Louis Garrel will be at New York’s IFC Center this weekend to take part in Q&As following screenings of The Innocent, the fourth feature he’s directed. Garrel, who won a César for the original screenplay he cowrote with Tanguy Viel and Naïla Guiguet, plays a widower who flips out when his mother (Anouk Grinberg) marries a prisoner (Roschdy Zem). At the Film Stage, Nick Newman suggests that the comedy owes more to Dino Risi or Pierre Etaix than to the work of Garrel’s father, Philippe. “I wanted to be playful with the genre,” Garrel tells Newman, “different genres—switch from a heist movie to a romantic comedy to a family chronicle between mother and son.” And “we gave a heroic part for the women, not the men. This is why I like the film: because the women are more brave, more heroic, more eccentric, more funny to watch.”
Strange Pleasures is a new column for Metrograph Journal from Beatrice Loayza, and in her first outing, she writes about Little Children (2006), the film Todd Field made after In the Bedroom (2001) and before Tár (2022). It’s “a stereotypically ‘dark’ portrait of the American dream, which explains the film’s popular appeal—great drama and intrigue within the banal strictures of middle-class existence . . . Field’s three films form something of a triptych plumbing distinctly American mythologies of individualism: In the Bedroom, about the pathological need for justice; Tár, about the delusions of the meritocracy; Little Children, about the paradoxes of bourgeois desire.”
“How do you dramatize an organism that is too small for the human eye to see but which has the power to upend life on earth as we know it?” asks Steven W. Thrasher, the author of The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide. Thrasher—who, with Jesse Trussell, has cocurated Viruses on Film, a series running at the Brooklyn Academy of Music through Thursday—offers “a brief history of viral cinematic tropes” in the Los Angeles Review of Books, writing about “pandemic procedurals” such as Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011), documentaries that play like horror movies, experimental works, and even a couple of comedies. Tsai Ming-liang’s The Hole (1998) and Fábio Leal’s Follow the Protocol (2022), for example, “are among the best films at dramatizing how viruses shape human longing, alienation, desire, and (dreams of) connection.”
After twenty-three years and 2,293 published film reviews, “I’m done,” announces former New York Times chief film critic A. O. Scott as he shifts over to the NYT Book Review, where he will be a critic at large. “I’ve often been infatuated by movies, but I’ve also frequently been frustrated, confused and enraged by them. Ambivalence isn’t neutrality; it’s the simultaneity of strong, opposed emotions, and I think it defines my experience as a critic. Sometimes I’ve hated movies; I’ve never been indifferent.” And by the by: “Fan culture is rooted in conformity, obedience, group identity and mob behavior, and its rise mirrors and models the spread of intolerant, authoritarian, aggressive tendencies in our politics and our communal life.”
Scott notes that luminaries ranging from Jean-Luc Godard to Susan Sontag have proclaimed the end of cinema as we know it and that the “death of cinema is almost as old as cinema itself.” The “current apocalypse” is dual-pronged: “streaming and Covid anxiety.” Newcity’s Ray Pride, though, has been talking with programmers in Chicago, and the good news is that repertory screenings are selling out. “I think people are ready to see films in person again, and the places they are choosing to do so are not multiplexes, but places that feel special and unique to them,” says Rebecca Lyon of the Music Box. In his new Reverse Shot column, Max Carpenter takes a fascinating deep dive into New York’s sprawling repertory scene. “It’s heartening to feel after my conversations that audiences are reliably ‘back,’” he writes, “and, even if programmers are in some cases still a tad apprehensive after the last three years, things seem on a good track in this veritable small town.”
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