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VIDEO ESSAY: The Coen Canon

Fear is at the root of much of what we consider humorous in films. The fear that something, whether it’s a job, a relationship, or some larger dramatic situation, might go wrong is always present in cinematic humor. This connection between fear and comedy gives the Coen brothers' films their power.
  • By Nelson Carvajal and Max Winter
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  • December 27, 2013 4:48 AM
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  • 1 Comment

How WHITE REINDEER Defies Cliches of Grief

"White Reindeer" is all about a woman’s grieving process—is steeped in it, in fact—and its great strength lies in its determination to work against filmic clichés of that process. Its outstanding set of actors, fantastically chosen soundtrack, and moving, sensitive cinematography make this film so genuine you can almost taste it.
  • By Max Winter
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  • December 6, 2013 2:04 PM
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Some Things Are Best Done the Old-Fashioned Way, Pixar Studios: The Beauty of IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY?

Gondry tells two stories at once with "Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?": one is a plain-spoken, relaxedly paced conversation with Noam Chomsky about his life and thought; the other is the story of a filmmaker's attempt to understand Chomsky's words, expressed through highly personalized and gloriously imperfect drawings.
  • By Max Winter
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  • December 3, 2013 4:33 PM
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  • 0 Comments

In the Future We Will Have Less of Everything: On HOW I LIVE NOW and Its Predecessors

Has there ever been a film about the future that advocated in favor of progress, rather than against it? "How I Live Now," in its own quiet way, works beautifully and admirably against this trend, pervasive as its gloom might be, in suggesting that the sanctity of human relationships can create a barrier between the self and the crumbling world.
  • By Max Winter
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  • November 20, 2013 7:35 PM
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  • 0 Comments

SUNLIGHT JR. and American Film's Misunderstanding of Poverty

American filmmakers don't understand the poor. From Charlie Chaplin's Tramp films on through "Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire," the portrayal of impoverished people in films has settled into a comfortable group of cliches.
  • By Max Winter
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  • November 18, 2013 4:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments

The Good Struggle: ILYA AND EMILIA KABAKOV: ENTER HERE

"Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here" is less a documentary than a study of the ways we react to tragedy, to trauma, to past suffering--in Kabakov's case, the trauma was the time he spent living under Soviet rule, from 1933 to 1987.
  • By Max Winter
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  • November 16, 2013 4:37 PM
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  • 0 Comments

The Tragic Absorption of THE MOTEL LIFE

There are times, during THE MOTEL LIFE, when it seems as if the film is sustaining itself on pure mood.
  • By Max Winter
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  • November 9, 2013 10:37 PM
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The Axis of Cool in DRINKING BUDDIES, and How It Tilts

Joe Swanberg, as has been duly noted elsewhere, is building a portrait of a generation with his body of work. It's easy to imagine that, as Swanberg's films expand in scope, the crisis his characters face, the crucial question--can my plaid, my organic coffee, and my iPod survive my larger life crisis?--will become a more and more resounding issue.
  • By Max Winter
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  • September 3, 2013 8:36 AM
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  • 0 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Gliding Over All: The Cinematography of BREAKING BAD, Season 1

The sense that a man, when faced with a problem, be it the legality of his enterprise, death, the ineptitude of other humans, or all three, might flail in the desert air, and find nothing giving resistance, moving him forward.
  • By Dave Bunting, Jr. and Max Winter
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  • August 13, 2013 9:52 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Can't See the Movie for the Screen: THE CANYONS and the American Worship of Celebrities

I could write an entire essay about "The Canyons"--1000-2000 words, at least--without ever having seen it.
  • By Max Winter
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  • August 5, 2013 1:28 AM
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  • 1 Comment

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