Among that subset of the population that cares about such things—a population rivaling that of the Sumatran rhino—there is something like a Delmer Daves revival afoot. Mostly remembered today as a director of outdoor adventure pictures, Daves was unique in his field for the serious, consuming fashion with which he dealt with sex and romantic love, and it’s worth tracing the roots of this.
I’d maintain that the American road movie represents something close to existential within our national self: a concordance of lies we’ve been told, innocences we’ve lost, tall stories we’ve heard, tragedies we long to be free of. That’s what the road, seen so starkly and magnificently in the opening of Scarecrow, means.
Let’s talk about that relative. You know, the one who’s a little off? The one you try not to sit next to at holiday dinners? The one who probably has a UFO story in his back pocket? The mystery behind the new drama Caroline and Jackie is which sister is that one. Yes, they’re throwing a birthday intervention for Jackie (sidebar: ouch), but Caroline is the one dancing solo in the living room, without any music. So, you tell me. … Read More
Get ready for a gross generalization: There are two kinds of documentaries being made today—those about people you know, and those about people you don’t. This spring, plenty of prominent docs about people you know—or many of us know—have hit theaters, from author Philip Roth to tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. There have also been documentaries featuring people you probably don’t know. What’s the difference between these two types of documentaries? A whole lot, and also not very much. … Read More
Hell hath no fury like a water cooler scorned.
The zoom can feel like the rudimentary, unpolished affectation of a kid who just picked up a camera for the first time and is fiddling with the lens, or an undisciplined television news documentarian, trying to get into the thick of the action via the least intrusive means possible. Yet if we look at the midpoint of the 1970s, we find three of the greatest technical craftsmen that ever worked in the cinema, proving, in three of their greatest films, … Read More
Frame by painstaking frame, Ray Harryhausen elevated the art of incorporating stop-motion model animation effects into live-action films to a level previously, and subsequently, unseen. In his passing, Harryhausen becomes a symbol for A Time When They Did Things Differently, when what we broadly call “movie magic” still bore human fingerprints, before the business of ensorceling the rubes was delegated to vast armies of pixel-pushers.
Nearly anyone whose home harbored a TV in the ‘60s and ‘70s has the familiar Harryhausen topoi imbedded on his or her alpha waves: the lizard-hipped postures, roiling reptilian tails, the many-armed saber-fights, the disturbing flexibility of stone and bronze colossi, the warping of scale perspectives, the in-our-face manifestations of nightmarish mythic archetypes, etc. If there is a Jungian collective unconscious that can indeed be glimpsed through the looking glass of primitive myth, then Ray Harryhausen alone gave its archetypes … Read More
This time of year, you can always spot the folks who would rather read a terrifying feature on Syrian atrocities than another piece on What I Learned From My Amazing Mother Who Raised Me Perfectly And Never Drank. This week’s column is for those people. If you’re looking for a way to manage your anti-Mother’s Day rage, then here is a hand-tailored list of moms who don’t deserve any mimosas. Pour yourself one, and enjoy.