serial cinema

Culture Warrior

A very strange thing happened at this year’s Golden Globes ceremony. Somewhere between Ricky Gervais’ biting monologue/critique and Robert De Niro’s uncomfortable lifetime achievement acceptance speech, an epic international arthouse film won the award for Best Made for Television Movie or Miniseries, beating out the other nominations in the typically HBO-dominated category. Olivier Assayas’ Carlos is, from an American perspective, quite difficult to classify. We first heard about it when it was met with rave reviews at Cannes and other festivals, then it was distributed theatrically through IFC (in its original 5 ½ hour run time) while it had a three-episode “miniseries” run on the Sundance Channel just as it had done in France when originally commissioned for French television. Now, before an explicitly planned DVD release (though there is some certainty that the film will be the latest IFC release to get the Criterion treatment), it’s available streaming in its three-part miniseries form via Netflix (which is how I eventually saw it). All this is to say that it’s quite a task to say with any certainty precisely what Carlos is and in which medium it belongs. The film was financed by French television, yet it’s shot in a widescreen aspect ratio (2.35:1) typically reserved for theatrical cinema, and its 3-episode structure doesn’t follow the expectations of brief closure at the end of each segment typical of, say, an American television miniseries (it comes across more like a necessary break for exhibition and an arbitrary break in storytelling). Now […]

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I have to start this post off with an admission: I have yet to see the new Harry Potter. I’m saving it for Thanksgiving weekend when I can return to my home state and see it with loved ones, so hopefully next week I’ll have a post on something more appropriately Potter-specific. But what I want to talk about today is not something related to Deathly Hollows specifically, but what it represents, which lies somewhere in the film’s critical reaction. While heaps of praise have been given to the newest installment of one of the biggest movie franchises in history based on one of the biggest book franchises in history (many calling it one of the best entries in the series), the biggest voice of detraction has been the notion that Deathy Hollows pt. 1 is not a “complete movie” per se – that it abruptly stops in medias res, that it has no “third act.” Whether or not this is how I will feel when I see the movie this week is unimportant, but what this movie – and its subsequent reaction – represents is of great importance.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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