Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Indiewire Feature: How to Make the Transition from Indie Film to TV: 5 Things We Learned From Our Panel With the NYTVF

Over the past few years, television's begun to challenge film as the preeminent outlet for American storytelling, the breadth of interest and means of distribution at an all-time high for a medium that can no longer be looked at as of inferior artistic merit. While mainstream film is driven far more by a focus on box office receipts than quality, the small screen has quietly matched (and in some cases usurped) Hollywood as a vehicle for both widespread popularity and artistic dignity. And as industry interest in and funding for mid-budget films wanes, TV has become an ever more attractive place for independent filmmakers looking to work with more resources and to have a platform to which millions of homes across the country have easy access.

 In a panel discussion last night in Los Angeles presented by Indiewire and the New York Television Festival, speakers from diverse corners of the entertainment industry gathered to discuss the changing tide of the TV industry, and how in many cases indie filmmakers have looked to cable and network platforms to realize projects that might otherwise languish in cinematic purgatory. The panelists were Susie Fitzgerald, AMC's SVP of scripted programming; Ray McKinnon, the creator/executive producer of Sundance Channel's upcoming drama "Rectify"; and Tom Young, a scripted TV agent at CAA. Indiewire's Dana Harris served as the moderator. Here's what we learned:

Record Review: Pissed Jeans - Honeys

Matt Korvette may be skeptical of a majority of humanity, but rest assured he questions and second-guesses himself just that much more. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, the frontman for the Allentown, Pennsylvania noise-rock provocateurs Pissed Jeans outlined his contradictory persona rather humorously: “It’s easy to be this raging guy from up high, shooting thunderbolts down at everyone…But I’m right there thumbing through the organic bananas, too, wondering how I got here.” Then again: “If I jump in the audience and start spitting everywhere, I will be the 10,000th frontman to do that…But if I really call someone out and wish cancer upon them…that might make people’s ears perk up a little bit more.” So yeah, Pissed Jeans are a quintessential punk band: volatile, self-conscious, ethically conflicted. But what’s helped these guys standout over the last half-decade-plus is the way they’ve pitted these impulses against one another, allowing them to careen and combust alongside their even gnarlier post-hardcore afterbirth.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Record Review: Grouper - The Man Who Died In His Boat

As listeners we’ve become so accustomed to the constant influx of new music that we can often times lose focus of the contextual consequence intrinsic to the development of individual artists. In this day and age, once we’ve heard something new, it’s now instantly and irretrievably old. And even if it’s of a certain objective merit, our collective instinct to deify progression can cloud qualitative perspective. Truth is, artists across all mediums tend to work in fits of inspiration, developing periods of rewarding artistic impulse alongside works of misplaced ambition or potentially compromised integrity. Glimpsed from a broader view, however, are those same eras, once curious or underwhelming as individual experiences, revealed simply as periods of transition for the more dedicated practitioners.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Record Review: Ducktails - The Flower Lane

There comes a time in the evolution of any worthwhile guitar-pop group when a conscious decision is made to abandon the charmingly lax approach to songwriting and recording that most young bands adopt and instead develop a unique, concrete artistic personality. It’s what many critics refer to as an artist’s “voice,” and on evidence of The Flower Lane, Matt Mondanile has finally found his. As frontman for New Jersey janglers Ducktails, Mondanile has spent roughly a half-decade wafting through hazy, heavy-lidded, narcoticized pop, only singular in as much as he recorded and played most of it on his own between time with other gigs. In both sound and ambition, the music of Ducktails has, up to now, felt of a piece with that of Mondanile’s full-time band, Real Estate, to which his subtle guitar playing has lent such an indelible grace over the years. But with The Flower Lane, Mondanile and Ducktails have fully come into their own—and in the context of such a detached, seemingly apathetic scene it’s one of the more welcome surprises in a while.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Blu-ray Review: Keisuke Kinoshita's The Ballad of Narayama [Criterion]

Folklore, in its many written and verbal articulations, has played a consistently vital role in the development of modern Japan. Everything from architecture to music to the visual arts to the traditions of the family unit itself have roots in the traditional storytelling and myth-making practices of the ancient Orient. Even Buddhism maintains a unique relationship with customary cultural lore. Eastern cinema, for its part, has had a particularly rich and storied history of marrying the sensibilities of the screen with that of the indigenous texts and tales of Japanese antiquity. Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Kaneto Shindo, Masaki Kobayashi—pretty much any filmmaker who's worked in the jidaigeki genre has had at their disposal generations of fantastical fables to inspire or integrate into their narratives.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tony Richardson's Mademoiselle

I wrote this brief description of Tony Richardson's Mademoiselle for the Cinefamily repertory theater, who are screening a 35mm print of the film on February 23rd, 2013, at 7pm. 

Full-time school teacher, part-time practitioner of the finer points of arson, the title character of Tony Richardson’s perversely pleasurable 1966 mad-woman mystery Mademoiselle is one of the era’s most complex feminist creations. When a series of “natural disasters” begin to plague an idyllic French village, the affected townspeople immediately accuse an immigrant Italian laborer of the crimes. Unbeknownst to all, however, is the ambiguous motivations of a local elementary teacher pushed to psychosexual extremes by thwarted desire and lustful impulse. As the mentally unstable Mademoiselle, legendary French actress Jeanne Moreau (in one of her best and most underseen roles) is at once mysterious and malicious, proceeding stoically but with an unstoppable, unexplained passion. Equal parts brooding, Bergman-like biblical allegory and prickly, Polanski-like pulp parable, Mademoiselle is a stunningly shot, psychologically provocative work from the subversive European cinema renaissance of the 1960s. [Cinefamily]