Sunday, November 29, 2015

Episode #71 - Kristin Thompson (How Green Was My Valley)

"You always start with saying, 'What is this film trying to do?'"

If you've taken a film studies course in the last couple decades, you likely came across Film Art on the required book purchases. Chances are you first learned how to investigate the structure of a film (narrative, editing, mise-en-scene, sound, etc) before learning how to recognize ideology, or apply psychoanalytic theories. Wherever one's interest lie in looking at cinema, the work by film scholar Kristin Thompson over the last four decades has provided intensive groundwork into looking at Hollywood cinema's most intuitive principles and beyond. Kristin sits down to traces her entrance into academic film studies and developing a method for understanding form as adapted from Russian theories, the history of classical structure as developed by Hollywood and its legacy both abroad in the silent era and continuing into even today's so-called "VFX-driven" movies, and her work on The Lord of the Rings franchise and its game-changing success in the new century. Finally, the two sit down to look at John Ford's How Green Was My Valley, which employs unique methods of narrative strategy and compositional staging to create a poetic "three-hankie picture" (and well deserving of its 1941 Oscar).

0:00-3:03 Opening
4:21-11:36  Establishing Shots - Manhunter
12:21-58:18 Deep Focus - Kristin Thompson
59:27-1:02:07 Mubi Sponsorship
1:03:49-1:22:27 Double Exposure - How Green Was My Valley (John Ford)
1:22:31-1:24:09 Close
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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Episode #70 - Jonathan Rosenbaum (Out 1)

"The role of criticism was to improve the discourse, but as an intermediary function. The discourse around a film begins before the critic comes along, continues after the critic leaves. But if the critic is doing something right, more avenues are opened up.""

Dedicated listeners of The Cinephiliacs may be familiar with the phrase, "And then I discovered Jonathan Rosenbaum's writing," as countless cinephiles have been inspired by his many words in the Chicago Reader and beyond. Thus, this latest episode of the podcast interviews the man who championed films beyond the canon, exploring cinema through an essayistic, often deeply personal love for the movies. Jonathan discusses his upbringing in Alabama, seeing the French New Wave from the front lines, a short dip into academia, and his role in looking at the strange world of taste culture and its ties to the Hollywood industry. Then, the two dive into the recently restored mammoth of a film that has been waiting to enter the canon: Jacques Rivette's 13 hour Out 1. They discuss this work of connections in post-May '68 Paris that may or may not be a secret Balzac-influenced conspiracy, engaging the viewer to find the fiction in the documentary and the documentary in the fiction.

0:00-2:48 Opening
3:20-11:31  Establishing Shots - Reviews from AFI Fest
12:17-1:02:55 Deep Focus - Jonathan Rosenbaum
1:03:48-1:05:28 Mubi Sponsorship
1:06:32-1:31:10 Double Exposure - Out 1 (Jacques Rivette)
1:31:14-1:33:59 Close / Outtakes
Read Jonathan Rosenbaum's collected work on his website and a page with links to all of his publications.
Jacques Rivette's Out 1 will soon be playing LondonOther screening info is here. More info on the UK box set release from Arrow Films and the upcoming US release from Kino Lorber.
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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Episode #69 - Glenn Heath Jr. (Dead Man)

"A regional film festival forces you to realize that you aren't programming for yourself but to your audience, yet at the same time you want to challenge that audience."

Some film festivals have an easy time when their mission is set on any and all new movies with premieres from around the world. But how do you program for a niche? Glenn Heath Jr. works as the Managing Director for the Pacific Arts Movement, which is returning with another iteration of the San Diego Asian Film Festival. Some of the names will be familiar to cinephiles: Johnnie To, Sion Sono, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. But what about the big blockbusters that never come to American shores, or the Asian American filmmakers waiting to be discovered? Glenn talks about the delights and challenges of working on such a festival, as well as his work in film criticism in writing about lost and forgotten films while never throwing down the gauntlet. Finally, the two wrap up their conversation by turning to Jim Jarmusch's 1995 acid western Dead Man, and explore why the film's poetic tone and awkward humor allow it to transcend beyond a "revisionist western." Plus, excerpts from an interview with acclaimed Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien, who has returned to screens with his contemplative wuxia epic The Assassin.

0:00-3:35 Opening
4:30-12:42  Establishing Shots - Hou Hsiao-Hsien discusses The Assassin
13:27-1:12:03 Deep Focus - Glenn Heath Jr.
1:12:42-1:15:15 Mubi Sponsorship
1:16:20-1:46:09 Double Exposure - Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch)
1:46:13-1:47:51 Close 
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Remembering Chantal Akerman (With Justine Smith)

She was born to Holocaust survivors and grew up poor in Belgium. She made her first film at 18. She came to New York with barely an understanding of English at the age of 21, where entering the world of avant-garde cinema. At 24, she made what is considered one of the greatest film's of all time, a break through for both minimalist cinema and feminist cinema. Her next feature ranks among the greatest documentaries ever made. Her career lasted almost 50 years, until last week, when Chantal Akerman died at the age of 65, leaving an array of masterpieces: Jeanne Dielman, News From Home, Rendezvous With Anna, Golden Eighties, and Almayer's Folly (among many more waiting to be discovered). In this special bonus issue, Peter Skypes (No Home Movie-style) with Montreal based critic Justine Smith on the legacy and impact of one of cinema's most essential heroes.

Six films by Chantal Akerman are featured for free on Hulu, including News From Home and Jeanne Dielman. Almayer's Folly is currently streaming on YouTube
More writing by Justine Smith can be found on her blog and her Twitter.
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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Episode #68 - Stephen Cone (Beloved)

"I'm always just thinking about trying to get life right."

There are no curtains in the films of Stephen Cone. Well, there are literal curtains, but Cone never attempts to hide the surfaces of his characters, or really paint into anything than what they truly are. The Chicago based filmmaker sits down with Peter on the eve of the local premiere of his award-winning new film, Henry Gamble's Birthday Party. Stephen traces his cinephilia from Kentucky to New York to Chicago, discusses his respects for the craft of criticism, and explains his approach to collaborative sets and trust in making films like The Wise Kids and Black Box. Finally, the two dive into the show's third Jonathan Demme film, his adaptation of Toni Morrison's post-modernist novel Beloved. Declared a vanity project when initially released, the two explore the relationship between Demme and his actors, crafting an unflinching, truly humanist portrait of the American South by embracing subjectivity in the post-slavery era.

0:00-3:13 Opening
4:34-8:23  Establishing Shots - Excerpts from Remembering Chantal Akerman
9:09-56:36 Deep Focus - Stephen Cone
57:02-59:34 Mubi Sponsorship
1:00:50-1:18:45 Double Exposure - Beloved (Jonathan Demme)
1:18:50-1:20:27 Close 
More from Stephen Cone. Watch The Wise Kids on Netflix, Hulu+, Amazon, or iTunes. Watch Black Box on YouTube, Vimeo, Amazon, or iTunes. Visit the website for Henry Gamble's Birthday Party and watch the trailer.
Watch Beloved on Amazon or iTunes.
Follow Stephen on Twitter.
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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Episode #67 - Adam Kempenaar (The World According To Garp)

"Why we choose our favorites isn't because they're just good movies, but because they speak to something within us."

About 10 years ago, the word podcast would have often been lead by blank stares. Adam 
Kempenaar saw an article, and then got on the ground floor to begin Filmspotting, which has become the leading film discussion podcasts for the past decade (not to mention very influential in Peter's film upbringing). Peter sits down with Adam at Navy Pier to discuss his journey from Iowa to Chicago, and his motivation to talk films through that led to the creation of the podcast with Sam Van Hallgren. They discuss the necessity of structure and chemistry in creating a conversation, the show's exploration into classic films and blindspots, and Adam's obsession with the "Ecstatic Truth" in the collision of truth and fiction. Finally, the two visit an oddball—George Roy Hill's The World Acording to Garp with Robin Williams—and discuss how the film examines the creation of art in relation to life, and the necessity to flow between both.

0:00-2:14 Opening
3:07-9:02  Establishing Shots - Hasse Ekman at MoMA
9:47-1:22:42 Deep Focus - Adam Kempenaar
1:23:35-1:26:05 Mubi Sponsorship
1:27:17-1:51:54 Double Exposure - The World According to Garp (George Roy Hill)
1:51:58-1:54:17 Close / Outtakes
Listen to Adam on Filmspotting, and follow him on Twitter.
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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Episode #66 - Matthew Dessem (The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford)

"I find these moments fascinating where a film might have been made but wasn't. I'm more interested in failure than success."

Matthew Dessem spent years observing the behind-the-scenes reality of Hollywood, so it's only natural that his book, The Gag Man, would take us behind the scenes of an essential collaborator to silent and sound comedians who all but disappeared behind the name of the stars. In this latest episode of the podcast, Dessem traces his movie upbringing to his eventual project searching through every piece of the Criterion canon, and eventually to his interest in exploring the legends of Hollywood that never made it, whether a screenplay or a collaboration. The two then go in depth on his new biography of Clyde Bruckman, a man with legendary credits but no legend until now. Finally, the two switch to a different legend, Brad Pitt's turn as the notorious outlaw and Casey Affleck as the man who shot him in The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, which both embraces the mythology of the classic American genre, while also exposing it at its most ugly.

0:00-2:24 Opening
3:24-9:51  Establishing Shots - Mistress America
10:36-47:26 Deep Focus - Matthew Dessem
48:35-50:48 Mubi Sponsorship
51:42-1:08:37 Double Exposure - The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominick)
1:08:40-1:10:40 Close / Outtake 
Purchase The Gag Man through The Critical Press or Amazon. Check out Matthew's blog here, as well as his work for Slate and The Dissolve.
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