Recent Reviews

The Place Beyond the Pines, Dir. Derek Clanfrance

Circles. This film is about inevitable circles. It proves that, almost no matter how much we want to resist, there's no stopping what a reaction sets forth. There are things that have been set in motion that we simply cannot be bigger than. Whether you believe in fate or irony or that there are no accidents, you've got to admit that people often come together at perfect (or fatal) times. Ryan Gosling (as motorcycle stunt-man bank-robber, Luke) has some admirable qualities. And it's true, if you wait for your woman while leaning up against your motorcycle with all the confidence of the world in your crossed arms--that's going to be damn near impossible to deny. Luke lacks patience, though, and he has a sort of unexpected run-in with a rookie cop (Bradley Cooper) and there's your butterfly wing to water. Jump ahead 15 years and there's almost no direction that this film doesn't go in. The sound editing and the directing make this a pretty thrilling experience. It turns out, there are no good guys or bad guys: there are only human beings. We make mistakes. We move on or we let things haunt us. We find our way. -Micah Ling


The Comedy, Dir. Rick Alverson 

I can't believe how much this film is like an album. I'm not just saying that because it was put out by Jagjaguwar. And I'm not just saying that because I pretty much love everything Jagjaguwar has their hands in. It's true. Swanson is an aging hipster in Williamsburg--with plenty of money. He's about to inherit his father's estate, and seems to do very little with his days. Because it's called The Comedy, you keep coming back to that: what's funny? What isn't funny? What's funny only upon reflection, but actually really scary? Where is the line between humor and fear? There's nothing necessarily deep here: it's not a riddle or an annoying metaphor. It's really simple. And life is really funny, but not in a way that is ever dealt with in film. This isn't entertaining-funny; it's more an absolute reflection. And if we're not laughing on a regular basis about how serious we take ourselves, well then things are getting dangerous. Saying that this film is subtle doesn't do it justice. People are grotesque and selfish and dirty and pathetic, but also magnificent and hilarious. The closing scene is earned. Do things to feel good and free and young. Just do. -Micah Ling


Academy Award-Nominated Animated Short Films 2013

The Academy Awards are coming up next week, and while awards certainly don't mean much, it's a decent way to reflect on what people are creating in film these days: incredible stuff. The IFC Center, and several other theaters are screening the nominees. Short films, maybe especially animated short films, are the poems of the film world: often overlooked or deemed less significant, when really they tend to be the most creative/original/moving pieces out there. Like poems, they often pack just as much emotion, humor, and insight as their feature-length counterparts, but in much less space: no room for error. Some things that I (re)learned from watching this group of animated shorts: Ayn Rand is pure evil, dogs are amazing, butterflies are magical, if you have someone to touch--someone to touch you--then you're infinitely lucky, if you lose the girl you can get her back but it takes a lot of paper airplanes, fear is hilarious and debilitating at once, and guacamole is perhaps the perfect food. All very important lessons. Try to find these films: you’ll feel as good as you do after reading stellar poems. –Micah Ling

 (Films viewed: Maggie Simpson In “The Longest Daycare”, Dir. David Silverman; Adam and Dog, Dir. Minkyu Lee; Fresh Guacamole, Dir. Adam Pesapane (PES); Head Over Heels, Dir. Timothy Reckart; Paperman, Dir. John Kahrs; The Gruffalo’s Child, Dir. Uwe Heidschotter & Johannes Weiland; Dripped, Dir. Leo Verrier; Abiogenesis, Dir. Richard Mans). 


Sound City dir. David Grohl

Dave Grohl set out to tell the story of The Neve Console, but ended up telling the story of what it means to really care about music and what it means to be an artist, and what it means to be human. Sound City Studios opened in 1969 in LA and became a home away from home for some of (most of?) the best musicians ever. The studio purchased the Neve Console made by Rupert Neve. There were only four of these mixing consoles made, and only one custom made: for Sound City. No one could get over the sound of this board; it was like the center of a spaceship. As technology came, the thing about Sound City was that they wanted to use technology as a tool instead of a crutch. They wanted to preserve the humanness of music. As Mic Fleetwood put it, “I think the downside these days is thinking that I can do this all on my own: yes you can do this all on your own, but you’ll be a much happier human being to do it with other human beings. And I can guarantee you that.” Dave Grohl took the studio over in 2011, in an effort, as he says, “to keep music sounding like people.” –Micah Ling 


The Loneliest Planet, Dir. Julia Loktev

This film is frighteningly huge. A young couple and a guide tramp through the incredible landscape of the Caucasus Mountain wilderness. If you've ever spent time hiking great distances or traversing the wild in any capacity, you know that it's anything but silent, and yet, there isn't a whole lot of dialogue here. Word games, laughter, a few stories. Bigger things are said without dialogue. In fact, most of what's said isn't said at all. We like to think that when faced with unpredictable situations, that we'll remain who we know ourselves to be. But perhaps most of us don't know ourselves so well in the first place. This film subtly says a lot about reaction. It says a lot about gender roles and just what it means to be human. What it means to love something more than yourself--if, in the end, that's actually even possible. It’s a risky thing to trust another person: to let someone else hold your heart and your hope, but, maybe risk is better than loneliness; maybe it’s more interesting than walking alone. –Micah Ling