Film Comment Selects: Michael Almereyda’s Paradise opens the series tonight

Michael Almereyda’s new film Paradise is Film Comment Selects’ Opening Night film. Almereyda, born in 1960 in Overland Park, Kansas, dropped out of Harvard to become a filmmaker. At the start of his career he was a screenwriter for folks such as Wenders and Lynch, whose thematic traces are palpable in Almereyda’s own films. His first feature Twister, a quirky tale of family dysfunction, is reminiscent of Paris, Texas, not only because of Harry Dean Stanton’s presence, but because a similar fascination with the American wasteland emerges. While the settings of Almereyda’s films may shift between the American south, the heartland, and the urban—New York and L.A., his films focus on distinctly American tales. His narrative works range from contemporary adaptations of classics (DH Lawrence and Shakespeare), examinations of genre (his vampire film Nadja), and intimate portraits that experiment with recording methods. His use of the Pixel-vision camera to convey a sense of intimacy and subjectivity, (an homage to the experimental films of Sadie Benning, perhaps?) has become somewhat of a trademark, starting with Another Girl Another Planet, which was shot entirely on the Fisher-Price toy camera, to his high profile post-modern take on Hamlet, in which Hamlet himself (played by Ethan Hawke) uses it as a personal diary. At Sundance, This So-Called Disaster, and William Eggleston in the Real World are all docs that turn the camera on other artists and filmmakers. The Eggleston film manages to balance intimate portraiture with insightful readings and contextualization of Eggleston’s great body of work. His newest film Paradise, made from personal video material Almereyda shot over several years, is a collage of beautifully woven fragments from everyday life.

-Aily Nash, Film Comment

Buy tickets to Paradise: Fri Feb 20: 6:30

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