Monday, October 19, 2020

Dialogic Cinephilia - October 19, 2020

Clarke, Kristen. "Dark Money & Barrett Nomination: The Link Between Big Polluters & the War on ACA, Roe & LGBT Rights." Democracy Now (October 16, 2020) ["During confirmation hearings this week for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island opted not to ask the judge any questions. Instead, he gave a 30-minute presentation on how right-wing groups, including the Federalist Society and Judicial Crisis Network, use dark money to shape the nation’s judiciary. We air excerpts from his presentation and get reaction from Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law."]

Fairfax, Daniel. "A Stranger in the Hotel: Jean-Pierre Oudart and The Shining." Senses of Cinema #95 (July 2020)

Karaan, Abraar and Martin Kulldorf. "Herd Immunity: Is It a More Compassionate Approach or Will It Lead to Death or Illness for Millions?" Democracy Now (October 15, 2020) ["As coronavirus cases increase across much of the United States, the Trump administration has reportedly adopted a policy of deliberately letting the virus infect much of the U.S. population in order to attain “herd immunity” — despite warnings from the World Health Organization against such an approach. We host a debate on the contentious issue of herd immunity and how best to confront the virus with two Harvard medical experts: epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine at Harvard University and one of the lead signatories of the controversial Great Barrington Declaration arguing for an easing of lockdowns, and Dr. Abraar Karan, an internal medicine doctor at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and at Harvard Medical School who has worked on the COVID-19 public health response in Massachusetts since February."]

Kern, Laura. "Scare Tactics: Senseless Violence." Film Comment (May/June 2018) ["The loss of hearing or sight (or more) can trigger the ever-potent drama of survival against the odds"]

Scahill, Jeremy. "Trump Has Incited White Supremacists & Emboldened Police to Act Outside the Law." Democracy Now (October 19, 2020) ["As the 2020 presidential campaign enters its final two weeks, we look at the past four years of the Trump presidency with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept. His podcast “Intercepted” has just released the fourth chapter in a seven-part audio documentary titled “American Mythology,” which critically examines the Trump presidency and places it within a larger historical context. Scahill says Trump has empowered white supremacist vigilantes and given permission to law enforcement to act extrajudicially to enforce a racist status quo, but he cautions that “Donald Trump is not an aberration of U.S. history or some anomaly, but he’s a very overt representation of many of the absolute most violent, destructive, racist, xenophobic trends in U.S. history.”"]

---. "Trump’s Xenophobia Is Horrific, But U.S. Immigration Policy Has Always Been Racist." Democracy Now (October 19, 2020) ["In Part 2 of our discussion of the Trump era with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill about his new seven-part audio documentary “American Mythology,” he examines how Trump’s xenophobic immigration policies have been a “methodical, surgical operation” to make life miserable for both current and prospective immigrants, including asylum seekers fleeing violence. He also notes that while Trump’s policies have been particularly vicious, “this country has had a racist immigration policy for a very long time, and it’s bipartisan.”"]

Nothing at Stake from Criterion Collection on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

ENG 281 Fall 2020 (Week 5: 1973 - 1974)

The World in 1973:

1973 in Film

American Graffiti (USA: George Lucas, 1973) [Rotten Tomatoes: "One of the most influential of all teen films, American Graffiti is a funny, nostalgic, and bittersweet look at a group of recent high school grads' last days of innocence. On the last day of summer vacation in 1962, friends Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), Steve (Ronny Howard), Terry (Charles Martin Smith) and John (Paul Le Mat) cruise the streets of small-town California while a mysterious disc jockey (Wolfman Jack) spins classic rock'n'roll tunes. It's the last night before their grown-up lives begin, and Steve's high-school sweetheart, a hot-to-trot blonde, a bratty adolescent and a disappearing angel in a Thunderbird provide all the excitement they can handle." MB: I think this film is superior to Lucas' megablockbuster Star Wars (1976). This film was hugely popular and influential setting off a a continuous cycle of these type of nostalgia films & TV series to this day. It was the inspiration for the long running and hugely popular TV series Happy Days (1974 - 1984).]

Badlands (USA: Terence Malick, 1973) [Criterion: "Badlands announced the arrival of a major talent: Terrence Malick. His impressionistic take on the notorious Charles Starkweather killing spree of the late 1950s uses a serial-killer narrative as a springboard for an oblique teenage romance, lovingly and idiosyncratically enacted by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. The film introduced many of the elements that would earn Malick his passionate following: the enigmatic approach to narrative and character, the unusual use of voice-over, the juxtaposition of human violence with natural beauty, the poetic investigation of American dreams and nightmares. This debut has spawned countless imitations, but none have equaled its strange sublimity." MB: Innocent/naive, all-American girl, meets affable, near-do-well, entitled (in his mind) boy. What could possibly go wrong? Seriously, this is a beautiful film, with a engaging style, that is kind of magical despite its subject.]

The Exorcist (USA: William Friedkin, 1973) [Rotten Tomatoes: "The Exorcist rides its supernatural theme to magical effect, with remarkable special effects and an eerie atmosphere, resulting in one of the scariest films of all time. ... One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, this tale of an exorcism is based loosely on actual events. When young Regan (Linda Blair) starts acting odd -- levitating, speaking in tongues -- her worried mother (Ellen Burstyn) seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A local priest (Jason Miller), however, thinks the girl may be seized by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism, and the church sends in an expert (Max von Sydow) to help with the difficult job." MB: Adapted closely from William Peter Blatty's novel of the same name. This is one of the very first mega-blockbusters that set off the eventual studio obsession with films that will make all of their money for a year (also Jaws and Star Wars) and ignoring films that are independent or aiming for artistic excellence. Reportedly people were passing out and throwing up during the film. I can understand that, as when it came out I was 8 yrs old and indoctrinated into a fundamentalist Christian worldview in which I believed demons were constantly seeking to steal my soul. When I watched it again 25+ years later as a grad student and non-believer, it still shook me (you may not believe still, but those grooves in your consciousness are still there). This film, along with others, no doubt was influential in the growth of the ongoing Satanic Panic. A masterpiece of sound effects that are a large part of its impact! Countless films and TV series have been inspired by this film.]

The Holy Mountain (Mexico: Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1973) [Abko Records & Films: "The scandal of the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, writer/director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s flood of sacrilegious imagery and existential symbolism in The Holy Mountain is a spiritual quest for enlightenment pitting illusion against truth. The Alchemist (Jodorowsky) assembles together a group of people from all walks of life to represent the planets in the solar system. The occult adept’s intention is to put his recruits through strange mystical rites and divest them of their worldly baggage before embarking on a trip to Lotus Island. There they ascend the Holy Mountain to displace the immortal gods who secretly rule the universe." Weird Movies: "The Holy Mountain plays like a cut-up version of the world’s sacred texts. If you tore out pages from the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, The Golden Bough, and a dozen other esoteric works from the Kabbalah to Gurdijeff—throwing in a couple of sleazy pulp novels for good measure—and put them together in a giant cauldron, stirred them up and pulled out sheaves at random and asked a troupe of performance artists, carnival freaks, and hippies tripping on peyote to act them out, you might come up with a narrative something like The Holy Mountain. Here, the cauldron is Alejandro Jodorowsky’s skull, and the stirrer was LSD, and an ex-Beatle gave the director and master visual stylist a small fortune to bring any elaborate and depraved fantasy he could dream up to shocking life. The singularly bizarre results—the pure, undiluted essence of mad Jodorowsky—are unlike any film that has ever existed before, or ever shall be, world without end." MB: Truly a unique and weird film. It is also an incredibly subversive and perverse film. Lastly, it is a savage anti-authoritarian film inspired by the esoteric spiritual/mystic traditions of the world (also some groovy Tarot imagery). John Lennon was a major backer for the film and it caused riots at the Mexican premiere (Jodorowsky had to escape through a back bathroom window). I screened it for 40 people at the college and it provoked long discussions afterward. If you open up to the film, you will not forget it.]

Mean Streets (USA: Martin Scorsese, 1973) [Rotten Tomatoes: "Mean Streets is a powerful tale of urban sin and guilt that marks Scorsese's arrival as an important cinematic voice and features electrifying performances from Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro. A slice of street life in Little Italy among lower echelon Mafiosos, unbalanced punks, and petty criminals. A small-time hood gets in over his head with a vicious loan shark. In an attempt to free himself from the dangers of his debt, he gets help from a friend who is also involved in criminal activities." MB: This is the impressive start of one of the most important American directors of the latter 20th Century and his string of influential films about the NYC gangsters he grew up around.]

Papillon (France/USA: Franklin J. Schaffner, 1973) [Rotten Tomatoes: "Convicted murderer Henri Charriere (Steve McQueen), known as "Papillon" for his butterfly chest tattoo, is transported to French Guiana to serve his sentence in a work camp. Determined to escape, Papillon forms an unlikely relationship with the frail but notorious forger Louis Dega (Dustin Hoffman), who reluctantly joins in the attempt. Despite the harshness of solitary confinement, brutal conditions and constant threats of betrayal, Papillon leads a desperate escape off the island." MB: A very engaging narrative based on historical events. Thrilled my 8 yr old anti-authoritarian heart and it was very enjoyable on a recent re-watch. The two leads are perfectly cast!] 

The Spirit of the Beehive (Spain: Victor Erice, 1973) [Criterion: "Víctor Erice’s spellbinding The Spirit of the Beehive (El espíritu de la colmena), widely regarded as the greatest Spanish film of the 1970s. In a small Castilian village in 1940, in the wake of the country's devastating civil war, six-year-old Ana attends a traveling movie show of Frankenstein and becomes possessed by the memory of it. Produced as Franco’s long regime was nearing its end, The Spirit of the Beehive is a bewitching portrait of a child’s haunted inner life and one of the most visually arresting movies ever made." MB: I first watched this film when I heard Guillermo del Toro cite it as an influence on his film Pan's Labyrinth (2006).]

The Sting (USA: George Roy Hill, 1973) [Rotten Tomatoes: "Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and director George Roy Hill prove that charm, humor, and a few slick twists can add up to a great film. Following the murder of a mutual friend, aspiring con man Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) teams up with old pro Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) to take revenge on the ruthless crime boss responsible, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw). Hooker and Gondorff set about implementing an elaborate scheme, one so crafty that Lonnegan won't even know he's been swindled. As their big con unfolds, however, things don't go according to plan, requiring some last-minute improvisation by the undaunted duo." MB: In my mind, easily one of the greatest "long-con" movies. Headed by two superstar actors and a giant cast of supremely talented supporting actors. This film from the beginning picks you up and you ride as if you are on the crest of a giant wave thrilling to the speed & beauty of the narrative all the way till you reach the shore.] 

The Three Musketeers (USA: Richard Lester, 1973) [Rotten Tomatoes: "An adaptation of the classic Dumas novel, this film tells the tale of aspiring swordsman D'Artagnan (Michael York), who arrives in Paris with hopes of joining the royal guard. After clashing with three musketeers, Athos (Oliver Reed), Porthos (Frank Finlay) and Aramis (Richard Chamberlain), he joins them in fighting the forces of corrupt Cardinal Richelieu, led by Rochefort (Christopher Lee). When Richelieu attempts to undermine the queen, D'Artagnan and the musketeers must thwart his plans."]

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Germany: Werner Rainer Fassbinder, 1974) [Criterion: "The wildly prolific German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder paid homage to his cinematic hero Douglas Sirk with this update of that filmmaker’s 1955 All That Heaven Allows. A lonely widow (Brigitte Mira) meets a much younger Arab worker (El Hedi ben Salem) in a bar during a rainstorm. They fall in love, to their own surprise—and to the outright shock of their families, colleagues, and drinking buddies. In Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Fassbinder expertly wields the emotional power of classic Hollywood melodrama to expose the racial tensions underlying contemporary German culture."]

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (USA: Martin Scorsese, 1974) [Rotten Tomatoes: "After her husband dies, Alice (Ellen Burstyn) and her son, Tommy, leave their small New Mexico town for California, where Alice hopes to make it as a singer. Money problems force them to settle in Arizona instead, where Alice takes a job as waitress in a small diner. She intends to stay in Arizona just long enough to make the money needed to head back out on the road, but her plans change when she begins to fall for a rancher named David (Kris Kristofferson)." MB: A great, well-acted, female- led, working class character study. I remember even as a 9 yr old boy, this film really resonated with me. Inspired the popular hit TV show Alice (1976 - 1985).]

Black Christmas (USA: Bob Clark, 1974) [Criterion Channel:"In 1974, a low-budget nightmare filmed in Toronto was unleashed upon theaters and revolutionized horror cinema. A now-legendary film among genre aficionados, the groundbreaking BLACK CHRISTMAS was not only the first slasher film, it also remains one of the most terrifying. The college town of Bedford is visited by an unwelcome guest this Christmas. As the residents of the Pi Kappa Sigma sorority prepare for the festive season, a stranger begins stalking their house. A series of obscene phone calls makes it clear that a psychopath is homing in on the sisters with nefarious intentions. And though the police try to trace the calls, they soon discover that nothing is as it seems during this horrifying holiday." MB: Another one I saw in the theaters. You must be wondering about these film experiences at such an earlier age. Most Fridays or Saturdays I would walk a few miles to the neighborhood theater for that week's double feature. Ahhh, the 70s, no one ever carded me for a film until I was 18 years old ;) I remembered this one as being great horror fun and recently I re-watched it for Spooktober with some trepidation. I was worried it might not have aged well. I had nothing to fear. Even with my adult analytical mind, I enjoyed and appreciated this film. Unique for later slashers, the female characters are complex and fleshed-out (not just caricatures). In other words they are not just there for a T & A show. Hugely influential on the sub-genre that sprang up through the mid-70s through the 80s. Remade in 2019].

Blazing Saddles (USA: Mel Brooks, 1974) [Rotten Tomatoes: "Daring, provocative, and laugh-out-loud funny, Blazing Saddles is a gleefully vulgar spoof of Westerns that marks a high point in Mel Brooks' storied career. In this satirical take on Westerns, crafty railroad worker Bart (Cleavon Little) becomes the first black sheriff of Rock Ridge, a frontier town about to be destroyed in order to make way for a new railroad. Initially, the people of Rock Ridge harbor a racial bias toward their new leader. However, they warm to him after realizing that Bart and his perpetually drunk gunfighter friend (Gene Wilder) are the only defense against a wave of thugs sent to rid the town of its population." MB: I remember one of those golden moments where technological innovations have a huge impact on your consciousness. My mother was the head of the media center at Mesa College in San Diego, CA. She brought home a VCR the size of a coffee table - it took two men to carry it into the house. She brought three films home. This one, Young Frankenstein (1974), and The Sting (1973). You have to remember there was no way to see a film uncut (words bleeped out or altered, scenes cut) at that time once it had left the theaters. So the neighborhood literally gathered in our living room to watch this unusual and magical (for that time) screening of these films. When I re-watched this film a few years back, I was stunned by the way this film eviscerates the American mythos of the West and its really frank portrayal of racism, misogyny and classism. The film is aided by its charismatic two leads and a bevy of talented character actors. On the re-watch I was left wondering whether this film could even be made in our time. Co-written by the legendary comedian Richard Pryor.]

Chinatown (USA: Roman Polanski, 1974) [Rotten Tomatoes: "As bruised and cynical as the decade that produced it, this noir classic benefits from Robert Towne's brilliant screenplay, director Roman Polanski's steady hand, and wonderful performances from Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. When Los Angeles private eye J.J. "Jake" Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired by Evelyn Mulwray to investigate her husband's activities, he believes it's a routine infidelity case. Jake's investigation soon becomes anything but routine when he meets the real Mrs. Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) and realizes he was hired by an imposter. Mr. Mulwray's sudden death sets Gittes on a tangled trail of corruption, deceit and sinister family secrets as Evelyn's father (John Huston) becomes a suspect in the case." MB: A masterpiece hard-boiled mystery about a private detective seeking to do right in a cold, amoral world. A truly great screenplay/mystery.]

The Godfather II (USA: Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) [Rotten Tomatoes: "Drawing on strong performances by Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, Francis Ford Coppola's continuation of Mario Puzo's Mafia saga set new standards for sequels that have yet to be matched or broken. The compelling sequel to "The Godfather," contrasting the life of Corleone father and son. Traces the problems of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in 1958 and that of a young immigrant Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) in 1917's Hell's Kitchen. Michael survives many misfortunes and Vito is introduced to a life of crime." MB: Easily one of the best American films, this is an epic look at the American Dream played out through the lives of two crime bosses. Electrifying performances! You would want to have seen The Godfather (1972) first. - you could do a response to both.]

The Night Porter (Italy: Liliana Cavani, 1974) [Criterion: "In this unsettling drama from Italian filmmaker Liliana Cavani, a concentration camp survivor (Charlotte Rampling) discovers her former torturer and lover (Dirk Bogarde) working as a porter at a hotel in postwar Vienna. When the couple attempt to re-create their sadomasochistic relationship, his former SS comrades begin to stalk them. Operatic and disturbing, The Night Porter deftly examines the lasting social and psychological effects of the Nazi regime."]

Sweet Movie (Yugoslavia: Dušan Makavejev, 1974) [Criterion: "Pushing his themes of sexual liberation to their boiling point, Yugoslavian art-house provocateur Dušan Makavejev followed his international sensation WR: Mysteries of the Organism with this full-throated shriek in the face of bourgeois complacency and movie watching. Sweet Movie tackles the limits of personal and political freedom with kaleidoscopic feverishness, shuttling viewers from a gynecological beauty pageant to a grotesque food orgy with scatological, taboo-shattering glee. With its lewd abandon and sketch-comedy perversity, Sweet Movie became both a cult staple and exemplar of the envelope pushing of 1970s cinema."]

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (USA: Tobe Hooper, 1974) [Criterion Channel: "Nearly fifty years ago, five youths on a weekend getaway in the Texas countryside fell prey to a butcher in a mask made of human skin and his cannibalistic family, and horror cinema would never be the same. Violent, confrontational, and shockingly realistic, director Tobe Hooper’s THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE terrified audiences in a way never thought possible when it was unleashed amid the tumultuous sociopolitical climate of 1970s America. Facing a storm of controversy, censorship, and outcry throughout its troubled release, this still-potent grindhouse landmark remains unparalleled in its impact as perhaps the most frightening film ever made." MB: Some of the most haunting and terrifying scenes I have ever seen in a horror movie. Part of a wave of films that forever changed the genre, with Night of the Living Dead (1968); The Last House on the Left (1972); Halloween (1978); and Videodrome (1983).]

Young Frankenstein (USA: Mel Brooks, 1974) ["Made with obvious affection for the original, Young Frankenstein is a riotously silly spoof featuring a fantastic performance by Gene Wilder. Respected medical lecturer Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) learns that he has inherited his infamous grandfather's estate in Transylvania. Arriving at the castle, Dr. Frankenstein soon begins to recreate his grandfather's experiments with the help of servants Igor (Marty Feldman), Inga (Teri Garr) and the fearsome Frau Blücher (Cloris Leachman). After he creates his own monster (Peter Boyle), new complications ensue with the arrival of the doctor's fiancée, Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn)." MB: Gene Wilder is great as Frederick Frankenstein and Marty Feldman sometimes steals the show as Igor, but the entire supporting cast makes this a comedy classic!]

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Dialogic Cinephilia - October 13, 2020

Abrams, Nathan. "Kubrick and the Paranoid Style: Antisemitism, Conspiracy Theories, and The Shining." Senses of Cinema #95 (July 2020)

Abrams, Nathan, et al. "The Shining and Us – Participants to the Dossier Reflect on Their First Encounter with Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining." Senses of Cinema #95 (July 2020)

"Dying in a Leadership Vacuum." New England Journal of Medicine (October 8, 2020)

Ford, Phil and J.F. Martel. "Orbis Tertius: Borges on Magic, Conspiracy and Idealism." Weird Studies #32 (October 31, 2018) ["Jorge Luis Borges's story "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is a metaphysical detective story, an armchair conspiracy thriller, and a masterpiece of weird fiction. In this tale penned by a true literary magician, Phil and JF see an opportunity to talk about magic, hyperstition, non-linear time, and the power of metaphysics to reshape the world. When Phil questions his co-host's animus against idealist doctrines, the discussion turns to dreams, cybernetics, and information theory, before reaching common ground with the dumbfound appreciation of radical mystery."]

Francis, Marc. "Smoke and Mirrors: The Bio-Con Documentary in the Age of Trump." Film Quarterly (September 23, 2020) 

Griffiths, David. "Queer Theory for Lichens." Undercurrents #19 (2015)  ["The symbiotic view of life suggests that we are not individuals, and that we have never been individuals. While the traditional view of organisms (including humans) is that they are self-contained, discrete, and autonomous individuals, scientific research is increasingly suggesting that this is misleading; the view of organisms as individuals is perhaps no longer viable. This is illustrated in the symbiotic bacterial ancestry of the mitochondria in “human” cells, as well as in the contemporary symbiotic relationships that are at work in the human gut microbiota. Eating, digesting and living are impossible without our symbiotic relationships. The brief natural cultural history of lichens that I have offered illustrates these points and demonstrates that if life and nature are to be found anywhere, it is not autonomous individuals but the constitutive comminglings, involvements, and interconnected relationships that make up the ecological mesh."]

Muncer, Mike and Rob Watts. "SLASHERS Pt 7: Friday the 13th (1980)." The Evolution of Horror (October 27, 2017)

Subissati, Andrea and Alexandra West. "House Proud: Mother! (2017)." Faculty of Horror #68 (December 23, 2018) ["Andrea and Alex break down the foundational elements of Darren Aronofsky’s divisive mother! From authorship to ecofeminism to sink instillation, few stones are left unturned or unexamined."]

---. "Where is My Mind: The Stepford Wives (1975) and Get Out (2017)." The Faculty of Horror #67 (November 27, 2018) ["This month, Andrea and Alex tackle two films whose hearts lie in the darkest, most secret parts of suburban utopia. In Bryan Forbes’ The Stepford Wives and Jordan Peele’s Get Out, we follow protagonists who are socialized to make room for the privileged and examine what happens when they strike back."]

Friday, October 9, 2020

ENG 281 Fall 2020 (Week 4: 1970 - 1972)

"How do images affect our hearts and minds? How do images influence our everyday lives, our techno-scientific practices, our connections and disconnections, our conscious and unconscious desires and fears? How do images show up in the clothes we wear, in the ways we walk, and the objects we want? How do images influence the foods we eat or don’t eat and the ideas and feelings we have about our selves and others? How do some images enter our flesh, captivate us, fascinate us, or arouse our senses? How is it that other images put us to sleep? How do images inform our habits and fantasies, pleasures and doubts, worries and joys, rituals and rebellions? How do images shape our personal, political, cultural, moral, and religious beliefs about nature and about justice? How do images influence what we imagine to be possible and what’s not? Visual images are today everywhere entangled within a complex and contradictory web of global electronic flows of information. Images are typically racialized, gendered, territorialized, eroticized, militarized, and class-driven. Some of the most powerful images are hooked-up to hi-tech machineries of war, surveillance, and the economic marketplace. Images also lie at the core of global corporate technologies of profit, control and advantage. How might such images be best understood? How might they be critically subverted, transformed, or remade?" -- Stephen Pfohl, "Images and Power" (2011) 


Boys in the Band (USA: William Friedkin, 1970) 
[Rotten Tomatoes: "Michael (Kenneth Nelson) is hosting a birthday celebration for a pal when he gets an unexpected visit from old friend Alan (Peter White). The problem is, Alan is straight -- and extremely straitlaced -- and everyone else at the party is gay. Michael hopes to conceal his sexuality from Alan, but this charade doesn't last. After being outed, Michael turns on Alan, accuses him of being a closeted gay and forces him to partake in a revealing party game that has devastating consequences." MB: This is based on a Tony Award winning Broadway play and has just been remade in 2020 - here is the trailer of the remake."]

Catch-22 (USA: Mike Nichols, 1970)
 [Rotten Tomatoes: "Catch-22 takes entertainingly chaotic aim at the insanity of armed conflict, supported by a terrific cast and smart, funny work from Buck Henry and Mike Nichols. ... This scathing war satire follows Capt. John Yossarian (Alan Arkin), a pilot stationed in the Mediterranean who flies bombing missions during World War II. Attempting to cope with the madness of armed conflict, Yossarian struggles to find a way out of his wartime reality. Surrounded by eccentric military officers, such as the opportunistic 1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder (Jon Voight), Yossarian must resort to extreme measures to escape his dire and increasingly absurd situation." MB: The successful novel made Catch-22 a common term for bureaucratic insanity. Also made into a 2019 Hulu series.]

The Conformist (Italy: Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)
[Rotten Tomatoes: "A commentary on fascism and beauty alike, Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist is acclaimed for its sumptuous visuals and extravagant, artful cinematography. ... Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is a member of the secret police in Mussolini's Fascist Italy. He and his new bride, Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli), travel to Paris for their honeymoon, where Marcello also plans to assassinate his former college professor Luca Quadri (Enzo Tarascio), an outspoken anti-Fascist living in exile. But when Marcello meets the professor's young wife, Anna (Dominique Sanda), both his romantic and his political loyalties are tested." MB: A stunningly beautiful film brilliantly and disturbingly portraying the fascist mindset.]

El Topo (Mexico: Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1970) 
[Rotten Tomatoes: "By turns intoxicating and confounding, El Topo contains the creative multitudes that made writer-director Alejandro Jodorowsky such a singular talent. ... A mysterious black-clad gunfighter wanders a mystical Western landscape encountering multiple bizarre characters." MB: A cult classic that truly lives up to the genre classification of 'acid western.']

Little Big Man (USA: Arthur Penn, 1970) 
[Rotten Tomatoes: "When a curious oral historian (William Hickey) turns up to hear the life story of 121-year-old Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman), he can scarcely believe his ears. Crabb tells of having been rescued and raised by the Cheyenne, of working as a snake-oil salesman, as a gunslinger, and as a mule skinner under Gen. Custer (Richard Mulligan). As if those weren't astonishing enough, he also claims to be the only white survivor of the infamous Battle of the Little Bighorn." MB: Based on Thomas Berger's novel of the same name, this is one of my all-time favorite comedy/satires and it brilliantly deconstructs the myths of the traditional western narratives. It was probably the first film I saw that provided sympathetic portrayals of Native Americans.]

M*A*S*H* (USA: Robert Altman, 1970) 
[Rotten Tomatoes: "Bold, timely, subversive, and above all funny, M*A*S*H remains a high point in Robert Altman's distinguished filmography. ... Based on the novel by Richard Hooker, "M*A*S*H" follows a group of Mobile Army Surgical Hospital officers at they perform surgery and pass the time just miles from the front lines of the Korean Conflict. Led by Captains Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and Trapper John McIntyre (Elliott Gould), they add to the chaos and hilarity of the situation." MB: Essentially an anti-war comedy this celebrated film was a miracle just for making it to the cinemas, but it also inspired the creation of one of the most beloved TV sitcoms of the same name.]

Performance (UK: Donald Cammel and Nicolas Roeg, 1970) 
[Rotten Tomatoes: "Performance is an exuberant and grimy ode to the sexual revolution, evoking cultural upheaval and identity crisis with rock 'n' roll verve and a beguiling turn by Mick Jagger. ... After killing a rival in self-defense, hoodlum Chas (James Fox) must flee both from the law and from his boss, Harry Flowers. He eventually moves into a house owned by Turner (Mick Jagger), a former rock star who lives with female companions Pherber (Anita Pallenberg) and Lucy (Michele Breton). Chas and Turner initially clash, but Turner becomes fascinated with Chas' life as a criminal. Through drugs and a series of psychological battles with Turner, Chas emerges a different man." MB: Notorious for many films this film experience derailed James Fox's successful acting career as he couldn't come to terms with the experience and retreated into religion. I have watched it many times and look forward to the next time. Features one of the first rock videos: "Memo for Turner." A cinematic marking point for the end of 'flower power' and the rise of more darker, hallucinatory visions.]

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Czechoslovakia: Jaromil Jireš, 1970) 
[Criterion: "A girl on the verge of womanhood finds herself in a sensual fantasyland of vampires, witchcraft, and other threats in this eerie and mystical movie daydream. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders serves up an endlessly looping, nonlinear fairy tale, set in a quasi-medieval landscape. Ravishingly shot, enchantingly scored, and spilling over with surreal fancies, this enticing phantasmagoria from director Jaromil Jireš is among the most beautiful oddities of the Czechoslovak New Wave." MB: A unique female coming-of-age fantasy-horror-erotic film unlike any other. One of those films in which I get lost in the imagery. Criterion page for the film.


A Clockwork Orange (UK/USA: Stanley Kubrick, 1971)
[Rottent Tomatoes: "Disturbing and thought-provoking, A Clockwork Orange is a cold, dystopian nightmare with a very dark sense of humor. ... In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn't go as planned." MB: Based on Aldous Huxley's notorious novel, this even more notorious film receives the Kubrick treatment and set off a cultural firestorm upon release. A masterpiece of filmmaking and a brilliant acting performing by Malcolm McDowell. You will never hear Beethoven or Singing in the Rain the same way again ;) "Fare thee well my little brothers, fare thee well."]

The Beguiled (USA: Don Siegel, 1971)
["Offbeat Civil War drama in which a wounded Yankee soldier, after finding refuge in an isolated girls' school in the South towards the end of the war, becomes the object of the young women's sexual fantasies. The soldier manipulates the situation for his own gratification, but when he refuses to completely comply with the girls' wishes, they make it very difficult for him to leave." MB: I saw this at 6 yrs old in a movie theater (the good ol' days when you could see any film no matter what age you were) and I was profoundly disturbed by its psycho-sexual themes. Interestingly remade by Sofia Coppola in 2017]

The Devils (UK/USA: Ken Russell, 1971)
[Rotten Tomatoes: "... stylish, Ken Russell's baroque opus is both provocative and persuasive in its contention that the greatest blasphemy is the leveraging of faith for power. ... In 17th-century France, Father Grandier (Oliver Reed) is a priest whose unorthodox views on sex and religion influence a passionate following of nuns, including the sexually obsessed Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave). When the power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Logue) realizes he must eliminate Grandier to gain control of France, Richelieu portrays Grandier as a satanist and spearheads a public outcry to destroy the once-loved priest's reputation." MB: Based on historical events surrounding the supposed "possession" of nuns in Loudun, France and subsequent trial of the accused Catholic Priest Urbain Grandier. It was banned in many countries, condemned by the Catholic Church, and essentially unavailable in uncut form until the 21st Century. Still today it is considered one of the most controversial films, although on my restored uncut version on the extras there is a prominent Catholic priest that defends the film.]

Harold and Maude (USA: Hal Ashby, 1971) 
[Criterion: "With the idiosyncratic American fable Harold and Maude, countercultural director Hal Ashby fashioned what would become the cult classic of its era. Working from a script by Colin Higgins, Ashby tells the story of the emotional and romantic bond between a death-obsessed young man (Bud Cort) from a wealthy family and a devil-may-care, bohemian octogenarian (Ruth Gordon). Equal parts gallows humor and romantic innocence, Harold and Maude dissolves the line between darkness and light along with the ones that separate people by class, gender, and age, and it features indelible performances and a remarkable soundtrack by Cat Stevens." MB: One of my favorite films because of its off-beat humor, the inventive ruminations on death by the young protagonist Harold and his family's blase responses to his acting out of the them, and one of the all-time great anarchist characters the titular Maude whose approach to life is inspiring to Harold (and anyone that views the film)!  Criterion page for the film]

The Last Picture Show (USA: Peter Bogdanovich, 1971) 
[Criterion: "The Last Picture Show is one of the key films of the American cinema renaissance of the seventies. Set during the early fifties, in the loneliest Texas nowheresville to ever dust up a movie screen, this aching portrait of a dying West, adapted from Larry McMurtry’s novel, focuses on the daily shuffles of three futureless teens—the enigmatic Sonny (Timothy Bottoms), the wayward jock Duane (Jeff Bridges), and the desperate-to-be-adored rich girl Jacy (Cybil Shepherd)—and the aging lost souls who bump up against them in the night like drifting tumbleweeds, including Cloris Leachman’s lonely housewife and Ben Johnson’s grizzled movie-house proprietor. Featuring evocative black-and-white imagery and profoundly felt performances, this hushed depiction of crumbling American values remains the pivotal film in the career of the invaluable director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich." MB: Criterion page for the film]

Macbeth (UK: Roman Polanski, 1971) 
[Criterion: "Roman Polanski imbues his unflinchingly violent adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy of ruthless ambition and murder in medieval Scotland with grit and dramatic intensity. Jon Finch and Francesca Annis give performances charged with fury and sex appeal as a decorated warrior rising through the ranks and his driven wife, scheming together to take the throne by any means. Coadapted by Polanski and the great theater critic and dramaturge Kenneth Tynan, and shot against a series of stunning, stark British Isle landscapes, this version of Macbeth is among the most atmospheric and authentic of all Shakespeare films." MB: Made in the aftermath of the Manson Family's murder of Polanski's young pregnant wife Sharon Tate and the resulting cultural obssession with the murders, he seemingly injects the darkness one would suspect he felt into an amazing adaptation of Shakespeare's tragic play.]

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (USA: Robert Altman, 1971) 
[Criterion: "This unorthodox dream western by Robert Altman may be the most radically beautiful film to come out of the New American Cinema. It stars Warren Beatty and Julie Christie as two newcomers to the raw Pacific Northwest mining town of Presbyterian Church, who join forces to provide the miners with a superior kind of whorehouse experience. The appearance of representatives of a powerful mining company with interests of its own, however, threatens to be the undoing of their plans. With its fascinating flawed characters, evocative cinematography by the great Vilmos Zsigmond, innovative overlapping dialogue, and haunting use of Leonard Cohen songs, McCabe & Mrs. Miller brilliantly deglamorized and revitalized the most American of genres." MB: Criterion page for the film.]

Mon oncle Antoine (Canada: Claude Jutra, 1971) 
[Criterion: "Claude Jutra's evocative portrait of a boy's coming of age in wintry 1940s rural Quebec has been consistently cited by critics and scholars as the greatest Canadian film of all time. Delicate, naturalistic, and tinged with a striking mix of nostalgia and menace, Mon oncle Antoine follows Benoit, as he first encounters the twin terrors of sex and death, and his fellow villagers, who are living under the thumb of the local asbestos mine owner. Set during one ominous Christmas, Mon oncle Antoine is a holiday film unlike any other, and an authentically detailed illustration of childhood’s twilight." MB: The film is available on Youtube via the NFB of Canada for free.]

Murmur of the Heart (France: Louis Malle, 1971) 
[Criterion: "Louis Malle’s critically acclaimed Murmur of the Heart gracefully combines elements of comedy, drama, and autobiography in a candid portrait of a precocious adolescent boy’s sexual maturation. Both shocking and deeply poignant, this is one of the finest coming-of-age films ever made." MB: Criterion page for the film.]

Punishment Park (USA: Peter Watkins, 1971) 
[Rotten Tomatoes: "In this fictional documentary, U.S. prisons are at capacity, and President Nixon declares a state of emergency. All new prisoners, most of whom are connected to the antiwar movement, are now given the choice of jail time or spending three days in Punishment Park, where they will be hunted for sport by federal authorities. The prisoners invariably choose the latter option, but learn that, between the desert heat and the brutal police officers, their chances of survival are slim."]

Straw Dogs (USA: Sam Peckinpah, 1971)
[Criterion: "In this thriller, perhaps Sam Peckinpah’s most controversial film, David (Dustin Hoffman), a young American mathematician, moves with his English wife, Amy (Susan George), to the village where she grew up. Their sense of safety unravels as the local men David has hired to repair their house prove more interested in leering at Amy and intimidating David, beginning an agonizing initiation into the iron laws of violent masculinity that govern Peckinpah’s world. Working outside the U.S. for the first time, the filmmaker airlifts the ruthlessness of the western frontier into Cornwall in Straw Dogs, pushing his characters to their breaking points as the men brutalize Amy and David discovers how far he’ll go to protect his home—culminating in a harrowing climax that lays out this cinematic mastermind’s eloquent and bloody vision of humanity." MB: Criterion page for the film]

Walkabout (Australia: Nicolas Roeg, 1971) 
["A young sister and brother are abandoned in the harsh Australian outback and must learn to cope in the natural world, without their usual comforts, in this hypnotic masterpiece from Nicolas Roeg. Along the way, they meet a young aborigine on his “walkabout,” a rite of passage in which adolescent boys are initiated into manhood by journeying into the wilderness alone. Walkabout is a thrilling adventure as well as a provocative rumination on time and civilization." MB: Criterion page for the film]

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (USA: Mel Stuart, 1971) [Rotten Tomatoes: "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is strange yet comforting, full of narrative detours that don't always work but express the film's uniqueness. ... The last of five coveted "golden tickets" falls into the hands of a sweet but very poor boy. He and his grandpa then get a tour of the strangest chocolate factory in the world. The owner leads five young winners on a thrilling and often dangerous tour of his factory." MB: Adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book with a charismatic acting turn by Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. Later remade by Tim Burton in 2005 with Johnny Depp in the role.]


Aguirre, The Wrath of God (Germany: Werner Herzog, 1972)
[British Film Institute (BFI): "Shot entirely on location in the wild Amazonian jungle, Aguirre stars the volatile German star, and Herzog's regular, Klaus Kinski as a power-crazed explorer in sixteenth-century South America who leads a band of conquistadors through the Amazon in search of El Dorado. An ambitious exploration of doomed adventure and savage beauty, Aguirre remains one of Herzog's most extraordinary and brilliant achievements."]

Cabaret (USA: Bob Fosse, 1972)
[Youtube: "Bob Fosse uses the decadent and vulgar cabaret as a mirror image of German society sliding toward the Nazis, and this intertwining of entertainment with social history marked a new step forward for movie musicals." Rotten Tomatoes: "Great performances and evocative musical numbers help Cabaret secure its status as a stylish, socially conscious classic. ... In Berlin in 1931, American cabaret singer Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) meets British academic Brian Roberts (Michael York), who is finishing his university studies. Despite Brian's confusion over his sexuality, the pair become lovers, but the arrival of the wealthy and decadent playboy Maximilian von Heune (Helmut Griem) complicates matters for them both. This love triangle plays out against the rise of the Nazi party and the collapse of the Weimar Republic." MB: An innovative musical at the time because it combined flamboyant, sexy staged scenes in the titular cabaret with socially conscious subject matter as we see the early days of the rise of Nazism.]

Deliverance (USA: John Boorman, 1972) 
[Rotten Tomatoes: "Given primal verve by John Boorman's unflinching direction and Burt Reynolds' star-making performance, Deliverance is a terrifying adventure." Leigh Paatsch: "This gripping drama was a controversial release back in the early 70s, and its distressing intensity hasn't really diminished in the decades since. Just remember, once you go with its powerful flow, there ain't no turning back."]

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (France: Luis Buñuel, 1972) 
["In Luis Buñuel’s deliciously satiric masterpiece, an upper-class sextet sits down to dinner but never eats, their attempts continually thwarted by a vaudevillian mixture of events both actual and imagined. Fernando Rey, Stéphane Audran, Delphine Seyrig, and Jean-Pierre Cassel head the extraordinary cast of this 1972 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film." MB: Criterion page for the film.]

The Godfather (USA: Francis Ford Coppola, 1972) 
[Rotten Tomatoes: "One of Hollywood's greatest critical and commercial successes, The Godfather gets everything right; not only did the movie transcend expectations, it established new benchmarks for American cinema. ... Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, this mob drama, based on Mario Puzo's novel of the same name, focuses on the powerful Italian-American crime family of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). When the don's youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino), reluctantly joins the Mafia, he becomes involved in the inevitable cycle of violence and betrayal. Although Michael tries to maintain a normal relationship with his wife, Kay (Diane Keaton), he is drawn deeper into the family business." MB: A young, unproven director, tasked to adapt a popular crime novel, and gifted with young actors that will become legendary, creates the first of a trilogy that will become one of America's greatest/influential epic stories.]

The Harder They Come (Jamaica: Perry Henzell, 1972)  
[Criterion: "Reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff is Ivan, a rural Jamaican musician who journeys to the city of Kingston in search of fame and fortune. Pushed to desperate circumstances by shady record producers and corrupt cops, he finally achieves notoriety—as a murderous outlaw. Boasting some of the greatest music ever produced in Jamaica, The Harder They Come brought the catchy and subversive rhythms of the Rastas to the U.S. in the early 1970s." MB: Criterion page for the film]

Solaris (Soviet Union: Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972) 
[Criterion: "Ground control has been receiving mysterious transmissions from the three remaining residents of the Solaris space station. When cosmonaut and psychologist Kris Kelvin is dispatched to investigate, he experiences the same strange phenomena that afflict the Solaris crew, sending him on a voyage into the darkest recesses of his consciousness. With Solaris, the legendary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky created a brilliantly original science-fiction epic that challenges our conceptions about love, truth, and humanity itself." MB: Based on the great Polish science fiction author Stanislaw Lem's novel, it was also later remade by Steven Soderbergh in 2002. Criterion page for the 1972 film.]

State of Siege (France: Costa Gravas, 1972)
[Criterion: "Costa-Gavras puts the United States’ involvement in Latin American politics under the microscope in this arresting thriller. An urban guerrilla group, outraged at the counterinsurgency and torture training clandestinely organized by the CIA in their country (unnamed in the film), abducts a U.S. official (Yves Montand) to bargain for the release of political prisoners; soon the kidnapping becomes a media sensation, leading to violence. Cowritten by Franco Solinas, the electrifying State of Siege piercingly critiques the American government for supporting foreign dictatorships, while also asking difficult questions about the efficacy of radical violent acts to oppose such regimes."  Criterion page for the film]

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Dialogic Cinephilia - October 7, 2020

Almodóvar, Pedro and Antonio Banderas. "Pain and Glory at NYFF57." Film at Lincoln Center Podcast #246 (September 27, 2019) ["... a conversation with Pedro Almodóvar and Antonio Banderas at the press conference for Pain and Glory as they discuss the creative process, mixing truth and fiction, and much more."]

Cleaver, Sarah Kathryn and Mary Wild. "Anxiety (Bunny Lake is Missing & Prevenge)." Projections Podcast #1 (August 4, 2018)

---. "Depression (The Virgin Suicides & I, Daniel Blake)." Projections (August 27, 2018)

Ebert, Chaz. "An Open Letter to Cuties Director Maïmouna Doucouré from Female Filmmakers." Roger Ebert (October 2, 2020)

Ford, Phil and J.F. Martel. "On Lost Highway." Weird Studies #83 (September 30, 2020) ["David Lynch's Lost Highway was released in 1997, five years after Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me elicited a fusillade of boos and hisses at Cannes. The Twin Peaks prequel's poor reception allegedly sent its American auteur spiralling into something of an existential crisis, and Lost Highway has often been interpreted as a response to -- or result of -- that crisis. Certainly, the film is among Lynch's darkest, boldest, and most enigmatic. But of course, we do the film an injustice by reducing it to the psychological state of its director. Indeed, one of the contentions of this episode is that all artistic interpretation constitutes a kind of injustice. But as you will hear, that doesn't stop Phil and JF from interpreting the hell out of the film. Just or unjust, fair or unfair, interpretation may well be necessary in aesthetic matters. It may be the means by which we grow through the experience of art, the way by which art makes us something new, strange, and other. Perhaps the trick is to remember that no mode of interpretation is, to borrow Freud's phrase, the one and only via regia, but that every one is just another highway at night..."]

---. "On the I Ching." Weird Studies #82 (September 16, 2020) ["The Book of Changes, or I Ching, is more than an ancient text. It's a metaphysical guide, a fun game, and -- to your hosts at least -- a lifelong, steadfast friend. The I Ching has come up more than once on the show, and now is the time for JF and Phil to face it head on, discussing the role it has played in their lives while delving into some of its mysteries."]

Hilton, Boyd and Mike Muncer. "Slashers Part 6: Dressed to Kill (1980)." The Evolution of Horror (October 19, 2017) ["This week Mike is joined by Boyd Hilton, and the pair get down and dirty to discuss Brian De Palma's controversial erotic slasher, Dressed To Kill. We take a look at the influences De Palma's movie had on 80s/90s erotic thrillers such as Cruising, Blue Velvet and Basic Instinct. "]

Nemrov, Alexander. "The Manly Veil." Senses of Cinema #95 (July 2020)

West, Stephen. "Leo Strauss: Moderns vs Ancients." Philosophize This! (October 9, 2019)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

ENG 281: Fall 2020 (Week 3: 1967 - 1969)

This era marks a true epoch changing moment in filmmaking. Inspired by the political revolutions and social upheaval worldwide (click on 1968 and scan through the events of that year - it makes 2020 seem tame), the rise of a rebellious youth culture combined with new media representational forms, the falling of restrictive cultural prohibitions against certain types of representation (especially in Hollywood), and inspired by the New Wave movements, these films (for the most part) through their style/themes represent this moment of change and turmoil.


2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (France: Jean-Luc Godard, 1967)  [Criterion: "In 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle), Jean-Luc Godard beckons us ever closer, whispering in our ears as narrator. About what? Money, sex, fashion, the city, love, language, war: in a word, everything. Among the legendary French filmmaker’s finest achievements, the film takes as its ostensible subject the daily life of Juliette Janson (Marina Vlady), a housewife from the Paris suburbs who prostitutes herself for extra money. Yet this is only a template for Godard to spin off into provocative philosophical tangents and gorgeous images. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her is perhaps Godard’s most revelatory look at consumer culture, shot in ravishing widescreen color by Raoul Coutard."]

Bonnie and Clyde (USA: Arthur Penn, 1967) [Rotten Tomatoes: "A paradigm-shifting classic of American cinema, Bonnie and Clyde packs a punch whose power continues to reverberate through thrillers decades later. IMDB: "Bored waitress Bonnie Parker falls in love with an ex-con named Clyde Barrow and together they start a violent crime spree through the country, stealing cars and robbing banks."]

Cool Hand Luke (USA: Stuart Rosenberg, 1967) (Rotten Tomatoes: "When petty criminal Luke Jackson (Paul Newman) is sentenced to two years in a Florida prison farm, he doesn't play by the rules of either the sadistic warden (Strother Martin) or the yard's resident heavy, Dragline (George Kennedy), who ends up admiring the new guy's unbreakable will. Luke's bravado, even in the face of repeated stints in the prison's dreaded solitary confinement cell, "the box," make him a rebel hero to his fellow convicts and a thorn in the side of the prison officers.")

The Dirty Dozen (USA: Robert Aldrich, 1967) (Rotten Tomatoes: "Amoral on the surface and exuding testosterone, The Dirty Dozen utilizes combat and its staggering cast of likable scoundrels to deliver raucous entertainment. ... IMDB: "A Major with an attitude problem and a history of getting things done is told to interview military prisoners with death sentences or long terms for a dangerous mission; To parachute behind enemy lines and cause havoc for the German Generals at a rest house on the eve of D-Day."]

The Graduate (USA: Mike Nichols, 1967) [Criterion: "One of the most beloved American films of all time, The Graduate earned Mike Nichols a best director Oscar, brought the music of Simon & Garfunkel to a wider audience, and introduced the world to a young actor named Dustin Hoffman. Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) has just finished college and is already lost in a sea of confusion and barely contained angst when he becomes sexually involved with a friend of his parents’, the indomitable Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), before turning his attention to her college-age daughter (Katharine Ross). Visually imaginative and impeccably acted, with a clever, endlessly quotable script by Buck Henry (based on the novel by Charles Webb), The Graduate had the kind of cultural impact that comes along only once in a generation."]

In Cold Blood (USA: Richard Brooks, 1967) [Criterion: "Truman Capote’s best seller, a breakthrough narrative account of real-life crime and punishment, became an equally chilling film in the hands of writer-director Richard Brooks. Cast for their unsettling resemblances to the killers they play, Robert Blake and Scott Wilson give authentic, unshowy performances as Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, who in 1959 murdered a family of four in Kansas during a botched robbery. Brooks brings a detached, documentary-like starkness to this uncompromising view of an American tragedy and its aftermath; at the same time, stylistically In Cold Blood is a filmmaking master class, with clinically precise editing, chiaroscuro black-and-white cinematography by the great Conrad Hall, and a menacing jazz score by Quincy Jones."]

Le samouraï (France: Jean Pierre-Melville, 1967) [Criterion: "In a career-defining performance, Alain Delon plays Jef Costello, a contract killer with samurai instincts. After carrying out a flawlessly planned hit, Jef finds himself caught between a persistent police investigator and a ruthless employer, and not even his armor of fedora and trench coat can protect him. An elegantly stylized masterpiece of cool by maverick director Jean‑Pierre Melville, Le samouraï is a razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture—with a liberal dose of Japanese lone-warrior mythology."]

Marketa Lazarová (Czechoslovakia: František Vláčil, 1967)  [Criterion: "In its native land, František Vláčil’s Marketa Lazarová has been hailed as the greatest Czech film ever made; for many U.S. viewers, it will be a revelation. Based on a novel by Vladislav Vančura, this stirring and poetic depiction of a feud between two rival medieval clans is a fierce, epic, and meticulously designed evocation of the clashes between Christianity and paganism, humankind and nature, love and violence. Vláčil’s approach was to re-create the textures and mentalities of a long-ago way of life, rather than to make a conventional historical drama, and the result is dazzling. With its inventive widescreen cinematography, editing, and sound design, Marketa Lazarová is an experimental action film."]

PlayTime (France: Jacques Tati, 1967) [Criterion: "Jacques Tati’s gloriously choreographed, nearly wordless comedies about confusion in an age of high technology reached their apotheosis with PlayTime. For this monumental achievement, a nearly three-year-long, bank-breaking production, Tati again thrust the lovably old-fashioned Monsieur Hulot, along with a host of other lost souls, into a baffling modern world, this time Paris. With every inch of its superwide frame crammed with hilarity and inventiveness, PlayTime is a lasting record of a modern era tiptoeing on the edge of oblivion."]

Point Blank (USA: John Boorman, 1967) [Rotten Tomatoes: "Shot with hard-hitting inventiveness and performed with pitiless cool by Lee Marvin, Point Blank is a revenge thriller that exemplifies that exemplifies the genre's strengths with extreme prejudice. ... A ruthless crook, Walker (Lee Marvin), is betrayed by his partner, Mal Reese (John Vernon), who leaves him for dead on Alcatraz Island. Having survived, Walker returns years later to get revenge. He gets his first lead when a mysterious man (Keenan Wynn) tells him that Reese is now part of a vast criminal organization and dating Walker's wife's sister, Chris (Angie Dickinson). But after contacting Chris, Walker discovers that in truth she loathes Reese and is willing to help him get justice."]

The Producers (USA: Mel Brooks, 1967)  [Rotten Tomatoes: "A hilarious satire of the business side of Hollywood, The Producers is one of Mel Brooks' finest, as well as funniest films, featuring standout performances by Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel. Down and out producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel), who was once the toast of Broadway, trades sexual favors with old ladies for cash contributions. Max's new accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder), offhandedly muses that if Max found investors for a new production that turned into a flop, he could legally keep all the extra money. The duo begins to put together the worst play possible, titled "Springtime for Hitler", with a terrible director and a hippie-freak star."]

Weekend (France: Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) [Criterion: "This scathing late-sixties satire from Jean-Luc Godard is one of cinema’s great anarchic works. Determined to collect an inheritance from a dying relative, a bourgeois couple travel across the French countryside while civilization crashes and burns around them. Featuring a justly famous sequence in which the camera tracks along a seemingly endless traffic jam, and rich with historical and literary references, Weekend is a surreally funny and disturbing call for revolution, a depiction of society reverting to savagery, and— according to the credits—the end of cinema itself."]

2001: A Space Odyssey (UK/USA: Stanley Kubrick, 1968) [Rotten Tomatoes: "One of the most influential of all sci-fi films -- and one of the most controversial -- Stanley Kubrick's 2001 is a delicate, poetic meditation on the ingenuity -- and folly -- of mankind. An imposing black structure provides a connection between the past and the future in this enigmatic adaptation of a short story by revered sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke." IMDB: "After discovering a mysterious artifact buried beneath the Lunar surface, mankind sets off on a quest to find its origins with help from intelligent supercomputer H.A.L. 9000."]

Hour of the Wolf (Sweden: Ingmar Bergman, 1968) [Criterion: "The strangest and most disturbing of the films Ingmar Bergman shot on the island of Fårö, Hour of the Wolf stars Max von Sydow as a haunted painter living in voluntary exile with his wife (Liv Ullmann). When the couple are invited to a nearby castle for dinner, things start to go wrong with a vengeance, as a coven of sinister aristocrats hastens the artist’s psychological deterioration. This gripping film is charged with a nightmarish power rare in the Bergman canon, and contains dreamlike effects that brilliantly underscore the tale’s horrific elements."]

If .... (UK: Lindsey Anderson, 1968) [Criterion: "Lindsay Anderson’s If.... is a daringly anarchic vision of British society, set in a boarding school in late-sixties England. Before Kubrick made his mischief iconic in A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell made a hell of an impression as the insouciant Mick Travis, who, along with his school chums, trumps authority at every turn, finally emerging as a violent savior in the vicious games of one-upmanship played by both students and masters. Mixing color and black and white as audaciously as it mixes fantasy and reality, If…. remains one of cinema’s most unforgettable rebel yells."]

Night of the Living Dead (USA: George Romero, 1968) [MB: This film was a landmark in independent filmmaking and forever changed traditionally conservative American horror films bringing the genre into the new generation. The original is available for free on many streaming sites like Youtube and the new restored version is on Criterion, Kanopy, and Hulu. Criterion: "Shot outside Pittsburgh on a shoestring budget, by a band of filmmakers determined to make their mark, Night of the Living Dead, directed by horror master George A. Romero, is a great story of independent cinema: a midnight hit turned box-office smash that became one of the most influential films of all time. A deceptively simple tale of a group of strangers trapped in a farmhouse who find themselves fending off a horde of recently dead, flesh-eating ghouls, Romero’s claustrophobic vision of a late-1960s America literally tearing itself apart rewrote the rules of the horror genre, combined gruesome gore with acute social commentary, and quietly broke ground by casting a black actor (Duane Jones) in its lead role. Stark, haunting, and more relevant than ever, Night of the Living Dead is back."]

Once Upon a Time in the West (Italy: Sergio Leone, 1968) [Juli Norwood aka Naughty on Letterboxd: "A true masterpiece in every sense of the word! The opening scene takes the mundane (sweaty gunslingers with weathered faces, dripping water, pesky fly and a rusty old windmill) and literally turns it into a work of art! A western that's so real you can almost see the beard stubble grow by the minute and the sweat trickling from your screen! Gorgeous cinematography with a soundtrack ranging from glorious, to thrilling, to haunting! An all star cast as magnificent as the film itself! Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, and Claudia Cardinale!
As lusty as it is gutsy! A place and time when guns and grimaces did all of the talking! Naughty approved!"]

Planet of the Apes (USA: Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968) [Rotten Tomatoes: "Planet of the Apes raises thought-provoking questions about our culture without letting social commentary get in the way of the drama and action." Letterboxd: "An U.S. Spaceship lands on a desolate planet, stranding astronaut Taylor in a world dominated by apes, 2000 years into the future, who use a primitive race of humans for experimentation and sport. Soon Taylor finds himself among the hunted, his life in the hands of a benevolent chimpanzee scientist." MB: This very successful film spawned three sequels, and, in the 21st Century was remade twice, spawning more sequels.]

Profound Desires of the Gods (Japan: Shohei Imamura, 1968)  [IMDB: "An engineer from Tokyo arrives on a drought-ridden tropical island to drill a well to power a nearby sugar mill. He meets the inbred Futori family, hated by the locals for breaking religious customs."  MB: This film is troubling and breathtaking. It is almost anthropological in its perspective, yet mythological in its scope. Long unavailable in the USA, perhaps because of its taboo subject matter, it is available on Criterion Channel. Edgar Cochran on Letterboxd: "Extraordinary images and allegorical representations of the human condition and its fragility abound in Imamura's first color metaphysical mammoth. Extraordinary in its ability to be absorbing at its core, and with a haunting fusion of cinematic styles that range from surrealism to images of nature that mimic a documentary style, Imamura's analysis of the invasion of civilization over a secluded tropical island pervaded with Pantheistic philosophy is a truly entrancing juxtaposition of themes, rhythms and styles as varied as the unpredictability of life itself. Illusion and reality are combined but exclusively through the eyes of the Futori family, rather than the engineer, who symbolizes the side that announces "rationality" as the medicine for modernity, despite the fact that there is an inherent irrationality in declaring rationality as entirely proper in its application over all life areas, dismissing the undeniable emotional human component.
Painting primitiveness with tones of aggression and beauty, placing the camera as an omniscient god capable of adopting multiple perspectives, from an eagle-eye judging divine presence to subtly and coldly calculated invasive minimalism, Profound Desire of the Gods is an entrancing examination of reality vs. fantasy, beauty vs. ugliness, rationality vs. emotional impulse, tradition over modernity, and superstition vs. psychological atheism. Epic in its ambition and duration, this is potentially the director's best film, as well as his most complex reflective dissertation of life."]

Rosemary's Baby (USA: Roman Polanski, 1968) [Criterion: "Horrifying and darkly comic, Rosemary’s Baby was Roman Polanski’s Hollywood debut. This wildly entertaining nightmare, faithfully adapted from Ira Levin’s best seller, stars a revelatory Mia Farrow as a young mother-to-be who grows increasingly suspicious that her overfriendly elderly neighbors (played by Sidney Blackmer and an Oscar-winning Ruth Gordon) and self-involved husband (John Cassavetes) are hatching a satanic plot against her and her baby. In the decades of occult cinema that Polanski’s ungodly masterpiece has spawned, it has never been outdone for sheer psychological terror."]

Army of Shadows (France: Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969) [Criterion: "The most personal film by the underworld poet Jean-Pierre Melville, who had participated in the French Resistance himself, this tragic masterpiece, based on a novel by Joseph Kessel, recounts the struggles and sacrifices of those who fought in the Resistance. Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and the incomparable Simone Signoret star as intrepid underground fighters who must grapple with their conception of honor in their battle against Hitler’s regime. Long underappreciated in France and unseen in the United States, the atmospheric and gripping thriller Army of Shadows is now widely recognized as the summit of Melville’s career, channeling the exquisite minimalism of his gangster films to create an unsparing tale of defiance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds."]

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (USA: George Roy Hill, 1969)
With its iconic pairing of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, jaunty screenplay and Burt Bacharach score, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has gone down as among the defining moments in late-'60s American cinema. The true story of fast-draws and wild rides, battles with posses, train and bank robberies, a torrid love affair and a new lease on outlaw life in far away Bolivia. It is also a character study of a remarkable friendship between Butch - possibly the most likeable outlaw in frontier history - and his closest associate, the fabled, ever-dangerous Sundance Kid." MB - Just FYI, no fictional film is "true."]

The Color of Pomegranates (Soviet Union: Sergie Parajanov, 1969)
["A breathtaking fusion of poetry, ethnography, and cinema, Sergei Parajanov’s masterwork overflows with unforgettable images and sounds. In a series of tableaux that blend the tactile with the abstract, The Color of Pomegranates revives the splendors of Armenian culture through the story of the eighteenth-century troubadour Sayat-Nova, charting his intellectual, artistic, and spiritual growth through iconographic compositions rather than traditional narrative. The film’s tapestry of folklore and metaphor departed from the realism that dominated the Soviet cinema of its era, leading authorities to block its distribution, with rare underground screenings presenting it in a restructured form. This edition features the cut closest to Parajanov’s original vision, in a restoration that brings new life to one of cinema’s most enigmatic meditations on art and beauty."]

Easy Rider (USA: Dennis Hopper, 1969)
["This is the definitive counterculture blockbuster. The down-and-dirty directorial debut of former clean-cut teen star Dennis Hopper, Easy Rider heralded the arrival of a new voice in film, one pitched angrily against the mainstream. After the film’s cross-country journey—with its radical, New Wave–style editing, outsider-rock soundtrack, revelatory performance by a young Jack Nicholson, and explosive ending—the American road trip would never be the same."]

Medium Cool (USA: Haskell Wexler, 1969)
["It’s 1968, and the whole world is watching. With the U.S. in social upheaval, famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler decided to make a film about what the hell was going on. Medium Cool, his debut feature, plunges us into the moment. With its mix of fictional storytelling and documentary technique, this depiction of the working world and romantic life of a television cameraman (Robert Forster) is a visceral cinematic snapshot of the era, climaxing with an extended sequence shot right in the middle of the riots surrounding the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. An inventive commentary on the pleasures and dangers of wielding a camera, Medium Cool is as prescient a political film as Hollywood has ever produced."]

Midnight Cowboy (USA: John Schlesinger, 1969)
["One of the British New Wave’s most versatile directors, John Schlesinger came to New York in the late 1960s to make Midnight Cowboy, a picaresque story of friendship that captured a city in crisis and sparked a new era of Hollywood movies. Jon Voight delivers a career-making performance as Joe Buck, a wide-eyed hustler from Texas hoping to score big with wealthy city women; he finds a companion in Enrico “Ratso” Rizzo, an ailing swindler with a bum leg and a quixotic fantasy of escaping to Florida, played by Dustin Hoffman in a radical departure from his breakthrough in The Graduate. A critical and commercial success despite controversy over what the MPAA termed its “homosexual frame of reference,” Midnight Cowboy became the first X-rated film to receive the best picture Oscar, and decades on, its influence still reverberates through cinema."]

They Shoot Horses Don't They (USA: Sidney Pollack, 1969)
["In the midst of the Great Depression, manipulative emcee Rocky (Gig Young) enlists contestants for a dance marathon offering a $1,500 cash prize. Among them are a failed actress (Jane Fonda), a middle-aged sailor (Red Buttons), a delusional blonde (Susannah York) and a pregnant girl (Bonnie Bedelia). Days turn into weeks as the competition drags on and people either drop out or expire. Rocky, however, will do anything for publicity and initiates a series of grueling derbies." Maricov on Letterboxd: "I’m lost for words. This movie is truly is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.In lesser hands, this brazenly unique response to the Great Depression could have fallen flat, but Sidney Pollack’s assured direction pulls no punches, throwing an ensemble of desperate socialites into a high-concept nightmare to reveal each contestants psychological breaking point as they scramble for a second chance at life following that dark time in history. At once both devastatingly real and harshly poetic, the underlying sense of collective panic felt throughout the narrative suggests that Pollack’s film is less about the effects of political turmoil than it is about the inescapable, crushing weight of being human.An absolutely outstanding landmark in crucial, symbolic cinema. "]

The Wild Bunch (USA: Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
[""When you side with a man, you stick with him. If you can't, your like some animal" - Pike Bishop in The Wild Bunch. IMDB: "An aging group of outlaws look for one last big score as the "traditional" American West is disappearing around them." Silent Dawn on Letterboxd: "The clashing cathartic depths of violence in Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch eventually settles into the aftermath of rage and personal selfishness. Never have I seen such carnage celebrated and relished in until the buzzards fly in and the women come out to pray. Every character is battling the slowly-fading lifestyle of their bravado nature, and Peckinpah lets every character dwell not in nostalgia but in remembrance. The final 15 minutes lets loose in its purity and its depravity, but in an honest way that recalls why such stories are told."]

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Elizabeth S. Anderson: Philosophy/Women's Studies (Ongoing Archive)

 Anderson, Elizabeth S. "Common Property: How Social Insurance Became Confused with Socialism." Boston Review (July 25, 2016)

---. "Fair Opportunity in Education: A Democratic Equality Perspective." Ethics 117 (July 2007): 595 - 622.

---. "Is Women's Labor a Commodity? Philosophy and Public Affairs 19.1 (Winter 1990): 71-92.

---. "Liberty, Equality, and Private Government." The Tanner Lectures in Human Values (Transcript of a lectured delivered at Princeton University: March 4-5, 2015)

---. Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and We Don't Talk About It). Princeton University Press, 2017.

---. "Reply to My Critics." Symposia on Gender, Race, and Philosophy 9.2 (Fall 2013)

---. "Slavery, Emancipation, and the Relationship of Freedom and Equality." Boston Review (August 5, 2013)

---. "What If The Way We Think About Freedom And Equality Is All Wrong?" On Point (January 24, 2019)

---. "What is the Point of Equality?" Ethics 109.2 (1999): 287 - 337. ["What has gone wrong here? I shall argue that these problems stem from a flawed understanding of the point of equality. Recent egalitarian writing has come to be dominated by the view that the fundamental aim of equality is to compensate people for undeserved bad luck-being born with poor native endowments, bad parents, and disagreeable personalities, suffering from accidents and illness, and so forth. I shall argue that in focusing on correcting a supposed cosmic injustice, recent egalitarian writing has lost sight of the distinctively political aims of egalitarianism. The proper negative aim of egalitarian justice is not to eliminate the impact of brute luck from human affairs, but to end oppression, which by definition is socially imposed. Its proper positive aim is not to ensure that everyone gets what they morally deserve, but to create a community in which people stand in relations of equality to others."]

Anderson, Elizabeth, Joshua Cohen and David Hollinger. "Slavery, Emancipation, and Equality." Boston Review (August 5, 2013)

Heller, Nathan. "The Philosopher Redefining Equality." The New Yorker (January 7, 2019)  ["Elizabeth Anderson thinks we’ve misunderstood the basis of a free and fair society."]

Norman, Wayne. "Elizabeth Anderson - Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don't Talk about It)." Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (August 2018)

Rothman, Joshua. "Are Bosses Dictators." The New Yorker (September 12, 2017)

Dialogic Cinephilia - September 30, 2020

Boyer, Lanny. "Paul Thomas Anderson: Four Basics." (Posted on Youtube: October 19, 2015)

Ford, Phil and J.F. Martel. "On Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut." Weird Studies #30 (October 14, 2018) ["No dream is ever just a dream. Or so Tom Cruises tells Nicole Kidman at the end of Eyes Wide Shut. In this episode, Phil and JF expound some of the key themes of Kubrick's film, a masterpiece of cinematic chamber music that demonstrates, with painstaking attention to detail, Zen Master Dōgen's utterance that when one side of the world is illuminated, the other side is dark. Treading a winding path between wakefulness and dream, love and sex, life and art, your paranoid hosts make boldly for that secret spot where the rainbow ends, and the masks come off."]

Gissy, Sharon. "Bug (2006)." Voice & Visions (2020)

O'Brien, Geoffrey. "Law and disorder in Edward Dmytryk’s Warlock." Library of America (September 22, 2020)

"Orson Welles, Part One." Director's Club #137 (October 22, 2017) ["In this episode the Director's Club tries to grasp the enormity of the works of Orson Welles. It's an extended look at the creative audacity that led to so much artistic triumph and career tragedy, and to make sense of it we include a look at his pre-film life and the many cinema endeavors that sadly never made it to the film screen. In part 1 we look at his start working for the movie studios, from his epic "Citizen Kane" through his take on Shakespeare's "Macbeth"."]

"Orson Welles, Part Two." Director's Club #138 (November 7, 2017) ["The Director's Club finish our epic look at epic auteur Orson Welles, who managed to continue creating some amazing film moments despite becoming mostly exiled from the Hollywood studio system. In Part II we look from his takes on Shakespeare with "Othello" and "Chimes At Midnight", through his acidic noir "Touch of Evil", to his 'deconstructumentary' film "F for Fake", and along the way talk about his many unfinished films (one of which may see the light of day yet). His work proved so inspiring we not only looked to compare them to the efforts of Jacques Tati and Alfred Hitchcock, but had to invent words to describe some characters and even hairstyles in his movies! Hope we were able to bring across the brazenly enthusiastic creativity to be found in Orson Welles' films!"]

"Sofia Coppola." Director's Club (August 20, 2017) ["In this episode, the Director's Club looks at the films of Sofia Coppola (a.k.a., "The Good One"), whose movies had a dreamlike feeling of melancholy isolation, level of visual composition, and focus on young womanhood that was evident from the start of her career. We're joined in our journey through her film work (that takes us from L.A. to Tokyo to Versailles to the Civil War South) by Rebecca Martin, an ultra-promoter of film appreciation in the Chicago area and host of Now Playing Network's "Fresh Perspective.""]

CINEMA in CINEMA from Brutzelpretzel on Vimeo.