Haynes is doing something extraordinarily delicate and difficult in May December, reminding viewers, with the lightest of touches, that we are all implicated and indulgent in the processes of social, cultural, and sexual exploitation that define the modern consciousness.
If the film had a low impact on me as an aesthetic experience, the act of reviewing Kaboom looms surprisingly large in my self-understanding as a “gay film critic,” a term that Robin Wood defined and dissected in his seminal 1978 Film Comment essay, “Responsibilities of a Gay Film Critic.”
This seat at the top table is a privilege afforded to the very few, given that the stripped-back format of Menus-Plaisirs exists completely outside the grammatical norms of the ultra-popular, commoditized tabloid documentaries littering the top ten rubrics of our streaming services.
This show goes beyond the initial premise of a remake or retread, to be insightful, expansive, and deeply personal. Like writing this essay is for me, the distance of time and the perspective that comes from aging allows Assayas to revisit a formative project and examine what demands to be changed.
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Unlike the moving-image installations presented as part of group exhibitions like documenta and the Venice Biennale, Villa Medici focuses squarely on the theatrical presentation of its selection—which, considering the Renaissance-era backdrop, makes for some surreal viewing environments.
Maybe being trans is not the key to Hedwig. Maybe transition itself is. And transition is something that I find myself thinking about frequently, not just in regards to my own experiences with hormones and gender but in the way that my own views are constantly changing.
This is a common trap for many marginalized writers seeking to prove themselves as serious and distinctive, the desire to react to media poised to be controversial or otherwise noteworthy with a mind toward showcasing personal offense rather than marshaling critical precision, and ultimately being subsumed into the raising of that media’s profile.
As the voices interweave and sometimes overlap, the work begins to transcend both the individualistic and the monolithic, and recasts Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography as the story of a community, or what could be the story of humanity.
Each year, around 300,000 migrant laborers come to Huzhou, a major textile hub in eastern China, seeking jobs at 18,000 different small workshops. From 2014 to 2019, filmmaker Wang Bing embedded himself in the population there. By his reckoning, he and his crew shot 2,600 hours of footage.
The word poetic is undeniably apt in this case, especially as Raven Jackson is a poet herself. Her written words achieve a hyper-specificity that All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt thrums with. In both forms, she zooms in so far as to leave narrative behind, creating more mysterious, immediate sensations.
"The script is very spare. I guess that would be the resonance with my poetry. There is not a lot of dialogue, of course. The lines are short lines. It is only 60 pages. I wrote more than what ended up being in the final script. I embrace brevity."
Pictures of Ghosts is as much a meditation on a home, a city, and a stretch of modern history—and how, over time, all three have evolved—as it is a memory-filled tour of a vanished world of movie theaters and other traces of film culture, tinged with a sense of loss.
The anxiety of influence is real for a critic: no matter how confident we may be in our opinions and discursive and fair in our aims, we are, like those in any other field, not immune from the methodological skepticism our peers sow in us.