Christmas, Again Screen 13 articles

Christmas, Again

2014

Christmas, Again Poster
  • Mr. Audley’s gift for tunneling into a character and his facial hair do a lot of the early heavy lifting; for a long stretch, Noel is a diffident, blurry figure distinguished only by his beard, his old romantic wounds and the surly looks he casts at his romantically involved co-workers. He doesn’t say much of interest but, over time, the blur transforms into a portrait of solitude, a pinprick of light in a long dark night expressively captured by the talented cinematographer Sean Price Williams.

  • the film's narrative beats are too pat at times, largely because Poekel insists on a rigid four-act structure, with turning points clearly demarcated from act to act. There's little daring within Christmas, Again at most every level, but Poekel nonetheless displays an assured directorial hand and maintains a modest, appealing, even droll sensibility throughout.

  • An intimate, hand-made film, Charles Poekel’s Christmas, Again has the sort of lovelorn sensibility that aligns it with the previous century’s dreary yuletide tales. [It's] at once highly specific to its Greenpoint location and readily accessible to just about any admirer of diligent character studies.

  • A modest but moving debut from Charles Poekel, who wisely enlists a contemporary indie all-star team of actor Kentucker Audley, editor Robert Greene, and cinematographer Sean Price Williams to realize an intimate evocation of big city melancholy and camaraderie.

  • Each fleeting connection just seems to underscore how alone [Noel] is, making Lydia—despite her being a nearly total stranger—seem that much more important. Poekel finds an ending for this uneasy alliance (among other things, Lydia has a boyfriend) that’s at once unexpected and poignant.

  • [Cinematographer Sean Price] Williams is the current moment’s undisputed camera laureate of retro-styled, fine-grained NYC cinema, and shooting in tight quarters, he gets so close that what obtains most about the film are its textures: the faux-wood-paneled walls of Noel’s trailer and the vinyl siding of North Brooklyn row houses, the scratchy plaid of Audley’s work shirt and the bristles of his mustache.

  • Crafted with affection and attentive to workaday rhythms, this first feature from writer-director Charles Poekel demonstrates an authentic feel for the neighborhood, where he himself once sold trees. Its moments of warmth, stolen from the cold by two outsiders, are strangely hopeful and affirming, offering the surprise of beauty in a bleak world.

  • Filmmaking in a minor key, but by no means a minor film, Poekel's winning first feature has great specificity of character and place, showing with a documentary-like attention to detail what it must be like for an upstate New Yorker to work a seasonal, blue-collar job in Brooklyn.

  • What makes this first feature film so remarkable is the polarity of an action-movie-like editing and slow, almost non existing, “action”. A sad - girlfriend left him - street vendor, depressed, on pills and taciturn, on 12 hours nightshifts selling Christmas trees, doesn't sound to captivating. Nevertheless the spectator stays focused, wants to know, follows the slow and small development with tender complicity and amazement.

  • Charles Poekel's first feature, "Christmas, Again," is the kind of unflinching yet tender New York sidewalk story that risks becoming a cliché of downbeat naturalism... Yet Poekel skirts this risk, and creates a minor marvel of quasi-documentary discovery, by way of a method that is at the core of contemporary independent filmmaking—bringing together a cast and crew of young independent-film regulars.

  • As the title suggests, “Christmas, Again” is concerned with how the holidays are, for some, a time of lonely resignation. (Sporting a green winter jacket, Noel sometimes looks ready to camouflage himself in his merchandise.) The cinematographer, Sean Price Williams, shoots on 16-millimeter film, suffusing the film with wintry colors and, at times, visible grain. This is a Christmas movie in which magic exists largely on the periphery, and that is just the right mix of chilly and sweet.

  • Mood is ephemeral, but it helps establish point of view and orients us in the dream-space of the film. With all of the things that "Christmas, Again" (written and directed by Charles Poekel in his feature debut) does well (and it does almost everything well), the most striking thing about it is its evocation of an extremely specific mood. Once we settle into it, and it happens early, everything else becomes possible.

  • I'm starting a Kickstarter campaign to go through Luke Wilson's entire filmography and digitally replace Luke Wilson with Kentucker Audley in this movie; same hangdog face, so much more soulful. The film itself is determinedly small-scale but compelling, with the emphasis on heartbreak, a crisp wintry New York, an Olmi-like eye for everyday detail and a gallery of sharp urban types offering counterpoint.

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