Film & Television

Film & Television

Art and Film: Van Gogh’s sanity

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson /  “One man’s insanity is another man’s genius,” Joyce Carol Oates has written. In the popular imagination, though, Vincent Van Gogh was a psychologically tortured idiot-savant. Inner demons, not conscious deliberation, drove him to make his transcendent paintings, which invested natural phenomena with haunting emotional qualities […]

Film & Television

Art and Film: Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Trump’s reactionary public policy, which has institutionalized contempt for the advances in social justice forged in the United States over the past 150 years, has produced pervasive discontent. Anger about his racism, misogyny, and homophobia is manifesting itself through art in different ways. In tone, resistance ranges from […]

Film & Television

Art and Film: Meta’s meta in Madeline’s Madeline

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Writer-director Josephine Decker’s remarkably ambitious avant-garde film Madeline’s Madeline drills towards the molten core of the creative process and its hazards by way of the impressive young actress Helena Howard’s portrayal of the even more impressive eponymous young actress. Given that description, it goes almost […]

Film & Television

Art and Film: John Callahan’s Higher Power

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Growing up in Portland, Oregon, John Callahan, who would become a cartoonist noted for his dark, warped humor, had been a promising art student. But his abandonment by his birth mother and the coldness of his adoptive family haunted him. He started drinking at 13, […]

Film & Television

On July 4th: The art of decency

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Leave No Trace, Debra Granik’s first dramatic movie since her Winter’s Bone ushered in Jennifer Lawrence eight years ago, is among the best and most resonant films to appear this year. The movie, beautifully filmed mainly in Oregon, involves a disaffected and widowed Marine veteran aptly named Will, played […]

Film & Television

Art and Film: The beautifully unlovely Nancy

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The artistic process comes up quite a bit in cinema. This month alone, three new movies feature protagonists who are artists struggling against various worldly impediments to make their way. At the agreeable end of the spectrum, in Brett Haley’s comforting Hearts Beat Loud, there’s […]

Film & Television

Art and Film: Paul Schrader’s risky business

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Like an opaque work of conceptual art, writer-director Paul Schrader’s First Reformed is a high-risk venture, laden with the potential for artistic failure and embarrassment. But sometimes you just gotta say what the fuck. The risk paid off. The urgent nihilism of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, which […]

Film & Television

Art and Film: Giacometti’s petulant eye

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson /  Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti was renowned for his inability to finish artwork. It’s tempting to caricature that kind of chronic dissatisfaction as precious narcissism and feigned perfectionism. But it’s also too easy, and in Final Portrait, writer and director Stanley Tucci – better known as an […]

Film & Television

Art and Film: Red scares

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Two current movies about Russia, both gloriously snide but in different ways, open with discrete artistic performances. In Armando Iannucci’s impeccably sardonic and irreverent The Death of Stalin, it’s a Mozart piano concerto, going out live on radio. The producers of the broadcast have neglected […]