Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato – Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures (2016)

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Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures is the first definitive, feature length portrait of the controversial American artist Robert Mapplethorpe since his death from AIDS in 1989. The one thing more outrageous than Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs was his life. Intimate revelations from family, friends and lovers are topped only by Mapplethorpe’s candor, revealed in a series of rediscovered, never before heard interviews, made public here for the first time. This is the unique portrait of an artist who turned photography into contemporary fine art with a bold vision that ignited a culture war still raging to this day. Continue reading

Raoul Peck – I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

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In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, “Remember This House.” The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript. Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. Continue reading

Jon Nguyen & Rick Barnes & Olivia Neergaard-Holm – David Lynch: The Art Life (2016)

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David Lynch takes us on an intimate journey through the formative years of his life. From his idyllic upbringing in small town America to the dark streets of Philadelphia, we follow Lynch as he traces the events that have helped to shape one of cinema’s most enigmatic directors. David Lynch the Art Life infuses Lynch’s own art, music and early films, shining a light into the dark corners of his unique world, giving audiences a better understanding of the man and the artist. As Lynch states “I think every time you do something, like a painting or whatever, you go with ideas and sometimes the past can conjure those ideas and color them, even if they’re new ideas, the past colors them.” Continue reading

Douglas Sirk – All That Heaven Allows [+commentary] (1955)

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Douglas Sirk once said: “This is the dialectic—there is a very short distance between high art and trash, and trash that contains an element of craziness is by this very quality nearer to art.” When All That Heaven Allows was released by Universal Pictures in 1955, it was just another critically unnoticed Hollywood genre product, designed to appeal to the trashy “women’s weepie” audience. Now, in retrospect, it is considered to be closer to the art side of Sirk’s dialectic, and one of his key films. But this is part of a wider process of critical reevaluation in which his entire body of work has been rediscovered and reappraised by successive generations of filmmakers and historians. Continue reading

Stuart Heisler – The Glass Key (1942)

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This is a solid remake of the 1935 film of the same name about big-city political corruption, and it starred Edward Arnold as the corrupt political boss and George Raft as his loyal lieutenant. Stuart Heisler directs this film noir in a workmanlike manner (though, the changed hard-edged ending from the novel is a copout). It is similar themed but less effective than The Maltese Falcon, which was also based on a Dashiell Hammet novel. The Glass Key was supposedly the inspiration for Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. The title refers to the political boss backing a candidate based on the expectation of being rewarded with the key to the governor’s house if all goes according to plan, but is breakable if there’s a betrayal. For Paramount this was a big box-office film because of the star team of Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd, who sparkled as lovers with opposite personalities. Continue reading