Film Forum

BREATHLESS in the moment

Article: BREATHLESS in the moment

Why is Jean-Luc Godard’s BREATHLESS truly breathless? Why does it still feel fresh to me after seeing it countless times, to my filmmaker friends, to my students in their twenties? Watching the 50th anniversary restored print at the Film Forum last week, I relaxed into the large screen version of this French New Wave classic. This film pulses like an organism, moving through space and time quickly and elliptically in the Paris street scenes and then slowing down and luxuriating in the bedroom scene between the intriguingly glowing Jean Seberg and the endearing grumpiness of Jean-Paul Belmondo, a scene that lasts for what seems like half the film. It’s not just that it’s energetic or that it’s full of stylistic surprises, innovative editing even for today, stunning actors, and marvelous real world Paris locations… It’s somehow “in-the-moment” in a way that films rarely are… a kind of Buddhist crime caper…

SUNRISE: A Song of Two Humans

Article: SUNRISE: A Song of Two Humans

When F.W. Murnau and screenwriter Carl Mayer set out to make their very first Hollywood picture they were given an almost unlimited budget and complete artistic freedom. The result is SUNRISE (1927), one of only a handful of silent pictures without titles (or nearly without them). One of the wisest uses of that budget was hiring Janet Gaynor, one of the biggest names of the time and also one of the few actresses able to retain her star status even after she made the move from silent films to talkies. Her expressions say more than titles ever could have and transform the movie into something more like a visual poem.

Film Forum turns 40

Article: Film Forum turns 40

Bruce Weber’s 1988 LET’S GET LOST, one of 30 films in the Film Forum screening at MoMA. When Film Forum opened in 1970 in Manhattan’s Upper West Side it operated with one projector, 50 folding chairs and a $19,000 annual budget, but when Karen Cooper was hired on as director in 1972, things changed. Now,…

Three weeks of Elia Kazan

Article: Three weeks of Elia Kazan

James Dean in EAST OF EDEN Before starting a new film, Elia Kazan would buy a small school notebook and then fill it over the course of the production. Those notebooks have since been collected and compiled for the recently published “Kazan on Directing.” In support of the book release Film Forum is hosting three…

Counting Sheep: SWEETGRASS and the NYFF

Article: Counting Sheep: SWEETGRASS and the NYFF

I’ve been thinking about sheep. Ever since I saw the documentary SWEETGRASS over the weekend, I’ve been replaying the images in my mind. Newborn lambs thrown on top of each other, their bodies bouncing like rubber with no obvious damage done. A sheep chews cud and then pauses to give the camera a penetrating stare. A sheep herder’s frustrated and extended cussing diatribe at the herd he’s trying to control as the camera pulls back further and further to show the majestic expanse of wilderness that surrounds him. The sheep, their bodies flowing like water through the streets of a small town. SWEETGRASS (directed by Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor) is a documentary about the last sheep drive up the Beartooth Mountains in Montana, a kind of elegy to the west and a meditation on existence dictated by nature and man’s limited control. A film so out of place and yet exactly the kind of unusual film you expect to see as part of the New York Film Festival.