The Arbor


Adam Kempenaar, Filmspotting cofounder, host, and executive producer, is captivated by:

The Arbor Last year around this time I was encouraging every movie lover I knew to seek out the challenging, provocative, and often disturbing Greek “family” film Dogtooth. This year I can’t stop talking—or thinking—about The Arbor, Clio Barnard’s experimental account of the troubled life and even more troubled legacy of British playwright Andrea Dunbar.

The Arbor‘s radical conceit eschews talking heads in favor of actors lip-synching pretaped interviews with family members and friends of Dunbar, who wrote three semiautobiographical dramas about coming of age in her Yorkshire council estate. Juxtaposing these performances with street-staged productions of selected Dunbar pieces, the layers of artifice commingle in thrilling, revelatory—and appropriate—ways. Dunbar employed art as a means to understand and ultimately transcend her dysfunctional world; exploiting Dunbar’s own aesthetic, Barnard offers representations of tragic personal experiences that inform and illuminate.

The Artist

Ron Falzone, director, screenwriter, and associate professor at Columbia College, revels in:

The Artist Michel Hazanavicius’s black-and-white silent film is a delight for what it isn’t. His earlier OSS 117 spy movies were entertaining Bond spoofs, so of course I expected a similar take on the silent era. The Artist, though, carefully avoids spoofing its subject. Here, Hazanavicius’s love of the genre is conveyed through affectionate respect.

Spoofs are constructed so that we the viewers can pat ourselves on the back for getting the references. In The Artist, characters and scenes are constructed through actions that create a direct emotional appeal to the audience. We respond openly to the exploits of George and Peppy (and especially the irrepressible terrier, Uggie). We don’t stand back and observe these characters as we would in a spoof. We are seduced in the way silent cinema was always capable of seducing us: through our heart, not our head. Get out of yours and have a wonderful time.

Fringe


Brian Levin, Chicago-based cinematographer and editor, sits on the edge of his seat during:

Fringe As an avid television viewer I love shows with epic mythologies. J.J. Abrams, who created Lost and is credited with changing the way we watch television, creates another show both more, and less, grounded in reality than Lost was.

Fringe‘s first season was very episodic, with few connective elements between episodes; however, here in season four the Fringe team is dealing with parallel universes, time travel, and even crazier fringe science, all while remaining heartfelt, funny, and thrilling!

As a cinematographer and editor, one of the things I appreciate most about the show is its inclusion of very home-brew-style special effects. Any editor interested in motion graphics will have undoubtedly visited videocopilot.net and realized that Andrew Kramer created the opening title sequence for Fringe. The rest of the show’s exemplary effects all take a page from Kramer’s work.

Fringe can be seen on Fox, Friday nights at 8.