“La La Land,” Blissful Ignorance, and the Myth of Jazz

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land can be seen as being comprised of three different films: a romance, a musical, and a film about art. None of these aspects of La La Land are particularly good; not because Chazelle stretches the film thin between themes or sub-plots, but rather, because he lacks nuance as both a… Continue reading “La La Land,” Blissful Ignorance, and the Myth of Jazz

Film of the Week: “The Watermelon Woman”

In Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman (1996), a search into film history becomes one inextricably tied to personal identity. A quasi-documentary, Dunye plays herself, a young Black-lesbian film director working day-to-day at a video rental store. She uses her workplace as an opportunity to delve into a vast library of not just any cinema, but… Continue reading Film of the Week: “The Watermelon Woman”

Paul Verhoeven’s Tepid “Elle”

To praise Paul Verhoeven’s Elle simply for its controversial subject matter would be too easy and too dangerous. Such criticism would open the floodgates for a bevy of grossly violent films to be praised on their vulgarity alone. Not that such films don’t have anything to offer, but I think proper criticism should dig deep… Continue reading Paul Verhoeven’s Tepid “Elle”

Film of the Week: “Wendy and Lucy”

I’ve seen two Kelly Reichardt films: “Certain Women,” which I saw at the 54th NYFF, and just recently “Wendy and Lucy.” A press conference attended by Reichardt and the stars of the film followed the screening of “Certain Women” and one particular moment now stands out to me. A member of the audience had analyzed… Continue reading Film of the Week: “Wendy and Lucy”

“The Lost City of Z”

“Apocalypse Now,” “Aguirre, Wrath of God,” and “Fitzcarraldo.” James Gray’s latest, “The Lost City of Z,” stands out from these other Heart of Darkness-esque films by placing a focus on the natives of the story, specifically in making the natives to be a civilized group of people rather than barbarians protecting a mythical city. Consequently,… Continue reading “The Lost City of Z”

Film of the Week: WINTER’s BONE

Debra Grenik’s “Winter’s Bone” is a film where Grenik certainly employs a show and don’t tell method of filmmaking.  The story is about Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence), a 17-year old girl on the hunt for her father wanted by the law. Should she fail to find him, her family will be evicted from their home… Continue reading Film of the Week: WINTER’s BONE