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Saturday, Sep 7, 2013
With a couple of fiction films punching below their weight, two major documentaries about young people prove to be the highlights of our second day at Toronto International Film Festival.

A Story of Children and Film
United Kingdom, 2013—dir. Mark Cousins


“I’m still a child before a moving image,” wrote Pauline Kael. It’s a sentiment shared by Mark Cousins who states: “I feel, when I watch a movie, that I watch it like a child.” Cousins’s new documentary, the follow-up to his already-iconic The Story of Film, takes off from that observation. A humbler proposition than was its epic, exhilarating and sometimes exasperating predecessor, Cousins’s latest isn’t really a “story” at all but rather a series of observations, of riffs and refs, around its chosen topic, which, this time around, is the way in which children have been represented on the cinema screen over the years: the diverse ways that childhood experience has been constructed and deconstructed by filmmakers.


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Friday, Sep 6, 2013
Guiraudie's movie unfolds entirely at a gay cruising area on the French coast where men flop naked on the beach, appraise each other and head to the woods for more intimate encounters

Stranger By the Lake
France, 2013 - dir. Alain Guiraudie


In its tactility, its attention to place and space, and its unabashed focus upon the male body, something of Denis’s influence can be felt in Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake (L’Inconnu du lac), along with that of François Ozon, whose See the Sea (1997) contains a central sequence that seems to have inspired the premise of Stranger By the Lake. Guiraudie’s movie—a Cannes sensation that deservedly scooped this year’s Queer Palm and Best Director gongs—unfolds entirely at a gay cruising area on the French coast where men flop naked on the beach, appraise each other and head to the woods for more intimate encounters. Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) has pitched up at the spot for the summer and passes his time chatting to the solitary bisexual Henri (Patrick Dassumçao), lusting after the mustachioed Michel (Christophe Paou) and being lusted after, in turn, by the harmless voyeur Eric (Mathieu Vervisch) whose attentions he continually rebuffs.


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Friday, Sep 6, 2013
On his first day at TIFF 2013, Alex Ramon applauds two startling French features, the latest works from Claire Denis and Alain Guiraudie, that both twist the suspense thriller into fresh territory.

Bastards
France, 2013—dir. Claire Denis


Heaps of high heels. A naked girl wandering through a city street. A blood-stained corn on the cob. A pulsing, tensing Tindersticks soundtrack… Yes, you’ve guessed it: here’s the latest impeccably brooding enigma from the imagination of Claire Denis. Though less confounding than some of Denis’s work (2004’s The Intruder still takes that particular prize), the none-too-invitingly titled Bastards (Les Salauds) certainly takes its place as one of Denis’s darkest and most disturbing offerings to date.


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Friday, Sep 14, 2012
Day five of our TIFF coverage features the latest Terrence Malick film To the Wonder and David Ayer's End of Watch.

To the Wonder
USA—Dir. Terrence Malick


Terrence Malick’s latest opus is a gorgeous, elliptical, dreamy collection of images, sounds and stray thoughts, murmurs of poetry and anguish, scenes of unrecoverable silence, all fitted into a loose-fitting narrative about a man (Ben Affleck), the two women he fails to love enough to make commitment work (Rachel McAdams and Olga Kurylenko), and a Priest who has lost his faith (Javier Bardem). A darkly thoughtful meditation on trust, loneliness, freedom, individuality, and the calamitous anxiety of doubt, all interwoven with suggestions of man’s inability to live in harmony with his environment, To The Wonder is brimming with an existentialist, Kierkegaardian spirit. “How should we live?”, indeed.


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Thursday, Sep 13, 2012
Day four of our TIFF coverage features the collaboration between the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer that is Cloud Atlas, David O. Russell's superb Silver Linings Playbook, and Neil Jordan's latest, Byzantium.


Cloud Atlas
Germany/Hong Kong/Singapore/USA—Dir. Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer


The award for the most audacious film to play at the Festival this year would surely be handed to Cloud Atlas (if such a thing were to exist, which it totally shouldn’t). A vastly complicated, massive production spanning several hundred years, quoting liberally from genre films (Blade Runner, Soylent Green, Master and Commander, And Now For Something Completely Different, Parallax View) and featuring a small village worth of lead actors in multiple roles, this is not the kind of movie that typically gets green lit. Indeed, it likely occurred to many readers of David Mitchell’s visionary 2004 novel on which the film was based that an adaptation would be pretty much impossible. The complexity of the novel’s construction alone—six thematically linked stories, each set in a different time period ranging from the Victorian age up to the distant future, and each written in a time-specific vernacular, all interwoven into a grand braided narrative—should have been enough of a disclaimer against the idea. And yet, here it is.


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