51/52 THE INTERVENTION
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, saying that I was a little creatively frustrated. Being an actor is such a weird thing, because you have to rely on so many other people to get to the place where you are able to express yourself creatively. We were talking about just making stuff on our own, but then it’s hard, you need financing and things are expensive. I had written this other script that I really liked, but it would have been too pricey. No one was going to give five million dollars to make a movie. So I had this really simple idea and I told to him the idea for this movie, the premise of friends who do a relationship intervention, and he thought it was a funny idea. He encouraged me to go home and write it, and I just wrote it.
Actor Clea Duvall wrote, directed, executive produced and played a supporting role in this film and it’s everything you want an ensemble film to be–smart, funny, relatable and touching, with great moments for every single actor.
A weekend getaway for four couples takes a sharp turn when one of the couples discovers the entire trip was orchestrated to host an intervention on their marriage.
Duvall couldn’t have assembled a better cast and the heart of the movie is Melanie Lynskey–one of my very favorite actors who I virtually follow around to watch anything and everything she does. Here she gets the chance to show off her considerable comedic talents in a role written for her by Duvall. She’s surrounded by a host of excellent performances, a beautiful production design and gorgeous photography by Polly Morgan–which is worth noting since female cinematographers are somewhat rare. This is an engaging and uplifting film experience from start to finish. THE INTERVENTION is available on VOD.
50/52: THE WINDING STREAM: THE CARTERS, THE CASHES AND THE COURSE OF COUNTRY MUSIC
It’s a funny time right now. There are so many great possibilities for new filmmakers because the technology is so available. That part is awesome. The tricky part is anything that costs money – travel, archival rights… I guess my recommendation is don’t make big, archival-based music films unless you want to take 12 years. Shooting things that you have much more access to is probably a way to start off.
~ Beth Harrington
Producer/Director/Writer Beth Harrington is a Boston native who worked extensively with PBS and WBGH before moving to the Pacific Northwest. This documentary saga took her 12 years to complete and among its many gems is early television footage of the Carter women, Johnny Cash’s final interview, extensive audio recordings and a side plot about Border Radio that kind of blew my mind.
Anyone with an interest in American and music history will love the time spent here with the earliest originators of what we now call country music–and the vast influence these artists exerted over all of American music. There was so much I didn’t know and the Carter Family backstory is inspiring, jaw-dropping and the stuff of legends; it’s wonderful to see how their legacy lives on. This film is available to stream on Netflix.
47/52 AMERICAN HONEY
We’ve grown up mainly on male stories, and most of the films have been written and directed by men – and that’s only half of the human race. ~ Andrea Arnold
Based on a New York Times article that Arnold read, American Honey centers around the world of magazine crews that employ impoverished youth (who are often homeless, troubled or neglected) to tour around the country selling subscriptions. At just under three hours, it’s a sprawling and critically-praised glimpse into the cracks of Midwestern America most people never see unless you’ve lived there. What’s remarkable is that Arnold is an English filmmaker who seems to understands these places as well as any American.
The film reminds me of a modern New Wave approach. Arnold shoots in an aspect-ratio that appears square on screen because it’s closer to a human portrait. Her film is populated with non-actors, current music, achingly beautiful shots that cut before they become sentimental and a sense of scope that’s achieved while her camera lingers on faces rather than landscapes. It’s harsh and graphic at times, pulling no punches about a world that pulls no punches with these kids.
American Honey won the Jury Prize at Cannes and Arnold’s other films (including Fish Tank) have garnered a slew of awards including BAFTAs and an Oscar for Best Short. She also directs for Transparent. Arnold is one of those groundbreaking filmmakers whose work qualifies as an Event whenever she comes out with something new. This film is available on VOD.