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R. Emmet Sweeney

Jennifer Lopez’s Working Class Roots (photo)

Jennifer Lopez’s Working Class Roots

The prevailing story of Jennifer Lopez’s film career has been one of decline, the promise of “Out of Sight” collapsing in a string of simple romantic comedies. Watching these post-Soderbergh movies as a group, though, reveals that Lopez is actually a sly, insolently funny performer, and one who repeatedly selects roles that are defined by […]

The Most Subversive Performances of 2009 (photo)

The Most Subversive Performances of 2009

In his 1966 essay entitled “The Subverters,” Manny Farber hoped “for a new award at the year’s end: Most Subversive Actor.” His complete film criticism, “Farber On Film,” was published this year, and in his honor I’m submitting a list of five nominees for this wished-for fake trophy. But his definition of “subversive” is a […]

The Naughts: The Actor of the ’00s (photo)

The Naughts: The Actor of the ’00s

Quietly and unexpectedly, Matt Damon has become the premier Hollywood actor of the past decade. He’s lent his minutely constructed, surprisingly athletic performances to the films of directors Steven Soderbergh, Gus Van Sant, Paul Greengrass, Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood, a roster that’s not coincidentally produced some of the most vital and successful films of […]

The Claustrophobic Cinema of Paul (W.S.) Anderson (photo)

The Claustrophobic Cinema of Paul (W.S.) Anderson

The old Hollywood studio-hand W.S. Van Dyke — who directed, amongst countless other things, “The Thin Man” — once advised a young Orson Welles to “just keep it close, and keep it moving.” And an unlikely inheritor of this wisdom is Paul W.S. Anderson, whose latest work to hit screens is this week’s “Pandorum,” which […]

Getting Versed in Versus Movies (photo)

Getting Versed in Versus Movies

There has to be no easier movie pitch than unveiling a “versus” in the title. Everyone, even studio heads, has at one time or another dwelt on the existential question of “who would win in a fight?” The conflict is clear, the characters are established, the action implied — all they have to do is […]

Rotterdam 2009: The Wrap-Up (photo)

Rotterdam 2009: The Wrap-Up

The Rotterdam Film Festival has had a history of promoting the weird, the obsessive and the cultish in cinema, and there’s been little change as this year’s edition reaches its close. They’ve programmed a survey of recent Asian horror films, complete with a “haunted house” installation, and they’ve maintained their loyalty to unfashionable provocateurs like […]

Rotterdam 2009: Alexis dos Santos Rolls Around “Unmade Beds” (photo)

Rotterdam 2009: Alexis dos Santos Rolls Around “Unmade Beds”

The buzz is building around Alexis dos Santos’ swoony sophomore effort, “Unmade Beds.” Premiering at Sundance to no small acclaim, it made its way to Rotterdam and continues to impress. A jaunty, romantic tale of restless youth and their search for identity and a little sex, the film’s real star is its set, a bohemian’s […]

Rotterdam 2009: Guy Maddin Will “Send Me To the ‘Lectric Chair” (photo)

Rotterdam 2009: Guy Maddin Will “Send Me To the ‘Lectric Chair”

Guy Maddin is a hoarder of uncanny images, from the candy-colored Alpine tableaus of “Careful” to the frozen horse heads of last year’s “My Winnipeg.” A commission from the Rotterdam Film Festival centers around another: Isabella Rossellini blasted out of an electric chair. It’s the basis for his new short film, “Send Me to the […]

Rotterdam 2009: Carlos Reygadas and Guy Maddin  (photo)

Rotterdam 2009: Carlos Reygadas and Guy Maddin

The 38th International Film Festival in Rotterdam has streamlined its program into three sections, but it hasn’t lost its focus. The fest still throws its weight behind young filmmakers, and a previous beneficiary, Carlos Reygadas, has emerged as a central figure early on this year. He’s credited as producer on two films, Carlos Serrano Azcona’s […]

List: The Five Greatest Pratfalls of 2008

By R. Emmet Sweeney A pratfall can be a work of art, a study in disruptive motion, a klutz’s ballet. This choreography of humiliation is perhaps the least garlanded act in contemporary film, as no Oscars will ever be won for kicks to the groin or tumbles down the stairs, regardless of their originality. Only […]