By James Van Maanen

David Redmon In Mardi Gras: Made in China, David Redmon asks revelers in pre-Katrina New Orleans if they have any idea where the beads they're throwing in exchange for a glimpse of mammaries were made. In short, nope.

Laura Kern in the New York Times: "A startling look at both the effects of globalization and at a dramatic cultural divide, the film contrasts the lives of the Chinese, hard workers who are forced to make serious sacrifices at very young ages, with indulgent Americans intent on having a good time and seemingly at ease with their lack of awareness. With any luck, this film will manage to open a few closed eyes (or minds)."

James Van Maanen talks with Redmon about the many projects he's working on with producer Ashley Sabin and the many more they'll be distributing shortly.

Blog entry 07/28/2008 - 7:09am

Jesse LernerBy James Van Maanen

"I think the collage aesthetic, with the rough edges still showing, encourages us as viewers to engage critically with the material we're watching, rather than simply letting the visual or narrative pleasures wash us away."

With Delineating Borders: The Films of Jesse Lerner running through tomorrow evening at Anthology Film Archives in New York, James Van Maanen talks with the filmmaker (and co-author of F Is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth's Undoing) about Mexico, cultural hybrids, politics and future plans.

Blog entry 07/26/2008 - 9:04am

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

Full Battle RattleBy David D'Arcy

"This is part of the endless war machine. The war machine grinds on. They used to run Cold War simulations there. Now they run Iraq simulations there. They're beginning to evolve more into Afghan War simulations. For all I know, it'll be Iran in two years. They only have to re-jigger the actors and the sets, and the war continues."

That's Jesse Moss, talking about the National Training Center, which has built Medina Wazl, a fictional town out in the Mojave Desert, where soldiers train to fight the real war in Iraq. David D'Arcy talks with him and his filmmaking partner, Tony Gerber, about their documentary Full Battle Rattle, currently at Film Forum in New York through Tuesday.

Keep an eye on their blog for further screenings.

Blog entry 07/19/2008 - 11:54am

Silvio SoldiniBy James Van Maanen

"A perceptively written, finely-played exploration of a fundamentally good marriage during an unanticipated bad patch, Silvio Soldini's Days and Clouds is an absorbing, deliberate drama about choices and commitment," wrote Eddie Cockrell in Variety from last September's Toronto International Film Festival.

Days and Clouds opens in New York on Friday, and James Van Maanen nabbed a quick talk with Soldini during this year's Open Roads: New Italian Cinema series.


Blog entry 07/08/2008 - 11:38am

Ramin Bahrani By David D'Arcy

Ramin Bahrani has followed up his widely acclaimed Man Push Cart with Chop Shop, and we've been watching the accolades pour in at GreenCine Daily. Currently screening at New York's Film Forum through March 11, this "low-budget vérité triumph" (David Edelstein, New York) will make its way throughout the country over the next several weeks.

David D'Arcy talks with Bahrani about Abbas Kiarostami's admiration for the film, how it differs from the Dardenne brothers's work, nailing the sound of New York and about why kids could get just as much out of the movie as adults.

Chop Shop is now out on DVD.

Blog entry 07/07/2008 - 5:22am

Catherine Breillat By Michael Guillén

"The talkiness, the drawing-room intrigue, the frilly garments, and the slippery assignations might suggest all too much a Dangerous Liaisons redux," writes Steve Dollar in the New York Sun. "But [Catherine] Breillat is much too clever for that. What makes [The Last Mistress] so deliciously fun is the way she uses the narrative as a template for her own playful (and fever-ridden) ideas about the anarchy of passion and the disorder of decorum."

"Recovering from a dangerous brain hemorrhage at the end of 2004 that left her half paralyzed for several months, Breillat has returned to her artistry with a dazzling ferocity," writes Michael Guillén, introducing his interview. "The fire of trauma has lent her a searing voice of urgency."

Blog entry 06/29/2008 - 5:40am

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

Nina Davenport By Steve Erickson

"Sometimes, if you're a documentary filmmaker, you can search years looking for the right subject," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "At other times the subject will walk right up to your camera, which is pretty much what happened with Operation Filmmaker, an absorbing story about the best intentions gone terribly and comically awry." As David Edelstein puts it in New York, this "stupendous documentary" is "the story of a grand American liberal-humanitarian gesture gone kerflooey."

Steve Erickson talks with director Nina Davenport about her "very long, slow and painful process of disillusionment."

Blog entry 06/04/2008 - 3:41am

By Steve Erickson Olivier Assayas

"Boarding Gate, B-movie heir to Phil Karlson and Ingmar Bergman, screws any pretence of naturalism for hallucinatory confrontations," writes David Pratt-Robson in Slant. "If, like its protagonist, the film is brutally forthright, in B-movie tradition, that's because all it cares about is expressivity - raw impact and momentum.... Down and totally dirty, Boarding Gate is one of the best genre films in years."

And Steve Erickson talks with its director, Olivier Assayas.

Boarding Gate is now out on DVD.

Blog entry 06/02/2008 - 4:22pm

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