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Lost William S. Burroughs Doc Resurfaces; Seeks Funders

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 20, 2012 1:48 PM
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  • 0 Comments
With a film version of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" about to be released and next month's Sundance fest premiering two films that deal with the Beat Generation ("Kill Your Darlings," a fictional portrait of beat legends Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs; and Michael Polish's adaptation of Kerouac's "Big Sur"), it's a perfect time to remember counter-cultural icon William S. Burroughs, one of the founding fathers of the movement. Actually, anytime is a perfect time to remember Burroughs, the radical thinker, "Naked Lunch" author and all-around-subversive rabble-rouser, whose Thanksgiving Day prayer remains a favorite YouTube clip. With the man in mind, there's a worthy Kickstarter campaign, with just one week to go, that's aiming to re-release and remaster the seminal 1983 doc "Burroughs: The Movie."

Reconsidering "Elephant" in the Wake of Newtown

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 20, 2012 9:06 AM
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  • 1 Comment
In 2003, I ranked Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" the best film of the year. I was entralled by its mesmerizing long-take visuals, its unconventional sound design, and its eerie, unsettling position on an American tragedy. And then after last week's shootings in Newtown, I suddenly found my favorite movie of 2003 to be a little distasteful and perhaps irresponsible. Everything I loved about it nine years ago I now disliked. Everything that impressed me now repelled me. Reaching middle-age may have something to do with it, but my shift on the film opened up an area of discussion--an age-old one, I might add--that I thought was worth revisiting.

Post-Newtown Tragedy, "Bowling for Columbine" Finds New Relevance (again)

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 16, 2012 7:49 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Michael Moore's 10-year-old documentary about gun violence in America, "Bowling for Columbine," is once again finding new relevance--and audiences--because of current events. In the wake of the Newtown school shootings, the film is spreading like wild fire on the Internet and among discussion boards. just as it did last July after the Aurora movie theater massacre. Posted for free on YouTube, the movie has been seen more than 437,000 times since it was uploaded in April 2011. Though Moore has been a ferocious advocate for gun control, he has not appeared on the talk-show news circut as he has in the past, citing, via Twitter, an interview he did last July.

The Top 12 Political Films of 2012

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 13, 2012 2:02 PM
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  • 4 Comments
As an election year, 2012 was particularly rife with political filmmaking. Capitalizing on the highly energized, contentious race for the White House—and a body politic particularly attuned to issues of economic inequality and foreign instability—Hollywood definitely got into the act: Even "The Dark Knight Rises" presented muddled perspectives on the super-rich and the less fortunate, hero-izing and condemning both elite and revolutionaries, alike. I don't think the film is one of the best political movies of the year—can anyone clearly identify its political stance, after all?—nor will I take this space to herald "Argo"—which I've written about elsewhere, and find to be deeply problematic in its depiction of Iran's Islamic Revolution—or "Zero Dark Thirty," which, likewise, confirms my suspicions about any movie that has CIA agents or American men with guns vanquishing an enemy.

Historical Traumas Haunt Foreign Oscar Fare

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 10, 2012 9:48 AM
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  • 1 Comment
A number of foreign-language Oscar submissions this year coincidentally (or not) recount tales of totalitarian governments and repressive groups, and the entrapped individuals who struggle against them, as I report in a recent Variety article ("How to tackle a tyrant," Dec 8). Whether it's 18th Century Denmark ("A Royal Affair"), 1950s Czechoslovakia ("In the Shadow"), Chile and East Germany in the 1980s ("No," "Barbara"), war-ravaged Germany in the wake of World War II ("Lore"), an ultra-orthodox religious community in rural Romania ("Beyond the Hills") or brutal child militias in Africa ("War Witch"), there's a whole lot of subjugation to go around.

What's More Inane than "2016: Obama's America" Filmmakers Whining About Oscar?

  • By Anthony Kaufman
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  • December 6, 2012 12:58 PM
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  • 2 Comments
What's more inane? That Gerald Molen, the Oscar-winning producer of "Schindler’s List "and "2016: Obama's America" and the doc's director Dinesh D’Souza believe they should have been on the Oscar shortlist for best documentary? Or that The Hollywood Reporter published a story about their ridiculously unfounded complaints? According to the trade/gossip rag, the filmmakers state that their film's lack of recognition by the Academy proves that the industry is biased against conservatives. What they don't account for, of course, is that the film's lack of recognition by the Academy may be, in fact, because the movie is bad.

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