NIGHT, offers a deep meditation on the effects of war …with a zombie trope. Gary Sherman and Bill Lustig will present these respective films to a yet-to-be-blown-away audience!
Along with this incredible lineup, IF is excited to present its 2017 art show: THE STRANGE COLORS OF GILLES VRANCKX featuring the work of the Belgian poster genius behind art for Amer, The Strange Colors of Your Body’s Tears, LET THE CORPSES TAN, and more. Vranckx will appear as an IF special guest at the show’s opening reception on Thursday, November 9.

Learn more at and follow IF on twitter @IFantastikNY or Facebook and Instagram at Ithaca Fantastik.
About Ithaca Fantastik:
The Ithaca Fantastik festival is a 10 day film, art, and music festival beginning the first weekend of November in Ithaca, NY. Our mission is to bring the best of fantastic culture to Upstate NY by presenting a selection of the most anticipated international films, community organized concerts, and diverse art exhibitions.


A Silent Voice: The Anime Movie

Most films about teen bullying are horror movies, but this is something completely different. Probably the most mature and sophisticated film to address bullying since it became a high-profile media issue happens to be an anime adaptation of Yoshitoki Ōima’s hit manga series. Any adult or reasonably empathetic teen will appreciate the drama and artistry of Naoko Yamada’s A Silent Voice, which opens this Friday in New York.

Shōya Ishida bitterly regrets his elementary school years. He was hardly the only student who bullied Shōko Nishimiya, a deaf girl, who briefly attended their school, but he would be the first to admit he was the worst offender. When things really got ugly he took the fall. As a way to save face, his classmates blamed him for everything and shunned ever since Nishimiya withdrew from their school. All but giving up on redemption, Ishida plans to commit suicide, but first he makes a final attempt to make amends with Nishimiya.

Much to her surprise, the remorseful Ishida has even learned sign language. It is an awkward meeting, but she does not completely give him the Heisman. Once Ishida convinces Yuzuru, Nishimiya’s tomboyish little sister and self-appointed gate-keeper of his honorable intentions, he starts to meet her often. However, communications problems and their mutual low self-esteem constantly sabotage the potential romance viewers are rooting for. Meanwhile, two additional former classmates re-enter the picture: Sahara, the only student who genuinely befriended Nishimiya and Ueno, the queen of the mean girls.

The way this group of students are constantly drawn back together might sound contrived, but life really seems to work that way. Regardless, Silent Voice is not a pat and predictable afterschool special. This is an emotionally sophisticated film that never lectures its audience. Frankly, there are several logical junctures where Voice could have started wrapping things up and letting its characters off their hooks, but instead the film just gets even messier.

One point that jumps out of Voice is just how much damage Ishida’s bullying does to his reputation and his self-image. For years, he has to live with being that guy. It definitely distinguishes the film from other more conventional anti-bullying films. Visually, it is also quite appealing, sort of representing a stylistic cross between the mostly realistic Your Name and the graceful pastels of Doukyusei. In fact, Yamada has a keen eye for visuals, incorporating a number of striking water motifs. Yet, more importantly, Ishida, Nishimiya, and many of their classmates are unusually complex and well-developed characters, who cannot be reduced to mere victim and tormentor stereotypes.

Voice will be fully Academy Award-eligible and it constructively addresses a hot-button issue. Best of all, it is a terrific film, but it is frustratingly a very long longshot for an Oscar nomination, because the Academy seems unwilling to give anime the time of day. That is really a shame in this case, because Voice truly deserves the attention.  It is just uncompromising truthful and achingly poignant. Very highly recommended, A Silent Voice opens this Friday (10/20) in New York, at the Village East.

Ismael's Ghosts: The Director's Cut (2017) NYFF 2017

Arnaud Desplechin's ISMAEL'S GHOSTS confused the audience I saw the film with. It wasn't that the film was bad it's just that it leaves so much out we didn't know what to think.

The plot of the film has writer Ishmael going through his paces some 21 years after his wife disappeared. He is happy with his new love and he frequently commiserates with his father in law about their shared loss. Then one day his wife returns throwing everyone's life into utter turmoil.

Beautifully made and perfectly acted film is like watching the best and most dramatic sequences from a drama which unfortunately never connects the scenes together. Huge portions of backstory are missing. While this was Desplechin's intention, at the post screening Q&A he said it's moments in Ismails life, it makes for a bumpy viewing experience since the moments at so close together as to kind of form a conventional drama.

The cast headed by Mathieu Amalric, Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg are sterling and are so good that you largely forgive the flaws and just ride the wave of excellent acting.

I really liked the film a great deal, as did many of the confused people around me at the festival. However we all just wished that the film tied it ll together enough that we loved the film instead of liked it.

(The difference between the Director's Cut and Theatrical release according to the director is that the director's cut contains the trip to Israel and the Theatrical doesn't)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Trench 11 (2017) LA Screamfest 2017

War centric horror films tend to take one of two plot paths, either: a group of soldiers are sent on a secret mission that goes wrong or they happen upon something or some place that they never should have encountered by accident. There have been so many of these films that we don't live and die by the basic plot. Horror fans treat them like the early Hollywood program pictures, and determine or like or dislike based on how well the filmmakers dress everything up so we don't notice  any well worn plot devices.

TRENCH 11, which made its US premiere at the LA Screamfest last week,overcomes a standard issue war setting to become one of the best war based horror films not to mention one of the best horror films of  2017. It is a tightly wound claustrophobic film that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The film starts in the closing days of the First World War when the Allies get word that eleven miles behind the lines the Germans have built some sort of vast underground complex. They have suddenly abandoned it, fleeing with just the clothes on their backs. Fearing some sort of super weapon the British, supported by a squad of American soldiers, send a couple of experts to the complex. What they find there will put their lives in danger, a situation complicated by the return of German forces sent to destroy the complex and bury the evil inside it.

This film kicks serious ass. Rarely has any war horror (or even a straight on horror) film been this gripping. This is a film where you stop wanting to know what is going to happen next and instead you find you have to know what is going to happen because you've developed a stake in what is happening. You genuinely care about the characters who are not just fodder for the slaughter. It's a simple trick that most filmmakers never try despite it being an easy way to grab the audience. Director Leo Scherman not only makes us care about the characters but makes us fear for them.

You have to applaud Scherman for keeping the tension high by stoking the fires in all the best ways. First the film is incredibly claustrophobic. We are, for most of the run time, in the twisty German complex which we don't know.

Next, explanations are kept to a minimum. Things are not overly explained, there isn't time. Things just move like the wind

Lastly no one is safe from the unspeakable horror. Scherman highlights this by first giving us a German soldier who would rather commit suicide than open a certain locked door. What is behind the door, we almost don't want to know. Of course we find out which then changes things up as we quickly find no one is safe either from the thing behind the door or the Germans determined to bury it.

In it's way this is less a horror film then top notch suspense film because if you swapped some details out this could be billed as a thrillers. Of course what you call the film doesn't matter since Scherman and his team have made a film so gripping you will be carried along by what happens

I loved this film a great deal. It is a perfect popcorn film of the highest order. The film is so good that I can't wait for it to get a non-festival release so I can see it again.

TRENCH 11 is the war horror film at the top of its form. It is a great little film that deserves to be seen by horror lovers everywhere.

Margaret Mead ’17: Chomo (short)

Since the Dalai Lama and the leadership of Tibetan Buddhism were forced into exile, they have spread their wisdom and faith much wider around the world than would have otherwise been possible. It has also been a two-way exchange. In recent years, educational opportunities have expanded tremendously for Tibetan Buddhist nuns, at least for those living outside Tibet. The first class of nuns are poised to take the Geshema degrees following the requisite seventeen years of study. This is an especially significant milestone for a young nun contemplating her future in Maayan Arad’s short documentary Chomo, which screens during the 2017 Margaret Mead Film Festival.

Lobsang Chomo (“nun” in her local dialect) made the arduous journey to Dharamshala expressly so she would have educational opportunities that are not available in her native Tibet, where the Communist government insists it has the right to set policies for the religious faith. When we meet her, she has been studying in earnest for several years and has been recognized as one of her nunnery’s top doctrinal debaters. She is on track to sit for her Geshema exam (in a mere fourteen or fifteen years), but she will take time out to visit her family, now residing in a distant Northern India village, to reflect on her life choices so far.

The forty-two-minute Chomo is packed wall-to-wall with stunning visuals, but it is the charismatic Chomo who truly lights up the film. Even with her clean-shaven head, she is a stunning presence, but her wisdom and sense of humor are what really make her beautiful. Arad just quietly observes the daily goings-on at the nunnery and follows Chomo as she journeys through the wildly cinematic mountain passes on her way home. Yet, this film never feels hushed and airless like some In Great Silence-style documentaries. Instead, viewers always have the sense that a whole lot of life is happening.

We always knew Tibetan Buddhism offered more wisdom than its CP oppressors, but here is proof it is also more progressive. There might not be full parity yet, but some significant glass ceilings have been broken, quietly and philosophically. On a less optimistic note, the film also reminds us in passing of the arrest and conviction (on mystery charges) of Lobsang Jamyang, a Tibetan monk who wrote tracts advocating freedom of expression under the name Lomik. Nevertheless, Chomo is a positive, refreshingly life-affirming film. Very highly recommended, Chomo screens this Saturday (10/21) with Pixelating Holiness, as part of this year’s Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History.