This January I had the privilege of attending the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and managed to see every film competing for the Hivos Tiger Award, the Festival's central prize to a first or second feature. Three Tiger Awards are given out and each of the three winners receives a prize of €15,000--legitimate seed money for their next film. The competitors spanned the globe and brought a huge variety of style and subject matter--from documentary to dreamy poetry, distorted video artifacts to glossy cinematographic purity. This year's International Film Festival Rotterdam was scheduled the same week as Sundance, so the coverage of these films has been spotty because of the gravitational pull of Sundance. Joyless Creatures is proud to shine a light on these films. If we are lucky, half of the competitors may make it to US distribution; keep your eyes open for them if they do, since most number among the most interesting new directors in the global scene.
by Joyless Staff
This Sunday marks the 87th Academy Awards, an event so hyped that it's hard for even the least involved cinephile to ignore. (As noted in the New York Times this past weekend, 43 million Americans watched the Oscars last year—seven times the number of people that saw Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave.) Below are our forecasts for who will win, who should win, and who should have been nominated. Notably underrepresented this year are Selma, Gone Girl, Inherent Vice, and Under the Skin, making for a monochromatic group of acting nominees and an all-male set of directorial and screenwriting nominees—a problem endemic in both Hollywood and the Academy. If there can be any silver lining, it is that Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater, two filmmakers who have previously only been nominated for screenwriting awards, may be taking home more well-deserved Oscars than they can carry.
by Joyless Staff
Like any other year, 2014 is a bag of mixed pleasures—some we generally agree on and others that spawn incredulity. Our top movies of the year, as voted on by the Joyless Staff, reflect this diverse range of material making an impact. Although the Twin Cities has yet to see some of the year’s biggest films (most notably Selma and Inherent Vice), we have chosen our top 25 movies, taking up 13 spaces, accommodating four ties. Check out our individual lists here. Enjoy and happy New Year!
by Joyless Creatures Staff
As we all don our costumes and load up on candy, we should take a moment to remember what the Halloween season really means. This is the time of year for watching heart-stopping, spine-tingling, hair-raising movies. Toward that end, the Joyless Creatures staff has a few spooky Halloween picks to round out your sleepless nights. From terror to schlocky gore, camp to existential dread, these eight movies will haunt your dreams.
Comedy has often had a rough shake in terms of critical praise. While a few near-perfect comedies are hailed as masterful, most of those lauded examples incorporate dramatic elements. Annie Hall may have won an Oscar and have some jokes, but that doesn't make it a comedy. There's a line drawn in the critical sand between movies to be taken seriously and those to be laughed at, and even the best crafted comedies those are still seen as excellent comedies, never to be regarded without the qualifier. Most have the reputation of being mere popcorn flicks and “serious” film scholarship rarely stoops to look at the likes of Dumb and Dumber. Yet the history of comedy film goes back to the invention of the medium, with many early films taking their form from vaudeville acts and gags. From the earliest days of cinema, humor has been an essential element. At the start, visual gags were a staple of the film apparatus–from bizarre formalist shorts like The Big Swallow (1901) to the early cinema comedic masters, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harry Lloyd, and comedy has always had its fingers on the pulse of cinematic innovation. Think for example of those quippy 40s screwball comedies, as emblematic of the era as film noir, or 80’s broad raunchy farces like Caddyshack or Animal House.
by Joyless Creatures Staff
Christian Marclay's The Clock began its worldwide tour in 2010, bouncing around galleries and museums in Europe and the US. After four years of waiting, it's finally made it to the Walker Art Center.
The Clock is a 24-hour installation piece made entirely of found footage, much of which is taken from feature films both familiar and obscure. Marclay has assembled a functioning clock, synched to the local time wherever it plays, that uses film clips that correspond to whatever time it is in real life. While many environments seek to remove our sense of time (think casinos and nightclubs, whose lack of clocks and natural light lulls visitors into a secure calm in which they can spend unknown hours frittering their money away), The Clock does the opposite. A moment never passes at which you don't know what time it is.
Many directors switch styles and thematic interests from film to film, but few are as fascinatingly chameleonic as Alain Resnais. In a career that spanned seven decades—from his initial short documentaries of the 1940s to his final film, Life of Riley (2014), made at the age of 91—Resnais refused to succumb to audience and critical expectations, instead prioritizing ceaseless innovation in narrative, form, and subject matter. An only child born in 1922 in the small Brittany town of Vannes, the asthma-stricken Resnais was home-schooled and quickly developed a voracious appetite for reading, from comic books to the surrealism of André Breton. It was, perhaps, this eclectic self-instruction in the history of literature that instilled in Resnais a love for the unpredictable and polysemous. Though he initially studied acting, Resnais became attracted to film editing in 1943 under the tutelage of Jean Grémillon, though his education was interrupted when he served in the French military during World War II.
by Jeremy Meckler
This review is our second 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.
On January 1, 1983, ARPANET was migrated from NCP to TCP/IP, a new communication protocol that translated an experimental military computer system into one that could facilitate communication with computers outside the network. This of course cascaded and expanded into the overwhelming and all-enveloping Internet that we have today, where you are reading this article right now. About a month later (February 4), David Cronenberg’s Videodrome hit theaters. While it may have had smaller repercussions, Cronenberg’s mindbending work serves as a perfect analogue for the system that would develop out of the same era—it predicted and critiqued the Internet and its profound effect on us years before it became a reality.
Last Sunday marked the climactic final installment of HBO’s True Detective, a show whose innovative production format may transform and modernize television’s approach to narrative form. Conceived and heavily guided by its showrunner and sole writer Nic Pizzolato, a novelist and creative writing professor before making a foray into television, the show is a pure serial with its eight episodes forming a complete narrative arc. It runs sequentially on a weekly basis, in standard television fashion, but in a startling reversal of convention, it was shot in one six-month shoot, using the same director and cinematographer for its entire run. There’s a reason for this: the show is conceived so that each season will feature a new storyline and cast (assuming the show is renewed for a second), so this season of True Detective represented a fixed commitment. The format allowed Pizzolato to attract talent that would not normally sink as low as television—including bona-fide movie stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson—but more than that, it freed all involved from television’s primary constraints: the need to draw a continued audience and to perpetuate its characters’ stories over an indefinite succession of seasons. Instead, True Detective’s story arc is a well-drawn whole forming the show’s beating heart.