I recently did a count of all the writers who have contributed to Keyframe at Fandor, and was pleased to discover that over 50 different contributors have lent their insights in just the past six months. I’m hoping to expand that number considerably over the rest of the year, with more content of different kinds, from articles to videos to round-table surveys and so on.
As editor, I try to help each piece to become its best and try not to play favorites. But I can’t deny that there are certain entries that are especially satisfying to have on Keyframe. So I thought I’d share a few from the past several weeks that I consider to be standouts:
– “Four Times Truer Than Life: Four Thoughts on Lillian Gish”, by Farran Smith Nehme. Quoth the Self-Styled Siren:
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that Gish isn’t sexy, considering that she spent her entire silent career playing women (and, in Broken Blossoms, a child) who are desired by men, and often wind up seduced and abandoned. It’s no harder to get past Gish’s thin lips and flowing hair to her beauty, than it is to overlook Garbo’s eyebrows or Clara Bow’soddly drawn mouth. Do those who find Gish a “silly, sexless antique” (Louise Brooks’ sarcastic phrasing of such criticisms) wonder what the male characters are after? Nowadays, are innocence and purity so despised, or so transient, that no trace of their appeal remains? Surely not. Perhaps in our day, those qualities are so firmly relegated to childhood that modern audiences aren’t comfortable with an erotic attraction to innocence–or, in The Wind, with how a young virgin’s terror of sex can coexist with an equally primal yearning for it.
– Terri is a recent film that I really like, sort of like Wes Anderson without trying to be too twee. We were lucky to have this interview with director Azazel Jacobs, in which tells Nick Dawson what it was like to be schooled in movies as a kid (esp. when your dad is a famous avant garde filmmaker and film school professor). And you can also watch his previous film, Momma’s Man, on Fandor.
– Filmmaker (though I like to think of him as a “cinematic instigator”) Alejandro Adams has started issuing a monthly column on Keyframe, appropriately named “Noisemaker.” In “How You Can Be A Better Filmmaker than Terrence Malick” Alejandro talks about the ways that co-opting movies by audience members can lead to acts of creation more inspired than the original works.
– A month has passed but I’m still thinking fondly of the surge of activity around Fandor’s digital premiere of David Holzman’s Diary. There was a noticeable uptick in the undervalued status of this classic, highly influential but still underseen film, thanks, I dare wager, to the extensive coverage Keyframe lent to the film.
There were many highlights, but the communal centerpiece was a poll of 25 film critics on the best films about filmmaking, with results that had the right blend of “right” and “surprising” (Sunset Blvd. and 8 1/2 are obvious, but Beware of a Holy Whore and Close-Up? Wow!) Perhaps just as good were the personal passion picks expressed across the full listing of the ballots, where everything from Inland Empire to The Last Action Hero got a vote of confidence (and really, aren’t those two films essentially one and the same?)
But there were also a few stand-alone thought pieces on David Holzman, and my favorite was Tom McCormack’s essay that tied the film’s vision of narcissism posting as art into today’s all-encompassing social network echo chamber.
I also enjoyed Brian Darr’s tribute to Douglas Fairbanks, Michael Joshua Rowin’s discovery of the first baseball movies, and Dan Callahan’s appreciation of the “very horny cinema” of Claude Chabrol’s A Double Tour.
Fell down hard with these updates, due to a combination of intensive editorial work for David Holzman’s Diary’s digital premiere on Fandor, followed by two weeks’ vacation in China. I’m going by memory so there may be some films I saw that I forgot:
* denotes highlight
Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011, Mark Waters) reviewed for Time Out
Horse Thief (1987, Tian Zhaungzhuang)
Seven Years in Tibet (1997, Jean-Jacques Annaud)
Kundun (1997, Martin Scorsese)
* Pathway (2011, Xu Xin)
China Gate (2010, Wang Yang)
One Day in May (2011, Ma Zhandong)
798 Station (2011, Zheng Kuo)
Beautiful Darling (2010, James Rasin) reviewed for Time Out
* Let the Bullets Fly (2010, Jiang Wen)
Sleep Furiously (2008, Gideon Koppel)