Blogs Crosscuts Links

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” Opens Today at Landmark Lagoon

Lynne Ramsay’s most recent film, We Need to Talk About Kevin—which had its Twin Cities premiere at the Walker Art Center on February 10—begins its theatrical run at Landmark’s Lagoon Theater today. An impressionistic, boldly-colored nightmare about tempestuous mother-son dynamics, We Need to Talk About Kevin further exemplifies the hard-edged yet lyrical beauty of Ramsay’s […]

Image © Oscilloscope Pictures

Lynne Ramsay’s most recent film, We Need to Talk About Kevin—which had its Twin Cities premiere at the Walker Art Center on February 10—begins its theatrical run at Landmark’s Lagoon Theater today. An impressionistic, boldly-colored nightmare about tempestuous mother-son dynamics, We Need to Talk About Kevin further exemplifies the hard-edged yet lyrical beauty of Ramsay’s earlier films, such as Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar (which also played at the Walker as part of our “Lynne Ramsay: Rough and Tumble” retrospective). Adapted from Lionel Shriver’s controversial epistolary novel, Ramsay’s version pulsates with overwhelming performances by Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller (as a mother and son whose combative relationship leads to devastating consequences) and a dreamlike, memory-laden structure that audaciously melds the past and the present.

Euan Kerr of Minnesota Public Radio recently spoke with Lynne Ramsay about the emotionally-charged themes that drew her to the project, specifically the possibility that the myth regarding an innate bond between a mother and her child could be revealed as fallacy. “It’s kind of a fantasy about your deepest fears as a parent,” Ramsay said. “What if you don’t feel that instant bond? What if you don’t feel that instant connection you are meant to feel? And what if the child perceives that?” In this way, We Need to Talk About Kevin is closer to an existential statement on the breakdown of familial relations than a demon-child horror story à la The Omen.

Ramsay also discussed the difficulties in adapting Shriver’s novel, which takes the form of a series of letters written between the beleaguered mother, Eva, and her estranged husband. The challenge for Ramsay was in finding a way to manifest the psychological intensity of the novel in a distinctly visual way: “What if I put myself completely in Eva’s position: almost take the form of the book and smash it up but in the way keep the same structure. It’s very much she’s looking back and trying to figure this out one way or the other. You are never quite sure whether what she is seeing is reliable or not.”

Check out the MPR interview to see what Ramsay had to say about the Academy Awards and her reticence in supplying audiences with neat, tidy answers—a decision that makes We Need to Talk About Kevin one of the most unique and provocative movies currently playing in the Twin Cities.

‘It was the pictures that got small…’

In addition to the Walker’s Summer Music and Movies series (which, as it happens, featured a retrospective of director Billy Wilder’s works back in 2002), the month of August will provide Twin Cities moviegoers with a handful of Billy Wilder films screening throughout Minneapolis. Bona fide classics like Some Like it Hot and Sunset Boulevard […]

Billy Wilder

In addition to the Walker’s Summer Music and Movies series (which, as it happens, featured a retrospective of director Billy Wilder’s works back in 2002), the month of August will provide Twin Cities moviegoers with a handful of Billy Wilder films screening throughout Minneapolis. Bona fide classics like Some Like it Hot and Sunset Boulevard will be playing this month at the Heights, but lesser-known standouts like The Fortune Cookie and Ace in the Hole will also be screened at the Trylon. The full schedule for Take-Up Productions’ Billy Wilder series can be found here. (Along with the Fritz Lang films that are playing at the Summer Music and Movies series, we might call August the Twin Cities’ month for German expatriate directors who electrified Hollywood’s mid-century output.)

It may seem absurd to claim that Wilder is an underrated director. After all, the legendary comedic filmmaker (who, in the 1950s at least, was second only to Alfred Hitchcock in terms of celebrity Hollywood auteurs) is now unquestionably associated with dark-edged satire, sparkling verbal pyrotechnics, a bittersweet (or, sometimes, simply bitter) cynicism, and a full-frontal grappling with (and deconstruction of) lascivious subject matter that other stateside contemporaries wouldn’t have dreamed of touching. Wilder—often abetted by co-screenwriters with a quick wit and comedic dexterity to match those of the director (Charles Brackett, I.A.L. Diamond)—was responsible for an astonishing run of classics especially between 1944’s Double Indemnity and 1960’s The Apartment, a roster of great films that, even taken on an individual, film-by-film basis, would have cemented Wilder’s place in the pantheon of film masters. The caustic, bizarre excessiveness of Sunset Boulevard, the ten-jokes-a-minute agility of Some Like it Hot—by themselves such works would be deemed classic, but taken together, as distinct but like-minded fragments of a cohesive filmography, such films attest to a funny-sad worldview and artistic temperament that was multilayered and astonishingly consistent.

But I’m still tempted to claim that Wilder is underrated—not for his classics (which are rightfully esteemed) but for his alleged flops, not for his pitch-perfect dialogue but for the tragic themes that he often explored, as well as for his stylistic precision. Especially in his late period of filmmaking (basically from 1960 onward), a collection of movies which are often dismissed as the steadily declining work of a once-great film artist, we encounter a number of small-scale but fascinating comedy-dramas that are thematically obsessed with impeded lust, torturous sex and jealousy, the delusions and lost dreams of once-legendary figures, the preponderance of visual media in everyday life, the melancholy nature of aging and facing mortality, and what it means to be human in a greedy, corrupt world. They may not be as funny as the movies typically called his masterpieces, but they’re sometimes wiser, they’re more concerned with how our actual human experience differs from what we see in the movies. And if we consider the films that Wilder scripted before becoming a studio director—especially several Hollywood movies written with Charles Brackett—we must add a few more gems to the list, such as 1939’s Midnight and Howard Hawks’ sublime Ball of Fire (1941). (We also are forced to recognize that, sometimes, an auteur’s touch is provided by somebody other than the director, since all of the personality in Midnight comes courtesy of Wilder and Brackett’s script, not from Mitchell Leisen’s lackluster direction.) In short, Wilder is not only as good as he’s commonly perceived to be—he may actually be better, and more fascinating than we might expect him to be upon revisiting his films.

In honor of these upcoming Wilder screenings, this film/video intern offers his humble and arbitrary opinions on the director’s eight finest films (some of which are screening theatrically this month, while others are always worth revisiting on DVD). Why eight, one might ask? Simply because anything less and I would have had to cut a film that simply could not have been omitted…

The Major and the Minor

 8. The Major and the Minor (1942)

Wilder’s Hollywood directorial debut seems like a completely absurd project, something that studio heads may not have minded tossing off to a headstrong German screenwriter who wanted to get behind the camera. In a way, The Major and the Minor’s complete ridiculousness is what makes it charming: it grabs hold of an inane concept and embraces it fully, never pausing long enough to consider how unbelievable it all is. Ginger Rogers plays a woman desperate to get out of New York; she passes herself off as a 12-year-old in order to get a reduced-fare train ticket and, trying to evade a couple of conductors, finds herself in the compartment of handsome Major Kirby (Ray Milland). That’s the whole setup. The rest of the movie concerns a fully-grown Ginger Rogers trapped on an Army base in Michigan, surrounded by sex-starved young soldiers, trying to pass herself off as a twelve-year-old. Milland is supposed to be a dashing charmer, but as we watch him ogle and flirt with this supposed preteen, all we can do is squirm uncomfortably and gape at the screen. (It’s all okay, though, because the movie ends with the two of them running off to get married—the major’s preference for extraordinarily young girls will apparently go on unchecked.) Even the trailer for the movie is packed with disturbing non-sequiturs and pedophiliac wisecracks—the movie operates on the same wavelength for 100 minutes! If Wilder would be celebrated almost twenty years later for turning cross-dressing and nonstop sexual puns into the stuff of Hollywood comedy with Some Like it Hot, here he gets away with turning the major’s Lolita complex into slapstick inanity. Here, for example, is a telling exchange:

 The Minor: “You see, you are a strange gentleman…”

 The Major: “Yes, but we can soon fix that.”

Double Indemnity

 7. Double Indemnity (1944)

Adapted from James M. Cain’s novel and co-written with Raymond Chandler, Double Indemnity is awash in crackling film noir bon mots, but the ratatat dialogue is even more subversive, more electrifying, when given the Wilder treatment. Fred MacMurray, stepping over from his usual average-family-man terrain, plays insurance salesman Walter Neff, who stumbles into a torrid affair with inimitable femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) and finds himself embroiled in murder, conspiracy, and blackmail. Repressed lust may be the primary catalyst for Neff’s all-too-eager leap into moral bankruptcy (a lust immortally conveyed by MacMurray and Stanwyck’s first burning interaction), but as played by MacMurray, he also seems like a man so disgusted with life, so burnt-out and hopeless, that his dabbling with murder and crime almost seems more like an existential experiment. Double Indemnity is irresistibly nihilistic, in the best film noir sort of way—a bleakness unforgettably intoned by MacMurray’s voiceover narration, which is muttered into a Dictaphone while Neff slowly bleeds from a gunshot wound. A trace of compassionate pity is provided by cigar-chomping Edward G. Robinson, playing Neff’s friend and mentor Barton Keyes; their relationship remains one of the most sensitively drawn throughout the director’s entire career (which is saying something).

Some Like it Hot

6. Some Like it Hot (1959)

No comedic subject matter was taboo for Wilder. Even the Second World War (during which Wilder’s family died at Auschwitz, and which Wilder had to escape by fleeing Berlin in 1932) practically became a sitcom in Stalag 17. But Some Like it Hot is debatably the best example in the history of American movies of laughing at sex, at ridiculing what had been deemed off-limits by the Production Code. Even if Wilder’s later movies, such as Kiss Me, Stupid and Irma la Douce, turned sex into comedy more explicitly (and, at times, shockingly), Some Like it Hot remains his most subversive comedy. It doesn’t just play with audience expectations, it upends how Hollywood comedies are supposed to end: sure, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe ride off into the sunset, but they’re being driven by Osgood Fielding and Jack Lemmon, who, it seems, will provide the second of the movie’s two romantic unions.

Proof of the movie’s comedic genius abounds, but here’s my favorite scene, which for my money features the best usage of a salami in any movie.

A Foreign Affair

5. A Foreign Affair (1948)

Filmed in the bombed-out rubble of postwar Berlin, A Foreign Affair is a comedy about lecherous US Army captain John Pringle (John Lund), who strikes up a relationship with a hardened German woman named Erika von Schluetow (Marlene Dietrich), former lover of several Third Reich higher-ups. He supplies Erika with designer gowns and padded mattresses, increasingly rare commodities among the ruins of Berlin; both of them, it seems, realize that their relationship is hollow and insincere, but it’s a convenient affair, and they’ve been hardened by the world to prioritize convenience and practicality. Since this is a comedy, a prim-and-proper Congresswoman from Iowa will of course be shipped over to investigate fraternization between American soldiers and German women. And she will learn how to have fun, and he will learn that emotion and true love aren’t simply illusions. And they will fall in love.

But A Foreign Affair is and isn’t a comedy. Actual scenes, shot on location, of postwar Berlin remain staggeringly bleak, and a brief scene in which German citizens barter for necessary commodities (which is where Pringle exchanges a birthday cake for a mattress) is far more tragic than it is funny. This is a truly schizophrenic movie, and (along with The Apartment) may most fully embody Wilder’s happy-sad dichotomy. It also features one of Marlene Dietrich’s best performances; just as glamorous as her appearances in Josef von Sternberg’s early-1930s films (but with an extra decade of world-weariness), her Erika von Schluetow is an unforgettable portrait of the beleaguered German people, doing what they must to survive. Her musical performances here—like this, or this, or this—are among the most beautiful moments in any Wilder film.    

Sunset Boulevard

4. Sunset Boulevard (1950)

It still seems incredible that both Sunset Boulevard and All About Eve were released in 1950: a one-two punch that shattered the elegant veneer of Hollywood, this pair of blistering comedies (if that’s the right word) laid bare the sordid dreams and delusions festering underneath. Depressed, destitute screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) stumbles into the life and decaying mansion of Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), a superstar of the silent film era who now surrounds herself with the relics (cinematic and otherwise) of her past. Like many of Wilder’s films, it’s both bleakly funny and overwhelmingly sad, but it also embraces a baroque level of absurdity reserved for the highest level of wealth, fame, and glamour—in other words, for movie stars and film directors. The funeral ceremony for a pet monkey, Desmond’s garish recreations of Chaplin routines, and of course the ingenious gimmick of the movie’s otherworldly voiceover narration: these all point to an attempt on Wilder and Bracketts’ part to take tragicomedy to new operatic heights. And for all of its criticisms of Hollywood as a shallow, emotionally lifeless swamp, what remains most surprising about Sunset Boulevard is how overwhelmingly sad it is—a portrait of a place where the dreams are indistinguishable from the nightmares. 

Ace in the Hole

3. Ace in the Hole (1951)

After the success of Sunset Boulevard in 1950, Wilder apparently was emboldened: rarely had Hollywood created such a vitriolic portrait of itself, but the movie was received enthusiastically nonetheless, even winning three Oscars and garnering eight more nominations. Wilder responded in 1951 by making arguably the bleakest, most cynical, most hopeless movie of his career: Ace in the Hole, a portrait of an American populace so hungry for sensationalism and spectacle that they exploit the impending death of a trapped miner in order to make a buck (or simply to gawk at the tragedy). Wilder even ditched his co-screenwriter, Charles Brackett (Sunset Boulevard was the last film they would write together), for two darker-edged writers: Lesser Samuels (No Way Out) and Walter Newman (The Man with the Golden Arm). There’s no denying the misanthropy that runs throughout Ace in the Hole, but what’s stunning about the movie is that it still demonstrates Wilder’s steely brand of humanism: humanity may indeed be this repugnant, but we don’t have to be. Presaging a post-modernity of relentless mediation, grim spectacle, tawdry celebrity culture, and all-American hucksterism, Ace in the Hole still seems ahead of its time in its horrified condemnation of modern American sensationalism. (You could trace a direct genealogical path from the heartless exploiters in Ace in the Hole to the producers of most reality shows on TV today.)

The result of Wilder’s uninhibited bleakness was poor box office receipts and mediocre reviews; in fact, Ace in the Hole effectively ended Wilder’s nine-year-long stretch of commercial and critical successes. Viewed today, though, Ace in the Hole emerges as one of the director’s most brilliantly prescient commentaries, as well as the work of an unmistakable satirist who so ardently wants to live in a world that’s better than our own.

The Apartment

2. The Apartment (1960)

The Apartment set a precedent for all comedy-dramas that would follow, meaning, I guess, that Wilder’s effortlessly bittersweet film was indirectly responsible for both The Royal Tenenbaums and Little Miss Sunshine. We’ll call it a draw on that one. But aside from influencing indie comedies that happen to feature attempted suicides, The Apartment is notable for being at once one of the director’s saddest and funniest films. Of course there had been sad comedies and comedic dramas before, but few of them had imbued their laughs with such soul-crushing loneliness before, and few of them made their sadness so cosmically absurd that all you can do is laugh. Jack Lemmon would never give a better performance as C.C. Baxter, aka “Buddy Boy,” the lovable schlemiel who rents out his apartment to corporate higher-ups for their illicit sexual trysts; Fred MacMurray is his boss, Sheldrake, a despicable portrait of an executive who’s come to believe that he’s entitled to everything around him, people included. (Sheldrake is a horrifying vision of what Baxter might become decades down the road, if he continues on his path of meekly kowtowing to men who are wealthier and more powerful than him.) The turbulent relationship between Baxter and depressed elevator girl Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) is overwhelming every time—they’re two sad people who suddenly find a version of happiness and are unsure what to do with it. Always an astute pacer and self-referencer, Wilder makes sure we’re bowled over by the emotional climax of The Apartment by playing off of earlier scenes—like these, for example.

Vanishing perspective in widescreen

Not only an emotional firestorm, The Apartment is also Wilder’s most compositionally rich film: some of the director’s critics have accused him of using a bland, non-cinematic visual style in order to foreground his dialogue, but such criticisms completely disregard the subtle precision of this film’s widescreen images. Wilder utilizes the unique perspectival effects of the rectangular frame to, for example, distort Baxter’s workplace into an endless eyesore, or to synthesize multiple visual planes in one shot for scenes in Baxter’s apartment. The Apartment ultimately reveals Wilder to be as sensitive stylistically as emotionally.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

1. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

Maybe it’s the stubborn auteurist in me that prefers Wilder’s late-era, melancholy revision of the Holmes legacy to his “masterpieces”—The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is unabashedly a self-referential work, about fading celebrity, about aging, about the gap between our public personae and our personal selves. It’s also unimaginably melancholy, bittersweetly romantic, and incredibly complex—Wilder and co-screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond tackle a new idea in practically every scene. In addition to the aforementioned themes, the movie ambiguously comments upon Holmes’ drug addiction and his possible homosexuality, revealing the hero as a depressed, insecure man who cannot bring himself to believe that mental fortitude and methodical practicality do not trump all in the modern world. Even more impressive, especially given Wilder’s slate of sexually frank causes célèbres in the 1960s: these potentially scandalous themes are hinted at respectfully and sensitively, as though Wilder respects his main character enough to give the man his own troubled private life, free from our prying eyes. In other words, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes could not be further from the Holmes and Watson we see now in Guy Ritchie movies: really, Wilder is using the Doyle stories as a metaphysical (and metacinematic) springboard to question a plethora of eclectic concepts, some of which he’s never shown an interest in, in his earlier works.

Maybe it’s too convenient to believe that, with The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, the 64-year-old director was evaluating his life, redressing mistakes, facing criticisms—this is a truism of auteur studies that cinephiles sometimes embrace all too eagerly. What’s unmistakably true, though, is that with Sherlock Holmes, Wilder made his most plaintive film and his most endlessly fascinating—a movie that still pulsates with the director’s wit and seamless style, at once encapsulating Wilder’s previous filmmaking sensibility and broadening it in wildly unexpected directions.

 

Israeli Delegation Tries to Block “Miral” Screening at United Nations

  Miral is the final film in the Julian Schnabel: Artist Director Retrospective.  This Friday, director Julian Schnabel will introduce Miral for its Minneapolis premiere and engage in an audience Q & A immediately following the screening. Saturday, Julian will sit down with Walker chief curator Darsie Alexander for a Regis Dialogue. Following its world […]

 

Julian Schnabel directs actors on the set of Miral in Jerusalem

Miral is the final film in the Julian Schnabel: Artist Director Retrospective This Friday, director Julian Schnabel will introduce Miral for its Minneapolis premiere and engage in an audience Q & A immediately following the screening. Saturday, Julian will sit down with Walker chief curator Darsie Alexander for a Regis Dialogue.

Following its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Miral has toured festivals, and is scheduled to screen tonight at the United Nations General Assembly. But this film is dealing with material so controversial that the Israeli delegation has stepped in to try to stop the screening. Upset by its portrayal of Israel, deputy chief of Israel’s delegation to the UN Haim Waxman called it “a clearly political and one-sided film, which advances the Palestinian agenda…it is difficult to understand the intolerable ease with which the decision was made to screen a commercial film in the General Assembly hall–something which in itself is unusual and unacceptable.” Waxman continued, insisting that this film brings the “central stage, again, to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which already receives too much attention at the UN.”

Despite their complaints, the General Assembly president, Swiss diplomat Joseph Deiss, has denied requests to cancel the screening saying that the film tells a story about peace. Rula Jebrael (the film’s screenwriter and author of the book that the film is based on) responded, saying “Miral is a story about human beings, Palestinian, Israeli, Muslim, Jewish and Christian, and it is a film about love, education, understanding and peace. ” Schnabel, said of the film, “Obviously it’s a Palestinian story, but it’s very important that an American Jewish person tell a Palestinian story.”

Harvey Weinstein, a producer and distributer of Miral has been defending this project since he signed on to distribute it, appearing on CNN with Piers Morgan and elsewhere. In response to criticism, Weinstein said “The simple answer is if you don’t tell the story from both sides, you will never understand…I know you’re not supposed to be political, but you can’t exist in this world if you aren’t.” He continued in a later interview, saying “As a Jewish American, I can categorically state that I would not be releasing a film that was flagrantly biased towards Israel or Judaism. Miral tells a story about a young Palestinian woman, but that does not make it a polemic. By stifling discussion or pre-judging a work of art, we only perpetuate the prejudice that does so much harm.”

The UN Israeli delegation is not the only group trying to stop this film, either, with involvement from such groups as the American Jewish Committee, who wrote a letter urging Deiss to cancel tonight’s screening of the film.

As a staff member in the Walker Film/Video department and a Jewish American myself, I can’t help but feel entangled in this debate. With renewed Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, and increasing condemnation from the UN and the world, a film bringing attention to the issue is not the problem. The problem is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself. And the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be cured by censoring discussion.

This controversy is reminiscent of another notoriously controversial film showing at the Walker next month. Negatives were almost burned and screenings were almost canceled because of the political content of this other film, but the director had this to say:

And, then, the mistake that Schafer made was not to believe me when I made the best showmanship suggestion I’ve ever made, which was that Citizen Kane should be run in tents all over America, advertised as “This is the film that we can’t run in your local movie house.” If we’d done that, we would have made $5 million with it.

—Orson Welles, This is Orson Welles, Harper Collins, 1992

 

For more information, see:

Interview with Julian Schnabel, BBC Article, Haaretz Article, LATimes Article, Guardian Article, Deadline Article, Jewish Telegraphic Agency Article, YNetNews Article, Jerusalem Post Article

 

Assayas’ “Carlos” Makes #3 on Best Films of the Year

New York Times film reviewer (and one-time Regis dialogue interviewer) A. O. Scott placed Olivier Assayas’ Carlos at number 3 on his list of the best films of 2010. Read the full article here. Scott summarizes the 6-hour Assayas film as “The failure of global revolution as farce, melodrama, erotic thriller and music video.” The […]

New York Times film reviewer (and one-time Regis dialogue interviewer) A. O. Scott placed Olivier Assayas’ Carlos at number 3 on his list of the best films of 2010. Read the full article here. Scott summarizes the 6-hour Assayas film as “The failure of global revolution as farce, melodrama, erotic thriller and music video.” The Walker is proud to have been one of Carlos’ only big screen locations, but should be available through IFC on the small screen.

A.O. Scott also lists Howl as a runner up.

Carlos Trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH0t5Q9opMI&feature=related[/youtube]

Howl Trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba9yazkl0UE[/youtube]

Four Ways You Can Get to Know Allen Ginsberg

This month, the Walker Art Center presents four films from the life of notorious beat poet Allen Ginsberg. As a part of 1964 Ginsburg appears in Stockhausen’s Originale: Doubletakes. Screening through October 24th in the Friedman Gallery, Ginsberg appears alongside Allan Kaprow, Nam June Paik, Charlotte Moorman, and others in a performance filmed during Moorman’s […]

This month, the Walker Art Center presents four films from the life of notorious beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

As a part of 1964 Ginsburg appears in Stockhausen’s Originale: Doubletakes. Screening through October 24th in the Friedman Gallery, Ginsberg appears alongside Allan Kaprow, Nam June Paik, Charlotte Moorman, and others in a performance filmed during Moorman’s Second Annual New York Avant-Garde Festival. Directed by Peter Moore. 1964/1996, 16mm transferred to video, 33 minutes.

As a part of Event Horizon Ginsberg appears in Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie’s Pull My Daisy screening in the Gallery 2 active zone through October 3rd. Cited as one of the most influential works of independent film and as the beginning of the New American Cinema movement, Pull My Daisy was based on Jack Kerouac’s writings and features his voice-over narration. Poets Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, and Gregory Corso as well as painters Larry Rivers and Alice Neel all make appearances in this seminal Beat film about the relationship between art and everyday life. 1959, 16mm transferred to video, 28 minutes

Also screening this month, Jerry Aronson’s The Life and Time of Allen Ginsberg is screening in the Lecture Room through October 10th. Winner of the International Documentary Award’s top prize, this film goes beyond Ginsberg’s poetry to uncover an American cultural icon who championed human right, challenged political and social thought, and influenced culture for more than 60 years. This moving portrait includes interviews with Joan Baez, Beck, Thurston Moore, Yoko Ono, Stan Brakhage, and others 1994, video, 82 minutes.

Finally, James Franco portrays Allen Ginsberg in the Minnesota premiere of the new feature film, Howl, on Thursday, September 30th at 7:30pm.  This new vision, which premiered at Sundance, is not strictly a documentary or a feature film, but a film that intersperses a range of styles and techniques, including animation and archival footage, to tell various elements of the story.  Lauded as echoing “the startling originality of the poem itself…a genre-bending hybrid that brilliantly captures a pivotal moment—the birth of a counterculture,”  Howl reimagines the memorable 1955 reading as well as various interviews with the writer as a way to portray him defending his position with respect to the obscenity case. The film will be introduced by directors Rob Epstein and Jerry Friedman 2010, 35mm, 90 minutes.

Oscilloscope Laboratories will release the film in Minneapolis on October 15th at the Landmark Lagoon.

Howl Trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba9yazkl0UE&feature=related[/youtube]

Queer Takes: Alt Families

In its fifth anniversary program, Queer Takes delves into the complexities of the topic of families within the LGBT community—those who have been rejected by their blood relatives and formed new families among tight kin they’ve chosen as well as those facing the challenge of obtaining legal and official recognition of their relationships.

In its fifth anniversary program, Queer Takes delves into the complexities of the topic of families within the LGBT community—those who have been rejected by their blood relatives and formed new families among tight kin they’ve chosen as well as those facing the challenge of obtaining legal and official recognition of their relationships.

Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0S_-ouXi3I[/youtube]

Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL83Yl4-9Vc[/youtube]

Going South (Plein Sud)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ms2aYFqnV_0[/youtube]

Pat O’Neill

Recently I made a joke in passing that the only way you know that either a film or filmmaker is great is if Manohla Dargis of the New York Times gives her stamp of approval. Looking back on this joke (which was neither funny nor really joke at all) I think subconsciously I was on […]

Recently I made a joke in passing that the only way you know that either a film or filmmaker is great is if Manohla Dargis of the New York Times gives her stamp of approval. Looking back on this joke (which was neither funny nor really joke at all) I think subconsciously I was on to something. It seems after further investigation that each artist, each film Manohla writes highly about indeed stands out and fails to disappoint.

Pat O’Neill is no exception.

In November of 2004, Dargis wrote a piece following his opening at the Rosamund Felsen gallery in California.The article, titled In the Studios’ Shadow, An Avant-Garde Eye, is a pointed essay that juxtaposes his “studio life” with his personal career. Dotingly referring to him as a “filmmaker who has brushed conceptual elbows with such radically different personalities as the avant-garde pioneer Maya Deren and that consummate commercial moviemaker George Lucas,” Dargis captures the range O’Neill has that many overlook.

At UCLA, O’Neill started to make films as a graduate student of photography and design. Soon after he learned and started to use optical printing techniques to garner multiple exposures. It was his understanding of optical printing that led him to found Lookout Mountain Films and later create visual effects for Hollywood features including George Lucas’ The Empire Strikes Back.

But for O’Neill film is and was not a means to an end in the lucrative sense—film was a personal expression that explored visuals and technique, sight and sound. He is thoughtful in his construction, thoughtful of how the sound and picture of a film can capture, engulf, disturb, move and tickle the viewer. Dargis summarized a clip from O’Neill’s short Last of the Persimmons, articulating how seemingly obscure his image and sound construction can be, yet when put together, becomes pure perfection :

“As the colors shift and deepen, turning the luridly red persimmon brown, Mr. O’Neill adds some pulsing animated shapes that look like doughnuts one second, flowers the next, and seem very much to be dancing to the accompanying song, “Is It Love?” by T.Rex.”

In looking at his work, it is quite clear that his multi-disciplinary background is what makes his films stand out. He is not just a photographer, not simply a designer or filmmaker. He is a conscious amalgamation of all his mediums.

tiff08.ca

O’Neill will be in the Walker Cinema tomorrow evening , Thursday February 19, to introduce his films Trouble in the Image, Sidewinder’s Delta, and Horizontal Boundaries for the third installation of Tribute to Experimentation, Expanding the Frame. With Horizontal Boundaries, O’Neill interprets the landscapes of Los Angeles and enhances this multilayered portrait with a new soundtrack and a dazzling 35mm print. In Sidewinder’s Delta, a title from the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection, optical printing is used to combine original material with images drawn from found films. Rounding out the program is Trouble in the Image, a multilayered work that took more than a decade to complete.

Each of these three films poignantly uses the respected medium to convey something, anything, and perhaps everything to the viewer.

Apichatpong wins 2008 Fine Award at Carnegie International

Apichatpong Weerasethakul was at Walker in November 2004 to present New Language from Thailand Regis Dialogue: Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chuck Stephens. At that time Walker presented regional premieres of his films Sud pralad (Tropical Malady) and Sud Sangeha (Blissfully Yours.) Lesser known in 2004, especially outside of international cinema circles, this Thai artist has just […]

portrait of Apichatpong

Apichatpong Weerasethakul was at Walker in November 2004 to present New Language from Thailand

Regis Dialogue: Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chuck Stephens.

At that time Walker presented regional premieres of his films Sud pralad (Tropical Malady) and Sud Sangeha (Blissfully Yours.)

Lesser known in 2004, especially outside of international cinema circles, this Thai artist has just been awarded the Fine Prize, established by the Fine Foundation, at the Carnegie International exhibition that opened last weekend at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

Link to info about the dialogue and Chuck Stephen’s essay printed in the Walker’s Regis brochure.

A Violin, Nanking and Diablo Cody

Just a wee note to keep Walker Film/Video programs on your mind through this Thanksgiving weekend. First, thanks to all the people who made who turned out to make our last Cinemateca screening of the season, Francisco Vargas’ The Violin, such a great success. Although I was unable to attend the screening myself, from what […]

NankingJuno

Just a wee note to keep Walker Film/Video programs on your mind through this Thanksgiving weekend.

First, thanks to all the people who made who turned out to make our last Cinemateca screening of the season, Francisco Vargas’ The Violin, such a great success. Although I was unable to attend the screening myself, from what I’ve heard, Mr. Vargas was quite a crowd pleaser, eliciting some great comments from our friend, Bre Blaesing, a WACTAC member. Cinemateca returns in January with a whole new slate of films so stay tuned for information on that as if becomes available.

In other news, Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman’s documentary Nanking which screens here at the Walker (as a part of Premieres: First Look series) a week from this Wednesday, November 28, was short listed by the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences (AMPAS) for a Best Documentary Oscar. Also short listed, another amazing documentary we screened at the Walker last spring, The Rape of Europa.

Finally, we are happy to announce another Premieres: First Look screening, this time with close Minnesota ties, Jason Reitman’s Juno. Written by former City Pages writer Diablo Cody, the screening will take place December 13th at 7:30 PM and will be followed by a post-screening discussion with Ms. Cody taking questions from the audience.

Tickets for Nanking (screening November 28 at 7:30 pm) are $12 ($10 for Walker members).

Tickets for Juno go on sale to WALKER MEMBERS on Wednesday November 28 at 11am. Any tickets remaining on December 4 will then be made available to the general public. Tickets are $12 ($10 for Walker Members).