I took a brief break from my film criticism sabbatical to write this capsule for my second favorite film of 2017 for Slant Magazine here (scroll down).
I mostly write about theater now, but occasionally I find ways to merge my stage and screen interests at the day job. Case in point: this interview I did with Benedict Andrews, the first-time director of this screen adaptation of David Harrower's play Blackbird who has previously been known for his inventive stage productions (like that Gillian Anderson- and Ben Foster-starring production of A Streetcar Named Desire that played at St. Ann's Warehouse last year—the one with the rotating set).
Seven episodes in the life of the titular medieval Russian icon painter, all of which add up to one of the most vivid and detailed cinematic depictions I've ever seen of the life of an artist. From naive optimism about human nature to an abject despair that leads him to swear off art-making for about 15 years, then finally a renewal of his passion with the help of a former monk and a young bellmaker (whose obsessive quest to finish…
Going into finally seeing this classic screwball comedy for the first time ever, I knew I was in for fast-paced dialogue and endlessly fresh verbal wit. The film certainly didn't disappoint on those fronts. Rarely have I seen a movie so brilliantly demonstrate the possibility of dialogue as pedal-to-the-metal action; I'm still reeling from having all that overlapping dialogue blast into my face for such a sustained period of screen time, especially in its second half!
I hadn't, however, expected…