In celebration of Cutter’s Way, which Twilight Time brought out on Blu-Ray, and the wonderful Ivan Passer (1933-2020). This interview appeared in The Soho News, July 15, 1981, and was recently reprinted in my 2018 book Cinematic Encounters: Interviews and Dialogues. — J.R.
A very likeable guy, this Ivan Passer. When he tells a story, he knows just how to pace it out dramatically, in filmic terms — a trait he shares with Samuel Fuller, who virtually stages movie sequences in the course odf describing them. A very different kind of director who also has a special feeling for outcasts, Passer pursues a subtle way of his own. A Czech in exile, he suavely took over my attention with the quiet intensity of a small, spry Ancient Mariner.
I had been knocked out by his passionate Cutter’s Way. Under the title Cutter and Bone, the movie had already been aptly praised in these pages by Seth Cagin and Veronica Geng — right around the same time that it was getting abruptly snatched from release — and it was a pleasure to find it living up to its notices.
It’s hard to be precise about the doleful yet personable wit projected by Passer — a matter of style, feeling and attitude more than taste or opinion –but it helps if you’ve seen one of his movies. Read more
I was privileged to conduct a lengthy public interview with Oja Kodar Saturday night, May 9, 2015, in Woodstock, Illinois, as the main event in a weekend devoted to Orson Welles — the first of three successive celebratory Welles weekends to be held there this month. Oja, as always, was passionate, candid, funny, lucid, informative, and perceptive about Welles, but I’ve never seen her in public speak with so much warmth and insight. The whole event was recorded, and I hope everyone will get a chance to watch it at some point. — J.R. [5/11/15]
Two weeks later, after returning from a second very enjoyable weekend of Welles events in Woodstock, I’ve added a few more photos of the May 9 event, including two taken by Peter Gill shortly beforehand which show Oja with her great niece Biljana and her sister Nina as well as me. — J.R. [5/24/15]
Written in April 2011 for the Cinema Guild DVD of In the City of Sylvia and Some Photos in the City of Sylvia. Alas, most of the illustrations used here come from the former of these, the second to have been made. — J.R.
José Luis Guerín’s Some Photos in the City of Sylvia has been described, by myself and others, as a silent, black and white “study” (or filmed “treatment,”or “scenario”) in 2007 that formed the basis for In the City of Sylvia, a color and sound “remake”of the following year. Whether or not this might be technically accurate in terms of causality and financing, it now strikes me as an inadequate way of summarizing the fascinating relation between these two works. I even think it’s an error to view these two films as two versions of the same story — a mistake I made myself when I reviewed them together back in 2008 — because assuming this overlooks too many other things.
Just as there are viewers who prefer Chantal Akerman’s Golden Eighties (1983), her feature-length “preview” to her 1986 musical Window Shopping, and others who prefer Jean-Luc Godard’s 54-minute Scenario du Film “Passion” (1982) to his 88-minute Passion (made the same year), it’s entirely possible to prefer Guerín’s 67-minute “sketch” to his 84-minute feature. Read more