Posts Tagged ‘independent film’

Blank City

Posted 02 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Blank City, USA, 2010

Directed by Celine Danhier

Blank City is a lively, well-made documentary of a bygone era.

Celine Danhier’s documentary Blank City is an invigorating love letter to a bygone era, a time when guerrilla filmmakers ran wild in the streets, freely shooting their cinematic visions without the hindrance of Hollywood extravagances like permits, budgets and stars. It is the kind of film that inspires not only nostalgia, but also a forward-thinking desire to follow in the footsteps of its many sometimes deranged but always passionate and interesting subjects. It is a lively documentary, one that celebrates life and manages to revel in nostalgia without ever getting sappy about it.

Blank City follows the rise and eventual fall (or, at least, evolution) of the so-called “No Wave” independent filmmaking scene of New York City in the late 1970s and beyond. A few of the renegades seen in the film went on to become famous and successful – perhaps the biggest names interviewed for the film are John Waters, Jim Jarmusch and Steve Buscemi (Vincent Gallo is also seen in archival footage) – while others remain noteworthy cult figures, highly respected in some circles, but far on the fringes of mainstream renown – Lydia Lunch, Richard Kern, John Lurie. Many of the rest faded completely into obscurity, but the legacy of their approach to filmmaking can be seen in some of today’s indie cult success stories made on extraordinarily low-budgets; the DIY approach advocated by this film’s subjects can easily be seen in the making of films like Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi (1992), Kevin Smith’s Clerks (1994), and Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez’s The Blair Witch Project (1999), to name just a few. Read More

The Sunset Limited

Posted 08 Mar 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

The Sunset Limited, USA, 2011

Directed by Tommy Lee Jones

tommy lee jones and samuel jackson talking about raceIt is always a trick to adapt theater to a feature film. Easier to do so for television, though that’s probably a gross overstatement. HBO might be the best place to do it; they harbor independent film. Even trickier is maintaining a swift and watchable pace with only two actors and heavy religious dialogue. Thankfully, Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, and Cormac McCarthy have no problem with this. The Sunset Limited is engaging, thought-provoking, and sincere.

Of course, being a McCarthy work, there is a sense of boundless eternity that is tinkered with throughout, and the ending is more of a truce than anything else, but this is usually so of his writing. Things happen, we talk about why, and then we go home. It doesn’t matter which side wins, just so long as each side is heard. Read More

Y Tu Mama Tambien – Woman As Maker Of Meaning

Posted 18 Oct 2010 — by contributor
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Corey Birkhofer

Y Tu Mama Tambien, Mexico, 2001

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron

Spoiler AlertY tu mamá tambiénAnalyzing a film such as Y Tu Mama Tambien under the influence of Laura Mulvey’s 1975 article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” is as complex as it is enlightening.  Regardless of the fact that Mulvey has since moved away from her original argument, “Visual Pleasure” continues to provide a pool of theory from which to pull in reading contemporary film. In the case of Y Tu Mama Tambien, Mulvey’s article employs several key concepts that can be used quite effectively in a reading of this film. More specifically, the general concepts of spectatorship, subjectivity, verisimilitude, Jacques Lacan’s mirror phase and symbolic order, as well as Sigmund Freud’s scopophilia and primal scene, will all have relevance throughout. The purpose of this explication is to use these aforementioned concepts in order to expose Y Tu as a film that fully employs typical representations of woman as described by Mulvey in her article. Through this exposure, it will be revealed that the employment of these conventions of representation are in place only to create a basis of contradiction that can ultimately be subverted to transform Y Tu Mama Tambien into a dialectical text.

However, before an engaged reading can be conducted, it is of paramount importance to keep in mind that first and foremost, Y Tu is an independent film. Therefore, certain independent conventions must be kept in mind alongside these key concepts in taking any theoretical stance on the film. Bearing in mind these independent conventions, the following analysis of several key sequences is crucial to exposing the relationship Y Tu shares with the concepts of spectatorship and subjectivity. In the following explication, one particular focus of analysis will be a specific shot that is considered by many as the “pay-off” shot of the entire film. This is the shot in which the main female character, Luisa Cortes (Maribel Verdu), looks directly into the camera for an extended period of time. In doing this, the female representation transfers her role as castrated spectacle to that of the spectator/subject. Thus, Y Tu Mama Tambien becomes dialectic, as its representation of woman ascends into the realm of the symbolic order. Read More