by Joyless Creatures Staff
On July 4, world cinema lost one of its greatest modern practitioners - Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who made more than forty films since he began working in the 1970s (as a member of the influential Iranian New Wave). Initially a painter and graphic designer, Kiarostami shifted to film when he helped open a filmmaking department at the Institute for Intellectual Development for Children in Tehran - hardly a coincidence, given the large number of child characters in his work (especially his earlier films).
Now in its 35th year, the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival is back with its usual menagerie of 200+ films to suit all tastes and desires of the Twin City cinephile. We hope the schedule below can act as a road map or just another way to augment the dart-board method of choosing among all the options. As we have in past years, we've taken the opportunity to pretend that we will be at the Festival all day, every day, and give you our daily recommendations on how to potentially navigate the schedule, based on movies we've seen, movies we desperately want to see, and movies that may never return to the Twin Cities again. In addition to these daily recommendations, we'll be dropping in reviews for films as we see them. Read, watch, repeat, and we will see you at the Festival.
by Jeremy Meckler
This review is our fourth entry in the Joyless Canon—our 100 favorite movies, from enshrined classics to guilty pleasures to left-field oddities, which (we hope) define our personalities as film-lovers. Every few weeks, we’ll analyze another of our canonical entries in-depth. Check out our Index page for other Joyless Canon (JC) selections.
The film begins with the Yoshi family moving to a new town. The boys, Ryoichi (Hideo Sugawara, the older brother) and Keiju (Tomio Aoki, the younger) watch with a mix of awe and boredom as their father takes off his suit jacket to help push the moving truck out of the mud. The shots are the low-angles that are so prevalent in Ozu’s films, but while on the whole these are known as “tatami shots”—named for the tatami mat flooring in traditional Japanese architecture—they feel here as if they have more to do with portraying Ryoichi and Keiju’s perspectives. The world as visualized from this position is alien and abstract, so that we—like the Yoshi boys—feel a sense of lackadaisical whimsy. It’s interesting to watch Dad move the truck, but there’s no sense of urgency or direction.Yasujiro Ozu’s silent parable begins with a simple title card reading “A Picture Book for Grownups.” And really, more than any of his other films, I Was Born, But… does adopt a child’s perspective.
by Joyless Staff
As the 88th Academy Awards approach we are faced with an unhappy reality. Once again every single acting nominee (and nearly every director, screenwriter, cinematographer, etc.) is white. In light of this, we at Joyless Creatures have decided to forego our ordinary Oscar Feature and instead hone in on something more obvious about the Academy Awards: they suck. Not only is the Academy a hotbed of racism, classism, sexism, cronyism, and basically every other negative -ism in the book, but it is also notoriously bad at picking a good movie.
Sure, with hindsight, it's easy to see the sore thumbs sticking out in the history of the Academy Awards (here's looking at you Crash) but this institution has been consistently atrocious at predicting whether a film would become a classic. So to show solidarity for #OscarsSoWhite, we at Joyless Creatures have decided to look back at the worst Academy Awards ever given.
by Joyless Staff
One of the most important legacies that David Bowie leaves behind in the wake of his death last week is his key role in catalyzing the potential of music to be not only an aural medium but a visual one. His iconic personae, including Ziggy Stardust, were forged out of both sound and image, through fashion, performance, and a spate of promotional films that presaged the contemporary music video.
It’s fitting, then, that he also penned pop’s greatest ode to watching movies. “Life on Mars?,” the surreal centerpiece of Bowie’s 1972 masterpiece Hunky Dory, expertly captures the sweeping duality of spectatorship, of feeling not only one’s own emotions but also those of the figures on screen. In one brilliant lyric, Bowie’ finds his protagonist—a young girl “hooked to the silver screen”—honing in on this central paradox, as she contemplates whether a film’s characters are as aware that they’re being watched as she is of watching them: “Take a look at the lawman / Beating up the wrong guy / Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know / He’s in the best-selling show.”
The questions raised by the song’s uncanny and cerebral wordplay echo throughout Bowie’s career, which spans not only some of the most vital and revolutionary music of the past 50 years, but the dozens of movies in which he appeared either as an actor or as himself (or somewhere inseparably between the two). Here, the staff of Joyless Creatures pays tribute to this inimitable icon by reflecting on his music, his films, and his influence. (Peter Valelly)
Daniel Getahun · Matt Levine · Jeremy Meckler
Michael Montag · Frank Olson · Lee Purvey
Peter Schilling Jr. · Kathie Smith · Geoffrey Stueven · Peter Valelly
by Joyless Staff
Any list is just the sum of its parts, and in the case of Joyless Creatures' Best Movies of 2015, those parts include ten cinephiles whose tastes run the gamut of what the year had to offer. Ten lists from ten individuals produced a staggering 70 titles, a virtual cage match between a seductive lesbian love story and a rousing boxing throw-back, and a number of eclectic ties (check out the three movies tied for the number three spot) that raised our top ten to sixteen. See our individual lists here. Enjoy!
by Joyless Staff
Writing about film is often an exercise in self-restraint: for the sake of objective analysis, we're taught to be impartial and to seek cohesion and quality craftsmanship, applauding movies in which the whole is sometimes greater than the sum of its parts. But there's no denying that cinema is an art form given to euphoric moments and jolts of briefly-sustained adrenaline, exuding a joy and creativity that no pseudo-objective analyst could dare refuse. With this in mind—and with a few more weeks until we unveil our Best Films of 2015 lists (thanks mostly to the January Twin Cities releases of Anomalisa and The Revenant)—we'd like to highlight the greatest movie moments of 2015. Some of the following scenes are of a high quality that define the movie as a whole; others might be glimmers of greatness within films that are not deserving of such brilliance. In any case, the following 15 scenes (listed alphabetically by film title) make these movies worth the price of admission (or an Amazon rental) alone. (WARNING: some spoilers may be found below.)
by Joyless Staff
For many moviegoers, the review exists to answer the question, "Do I really want to spend ten bucks on this?" We at Joyless Creatures put ourselves on the frontline, subjecting ourselves to a wide swath of movies every year. Some are really bad. (Seriously) But then, among the most critically maligned there are a few diamonds in the rough, misunderstood films that slip through the cracks and fall into undeserved critical disdain. Here is our attempt to rejuvenate a few of those films that were wrongfully condemned as stinkers. Here they are, 2015's best of the worst.
Like Hitchcock and Truffaut, Kent Jones lives for and through the movies. Over the past two decades, Jones has worked as an archivist, programmer, critic and documentarian. He’s now the director of The New York Film Festival and also one of the chief editors at Film Comment. His latest picture, Hitchcock/Truffaut, is one of the year’s finest films, an adaptation of Truffaut’s book-length interview of the same name. It’s still hard to fathom, but when Truffaut undertook the project, Hitchcock was not well regarded in America. Truffaut considered Hitchcock “the world’s greatest director” and aimed to free Hitchcock from his reputation as a light entertainer. Hitchcock/Truffaut is a film about filmmaking with an entire cast of filmmakers. Picture makers ranging from Hollywood's 2nd Golden Age (Scorsese, Schrader, Bogdanovich) to new auteurs (Wes Anderson, Fincher, Assayas) make pithy observations throughout the documentary about Hitchcock's entire body of work. Jones pays special attention to Vertigo and Psycho. It'd be no exaggeration to say that the former is Hitchcock's greatest achievement, while the latter is the most famous film he ever made. To quote Mr. Bogdanovich, Psycho "was the first time going to the movies was dangerous." Jones's film is ultimately a tribute to both Hitchcock and Truffaut and a masterpiece of film preservation.
Just last week, Kent Jones was kind enough to call me up for a little conversation about his film.