Monthly Archives: March 2019

Take That Corn and Shuck It

From The Soho News (September 8, 1981); tweaked a little on June 6, 2010. — J.R.

Comin’ at Ya!

Written by Lloyd Battista, Wolf Lowenthal, and Gene Quintano

Directed by Fernando Baldi

Take This Job and Shove It

Written by Jeff Bernini and Barry Schneider

Based on the song by David Allan Coe

Directed by Gus Trikonis

Let’s face facts. When notions of what a “good” movie is shrinks to the level of TV deepthink like Kramer vs. Kramer or Prince of the City, it may be time to bring the glories of the big-screen “bad” movie back again — at least if what we’re out for is fun and adventure. Unlike the most dutiful Oscar winners, whose notions of the good and proper usually revolve around the relatively straight and narrow, or the collected works of a Bergman or a Fellini that are even more consistent about their consistency — beating you into submission as they gradually meld into one all-purpose archetype — certain bad movies can boast range, unpredictability, and singularly distinctive tastes.

Indeed, a fascinating and suggestive literature has been accumulating for some time about bad movies, ranging from Jack Smith on Maria Montez to Myron Meisel on Edgar G. Read more

Ritwik Ghatak: Reinventing the Cinema

This article was written in 2006 — specifically at the request of Ghatak’s son Ritaban, whom I met at the Jeonju International Film Festival in South Korea in the spring of that year. I was serving on one of the festival’s juries and also lectured with Ritaban at a screening of The Cloud-Capped Star during a Ghatak retrospective. Ritaban was then planning a critical collection about his father’s work, as a kind of follow-up to a collection of his father’s writings about cinema (Rows and Rows of Fences, published by Seagull Books in Calcutta in 2000) and asked me to contribute an article to it. But once I emailed this piece to him about half a year later, I never heard from him again, leading me to conclude that the critical collection project was suspended. So eventually I submitted this to my friend Adrian Martin, coeditor of the online Rouge, who published this in their 10th issue in 2007, about a year later. — J.R.

Ritwik Ghatak: Reinventing the Cinema

by Jonathan Rosenbaum

I have no way of knowing if Ghatak ever saw Jacques Tati’s 1953 masterpiece Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, but when I look at his second feature, Ajantrik (1958), it’s hard not to be reminded of it. Read more

À la recherche de Luc Moullet: 25 Propositions

I had to retype this longish position paper  — published in the November-December 1977 issue of Film Comment — in order to digitize it for the manuscript of my  collection, Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia, to be published by the University of Chicago Press in Fall 2010.  Going over every word of it again made me painfully aware of how many typos and other errors it had in its previous appearance. [8/14 postscript: My deepest thanks to Andy Rector at Kino Slang for adding the grubby still that originally ran with this article in Film Comment, thereby allowing me to add it here myself.]

This essay has a literal sequel, “Moullet retrouvé”.  –J.R.

À la recherche de Luc Moullet: 25 Propositions

1. “Every film by Gerd Oswald deserves a long review.” — LM, 1958.

2. Many of you, perhaps most, have never heard of the man. So much the better. Not all news gets into newspapers, and not all movies get into theaters. The sculptor Paul Thek once proposed an interesting solution to the newspaper problem to me: Get rid of all of them, except for one edition of one daily paper (any would do), and pass this precious object from hand to hand for the next hundred years –- then the news might mean something. Read more

An Introduction to Carl Dreyer for BBC Persian

Here’s a link to this short video — broadcast on March 3, 2019, and directed by Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa — without Persian voiceovers:

https://www.facebook.com/jonathan.rosenbaum.18/posts/10156418932724926?notif_id=1551589585224363&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic

I usually use Facebook to promote my posts here, but this time I’m doing the reverse. — J.R.

JR reading in Dreyer doc

DreyerCU

Gertrud

[03/03/2019] Read more

Scenes Not From a Mall [MY COUSIN VINNY & WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP]

From the Chicago Reader (April 24, 1992). — J.R.

 

MY COUSIN VINNY

*** (A must-see)

Directed by Jonathan Lynn

Written by Dale Launer

With Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Ralph Macchio, Mitchell Whitfield, Fred Gwynne, Lane Smith, and Austin Pendleton.

WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP

*** (A must-see)

Directed and written by Ron Shelton

With Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez, Tyra Ferrell, Cylk Cozart, and Kadeem Hardison.

 

 

“Why is this film so popular?” Michael Sragow asked a little plaintively about My Cousin Vinny in the New Yorker last week. Then he suggested an answer: “Perhaps because it gives Pesci a chance to combine his commercial signature, pop scabrousness, with old-fashioned virtues like ‘heart.'” This hypothesis implies that audiences go to comedies for highly esoteric reasons — just like some film critics.

Personally, I’d rather believe that My Cousin Vinny is popular for reasons that have more to do with reality and recognition — specifically, with an appreciation of American regionalism that most contemporary American movies never even attempt, much less convey. At least that’s what I like about the movie, and it’s also what I like about White Men Can’t Jump, the other most popular American comedy around at the moment. Read more

Betty Comden/Adolph Green/Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse

IT’S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER, directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, with Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Dan Dailey, Michael Kidd, and Dolores Gray.

Has there ever been a more deceptive title and ad for a movie than this Belgian poster for the depressive 1955 musical IT’S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER? Not that the original title or the strained happy ending are exactly apt either. [I resaw this movie yesterday, on my last day at Il Cinema Ritrovato, and might have written about this sooner -– i.e., before I returned to Chicago -– if I’d been able to figure out a way to paste in photos on my laptop.] But in fact it expresses more negative feelings about American culture at mid-century than anything by Frank Tashlin. Tashlin, after all, always seems to love his characters, but what mainly typifies the satirical feelings here about television, advertising, and other forms of corruption are disgust, disillusionment, self-hatred, and anger. It seems characteristic that Kelly and Charisse, the romantic leads, never even get to dance together, and that Dolores Gray’s climactic number, “Thanks a Lot, but No Thanks” (see still), registers as a conscious ripoff of Monroe’s glacially bitter “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Read more