Tuesday, May 31, 2011

!Women Art Revolution

"The women of the '70s had been earnest and breast-beating—and it just didn't work," announces the lady in the gorilla mask, one of the few self-aware voices featured in Lynn Hershman Leeson's over-40-years-in-the-making “!Women Art Revolution,” its sprawlingly clunky title a portent of things to come. "The bra-burning didn't actually effect social change," this member of the Guerrilla Girls—the feminist art movement's answer to the Yes Men—goes on to explain toward the end of Hershman Leeson's doc. And with those two sentences, the anonymous radical activist exposes the clueless arrogance that emanates from much of the doc's footage—archival as well as the director's own personal collection of interviews with her fellow feminist artists, curators, and historians of the '60s generation.

To read the rest of my review visit Slant Magazine.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jay Duplass Talks Kevin Gant

While I usually avoid Q&As (due to my impatience with too many audience members making statements rather than asking actual questions) I’m glad I stuck around after the screening of Jay Duplass’s short biopic “Kevin,” if only to meet the doc’s admirable director and arrange for an interview later. Unlike other filmmakers attending this year’s Arizona Int’l Film Festival Duplass wasn’t in Tucson to publicize his film, per se, so much as to promote its subject Kevin Gant (who also showed up to treat us to a post-screening acoustic set), the Duplass brothers’ musical hero in the early 90s who seemingly vanished from the Austin scene and into obscurity way back in 1995. Due to an insurmountable time difference – Duplass is based in L.A. while I’m reporting from Amsterdam – we spoke briefly via email about several issues both onscreen and off that "Kevin" the doc and the artist himself bring up.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Interview with “Vacation!” Director Zach Clark

I first met Zach Clark last October when his excitingly subversive, sex-scene-less SXSW hit "Modern Love Is Automatic" opened Pornfilmfestival Berlin (where my own short "The Story of Ramb O" had its premiere). Since we barely had the chance to chat in the buzzing, jam-packed Moviemento hub, I was thrilled when I heard recently that Clark’s follow-up "Vacation!" was already on the festival circuit and would be playing theatrically at Brooklyn’s own reRun Gastropub Theater in May. Finally I had an excuse to find out what makes this offbeat yet seemingly well-adjusted director of a feature about a nurse who moonlights as a dominatrix, and now a flick about four chicks whose weekend getaway goes bizarrely awry, tick.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Faking Arizona at Old Tucson Studios

It was good to get out of my element and visit a world I never even knew existed. And actually, it no longer exists and never did except in magical frames that flash across a big screen. Old Tucson Studios is to the American western what Cinecittà is to Italian cinema. Built in 1939 for the William Holden and Jean Arthur vehicle “Arizona,” the studio is now more a tourist attraction than a buzzing hive of filmmaking (though it still hosts productions, mainly for TV and cable). But in its heyday, under the guidance of the still energetic octogenarian Bob Shelton, who married into the business via his wife Jane Lowe (of the theater chain), Old Tucson Studios was home to around 400 productions, setting the stage for every last giant of the boots-and-saddle genre.

To read the rest visit The House Next Door at Slant Magazine.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

“The Good Life”: An Interview with Eva Mulvad

“The newly rich are doing well but we old rich are the new poor.” So sayeth the fifty-something Anne Mette, in just one of her many Oscar Wilde-like bon mots. The younger half of the female Danish duo at the center of Eva Mulvad’s “The Good Life,” Anne Mette and her elderly mum have downsized from their vast villa and now reside in a tiny apartment in Portugal on income from a single pension. And while the parallels of Mulvad’s film to the Maysles’ classic “Grey Gardens” are obvious in its portrait of a somewhat dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship and the fact that these once wealthy women are now living in poverty (if not exactly squalor), what struck me most was the biggest difference between the two docs. Unlike with Little Edie and Big Edie, no one can accuse either the unabashedly eccentric Anne Mette or her stoic mother of one ounce of insanity. Which is what makes “The Good Life” all the more heartbreaking. These strong-willed dames whose banter plays like a vaudeville act not only aren’t in denial, they are painfully aware of all that they’ve lost.

Fortunately, Lady Luck shined on me when I got to chat with the driven and down-to-earth Eva Mulvad – who I’ve been wanting to interview ever since her intoxicating doc caught me by surprise at last November’s International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam – at the decidedly chichi Trump Soho Hotel when she was in NYC for the flick’s North American premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sex and De Stad: How It All Started

Check out my welcome to Holland column on page 72 of Amsterdam Magazine!