Independent

(Updated Note: Wray's documentary was not only finished but released and is now out on DVD. We're proud to say we both have the DVD and were following the film since long before it was finished. -- ed. 11/14/08 )

By David Hudson

Tara Wray had been writing stories and editing a literary journal when she decided one story would be best told as a film. Working with co-producer Michel Negroponte and a grant from the Anthony Radziwill Documentary Fund, she's now tackling her troubled relationship with her mother. David Hudson talks to her about Manhattan, Kansas.

Page 11/14/2008 - 3:00pm

By Brian Darr

Lance Hammer

"Lance Hammer began his filmmaking career working with the art department, designing the architecture of Gotham buildings used in Joel Schumacher's Batman films. His feature film debut as a writer and director might be seen as an aesthetic laying down of a gauntlet: art thrives best when developed far from any Hollywood departments. Written, cast, set and shot in a wintery Mississippi Delta locale, Ballast emerged from its premiere at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival with top awards for Hammer's direction and Lol Crawley's cinematography."

Brian Darr introduces his interview with Hammer - they talk about nonprofessional actors, documentaries and some of Hammer's own favorite filmmakers. Ballast is currently playing at New York's Film Forum and opens in selected cities on October 17.

Blog entry 10/06/2008 - 12:14am

 

The Case of the Grinning Cat"The Case of the Grinning Cat shows [Chris] Marker as light on his feet as you'll ever find him, segueing from the important (émigrés and descendants of émigrés rallying against Le Pen's anti-immigrant platform) to the trivial (a cat stuck in a tree)," writes Michael Fox atSF60: "It's a deceptively free-flowing style, but it's anything but random.... At a brisk 42 minutes, Remembrance of Things to Come is a perfect length to simply start from the beginning after you've watched it once. If you don't see 10 or 20 things you missed the first time, I'll be amazed. You may have already concluded that DVD is a perfect medium for Chris Marker, since his cunning, calculated work requires and repays multiple viewings.... Marker's great talent as a filmmaker is giving us the impression that any digression is welcome, any accident is providence and anything can happen, even as he is firmly in control. We don't feel steered or manipulated, nor adrift and meandering. A philosopher of passionate ideals, Marker makes films that are, at their essence, generous invitations to join him in an inquiry into the mysteries of human society."

At TwitchRodney Perkins introduces his reviews of a batch of recent DVD releases: The Case of the Grinning CatThe Sixth Side of the Pentagon and The EmbassyRemembrance of Things to Come and Happiness and The Last Bolshevik.

 

Blog entry 09/04/2008 - 9:26am

Team Picture By Vadim Rizov

Exactly a year ago now, New York's IFC Center was running a series called The New Talkies: Generation DIY and, writing in the SpoutBlog, Karina Longworth suggested a possible taxonomic distinction: "If Mutual Appreciation and Hannah Takes the Stairs are movies about the kinds of people who would watch movies like Mutual Appreciation and Hannah Takes the Stairs, [Kentucker Audley's] Team Picture, [Frank V Ross's] Quietly On By and, particularly, Hohokam, are about the kinds of people who consume the kind of culture that Bujalski and Swanberg's films feel like a reaction against.... Audley and Ross are at least as interested as their peers in the social dynamics of leisure, but in Hohokam and Team Picture, work life is as carefully drawn as recreation.... Team Picture is possibly the lowest-budgeted film on the New Talkies schedule, but at times Audley's long shots approach the painterly beauty of pastoral landscapes."

Now Team Picture is the latest exquisite release from Benten Films and Vadim Rizov talks with Audley about the feature and the two shorts that accompany it on the DVD.

Blog entry 08/25/2008 - 2:14pm

By Brian Darr

Guy Maddin "Finally, a [Guy] Maddin film that fully incorporates the homely comic-pathos of his essays and movie reviews," writes Max Goldberg in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. "In My Winnipeg, the Canuck filmmaker's punch-drunk dissolves and superimpositions aren't just cinematographic cake-frosting; they're visual portents and analogues of his seasick crawl through the past."

With Brand Upon the Brain! out on DVD on August 12 (from Criterion, no less) and My Winnipeg still winding its way through US theaters, Brian Darr talks with Maddin about his hometown, aural landscapes, his library of 16mm prints, George Kuchar and that marvelous "dupey look."

Blog entry 08/06/2008 - 9:06am

Choking Man By James Van Maanen

"No less a light than Steven Soderbergh (once upon a time the flag-bearer for independent American cinema) is on record as calling Choking Man 'everything an independent film should be," notes James Van Maanen. "If that kind of all-encompassing praise sounds difficult to live up to, not to worry. Steve Barron's film is plenty good and certainly worth its 83 minutes of your time. Though he was on vacation at the time, he was kind enough to answer a few quick questions via email."

Besides the interview, James has a review of the film as well, at Guru.

Blog entry 08/04/2008 - 9:03am

Duplass Brothers By Sean Axmaker

"A refreshingly high-concept low-budget outing, the Duplass Brothers' Baghead is an immensely likeable and surprisingly well-executed genre hybrid," writes Michael Koresky at indieWIRE. "The difficulty one finds in trying to categorize it is part of its charm... [I]t smartly proves that it only takes the slightest, smartest tweaks to temporarily revitalize an entire genre."

Sean Axmaker talks with Jay and Mark Duplass about how they've pulled this off.

Blog entry 07/22/2008 - 8:36am

John Cusack "Over these years of war and occupation, [John] Cusack has become one of the most insightful commentators on a far too seldom discussed aspect of the occupation: the corporate dominance of the US war machine," writes Jeremy Scahill for the Nation.

Still, critical reaction to War, Inc. has been, shall we say, mixed. And yet, perhaps as a sign of the times, its dark satire has been a hit where it counts most - with audiences.

Sean Axmaker talks with Cusack about, among other things, his two very different treatments of the ongoing war in Iraq, War, Inc. and Grace Is Gone.

Blog entry 06/10/2008 - 1:30am

Lynn Shelton By Sean Axmaker

"Lynn Shelton's My Effortless Brilliance plays something like an overtly comic remake of Old Joy, with mountains swapped out for woods, and a third man wild card pushing the narrative along," wrote Karina Longworth at the SpoutBlog when she caught the film's premiere at SXSW earlier this year. "It's not quite like nothing I've ever seen before, but it's a nicely rendered, novella-esque character study with some impressive naturalistic performances."

Now Shelton and her film come home, in a way; Brilliance is screening at the Seattle International Film Festival and Sean Axmaker talks with the determinedly independent filmmaker about learning to direct by editing and about the local Seattle film scene.

Blog entry 05/24/2008 - 1:09pm

GreenCine's proud to offer an eclectic collection of short films by an underappreciated independendent filmmaker, straight from San Francisco.s Microcinema DVD.

 

"Plotnick's penchant for irreverent goofiness and stunning send-ups of American pop culture limns the edges of high and low, and this may be part of his success in generating lively audiences." -Filmmaker Magazine

 

Warts & All: The Films of Danny Plotnick (Comedic Missives from The American Underground, 1986-2001) is 100 minutes of mayhem featuring films shot on 16mm, super 8 and digital video. Danny Plotnick roared into the underground film world in the 1980s. Fueled by his love of punk and alternative culture and infected with d.i.y. spirit, he started making films that captured a similarly snarly attitude. His films were pegged as bawdy, bad-mouthed and beautiful, straddling the line between high-brow and low-brow art.

Blog entry 05/22/2008 - 2:51pm

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