Max Goldberg

TIFF 2015 | Sparrows (Rúnar Rúnarsson, Iceland/ Denmark/ Croatia)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Max Goldberg / September 11, 2015

By Max Goldberg A shoegazer’s kitchen-sink drama, Sparrows trails a sensitive Reykjavik teenager to his father’s home in the hardscrabble north. The land of the midnight sun lends this coming-of-age story a nice bleary texture, and second-time director Rúnarsson is every bit as attentive to the interiors of the fishing village—crappy wood-panelled homes strewn with…

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TIFF 2015 | Neon Bull (Gabriel Mascaro, Brazil/Uruguay/Netherlands)—Platform

By Max Goldberg / September 2, 2015

By Max Goldberg Expanding upon the sensual neorealism of his dramatic debut August Winds (2014), Gabriel Mascaro sets his follow-up behind the scenes of northeast Brazil’s vaquejada circuit. A few cowhands ready the bulls for rodeo, sanding tails, branding, cursing. They camp alongside the bullpen with a mother and daughter living in their truck, and scene…

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TIFF 2015 | The Whispering Star (Sion Sono, Japan)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Max Goldberg / September 2, 2015

By Max Goldberg Sion Sono continues to imaginatively engage Fukushima’s irradiated landscape in The Whispering Star, a surprisingly sedate space odyssey from the longtime enfant terrible. Megumi Kagurazaka is mostly alone as a Cast Away-like robot on an interplanetary delivery route. Her spaceship is done in the style of a traditional Japanese house, and the robot in turn seems…

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TIFF 2015 | The People vs. Fritz Bauer (Lars Kraume, Germany)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Max Goldberg / September 1, 2015

By Max Goldberg The People vs. Fritz Bauer narrows its focus to the period when West German attorney general Fritz Bauer (Burghart Klaussner), working covertly and against the wishes of the many former Nazis in his government’s ranks, aided the Mossad in the capture of Adolf Eichmann. It’s fine material for a procedural, but director…

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The Conversation: Stephanie Barber’s DAREDEVILS

By Max Goldberg / March 20, 2014

By Max Goldberg “The only truth is face to face, the poem whose words become your mouth”—Frank O’Hara Perhaps the only rule of Stephanie Barber’s otherwise unruly art is that words not be taken for granted. “There’s a certain faith that people put in language,” reflects one of the characters in DAREDEVILS, and Barber makes…

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TIFF 2013 | Three Landscapes (Peter Hutton, US)—Wavelengths

By Max Goldberg / September 11, 2013

By Max Goldberg One of several triptychs showing in this year’s Wavelengths program, Peter Hutton’s Three Landscapes zeroes in on the industrial terrain ringing Detroit (where he grew up), the bucolic pastures of the Hudson River Valley (where he now lives), and Ethiopian salt flats (where he travelled under Robert Gardner’s sponsorship). The most obvious link between…

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Deaths of Cinema | Blank Slate: Remembering Les Blank

By Max Goldberg / April 27, 2013

By Max Goldberg Much like the bastions of freedom and vernacular art he so lovingly recorded, Les Blank’s films seem a kind of arcadia on the horizon of documentary film. Blank died earlier this month at the age of 77, leaving behind a singularly festive body of work. Especially in the many small masterpieces shot…

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Meditations in an Emergency: The 2012 Robert Flaherty Seminar

By Max Goldberg / July 27, 2012

By Max Goldberg In founding the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in 1955, Frances Flaherty paid tribute to her husband’s memory with an informal colloquium that would extend their guiding principles of immersion and “non-preconception” to the viewing of films. The week-long seminar has long since outgrown the Flaherty farm (the last several have taken place…

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Ben Russell

By Max Goldberg / April 4, 2012

By Max Goldberg Ben Russell’s field studies of transfiguration invoke the magic of cinema with fearsome lucidity. Hollis Frampton might well have been describing Russell’s work when he defined invention as “the vivid primary instantiation of a compositional strategy deriving from a direct insight into the creative process itself.” Structuralist in their conceptual clarity and…

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Terri (Azazel Jacobs, US)

By Max Goldberg / June 28, 2011

By Max Goldberg Azazel Jacobs’s fourth and most polished feature to date grants its eponymous hero (Jacob Wysocki) a surprising foundation of confidence—surprising because he’s a husky adolescent boy who wears pajamas to school. His equanimity is clear from the moment we see him cutting through a dry creek bed with the stride of a…

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Interviews | The Inmost Leaf: An Interview with Nathaniel Dorsky

By Max Goldberg / March 12, 2011

By Max Goldberg Our age does not really merit the richly endowed materiality of Nathaniel Dorsky’s short films, and yet they now arrive with greater frequency than at any other point during his many decades at work. His lyrical gifts were apparent from an early age—A Fall Trip Home (1964), made when he was only…

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Features | All Points West

By Max Goldberg / December 17, 2010

By Max Goldberg Comparing three American municipalities in his 1960 book The Image of the City, Kevin Lynch found that Los Angeles lacked certain qualities of “legibility”: “[The city] seemed to be hard to envision or conceptualize as a whole.” Several generations of authors and artists have taken that bait. Cinema’s particular hold on the…

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Interviews | Stop Making Sense: Martha Colburn’s Anxious Animations

By Max Goldberg / September 12, 2009

By Max Goldberg Several weeks into preparing this piece, collage-animator Martha Colburn sent me a link to footage of a shadow-puppet play of the Obama inauguration she had staged with her friend Matthew Varvil a few days earlier. Here again was Aretha’s proud hat and Rick Warren’s brimstone drone—though none of the television networks I…

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Features | Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere: Lee Anne Schmitt on California Company Town

By Max Goldberg / August 22, 2009

By Max Goldberg The title California Company Town evokes the nondescript captioning of survey photography, and Lee Anne Schmitt’s 80-minute landscape film is, in one sense, exactly that. But California Company Town is also a ghost story, radiating absence. At the edges, there is a voice—Schmitt’s own, reciting chiselled commentary with the dreamy reticence of…

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