Author: Aaron Hillis

  • “Machines”: Boring Title, Indispensable Movie

    Gliding cameras and sustained tableaux showcase yard after yard of colorful fabric cascading down a drab gray wall like an otherworldly waterfall, and vats of gooey dye eye-pleasingly mixed as if Gerhard Richter were prepping his next canvas. Rahul Jain’s hypnotic and sensuous immersion into the cavernous corridors of an active textile factory in his […]

  • Jodorowsky’s “Endless Poetry” Continues a Phantasmagorical Coming of Age

    At 88 years young, the rebel-shaman filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky has led an eclectic life and enjoyed a provocative career not easily encapsulated. His 1970 acid western, El Topo, crowned him godfather of the midnight-movie craze. His phantasmagoric 1973 masterpiece, The Holy Mountain, was ripped off by Kanye West for the design of his Yeezus tour. […]

  • Mourn the Death of Brooklyn’s DIY Death by Audio at the Alamo Drafthouse

    Truth be known, Death by Audio — the shuttered DIY music venue in Williamsburg serendipitously spawned from musician-entrepreneur Oliver Ackermann’s distortion-pedal boutique of the same name — was kind of a shithole. But it was a beloved, MTV-vetted shithole that Pitchfork darlings like Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Deerhoof, Future Islands, and Dan Deacon all […]

  • Werner Herzog Contemplates the Mysteries of Our Digital Existence

    Late in Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, his unsurprisingly wry, quizzical documentary survey of life inside and beside the virtual world, Werner Herzog stumps two brain researchers with a lyrical question in that instantly recognizable (and often parodied) German accent: “Does the internet dream of itself?” An ever adventurous and acutely observational […]

  • Louis Malle’s Cracking-Good Noir ‘Elevator to the Gallows’ Returns, Restored, to Film Forum

    Despite its fatalistic title, Louis Malle’s splendid 1958 Parisian noir Elevator to the Gallows still marks an ascent to immortality six decades later, especially for a then-24-year-old French auteur making his confident feature debut and the only genre exercise of his career. Yet the film also launched its ever-elegant star Jeanne Moreau, unforgettably shot by Henri […]

  • Q&A: Writer-Director Mike Birbiglia Thinks Twice About Improv and Jealousy

    Mike Birbiglia’s poignant comic drama Don’t Think Twice honestly depicts the ways that seriously funny people face ego and jealousy — and craft their art. In his second collaboration with Sleepwalk With Me producer Ira Glass, the comedian-turned-filmmaker co-stars as a member of a New York City improv troupe (which also includes Gillian Jacobs, Chris […]

  • Still Crazy at 15: The New York Asian Film Festival Is Back to Blow Minds Again

    It’s both celebratory and rote to mention that the New York Asian Film Festival is still crazy as hell in its fifteenth-anniversary edition. Where else will you discover cinematic provocations about quadruple amputee yakuza debt collectors (Kiyamachi Daruma), demonically manipulative landlords in Taiwan (The Tenants Downstairs), or a traumatized Korean photographer trying to escape his […]

  • ‘Kill Zone 2’ Only Really Works When the Killing Starts, but Then It’s Great

    Retitled to sound like a Playstation first-person shooter, the frenzied pan-Asian action import formerly known as SPL 2: A Time for Consequences is only a thematic follow-up, requiring no familiarity with 2005’s martial-arts crime drama SPL (or Kill Zone) — just a genre hound’s lust for antiheroes kicking ass. To infiltrate an organ-harvesting syndicate led […]

  • King Hu’s Kung Fu Epic ‘A Touch of Zen’ Returns to Film Forum, Bloody and Analog

    Radiantly restored in 4K, King Hu’s superlative 1971 wuxia (literally “martial hero,” a frequently misunderstood staple of Chinese storytelling typically defined by chivalrous lower-class men fighting oppression or misdeeds) is an obvious influence on The Matrix, Kill Bill, The Assassin, and especially Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Curiously structured to merge supernatural suspense with political thrills […]

  • Denys Arcand’s ‘An Eye for Beauty’ Might Benefit From More of an Eye for Drama

    Attractive, humorless Canadian yuppies golf and play tennis in slow motion, ski, hunt geese, grow marijuana, and cheat on their partners in this feeble soap opera that’s as stilted and unsexy as an adolescent dry hump. There’s not much reason or regret when vaguely dissatisfied Québécois architect Luc (Éric Bruneau) begins a brief affair with […]

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