Sunday, November 26, 2017

Affairs to Remember: Selections from AFI Fest 2017


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
1:30:37-1:32:49 Close / Outtake

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Episode #97 - K. Austin Collins (Margaret)

"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
1:12:48-1:16:33 Sponsorship Section
1:17:56-1:45:33 Double Exposure — Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
1:46:37-1:48:36 Close 

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Boundaries of Reality: New Non-Fiction With Agnès Varda, JR, and Theo Anthony

"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)
30:43-35:22 Sponsorship Section
36:22-1:00:56 Theo Anthony (Rat Film)
1:01:02-1:02:46 Close / Outtake

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Episode #96 - Laura Major (Heaven Can Wait)

"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
50:34-53:18 Sponsorship Section
54:48-1:10:57 Double Exposure — Heaven Can Wait (Warren Beatty)
1:11:20-1:14:09 Close / Outtake

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

"But Who Is The Dreamer?" Twin Peaks: The Return

In a summer where blockbusters felt stale and indie films became rote, cinephilia thrived every Sunday night as David Lynch put on an 18-hour spectacle on primetime television. Twin Peaks: The Return saw the filmmaker behind Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr. return to the soap opera that would in part define two decades of serialized television. He created not just a new spin on the story of Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer, but instead delved into a mystery that felt more aesthetically, narratively, and emotionally involved than any other visual story this year. As the boundaries between cinema, television, streaming, and other categories have become less defined, Twin Peaks: The Return lept past these debates to simply create an utterly singular work about the never ending battle between good and evil. To celebrate the show's culmination (and perhaps the capstone of Lynch's career), Peter invites a Roadhouse worthy group of  guests—Alison Herman of The Ringer, Scott Nye of Battleship Pretension and Criterion Cast, and Nate Fisher of Mubi Notebook—to dissect the show's use of nostalgic devices, moral dichotomies, and employment of experimental cinema techniques. Grab a coffee, watch out for the tulpas, and don't give anyone a light, we're all Twin Peaks this week on the podcast.

0:00-4:16 Opening
4:16-46:35 Discussing Twin Peaks: The Return
47:05-49:44 Sponsorship Section
50:36-1:3019 More on The Return
1:31:14-1:34:19 Close / Outtake

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Total Film-Maker: Jerry Lewis (1926-2017)


When it comes to a cinephilic appreciation of comedy, who better represented it than The Total Film-Maker, Le Roi du Crazy, the Nutty Professor? Jerry Lewis was a totem in the hall of cinephilia and with good reason. No one worked harder to create an entirely unique style of filmmaking that no one else could come close to matching—to the ire of some but to the adoration of a select few. While his collabrators—Dean Martin, Hal Wallis, Frank Tashlin, and Martin Scorsese among others—are equally legendary, it is impossible to take one's eyes off Jerry and what he did, breaking the rules in order to get the funniest of laughs. To celebrate the passing of one of the last titans of Classical Hollywood (even though he never seemed to fit it), Jaime Christley of The Village Voice and Slant Magazine joins Peter to discuss elements of what made this filmmaker so unique and why they still can't stop laughing at his gags.

0:00-3:53 Opening
3:53-32:05 Discussing Jerry Lewis
32:48-36:08 Sponsorship Section
36:56-48:39 Jerry and the Critics
48:39-1:07:48 Favorite Jerry Moments
1:08:56-1:10:51 Close / Outtake

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Episode #95 - Chicago Film Archives (American Revolution 2)

"We have an impulse to simply collect and preserve. We don't want things to disappear."

For many historians, what made the 20th century so unique from the time before was the idea of the visual, the idea that we as a society began responding to images (both still and moving) rather than text. This visual life did not just happen through Hollywood, but in films made by advertising groups, for school children, and by families across the world as we documented the world's beauties and scars. Saving a particular section of these images has become the goal of Chicago Film Archives. The institution has spent over a decade finding and saving the images that define the Great Lakes city and the surrounding area, demonstrating how visual images capture and display American life through the 20th century. In this episode, Peter sits down with multiple members of the archives (Michelle Puetz—Curator of Programming; Brian Belak—Collections Manager; Amy Belotti—Digital Collections Manager) to discuss its history and its future. They end their conversation examining one of its most prized works, American Revolution 2, in which ideology along the left becomes an increasingly impossible debate.

0:00-3:42 Opening
4:17-12:27 Establishing Shots — Blockbuster Auteurs (Dunkirk and Logan Lucky)
13:12-50:19 Deep Focus — Chicago Film Archives
50:57-54:10 Sponsorship Section
55:19-1:12:19 Double Exposure — American Revolution 2 (Howard Alk and the Film Group)
1:12:23-1:14:00 Close
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