Editor’s Corner: Recent Highlights from Keyframe on Fandor

Terri (dir. Azazel Jacobs)
Terri (dir. Azazel Jacobs)

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.

More delights are in the works for August. In the meantime, Happy reading, and happy viewing!

Viewing Log, May 30-July 10 2011


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)

Viewing Log, 5/23-29, 2011

Autumnal (dir. Scott Nyerges)
Autumnal (dir. Scott Nyerges)

* denotes highlight

Films by Paul Sharits (at Doc Films Chicago):
* N.O.T.H.I.N.G. (1968)
Piece Mandala/End War (1966)
* Ray Gun Virus (1966)
T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G (1968)

Films by Owen Land (at Doc Films Chicago):
Film in Which There Appear Edge Lettering, Sprocket Holes, Dirt Particles, Etc. (1965-66)
Remedial Reading Comprehension (1970)
Diploteratology: Bardo Follies (1978)

Second Half of Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals
Steven Tyler’s Cutest/Funniest Moments on “American Idol” – on YouTube – related article on Fandor
Footage of Chinese “Super Girl” Champion Li Yuchun – on YouTube – related article on Fandor
* The Tree of Life (2011, Terrence Malick)
Last Quarter and Overtime of Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals – on TV at Seven Ten Lanes, Chicago IL
* Tung (1966, Bruce Baillie) on Fandor
* Quick Billy (1967-1970, Bruce Baillie) on Fandor
* Second Half of Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference Finals – on myp2p
Final Quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals – on myp2p
Tribute video to NBA Star Jason Williams on YouTube
Josephine Baker dancing – on YouTube – related article on Fandor
Videos by Scott Nyerges (avant-garde filmmaker who contributed to The Tree of Life)
Autumnal (2008)
Floating in the Ether (2002)
Flow (2005)
Polar (2007)

The Show with zefrank
* UEFA Champions League Finals – on myp2p
New Castle (2011, Guo Hengqi)
* David Holzman’s Diary (1967, Jim McBride) on Fandor
The Grand Rapids LipDub – on YouTube
Final minutes of 2011 Indy 500 – on YouTube

YouTube Vloggomania (I had to do some research for an upcoming video essay):

Videos by Daxflame
Videos by ShaneDawson
Videos by juicystar7
Videos by Fred
Videos by Confessions of an Independent Filmmaker
Videos by Lonelygirl15
Videos by Bowiechick
Videos by ijustine
Videos by magibon
Videos by nigahiga
* Videos by Zya

Other highlights:

Drinks with Ignatiy after Tree of Life screening
Talking with filmmaker Scott Nyerges about his involvement with The Tree of Life
Late night drinks with directors Zhang Lu and Yang Yonghi
Sending the final version of a video segment to be aired on one of my favorite shows on TV

Viewing Log: 5/16-22, 2011

Disorder (dir. Huang Weikai)

* denotes highlight

Various videos of NBA highlights on YouTube – favorite is Reggie Miller scoring 35 points to shut up Spike Lee and the New York Knicks in the 1994 Playoffs
Agrarian Utopia (2009, Uruphong Raksasad) at Doc Films, Chicago
* Second half of Game 1 of NBA Western Conference Finals, on p2p
Sonic Outlaws (1995, Craig Baldwin) – watched on Fandor
“New Rules” segment of Real Time with Bill Maher originally aired May 13 2011
Second half of Game 2 of NBA Eastern Conference Finals, on p2p
Second half of Game 3 of NBA Western Conference Finals, on p2p
Mock Up on Mu (2008, Craig Baldwin) on Fandor
Spectres of the Spectrum (1999, Craig Baldwin) on Fandor
* Disorder (2009, Huang Weikai), at Nightingale Theater, Chicago
Second half of Game 3 of NBA Western Conference Finals, on p2p
Highlights of Lionel Messi’s two goals for FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid in 4/27/2011 match, on YouTube
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010, Apichatpong Weerasethakul), at DocFilms, Chicago
Game 3 of NBA Eastern Conference Finals, on TV at Seven Ten Lanes, Chicago

Viewing Log: 5/9-15, 2011


* denotes highlight

Woman Is the Future of Man (2004, Hong Sang-soo)
The First Grader (2010, dir. Justin Chadwick) on DVD, reviewed for Time Out Chicago
The first hour of OldBoy (2004, dir. Park Chan-wook) on Tartan DVD
Trailers for various 2011 Cannes Film Festival films on Fandor
Various videos of NBA highlights on YouTube
excerpts from The Host (2006, dir. Bong Joon-ho) on DVD
Two in the Wave (2009, dir. Emmanuel Laurent) on Fandor
Second half of Game 6 of NBA Western Conference playoffs, Oklahoma City vs. Memphis
The Red and the White (1968, dir. Miklos Jancso) on Fandor
Videos of Pina Bausch performances on YouTube
* Poetry (2010, dir. Lee Chang-dong) on Korean import DVD
Second half of Game 7 of NBA Western Conference playoffs, Oklahoma City vs. Memphis
Second half of Game 1 of NBA Eastern Conference Finals

Viewing Log, 5/2-8, 2011

"Slave Ship" (dir. T. Marie)
"Slave Ship" (dir. T. Marie)

* denotes highlight

At the Jeonju International Film Festival:

An Heir (2011, Jean-Marie Straub)
To the Devil (2011, Claire Denis)
* Memories of a Morning (2011, Jose-Luis Guerin)
An Escalator in World Order (2011, Kim Kyung-Man)
Excerpts from Kino-Glaz (1924, Dziga Vertov)
* Hotel des Invalides (1951, Georges Franju)
Rotterdam Europoort (1966, Joris Ivens)
Excerpt from Mix-Up aka Meli-Melo (1985, Francoise Romand)
Jean Gentil (2010, Israel Cárdenas, Laura Amelia Guzmán)
Caracremada (2010, Lluis Galter)

BBC World News coverage of death of Osama Bin Laden

The Forgotten Space (2010, Allan Sekula and Noel Burch)
Familiar Grounds (2010, Stephane Lafleur)
* Slow Drive (2010, Ben Rivers)
* El Sicario, Room 164 (2010, Gianfranco Rosi)
Self-Referential Traverse: Zeitgeist and Engagement (2010, Kim Sun)
* Guest (2010, Jose-Luis Guerin)
The Turin Horse (2011, Bela Tarr)
Anyang, Paradise City (2011, Park Chan-kyung)
Curling (2010, Denis Cote)
Animating Earth (2010, Ju Manamong)
* Slave Ship (2010, T. Marie)
* Water Lilies (2010, T. Marie)
21G (2010, Sun Xun)
Beyond-ism (2010, Sun Xun)
* Coming Attractions (2010, Peter Tscherkassky)
Oki’s Movie (2010, Hong Sang-soo)
* Nader and Simin: A Separation (2011, Asghar Faradhi)


On flight from Incheon to Chicago:

The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaucescu (2010, Andrei Ujica)
* Hahaha (2010, Hong Sang-soo)
* World on a Wire (1975, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)


YouTube videos of Glenn Gould (in preparation for Dan Callahan’s piece on Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould for Fandor Keyframe)
Last five minutes of Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks, TNT.com

Other film-related highlights:

Two hours with Claire Denis, including watching Jean-Marie Straub’s new film together
Lunch with Jeonju Film Festival director Min Byung-lock, programmers Yoo Um-seong, Jo Ji-hoon, and Chinese directors Li Luo, Li Ning, Sun Xun, and Zhang Miaoyan
Li Ning’s Tape finally playing to a full house with lively Q&A
Late-night drinks with director Lee Myung-se and British film critics James Bell and Davey Jenkins
Later night drinks with Chris Fujiwara, Gabe Klinger, Robert Koehler, J.P. Sniadecki and others
Panel discussion on architecture and film at the Chicago Architecture and Design Film Festival, featuring Jonathan Rosenbaum, Red Mike and Lee Bey

Viewing Log, 4/25-5/1, 2011

Richard Linklater backstage at Ebertfest
Richard Linklater backstage at Ebertfest

* denotes highlight

She Monkeys (2011, Lisa Aschan) SFIFF video room
Better This World (2011, Kelly Duane de la Vega, Katie Galloway) SFIFF video room
The Place in Between (2010, Sarah Bouyain) SFIFF video room
The Sun-Beaten Path (2011, Sonthar Gyal) DVD, University of Chicago
* Mildred Pierce (2011, Todd Haynes) episodes 3 and 4, download
My Joy (2010, Sergei Loznitsa) DVD
* The Battle of Kruger (2007, David Budzinski and Jason SchlosbergYouTube [watched it after learning the coach of the New Orleans Hornets showed it to his team prior to defeating the Los Angeles Lakers)
Detroit Wild City (2010, Francois Villon) DVD
Tilva Ros (2010, Nikola Lezaic) DVD
The Position of the Stars (2010, Leonard Retel Helmrich) DVD
* Tiny Furniture (2009, Lena Dunham) at Ebertfest, Virginia Theatre
* Me & Orson Welles (2008, Richard Linklater) at Ebertfest, Virginia Theatre
Various segments from Ebert Presents – most highly recommend segments with Matt Singer and Kartina Richardson
* President Obama roasting Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, on YouTube
20 minutes of Blazing Saddles (1975, Mel Brooks) on Asiana flight from Chicago to Jeonju

Viewing Log 4/18-24/2011

meeks cutoff

No sooner did I announce that I would be listing my weekly viewings that I fell off the horse. But let’s try this again. Unfortunately I largely forgot what I watched the week of 4/11-17, other than Huang Jianzhong’s A Good Woman (1985) and episodes 1 and 2 of Mildred Pierce (2011, Todd Haynes). Moving on…

* – highlight of the week

Beginners (2011, Mike Mills) pre-San Francisco Film Festival press screening, Loews Metreon
Picture This (1991, George Hickenlooper) on Fandor
Clips from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report online
The Arbor (2010, Clio Barnard) SFIFF media room
The Children of the Princess of Cleves (2010, Régis Sauder) SFIFF media room
* Meek’s Cutoff (2010, Kelly Reichardt) SFIFF screening, Landmark Kabuki
* Let the Wind Carry Me (2010, Hsiu-Chiung Chiang, Pung-Leung Kwan) DVD
The Mill and the Cross (2011, Lech Majewski) SFIFF media room and SF MOMA
The Future (2011, Miranda July)  SFIFF screening, Landmark Kabuki
* Ulysses (2011, Oscar Godoy) SFIFF media room

Introducing the Weekly Viewing Log


This old abandoned site’s got life in it yet. This past week I received an email inquiring about advertising on this site, and also noticed that a spammy botsite sucked up the entirety of my last entry. Also Chris Chang, in his Film Comment review of Disorder, a film distributed by my company dGenerate Films, referred to me as a blogger, even though I’ve been working professionally as a print film critic for two years and now write and edit film articles for Fandor’s Keyframe. Once a blogger, always a blogger.

So I’m thinking of coming back to Shooting Down Pictures (a name which, by the way, I’m not fond of – what was I thinking when I came up with that?) and reviving it by going back to how the site started before it was even called Shooting – a weekly digest of what I’ve been watching. One caveat is that I’m including not just movies but pretty much any media experience involving a screen, including web videos, TV broadcasts, etc. I’m taking a cue from Karina Longworth‘s tumblr and embracing the post-cinematic world we are now living in.

Dedicated to all my old friends from the good old days at IMDb Classic Film Boards.

Week of April 4-10, 2011

Michael Jackson’s 1983 performance of “Billie Jean” at the Motown 25 special, on YouTube

“Sensualizing the Visual” – five film series of 1960s films by Bruce Baillie and Gunnar Nelson. Standouts: “To Parsifal” and “Quixote. ” At DocFilms, Chicago.

– 5 minutes of second half of NCAA Men’s Basketball finals, on NCAA.com

Old Joy (dir. Kelly Reichardt) on Fandor

In a Better World (dir. Susanne Bier) – reviewed for this week’s Time Out Chicago

– 20 clips of The Tree of Life (dir. Terrence Malick) at twowaysthroughlife.com

“Multi-Media Victorian: The Magic Lantern, The Metropolis and the Extraordinary Ballads of George R. Sims” – turn of the 20th century pre-cinema magic lantern show of vintage English slides, presented by David Francis and Joss Marsh. At University of Chicago Film Studies Center.

– Last five holes of Saturday coverage of The Masters on TheMasters.com

– First 20 minutes of Life and Nothing But (dir. Bertrand Tavernier) on Fandor

– Last five holes of Sunday coverage of The Masters on TheMasters.com

– Opening credits sequences of six Chinese films in preparation for video essay for the Moving Image Source: City of Life and Death; Disorder; Oxhide 2; Single Man; Thomas Mao and Winter Vacation, on DVD and Quicktime

“Living the Dream”


and if I want too many things
don’t you know that
I’m a human being

– New York Dolls

So, it’s been a while. I was meaning to post a follow-up to the free screening that closed out the Shooting Down Pictures project. But one thing happened after another to forestall my bringing due closure to this grand, 3-year venture in film blogging and canonic completism. First, it took me a couple of days to get over the hangover of that evening caused by an after-party involving several hours of drinking and karaoke singing of album rock standards. Then, I quit my job and spent the summer in a mythical land where WordPress is blocked (I could only wish that all the spammers who post junk messages on this blog could be sequestered in that country…).  Then I returned Stateside and entered a completely new routine of blogging for a new site, working as an ambassador for Chinese indie cinema and taking what little time remained to edit my own film. And so here we are, two days into the new year. All this time this blog has been lingering in the back of my mind like an old friend I’ve been meaning to check in with but never get around to, which further compounds the feelings of procrastinatory guilt accumulating over what is surely a simple exercise. So at last… let’s do this.

Continue reading ““Living the Dream””