The camera is weapon and savior, mediator and patient observer, but it is never objective in Cameraperson, an extraordinary and singular filmmaking document by Kirsten Johnson that quietly lorded over everything I saw at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
Halloween is our most cinematic holiday; for a few hours in the dark, it turns our everyday world into a surreal, upside-down place. In this short film we go trick or treating with some of the Halloweens that have haunted our collective movie dreams.
Rohrwacher doesn’t seem interested in telling us what we should be thinking; rather she lets us accompany these people from one task to the next. There’s no fetishizing or romanticizing of work or youth, just a matter-of-fact, if narratively furtive, take on communal living and familial interaction.
One of the miracles of cinema is that genuine artists can use the medium to convey otherwise inexpressible, even intangible emotions, using image and sound to create emotional landscapes that in writing might be too explicit or in music too oblique.
Hou’s latest, The Assassin, his first in the wuxia genre, is perhaps his most senses-heightening work yet, a film of simultaneous action and repose, of specificity and abstraction, giving the viewer just enough information to follow its dense narrative avenues while asking that their eyes take the road less traveled.
Taxi interrogates itself—as cinema, as document, and, because of Panahi’s particular political reality, as an expression of artistic freedom. Panahi has taken to a purposeful extreme the notion that strictures and limitations are beneficial to the creation of art.
Phoenix is a gorgeously odd film, a quietly symphonic elegy fueled by a magnificently preposterous plot that ends up as something like a cross between Roberto Rossellini’s Stromboli and Hitchcock’s Vertigo—but communicated through the specific experience of Jewish-German identity.
A film like Martin Rejtman’s Two Shots Fired—if there is another film like Two Shots Fired—encourages critics to talk about the radical power of narrative digression. This assumes, of course, that a film has a centralized narrative to begin with . . .
We talk a lot about how the camera moves through space, and the implications of those choices to move in or out or sideways, but it's rare that we just stop to consider the size and shape of the frame itself. And isn't this where every film starts?