Max Goldberg

Ephemera, etc.

Sifting through the Silent Film Fest's treasures
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Technology induces unrealistic leaps of optimism, and so it was that usually reliable New York Times film critic A.O. Read more »

Notes on Nazimova

From Stanislavski to Hollywood Babylon with a silent-film star
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Audiences at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival will be treated to several strong roles for leading women — Lois Wilson's heartbreaking humble pie as Miss Lulu Bett (1921), Louise Brooks's gender-bending hobo in 1928's Beggars of Life — but now as then, there can be only one Nazimova. Read more »

Night on Earth

A new 35mm print of Gus van Sant's Mala Noche
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Gus van Sant's films are as thick as the Oregon sky. Swept with dreamy remove and elliptical narration, his work strikes me as being the cinematic equivalent of shoegaze music (sorry, Sofia). Now that the writer-director seems to have given up middlebrow commercial filmmaking (Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester) to return to the art house (Elephant, Last Days), it feels like the right time for a revival of his shoestring 16mm debut, Mala Noche. Read more »

The hot rock

Battles blast off with Mirrored
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It's strange taking on a profile of a band so steeped in a musical language with which you were once not just fluent but even obsessed. I would have adored New York City rockers Battles when I was 19, their power-through-precision métier appealing to my penchant for all things prog and post, the words "ex-Helmet drummer" (that would be the band's John Stanier) acting as foolproof elixir. Read more »

Wayfaring stranger

Finding Mariee Sioux
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"I never imagined doing this." It's a sentiment that Mariee Sioux, a singer-songwriter from Nevada City, returns to many times in our phone conversation: specifically, her genuine surprise that adapting her poetry to music has resulted in a life as a touring musician. "I was terrified playing at that show," she says mirthfully, describing her first big out-of-town gig at Brightblack Morning Light's Quiet Quiet Ocean Spell Festival in Big Sur. "The whole tour that followed helped me get used to performing.... Read more »

Sweet and lowdown

The timeless tenderness of Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep
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Scattered throughout Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep are shots in which the camera recedes from the street action — kids throwing rocks, blundering thugs stealing a television — to the yearning treble of the blues-spiritual soundtrack. Read more »

MCMAF: This magic moment

YACHT's Jona Bechtolt believes in you, dancing
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YACHT has cancelled his May 11 appearance with Kid606, Trackademicks, Lazer Sword and Luke's Anger.

Enthusiastic and optimistic - Jona Bechtolt would have to be both to schedule back-to-back shows in Bloomington, Ind., and Big Sur, as he did on his most recent tour.

"I'm pretty much into playing wherever there is a desire for me to do so," Bechtolt e-mails en route to Seattle. "Once I played in a bathroom in the basement/rec-room of some kid's grandparents' house in St. Read more »

MCMAF: Gary Higgins

Redheaded stranger
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A couple years after Drag City reissued Gary Higgins's 1973 album Red Hash, the recording stands tall as one of the prime excavations of the ongoing psych-folk gold rush. As with Vashti Bunyan, Higgins's resurgence comes with a mythic narrative: where Bunyan left behind Just Another Diamond Day for a bucolic family life in England's north country, Higgins floated upriver in a different way after Red Hash, serving time for a marijuana bust in rural Connecticut. The disc was recorded while he was out on bail, in the few days between his arrest and sentencing. Read more »

Cinema brut

Better than sex, worse than violence: a critical survey of new French extremism at the 50th SF film fest
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Early on in A Parting Shot, Isild Le Besco's character curls up at a bar, crowded by two leering men ordering her the hard liquor with which she courts abnegation. Read more »

The departed

Heddy Honigmann goes looking for Forever in Paris's Pere-Lachaise
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The idea that death is the great equalizer only seems true in the narrowest sense. As with life, it takes all kinds: romantic deaths and pointless ones, iconic casualties and anonymous mortalities. One might fairly expect a documentary about Paris's Pere-Lachaise Cemetery to be a macabre portrait of death cults, given its status as a tourist trap. But Forever, the latest film by Heddy Honigmann, finds solace in more introspective rituals. Read more »