Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012
Walk Away Renée reimagines place -- as a material location, a brief point in a story, and a subjective state. While there may be no doubt that this new and ever-shifting place exists, the film also leaves open how it has come to be.

“Listen to me, don’t talk,” Jonathan Caouette tells his mother, Renée. “You need to get off the Risperdal. You need to be back on Lithium.” It’s 2010, at the start of Walk Away Renée: he’s home in New York, she’s in Houston, at the group home where he hoped she might find a mix of independence and close-to-round-the-clock care. But the more Jonathan listens to her, the more he realizes she can’t be there, that their living arrangements will need to shift—again. And in this realization, the new film picks up where the old one left off. The son must sort out what to do with his mother.


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Wednesday, Oct 31, 2012
The Miners' Hymns shows what happened then, or what was recorded, that is, how men worked. It also asks how any of us might see it. If mining is about digging and producing, struggling and surviving, the film is about how we conceive these themes.

The story might seem familiar. Men go to work in Bill Morrison’s The Miners’ Hymns, hard, dark work in coal mines. They also find ways to celebrate their labor, in images from the early days of the UK’s coal industry: crowds cheer union candidates, placards proclaim support for miners and also, offer to insure them “on holidays.” Shots of one throng from a distance dissolve into closer shots, the camera panning faces, revealing that they’ve dressed up, in hats and jackets and vests. Some frames show more recent crowds, women in sunglasses and a reporter with a reel-to-reel tape recorder. In others, children hold balloons and bounce a bit, so excited to be out for the event. A boy turns to look at the camera as it passes. A little girl—her short hair shockingly blond—sits on her father’s shoulder, her gaze steady and, you think, somehow self-aware.


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Monday, Oct 22, 2012
Now available on DVD, the film achieves a rare and wonderful balance, its undulating rhythms emulating those of the young lives it depicts.

“I love the way that you’re the one I dream of,” says Kati Genthner. She’s reciting a poem she wrote for her boyfriend James, you’re looking at a front porch. Her voice is grainy, a telephone recording, sharing the story of her all-committed love. “The first time he heard it,” she reports, “he actually cried.”


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Friday, Oct 19, 2012
by Elena Razlogova
For all the mechanisms at work in Holy Motors, much like a carousel, the film delivers a ride that's always engaging and often thrilling.

Holy Motors is Léos Carax’s first feature film since 1999’s Pola X. But if the filmmaker takes his time between such adventures, his storytelling is more inclined to speed, or, more precisely, an energy that emulates speed, propulsive, provocative, and irresistible.


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Tuesday, Oct 16, 2012
The film pulls together an incredible collection of photographs and film footage, indicating the difficulties of the time and place, and also the remarkable fortitude of the organized protestors.

Listening to their father at the dinner table as he “lectured on social ills,” Victor Reuther remembers, he and his two brothers—Walter and Roy—developed the moral and political sensibility that would shape their adult lives. And when they went to work at factories in Detroit, the three of them were moved by the cruel conditions and long hours to try to organize their fellow laborers. Beginning in the 1930s and carrying through the next two decades, the brothers led the labor movement: their efforts form the focus of Brothers on the Line, screening 16 October at Stranger Than Fiction, where it will be followed by a Q&A with director Sasha Reuther.


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