Daily Archives: March 21, 2021

Consider the Source

From the Chicago Reader (January 26, 2001). — J.R.

The Pledge

***

Directed by Sean Penn

Written by Jerzy Kromolowski and Mary Olson-Kromolowski

With Jack Nicholson, Patricia Clarkson, Benicio Del Toro, Dale Dickey, Aaron Eckhart, Helen Mirren, Tom Noonan, Robin Wright Penn, Vanessa Redgrave, Mickey Rourke, and Sam Shepard.

Blooper Bunny

***

Directed by Greg Ford and Terry Lennon

Written by Ronnie Scheib, Ford, and Lennon

With Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, and Yosemite Sam.

The Wedding Planner

**

Directed by Adam Shankman

Written by Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis

With Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Bridgette Wilson- Sampras, Justin Chambers, and Judy Greer.

Shadow of the Vampire

*

Directed by E. Elias Merhige

Written by Steven Katz

With Willem Dafoe, John Malkovich, Catherine McCormack, Eddie Izzard, Cary Elwes, and Udo Kier.

I can’t say that The Pledge, The Wedding Planner, Blooper Bunny, and Shadow of the Vampire have much in common, apart from the fact that they’re showing in Chicago this week. Yet all four do, to different degrees, feed off other movies. Frankly, that’s what I like most about The Wedding Planner — a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey that aspires to and achieves the goofiness of a studio musical of the early 50s.… Read more »

My Five-Week Film Criticism Workshop

This was organized by my dear friend Sunčica Fradelić, who was one of the mainstays of FilmFactory in Sarajevo (2013-2016), where I taught four times. She’s now working as the director of Kino Klub Split, where I’ve subsequently lectured and taught several times, and  the only reason why she couldn’t attend the Workshop’s final (and only) Zoom meeting, which was yesterday, is that her boiler broke. But because she belongs in the picture below, I’ve added a picture of her that I took at a panel at Split’s Kino Klub last year.

Even though not all of the seven students, located in different parts of Serbia and Croatia, made it to the end of the workshop –- which was conducted via emails shared by everyone before our 105-minute “in-person” gathering yesterday — I told the five who made it through that they were the brightest reviewers I’ve ever been lucky enough to teach, even though the English they wrote in was their second language.  The films they wrote about were Last Year at Marienbad,, Rio BravoEnchanted Desna, and Rear Window, and the reviews they read aloud and discussed yesterday will be posted later on Kino klub Split’s web site.[3/21/21]… Read more »

Cornucoppola [BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA]

From the Chicago Reader (November 27, 1992). I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) argue that this treat is necessarily Coppola’s best movie, for reasons given below, but I wonder if it might actually be his most pleasurable, at least on a moment-by-moment (and shot-by-shot) basis. The Blu-Ray only adds to and enhances the richness.  — J.R.

BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA

*** (A must-see)

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Written by James V. Hart

With Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Sadie Frost, Tom Waits, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes, and Bill Campbell.

Geographical spread accounts for some of the major differences between the film culture in this country and the various film cultures in Europe. While overseas the principal film-production centers and intellectual centers are usually located in the same cities — Paris, Rome, London, Madrid, Lisbon, Stockholm, Budapest, Prague — most of the United States stretches between our main film-production center, Hollywood and environs, and our main intellectual center, New York. The practical consequence is that our left hand hasn’t the faintest idea what our right hand is doing.

So much for the geographical split. What might be called the institutional gap is even worse. I’m referring to the profound lack of communication between the film industry (including most movie reviewers) and academic film studies (including intellectuals in adjacent or related fields).… Read more »

Cinephilia Down There: A Report on the 65th Melbourne International Film Festival

 Written for Film Comment‘s web site in mid-August 2016. — J.R.

MIFF poster

 

Rouge

Although it isn’t widely recognized, Melbourne’s historical status as the cradle of online film criticism — as signaled by the founding of Screening the Past in 1997, Senses of Cinema in 1999, and Rouge in 2003 — remains a significant part of its film culture, so highly developed and serious that not once, during fourteen festival screenings, did I ever notice any viewers activating their mobiles. It’s equally evident that the pioneering web sites which helped to foster this kind of seriousness were neither accidental nor coincidental. All three were calculated gestures of outreach from a remote outpost to the rest of the world — allowing everyone a glimpse into a literary culture and a branch of cinematic savvy unhampered by the twang of regional accents or the pressure of imminent local releases. And as outreach gestures they no less clearly succeeded and flourished — so well, in fact, that their innovations and energies were quickly absorbed into the Internet mainstream without leaving behind many telltale markers of where they’d been nurtured. (If the Internet sometimes fosters historical blindness, this is especially true of the Internet’s own history.)… Read more »