One of the key questions of filmmaking is the distance between camera and subject, or character. Do you remember any Rembrandt pictures? The question is not about composition and lighting. Why Rembrandt is crucial for art is because he’s choosing the right scale.
As we write and rewrite the ongoing history of cinema, learning from our mistakes (sometimes) and making new ones, missing the great films and often paying far too much attention to the undeserving, and always, always uncovering more and more work worth writing and thinking about, we should remember: question the rubrics and heuristics, the received and accepted wisdom.
Four minutes into the film I can already appreciate the spaciousness and quasi-documentary simplicity that would have endeared my head-in-the-clouds 16-year-old self. Ambient sounds, dreamy transitions, and preference for human faces over narrative momentum lend Syndromes a remarkable directness of expression.
Hopinka aims to show things clearly, and while this film doesn’t always match the thrilling visual impact of his experimental shorts, the result of this direct approach is a complex portrait of contemporary Indigenous life.
The actors interpret their often dense monologues with an admirable naturalness and, perhaps more importantly, truly work to convey the act of listening. In many ways, the work of Puiu in guiding the actors through the genuinely demanding material is a more impressive achievement than the heightened realism of The Death of Mr. Larazescu.
You can see the seams, and this helps us understand what Greenaway’s work is ultimately about, and why it isn’t as well regarded as it once was. The reliance of outside texts and reference points is not only artlessly overt—it can strike a viewer as bound to a particular moment in film history, when cinema argued for itself on the basis of its having mastered a particular syllabus.
The curators ask in the program notes, Can remembrance fix a broken world? At the core of this inquiry into the world, and the status of the human within its historical, sociopolitical, technological, and ecological parameters, lies the emphasis on feeling.
I was at an age where I was voraciously curious about movies of all kinds and hungrily filling gaps in my knowledge. Yet the first time I read about the Greek epic, it wasn’t in service of my budding cinephilia. It was in service of my endless curiosity about something else: the life of my grandfather.
Wojnarowicz so furiously laid bare the cruelty of our nation, and in particular the puritanical hypocrisy of the GOP, that in 2010, decades after his death, Republicans John Boehner and Eric Cantor managed to bully the National Portrait Gallery into removing his artwork from an exhibition, on World AIDS Day, no less
Some days you’re Jean, finding respite and comfort in quiet understanding between two souls. Some days you envy Juliette’s impulsiveness, recognizing her familiar attempt to recapture the pierce of Cupid’s arrow. The tender and charming realism of their young marriage is powerful, to be sure—it may bend, even break, but isn’t beyond repair.
Being a professor has provided me with access to how younger people think. I am in my early forties now and my students remind me of the activism I was participating in in my twenties. As I was writing the film, I was thinking about some of my students and things I had heard them say at some point on campus. It is a world that many filmmakers who do not teach do not have access to.
Lo’s film leans into the expressive vulnerability of dogs while exhibiting a wariness of the tendency to exploit their cuteness, anthropomorphize their behavior, or reduce them to symbols. The camerawork, too, is grittier and more doglike, with the film’s shaky rhythms matching the trot of its eponymous subjects through urban areas.