What if we could see what is actually on the other side of the world from where we sit? . . . Russian documentary filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky approaches these questions with a mixture of the digging child’s ingenuousness and the dogged explorer’s rigor and sense of purpose.
Kaufman and Johnson tour the galleries of the Museum of the Moving Image with host Eric Hynes. They contemplate early cinematic techniques of motion capture and ponder whether the puppets in their stop-motion animation drama Anomalisa might have been "faking it" on set.
The Good Dinosaur, like so many animated films, concerns a journey of self-actualization, but it’s also a classic prairie western. The central dinosaur family are reptilian cousins to the homesteaders who might have settled in Oklahoma and lived in hardscrabble isolation in the mid-nineteenth century.
It’s often said that certain films look as if they were advertisements for joining the U.S. Military, but a handful might be said to actually draw their images from them.
It’s a film that luxuriates in details, in textures, and specificity of places and costumes, and the particulars of Carol and Therese’s sexuality are absolutely crucial, yet also not the endpoint. What is it they say about finding the universal in the specific?
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.
The Pearl Button functions in a similar mode to Nostalgia for the Light—the filmmaker deploys a series of elements that are unconnected on the surface, using his voiceover musings and taking liberal advantage of the power of metaphor to tie all of his varying strands together.
Like Lincoln, Bridge places value on conversation, negotiation, honor, decency, the ineffable power of giving one’s “word” to another. Spielberg aims to please, yes, but in the one-two punch that is Lincoln and Bridge of Spies, he’s also aiming for something grander.
As Mizuki makes herself a small batch of pastries, each filled with gooey black sesame paste, the camera elegantly tilts away, revealing the space over her shoulder and above her head; it’s a movement implying omniscience and that something, perhaps of the malevolent variety, might lurk just out of our view.
In constructing his film in this fashion, Sauper reminds that “characters” are the provenance of fiction, while “people” should be the stuff of documentary films. Thus he doesn’t make an effort to stretch and shape his subjects’ lives to conform to preconceived narrative expectations.
In a moment when documentary film seems back under the thrall of all things cinema vérité, How to Smell a Rose is a terrific reminder that vérité is not merely the avoidance of interviewing subjects on camera, the eschewal of tripods and lighting, or acting the proverbial “fly on the wall.”