Posts

Showing posts from June, 2017

On a More Upbeat Note . . .

Image
As you probably know, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is rapidly adding new voters in an admirable effort to address the insane gender, racial and ethnic bias of its membership rolls. I haven't heard or seen any blowback from the blowhards (I don't actively seek out the opinions of the likes of Fox News or others of their, uh, ilk) but this strikes me as an entirely positive change.

Welcome to the Academy: A Jonas Mekas selfie from Pinterest

And it has had a nice little side-effect in that the Academy has invited several seemingly unlikely filmmakers to join. From a posting on the Frameworks list (for experimental film), here are some of the proposed new members: Jonas Mekas, Penny Lane, Pedro Costa, Arturo Ripstein, Lav Diaz, Alejandro Jodorowsky and
Idrissa Ouedraogo. I was particularly pleased to see Mekas's name for obvious reasons, his championing of independent filmmakers and his own pivotal work. (Of course, it also boosts the representation of the …

Losses

A couple of recent deaths came to my attention yesterday and I wanted to briefly pay tribute to the folks in question.

I first met Roger Greenspun when I was a graduate student in the film program at Columbia, By that point he had been removed as the second-chair film critic at the New York Times, allegedly a victim of Abe Rosenthal's contempt for cinema. His primary crime, apparently, was taking the likes of Robert Bresson and Clint Eastwood seriously. (That was hardly the most significant of Rosenthal's loathesome activities as the newspaper's managing editor but the one that had the most direct impact on my circle of friends and colleagues.) Roger was an occasional contributor the The Thousand Eyes, if memory serves, of which I was managing editor, and we spoke from time to time. He was immensely generous and helpful to a struggling newcomer. Indeed, he gave me the single best piece of career advice I ever received, one which I have passed along frequently: "Write …

Don't Let This Slip Through the Cracks

Image
One hesitates to talk about any film being Albert Maysles's last. The protean non-fiction filmmaker left behind a team of collaborators and many projects in various states of completion. But if the New York Times can call the marvelous 2015 film In Transit his final completed work, I won't argue. My only real concern is that at a modest 76 minutes this gentle, thoughtful film won't find an audience competing against the likes of Sofia Coppola and Michael Bay. Add to that the fact that it is only playing once a day at the Maysles Harlem-based documentary theater and there is a real danger of it disappearing without finding the audience it deserves.

In Transit, directed by Maysles along with Nelson Walker, Lynn True, David Usui and Ben Wu, is brisk yet expansive.  Maysles and his co-directors follow the Empire Builder, American’s busiest long-distance train route as it goes between Chicago, Portland, OR, and Seattle and vice versa. 

This part of the Northern Plains States is b…

New Filmmakers NY program at Anthology This Wednesday

Image
Just wanted to pull your coat to a promising evening of new films that run an interesting spectrum from documentary on the failure of NY's Off-Track Betting Corp. to some X-rated erotica. (Okay, maybe that isn't as wide a spectrum as I thought). New Filmmakers New York has been offering evenings of such work at AFA for many years now, and they are always rewarding as a showcase for the next-gen creators of moving-image art, if you'll pardon the jargon.

At any rate, here's the details, courtesy of the organization's website/newsletter:



NewFilmmakers
Wednesday / June 21st

ALL SCREENINGS AT
ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES
SECOND AVE & 2ND STREET Passes for Whole Evening only $7



6:00PM NEWFILMMAKERS DOCUMENTARY PROGRAM

Joseph Fusco FINISH LINE: THE RISE AND FALL OF OFF-TRACK BETTING
Finish Line: The Rise and Demise of Off-Track Betting' is the only documentary film to tell the story of the defunct OTB system in New York, …

News Roundup

Image
A couple of totally unrelated news items worth sharing on this rainy (in NYC, anyway) Saturday afternoon. (I could have been watching Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood, but instead I'm taking the time to pass along these tidbits.)

Sub-Saharan Africa may be the most neglected group of film industries on the planet. That is why I take great pleasure in passing along this release from the Film Foundation and others:

THE FILM FOUNDATION’S WORLD CINEMA PROJECT, UNESCO, AND THE PAN AFRICAN FEDERATION OF FILMMAKERS (FEPACI) SIGN AGREEMENT TO RESTORE AFRICAN FILMS


NEW YORK, NY (June 12, 2017) – Martin Scorsese, founder and chair of The Film Foundation, Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Aboubakar Sanogo, the North American Regional Secretary of the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) joined together Wednesday, June 7 to sign a letter of agreement formalizing their partnership on the African …

From Boom to Bus (er, Limo)

Image

As Promised, the Prodigal Returns (Now, about that fatted calf . . .)

After an eventful year that included a lot of teaching, four herniated cervical disks (fun for the whole family), a bedbug infestaion (more fun and loads of serious expense) and a national election about which the less said the better, here I am again back at the old lemonade stand. (Yes, we frequently use real lemons, but I'd rather talk about the good movies I see.) As the new media economy devours print journalism and pukes it up whole as another Murdoch enterprise, I realized that I both wanted and needed to writing about something more than Jewish film which, needless to say, my gig at The Jewish Week, doesn't really permit.

Although I enjoy using my Twitter feed (@GRCommunicati13), it's not exactly a brilliant communication device, not even in the hands of a bold practitioner like our President Agent Orange. A 140-character limit doesn't leave room for much nuance. Notwithstanding the death-of-cinema whiners, there are plenty of complex and intelligent films bein…

COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU!!!

Yes, like Nixon, I'm back, tanned and rested and ready for a fight.
There have been a few changes made, and I'll detail them very soon.
For the moment, all you need to know is that I'm red and ready.