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Melissa Anderson Named Village Voice Senior Film Critic

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The Village Voice is pleased to announce that Melissa Anderson has been named to the position of senior film critic. A Voice contributor since 2000, Anderson is one of the country’s most incisive, exciting, and knowledgeable film critics. Starting with our December 9 issue, she will be writing the weekly column Screen Captured, in which she will survey New York’s boundlessly busy repertory and arthouse film scene. Anderson also will be reviewing new releases.

“Thinking and writing about current films offers its own pleasures, and I’m thrilled that I’ll be joining Voice film editor Alan Scherstuhl and LA Weekly chief film critic Amy Nicholson to weigh in on new releases every week,” Anderson says. “But what most excites me is having a platform to call attention to the extraordinary repertory offerings available in New York and to share my enthusiasms with the Voice’s astute readers.”

Adds Scherstuhl, “The Voice has always been dedicated to covering as much as we can of New York’s mad glut of wonderful film programming. There’s no one I trust more on that beat than Melissa Anderson. Her weekly column is a gift to the city and to film lovers everywhere.”

A member of the New York Film Critics Circle, Anderson is a regular contributor to Artforum and Bookforum and has also written for Film Comment and Sight & Sound. She was the film editor of Time Out New York from late 2005 until early 2009 and was a member of the selection committee of the New York Film Festival from 2009 to 2012.

Here are some of her standout recent Voice pieces:

On Claire Denis’s Chocolat:

Denis shifts seamlessly from macro to micro: Within colonialism’s systemic oppression and exploitation, she explores the complex interpersonal relationships that developed between foreign rulers and indigenous subjects, including those that flourished, if only fleetingly, and those burdened by inexpressible desire.

On Jenni Olson’s Royal Road

Olson, a bodiless presence, hovers like a specter throughout the film, her fluid narration — delivered in a voice that is steady, low, impassive, and still somehow impassioned — evoking all kinds of ghosts. The images are beautiful yet haunting: simple, static urban-landscape compositions — showcasing San Francisco’s Drydock, or the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills, or, more often, mundane buildings and homes — that are entirely devoid of people.

That these city tableaux were shot, by Olson’s cinematographer Sophie Constantinou, on 16mm Kodak film underscores the director’s affection for the physical, the analog, the old and perhaps soon-to-be-obsolete.

On the Museum of the Moving Image’s Maurice Pialat retrospective:

More transparently — and scathingly — personal is We Won’t Grow Old Together (1972), based on the filmmaker’s novel of the same name, a lightly fictionalized chronicle of his six-year extramarital affair with a younger, working-class woman. The director’s surrogate, Jean (played by Claude Chabrol regular Jean Yanne), is a fortysomething, marginally employed documentarian who still shares a house with his frequently absent spouse; he subjects his 25-year-old lover, Catherine (Marlène Jobert), to such blistering insults as “You’ve never succeeded in anything and you never will.” This miserable pair fights and reconciles repeatedly over the course of nearly two excruciating, riveting hours: Their seemingly final, furious, door-slamming partings are immediately followed, after a jarring cut, by yet another ill-fated reunion. Few films have ever captured so searingly love’s powers to curdle, to derange, to imprison.

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