Daily Archives: May 5, 2019

Number Seventeen (1975 review)[correction added]

This review from the August 1975 Monthly Film Bulletin (vol. 42, no. 499) probably features my first use of the word “diegesis“, which I must have learned about very shortly before. (As I recall, it was Laura Mulvey who explained to me what the term meant.) I’m not at all confident now that I absolutely had to use it.

An email sent on 9/4/09 from Adrian Martin: “Great to re-read your MFB pieces, which were among the earliest writings of yours I encountered as they appeared ! But your memorable NUMBER 17 piece raises a great historic mystery that has often plagued me, and which (I now realise) you may be at the centre of !! And that is the mysterious (mis)spelling of ‘diegesis’ – that is definitely the correct spelling, via the Greek root – as ‘diagesis’, which (as I recall) ran rife through FILM COMMENT and SIGHT AND SOUND for a while in the mid to late 70s (after a while, it seemed like some editorial superimposition by Corliss or Houston or whomever). It seemed to me, at the time, as the biggest symptom of the non- communication between film journalism and the theory academy! But maybe you have another version of where ‘diagesis’ came from ??Read more »

Artful Craft [SNEAKERS]

From the Chicago Reader (September 11, 1992). — J.R.


*** (A must-see)

Directed by Phil Alden Robinson

Written by Robinson, Lawrence Lasker, and Walter F. Parkes

With Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier, David Strathairn, Timothy Busfield, George Hearn, Eddie Jones, and Stephen Tobolowsky.

Although Sneakers has plenty of artful craft, the principal pleasure of Phil Alden Robinson’s new feature has less to do with art than it does with old-fashioned entertainment. Robinson, you may recall, wrote and directed In the Mood (1987) and the much more successful and better known Field of Dreams (1989), two movies whose basic appeal was founded in nostalgia. Though everything after the prologue and credits in Sneakers is set in the present, the movie reminds us of what movie entertainment used to be about, especially during the 50s and 60s, before inflated ideas about art and significance took over. (I suspect that many of the movie’s high-tech details come from producers and cowriters Walter F. Parkes and Lawrence Lasker, who together wrote the script of WarGames.)

Sneakers can be described in many ways: as a caper movie, a lightweight thriller, a high-tech fairy tale, a boys’ adventure, or a Hitchcockian jaunt dating back to the period before Hitchcock was regarded as a serious metaphysical artist — that is, either before he left England for Hollywood or up to the time he made North by Northwest, but in any case before the weighty French interpretations of his thrillers became coin of the realm.… Read more »