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True/False 2020 Dispatch 3: IWOW: I Walk on Water, Mayor, Some Kind of Heaven

One of the big premieres at the festival was Khalik Allah’s latest feature “IWOW: I Walk On Water,” a 200-minute self-portrait that lays bare his filmmaking process, his relationships with friends and family and ex-girlfriends and documentary subjects and Wu-Tang members, his thoughts on subjects ranging from religion to root vegetables, and, obviously, himself. It …

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True/False 2020 Dispatch 2: The Giverny Document (Single Channel), malni – towards the ocean, towards the shore

At any film festival, it’s natural for connections between different works to arise. Certain ideas inevitably echo across films with different styles, and then, suddenly, hypothetical double features organically develop in your head. I saw two films at True/False that interrogate racial or ethnic identity through an experimental lens, and while both are from very …

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True/False 2020 Dispatch 1: The Viewing Booth, So Late So Soon, That Cloud Never Left

There’s no beating around the bush: this year’s True/False Film Festival happened a week before the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic. There was plenty of anxious discussion about the rampant spread of the disease on the ground, concerned talk about how it would affect our lives in the near …

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Hal Hartley on His Film Career, Modernist Influences, and Re-Watching His Work

For almost 20 years, people have been asking “What happened to Hal Hartley?” But the acclaimed independent director of such unsung ’90s classics like “The Unbelievable Truth,” “Trust,” and “Henry Fool” never actually went away. He directed some theater, made plenty of music, served as a visiting lecturer at Harvard, and, of course, continued to …

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TIFF 2019: Arab Blues, White Lie, I Was at Home But…

Manele Labidi’s debut feature “Arab Blues,” a comedy with little bite and less imagination, coasts on the offhanded charm and sincerity of its star Golshifteh Farahani. Farahani plays Selma, a Parisian psychotherapist who returns to her hometown of Tunis to open up a practice on the roof of her extended family’s apartment building. Her anchoring …

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TIFF 2019: Motherless Brooklyn, Anne at 13,000 Feet, The Moneychanger

Edward Norton bought the rights to Jonathan Lethem’s “Motherless Brooklyn” when it was first published in 1999. It was a good time for the young actor: he was riding high on an Oscar nomination for “American History X,” was about to co-star in “Fight Club,” and would soon direct his first feature “Keeping the Faith.” …

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TIFF 2019: The Personal History of David Copperfield, Sound of Metal, Human Capital

It should come as no surprise that Armando Iannucci, being an Oxford graduate in English literature of a certain age, has something invested in the work of Charles Dickens. In fact, Iannucci hosted the 2012 BBC television special “Armando’s Tale of Charles Dickens”, in which he actively argues for Dickens’ relevancy as an engaging avenue …

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Piranhas

Roberto Saviano’s extensive reporting on Italian organized crime garnered him international acclaim and a charged reputation. His 2006 debut book “Gomorrah,” which chronicles Saviano’s investigation into the Camorra crime syndicate, was so successful that he eventually received credible death threats from various capos. Saviano’s exposé approached the Camorra like a virus, illustrating in evocative detail …

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BAMCinemaFest 2019 Preview and Highlights

For over a decade, BAMCinemaFest has been a premiere showcase for new independent films, and this year is no exception. The 2019 slate features a wide variety of personal films, from buzzy Sundance indies (“The Farewell”) to world premieres helmed by new international talent (“Sunrise/Sunset”). Many of the documentaries playing in the festival have already …

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Quad Cinema Celebrates Pauline Kael with Losing It At the Movies Retrospective

Pauline Kael’s long-form reviews often begin with hyperbole and then proceed to unpack the foundation of that emotional response. Take her review of Éric Rohmer’s “Love in the Afternoon”: she begins by describing it as “forgettable as a movie can be,” which might scan as emptily provocative on face, before examining Rohmer’s choice to withhold …

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Nelly Kaplan Retrospective at NYC’s Quad Cinema Celebrates Ferocious Filmmaker

Just days after I moved to New York, the Quad Cinema screened a double feature of Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky’s “Half Cocked” and “Radiation,” two melancholic portraits of mid-to-late-’90s indie rock life that recalled films like “The Last Picture Show” and “Inside Llewyn Davis.” I had never heard of Hawley and Galinsky or their …

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True/False 2019: Caballerango, American Factory, The Hottest August, Finding Frances

One of the best films at the festival, Juan Pablo González’s “Caballerango” captures spare haunted moments in Milpillas, a rural Mexican village that has been reeling from a series of suicides. A horse vacantly stares in the camera. A woman pulls the skin off chicken legs. Two men have a sprinting contest while a group …

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True/False 2019: Over the Rainbow, Midnight Traveler, Treasure Island, Let It Burn, A Wild Stream

My third trip to Columbia, Missouri to attend the True/False film festival confirms that the setting has become a source of comfort in these trying times. Each year, talented filmmakers, artists, writers, and journalists convene to witness the year’s best crop of non-fiction filmmaking. In between films, they soak up great food, cheap drinks, and …

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Christian Petzold on Transit, Kafka, His Love for Den of Thieves and More

Christian Petzold’s latest film “Transit” follows European refugee Georg (Franz Rogowski) as he flees soon-to-be-occupied Paris for the port city of Marseille with a dead leftist writer’s manuscript in tow. When he arrives in Marseille, he heads to the Mexican consulate to get a visa out of France, but the consul mistakes him for the …

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MOMA’s To Save and Project Festival: Never Fear, Histoires d’Amérique, A Day Off

The following is part two of Vikram Murthi’s coverage of MOMA’s To Save and Project festival, which programs newly preserved and restored films from around the world. To read part one, click here.  In 1934, Ida Lupino contracted polio as a teenaged actress under contract at Paramount Pictures. Though she eventually made a fully recovery, …

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MOMA’s To Save and Project Festival: Cane River, Crime Wave, Pharos of Chaos, The Shipwrecker

MOMA’s annual To Save and Project festival programs newly preserved and restored films from all around the world. These films reflect a variety of diverse cultures and traditions, as well as myriad global industry practices, which frequently go unnoticed by Western audiences. MOMA’s storied dedication to exhibiting these frequently rare, often unseen works from talented …

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Three Highlights from the 2018 New Orleans Film Festival

A place of limitless character and opportunity for adventure, New Orleans remains one of the best cities in America precisely because it can’t be anything but itself. It operates entirely on its own rhythms, choosing at every moment to appreciate life via the tools at its disposal: food, drink, music, art, and good company. New …

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A Wolf at the Door: Jeffrey Wright on Hold the Dark

In Jeremy Saulnier’s latest film “Hold the Dark,” Jeffrey Wright plays the soft-spoken, highly skilled wolf expert Russell Core, who’s tasked with tracking down a pack of wolves who have taken the six-year-old son of Medora and Vernon Sloane (Riley Keough and Alexander Skarsgård). He tries to make sense of an unforgiving landscape haunted by …

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Music, Life, and Everything Between: Quincy Jones and Alan Hicks on Quincy

In the new documentary “Quincy,” the acclaimed producer/composer/artist Quincy Jones narrates his own life story, from his troubled childhood in Chicago, to his achievement in just about every musical field, to his tumultuous personal life. Directed by Rashida Jones and Alan Hicks, “Quincy” strives to craft a legacy narrative of Jones, one that covers the …

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TIFF 2018: Mid90s, Her Smell

At times, Jonah Hill’s directorial debut “Mid90s” feels like a studious attempt in not screwing up an opportunity. Following the coming-of-age of shy observer Stevie (Sunny Suljic) as he befriends a group of skaters—leader Ray (Na-Kel Smith), party animal Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt), bottom-of-the-pecking order Ruben (Gio Galicia), and filmmaker Fourth Grade (Ryder McLaughlin)—“Mid90s” is a …

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