FILM In Ira Sachs' intensely discomfiting Keep the Lights On, Erik (Thure Lindhardt) is a Danish documentarian in late-1990s New York City, prodding his career along, spending time with friends, having casual sex with strangers. One of the latter is Paul (Zachary Booth), a publishing-house lawyer who first tells him "I have a girlfriend, so don't get your hopes up." Yet some time later they've become a tentative couple, then a live-in one.Read more »
The recent outcry over a "Team Supermodel" strut showing off British fashion during the Olympics' closing ceremony underlined a dichotomy: as much as people want the conventional glamour of the moment, they don't want to feel guilty about it, i.e. have it exposed by direct comparison to the purportedly natural physical beauty of athletes.
Yet there are parallels between these two groups, particularly in the realm of concerns about weight and drugs. Plus, being a sports star and a model are both roles that allow the performer to actually merit being "entitled." Everyone wants to be special — though of course that only works if other people aren't.
The disturbingly instructive new documentary Girl Model (opening Fri/14) makes a good case for not encouraging such desires in your child, because the likelihood is that someone will come along to exploit that desire, convincingly promise them fame, then leave them worse off than before, with debts accrued from the dream that didn't come true. "The first secret to a successful modeling career is to start modeling at five or ten years old," says an emcee at a cattle-call showcase early on in David Redmond and Ashley Sabin's film. It's Russia, where the relatively new capitalism trickles down even less than here, so the families are even more eager to turn little Svetlana into a moneymaker. But that way lies madness, or at least deceit and disappointment.
FILM It's easy to make fun of religion — particularly this election year — but when people aren't trying to kill or control one another over it, it's best to leave the subject alone. Why begrudge anyone whatever makes sense of the world for them, or gives comfort when in need?Read more »
FILM The much-abused Malvolio in Twelfth Night is far from a great man, but he makes the definitive statement about greatness: that some are born with it, some achieve it, etc. Option number three, however, doesn't really work for movies. No film has ever successfully had greatness thrust upon it, at least not by its maker. Yet every year there are a handful that seem to be handing themselves golden statuettes in every self-consciously majestic frame.Read more »
FILM After World War II, the hitherto miniscule U.S. market for foreign language films slowly opened up, partly due to G.I.s returning home curious about the countries they'd been stationed in. But mostly it was because bold new voices in European cinema were delivering a new realism that could be sold (even when cut by censors) as more "shocking," "frank," and "shameless" than anything Hollywood would hazard for years yet.Read more »
TRASH The late, beloved Werepad begat the Vortex Room, the former closing when co-founder Jacques Boyreau moved from SF to Portland, Ore. But ties between those concerned with both venues remain tight, and August is a big month for them all. Firstly, it sees the release of Boyreau's latest coffee table tome, Sexytime: The Post-Porn Rise of the Pornoisseur (Fantagraphics, 96pp., $29.95). Really, you might ask, does there need to be a book devoted to full color reproductions of posters from the "golden age" (circa 1971-82) of XXX features?Read more »
FILM Like many directors who emerged in the 1960s, William Friedkin started out in television before trying his luck on the big screen. Between 1967 and 1970 he directed four films from which it was difficult to perceive anything beyond a rather wild flexibility.Read more »
TRASH The movies had barely begun when adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories began appearing onscreen. However, that author's closest inheritor, H.P. Lovecraft, sparked no interest from the medium until a good quarter century after he died in 1937 at age 46, a death as premature following a life by all accounts as miserable as his predecessor's. Read more »