In a world where blog posts slinging celebrity gossip draw far more attention than quality writing about film, here I’d like to acknowledge some of my favorite articles that haven’t yet found the audience they deserve. In the name of second chances and long shelf lives, I dedicate this space to them.
“Connecting to the Essence of Things: The Screenwriting Brilliance of ‘Poetry‘” by Simon Abrams
This was one of those pieces that I think made me a better editor. Both Simon Abrams and I had strong but somewhat differing convictions about what defined the brilliance of Lee Chang-dong’s script for Poetry. Over a couple days of back-and-forth revisions, a structure emerged that fused our opinions in such a way that enriched the piece and the mystery of the film. The last line reads, “By opening itself to the world it creates, Poetry espouses the powers of observational detail in its search for the essence of things.” To apply those principles to the crafting of this article was deeply satisfying.
“Watching the Movies that Watch Us, From ‘Sherlock Jr’ to “Shirin” by Michael Atkinson
Michael Atkinson’s film writing is worthy of anthologizing, his prime Keyframe example being this whirlwind compilation of movie scenes of people watching movies. Covering 85 years of cinema in 1000 words (though there are breaks for readers to catch their breaths over embedded movie clips), Atkinson asks a seemingly harmless question: “What does it mean to watch someone watch a movie?” and by the end takes us to another level of appreciation for how we experience motion pictures: “It’s not just the screen that matters, it’s what happens in the seats.”
“NYFF ’11 Review: Fighters of the Nation: The Stylish Substance of ‘Policeman‘” and “One of 2011’s Best, In Need of Distribution: ‘Policeman‘” by Anna Bak-Kvapil
Nadav Lapid’s sensational debut feature Policeman was one of the highest rated films among our critics who covered the 2011 New York Film Festival, but it has yet to secure a U.S. distributor. I can only hope that Anna Bak-Kvapil’s dedicated coverage of the film – both her visually rich review and her extensive and revealing interview with Lapid – will help rectify that oversight.
“The Social Network: Talking ‘Beeswax‘” by Vadim Rizov and Dan Callahan
It’s hard to think of a Keyframe contributor more clutch than Vadim Rizov; throughout the year he has flexed his talents across an incredible range of film topics, from high school sex ed movies to Harry Nilsson, from George Clooney to animal actors. In this synergistic exchange with Dan Callahan on Andrew Bujalski’s micro budget masterpiece Beeswax, Rizov lends his personal background (he grew up in Austin where the film is set) to shed insight on “the foibles of people lucky enough to have post-grad malaise as their biggest problem.”
“The True (or False) Grit of the First Woman-made Western“ by Cullen Gallagher
One of Keyframe’s editorial tactics is to connect what’s popular in the moment to what’s available in Fandor’s catalog; this approach can lead to remarkable discoveries, such as this piece about a film and director I previously hadn’t heard of, despite its monumental significance to a key movie genre. Ruth Ann Baldwin’s ’49-’17 is not only the first known Western directed by a woman, but is startlingly modern in how it picks apart the Western myth. “’49-’17 suggests that our vision of the Old West derives as much (if not more) from the way we want to remember it than the way it actually was.”
“Meshes: The Fractured Melodramas of ‘L’Avventura’ and ‘Everyone Else‘” by Glenn Heath
Glenn Heath’s “Meshes” series takes two films and discovers how they resonate or contrast with each other through a set of matching images. They often make inspired connections and are visually ravishing, such as in this mash-up of Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960 classic with Maren Ade’s more recent masterpiece, two picturesque travelogues set in Italy that open up worlds of romantic despair.
“Guy Maddin Talks!” by Jonathan Marlow
As part of Keyframe’s weeklong tribute to Guy Maddin, Fandor’s Jonathan Marlow conducted a probing five part interview with the Mad Master of Manitoba. Spanning the full range of Maddin’s career, from his early short The Dead Father to his most recent feature Keyhole, it is easily the most extensive interview Keyframe has ever published.
“Social Distortions: David Holzman in the YouTube-Facebook Era” by Tom McCormack
Among the many highlights of Keyframe’s two week dedicated coverage to the neglected 1967 masterpiece David Holzman’s Diary was Tom McCormack’s brilliant series of connections made between the film and our current age of technologically-enhanced narcissism. “We are generally bad at discerning and cultivating what’s interesting about us. Perhaps when we have a good feedback system, like a sharp conversational partner or a good editor or simply a good book with which we have an imaginary conversation, we do better; we respond and adapt. Staring into the blank face of technology, however, we’re lost.”
Kevin B. Lee is editor of Keyframe. Follow him on Twitter.