Posted tagged ‘chris chang’

Photos from Young Friends of Film Presents: It Might Get Loud

August 3, 2009
Director Davis Guggenheim with Film Comment Senior Editor Chris Chang

Elisabeth Shue with director Davis Guggenheim
Elisabeth Shue with director Davis Guggenheim

All photos by Godlis

Our most recent Young Friends of Film event–It Might Get Loud–was a smash success, with a packed house, director Q&A and afterparty. Don’t miss out next time! Join YFF now and you’ll be on the A-list for a year’s worth of events designed especially for younger film-lovers.

Thanks again to our friends at KEXP for taking part in the event. New Yorkers, you don’t have to stop rocking–tune into 91.5 FM for great music, local events and much more from KEXP Radio New York.

Film Comment Selects: meet a not-so-average Mugger

February 17, 2009


The razor-sharp eye of Argentine director Pablo Fendrik carves its handheld way through The Mugger in proper caméra-stylo fashion—slicing into space and excising narrative elements with scalpel-like precision. The viewer never knows what propels Ramos (Arturo Goetz) to do what he does, and it’s only near the end of the film’s 67 brisk minutes that we even learn his name. (You may recall Goetz’s face from appearances in Lucrecia Martel’s The Holy Girl and Daniel Burman’s Family Law.)

A better translation of the original title, El Asaltante, would be “The Assailant”—the crimes Ramos commits are unlike those of your average mugger. His m.o. is unique, involving careful premeditation and victims who take him for someone else. With mild-mannered middle-aged decorum, he calmly insinuates himself into the administrative offices of private schools, posing as the concerned parent of a student. Then he politely instructs his unsuspecting prey to hand over all their cash. The minimal plotline hinges upon an accidental encounter (between robberies) with a young waitress. Her interaction with Ramos has a curious nuance that seems to hint at a filial, even paternal backstory—but the film never elucidates.

Ramos, like a shark, must keep moving. He’s a perfectly nice guy driven to commit perfectly criminal acts. When the film reveals his day job in a public school, a class dimension comes into play. Is he a modern-day Robin Hood? Does he have an axe to grind with the school-system elites of Buenos Aires? Fendrik doesn’t let on. He deliberately positions his antihero as a cipher, a mysterious vector traveling both through and against the current of modern life.

Artistry, as an academic wiseacre once put it, is in a fundamental sense defined by its gratuitousness. It needs no rasion d’être or justification. The same goes for Ramos: call him an artist of criminality at large in an art film. But he’s not looking for a museum. Just show him the way to the next admissions office.

-Chris Chang, from Film Comment, September/October 2008

Buy tickets to the Mugger:
Fri Feb 20: 9:15
Sun Feb 22: 1

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.

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!

New issue of FILM COMMENT on newsstands now

September 5, 2008

In the September/October 2008 issue of FILM COMMENT, read Amy Taubin on Steven Soderbergh’s Che, Distributor Wanted: The Mugger by Chris Chang, Sam Di Iorio on Les Idoles, Site Specifics: Europa Film Treasures, Ariel Rotter’s The Other, a review of Let the Right One In by Laura Kern, and more.

Find it on newsstands now.

PLUS: FILM COMMENT web exclusives! Get ready for the New York Film Festival sidebar In the Realm of Oshima with classic articles from the magazine. Tony Rayns on In the Realm of the Senses (September/October 1976), James Bouras on the censorship of that film (Jamuary/February 1977), and Chuck Stephens on Gohatto (November/December 2000).