Posts by Matthew McCracken

Festival Roundup: ASH IS PUREST WHITE (2018, dir. Jia Zhangke)

This series highlights films that have played and will be playing at various international film festivals, from Berlinale in Germany or Locarno in Switzerland to Toronto International Film Festival or New York Film Festival. The latest film under discussion premiered in competition at Cannes earlier this year. It recently screened at TIFF and will also feature in NYFF’s line-up, playing on October 1st and 10th respectively. For quite some time, Jia Zhangke has been regarded as one of China’s—and indeed the world’s—premier filmmakers. This has been the case from the earliest days in his career, during which his debut feature
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Festival Roundup: DEAD SOULS (2018, dir. Wang Bing)

This series will highlight films that have played and will be playing at various international film festivals, from Berlinale in Germany or Locarno in Switzerland to Toronto International Film Festival or New York Film Festival. The latest film under discussion premiered at Cannes and screened recently at TIFF. There are plans for release in US through Grasshopper Films. Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing is known primarily as a documentarian who operates frequently with a long form verité style. The most famous of his films is his 9-hour long debut, Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (2002), a presentation of and immersion
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Festival Round-Up: TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG (2018, dir. Dominga Sotomayor)

This series highlights films that have played and will be playing at film festivals around the world, from Berlinale in Germany or Venice International Film Festival in Italy to Toronto International Film Festival in Canada or New York Film Festival in the USA. The latest film I am turning my attention to saw its director win the Leopard for Best Direction at Locarno and debuts in Canada at TIFF on September 12 and the US at NYFF on September 29 and 30. Chile’s rising directorial talent Dominga Sotomayor Castillo is a filmmaker who, from the earliest days in her career, has
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Festival Round-up: SHOPLIFTERS (2018, dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda)

This series will highlight films that have played and will be playing at various international film festivals, from Berlinale in Germany or Locarno in Switzerland to Toronto International Film Festival or New York Film Festival. The second film I will be looking at won this year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes and debuts in Canada and the US on September 7th and October 6th respectively, followed by a broad theatrical release in the US on November 23rd. Since besting serious competition from the likes of Ash is Purest White (dir. Jia Zhangke), The Image Book (dir. Jean-Luc Godard), and Everybody Knows
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Festival Roundup: AN ELEPHANT SITTING STILL (2018, dir. Hu Bo)

This series will highlight films that have played and will be playing at various international film festivals, from Berlinale in Germany or Locarno in Switzerland to Toronto International Film Festival or New York Film Festival. The first film under discussion makes had its US premiere at New Directors/New Films in April and has its Canadian premiere at TIFF next month. Cormac McCarthy wrote of a “diverging equity” between experiences of beauty and pain in the world and the notion seems to have become one of some explanatory power for Hu Bo. With McCarthy, he appeared to concur that in history’s
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The New in Review: READY PLAYER ONE

Steven Spielberg’s most recent blockbuster has been fraught with controversy, most of it warranted, owing largely to the author of its source material Ernst Cline. Ready Player One, the novel, inspires little to no praise and it left the film at a great disadvantage when considering that Cline was involved in the film’s screenplay. Yet the latter presents itself as something close to a grand masterpiece when compared to the written version’s insufferable form. The film is not without its quite considerable faults, particularly in its uncritical assessment of its dystopic future which I will speak to later, but nor
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CINE-WEEN: Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Ontologies of Loneliness and Despair

I don’t, to coin a verb, “horror movie” very often. It’s not because I do not appreciate the art in the form and genre, and neither is it that I am fragile in the face of life’s more morbid elements. It is more that I find no pleasure in the experience of submitting myself to voluntarily induced fear. If anything, I have enough fear and anxiety over the most basic chores intrinsic to my daily life. When I encounter a horror movie my disposition has me collapse and fold in upon myself. The suspense, the sound, the scare, or the
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Conceivably Leftist Cinema: Lucy

“We know nothing about a body until we know what it can do, in other words, what its affects are, how it can or cannot enter into composition with other affects, with the affects of another body, either to destroy that body or to be destroyed by it, either to exchange actions and passions with it or to join it in composing a more powerful body.” – Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 257 In this series I’ve dealt on a couple occasions with masterpieces, albeit primarily misunderstood ones such as Blackhat and The Lone Ranger. However, on
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Hong Kong Ethics: A Johnnie To Primer

Johnnie To is a prolific Hong Kong-based film director and auteur who has been active since the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Initially working in both television and film, he firmly decided to work in the regional movie business in the mid-1980’s. Beginning his film career as something of a journeyman director, To would go on to found his own production company, Milkyway Image, with frequent screenwriting collaborator, Wai Ka-Fai, in 1996. Were prior to 1996 and the founding of Milkyway, To had primarily been involved in directing one, perhaps two, movies per year; from 1997 to the present day
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Conceivably Leftist Cinema: Blackhat

Mark Jessup: “How do you feel about this?” Carol Barrett: “Not good. It’s worse for the guy in there. I’m surprised you went along.” Mark: “Washington didn’t see Chai Wan.” With its opening shot Mann sets Blackhat—and our lives—firmly within the dialectics of rarefication and reification, connection and disconnection, proximity and distance: a disembodied connectivity and embodied disconnection. We move from the coming together of isolated bureaucratic monads to the emergence of a community of disparate people who test the limits of the abstraction-inducing dehumanisation such bureaucracy inspires. The state’s management of these dialectics to support—through its organisation and maintenance of the world—a mode of
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