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Weekend Reel Reads: Selections from the Locarno Critics Academy

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by Steve Greene
August 12, 2012 1:02 PM
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"Locarno's Piazza Grande"

As the Locarno Critics Academy reaches its conclusion, we present a special version of Weekend Reel Reads featuring work from our eight studious and eloquent members. The pieces listed below appeared on Criticwire, the Locarno festival blog and on the Film Society of Lincoln Center blog. (Previous dispatches from Academy members can be also found here.)

Beatrice Behn

Boy vs. Girl: Behn deconstructs "Ruby Sparks," looking at how both genders are represented and how certain genre elements in the film inform that development.

Seeing the Sights in the Films of Ben Wheatley: Eschewing the traditional trappings of relationship movies, Wheatley often instead substitutes genre-weaving scenes of violence and destruction.

Zeba Blay

Different Shades of the Male Ideal: The first day of Locarno films featured "La Pirogue" and "The Sweeney," two films that represent a wide cultural gap between competing visions of the ultimate man.

Changing Perceptions Through Art: A panel discussion with Harry Belafonte reveals the musician's views on how cinema can relate to political action.

Of Bridesmaids and Manic Pixies: Female Archetypes in 'Ruby Sparks' and 'Bachelorette': Regardless of whether or not thes two American films are successful in their representation or deconstruction of the popular trope, it's possible that the women onscreen still exist as ideas.

Adam Cook

My River Runs to Thee: New Films from Apichatpong Weerasethakul: The director's latest trio of short film outputs may lack the majesty of his previous feature-length efforts, but there's a meaningful purposefulness in their smaller scope.

Locarno's Northern Lights: As a Canadian, Cook takes a specific look at a pair of films, including Kazik Radwanski's "Tower," the lone Canadian production on the festival docket.

Telling the Story of Cinema: An overview of Locarno's new "Histoire(s) du Cinéma" programming section, which highlights specific filmmakers and continues a tradition of film restoration.

Marc Menichini

Reappraising Preminger's Early Work: The famed director may have notably despised his early output, but those five films are certainly worth remembering.

Interview: Apichatpong Weerasethakul Recalls His Past Films and Future Plans: Menichini spoke with the "Uncle Boonmee" director about his filmmaking influences and his increasingly busy production schedule.

Michael Nordine

Expectation and Discovery: Reviews of "Berberian Sound Studio" and "Padroni di Casa," both which debuted in the wake of different attempts to cull pre-screening favor.

Tension and Release: Amidst his evaluations of "Starlet" and "Museum Hours," Nordine heaps lavish praise upon the new documentary "Leviathan," which gives a hyper-intimate look at New England fishermen.

Toby Jones, Household Face: You know his face, but Jones' performance in "Berberian Sound Studio" cements his pedigree as a fine lead actor deserving of wide recognition. 

Claudia Piwecki

Illusions Against Reality in Pablo Larraín’s “No”: The immersive nature of the Chilean trilogy-capper is bolstered by its excruciating attention to detail and its effective use of archival footage.

Good Mothers and Bad Children at Locarno 2012: "Shouting Secrets" and "Quelques Heures de Printemps" both present scenes of mothers reuniting with family members, but the various fates of the central mothers illuminate different dynamics within that common process.

Ari Gunnar Thorsteinsson

Fearing Other People: Four of the festival's films (including perhaps most explicitly "Berberian Sound Studio") deal with the importance of communication in fragile and sometimes-aggressive interpersonal relationships.

Sharing impressions with the Starlet cast: A Q&A with director Sean Baker and his central cast reveals portions of the film's casting process and the level of suspect activity actually performed by the main young players.

Friends, heists and autobiographies: Thorsteinsson's dispatch from the Roger Avary panel covers the filmmaker's first meetings with Quentin Tarantino and stories from his first effort as a director.

Dueling Visions of Fantasy at the Locarno Film Festival: "Ruby Sparks" and "Magic Mike" present ideas of sexual attractiveness that delve deeper than the basic, superficial and physical.

Some Theories About Rodney Ascher's 'Room 237': Rather than a film that condemns or mocks those who would unpack different theories about the Kubrick classic, Ascher's film is a tribute to criticism in all its forms.

Giovanni Vimercati (Celluloid Liberation Front)

Compliance and its Law Abiding Tormenters: Craig Zobel's new film represents timely and important examples of what it means to respond to authority.

The Specter of Pornography: A treatise on the manifestation of pornography in a pair of films, including how it appears in recent on-screen dialogue.

'Far From Afghanistan, Indeed': The new documentary presents an alternate view of criminality, challenging publicly held notions about the nature of war.

Days of Future Women Past: The Films of Marco Ferreri and Ornella Muti: Locarno screened three films from the director-actress pairing, made over an eight-year period in the late 70s and early 80s. The assessment? The films haven't aged a day.

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