Film

'Walk Away Renée': Another Chapter in Jonathan Caouette's Autobiographical Saga

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.

The old film is Tarnation, Caouette's brilliant 2004 first feature. The new film screens 20 November at Stranger Than Fiction, the Winter Season's closing event, which includes a Q&A with Caouette. It is at once a continuation and a departure. It reminds you of the first film's extraordinary mix of documentary-diary-performance-arty effects, inserting some familiar footage and some previously unseen, updating you on figures from before, including Caouette's now deceased grandfather Adolph and his now 15-year-old son Joshua. It reminds you that people make bad decisions, even people who, as Caouette insists, can love each other while also being abusive and hurtful, that they can mean one thing and say another.

This complexity shapes the new film in a new way. Apart from the look-back images, Walk Away Renée shows Jonathan now, with Renée, road-tripping from Houston to a new facility in upstate New York, sometimes via a camera he sets up in the cab, sometimes via another camera, traveling in a car beside their U-Haul truck or watching them as they walk in parks or on sidewalks. If part of the puzzle of Tarnation had to do with how Renée understood and used the camera -- her singing and dancing before it, her outbursts over it -- here the questions of her awareness are mixed in with questions about Jonathan's. They see they're recorded, they respond to being recorded, but the realities resulting from each experience are different. "People should have more empathy for the mentally ill," Jonathan tells a TV interviewer during his tour for Tarnation, replayed here. "I feel that they are definitely in another place and that place really does exist." Walk Away Renée offers up another sort of place. And if there's no doubt it exists, the film also leaves open how it has come to be.

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Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

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7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

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