Making the world safe for filmgoers since 2002.
High adventure (literally), political corruption, an artist who refuses to bend to the politics of the art word, and the divine Lily Tomlin! It was a week to remember and then some.
The high adventure is to be found in the lyrical and brutal film MERU, about the attempt by three mountaineers to be the first to conquer the eponymous mountain. Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Chai Vasarhelyi talked with me about the lure of the impossible, filming under arctic conditions, and what it’s like to feel an earthquake at the top of the world. Click here for the interview.
Hubert Sauper took his life in his hands at (more or less) sea-level when he criss-crossed Sudan while that country split itself into two separate political entities. As though a tense political situation weren’t dangerous enough, he travelled in a small plane he built himself, touching down without warning on people who had long ago learned to be suspicious of anyone telling them that they come as friends. Hence the ironic title of his film, WE COME AS FRIENDS, a sobering, stark, and incisive documentary about 21st-century colonialism that turns the native population of a country into refugees on their own ancestral lands. Click here for the interview, one of the few I’ve conducted where I’ve been left speechless over a revelation.
PLASTIC MAN: THE ARTFUL LIFE OF JERRY ROSS BARRISH showcase the titular artist, his work, and his unconventional day job as a bail bondsman in San Francisco. In that capacity, he played a key role in the revolutionary movements of the 1960s by bailing protesters out of jail. In his capacity as self-taught artist from the working class, and Art Institute trained filmmaker, he still pursues his vision without regard to what curators or marketing types think. My conversation with filmmaker William Farley, himself an artist with a similar background as that of Barrish, can be heard here.
If Lily Tomlin is not at least nominated for an Oscar(tm) for her starring role in and as GRANDMA, there is no justice. I interviewed both her and the film’s writer/director Paul Weitz, and while we discussed the film, I used part of my time to ask Tomlin about her relationship with Richard Pryor, and a brilliantly funny and brutal television sketch that Tomlin’s wife, Jane Wagner, had written for them back in 1973 that has stayed with me to this day. Click here for the interview.