As listmaking / awards season finally beings to percolate, Josh, Simon, and special guest Jared Bratt of Pretty Clever Films (sitting in for Ricky D) tackle Alexander Payne’s latest exploration of American emotional discomfort,Nebraska. After that, each picks one of 2013′s hidden gems that would likely have gones unmentioned on the podcast otherwise, including the latest from Nicole Holofcener and Andrew Bujalski, and the debut feature from Quebec director Eric Faraldeau, Thanatomorphose.
The folk music scene in New York City in the 1960s produced a legend in Bob Dylan, but he wasn’t first. It had been a fad for some time before him, enough that record labels and radio stations had already taken note. It’s entirely possible that there was a Dylan before Dylan, a great talent who didn’t find his opportunity or his audience. The Coen Brothers’ new film Inside Llewyn Davis posits the existence of such a man, and he may well be the most interesting character they’ve ever created.
When Beth (Nina Millin) discovers that her fiancé Henry (Brian McGuire) has been secretly recording themselves having sex, and more disputably, rehearsing his marriage proposal, she storms out of their celebratory hotel room and emotionally stays dominant in her car at a nearby parking lot. When a mysterious passerby named Charlie (Sonja Kinski, granddaughter of Klaus Kinski) takes interest in her ordeal, a seemingly romantic triangle emerges testing the plight of the couple’s meaning of love.
Steven Soderbergh followed The Underneath (1995), a superb neo-noir that expertly uses widescreen framing and color photography to its full potential, with Schizopolis(1996), a film that was motivated by this director’s feelings of artistic impotence. Having seen both The Underneath and Schizopolis I find it a little difficult to believe that Soderbergh felt like he needed to rejuvenate his creative juices after the former.The Underneath is one of his best films, it is one of the best neo-noirs from the nineties, and to this day remains one of his more underrated works. Schizopolis is more well-known and seen (thanks to Criterion) but unfortunately it is a stale work that only exists for the director’s own edification. After Schizopolis, Soderbergh reportedly felt rejuvenated and made Out of Sight (1998) which ended his commercial slump so we can all thank the “experimental” Schizopolis for Soderbergh’s commercial and artistic turning point. However, this artistic exercise is far more interesting to think and write than it is to watch. Schizopolis is ultimately more interesting in the abstract than it is in reality
Canonical directors such as Stanley Kubrick and Howard Hawks are easy to laud and credit as masterful filmmakers. Even those new to film can understand their inclusion in the pantheon by looking at the breadth of thematic material they covered, often switching from one genre to another throughout the years without much hint of waning talent. The ability for a director’s signature to stand out no matter the working material was the spark of the American auteurism debate — Kubrick, Hawks, and a legion of other legendary figures posthumously adorn themselves with the title from their thematic eclecticism. If this is a talent to be valued and pronounced as exemplified filmmaking, then what of a figure who not only works within the same genre, but seems to be remaking the same film over and over?