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Eric Kohn

What Does It Mean To Be A "Sundance Rock Star"?

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • December 1, 2011 8:35 PM
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  • 5 Comments
That's the question I asked myself shortly after assembling the gallery of filmmakers featured in several recent Indiewire articles about the festival's upcoming lineup. The term sprang to mind because I immediately started compiling a list of notable directors in this year's program. The myth of the Sundance breakout tends to dominate the festival's reputation, just as the usual cast of acclaimed auteurs usually define Cannes. However, Sundance has its own roster of regulars precisely because it discovers a lot of emerging talent. It's also commonplace to dismiss Sundance for favoring red carpet glamour, which is sometimes merited when the movie associated with said carpet utterly blows. But the truth is that Sundance can and does attract first-rate filmmakers, both from its so-called "family" and beyond--from the Duplass and Zellner brothers to So Young Kim and Quentin Dupieux. Does that mean that they'll deliver? Well, that's a different question we'll have to wait until next month to answer. Needless to say, just because you're a rock star doesn't mean you can always rock out. 

"Beginners"? "Tree Of Life"? Nevermind. The Real Winner of the 2011 Gothams Was Patton Oswalt.

  • November 29, 2011 11:41 AM
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I had the privilege of serving on two nominating committees for the Gotham awards this year: Best Breakthrough Performance and Best Ensemble. That meant I played a role in narrowing the field down to five contenders in each of those categories, although I didn't know who won until the names were announced at last night's ceremony. I would say it doesn't really matter, that everyone nominated was a winner and equally deserving and should feel like they got a prize just by winding up in those category...but I'm already on the record as a huge fan of "Beginners," Mike Mills' delicate sophomore feature that landed both the ensemble prize and tied for Best Feature with "Tree of Life." Without saying much more, I will say that I'm glad that worked out. Still, the real performance worth celebrating at this year's Gothams ceremony had nothing to do with any of the nominated films. Patton Oswalt, onstage to introduce his "Young Adult" co-star Charlize Theron for a tribute award, owned the evening.

In Praise Of Woody Allen: A Personal Ode.

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • November 25, 2011 6:21 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Like many Americans reared on eighties pop culture, I first discovered the potential of cinema by way of Steven Spielberg. The escapism of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," derivative as it may have been to viewers more readily familiar with the matinee serials that inspired it, brought an exotic world of possibilities to life for these relatively sheltered eyes. But I don't want to give Spielberg all the credit for revving up my movie engine; while Spielberg's refined spectacles introduced me to a new world, I was equally excited by the discovery of a familiar one by way of Woody Allen. I've had Allen on the mind a lot this week, having just watched Robert Weide's terrific two-part PBS documentary about the 75-year-old director for the network's "American Masters" series. Weide's refined survey touches on everything you wanted to know about Woody but never had the opportunity to ask, from his lovably arcane insistence on tapping everything out on the same typewriter he's had for 30 or so years to the slight but usually effective approach he brings to coaching performances. While Allen has moved through various "periods," his technique and outlook have remained fairly stable. Even though I haven't been entirely thrilled by his last few movies, the Allen drug--the neuroses that felt like home--retains its vibrancy in his comedies, and takes on a deliciously grim finality in his thrillers. Even when he strikes out, he's still true to himself. I enjoyed "Midnight in Paris" when I saw it at Cannes earlier this year, although compared to the "earlier, funnier" Allen comedies it brings to mind (as Allen memorably calls them in "Stardust Memories"), the movie's status as Allen's highest grossing film to date is mainly a triumph for Sony Pictures Classics. It means nothing to Allen. And for the sake of consistency alone, it shouldn't. As he says in the final seconds of Weide's documentary: "Despite all these lucky breaks, why do I still feel like I got screwed?"

A Socialist Nightmare: Revisiting "Martha Marcy May Marlene" By Way Of "The Crowd."

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • November 22, 2011 8:15 AM
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  • 2 Comments
A Socialist Nightmare: Revisiting "Martha Marcy May Marlene" By Way Of "The Crowd."

How I Met My Doppelganger at "Twilight," And What He Taught Me.

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • November 18, 2011 6:45 PM
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  • 1 Comment
How I Met My Doppelganger at "Twilight," And What He Taught Me.

Catching Up: Brief Thoughts on Soderbergh's "Contagion."

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • November 18, 2011 9:15 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Catching Up: Brief Thoughts on Soderbergh's "Contagion."

Before You Say "Fuck 'Twilight,'" Wait. Seriously, "Breaking Dawn" Is Sort of Good.

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • November 17, 2011 8:34 AM
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  • 5 Comments
I'm not about to make any sweeping claims about the aesthetic mastery of the fourth entry in the "The Twilight Saga," clumsily subtitled "Breaking Dawn Part 1," and unquestionably conceived with the same glossy and thematically conservative mindset that made the books into a teeny bopper hit. However, those familiar with the series know that the shit really hits the fan in this one, and to see it happen temporarily clears away some of the series' more obnoxious qualities. It's right there in the plot: Vampire Edward marries human sweetheart Bella, carts her away for a luxurious Brazilian honeymoon, de-virginizes her with uber-rough horny vampire fornication, and accidentally knocks her up. (Does vampire seed pierce condoms? If so, ouch.)

Serge Bromberg Premieres Colorized "A Trip to the Moon" & Behind-the-Scenes Doc

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • November 13, 2011 3:39 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Serge Bromberg Premieres Colorized "A Trip to the Moon" & Behind-the-Scenes Doc

Brief Thoughts From DOC NYC on "The Island President" and "Girl with Black Balloon"

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • November 9, 2011 5:09 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Running a film festival is always a daunting task, and starting one is even harder. These two reasons make it particularly impressive that Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen have managed to turn DOC NYC into a major New York City film event, not only for industry people in the know but moviegoers at large, by only its second year. I wasn’t crazy about Werner Herzog’s “Into the Abyss,” but have no qualms with its selection as this year’s opening night film; Herzog’s a bonafide art house rock star and brings the crowds, exactly the sort of coup necessary to lift the festival’s profile out of the documentary ghetto and give it the appearance of a savvy event worth any cultured New Yorker’s time.

Juvenilia As Art: Harold and Kumar and Sonic the Hedgehog.

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • November 6, 2011 11:17 AM
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  • 1 Comment
I just picked up SEGA's newly released videogame "Sonic Generations," a throwback to the original "Sonic" game released on SEGA's early platform 20 years ago. The new game aims to be a nostalgia trip and delivers on that promise in spades. By that I mean it satisfies the need for speed precisely the way the classic version did. "Sonic Generations" beefs up the visuals and some of the gameplay immersion with 3-D graphics and a wandering virtual camera, but the sheer desire for forward motion remains the same. Thankfully.

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