N1FR Issue 2

February 2012

Vincent Gallo is one of the most disliked of current film actors, while George Clooney is one of the most admired, but most viewers of Essential Killing—American, Belgian, Sri Lankan, or Japanese—probably have more in common with Gallo’s “Mohammed” than they have with Clooney. More…

That Murdoch would become a modern-day William Randolph Hearst seemed predictable, but Mel Gibson’s transformation into the raving id of the American psyche took the world by surprise; the culture is still recovering. Fittingly, Gibson’s story is reminiscent enough of Oedipus Rex that it leaves cinephiles with the desire to pluck out their eyes. More…

Slacker, though often canonized as a portrait of 1990s youth culture, is at root a local film. It was shot and produced entirely in Austin with local non-actors and musicians like the Butthole Surfers’ drummer Teresa Taylor. The fictionalized, documentary-style film doesn’t have a plot or recurring characters. More…

Cinema in Cambodia—the medium itself—is metaphor. It stands in for historical memory. It makes it tolerable. And unnecessary. More…

Where does Godard take us in Film Socialisme or, more appropriately, where do we take ourselves? An anarcho-communist distrust of money and the state infuses the film. We are told that “money was invented so as not to look men in the eyes.” More…

These are very slow, irruptively weird movies, where ugly faces break spontaneously into gorgeous, toothy grins and no one screams and runs away when a monkey-man shows up to dinner. More…

Despite mostly rave reviews, it’s safe to say that there’s no comparison between 30-year-old Brecht and Margin Call’s 37-year-old writer-director J. C. Chandor, first-time filmmaker and son of a Merrill Lynch lifer. Margin Call has an emptiness at its core, a refusal to answer or even really ask the questions about the system it portrays. More…

Late style, on the other hand, refuses death and refuses the world outside art. Chabrol, Rivette, and Rohmer might be thought of as timely in this sense. But there is a filmmaker equally timely, old, and French Quandt leaves out: Agnès Varda. More…

Jealousy was a given, and forgivable. But the pettiness Dunham’s success inspired was of a kind not usually seen outside children’s parties. Like infants driven to tears by the sight of someone else getting all the gifts, human adults became incapable of hiding their envy. More…

This second edition of the N1FR, n+1‘s film review, is very late. Its lateness has nothing to do with n+1 or with any of the contributors, or with our generous sponsor IFC Films. It’s entirely my fault. More…

That night we dined with Costa and the critics. It was not a banquet of equals, so we were left to observe. After some chips and salsa, the conversation gravitated to films-of-the-year, and someone lazily broached the name Terrence Malick. Costa grinned, then leaned over to ask us: “Do you like this Tree of Life?” More…

Must a 3D movie be seen in 3D? Is a movie with both a 3D and a 2D release the same movie or two different movies? The “high” and “low” culture divide that is emerging—with Thor and The Green Hornet on one side, and Avatar and Werner Herzog on the other—seems to track along these very lines. More…

Cinema’s soul, once glued to the photograph, has become unstuck. It now tarries in the Beyond, in an afterlife somewhere between the death of film and the childhood of the digital image. More…

N1FR: Why does it often seem as though there is no film criticism on the left in North America, even in leftist publications? Walsh: If your question excepts the World Socialist Web Site, which I hope and trust it does, I would direct you to our generally low opinion of what passes for the left, not only in North America, but globally. More…

If the polymath currently holds great purchase with American audiences, perhaps it serves to work through a pervasive free market psychology that makes no distinction between diversification and dexterity, power and genius. More…

But forget all that and focus on this for a minute: it was said that Raoul Ruiz’s dream was to film Hamlet with a cast of vegetables. More…

Film festivals are an odd congregation of people by nature but Cannes takes the cake for competing media agendas. There is almost no common ground except for this odd, spectacular event. Every critic brings a different motivation. Some are in town for snapshots, some are television crews, some run other film festivals, some just want some gossip and autographs. More…

Still, I knew that this kind of frankly depicted, boys-will-be-boys, besides-the-point sexism was only part of the reason I was angry. The other reasons would not become clear to me till I saw the movie a second time. More…

The real is in a period of reinvention. Among the new “real” films, Matthew Porterfield’s Putty Hill is an attractive candidate for all kinds of designations: minimal realism, hybrid film, fictional documentary, docu-fiction, regionalist cinema. More…

The truth of the matter is that the films by Bozon and company, while being wildly inventive, are, with few exceptions, the polar opposite of non-narrative avant-garde cinema; they are deeply rooted in storytelling and dialogue, “the pleasure of the writerly,” as Bozon puts it, conflating two Roland Barthes notions into one. More…

Image: “Front Row Seat, Gallup, New Mexico,” A. S. Hamrah, November 2010