Yeah, we did. Cocoon Central Dance Team, Cole Escola, Kate Berlant and star John Early did Nomi’s first rehearsal shot for shot. Yeah, Nomi from SHOWGIRLS. No, John is Nomi. It’s perfect. With camera work by Alex Fischer and the directorial vision of Drew Tobia. We’re perfect.
At 8pm this Friday 22 November, Dan Sallitt and I will be “present” via Skype for a Q&A following a screening of THE UNSPEAKABLE ACT. Austin friends, please attend!
This is my director. He’s the best. From Ricky D’Ambrose at MUBI:
Dan Sallitt tours the housefrom The Unspeakable Act in the inaugural episode of what I hope will be an ongoing series of filmed interviews with directors. Our talk, recorded in Brooklyn in July, includes Sallitt’s remarks on screenwriting, the importance of Eric Rohmer on the development of his sensibility as a filmmaker, and cinephilia. Craig Keller’s interview with Dan Sallitt on The Unspeakable Act, which is now available on DVD from Cinema Guild, can also be found on MUBI. Forthcoming episodes, featuring Nathan Silver and Chantal Akerman, will be available on Vimeo. ■
Whit Stillman tweeted about The Unspeakable Act and now I’m going to float straight into space
The Unspeakable Act (Dan Sallitt)
Critic-filmmaker Dan Sallitt’s directorial approach reaches something of a cathartic apotheosis in The Unspeakable Act, an unexpectedly modest and reserved film for one whose narrative hinges on a teenage girl’s (Tallie Medel) incestuous feelings for her older brother (Sky Hirschkron). 1998’s Honeymoon, Sallitt’s first professional feature (second, if you count Polly Perverse Strikes Again!), delineates its central relationship in long takes that tend to keep the entire bodies of the two lead actors within the frame at any given moment, a ploy that simultaneously emphasizes their intimacy and their growing physical discomfort. 2004’s digitally-shot All the Ships at Sea takes a different approach, using revealing close-ups and mathematically precise shot / reverse-shot cadences that reinforce the boundaries separating the two main characters’ belief systems.
The Unspeakable Act moves fluidly between both formal systems: long takes that patiently observe the domestic activity of the story’s Brooklyn-based family are paired alongside the selective cutting of Jackie’s (Medel) frank discussions with her brother and, eventually, her therapist. For all the shock-potential present in the premise, Sallitt embeds a sneaky universality within the narrative by drawing on the anxieties all of us feel when on the verge of a transitional jump, like Jackie’s impending evolution from high school to college. Medel’s performance is superb, too: the biggest takeaway on a recent revisit was discovering just how daringly funny she can be in the role, particularly as she begins to open up to her shrink and explore the contours of high-school sexuality. And Sallitt’s deep-focus aesthetic (a welcome rebuke to the soft-focus trend pervading American independent cinema) helps fashion one of the year’s most dynamic, resourceful feats of mise-en-scène, the film’s frames consistently packed with bursts of color: the green living room; Jackie’s turquoise hoodie; and the green-and-gold front porch that could belong to a Green Bay Packers super-fan. – Danny K.
The Unspeakable Act (Cinema Guild) — In the alternate reality I wish our actual reality was living in, Tallie Medel would get a Best Actress Spirit Award nomination for her borderline miraculously convincing performance in Dan Sallitt’s latest film. From the description, you might be thinking that The Unspeakable Act is going to be a twisted Happiness-esque exploration of brother-and-sister incest. But Sallitt merely uses the premise of a sister who is in love with her brother to thoughtfully—and very, very uniquely, I might add—explore sibling dynamics and broader themes of growing up and letting go of one’s childhood worldview. Full confession: a second viewing was needed for me to fully appreciate what Sallitt pulled off with this film. Available on DVD.
Throwback to July: Read our Filmmaker Magazine story on the making of the feature film SIMIAN, then see the teaser this Sunday at the La Di Da Film Festival.
This summer I worked on a film with Nathan Silver. Currently titled SIMIAN, the story follows a writer who stays with a friend’s mother upstate, and in that time discovers she’s housing 5 pregnant teens who have nowhere else to go. Read about SIMIAN in this Filmmaker Magazine article in which we blogged for a day about our very hot, very cicada-y shoot. A teaser of SIMIAN screens Sunday 16 September at Anthology Film Archives’ LA DI DA FILM FESTIVAL at the beginning of Silver’s excellent feature SOFT IN THE HEAD (star Sheila Etxeberría pictured above). If you’re in the NYC area, do come.
An original mime skit by Broken Box Mime Theater
BKBX is planning a three-day extravaganza to check back in with our friends and family, introduce ourselves to new supporters, and share some of our new work. A kids’ day, three mime workshops, a mini-show, and perhaps a glass of wine or two.
Please come by and kick off the summer with us!