The Criterion Collection’s announcements for January 2019 look great, but it’s the contrast between the trailers of two forthcoming films that I find particularly intriguing this month. On the one hand, we have the simple, elegant, unadorned trailer for Abbas Kiarostami’s 24 Frames (2017). Painterly and quietly compositional in its attention, the trailer ably expresses Kiarostami’s focus on “movement, perception, and time.” More non-narrative films go Criterion please!
Let’s kick off this “Trailer Tuesday” with my favourite film of the year so far – Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy (2018). For me, this is Cage Rage by Tor Books and I completely love it. Mandy is so clearly defined in its aesthetic bravura, so hilariously aware of its fantastic absurdity. Cosmatos’ direction is stunning, managing to swing between hilarity, tragedy, awe, and back again within the same scene. (Plus, it’s always great to see the dildo from Se7en still working.)
Sure, there have been a lot of announcements of late – Criterion, Arrow, Shout Factory, etc. – and they’re all great, but what I’m really excited about and what has revived “Trailer Tuesday” at MMC! is the launching yesterday of Nicolas Winding Refn’s free subscription website byNWR!
byNWR calls itself “an unadulterated cultural expressway of the arts” and describes its organization as follows:
Born from a passion for the rare, the forgotten and unknown, byNWR breathes new life into the culturally intriguing, influential and extreme.
Quarterly volumes of content divide into three monthly chapters, each featuring a fully-restored film. These cinematic revivals inspire a wealth of original content, drawn together by our special Guest Editors. As we evolve and expand, we will encourage exploration of a wide range of avenues by curators, writers and the engaged public, building a community of those who like to create, to watch, to read, look or listen. In a world of the instant, byNWR takes its time on a tangential line towards the undiscovered…where we share, enjoy, and look to the future–with hope, prosperity, and the idea that culture is for everyone.
With the Chattanooga Film Festival just over a week away and with a stacked program stuffed into only 3½ days, careful planning and difficult prioritizing is required to get the most out of this year’s CFF. MMC! takes this opportunity to celebrate this year’s bounty and offer a quick preview of the CFF with a “Trailer Tuesday” devoted to making some hard choices.
1. Lowlife vs. Madeline’s Madeline vs. WTF
The CFF’s opening block of films is a doozy, programming Ryan Prows’s wonderful Lowlife opposite Josephine Decker’s Sundance darling Madeline’s Madeline and the WTF (Watch These Films) block of short films. I’ve already expressed my admiration for Lowlife, which is both an excellent pastiche of 1990s New Hollywood Violence and a canny take on MAGA-era America, and with director Ryan Prows in attendance for a Q&A and Carey Williams’ short Emergency accompanying it, that’s a hard to miss screening. Madeline’s Madeline came out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival with great reviews, reportedly a coming of age drama/experimental film about a young actor who joins an acting troupe and immerses herself in her current role rather too deeply for comfort, and the WTF block of shorts has some really intriguing titles including Laura Moss’s Allen Anders, a found footage presentation of a notorious stand-up performance from 1987, and John F. Beach and Jonathan Hoeg’s The Accomplice, about a man who discovers his unwitting participation in a bank robbery through a series of answering machine messages. All of these screenings reappear later in the CFF schedule, but that doesn’t really make the choice any easier!
It’s another splendid month of announcements from the Criterion Collection. Without any doubt, I’m most interested in the release of Frank Borzage’s Moonrise (1948). This is mainly due to my fascination with MoMA’s recent program, Republic Rediscovered. Presented in two halves, with the first having wrapped up earlier this month and the latter half arriving in August, the series is presented by Martin Scorsese and the Film Foundation and offers 30 new restorations (compliments of Paramount Pictures) from the acclaimed poverty row studio, Republic Pictures. Moonrise will join the Criterion Collection in May and screen as part of the program’s second half in August. Until then, enjoy Gina Telaroli’s wonderful trailer.
It’s another great month of announcements from the Criterion Collection and I’m very excited for Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1995), a film that I greatly enjoy even if I can’t ever seem to stay awake through it. This trailer is wonderful, showcasing Neil Young’s superb score, the film’s impressive cast, and my absolute favourite moment – Billy Bob Thornton’s complaints about his hair. Criterion’s edition looks great and even includes the amazing Iggy Pop reading William Blake’s poems.