Archive for December 2008

Our in-house critics weigh in on Time’s top viral videos

December 31, 2008

As the clock runs out on 2008, there’s still time for one more year-end list. This one comes from Time magazine, which scoured the landscape of user-generated videos to find the most searing portrayals of small fuzzy animals in slapstick predicaments, grown men bringing the world together through dance, and other various and sundry viral video novelties.

We here at the filmlinc blog wondered why is it only cinematic portraits of the central Asian steppes or wrenching stories of girls and their lost dogs that get all the critical ink? So we tapped our in-house team for insights on the year’s top viral vids.

Eschewing Time’s #4 pick “Hamster on a Piano (Eating Popcorn)Film Comment’s Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa supplies this worthy alternative, “Walrus Plays Saxophone.” He says: “The walrus, long associated with the sinister and the ugly, from the myths of the  aurora borealis  representing lost souls playing ball with it’s head to Kipling’s description of the animal as an “old Sea Vitch—the big, ugly, bloated, pimpled, fat-necked, long-tusked walrus of the North Pacific, who has no manners except when he is asleep,” has finally been vindicated in this viral video which demands that we no longer think in such black and white terms as beauty vrs. beast or good vrs. evil.”

NYFF Correspondent Tom Treanor picks Time’s #7, How To Pretend You Give A Sh*t About The Election, above, as his top pick. Tom says: “The most informative news segment broadcast all year; a pointed, decisive, and altogether wildly educational crash course on how to get by at a cocktail party when discussing 2008’s favorite ad nauseum topic:  the presidential election.  When, after all, it’s hard to have a well-informed opinion about the mess of it all, it’s best to turn the discussion to the never-fail fallback: just say ‘swing state.'”

When pressed for his take on the state of viral video 2008, Film Comment Senior Editor Chris Chang issued this statement from his winter retreat in Sunset Park: “While the top ten viral-video list is indicative of salient, yet ominous, societal trends, there are more menacing tendencies at play. The contemporary bastardization of direct-cinema, Kino-Pravda, and other forms of “authentic” documentary, specifically as a means of social propaganda, continues to detract from the ontological value of documentary as such. On a purely ideological level it leads toward a forced normalization of intellectual condescension, i.e., a status quo of social elitism—or cultural fascism. Albeit a spatio-temporal impossibility, there can be only one (true) recourse: Bring PUPPY CAM back.”

[Time magazine’s Top Viral Videos of 2008]

Remember to check out our channel on YouTube. It’s filled with great director interviews and clips, and guaranteed to be 100% hamster free.

Before you see Button, Fight Club, Zodiac or Se7en, listen to this podcast on David Fincher

December 31, 2008

Under the Sign of Fincher is finally upon us…your chance to see the director’s most acclaimed films up on the big screen, including Se7en, Zodiac, Fight Club and the directors newest, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

In the second installment of the Critics’ Roundtable, Film Comment’s Evan Davis sat down with two trusted colleagues to discuss the films of David Fincher:

Kent Jones, Editor-at-large, Film Comment
Nathan Lee, The New York Times, Alt.Cult (WNYC)

Among the issues tackled were the development of Fincher’s career, how Zodiac may or may not be “talking” back to Se7en, the passage of time in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and the exploration of systems within Fincher’s work. Listen to it now:

[Download the MP3 here]

In related news, our special Facebook contest has a winner! Wayne Titus wants to ask David Fincher “For an ensemble piece like Zodiac do you do a lot of rehearsing with your actors before principal shooting?” Kent Jones will be on hand to interview the director about his career on Sunday at 7:30 at Rose Hall, and with any luck there will be a Q & A session after the conversation open to audience participation.

See classic Fincher films paired with Fincher selections Jan 1-3

See The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on Sunday at 3

See a conversation with David Fincher on Sunday at 7:30

Enter the Film Comment 2008 Readers’ Poll and win!

December 31, 2008
Scary things are afoot at Film Comment

Tell Film Comment a thing or two about their movie picks.

You’ve read the Film Comment Top 20 Films of 2008 list.

Now, it’s your turn.

Film Comment will print the results of its readers’ poll in the March/April issue. To enter: Send your ranked list of the year’s 20 best films along with your name, address and phone number to fcpoll@filmlinc.com. Feel free to send in any rants, raves and insights on the movies of 2008.

Deadline: February 13, 2009

Prizes: Four winners will be chosen at random, and can select prizes, subject to avaliability, from the Criterion Collection catalogue. First prize: up to $200, Second prize: up to $120, Third & Fourth prize: up to $80.

The filmlinc blog asks: what’s your fantasy double feature?

December 30, 2008

The Under the Sign of Fincher program (Jan 1-4) offers audiences the chance to see several unique double features chosen by director David Fincher himself. It got us to thinking about unique pairings and so we asked friends and contributors to come up with their own “fantasy double features.”

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Paris, Texas (1984)

Compare the perpetual motion of Leatherface with the almost static (and leathery) features of a forlorn Harry Dean Stanton. They are loosely-defined family men, in broken-family films, struggling with the transvaluation of family values. (The “female question,” in both cases, is a tough one.) While on seemingly opposite sides of the stylistic spectrum (Tobe Hooper versus Wim Wenders) the two gents are, nonetheless, part of an existential continuum of angst. Get out your handkerchiefs for Harry; but you’ll more likely need a bucket and mop for the guy with the power tool. You will feel the pain.

Chris Chang, Senior Editor, Film Comment magazine

10 Rillington Place (1971) and Alien (1979)

Sure, at first it’s just a coupling of John Hurt’s most contagious performances, from the “JFK”-like refrain “Christie did it” in Richard Fleischer’s 1971 serial crime story to the ultimate John Hurt moment eight short years later. But together this double feature of British-made thrillers provides a master class on on-screen dread–achieved mostly
through atmosphere and uncertainty–as well as a potent sense of the country’s gloom on the eve of the Thatcher-era.

Arthur Ryel-Lindsey, Editor, Film Society


Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) and Network (1976)

Perhaps no two films are as prescient and relevant when making a commentary on our media-saturated society, and no two films can better exemplify the integrity our news media has potential for….  and the three-ring circus it has truly become.  Even more fascinating:  these are movies representative of our past, yet both are keenly observant of the perversions and self-important altruism at the hand of the television news networks broadcasting today.

-Tom Treanor, New York Film Festival Correspondent

Kids (1995) & Y Tú Mamá También (2001)

Maybe it’s just the cold weather, but who doesn’t like two smart, raw, fun and sometimes dark teen flicks set during summertime? This selection offers an interesting and unique look at teens from Mexico City and NYC that will radiate warmth—at least temperature-wise. Both are about being young, rebellious, careless, and free spirited—so 2009—and there’s not a glove, scarf or mitten in sight.

-Christian Del Moral, Cine Latino en Nueva York

Me, I’d like to see Five Easy Pieces (1970) and Wendy and Lucy (2008) together. Both are Pacific Northwest-set dramas that grapple with class in an interesting way. In Five Easy Pieces, Jack Nicholson returns to his upper class family after years doing manual labor in the oil fields, and in Wendy and Lucy, Michelle Williams leaves the safety of family in the hopes of finding a good-paying job in Alaska that will save her from destitution. Both show how powerful simple stories and strong central performance can be in terms of conveying core human dramas.

Check out David Fincher’s picks (and see two films for the price of one!) all the rest of the week. And tell us your fantasy double features in the comments!

Do you feel lucky, punks? Then download this critical roundtable podcast on Clint Eastwood

December 30, 2008

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In the spirit of Changeling being this year’s Centerpiece selection at the New York Film Festival–and that Clint Eastwood will most likely gain a bunch of Oscar nominations for Gran Torino–Film Comment decided to host some of New York’s leading critics in a discussion about Eastwood’s career as a director. Film Comment’s Evan Davis led a distinguished panel that included:

The wide-ranging discussion covers such topics as the (de)merits of Changeling, the reckoning of Eastwood the director with Eastwood the icon, Eastwood and class, the racial complexities of Gran Torino, Eastwood’s relationship to music and structure, and the director’s ultimate place within American cinema.

[Download the MP3 podcast now]

Many thanks to Glenn Raucher, Paul Brunick, and our sound man, Don Schul!

An (almost) free spirited, totally New York New Year’s Eve

December 29, 2008

Still don’t have solid plans for New Year’s Eve? Want a champagne evening on a beer budget? Have no fear, we’ve got you covered.

Step 1: Come to see the oft-overlooked Scorsese musical tribute to old Hollywood New York, New York on New Year’s Eve at 8:45 [Buy tickets]. Start spreading the news…the iconic title song, written by Kander and Ebbs, first appeared in the 1977 film starring Liza Minelli and Robert DeNiro, and only became famous when Frank Sinatra covered in 1979.

Step 2: Join the 11th annual Time’s Up New Year’s Eve Ride. It starts at Washington Square Park, but why not have a drink after the movie and join the celebratory crowd at Belvedere Castle in Central Park at around 11:30? You’ll be able to enjoy fireworks and the musical stylings of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. Did we forget to mention this outdoor shindig is free?

Step 3: Still not tired? Join any one of these after parties selected by Time Out New York.

Your very last chance to win Fincher tix!

December 29, 2008

There’s Oscar buzz all over the new film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Make sure to enter for your chance to  win a pair of tickets to a conversation with David Fincher on the making of the film on Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 7:30pm at Rose Hall.

To play, write the question you would like to ask David Fincher about his movies or his career on the Wall of the Film Society of Lincoln Center fan page by midnight, EST Monday, December 29th. One winner will be chosen at random out of a pool of eligible entries and announced on the blog and the Film Society fan page.

Start the new year…Under the Sign of Fincher!