REVERSEBLOG: the reverse shot blog

See It Big: "Alien"

  • By robbiefreeling
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  • October 25, 2011 11:27 AM
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Before I saw a single frame of Alien, it had nested under my skin. First imprinted on my underage mind was an image from the movie poster, which depicted an asteroid-like egg hovering over a latticework of gnarled moon rock, hatching spooky green light. A L I E N, it said, in a futuristic DOS-like type treatment paired with a singularly chilling tagline: “In space no one can hear you scream.” This movie might make me die, I remember thinking. This is a movie I want to see. (As a grade-schooler, I had been oddly immune to the galactic adventures of Luke, Leia, Obi-Wan, and the Rebel Alliance. It was simply a gut instinct—I wasn’t interested in Good vs. Evil. Alien was a different story.)
More: See It Big

A Few Great Pumpkins VI—First Night: The Masque of the Red Death

  • By robbiefreeling
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  • October 25, 2011 10:13 AM
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First Night:The Masque of the Red Death
More: Halloween

NYFF: Michel Hazanavicius's "The Artist"

  • By robbiefreeling
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  • October 22, 2011 2:28 AM
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One of the most celebrated works of the great French cartoonist Sempé depicts a man who sees a lady fall over in the street and cannot contain his laughter, just as a large funeral cortège passes by. The grieving mourners are horrified by his behavior, so he takes refuge in a movie theater, where a Chaplin film is playing. As the entire theater rocks with laughter at the sight of Chaplin’s tramp falling in the street, the man sits quietly and weeps.

"Martha Marcy May Marlene" plus an interview with director Sean Durkin

  • By robbiefreeling
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  • October 20, 2011 3:50 AM
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Like Jeff Nichols’s Take Shelter—its only real rival for the title of Fall’s Best American Film—Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene concludes on a shot that’s either totally declarative or sneakily ambiguous. In both cases, it’s up to the viewer to decide whether the filmmaker has placed all of his cards on the table or is still holding a couple close to the vest. The comparisons between the two films don’t end there, either. While largely dissimilar in terms of style and subject matter, Take Shelter and Martha Marcy May Marlene are movies that warily examine gender roles—flipped mirror images of characters looking for a way out to find themselves ever more tightly constricted. Read Adam Nayman's review

Kaurismäki's "Le Havre" opens this Friday

  • By robbiefreeling
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  • October 19, 2011 9:56 AM
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Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre starts like a caper film: two shoe-shiners stand at a railway station, waves of sneakers passing by. Then, a fine pair of leather oxfords stops before them. The camera tilts up to a man handcuffed to a briefcase, and, with his eyes darting around suspiciously, he lifts his shoe for a polish. He rushes off, and moments later we hear a gunshot. The churlish Marcel Marx (André Wilms) shrugs, “Well, at least I got paid first.”

NYFF: Alexander Payne's "The Descendants"

  • By robbiefreeling
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  • October 18, 2011 6:01 AM
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An essentially dark drama bathed in tropical sunlight, Alexander Payne’s The Descendants almost dares you to take it seriously. Its glib direct-address voice-over narration, its sitcom-like establishing shots, its gaudy aesthetic of Hawaiian shirts and palm trees—none of these gestures announce The Descendants as a film striving for artistic credibility. And that’s just fine—for Payne and for us. As he showed in Election and About Schmidt, especially, Payne works in a defiantly accessible and mainstream register, yet manages to inject an emotional authenticity into his films, so that his characters, while clearly readable as regional and social types, behave in a manner that never feels overly cheapened by the machinations of some puppet master behind the scenes.

NYFF: Simon Curtis's "My Week with Marilyn"

  • By robbiefreeling
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  • October 18, 2011 2:40 AM
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As Andy Warhol well understood, Marilyn Monroe was a particularly modern type of celebrity, better known as an image than any character she played. His screenprinted portraits of her traded on her iconic power, demonstrating in popular culture as well as in silkscreen ink, that where it concerned Marilyn there was no such thing as over-saturation. Monroe’s entire persona, of course, was already a media creation, a role carefully crafted with platinum blonde curls, an alliterative stage name, a wink, and a smile. Since her death in 1962, there has been no shortage of actresses, Vegas imitators, and drag queens that have assumed the part, all to varying degrees of camp, yet beyond any historical interest a filmmaker would have in examining the sensationalist details of her life, her story also occasions a look into the nature of contemporary image-making itself.

NYFF: Mia Hansen-Love's "Goodbye First Love"

  • By robbiefreeling
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  • October 17, 2011 10:12 AM
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Goodbye First Love, the third feature from Cahiers du cinéma critic turned filmmaker Mia Hansen-Love, resembles her last, The Father of My Children, in several key ways. While the two films tell very different stories, both take a look at the fallout from personal catastrophes (in the new movie, the loss by attrition of a first love; in the older one, the death of a father), with a particular interest in these events as formative experiences for young adults. As time passes, via a steady rhythm of daily business (phone calls, appointments, parties, moping around), grief slowly begins to give way, as it never seemed it would, to a tentative levity. Hansen-Love also takes a loose before-and-after approach to these narratives. The Father of My Children is abruptly bifurcated; her new film spans years (around the turn of the twenty-first century) and drifts along episodically, though it also hinges on an imminent loss, if a less irrevocable one. Read Benjamin Mercer's review of Goodbye First Love.

Monday Hangover: The Thing

  • By robbiefreeling
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  • October 17, 2011 8:12 AM
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Monday Hangover: The ThingBy Adam Nayman and Michael Nordine

NYFF: Jafar Panahi's "This Is Not a Film"

  • By robbiefreeling
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  • October 17, 2011 2:56 AM
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Jafar Panahi is in danger of being reduced to a cause. Arrested in 2010 on nebulous charges that he was engaged in making a propaganda film attacking the Iranian government, Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison and received a 20-year ban from directing or writing any new movies. Panahi’s arrest galvanized the international film community, eliciting petitions and symbolic acts of protest (Panahi was made an honorary member of the 2010 Cannes jury, and an empty chair was reserved for him at the festival). Lost in all of this advocacy, however, are Panahi’s movies themselves. If he deserves to be called one of the world’s great filmmakers—and he surely does—it is on the basis of his extraordinary oeuvre, not because of the oppressive actions of an autocratic regime.

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