Archive | Essays

The Moving Pictures of ‘Ida’

The following review is based on a talk I gave last week to the wonderful Westchester Cinema Club.

Ida, about a young Polish nun who discovers she is the daughter of Jews killed during World War II, is a hauntingly beautiful film. It is so beautiful that, while watching it, I kept thinking about how movies used to be called “moving pictures”; each of its frames comprises a gorgeous photograph unto itself. I kept forgetting it was only shot last year, and I don’t think that’s just because it is shot in black and white with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, which frames the image in a square reminiscent of vintage films. I think it’s because it boasts the esthetic purity of more classic films. Continue Reading →

Casting Season 2 of ‘True Detective’

Ever since the season 1 finale of True Detective, HBO’s Louisiana occult mystery series, tongues have been wagging about what season 2 will entail—even though, to date, a second season has yet to be confirmed. (Show creator Nic Pizzolatto reports he is writing one now but that HBO has yet to pick it up.) And ever since it was announced that season 1 stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson would not be returning, even more tongues have been wagging about who should take their place.

So far, all Pizzolatto has revealed about a next season is that it would focus on “hard women, bad men, and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system.” Rumors abound that Brad Pitt will join the cast but the series creator has only said “who we cast and what their schedule is will likely determine at least some part of scheduling, and scheduling will determine at least some part of casting.” (Such labyrinthine answers makes us wonder if Pizzolatto used himself as the model for McConaughey’s philosopher-detective Rust Cohle.) If history is any predictor, chances are good that the new True Detectives will be men, but a quickly deleted tweet from the show runner suggests at least one lead might be a woman. One thing is for sure: Intriguing possibilities abound. For a breakdown of my dream team, go here.

‘Hateship Loveship,’ a Study in Earnestness

Hateship Loveship, starring Kristen Wiig, is far less blasé than the Alice Munro story on which it’s based. An excerpt from my Word and Film review :

We get the sense Munroe as narrator skims over the details of how a love match is made not out of prudery so much as a distaste for the obviousness of the whole business. “A woman not to be deterred, a man who’s lost his way? Eh, you do the math,” she seems to be saying, airily waving a rough-knuckled hand. In contrast, the film “Hateship Loveship” is a study in earnestness. To some degree this is a function of our times. The story has been updated to the contemporary Midwest from mid-20th century Canada, when stricter social codes were bound to engender subversiveness. 

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy