One of the jobs of the artist is to find the space that is most conducive to the practice of their art at the given moment; one of the jobs of a functioning cultural commentariat is to follow artists to those spaces.
Tavernier approaches his subject not only as a film lover but also as a film director who knows his way around a set, a man with an inexhaustible appetite for dish about behind-the-scenes goings on and an insatiable curiosity for what makes movies tick.
Without ever seeming to reign supreme over the European festival scene as, say, the Dardenne brothers or Michael Haneke have at various points, Dumont anticipates and exemplifies features of the contemporary art film to a greater degree than either of those Cannes mainstays.
The Lost City of Z is beautiful, all the more so for not being beautiful in the obvious ways. Working for the second time with cinematographer Darius Khondji, who also shot The Immigrant, Gray films both jungle and English countryside with long lenses and a shallow depth-of-field.
A Quiet Passion proposes the outwardly unspectacular life of Emily Dickinson not as the story of a no-hoper spinster but as an act of courage, the struggle of a woman to overmaster herself, to sacrifice her own life (and preserve her maidenhead) so that her work might live.
The premise serves as a malleable metaphor: the white coopting of black cool, cited as one of the reasons for the selection of exclusively black targets; the ongoing use of unwilling black bodies to perform white labor from plantation to penitentiary; and the pressures of conformity borne by the blacks living among white affluence.
The unusual, unsparing, and sometimes leering candor of Helmut Berger, Actor is made possible by the fact that the film’s subject seems to be totally absent any self-censoring mechanism. His substance intake may have some part in this.
The distance between what Affleck imagines his screen presence to be and what it in fact is constitutes a yawning gorge in Live by Night, and free-falling through this vast, cavernous space you can find a few fleeting moments of giddy pleasure before the final thud.
One Hundred and One Nights, all soft edges and winsomeness, is a nice little movie, maddeningly so. The cinema has written enough love letters to itself; it could use more anonymous threats, bricks through its window, and flaming turds on its porch.
A thousand different films could have resulted from this tale, and most of them would have been stirring schmaltz at best, but the property fell into the hands of Clint Eastwood, at age 86 one of the most fundamentally sound and unaffectedly idiosyncratic directors making multiplex movies today.
Happy Hour has a rambly, digressive quality that belies the precision of its construction. After an opening that establishes its core ensemble cast of four 37-year-old female friends, the movie is pulled hither and thither by each of their individual stories, intersecting again only to break off into different routes.
As shot by Storaro, lush, verdant Southern California and the sparkling Pacific have never looked quite so Mediterranean, if not Elysian, the figures rimmed in an amber daylight, the coloration of the deep-focus photography given the pop of stained-glass or hand-painted movie posters.
Refn is a prim provocateur next to the likes of Anger and Harrington, who worked from an experience of genuine sexual outlawry. As for Kubrick, well, along with the Aronofsky film Black Swan, The Neon Demon may be said to belong to the burgeoning subgenre of Kubrickian kitsch.