Screening Room: ‘The Party’

The new movie from Sally Potter (Orlando) is a quick-witted chamber piece starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, and Timothy Spall, among others. It’s playing now in limited release and absolutely worth seeking out.

My review of The Party is at PopMatters:

…from the first flash-forward appearance of a frazzled Kristin Scott Thomas brandishing a pistol through the onion-skin layering of the initially celebratory and ultimately catastrophic dinner party that follows, this is a high-spirited black comedy with a crackling, biting energy…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: ‘Nostalgia’

The new movie from Mark Pellington (Arlington Road) is a quiet little riff on memories, starring Jon Hamm and Catherine Keener.

Nostalgia opens this week. My review is at Film Journal International:

When Susan Sontag wrote that photography “converts the whole world into a cemetery,” she could have easily expanded that to include just about any personal possession. Everything we own, from a favorite album from adolescence to a souvenir spoon from that visit to the Grand Canyon, stands ready as a potential repository of some memory of us after we are gone. That prehistoric sense of possessions being imbued with some kind of animist spirit is shot all through Mark Pellington’s dramaturgical flatline of a curiosity-piece movie about nostalgia, stuff and the things (in all sense of the word) that we leave behind…

Screening Room: ‘The Strange Ones’

The Strange Ones opens this week in limited release. My review is at Film Journal International:

The ease with which the two travelers in Christopher Radcliff and Lauren Wolkstein’s slippery drama The Strange Ones shed and acquire names suggests that they are unmoored from any particular identity or history. Just another pair of ramblers cruising the backroads of a dusty and rustic America that seems to have fallen through the cracks of time, just as they hope to. But the past is a stickier substance than they expect…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: Outrages and Miracles at DOC NYC

The eighth DOC NYC film festival continues through this Thursday, with more movies than you would ever have time to see. My coverage of the festival continues over at Film Journal International‘s Screener blog:

Picking your way among the choices at DOC NYC 2017 is a rewarding but sometimes daunting task. There are documentaries about strife in the Middle East, the cats of Istanbul, a science-fiction utopia in Minnesota, a Golden Age of Hollywood hustler, and how an animated store clerk has driven a standup comedian insane for years. Opening the schedule to a random page works too…

 

Screening Room: ‘Human Flow’

Ai Weiwei’s new documentary expands from his earlier efforts—provocative artmaking in China under political persecution—to take in the massive subject of refugees, more of whom are now coursing over borders than at any time since the end of World War II.

Human Flow opens in limited release tomorrow. My review is at Film Journal International:

Human Flow is possibly the most visually resplendent piece of nonfiction cinema you will see this year. With this movie, multidisciplinary artist and occasional political enfant terrible Ai Weiwei has made a crucially important visual and philosophical document of the modern refugee crisis…

Here’s the trailer:


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Screening Room: ‘Columbus’

The small city of Columbus, Indiana features one of the greatest collections of modernist architecture to be found anywhere in the world.

It’s a surprisingly powerful setting for Kogonada’s winsome and romantic new movie, Columbus, which is playing in limited release and worth seeking out.

My review is at Eyes Wide Open.

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: New York Film Festival, Part One

The 55th New York Film Festival started up last week and runs through October 15. It remains to be seen just how much of a bellwether it will be for showcasing the year’s most likely award contenders. But so far, it’s off to a strong start. Here’s some reviews of what’s been showing so far:

  • The Florida Project (pictured above; opens in theaters October 6) — Kids run rampant in a down-at-the-heel Florida motel in the shadow of Disneyworld in this Oscar-likely bittersweet comedy with Willem Dafoe from the director of Tangerine. Review here.
  • No Stone Unturned — Suspenseful true-crime documentary from the director of Going Clear and Zero Day about a long-unsolved politically motivated multiple murder in Northern Ireland. Review here.
  • The Rape of Recy Taylor — This bluesy, ghostly documentary uses a harrowing decades-old crime for a powerful look at racial and sexual exploitation in the Old South. Review here.