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A Drag Ball on Screen

A Drag Ball on Screen

BY GARY M. KRAMER | A celebration of cross-dressing in cinema unspools at Anthology Film Archives March 23-31. The films, an international mix of features and documentaries, show how men in women’s clothing and women in men’s clothing are often played for laughs. John Epperson (aka Lypsinka), who guest curated the program, will be on hand […]

Beyond Bars

Beyond Bars

BY STEVE ERICKSON | It may seem like prison is invisible in American culture unless one has been locked up or knows someone who has been. Still, the deserved popularity of the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” — which, without totally eschewing violence, pointedly avoids depicting jail as a constant procession of stabbing […]

Social Control Medicalized

Social Control Medicalized

BY STEVE ERICKSON | Watching Chinese director Wang Bing’s documentary “‘Til Madness Do Us Part,” you have to keep reminding yourself that it’s set in a mental hospital, not a prison. A modern-day example of direct cinema, Wang’s film plunges the spectator into the disorienting world of a hospital for patients who’ve been committed against their […]

At the End of the Road  

At the End of the Road  

BY GARY M. KRAMER | This coming week, Anthology Film Archives features several fascinating representations of queer life. Nguyễn Thị Thấm’s observational documentary “Madam Phung’s Last Journey” provides a look into the world of a traveling drag show that performs for rural audiences in Vietnam. Their leader, Madam Phung, a former monk, gives advice to her […]

Brazilian Dreams  

Brazilian Dreams  

BY STEVE ERICKSON | German director Edgar Reitz has been exploring the meaning of “home” (“heimat” in German) for more than 30 years. He’s devoted 58 hours of film, spread across five different projects, to various installments of the “heimat” series. I’ve only seen “The Second Heimat,” which takes place in the ‘60s, and “Home From […]

A Buddhist Pedestrian in Paris

A Buddhist Pedestrian in Paris

BY STEVE ERICKSON | Out gay Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang has never had much American commercial success. Yet the critical kudos he’s received seem to be building momentum for his work. His film “Stray Dogs” was one of the most acclaimed Asian movies released in the US last year. Just last month, his 1992 debut “Rebels […]

Mask of Precision

Mask of Precision

BY STEVE ERICKSON | Joy of Man’s Desiring” confirms my impression that Denis Côté is the most talented Canadian director to emerge since Guy Maddin. He’s also one of the hardest to pin down. He seems to alternate between relatively conventional narratives (like “Vic + Flo Saw a Bear,” which played Anthology Film Archives last […]

A Queer Pastoral  

A Queer Pastoral  

BY GARY M. KRAMER | There are too few films about rural queer life, and the very fine drama “It’s All So Quiet,” in capturing the experiences of Helmer (Jeroen Willems), a big, beefy, 50-ish repressed gay farmer in the Netherlands, distinguishes itself. This compelling film is a quiet, contemplative character study that yields insights […]

A Disappearing World’s Splendor and Ugliness

A Disappearing World’s Splendor and Ugliness

BY STEVE ERICKSON | Why has Wang Bing, one of the most important Chinese directors of his generation, received so little attention in the US? Anthology Film Archives has played all three of his documentaries, but even they haven’t been able to show his sole narrative film, “The Ditch” — though not for lack of trying. […]