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Independent Cinema

  • Eric Kohn
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    In Praise of Roman Polanski's "What?"

    Roman Polanski's "What?" is a pleasurably offbeat sex romp that deserves greater recognition among fans of his work. Made in 1972 (but released in the U.S., just barely, with an X rating in 1973; see a review here), the movie preceded "Chinatown," Polanski's universally acclaimed masterpiece, and a...

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    5 John Carpenter Alternatives to "The Ward."

    In a review posted today on the main site, I wasn't exactly kind to John Carpenter's "The Ward," although if it was just some forgettable effort from a first-timer I may have simply ignored it. Instead, it's a forgettable effort from a guy who has made masterpieces and for all intents and purposes should still be able to make them. "The Ward" proves that by containing many of the components of great Carpenter works while failing to bring them to life. Here are a few other options that will remain classics long after "The Ward" fades from memory. ("Halloween" being "Halloween," I have left it off this list. It's not really fair to compare any ...

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    Robert Sklar, RIP.

    I was lucky enough to take one course taught by Robert Sklar, the esteemed film historian and scholar who passed away over the weekend in an unexpected accident, but wish I could have taken many more. Sklar's most influential work, "Movie-Made America," first came out over thirty years ago but remains one of the most important texts for the study of American cinema. (After all, he helped invent the field.) Its thesis, that American film culture owed much to the lower class and the struggles against capitalist interests rather than efforts to sustain them, echoed the egalitarian nature of Sklar's writing: Although primarily an academic, he had...

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    The Starman Who Fell to Earth.

    Random question: Has anyone ever pointed out the relationship between these two films?

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    Interactive Theater Blows My Mind: "Sleep No More."

    Art, particularly when it takes the form of a story, typically encourages a passive experience; the sensational interactive theater production "Sleep No More" works against that tendency. Loosely adapted from "Macbeth," the traveling show is currently housed at a warehouse in Chelsea, where it has b...

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    "Melancholia" vs. "Another Earth": Which "Invading Planet" Movie Will You See?

    The trailer for Lars Von Trier's dark family drama "Melancholia" hit the web today, catching fire immediately for its freaky apocalyptic imagery and intense performances by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Anne Thompson compared the heavy symbolic content to Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life" trailer, which I broke down shot-by-shot a little while back. "Melancholia" isn't quite as visually dense, but it's certainly loaded with big ideas, although it have some company. "Another Earth," the low budget sci-fi effort directed by Mike Cahill and picked up by Fox Searchlight at Sundance this year, also involves the sudden arrival of a new pl...

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    D.A. Pennebaker Discusses Richard Leacock and Leonard Bernstein.

    Yesterday's obituary for documentary icon Richard Leacock included quotes from some of the people he affected in his life who have since obtained influence roles in film culture, including Mira Nair, Albert Maysles and D.A. Pennebaker. That last source, the director of such cinema verité classics as "Don't Look Back," ran the production company Leacock-Pennebaker for several years, and shared a number of remarkable anecdotes about meeting and working with Leacock during the early stages of their careers. In the following excerpt, Pennebaker recalls his experience with Leacock during the production of "Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philh...

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    Please Cast Christopher Dennis in "Superman."

    Wandering around a hectic Hollywood Boulevard last night on my way to meet indieWIRE colleagues Peter Knegt and Dana Harris for an Oscar viewing party at the Egyptian, I ran into Superman himself. That would be Christopher Dennis, one of the compelling subjects from Matthew Ogens's disarmingly thoug...

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    Watch a Gory Scene from "Santa Sangre."

    Watch a Gory Scene from "Santa Sangre."

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    Meet the Mike Lacher, the Man Behind the Film School Thesis Generator.

    There's a difference between thinking long and hard about something and only thinking that you're thinking long and hard about something; therein lies the brilliance of the Film School Thesis Generator, a vastly amusing work of interactive satire that popped on the web a few weeks back. Matt Singer ...

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