by Sam C. Mac

#StreamingScene by Sam C. Mac Film

Red Amnesia | Wang Xiaoshuai

December 3, 2018
RED AMNESIA / Chuangru zhe (2014), directed by Wang Xiaoshuai.

A leading light of China’s Sixth Generation movement, Wang Xiaoshuai was at the vanguard of a 1990s cinema that dared to grapple with the immediate aftermath of Tiananmen. Films like 1994’s The Days and 1997’s Frozen captured the fractured psyche of a generation that thought they were a generation of change, but had those dreams disillusioned by oppressive violence. With Red Amnesia, Wang completes a trilogy of films (following 2005’s Shanghai Dreams and 2013’s 11 Flowers) — which have essentially affirmed that this cycle of aspiration and disillusionment has absolute precedent in…

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#StreamingScene by Sam C. Mac Film

Let the Sunshine In | Claire Denis

October 26, 2018
Let the Sunshine In

Let the Sunshine In is an exquisite romantic comedy in part because its laughs are sad and its sadness is funny. Claire Denis isn’t a filmmaker to let the complexity of the human emotions she either captures physically, or insinuates psychologically, settle into easy interpretation and understanding; her latest shades its relationship dynamics with existential panic, insecurities, unabashed biases of class, and, of course, an intimate understanding of the sexual politic. Juliette Binoche provides the perfect gateway drug for Denis…

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#PopRocks by Sam C. Mac 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 — an artist 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…

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by Luke Gorham by Sam C. Mac Retrospective

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 Feature Articles 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 Festival Coverage Film

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 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 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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#PopRocks by Sam C. Mac 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, since 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 happens to be the current trend.…

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#KickingtheCanon by Sam C. Mac Music

Iris DeMent | My Life

January 16, 2015
9

Defined by no genre so much as she is her deep roots in Arkansas, and an uneasiness toward her Pentecostal upbringing, Iris DeMent is still more-often-than-not filed under country, thanks to an affected twang (she left the south at age three) and to her music’s distinctly blue-collar themes. This under-appreciated giant of American song isn’t so easily pegged. Her modest discography — just five records in more than thirty years — includes a Protestant gospel collection, culled from memories of her mother “singing to the sky, as…

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by Luke Gorham by Sam C. Mac Feature Articles Film

You Can’t Stop What’s Coming | Fall Film 2008

August 12, 2008
YCSWC

A few weeks back we presented you with our lists of the best films of 2008, so far. Without much fanfare we now share our picks for what looks good that’s yet to be released. As it’s impossible to tell if any of these movies will really be worth our time, a list like this shouldn’t be taken too seriously: these are just films that Luke and I both agree have a fair amount of potential.…

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by Sam C. Mac Feature Articles Film Year in Review

Sam C. Mac’s Top 10 Films of 2008 (So Far)

July 1, 2008
reprise

Looking over my list from around this time last year, it seems 2008 has not been quite as striking (though few years have been). Even so, I’m quite happy with this list, and I feel that all of these films deserve the mention they’re receiving. Also, I’m thrilled with the variety of genres represented here (horror, action, comedy, etc.). At this point in the year, I’ve seen well over 100 films, one of which deserves to be called a classic,…

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