I’m pretty sure that my very first contributions to the Chicago Reader were these two capsule reviews, commissioned by Dave Kehr for their November 5, 1982 issue when these films were playing at the Chicago International Film Festival. — J.R.
The Night of the Shooting Stars.
The seventh feature written and directed by the talented Taviani brothers – Vittorio and Paolo, born respectively in 1929 and 1931 in San Miniato, Italy – and the third to open in America, The Night of the Shooting Stars is an Italian memory film that belongs to the same respectable company as Bertolucci’s The Spider’s Strategm, Fellini’s Amarcord, and Scola’s We All Loved Each Other So Much. The Tuscan town of San Martino during the last days of the war in 1944, as recounted by a woman who was six at the time to her daughter, provides the framework for this passionate and volatile fresco-in-motion, which radiates with unexpected and even startling moments of bucolic poetry. The actual war sequences contain some of the shocking beauty and giddy surprises one associates with the great Soviet directors, Dovzhenko in particular.… Read more »
The following was one of a dozen or more profusely illustrated pieces that I wrote for a London periodical in 1982 called The Movie, specifically for issue no. 117; some of these articles were later recycled into a series of coffee-table books devoted to various decades in film history, but not this one, which I’ve slightly revised for its reappearance here.
Even though this short piece is somewhat dated now, I’m reviving it to celebrate Criterion’s awesome edition of Lonesome on DVD (in the best print of the film I’ve ever seen, with a superb audio commentary by Richard Koszarski), along with Fejos’s subsequent The Last Performance and Broadway on a separate disc. For me, this is unquestionably one of Criterion’s most impressive releases to date. (September 2 postscript/update: Having so far seen only the DVD, I wasn’t aware that a Criterion Blu-Ray also exists until Dave Kehr reviewed it in the New York Times….I wish I had that, too!) — J.R.
In a large, lonely city, the daily routines of two ordinary people who do not know one another are shown in parallel development. First Mary and then Jim wakes up, dresses and has breakfast (at the same restaurant).… Read more »
Published in Omni circa 1982. I owe this assignment and all my others at this magazine to the late Kathleen Stein, my editor there — a former classmate at Bard College and flatmate in New York during one summer. — J.R.
The Arts: TV
How far can the human braln go in delvlng into its own workings? An
ambitious, new eight-part television series — being produced by WNET
for airing this fall — broaches this question at the same time that it
partially answers it, byproviding us with a veritable Cook’s tour
through the state of contemporary brain research. “What curious art the
brain, too finely wrought, /Preys on herself, and is destroyed by thought,”
glumly opined eighteenth century writer Charles Churchill, in an epistle
addressed to artist William Hogarth. But Churchill’s philosophical lament,
quite apart from its odd characterization of the brainas essentially
feminine, can’t hold water in relation to the healthy self-preying instinct
adopted, by the makers of The Brain and all that it uncovers.
“It’s totally addictive to go into this,” science editor Richard Hutton, a
writer and producer on the series, admitted to me about his own perusal
of brain research, in preparation for the eight one-hour shows.… Read more »
From Cahiers du Cinéma #334/355, avril 1982 (a special issue called “Made in USA”). I wrote this commissioned article (about two of Robert Altman’s stage productions) in English, while working with Serge Daney in New York on a number of other assignments. The French text is all I have now, and I’ve decided to reproduce it here because it’s the only account of these productions that I know about that are written from a filmic perspective, and the recent release on an Olive Films Blu-Ray of Come Back to 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (the Altman film, which for me removes most of the major virtues of the Broadway production) makes this perspective all the more relevant….Reproducing this French text has entailed a lot of retyping, and I hope I haven’t made too many mistakes. (I’ve also corrected a few typos, including “Atlman” for “Altman”.) -– J.R.
Après avoir vendu sa maison de production, Lion’s Gate Films, l’année dernière, Robert Altman a annoncé qu’il avait l’intention de se lancer dans une carrière théâtrale, il a d’abord mis en scène à Los Angeles deux petites pièces expérimentales en un acte écrites par Frank South; dans I’une, il n’y a que deux personnages (chacun tenant séparément un monologue et n’échangeant aucun dialogue) ; l’autre n’a qu’un personnage (qui fait un monologue tenant du tour de force).… Read more »