"I think that movies are different things to different people. To me, they’re a really important part of cultural identity. They’re a great touchstone to who we were and what were on about at any given time. You look back to the cinema of the ’70s and ’80s and you see all different types of actors and palettes. It wasn’t so much about physical perfection. You had very odd leading men. It’s interesting how movies and culture reflect who we are. You’ll find that the movie business is paid for by those mega movies. The movie business is paid for by Big Macs. By movies as product. Movie studios use that term “product” all the time. Product? You mean you have a lot of stories? No, we have a lot of product. You have stories."
– DAVID FINCHER
THE CRITERION COLLECTION: DECEMBER 2014
See details of their December releases (which also include a new blu-ray of THE NIGHT PORTER and a Kinoshita dvd set) over at Criterion’s site.
TIFF REVIEW: A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE (Roy Andersson)
Roy Andersson’s “trilogy about being a human being” comes to a glorious end.
In his 2002 review of Roy Andersson’s Songs From the Second Floor, Roger Ebert wrote that “You have never seen a film like this before.” The same cannot be said of A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, the third and final installment of Andersson’s “trilogy about being a human being”. Viewers have seen a film like this before. They’ve seen precisely two of them, in fact.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is very much of a whole with Songs From the Second Floor and its follow-up, 2007’s You, The Living. Each of the three films is comprised of between 30 and 50 tableaux, in which a darkly comic vignette is captured by an unmoving camera with a focus so deep it borders on the infinite. Andersson’s spartan but immaculate sound stages are populated by non-professional actors, who are caked in pale makeup that makes them appear zombified and suspended between states of being. They are fathers and drunks and dissatisfied spouses. They are arsonists and sousaphone players and lamenters. They are us, and also not us. We recognize that Andersson’s characters are grotesque caricatures of ourselves and the people we know – that You, The Living is a direct address and that the existence on which that pigeon reflects is our own – and yet the distance from which they’re shot creates a remove that allows us to laugh at their miserable fates. The joke is on us, and it’s hilarious.
IN PRAISE OF DAVID FINCHER’S WOMEN
A formalist with a forensic eye for detail (and no patience for wading through emotional sludge), David Fincher holds his characters at arm’s length – perhaps all the better to see them in their entirety. Most of these characters are men; Fincher is, after all, a man’s man with a particular predilection for stories about fraternity in crisis (The Game, Zodiac, The Social Network) and the crumbling framework of masculinity in a late-capitalist society (Fight Club, The Social Network and – we think – Gone Girl). However, that is not to say that Fincher’s women are shrinking violets.
(art credit: stalkerae)
TIFF REVIEW: GOOD KILL (Andrew Niccol)
Ethan Hawke rains death from the skies in Andrew Niccol’s mercilessly blunt war thriller.
For Andrew Niccol, no concept is too high and no point is too blunt. Best known for Gattaca, but more recently responsible for the likes of S1m0ne and The Host, Niccol has made a career of extrapolating feature films from fortune cookies, distilling an abstract idea into its most literal interpretation until the story practically tells itself. In Time: what if time really was money? S1m0ne: what if movie stars really were fake? Lord of War: what if Jared Leto really could act?
More often than not, Niccol’s premises are birthed from the fault lines between man and machine, the writer / director / producer consistently fascinated with the extent to which technology clarifies and complicates human nature in equal measure. Good Kill, which is somehow not the director’s most didactic film, is vintage Niccol in the worst of ways, but also something of a departure by virtue of how insistently it takes place in the real world.
LAIKA ON THE BOXTROLLS AND THE FUTURE OF ANIMATION:
"Animation is now more popular than it’s ever been in its history, and yet I think there’s a lot of unfortunate sameness to a lot of the animation that we see in the modern era. It’s a regurgitation of the same looks, the same ideas, and it’s why people tend to think of animation as a genre, because animators consistently tell the same kinds of stories. But that’s not the totality of what animation is."
TIFF REVIEW: TOKYO TRIBE (Sion Sono)
Sion Sono returns with the year’s best dystopian martial arts rap opera softcore porn film.
“Coming to ya straight from the ass-end of hell”, Tokyo Tribe continues Sion Sono’s unbelievable streak of maximalist masterpieces, somehow (somehow) managing to top the meta-mayhem of last year’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell? Almost certainly the closest thing we’ll ever get to a Jet Set Radio movie, Tokyo Tribe is a martial arts rap opera pink film, suffused with the brawling punk flavor of The Warriors and the puckish theatricality of West Side Story. As has been the case with many of Sono’s films, the premise of Tokyo Tribe seems like it might as well double as a review. But, as has been the case with all of Sono’s best films, a description hardly does justice to the madness of the movie itself, and the sheer insanity on display belies the raw clarity of the ideas underneath.
TIFF REVIEW: THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY (Peter Strickland)
Peter Strickland’s sapphic giallo dream is a tied up and twisted masterpiece.
A few minutes into Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy, the matron of a gorgeous European estate pulls her maid into a bathroom and pisses into her mouth. That’s the exact moment when it becomes clear that these two women are deeply in love with each other.
ANNOUNCING LITTLE WHITE LIES #55
As we delve deep into festival season, Little White Lies have opted to pay colourful homage to Canadian filmmaking maestro, David Cronenberg, and his new movie, Maps to the Stars, a withering satire of contemporary Hollywood. We speak to the director about the movie industry’s incestuous creative tendencies, and we also hear from the film’s award-winning star, Julianne Moore, about her three decades as one of the world’s most talented and distinctive actors.
The big centrepiece of the issue is an in-depth index of Cronenberg’s entire career as a filmmaker, writer, opera-director, auto enthusiast, divorcee and actor. The Cronenberg Index brings together a clutch of LWLies regular writers to offer 26 mini essays covering his movies and his obsessions from every angle conceivable, and boasts spooky two-tier illustrations by TCOLondon designer, Lauréne Boglio.
Our eye-scorching cover for this issue was supplied by Polish artist and illustrator Ada Buchholc, and it captures film’s subtle mix of hot, gaudy celebrity and a mortal fear of losing that status. Check our more of Ada’s work here.
The issue also contains a special sealed supplement containing an exclusive interview with director David Fincher ahead of the release of his new film, Gone Girl, on 2 October
LWLies 55 is on general sale 8 September and available for pre-order now from our online shop. Subscribers will start receiving their copies from Monday 8 September.
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One month until the first LWLies book is released into the world (and two months until the U.S. edition is released)!
It’s called ‘What I Love About Movies’ and we made it with Faber & Faber.
Here’s a sneak peek of Nicholas John Frith’s illustration of Richard Linklater