S. James Snyder

Poet’s Problem

S. James Snyder on I Am Secretly an Important Man

December 2010

THANKS TO HIS GRIZZLED VOICE and fascination with fringe life, Seattle poet Steven “Jesse” Bernstein emerged as a homegrown icon of the 1980s Northwest alternative scene. The writer, assiduously chronicled in Peter Sillen’s documentary… READ ON


Second to Nun

S. James Snyder on The Portuguese Nun

October 2010

RARELY HAS A MOVIE opened with the serene, picturesque tranquility that flows through the first minutes of The Portuguese Nun’s (2009): a slow and sumptuous 180-degree scan of the Lisbon skyline, shot from the hills above, accompanied by … READ ON


Family Circus

S. James Snyder on Around a Small Mountain

July 2010

THE ELEGIAC MONOLOGUES and bittersweet themes of Around a Small Mountain (2009) seem uniquely appropriate, given the career arc of the film’s director. At eighty-one, Jacques Rivette, key member of the French New Wave, has molded an ephemeral… READ ON


Bird Watching

S. James Snyder on Ghost Bird

April 2010

BACK IN 2005, a couple of birdwatchers kayaking through the swamps of rural Brinkley, Arkansas, managed to capture on their digital video camera the fluttering white wings of a distant woodpecker. After reviewing the images, the amateur … READ ON


Home for the Holidays

S. James Snyder on October Country

February 2010

FREED FROM THE CONSTRAINTS of chronology—and emboldened by an enviable degree of access—October Country positions a real family squarely under the microscope and then ratchets up the magnification. Codirector Donal Mosher is the family … READ ON


Visual Poetry

S. James Snyder on A Room and a Half

January 2010

MOST MOVIES ABOUT HISTORY—whether personal or social—depict the past as an orderly string of highs and lows, every piece of the puzzle neatly adding up to a whole. But not A Room and a Half, Andrey Khrzhanovsky’s surrealistic half-fictional… READ ON


Flight of Fancy

S. James Snyder on Ricky

December 2009

A STIFF DOSE of domestic melodrama topped off with a head-spinning chaser of sci-fi horror, Ricky is a celebration of a conventional virtue (parenthood) that still manages to take the road less traveled. Katie (Alexandra Lamy) and Paco (Sergi… READ ON


A Walk to Remember

S. James Snyder on The Road

November 2009

THE PERFORMANCES MATCH THE LANDSCAPE: devastated and raw, deliberately unrefined. In The Road, we walk alongside an exhausted father and son as they traverse a gray, vaguely familiar hellscape. The father is prone to emotional outbursts, the… READ ON


Double Life

S. James Snyder on Night and Day

October 2009

AT FIRST BLUSH a routine tale of the infantile adult male struggling to overcome a repressed libido, Hong Sang-soo’s aptly titled Night and Day (2008) slowly strays from its surface pleasures to embark on a far more nuanced study of romance,… READ ON


Copy Cats

S. James Snyder on Art & Copy

August 2009

IT’S THE DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH that receive their due praise in Art & Copy, Doug Pray’s selective chronicling of evolutions in print and television advertising through the second half of the twentieth century. Navigating this pivotal … READ ON