The Mill and the Cross

The Reject Report

I thought about opening this Reject Report with a play on the lyrics to “Circle of the Life.” A certain Disney classic is getting its re-release in 3-D this weekend, and you know how we love playing around with lyrics here at the Reject Report. But then we witnessed Ryan Gosling wearing leather driving gloves. Never mind the white bomber jacket complete with scorpion embroidered on the back. Those gloves are what we focused on. Then, after about 45 minutes of staring, we remembered we have a job to do. There’s box office analyses that need to be…um…analyzed, and four new wide releases to split the box office dollars between them. Two R-rated thrillers, that Disney classic that’s getting a re-release on over 2300 screens, and a rom-com starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Over/under on how many words I give that movie.


Polish filmmaker Lech Majewski’s new English language film The Mill and the Cross is a fascinating exercise in form and artistic experimentation. The film itself is a project brought forth by a dialogue between various art forms. It’s based on Michael Francis Gibson’s book of the same name and focuses on the lives of the many characters depicted in Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s famous work The Way to Calvary (1564), a painting that features literally hundreds of individuals and a crucifixion allegory to boot. It seems almost natural that such a film would arise from the meeting of artistic minds across centuries, using a relatively new art form to give temporality and space to another. And Majewski’s film, like any considerable work of visual art, has striking visuals and composition, not so much enlivening the everyday tasks of the characters in this painting with “realism” but depicting it through the opportunities of artistic representation. Thus, The Mill and the Cross is a fully aware and intentionally engaged with artifice and its process. Why then, is its very artificiality so off-putting?


Editor’s Note: In a fevered rush to get straight to the movies he loved, intrepid reviewer Robert Levin didn’t write an intro. In fact, he might not even believe in them. Maybe he believes you’d rather dig into the movies than read one. So without any ado, here’s Robert’s list of the best movies he saw at Sundance. Look out for a few of them coming to a theater near New York and LA and On Demand throughout the year.

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published: 12.23.2014
published: 12.22.2014
published: 12.19.2014

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