On one hand, cinema has mutated. It is no longer contained to the theater and its methods no longer simply produce simply 3 act narrative features. But was it ever so limited? The first films were hand cranked into a box at a parlor on 34th street. The military in WWII made cinema portable in order to bring secrets across enemy lines. Films taught people their trades. Video tape launched a spiritual and later political revolution against the dominant mode. The medium was never the message, so let's just celebrate what was seen and experienced—the movement was not just in the image but in our bodies (the real movement...was love). All is this to say, Keith and Peter have good fun exploring their favorite works of 2017, debating the nature of reality in a series of works either attempting to pull it from other the rug or expose it through unsuspecting places. Is it future? Or is it past? Or is it simply the now in which me must live. And live we must.
0:00-2:27 Opening 2:28-47:16 Picks for #5 47:16-1:16:00 Picks for #4 1:16:01-1:34:31 Picks for #3 1:35:14-1:39:05 Sponsorship Section 1:40:07-2:09:39 Picks for #2 2:09:40-2:25:07 Pick for #1 2:25:08-2:27:14 Final Thoughts
A love of cinema does not necessitate a love of a total work. Often it is a moment—a person, a camera movement, a lighting choice, or an emotional beat—that strikes us. When Peter and Keith discussed returning once again for their annual countdown, they decided that the first half of their lists should do something different. Instead of highlight their 6 through 10 picks for the year, they instead have chosen five "Moments Out Of Time" within often good (though perhaps bad) films that surprised, challenged, and delighted. With such a list, they discuss a plethora of topics, including a serious examination of the structures within Hollywood that have maintained and sustained diminishing standards under increasingly dubious and especially harmful authorities. Individual artists strive to rise above the system, and here, the two critics aim to find out why that is, and what could be done to uplift the system.
0:00-6:08 Opening 6:09-31:49 Picks for #5 31:50-56:49 Picks for #4 56:50-1:23:54 Picks for #3 1:25:08-1:28:10 Sponsorship Section 1:28:36-1:51:48 Picks for #2 1:51:49-2:18:07 Picks for #1 2:18:08-2:26:07 Repertory Picks of the Year
"I never make assumptions about what I'm looking at—I really try and understand something on its terms."
While every single restoration brings unique challenges, Mark Toscano sometimes has to ask a very strange question: did the filmmaker intend that scratch or speck or slice or anything that might appear like a problem or mistake as actually critical to the film? It's questions like these that bring energy to Mark as he works as a film preservationist at the Academy Film Archive, helping preserve and restore hundreds of experimental cinema works. Peter sits down with Mark to discuss his road from the George Eastman house to Canyon Cinema to the Academy, and some of the unique questions and relationships he builds as the canon of experimental cinema continue to expand under his purview. Finally, the two dive into the complex and wondrous world of Chick Strand in Soft Fiction, whose detailing of the sexual experiences and desires of women under her lyrical eye has gained complexity in today's discussions of sex and power.
0:00-3:39 Opening 4:54-12:11 Establishing Shot — UCLA's Recuerdos de un cine en español 12:57-1:25:05 Deep Focus — Mark Toscano 1:26:08-1:29:13 Sponsorship Section 1:30:41-1:51:30 Double Exposure — Soft Fiction (Chick Strand)
This year's slate of unique films on the festival circuits are works defined by individuals. Some follow how they define themselves to others—romantically or otherwise—while others follow their relationship to work, the state, and to their own being. Performers of dynamic and unique range create compelling faces and bodies to follow through spaces both familiar and alien, traversing time through aesthetic choices. Directors thus create tones through defining space and helping us see what is beyond the camera's gaze. In this report from the AFI Film Festival in Los Angeles, Peter invites on a cornucopia of wonderous guests to discuss some of the fall's most unique films. Works by Hong Sang-Soo, Claire Denis, Sergei Lonznista, Aaron Katz, and Valeska Grisebach explore the contemporary landscape with conviction, empathy, and pathos.
0:00-3:43 Opening 4:37-25:27 The Day After and Claire's Camera with Aret Frost 26:28-43:39 A Gentle Creature with Carson Lund 44:37-48:31 Sponsorship Section 50:10-1:03:31 Gemini with Gabriel Anderson 1:04:39-1:29:47 Western and Bright Sunshine In with Carman Tse
"I try to move from the text to the outer world...but I always start with the text."
Since debuting in the fairgrounds during the Fin de siècle of the late 19th century, movies have never been inseparable from our culture around them. So how does one write about them in a way that gives both the text and the world a fair shake? Over at The Ringer, K. Austin Collins has been using his writing to explore how films operate as cultural artifacts, even as the machine of Hollywood has attempted to vacuum itself from any discussion. Kam dives into his interest in writing as a practice and how he moved from the academic sphere into the weekly reviewing gig, and how he finds ways to bring his training to even writing about blockbusters. The two have a long discussion in particular about movie stars and the particular pleasures of watching them and seeing them create identities. Finally, Kam brings on Kenneth Lonergan's almost lost to litigation masterpiece Margaret with Anna Paquin, which leads to a discussion of what exactly is melodrama and how and why do movies affect us.
0:00-3:22 Opening 4:07-1:11:48 Deep Focus — K. Austin Collins 1:12:48-1:16:33Sponsorship Section 1:17:56-1:45:33 Double Exposure — Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
"An image is just a point to explore reality and memory."
As this podcast has explored, the limits of non-fiction have been continually pushed and pulled by daring filmmakers who refuse to understand the limits of what they can do. This week looks at two new releases from three creators asking questions of space, memory, history, and often themselves. First of all, Peter sits down with legendary French New Wave filmmaker Agnès Varda to discuss her new film, Visage Villages (in English, Faces Places), alongside her co-conspirator, the elusive street artist known as JR. They discuss the ins and outs of collaboration when their work ethics seemingly clash, the personalities they present on screen, and the "work" of their images. Then, Peter meets up with Baltimore filmmaker Theo Anthony to dissect his bold directorial debut, Rat Film. They discuss the alien style of the film and its interest in both the collection of data and the relation of its human subjects, all while asking how a film can provoke emotion and ideas in a diversity of ways without ever posing obvious solutions.
0:00-5:07 Opening 6:05-29:58 Agnès Varda and JR (Visage Villages) 30:43-35:22Sponsorship Section 36:22-1:00:56 Theo Anthony (Rat Film)
"Our aim for a lot of preservation—the standard goal—is to make it look
how it was seen before."
If more and more people are interested in shooting on film and projecting on film, there's one crucial step in between: how does film get from camera to screen? Through a lab obviously. But what does the lab do? Laura Major has been a staple at the Maryland based Colorlab for a number of years, helping the studio produce new 35mm negatives and positives of documentaries, experimental films, archival orphans, and more. Today, she sits down with Peter to trace out her own history from South Carolina to experimental film lover to a technician. They discuss the ins and outs of film processing and how Colorlab has integrated itself as a critical player in the future of celluloid. Finally, they dive into the Warren Beatty directed, Elaine May co-written Heaven Can Wait, a comedy built around a number of great performances and the strange odyssey that is the (now once again) Los Angeles Rams. 0:00-3:07 Opening 4:12-12:24 Establish Shots — Frederick Wiseman's Ex Libris 13:10-48:50 Deep Focus — Laua Major 50:34-53:18Sponsorship Section 54:48-1:10:57 Double Exposure — Heaven Can Wait (Warren Beatty)