Two new British Film Institute digital releases related to Orson Welles, both due out later this month, arrived in my mailbox yesterday, the day after I submitted my Fall DVD column to Cinema Scope —Around the World with Orson Welles (1955) on Blu-Ray and Chuck Workman’s 2014 Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles on DVD. In their very different ways, both are worthy items that are well worth having, which is largely why I’m posting something about them here.
Around the World with Orson Welles is a shamefully neglected TV series directed by Welles of six half-hour episodes, made around the same time as Mr. Arkadin (for the same French producer, Louis Dolivet), with a remarkable range of topics including Basque culture (two episodes), Vienna coffee houses and pastry, the bohemian avant-garde in Paris (including a reading of Lettrist poetry: see still below), London pensioners, and the Spanish bullfight (with Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Tynan as cohosts); a seventh episode — the first to be shot, but never completed — was an investigative crime report set in the French provinces, The Dominici Affair, and an English version of Christophe Cognet’s 52-minute, 2000 French documentary about this project is one of the two extras included. Read more
An article commissioned by La Repubblica‘s weekly magazine D. in Italy for publication on February 1, 2017. A slight variation of this appeared as one of my columns in Caiman Cuadernos de Cine. — J.R.
I’ve never been adept at predicting the Oscars, and writing this shortly before the nominees are announced puts me at an even greater disadvantage. But the winners of the Golden Globes awards several weeks before the Academy Awards are a good indication of the overall trends in industry thinking. And the tendency in this year’s Golden Globes winners is a preference for ideological and aesthetic prestige over mainstream appeal: Moonlight for best drama, La La Land for best musical or comedy, Isabelle Huppert in Elle and Emma Stone in La La Land for best actress, Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea and Ryan Gosling in La La Land. Otherwise, La La Land broke the record for prizes by winning seven in all, including also screenplay and direction (Damien Chazelle) and original score (Justin Hurwitz).
What generalizations can one reach about all four of the aforementioned prizewinners? A preference for gloom and doom over optimism that seems quite appropriate following the recent election of the United States’ own Silvio Berlusconi, Donald J. Read more
From “Film Criticism in America Today: A Critical Symposium,” Cineaste 26, no. 1, 2000. This is the first of several symposia gathered in a new collection edited by Cynthia Lucia and Rahul Hamid, Cineaste on Film Criticism, Programming, and Preservation in the New Millennium, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2017. –- J.R.
Here are my replies to the following questions from Cineaste:
1. What does being a film critic mean to you? (More specifically, why do you write film criticism? Whom do you hope to reach, and what do you hope to communicate to them?)
2. What qualities make for a memorable film critique? (Do you think such critiques tend to be positive or negative in tone? Is discussing a film’s social or political aspects as important to you as its cinematic qualities and value as art or entertainment?)
3. How would you characterize the relationship between film critics and the film industry? Do you think film critics could be more influential in this relationship? How?
4. What are the greatest obstacles you face in writing the kind of film criticism you wish to write? (For example, does your publication require delivery of your copy on a short deadline after only one screening, limit the space available for your reviews, or dictate which films you should review? Read more