Hal Hartley

"My films have never really striven to be contemporaneous," Hal Hartley noted in a 1998 interview with the Independent UK. "Actually, exactly the opposite. I've put a lot of energy into trying to keep things... not vague, but timeless." The Ernst Lubitsch of Long Island, the Jean-Luc Godard of the grunge years, Hartley almost accidentally defined the alternative American cinema of the 1990s through a series of witty, highly verbose films that were rooted in their era and their specific milieu of Long Island, New York, yet whose outsider heroes (deadbeat eccentrics and hopeless romantics, all) could exist in any place at any time. Benefitting from his buoyant screenplays and a steady roster of brilliant actors (like Martin Donovan, Adrienne Shelley, Parker Posey and Robert John Burke), films like THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH, TRUST, SIMPLE MEN and FLIRT made Hartley a Sundance and Cannes favorite and earned him praise and retrospectives around the world. Over the past decade, Hartley has turned his talents away from larger-budgeted works and towards the more accessible, immediate realms of digital video and short films, creating fast, efficient films that showcase the timelessness of his touch to even greater effect. "Aesthetics and economics go hand in hand," he recalled in a 1997 interview. "So little money, so little time. Words are cheap." Born in 1959 in a working-class area of Long Island, New York, Hartley graduated from the film school at SUNY-Purchase in 1984 and made his feature debut in 1989 with THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH. After his string of critically-acclaimed films in the '90s, he turned to digital video in 1998 with the P.J. Harvey-starring THE BOOK OF LIFE. Through the early 2000s Hartley completed NO SUCH THING, THE GIRL FROM MONDAY and FAY GRIM (along with dozens of short pieces). No matter the form, the era or the budget, "Hartley is one of the few film-makers around for whom the term 'independent’ seems apt," as the Independent UK wrote. "He produces his own movies, they're dirt cheap and, whatever genre they apparently occupy, the Hartley stamp is unmistakable and inimitable." - Jason Sanders



Recent Reviews

Opera no.1

A bittersweet viewing experience. It's great to watch Adrienne Shelly again, but her loss is still tragic and senseless. Her screen energy resonates here in this delightfully madcap little tale...

The New Math(s)

Takeaways: math is sexy; apples are crunchy; Hartley is quirky.

The Girl from Monday

For a film released in 2005, the themes seem even more fitting today - 12 years later. Well done!

The New Math(s)

I'd go with the "not as good as expected" -- it had its moments and I really enjoyed the over the top sound effects, but it could have used a...