2016 is the Year of Christine Chubbuck

Indie films run in cycles just like mainstream movies, and 2016 is the year of competing (or possibly complementary) films about the 1974 televised suicide of Sarasota newscaster Christine Chubbuck. After Robert Greene’s experimental documentary Kate Plays Christine comes Antonio Campos’ far more straightforward biopic Christine. Here, Rebecca Hall plays Christine as a reporter struggling with her inability to advance at a station whose manager Michael (Tracy Letts) is less interested in Christine’s human-interest stories than in blood and guts, as well as with her own personal demons, particularly as they relate to lead anchor George (Michael C. Hall), a sweet-talking shoo-in for a gig in Baltimore Christine desperately wants. (Not directly contributing to the story but a pleasure to have around for comic relief is weatherman Steve, played by Veep‘s Timothy Simons in full-on Jonad mode.) In addition to being a terrific portrait of crippling social anxieties, Christine is a portrait of a bygone era that in many ways looks the same as ours — even now, a tall, dark-eyed brunette seldom has the same potential for career advancement as a pert little blond — but also a feast of analog hardware, featuring many loving close-ups of 1974’s cutting-edge film and video technology. For as obsolete as 16mm film has become, though, the guns haven’t changed that much.

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