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Laura Blum


Laura is a festival correspondent covering films and the festival circuit for filmfestivals.com. She also publishes on Thalo

 


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Cinematographer Sam Levy Illuminates “Lady Bird”- Spotlight on the 55th New York Film Festival

Back in 2016, cinematographer Sam Levy and actor-turned-director Greta Gerwig were envisioning the look of Lady Bird, a seriocomic coming-of-ager set in Sacramento during 2002 and 2003. “She wanted it to look like a memory,” Levy tells me in a recent phone chat. “Memory” wasn’t just some theme Gerwig randomly turned up; rather, her film partly drew on her experiences of coming up in California’s capital city. Two more words would round out the DP&rsquo...

Cinematographer Ed Lachman Talks “Wonderstruck” -- Spotlight on the 55th New York Film Festival

  Here’s a question for you: Can illustrated novels be made into compelling films? With his screen production of Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck, director Todd Haynes suggests what it takes. One handy element is cinematographer Ed Lachman. Using Kodak 35mm black-and-white and color film stocks, the cinematography shows off Lachman at his best. It’s at once rapturous and studied, classical and jazzy, stylized and raw. There’s a reason for the dualities. Tw...

"Call Me by Your Name" at the 55th New York Film Festival

Call Me by Your Name is drenched with sun, yet it’s only a partly sunny affair. Luca Guadagnino’s smart and sensuous adaptation of André Aciman’s novel basks the splendors of Northern Italy in the summertime, which is to say, at some point things will turn wintry. Fortunately for Eden’s eventual expulsé, humanity has tender mercies to soften the fall. How else could a father comfort a son as generously as Professor Perlman (Michael Stuhlbar...

"Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat" at the 55th New York Film Festival

  “For many forward-thinking people, the age of the white male was already over,” reflects curator Diego Cortez in Sara Driver’s documentary Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat. With that Cortez, who co-founded TriBeCa’s iconic Mudd Club, sums up the Downtown New York scene of the late 70s and early 80s. Context is king in this portrait of the artist as young man. Like James Joyce’s Künstlerroman of Stephen Dedalus, ...

“The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” at the 55th New York Film Festival

Does anyone in your family listen? The folks in The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) sure don’t. And they’re not the only ones to switch off. The scene cuts often stop them at mid-sentence, inviting bemused viewers to absorb the jolt. In his winning new picture, director Noah Baumbach elevates rudeness to an art with the aid of sharp dialogue and edits. The household he surveys contains Millennials and aging Gen-Xers along with Dustin Hoffman’s 70-something pa...

Cinematographer Shane F. Kelly Talks “Last Flag Flying"

  What is manhood? How are men to act in the world, and where do truth and responsibility fit in? Having studied boyhood in depth, now director Richard Linklater tracks the next phase of masculinity in his new film Last Flag Flying. To help visualize the maturation arc, he once again tapped cinematographer Shane F. Kelly. They both like progressions. Their previous collaboration Everybody Wants Some!! was billed as a follow up to Linklater’s Dazed and Confused,...

"Arthur Miller: Writer" -- New York Film Festival Spotlight on Documentary

“Our children are our biographers,” goes the saying, and in Rebecca Miller’s (Personal Velocity, Maggie’s Plan) documentary about her playwright father Arthur, she takes it to heart. The result, Arthur Miller: Writer, leaves just-the-facts inventorying to a more impartial observer and gets up-close and personal with dad. Thanks to Rebecca’s filmed interviews, we gain a seat at the family table with this icon of the American stage. Early on she lets...

“Loving Vincent”: A Conversation with Directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman

Who hasn’t looked at Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece Starry Night and felt the brushstrokes swirl? Like many of the Dutch artist’s oils, the dabs of color rolling around the stars and moon give an illusion of movement. Now along comes Loving Vincent to wrestle that cinematic quality into a feature film. Despite the vibrant palette, the story shades noir. Using van Gogh’s paintings to sleuth out the murky circumstances surrounding his alleged suicide,...

“Brigsby Bear”: Interview with Director Dave McCary

It’s a mainstay of the screenwriting rulebook that a protagonist must undergo special change. But such rules are meant to be broken, and Brigsby Bear, the winsome first feature from Dave McCary, makes the case for non-conformity. That’s because James, the man-child at the center of the story, remains true to who he is while the surrounding characters embrace his quirks and trace the bolder transformative arc. There’s a reason for James’ tenacity. We meet...

“Endless Poetry”: Interview with Director/Production Designer Alejandro Jodorowsky

Endless Poetry (Poesía Sin Fin) marks director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s third collaboration with his preferred production designer: himself. Like his 1970s cult classics El Topo and The Holy Mountain, which he also styled, this latest extravaganza takes a phatasmagoric deep dive into poetic consciousness. It’s from that fathomless fount that the octogenarian creator reimagines his coming of age.  The second filmed memoir in a projected series of ...

Filmmaker Johnny O'Reilly on "Moscow Never Sleeps"

“Moscow is a prison, but we love it. To leave, you must pay a bribe to the prison guards,” cracks a Russian entrepreneur in Moscow Never Sleeps. In dialogue and detail, Johnny O’Reilly’s follow-up to his debut feature The Weather Stationvividly captures the Muscovite zeitgeist, from pungent irony to soulful compassion. As the Irish filmmaker recently told me in New York, he made the film to give Western audiences an authentic view of the city he called home f...

17th Annual New York Indian Film Festival: Filmmakers Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar Talk “Turtle”

It’s Saturday afternoon at the New York Indian Film Festival, and the crowd is feeling inspired. Which is par for the course at this thoughtfully curated annual showcase of India-themed arthouse cinema, but perhaps less so at a powwow about depression. The Marathi film Turtle (Kaasav) has just stirred our souls with its message about the therapeutic power of love. Now, during the Q&A, it’s all we can do to keep from leaping from our chairs and hugging the award-winning duo that...

Tribeca Spotlight: Director Pappi Corsicato Reveals "Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait"

“Everyone knows about his pajamas, his lifestyle, his art, his movies, but not many people know about his sensitivity and vulnerability,” Italian director Pappi Corsicato recently told me. As you may have guessed, unless you’ve missed four decades of art world chatter, the public persona he was referencing is the painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel. Corsicato’s aperçu followed our query about the title of his new documentary, “Julian Schnabel: A Private P...

Tribeca's Blast of "Holy Air" and Why Director Shady Srour is a Talent to Watch

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” wondered Christ disciple Nathaneal in the Gospel of John. Reframing that question in the context of present-day Israel, Nazarene writer-director-star Shady Srour has retained biblical skeptism in his debut feature Holy Air. But also wicked humor. As Philip told Nathaneal, “Come and see.” Srour plays Adam, a world-weary accountant who lives with his wife Lamia (Laëtitia Eïdo) in Nazareth. As Christian Arabs i...

Filmmaker Oren Jacoby Beams Light on “Shadowman” and Artist Richard Hambleton

“Who is the Shadowman?” asked 80s headlines about the black, phantom-like figures haunting the New York landscape. Now along comes an impressive answer in the documentary Shadowman, about their creator. Given that he is the elusive street art pioneer Richard Hambleton, mysteries still abound after the closing credits. But that’s much to the film’s credit. A beguiling portrait of the artist and his era, it leaves us raring to fathom more.   Some eight years in...

New Directors/New Films: "Menashe"

Menashe, the title of Joshua Weinstein’s fiction feature debut, could just as easily been called Schlimazel. Set amid the Hasidic quarter of Borough Park, Brooklyn, it follows the eponymous character as he navigates serial misfortune. His wife Leah died nearly a year ago; his low-paid grocery store job is on the line; and his lax approach to tradition puts him out of step with the rabbi (Meyer Schwartz) and community.   However, the worst may be yet to come: losing custody of...

Len Collin Offers “Sanctuary” at ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival

  “Nobody thinks of people with intellectual disabilities as being sexual creatures,” says Len Collin, “but they clearly are.” Collin is the director of Sanctuary, an Irish comedy about a group of adults with cognitive impairment who visit Galway, where two of them sneak off to a hotel room. They are Larry (Kieran Coppinger), who has Down Syndrome, and Sophie (Charlene Kelly), an epileptic, and this is their first go at intimacy. Tom (Robert Doherty), their b...

“Nocturama”: Auteurism Meets Terrorism at Rendez-Vous with French Cinema

  Paris is burning. It’s been set ablaze by a dozen disaffected millennials in Bertrand Bonello’s new film Nocturama. As the City of Light succumbs to dark acts, we’re left to wonder: Who are these young terrorists? How did they come together? What are they fighting for? It’s all up for heated debate, which is surely one reason why the Film Society of Lincoln Center and UniFrance included Nocturama in the 22nd annual Rendez-Vous with Frenc...

DP John Schwartzman Shoots “The Founder”

  Textured, bittersweet and laced with irony, John Lee Hancock’s unvarnished chronicle of the Ray Kroc legend is hardly a hagiography. But its very ambivalence about the McDonald’s brand builder gives The Founder ethical shadings that lift it beyond facile biopic and into the realm of nuanced morality tale. Sly visual choices by cinematographer John Schwartzman further ensure that no tidy judgment is served up in this real-life tale.  Whether you find it appet...

Cate Blanchett Embraces Change in “Manifesto”

  In Manifesto, Julian Rosefelt's multi-screen video installation, Cate Blanchett plays 13 roles. Following its run at the Park Avenue Armory, that installation itself took on a new role: a feature film. Manifesto is set to screen in the Spotlight Narrative section of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, where viewers will watch from their seats. Here's the excersise they won't be getting, from the installation:  http://www.thalo.com/articles/view/1304/cate_blanchett_em...

DP Greig Fraser Captures “Lion”

  As a young boy coming up in rural India, Saroo Brierley often helped his big brother Guddu scavenge for food and money on trains. One evening in 1986 the brothers got separated. Five-year-old Saroo accidentally wound up a thousand miles from home, after boarding what turned out to be an empty, decommissioned train. “Dickensian” doesn’t begin to describe the conditions he toughed out in Kolkata, West Bengal, before being adopted by a well-heeled Australian couple. A qu...

Costume Designer Gitti Fuchs Outfits “Toni Erdmann”

  More than most films, the costumes in Toni Erdmann tell the story. Director Maren Ade’s new tragicomedy of manners makes its points as much through what its characters are and aren’t wearing as through anything they say. Set largely in Bucharest, it follows buttoned-up corporate consultant Ines Conradi (Sandra Hüller) and her prankish father Winfried (Peter Simonischek) as they struggle to reconnect as adults. The 65-year-old widower makes an impromptu visit...

“Seasons” Filmmaker Jacques Perrin Goes Wild

There’s a moment in Seasons when a bear covers its eyes in distress as two ursine cousins go at one another with a vengeance. It’s one of many heart tugging scenes in Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud’s new wildlife drama that captures empathy and tenderness, anger and aggression and a range of relatable behaviors in between. We can’t help but see a bit of ourselves in the secret lives of non-pets such as antelopes, horses, wolves and lynxes, but also smaller...

GRAFF CAPZZ Graffiti Hat Fest

  Harlem artist Marivel Mejia was making a painting, but she wasn’t using a brush. Nor were any of the other creatives gathered this past Saturday at Manhattan’s Bond Street branch of Blick Art Materials. That’s because they were vying in the GRAFF CAPZZ graffiti hat competition, where markers and spray paint were the mediums in play for crafting their entries. Held from noon to 8 pm, the East Village shindig produced a colorway of wearable works that rivaled anything ...

Visual Poetry in Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson”

Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson is set in the eponymous New Jersey town, and although its brick mill vibe seems an anachronism in our time-lapse, media blitzed world, it invites us to enter a time warp and ponder eternal themes like love. Poetry is of essence in Paterson, beginning with its soulful protagonist. Adam Driver plays a bus driver who composes verse while working his route, and then scrawls it on the pages of his secret diary. He has the same name as this former e...
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