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by Michael Abernethy

2 Sep 2011


Eisenstein reportedly commented, “What a monument you would have raised in my memory if I had died straight after The Battleship Potemkin! I’ve made a mess of my own biography!” While this may be a bit of an overstatement, Eisenstein was correct that he peaked early in his career. However, Eisenstein tended to exhibit some of the autocratic control that his films sought to expose in various governments, overseeing every aspect of his films to the point of obsession, a quality that hindered much of his later work.

Internal and external conflict furthered restricted his genius. As a young man, he and his father were at odds during WWI and the October Revolution in Russia, resulting in irreparable harm to their relationship. As an artist, he frequently found himself being chastised by the new Soviet government and often fought with producers and studios. Perhaps because of these experiences, conflict—both societal and personal—is at the front of all his great films. In examining the role of government in the lives of the proletariat, Eisenstein was a pioneer in using mood, lighting, and montage to convey heroism and villainy. In a time when silent films were usually one-reelers, he crafted epics, filled with sweeping crowd scenes and disturbing images, some of which couldn’t be shot today, such as the plummet of a live horse from a raised drawbridge into the river below.

Read the rest of the entry within our 100 Essential Directors series.

by Nik Ruckert

1 Sep 2011


Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s new film Drive follows a mechanic/stunt driver by day, getaway driver by night (Ryan Gosling, who hand picked Refn to direct this adaptation of James Sallis’ 2005 novel of the same name) through the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. After the Driver (the only name Gosling’s mysterious, quiet character is given) meets his lovely neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) who’s raising her small son Benicio (Kaden Leos) while her husband is in prison, a love story develops between the three of them.

When Irene’s husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac) is released from prison, the Driver discovers that the family he’s come to love is in danger unless Standard pays off an outstanding and increasing debt. To that end, the Driver agrees to drive for Standard in a pawn shop heist. Complications of course arise, and the Driver is left with a duffel bag of cash, a family to protect, and some sinister members of the Los Angeles organized crime community hot on his trail.

by PopMatters Staff

1 Sep 2011


Photo: Patrick Fraser

Soulful singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw has already gone platinum with his previous work and he keeps aim on a rapidly growing career trajectory with his latest album Sweeter, releasing 20 September on RCA Records. Sweeter ups the R&B quotient considerably, as well as brings a more “sexually charged” vibe to DeGraw’s music. That’s obvious on this new album cut, “Radiation”, which is drenched in blue-eyed soul grooves with an infectious chorus and loaded with energy and passion. That’s the direct result of co-writing and collaborating with other artists. DeGraw says, “co-writing with other people changed everything for me. Not only did it open my mind to new ideas, but it changed the way I wrote on my own. Playing all these different styles with other musicians led me to think about things differently when I was working by myself. I was able to tap into things I do live, dabbling with some of that late ’60s, early ’70s R&B stuff; I was able to record all the styles of music that I like and put them on one album. It was great to take my leash off and experiment. Although it doesn’t stray too far from what I’ve done, I think it’s the first album I’ve made that has caught my true sound.”

by Timothy Gabriele

1 Sep 2011


Neon Indian has created a late night video oddity that is the perfect blend of eerie and nostalgic for the heady arthouse sci-fi camp of SubGenius propoganda films. While Neon Indian has a new album, Era Extraña, coming out next month, this is actually a promo for the synth device Neon Indian is marketing. The device is an odd little patch that looks just as homemade and sounds as rough as those mysterious little doodads scattered across the table at basement noise shows across the country (the kind of thing barely known sound mechanics like Howard Steltzer whip out of their pockets at a whim). As a bonus, the PAL 198X, as the video promises, will help you “experienc[e] womb to tomb simultaneously as it transforms you into an undulating snake-lake creature that experiences all times of your life at once “. The downside: the device’s “photo cells do not currently support witch house raves”.

by Lee Dallas

31 Aug 2011


Despite a relatively small filmography, Carl Theodor Dreyer is truly a revered figure in cinema history; his emotionally draining storytelling and mysteriously slow output rate have afforded him an almost mythic status. The illegitimate son of a Swedish housekeeper, Carl Dreyer would pass through multiple foster homes before his placement in the care of Carl Theodor and Inger Marie Dreyer, around the same time as his biological mother’s accidental death. Dreyer would later estrange himself from his adpoted family as a teenager, and though dismissive of the impact of his childhood in interviews, his past seems unquestionably tied to his cinematic ruminations of sorrow, interpersonal disconnect, and martyrdom.

Read the rest of the entry within our 100 Essential Directors series.

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// Short Ends and Leader

"Rainer Werner Fassbinder is the whole show.

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