• A caress or a choke-hold?

One of my favorite things about Alex Ross Perry’s The Color Wheel (currently playing at Facets in a return engagement) is how it evokes the early French New Wave films without overtly emulating them. Yes, it’s shot in grainy black-and-white, it features plenty of cheap-but-ambitious tracking shots, and it changes tone as drastically as Shoot the Piano Player or A Woman Is a Woman. But the most important connection may be that The Color Wheel is a piece of film criticism as well as a piece of filmmaking. As Perry explained to me in an interview last month, the movie attempts to unite three dissimilar influences, the novels of Philip Roth and the films of Vincent Gallo and Jerry Lewis. In doing so, the film locates a particular aesthetic lineage, rooted in self-examination and often resulting in audience discomfort, to ground new observations about family and Jewish middle-class angst.