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Movie Poster of the Week: The American Film Theatre

14 hours ago

In the newest issue of Film Comment magazine I write about the designer Alan Peckolick, a master of lettering who was responsible for one of the great American movie posters of the ’70s, for Short Eyes. Peckolick was a student of—and eventually a business partner of—the great Herb Lubalin, and the poster above comes from a book Peckolick wrote about his mentor in 1985. Both Lubalin and Peckolick worked together on the branding for the films of the American Film Theatre, a project initiated in 1973 by producer Ely Landau to bring great theatre to movie-going audiences with low-budget, star-studded, text-faithful adaptations of a number of contemporary classics. The Quad Cinema in New York is currently playing 12 of these films through November 21.To promote the first series of films Lubalin and Peckolick gave each play its own very distinctive title treatment while also commissioning equally striking illustrations for each film. »

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When Whimsy Works

21 hours ago

Ildikó Enyedi's On Body and Soul (2017) is having its exclusive online premiere on Mubi in the United Kingdom. It is showing from November 17 - December 17, 2017.Sex and violence are probably considered to be the most hotly contested controversial topics in film, from the hand-wringing parent who worries about exposing their kids too soon to blood and gore to governmental censorship boards editing out onscreen kisses. This isn’t to say that extreme levels of gore and gratuitously hardcore sex don’t merit discussions (see anything from the New French Extremity genre to the perennially talked about Baise-Moi). But there is, however, another film “quality” that ignites ire and repulsion faster than a close-up of an exploding head or a cut-to of cunnilingus: whimsy. Whimsy, that which is held to be quaint, playful, heartfelt and sweet, is often derided as superficial, saccharine. And, to be fair, it often is. Having »

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Jay Rosenblatt at Dok Leipzig: Your Dreams Have Already Been Filmed

17 November 2017 1:16 AM, PST

Mubi is continuing its partnership with Dok Leipzig to showcase highlights from their tribute Visual Electrics. The Cinema of Jay Rosenblatt in this year’s 60th festival edition. Mubi's retrospective is showing November 3, 2017 - March 4, 2018 in most countries around the world.It is a common and justified rhetorical device to begin an article on the retrospective of a filmmaker with an impression, a little observation or the description of a scene. However, being confronted with the work of San Francisco-based found footage worker Jay Rosenblatt the idea of a single, autonomous moment vanishes behind multicolored layers of streaming emotions. Just a few days after the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film I find it enormously hard to remember a single scene. As the filmmaker said himself during one of the Q&A sessions in Leipzig, “They [the films] all kind of blend together.” Well, they do and in this one might find the personal, »

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"There are Miracles": A Conversation with Hong Sang-soo

15 November 2017 10:00 AM, PST

Hong Sang-soo has a reputation for being a tricky interview, and he knows it. In Claire’s Camera, one of his three films that premiered in 2017, a Korean director who’s in Cannes to promote his latest movie tries to back out of the two press engagements on his schedule. “You need to do that much,” his sales agent cajoles him. “It’s not that much.”Hong, likewise, has been known to cancel or reschedule interviews and to give terse and seemingly disinterested answers. He tends to talk about his production methods in the most straight-forward terms and dismisses questions about authorial intent. Asking him to interpret his own work is a fool’s errand. “I get up at 4:00, I smoke, and something I didn’t expect comes to me,” he told me. I met Hong in the bar of the Loews Regency on October 9th, the afternoon after his other two new films, »

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Claude Lanzmann's "The Four Sisters"

13 November 2017 8:31 PM, PST

The Four Sisters: The Hippocratic OathIn a review of Claude Lanzmann’s memoir, Adam Shatz observes that “self-flattery is characteristically Lanzmannian.” This sort of self-regard often manifests itself in interviews that the filmmaker grants to journalists and proved grating indeed in Napalm, a Lanzmann documentary screened as a “Special Presentation” at Cannes in 2017.   During a recent trip to North Korea enshrined in Napalm—which offers a cursory look at the historical roots of the hermit kingdom’s totalitarian impulses—Lanzmann emerges as considerably more preoccupied with celebrating his youthful dalliance with a North Korean nurse during an earlier visit in the 1950s as a member of a leftist delegation. With Lanzmann, however, it’s often necessary to swallow a little of his self-aggrandizement in order to appreciate his genuine accomplishments. Contradictions abound inasmuch as his best work, such as the magisterial Shoah, is both formally audacious and historically focused while a minor work like Tsahal, »

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The Other Side of the Booth: A Profile of James B. Harris in Present Day Los Angeles

13 November 2017 4:26 AM, PST

Courtesy of James B. HarrisIt’s a Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles and 89-year-old writer/director/producer James B. Harris (Some Call It Loving, 1973; Fast-Walking, 1982) has agreed to meet me for brunch at Coogie’s Cafe. Coogie’s is exactly the sort of unassuming American diner where girls in pink velvet jackets and shimmery silver skirts go to blend in with the Pepto-Bismol-colored booths. There are a pair of flat screen TVs on the wall, which are mercifully muted. A radio in some far-off corner of the kitchen can be heard playing inoffensive pop tunes of yesteryear. It is also the sort of quiet place where someone like Harris is well-known, well-liked, and referred to as “Mr. James” by the entire waitstaff. The impression is one of polite reverence and earned familiarity, built up over time and solidified through an appreciation of his impressive filmography, as well as his continued business. »

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