by Sam C. Mac

by Sam C. Mac Current Music

M.I.A. | AIM

September 29, 2016
mia

“Who said it was easy?/They can never stop we” sings the most put-upon recording artist of the last decade, who’s never stopped pulling up her people even as she’s endured pop culture’s repeated persecutions. It’s from the last song on what may be the 41-year old provocateur’s final album, AIM, and it’s as summative an emotional statement as “Borders,” the set’s opener and lead single, is a thematic one: This is an album that makes a negotiation between the commercial…

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by Luke Gorham by Sam C. Mac Retrospective Film

The Whispering Star | Sion Sono

September 2, 2016
Whispering Star

While much of Sion Sono’s early-aughts filmography is littered with cycles of violence and horror—films that plumb the depths of a darkness seemingly inherent in humankind—the ever-ubiquitous director’s finest of a whopping five 2015 theatrical releases pointedly proffers a rejection of its post-human world. With The Whispering Star, Sono opts for a lo-fi science-fiction yarn, a literal chamber drama defined by its textured images. He shoots in a high-contrast black and white, with stars, matches, and candles becoming light sources against an oppressive blackness…

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by Sam C. Mac Features Retrospective Film

Retrospective | Sion Sono: Love Leaves Destruction in Its Wake

August 2, 2016
Play in Hell

Sion Sono, known to most as a director of brutally violent films like 2002’s Suicide Club, can claim at least three titles in his filmography that contain the word “love.” The best of these, and indeed the 54-year-old Japanese iconoclast’s masterpiece-to-date, is 2011’s Love Exposure, a four-hour exorcism of acrimonious attitudes toward his country’s relationship to religion, pornography, its youth, the obediences of family and class, and perhaps above all—and representative of each—the expectation of good taste.…

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by Matt Lynch by Sam C. Mac Features Festival Coverage

BAMcinemafest 2016

June 17, 2016
kateplays2

The Brooklyn Academy of Music kicked off its 2016 “cinemafest” this week, and as per usual it’s an eclectic showcase of international and domestic indies with an underdog spirit. This year especially seemed like a festival of gambles, from horror luminary Ti West trying his hand at the western to Tim Sutton taking on the Aurora shootings. Inevitably, some pan out better than others, but even failures at this fest often seem more admirable for following the ambitions that got them there. Our writers…

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by Luke Gorham by Sam C. Mac Current Film

Where to Invade Next | Michael Moore

December 12, 2015
Where to Invade Next (2015)

Where to Invade Next is really a whole bunch of different movies, but just about each one of them is incisive and humane. Michael Moore’s approach here is almost essayistic, allowing his new documentary’s constituent parts to fluidly integrate into a broader assessment of international cultural progressivism. One particular sociological juxtaposition, between Germany and America’s approach to reparations, registers as the overwhelming highlight, but if the segments on the…

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by Sam C. Mac Current Film

The Assassin | Hou Hsiao-hsien

October 13, 2015
The Assassin (2015)

At the core of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s cinema is a deep investment in the rift formed between an independent Taiwan and a possessive mainland China. Tender stories of unrequited romance (Three Times, Flowers of Shanghai) become bracingly political, and coming-of-age stories (The Boys from Feng Kuei, Millennium Mambo) gain the added pathos of exploring uncertain national identities. Crucially, these subtexts never overwhelm Hou’s characters, many of whom…

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by Sam C. Mac Current Music

4Minute | Crazy

February 11, 2015
4Minute (2015)

That South Korean girl group 4Minute started 2015 with a self-conscious “revamp” of their brand isn’t surprising; this kind of maneuver is seen often in the landscape of K-pop. Just as the recent evolutionary timeline of the region’s popular music represents a condensed version of that of its western influence, the artists who populate this scene tend to progress their narratives quickly, launching “mini-album” campaigns several times a year that emphasize an awareness of whatever the current trend.…

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by Sam C. Mac Current Film

Vicky Cristina Barcelona | Woody Allen

August 28, 2008
Vicky Cristina

What Woody Allen just doesn’t seem to get anymore—overlooking the fact that his dialog is basically paraphrased versions of the same stuff he fed us back in his heyday, yet not as funny—seems to be women. The girls in Allen flicks no longer come across as real or convincing, or anything more than the approximation of a dithering old mensch who’s clearly lost his mojo. Scarlett Johannson seems to be feeling the brunt of this—she was asked to play a…

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