Monday, June 16, 2014

Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)

12 Years a Kid

Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood (Universal Pictures / IFC)
When we're talking about film, the word 'ordinary' tends to be typically uttered with a note of snark and condemnation. An 'ordinary' film is one that's shackled with familiarity, and one that struggles to say anything exceptional in a distinctive way. Sometimes though ordinariness can be a more complex trait, and in fact can be a wholly positive attribute. Sometimes there's a film - and I'm talking about Boyhood here - that's actually quite extraordinarily ordinary, oxymorons be damned.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Punk Singer (Sini Anderson, 2013)

Rebel Girl

Photo: Kathleen Hanna. Courtesy of Dogwoof (
Even a cursory glance at the critical discussion surrounding the documentary The Punk Singer will highlight one recurrent word: hagiography. And it's not an unfair choice of vocabulary. This is a portrait of Bikini Kill / Le Tigre singer Kathleen Hanna where director Sini Anderson clearly has a deep rooted respect for her subject. The various talking heads - including Joan Jett, Adam Horovitz (Hanna's husband), Kim Gordon and Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker & Carrie Brownstein - also wax lyrical about Hanna's talent and influence. Some time is allotted to sound out some of the criticisms Hanna's music, ideologies and even personal life have been subjected to over the years, but it's very much from a defensive, some might argue dismissive, perspective.