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Author: Tanner Tafelski

Losing Ground: Lucrecia Martel’s Zama

Nine long years have elapsed since the release of The Headless Woman (2008), Lucrecia Martel’s last feature film. Since then, she prepared and failed to get a science-fiction project launched, endured a drawn out two-month production, and oversaw an extensive edit on Zama, an adaptation of Antonio di Benedetto’s rigorously precise novel of the same name. The shoot may have been protracted, but none of that manifests on screen. Though at times insular, Zama is a haunting work for an artist who continually redefines her cinematic language with each film. Zama follows the eponymous character during three episodes in...

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Wonderin’ and Worryin’: 4 Days in France

The film begins with a lingering departure. In a bedroom, and illuminated by the LED light of his phone, a man takes one final look at another man, this one mustached, sleeping soundly in his white briefs. The man is Pierre Thomas (Pascal Cervo) and he’s leaving his partner Paul (Arthur Igual) in the middle of the night. Jérôme Reybaud’s 4 Days in France (2017)  reveals the reason why only opaquely, in bits of dialogue. What matters is that Pierre leaves Paul and the stifling confines of Paris, and heads to the countryside in his white Alfa Romeo. In...

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Shot by Carlo Di Palma, from Rome to New York

Carlo Di Palma was one of Italy’s best cinematographers. He’s up there with Vittorio Storaro, Luciano Tovoli, and Mario Bava. A good director of photography is flexible, meeting the various demands from director to director. The DP blends his sensibility with the director’s to create a film’s “look.” A great director does this and manages to put their personal stamp on a film. You know a William Fraker-shot film by its heavily diffused lighting, a Gordon Willis film by its deep, dark shadows, and a Vilmos Zsigmond film by its “flashing,” exposing the negative to a small amount of...

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Mind Games: On Marek Piwowski’s Psychodrama

A few weeks ago, during the first weekend of June, a handful of films screened at the Museum of the Moving Image in a program called, “Indelible Portraits: Polish Hybrid Nonfiction.” Presented in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute New York, Ela Bittencourt — a critic, curator, and my editor at Kinoscope — programmed the series. While I couldn’t attend all of the screenings, I managed to see the pair of shorts programs. One was entitled “Psychodramas” and the other “Living on the Edge.” The former featured works in which the psyche is a rich narrative terrain; the latter,...

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Scum of the Earth: On Alan Clarke’s Borstal-Set Drama

More so than the Western, the prison film is recognizable by setting. The prison film is mostly interiors with that occasional scene in the prison yard or “life on the outside,” the civilian life. Cells, bars, concrete, wardens, inmates, needles, shivs, riots — this is just some of the imagery and iconography of the prison film. What are you in for? Are you in for life? Inmates are inside looking out. They’re planning to break out. A man escapes and another man does not. Whether in parts of François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959) and Martin Bell’s Streetwise (1984)...

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