Posts Tagged ‘Benny and Josh Safdie’

Kid’s-eye view of a constant state of emergency

May 12, 2010

In this week’s Village Voice J. Hoberman reviews Benny and Josh Safdie’s “Daddy Longlegs” (2009), which, as you’ll recall, was my favorite narrative feature from the 2010 Wisconsin Film Festival. Indeed, I liked it so much that I ranked it #4 on my list of the top 10 movies that screened in Madison more than once over the course of the past school year.

Hoberman’s take on the film’s protagonist, Ronald Bronstein’s Lenny (not to be confused with his girlfriend, Leni), is pretty harsh, almost unsmiling; put simply, Hoberman seems to have been much less amused by Lenny’s various parental screw-ups than I was. Yet, he also seems to have found an especially spacious room in the film via forehead-slapping observation of Lenny’s bad behavior that I myself wasn’t able to spend much if any time in: the psychological—or, more precisely, psychodramatic—dimension of “Daddy Longlegs,” the discreetly raw dialectic formed by its 9-year-old adults and 40-something toddlers.

Keep your fingers crossed that “Daddy Longlegs” gets released on DVD some time in the next few months. It definitely deserves to be revisited.

Obligatory end-of-film-festival top 5 list

April 19, 2010

Well, the 2010 Wisconsin Film Festival has officially come and gone. It was an incredible (and incredibly exhausting) five days. I attended ten full screenings, while also ducking in and out of a few others (thanks for the press pass, Isthmus!). My thoughts on everything I saw are a bit of a jumbled mess at the moment, but I’m pretty sure that this list reflects the films that left the most indelible impressions on me. Forgive my failure to elaborate on these picks; my opinions of “Daddy Longlegs” and the Phil Solomon shorts can be found here and in my Isthmus article. Definitely jump at the opportunity to see any of these five should it present itself.

1. “Daddy Longlegs” (2009)

2. “Rehearsals for Retirement”/“Last Days in a Lonely Place”/“Still Raining, Still Dreaming” (2007-2009)

3. “Seventeen” (1983)

4. “Harmony and Me” (2009)

5. “Collateral” (2004)

Thanks to Manohla Dargis, David Bordwell, J.J. Murphy, John Powers, Bob Byington, and Alyssa and Athena Lobit for giving me the time of day at one point or another during the festival. Thanks again to Isthmus for hooking me up on Saturday. Thanks to the volunteers who never questioned my press credentials. Thanks to the friends who kept me company at screenings and social functions alike. And last but not least, thanks to y’all for giving this blog so much traffic throughout the festivities. Onward!

The WFF continues

April 16, 2010

Although Wednesday was Day 1 of the 2010 Wisconsin Film Festival, it seems fair to say that the fest didn’t kick off in earnest until last night. I caught two films: Benny and Josh Safdie’s revelatory “Daddy Longlegs” (2009) and Bong Joon-ho’s ridiculous and ridiculously fun “The Host” (2006).

“Daddy Longlegs,” formerly known as “Go Get Some Rosemary,” overflowed with feeling, charm and painful honesty; Ronald Bronstein’s performance as Lenny, a film projectionist who apparently attended the William Burroughs school of parenting, is the strongest and most magnetic I’ve seen so far this year, trumping even the excellent work of Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwig in “Greenberg.” “Daddy Longlegs” will screen again at 11 on Saturday morning at the MMoCA; there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll be there for seconds.

“The Host” had its Orpheum audience in the palm of its slimy, mutant-reptilian hand. The film was hammy as hell, unsubtle in its politics and grandly operatic in its overall sensibility. The visual texture of “The Host” was really something: dirty, damp, bloody at times, scaly—and then abruptly sterile, clean, white. It certainly helped that I had plenty of good company with me at the screening, of course.

For more on yesterday’s proceedings, check out Sally Franson’s coverage over at the Isthmus. (A line formed at the Orpheum for “The Host” at 9:30? Yeesh. I walked in at 10:10 and had no trouble finding a prime seat.)

As far as today (Day 3) is concerned, there’s much to do and see. In today’s DC you’ll find a batch of recommendations from my colleagues Kevin Slane, Kyle Sparks, Mark Riechers and Todd Stevens; it looks to me like they made some good picks.

Me, I’ll be attending “Collateral” at the Orpheum at 4:30 (the NY Times’ Manohla Dargis will introduce), “Harmony and Me” at the Union Theater at 7:45 (director Bob Byington will be in attendance and will do a Q&A after the screening) and “It Came from Kuchar” at the Play Circle at 9:45 (to be preceded by George Kuchar’s “500 Millibars to Ecstasy”). I’ve got big-time expectations for all three.

Whatever you do, go see some goddamn movies.