The Burden of Dreams: A Reality Check From My Hero Jane Campion

There’s no place like New York for a good old-fashioned cry. But sometimes, it makes you work for it. Recently, a chance radio broadcast took me three trains cross-borough to meet my hero, into a night that left me sobbing in my best shoes at the center of Manhattan’s cultural mecca.

Earlier that afternoon, an interview on Leonard Lopate brought my attention to Jane Campion’s upcoming career retrospective at Lincoln Center. I emailed my editor for a ticket immediately. If you’re not familiar with Campion, she’s essentially a filmmaking rock star. More notable than her glass ceiling-shattering awards record, is Campion’s lifetime of proudly wearing the scarlet letter W, for Woman. She has lifted up other women and loved them, examined them, and told their stories — not sexy, abridged, male-appeasing facsimiles — but true, fiercely honest stories. It’s understandable, though frustrating, that many other female directors have not done the same; and rather felt forced to abandon femininity in the pursuit of assimilating to a male-dominated industry. To an aspiring “female filmmaker” like myself (because the term filmmaker alone still denotes masculinity), she is a lighthouse in a very bleak ocean... [click for more]



Essential Period Films: Sophia Harvey on the films of Jane Campion

A common trick in storytelling is using specific examples to convey universal themes, and nowhere is that more prevalent than in the period piece. When a modern filmmaker reaches back in time to retell a historical event, or to place their story in a historical time period, it is a deliberate choice of context; a choice that can be powerful, when used appropriately.

The singular and brilliant filmmaker Jane Campion is a master of exacting use of period stories. BRIGHT STAR, THE PIANO, AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE and THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY are all examples of Campion’s choice to use the period context to refocus history on the perspective of the woman…

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PROFILE OF Indie Rocker Emily Danger

It’s one of the first truly miserable nights of fall. Rain washes the streets with the swamp-like odor of Manhattan’s Chinatown, pedestrians assert their umbrellas and tighten their peacoats, and the only happy people in sight are those in line for The Slipper Room. Eager CMJ concertgoers pour, wet and shivering, into the modest venue entrance on Orchard Street. Upstairs awaits a lush burlesque hall with floor-to-ceiling red velvet curtains and gold-painted mahogany woodwork. We huddle together and clutch our drinks as the lights go down. A drum-beat kicks, a synthesizer swells, and a woman stands center stage wearing an animal-print muumuu of pink silk and a necklace made of bones; into the microphone she shouts, “We’re Emily Danger and it’s my goddamn birthday!”.....[click for more]

NOTE: Originally published with CRETUS Magazine


Ariel Kleiman is an Australian filmmaker whose short films have won prizes at both Sundance and Cannes. His feature debut, Partisan, starring Vincent Cassel, is a richly textured, deeply chilling story of a child assassin who dares to question his circumstances. Kleiman’s voice is steady and powerful-a rare trait in first features. We recently sat down to talk to him about his experiences making the film.... [click for more]

Review: White God

Kornél Mundruczó pushes surrealist parable to the nth degree with White God. A simple story of a girl and her lost dog, Hagen, rises to a Dantean fever pitch when Hagen is mercilessly abused and eventually assembles a battalion of rejected dogs to exact revenge on the humans who tossed them out. The film is set in Hungary where the government has strict rules against "mixed-breed" dogs. 13-year-old Lili (Zsófia Psotta) struggles with her father in a heart-wrenching performance as he throws Hagen to the side of the road and refuses to go back. While Psotta does a wonderful job, the true star power in White God comes from the dogs, particularly Luke and Body who together play the soulful and heroic chestnut-mut lead....[click for more]


“Sometimes we would go out 9 times in a year, sometimes once, and in one particular year, we didn’t leave the apartment at all,” explains Govinda Angulo, “our father was the only one with keys.” Director Crystal Moselle felt a documentarian’s itch right away when she saw the six Angulo brothers on a LES sidewalk in 2010, and quickly befriended them. It just so happened to have been their first week of claimed freedom; freedom to socialize and explore outside of the apartment in which they had spent the first 15-20 years of their lives....[click for more]


Reviews: 17th Annual Animation Show of Shows

The Annual Animation Show of Shows is the place to find the best, most acclaimed animated shorts of the year and it often includes at least one of the year's Oscar nominees. The show will screen in Los Angeles at Arclight Cinema Hollywood from September 24-October 1 and in other parts of the country in the upcoming months.  Here is a rundown of this year's shorts, our favorites, and which filmmakers you should keep an eye on....[click for more]

Interview: Drugs and Motherhood with Gregory Kohn and Eléonore Hendricks of ‘Come Down Molly’

Meeting with the director and lead actress of Come Down Molly is a delight. When I arrive in the interview space, director Gregory Kohn sits in the waiting room with everyone else, watching a Naomi Watts film. As we wait, he tells me about the experience of premiering the film and about his generally “pessimistic but in a positive way” attitude towards life. “Like Camus.” “Exactly,” he says, “The Stranger was actually my favorite book for a long time.”....[click for more]

Perfect Nonsense: Harmony Korine and the Uncanny Valley

I am one of the many many fans eagerly awaiting the March release of Harmony Korine’s new film, Spring Breakers. In anticipation, and as a long time admirer, I decided to jot down some thoughts on his previous works. [beware spoilers]

In the field of 3D animation and robotics, there is something called the “uncanny valley” hypothesis. It states that as an animated figure or robot becomes more and more life-like the human response is increasingly empathetic. Until, that is, a certain point where the figure is almost but not perfectly human. Here, the response turns to revulsion. This point is called the valley, or drop off. Accidental prodigy and bad-boy visionary Harmony Korine seems to elicit the same sort of revulsion with his films....[click for more]

Blue is the Warmest Color: Sexuality, Cinema, & Forget About Sochi

I’ve just returned from seeing Blue is the Warmest Color for the second time. Before my first viewing, I was not aware of the enormous controversy that surrounds the film nor had I received word of its extremely explicit sex scenes — I had only heard from a friend that it was the most honest movie they had seen in years. And it is. I don’t believe that I have ever seen a film that expresses the complexity and raw emotion of first love as successfully. But it’s not the writing that’s causing a stir, it’s the sex, and I have to admit that it’s hard to ignore. Tonight, I saw it with my mother, and sitting together through the nearly 20 minutes (all told) of uncensored, unscored, uncropped lovemaking was a little hard to handle.....[click for more]


Let me begin by saying that I have nothing figured out. Really. Nothing. Someone threw a cigarette at me today, so let that serve as an example of how successful I am right now. But I am a person trying to be an artist, and when you’re trying to be an artist, your observations, thoughts and feelings are all you really have. So I’m going to explore some of those things here; primarily those thoughts about how to make good art and some about how to make a good life (note: I am aspiring towards both)....[click for more]

For more, see my personal blog and my Stagebuddy author page.