Friday, June 21, 2013


Stories We Tell
Cinema is in a pretty weird state at the moment - More prominent filmmakers are turning to television, Steven Soderbergh, whose latest and supposedly "last" film couldn’t even get a run in theaters, gave an interesting speech on the current state of cinema, producer Ted Hope is more vocal than ever on social media outletts about his views on the current state of independent film and millionaire actors are turning to kickstarter and other similar sites to get funding from people like you & me so they can direct movies of their own (personally I find that absolutely appalling. Ask your other millionaire actor buddies for money...OR USE YOUR OWN!).
This time of year is always pretty stale yet I'm still remaining optimistic because there's a ton of interesting stuff on the horizon that will hopefully get released in a timely fashion. I wasn’t actually at Cannes (and never have been) but judging from the lineup of filmmakers alone (The Coens, Claire Denis, Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, Abdelatiff Kechiche, Polanski, Refn, etc) I'm not exactly sure why cinephiles & movie forum nerds were so unenthusiastic and disappointed about this year’s festival (at least that’s the vibe I got). And outside of Cannes, 2013 will also more than likely bring us new films from Lars Von Trier, Bruno Dumont & Steve McQueen. Thats enough for me to stay positive for the rest of this movie season...

For a "film critic" I haven’t seen too many new/important/"big" films this year (Ironman 3, Start Trek 2, Superman, The End, World War Z, etc). But getting engaged, exercising and finding a new apartment (along with maintaining consistent content for this site) take precedent over all that. And besides, when it comes to movies of that magnitude I doubt my opinion holds that much weight anyway. You'll all see them regardless.

As far as what I HAVE seen this year -three of my six favorite films of the year so far are technically from 2012 but they didn’t get a wide releases until this year and I missed the first 30-45 minutes of two of the other three films that I liked*. But still, for what it’s worth, here's my quick lil' rundown of 2013 so far...

Favorites/Stuff I Enjoyed...

Upstream Color
Much like Primer, Shane Caruth's first feature film that made a mini-dent on the indie scene 9 years ago, this will require multiple viewings on my part before I can even begin to speak intelligently about it. But what I DO know is that this is a beautiful piece of art with great cinematography, a touching/intimate/ambient score straight outta the school of Brian Eno and overall, this was an attempt at an original story that combined subtle science fiction, romance, hypnosis and the pointlessness of work with non-linear storytelling.

Frances Ha
Just off the strength that I didn’t hate this, which is made up of so many elements I'm not too crazy about (Noah Baumbch, Greta Gerwig, New York City, Upper Class elitism, etc) I have to include it on the list. I genuinely enjoyed this film which drew upon the cinema of old school Jim Jarmusch & Woody Allen. I still have a few lil' conflicting issues with this - I think Greta Gerwig plays up the "awkward girl" thing a little too much and as I stated on twitter; "Frances Ha made me like New York City again, and still dislike it at the same time", but this was still very fun and somewhat relatable on a few levels.

Stories We Tell
At the beginning of this documentary Sarah Polley's sister asks the question; "who the fuck wants to see a movie about our family?" That very same question was also kinda in the back of my mind in regards to Polley's personal documentsry about her family secrets, but she soon put my skepticism to rest. This is easily the best thing I've seen all year so far. Although I didn't really relate to much in this documentary or grow up in a big immediate family, I was still very touched by Sarah Polley's latest film where she dissects her families history and let's us in on some incredibly personal information about her existence.

The Place Beyond The Pines
Im gonna be honest - the more I think about this the more plot holes and flaws I start to discover. So before I come to the realization that this film was actually just "ok" I'm including it on this list before I change my mind.

Behind The Candelabra & The Central Park Five*
As I already stated - I missed the beginning of both of these films but I enjoyed what what I saw

Highly Anticipating...

Only God Forgives
So far Nicholas Winding Refn's latest has gotten mixed reviews at best but judging from the three clips I've seen I still can't wait. Refn seems to be combining the world of noir-ish art house cinema with the world of bad late night cable action movies, scored by a tangerine dream cover band and I think that's nothing short of brilliant. After Valhalla Rising & Drive I'll see anything this man puts out.

Les Salauds
New Claire Denis. Sold. Moving on...

It appears that Lars Von Trier is Remaking Black Snake Moan with a much better cast? Something tells me this will be darker and even more provocative than Antichrist. Von Trier's exploration in to the dark side of sex has poked its little head out in the past (Breaking The Waves, Dogville, Antichrist) and he also hasn't been afraid to show unsimulated sex before either (The Idiots & Antichrist) so I think this will be his moment to really purge. Whether this turns out to be a disaster or a masterpiece it'll still be entertaining and get a rise outta someone.

Blue Is The Warmest Color
It broke my heart when Abdellatif Kechiche's misunderstood masterpiece; Black Venus (2010) got swept under the rug so I'm glad he got his redemption by winning best picture at Cannes last month for his adaptation of the cult french graphic novel about homosexuality and young love. 
More radical/unexpected works have been winning the Palme D'or for the last couple of years and this film doesn’t look like any type of exception.

12 Years A Slave
Last year brought us Django and this year we get 12 Years A Slave. Not to put too much pressure on Steve McQueen but I have a feeling this will be his crowning achievement as a filmmaker (a crowning achievement in a short career so far, but still).

Only Lovers Left Alive
Much like Claire Denis' new film, you don’t have to sell me on this one either. This is directed by one of my all time favorite filmmakers (Jim Jarmusch) so I'm in. Even though I really didn’t like Limits Of Control and I am a tad bit weary of Jarmusch playing in to this recent Vampire craze, I'm still optimistic. Vampires are cool. Vampire movies should be cool. Who's cooler than Jim Jarmusch? This is a match made in heaven.

Not exactly anticipating, but I am curious...

Given Spike Lee's recent string of disappointing and/or bad films (especially Red Hook "Bummer") he already has the chips stacked against him. Oldboy is a beloved holy grail-esque film of comicon-type fanboys who don’t want their beloved Asian films remade so I'm sure people already dislike like this adaptation without even seeing it (have you seen the discussions on the IMDB boards?) This also may or may not continue Spike Lee & Quentin Tarantino's almost 20 year long feud as Tarantino is Oldboy/Park-Chan Wok fanboy #1. I imagine someone you have personal issues with (like Tarantino does with Lee) remaking one of your favorite films would really piss someone off. I'm also bracing myself for a possible (one-sided) beef between Spike Lee & Steve McQueen given that they both have films being released around the same time and Spike Lee is notorious for having that "only me" complex among other prominent black filmmakers over the years (Matty Rich, John Singleton, etc).

I've never been an Alexander Payne fan outside of maybe Election and Laura Dern's performance in Citizen Ruth but apparently Bruce Dern, Laura's dad, gave a career performance in Payne's latest film so that’s enough to spark my interest.

Prince Avalanche 
David Gordon Green was officially dead to me the minute the credits rolled at the end of The Sitter but there's something about the trailer for his latest film that makes me think he's returning to his All The Real Girls-roots. I'm not expecting a game-changer but it does look like he's making a return to his old style that I'm a fan of. 
On the other hand, this could very well be one of those post-2000 sundance comedies that's quirky for the sake of being quirky

On Another note - PINNLAND EMPIRE will be three years old soon! I'd like to thank you guys for reading and sharing. 
Thanks to John Cribbs, Chris Funderberg, Doug Frye, Leanne Kubickz, Nathaniel Drake Carlson, Jason Hedrick, Jacob Sanders, Paul Cooney, Matt Reddick, Chris Robosch & Ian Loffill for contributing to the site. 
Thanks to Claire Denis, Guy Maddin, Lodge Kerrigan, Marina De Van, Alice Houri, Beans Bertrand Bonello, John Carluccio, Djinn Carrenard & John Lurie for taking the time out to participate in the short interviews we've done in the past and an extra special thanks to Ted Hope, Toronto Film Review, The Pink Smoke, Flud Watches, Warren Wade Anderson & Monte Hellman for bringing traffic to the site over the years.


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