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Eric Kohn

William Mapother is Creepy, But Not in "Another Earth."

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • July 18, 2011 5:15 AM
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When I saw "Another Earth" at Sundance earlier this year, I was caught off guard by the presence of William Mapother. A cousin of Tom Cruise, Mapother recently played the eerie "Other" Ethan on ABC's "Lost," showing up in the first season as a mysterious presence among the plane crash survivors and slowly taking on a more complex dimension over the course of the show (even long after his character was killed off). Although I wrote in my review that Mapother did powerful work in "Another Earth," which opens this week, it's mostly the material that deepens his performance. I don't really feel for the guy as a frustrated widower; he seems like a better fit for the Paul Giamatti school of uncomfortable anti-heroes, as the embedded clip below hopefully demonstrates.

"Our Time," A Documentary About Today's American Youth.

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • July 17, 2011 9:16 AM
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I've been really curious about "Our Time," a documentary directed by Matt Heineman and Matt Wiggins about four recent college grads traveling the country in a quest to understand it. I have yet to watch the movie, which premiered on the Documentary Channel last night, but there will be other opportunities: It's currently available on Amazon and making its way to other VOD platforms soon. In the meantime, I've asked my friend and current Columbia University doctorate candidate Ryan Hagen, who contributed some writing to "Our Time," for his brief thoughts on the project.

This Saturday, Check Out the Last Panel on Distribution You Ever Need to Attend.

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • July 15, 2011 12:00 PM
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I've had a great time putting together a series of events this month to celebrate indieWIRE's 15th anniversary. Although I've only been involved with the site a fraction of that time, I'm always amazed when I hear from longtime readers of the site. indieWIRE has been around to cover some of the biggest accomplishments in (largely American) cinema in recent years. That's what the indieWIRE at 15 series at 92YTribeca and the premiere of the Sundance hit "Bellflower" on Friday are meant to recognize. But there's another aspect of this world--the business side--that indieWIRE has also followed closely. We'll tap into that side of the story on Saturday.

A Yiddish-Speaker Sees "Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish."

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • July 13, 2011 9:15 AM
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You don't have to find the Yiddish language inherently amusing to get something out of "Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish" -- which is currently playing at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center -- but it helps. A linguistic oddity with oodles of charm, it cleverly satirizes the paradoxical sense of pride and self-loathing that has come to define the modern America Jew. Eve Annenberg's scrappy feature has plenty of appeal if you're willing to go with it.

In Praise of Roman Polanski's "What?"

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • July 11, 2011 2:52 AM
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Roman Polanski's "What?" is a pleasurably offbeat sex romp that deserves greater recognition among fans of his work. Made in 1972 (but released in the U.S., just barely, with an X rating in 1973; see a review here), the movie preceded "Chinatown," Polanski's universally acclaimed masterpiece, and a far more palatable expression of the director's talents than this twisted satire of free love and American innocence.

5 John Carpenter Alternatives to "The Ward."

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • July 6, 2011 6:27 AM
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In a review posted today on the main site, I wasn't exactly kind to John Carpenter's "The Ward," although if it was just some forgettable effort from a first-timer I may have simply ignored it. Instead, it's a forgettable effort from a guy who has made masterpieces and for all intents and purposes should still be able to make them. "The Ward" proves that by containing many of the components of great Carpenter works while failing to bring them to life. Here are a few other options that will remain classics long after "The Ward" fades from memory. ("Halloween" being "Halloween," I have left it off this list. It's not really fair to compare any movie to an acknowledged classic of its genre, is it?) With the exception of "Dark Star," all of these titles are available on Netflix Instant.

Robert Sklar, RIP.

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • July 5, 2011 12:00 PM
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  • 3 Comments
I was lucky enough to take one course taught by Robert Sklar, the esteemed film historian and scholar who passed away over the weekend in an unexpected accident, but wish I could have taken many more. Sklar's most influential work, "Movie-Made America," first came out over thirty years ago but remains one of the most important texts for the study of American cinema. (After all, he helped invent the field.) Its thesis, that American film culture owed much to the lower class and the struggles against capitalist interests rather than efforts to sustain them, echoed the egalitarian nature of Sklar's writing: Although primarily an academic, he had the capacity to speak to movie lovers of all stripes. In doing so, he was essentially an activist, capable of making the inarguable case for taking movies seriously--not only as an art form, but a socio-economic force that helps us understand the world.

The Starman Who Fell to Earth.

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • July 1, 2011 8:39 AM
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Random question: Has anyone ever pointed out the relationship between these two films?

Interactive Theater Blows My Mind: "Sleep No More."

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • May 4, 2011 12:00 PM
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Art, particularly when it takes the form of a story, typically encourages a passive experience; the sensational interactive theater production "Sleep No More" works against that tendency. Loosely adapted from "Macbeth," the traveling show is currently housed at a warehouse in Chelsea, where it has been held over through June due to the hugely positive reception. I finally got a chance to try it out last Friday.

"Melancholia" vs. "Another Earth": Which "Invading Planet" Movie Will You See?

  • By Eric Kohn
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  • April 8, 2011 5:13 AM
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The trailer for Lars Von Trier's dark family drama "Melancholia" hit the web today, catching fire immediately for its freaky apocalyptic imagery and intense performances by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Anne Thompson compared the heavy symbolic content to Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life" trailer, which I broke down shot-by-shot a little while back. "Melancholia" isn't quite as visually dense, but it's certainly loaded with big ideas, although it have some company. "Another Earth," the low budget sci-fi effort directed by Mike Cahill and picked up by Fox Searchlight at Sundance this year, also involves the sudden arrival of a new planet adjacent to our own. "Another Earth" hits theaters July 20; "Melancholia" doesn't have a release date yet, although Magnolia Pictures will distribute it in the U.S.

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