Author: Calum Marsh

  • BAMcinemaFest Asserts Itself — Once Again — as a Wellspring of Risk and Discovery

    Go to the movies often enough, and the movies start to seem dull. Have you ever found yourself stuck in a cinematic rut, whereupon every ingratiating indie drama, talking-head documentary, and mainstream studio blockbuster of the season cannot help but seem vaguely feeble and indistinguishably mundane? For some months now, I have languished in such […]

  • At New Directors/New Films, Fledgling Artists Find Their Voice

    First films tend to be accorded special attention in criticism, perhaps because they seem to possess not only their present virtues but the promise of a whole auspicious future. First films rouse, intrigue, pique our curiosity: They introduce to us an unfamiliar novice, and, if we forgive them their clumsiness, it’s because we are eager […]

  • In Astoria, the First Look Festival Makes Heroes Out of Unsung Film Artists

    The Museum of the Moving Image means, with its First Look Festival, to make some long-overdue introductions. This unusual program of eccentric and experimental film art, now in its seventh year, celebrates the defiant, the distinctive, and the wildly idiosyncratic, and renders for its duration superstars of unheralded artists instead of flattering marquee talent. Who […]

  • What You’ll See At This Year’s BAMcinemaFest

    BAMcinemaFest is an indispensable annual moviegoing tradition. Its twelve-day program, drawn largely from early-year world-premiere free-for-alls such as the Berlinale, Sundance, and South by Southwest, favors excellence over abundance and even obscurity over fame — it’s a sort of Best Of compilation for the glut of the festival circuit. Its reputation remains unassailable: Now celebrating […]

  • Hello to All That

    On the 26th of April, 2010, Matías Piñeiro arrived in New York for a one-night screening of his second feature, They All Lie, at the Museum of Modern Art — an engagement ceremoniously christened by the Department of Film as “An Evening With” the Argentine director. Piñeiro sat outside the cinema with MoMA film curator […]

  • New Directors/New Films Returns to Shatter Expectations

    Audiences tend to think of movies as a basically imaginative art — a means of expression by which, to invoke an enduring cliché, anything is possible. But in fact most movies refute the point. It isn’t merely studio genre pictures whose conventions today seem ironclad; the timely advocacy doc, no-budget relationship drama, and lyrical coming-of-age […]

  • Zhao Liang Finds the Poetry — And Pain — in Inner Mongolia’s Coal Mines

    “It’s too simplistic to say,” Antonioni told Godard of his film Red Desert, “that I am condemning the inhuman industrialized world….My intention was to translate the poetry of that world, in which even factories can be beautiful. The lines and curves of the factories and their chimneys can be more beautiful than the outline of […]

  • At MoMI’s First Look Fest, Behold the Films Too Bold for Release

    More than a thousand feature films opened theatrically in New York City in 2016. It may seem daft, in light of this deluge, to fancy yet more of them. But for every four-walled mediocrity with the gall to squander the city’s time and attention — every self-financed vanity project, every trust-fund-backed student opus, every Indiegogo’d […]

  • Kiss Kiss Bam Bam: Fall in Love With America’s Most Quietly Prestigious Film Festival

    BAMcinemaFest, the unassuming independent film festival, is now in its eighth year, and over the course of that near-decade has become quietly, even improbably, illustrious. It’s hardly a star-graced red-carpet affair. It’s never enjoyed French Riviera glamour or voguish world premieres. There are no black-tie galas or paparazzi photocalls or rafts of complimentary Champagne. But […]

  • Walter Salles’s Jia Zhangke Doc Dives Deep Into the Mind of a Great Filmmaker

    Jia Zhangke is one of the great contemporary filmmakers; no argument to that effect needs to be made in a film about him. Walter Salles happily agrees. The Brazilian director’s new documentary Jia Zhangke, a Guy From Fenyang takes for granted, justly, its subject’s global renown, and it squanders no time on introductions. This is […]

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