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Shot Outs

Shot Outs

The ever-growing number of Reverse Shot staff writers and contributors doesn’t stop at Reverse Shot or indieWIRE. And we can’t always get to cover everything we want in either of those two outlets, so here’s some great reading to start off your week, courtesy of a few of Reverse Shot’s most faithful longtime contributors, about some recent and upcoming films. Good job, all!

Andrew Tracy on Babel in Cinemascope
“The Perros formula, yielding diminishing returns in 21 Grams (2003) and impasted over what should have been the stark and clear movement of the inexplicably acclaimed The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) has been carried to its logical culmination in Babel—if only it would culminate. But like any genre, Arriaga’s bag of tricks can be opened again and again. If connections themselves are all that matter, are their own meaning regardless of the actions performed and meanings created in the points they connect, then any given set of actions and locations are equally valid.”

Nick Pinkerton on Mutual Appreciation in Stop Smiling
“The gambit of Mutual Appreciation is to set a film somewhere that is, for all of its intrinsic ridiculousness, a totally unique social bathysphere—and to ignore that singularity entirely. To make a film about milquetoast personalities in a neighborhood of “characters”; to concentrate on middle-class quarterlife angst at the exclusion of Williamsburg’s bizarre class tensions (that is: systematic poverty vs. slumming; authentic dives vs. affected shabbiness).”

Jeannette Catsoulis on American Blackout in The New York Times
“Interviewing Congressional leaders, journalists and regular voters, Mr. Inaba begins by addressing the Florida debacle of 2000, arguing that behind the exhaustive coverage of hanging chads and faulty voting machines lies an underreported and more complex story of black disenfranchisement… It’s a methodical compilation of questions and irregularities that deserves a wider audience.”

Nicolas Rapold on Renaissance in the New York Sun
“This Renaissance even with the reliably sexy premise of retailed immortality, is enacted with a script patched together from generic cop movies. Other recent animation experiments have matched theme to form: the expressionism of Sin City with its base urges, the squiggly vision of A Scanner Darkly with its drug paranoia. Devoid of mood or attitude, this detective story is repetitive, the rigid-faced characters lost in the hailstorm of sleekness.”

Michael Joshua Rowin on The Black Dahlia in Stop Smiling
“Take for instance De Palma’s latest, The Black Dahlia. Both J. Hoberman and a friend/colleague have expressed disappointment that the film, to use Hoberman’s words, “rarely achieves the rhapsodic (let alone the delirious).” One can’t dismiss that point, and it’s even least among the film’s flaws. And yet there’s so much to admire in this gorgeous, ridiculous, irreverent, disturbing, incoherent mess of cinematic brilliance.”

Jeannette Catsoulis on All the King’s Men in Las Vegas City Life
Zaillian’s decision to transpose the book’s setting from the 1930s to the 1950s—presumably to appeal to those whose historical awareness lumps pre-1950 in the same category as the Stone Age—is ideologically disastrous. Willie Stark is a child of the Depression, not World War II; his cracker pride and hatred of old money, his populist rhetoric and evangelistic campaign style, and his notion of how the world works are all products of a very specific sociopolitical system, one that had changed dramatically by the 1950s and the beginnings of mass media.”

Adam Nayman on Tales of the Rat Fink in Cinemascope
“The title refers to Roth’s most famous creation, a drooling, degenerate, pea-green rodent who was, briefly but genuinely, the most successful anti-establishment cartoon character of all time. (He’s most commonly and succinctly described as the “Anti-Mickey Mouse”; Roth actually conceived the character as an antidote to Disney’s big-eared poster boy.) As brought to life by Mann and his ingenious, Sheridan College-bred animator Mike Roberts, Rat Fink is the film’s borderline-insane mascot, grunting and grasping his way through slapstick interludes that comprise the story’s connective tissue.”

Michael Joshua Rowin, interviewing Old Joy’s Kelly Reichardt in Stop Smiling
“It’s not only one of the best films of the year, but perhaps the only American film of the year to superbly demonstrate the true aesthetic heritage of the term independent.”

Nicolas Rapold on The Science of Sleep in L Magazine
“As such it’s the latest entry in the booming romantic tradition of childlike solipsism, which presents emotionally stunted man-kids as eagerly as past generations churned out child-wives.”

More on that one from our weekly Reverse Shot round-up at indieWIRE, this edition by a particularly daunting trio: staff writers James Crawford, Kristi Mitsuda, and Elbert Ventura.
Happy Monday.

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