Station to Station: Doug Aitken’s Polyphonic Culture Train
“Human beings need a starting point.” The motto for The Source, Doug Aitken’s video series on creativity’s origins, could easily be the slogan for Station to Station, the art train he’s taking across the US this month. While the trip has its concrete elements—a starting point, an ending point, some really heavy train cars—he sees it as entirely open-ended: whatever happens along the way is anybody’s guess.
Pathway to the Spectacular Now
When Billy Rosenberg read The Spectacular Now, he knew it should be made into a film: “Tim Tharp’s novel reminded me of Ferris Bueller, Say Anything, a little bit of Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye.” But the path of turning the book into a movie was as circuitous as the Minnesota native’s own journey from the Twin Cities to LA and back for a visit to the Walker to help introduce the film.
Noah Baumbach: Visibly Human
In his films, Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Kicking and Screaming) punctuates “cruelty with tenderness, always taking pains to make sure his characters remain visibly human,” writes Village Voice critic Scott Foundas, who interviews Baumbach at the Walker April 5. Here he reflects on Baumbach works that tend to focus on issues of “intellectual one-upmanship and questionable parenting.”
Handmade Spirits: Chris Sullivan’s Ethereal Animated Worlds
Fifteen years in the making, Chris Sullivan’s painstakingly hand-crafted film Consuming Spirits peers into twin ethereal realms, lurking familial ghosts and the inebriating spirits that haunt its characters’ lives. But while the themes are otherworldly, Sullivan stays grounded in the concrete as his film’s animator, screenwriter, director, editor, composer, and actor, as Kathie Smith discovers.
A Poetic Archaeology of Cinema: The Films of Bill Morrison
In Bill Morrison’s films, time appears as both a historical process and as an autonomous, existential force to which all matter falls prey. Whether treating the march of time as fodder for a narrative of human events or as an irreversible process of flux and decay, he utilizes traces of found footage from our cinematic past, attempting to grapple with the ambiguous concept of “time” itself.
A Year in Close-Up: Still Dots and the Blue Velvet Project
Matt Levine & Jeremy Meckler
November 29 was a momentous day: After one year and 102 blog posts, Still Dots was complete. Since December 13, 2011, we’d been pulling one frame for every 62 seconds of screen time in Carol Reed’s The Third Man and writing a biweekly analysis of it. With more than 125,000 words behind us, we reflect on what this micro-analysis taught us—and how it might suggest a new kind of film criticism.
Films the Color of Blood: On The Renegades
“The official cinema all over the world is running out of breath. It is morally corrupt, esthetically obsolete, thematically superficial, temperamentally boring.” So declared the New American Cinema Group in a manifesto sent out in 1962. Fifty years later, Genevieve Yue looks back on a notoriously turbulent decade through the work of underground filmmakers of the day.
Filming at the Site of Urgency
The opening of Jem Cohen’s Occupy Wall Street newsreels—shot through the window of a Brooklyn subway car—uncannily echo a series of videos from two years earlier. Cell phone footage of an Oakland train platform documents the 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant III by transit police. For Ben Stork, this citizen videography captures the spirit of works in the Walker’s Cinema of Urgency series.
A Bulwark Against Erasure: Jem Cohen’s Occupy Wall Street Newsreels
Dean Otto & Paul Schmelzer
On September 17, 2011—the day the Occupy movement was born—Jem Cohen was there filming what would become his Gravity Hill Newsreels: Occupy Wall Street, which screened at New York’s IFC Center. A day after the movement’s one-year anniversary, Cohen discussed the project and how these “newsreals” served as a “bulwark against … erasure” by mainstream news outlets intent on declaring Occupy dead.