Monday, November 21, 2016

Always Shine (2016) A Film by Sophia Takal

"Shot in Southern California and set in a culture of fledgling film-industry types, Sophia Takal's Always Shine is also a film that feels acutely like it was manufactured in a development office on La Cienega Boulevard. It's Queen of Earth meets Mulholland Drive, Passion with a dash of Persona, The Neon Demon in the atmospheric key of Martha, Marcy, May Marlene. It won't take a cinephile to recognize these touch points, and that probably wouldn't bother Takal, who makes sure to signal on numerous occasions—through shots of camera lenses, glimpses of electronic slates, and direct-to-camera addresses—that Always Shine isn't just an entertainment product with echoes of other films, but a narrative about the deforming, cannibalistic project of Hollywood."

Full review continues at Slant.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Illinois Parables (2016) A Film by Deborah Stratman

"The nature of Stratman’s decade-in-the-making project recalls the work of fellow Midwesterner David Gatten, particularly the monumental Secret History of the Dividing Line, a similarly long-brewing endeavor that burrows into the implications of an obscure bit of pre-colonial American history around the Virginia and North Carolina border. Stratman even has a likeminded fondness for bygone texts, whether in her embrace of the tactile qualities of the printing press (sundry newspaper clippings are Xeroxed and optical-printed for our viewing pleasure), or in her use of epistolary ephemera on the soundtrack, such as a Ralph Waldo Emerson letter narrated by Gatten himself."

Full review at Slant.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Quiet Man (1952) A Film by John Ford

"This being a John Wayne role in a John Ford film, Sean never tips over fully to the dark side. But four years before The Searchers mined this very territory and became canonized for it, The Quiet Man derived much of its complexity from its flirtations with the murkier shades of its star's persona. Not only is Wayne's assimilated Yankee etched with a sense of privilege that touches on the nastier registers of American machismo, his shyness is pierced by a propensity for nonverbal bluntness, his initial social grace is later undermined by a pushiness in getting his way, and, most critically, his sterling physical form is recognized for its inclinations to violence. In a radically unorthodox gesture, Ford withholds any particulars regarding Sean's background as a boxer until a moment of tension with Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen), Mary Kate's brutish brother, that dislodges a fragmented sense memory detailing his accidental murder of an opponent in the ring."

Full review of the new Olive Films 4K blu-ray at Slant Magazine.