It’s a December release, but Inside Llewyn Davis feels like February. It feels like the day after a snowfall in New York, when the pristine white blanket of last night has turned into a sponge for car exhaust, the gray mid-day after, when yesterday’s snow, half-melted, transforms every curb into a slushy moat, and every street crossing becomes an Olympian long jump.
Tag Archives: Bombast
Alexander Payne and Wes Anderson both make comedies, albeit comedies laced with strychnine and a dab of treacle. They both hail from regions far from the coastal culture capitals, and are both highly conscious of film history and their place in it, each in his way owing a particular debt of gratitude to the “Golden Age” of American cinema in the 1970’s. And in re-watching their sophomore, breakthrough features, Anderson’s Rushmore and Payne’s Election, I noticed that the movies had … Read More
The closure of Blockbuster is only sad inasmuch as it it’s symptomatic of a broader, ongoing dismantling, the creation of a culture industry without wares to sell. This contributes to the ongoing devaluation of practically everything—journalism, pop music, and even that old mom n’ pop staple, pornography. Thus when cultural commentary has ceased entirely to be a viable career option for any but the moneyed, the very young, or the moneyed very young, and the last brick-and-mortar film critic has … Read More
Abel Ferrara’s concern with the relationship between presentational and subterranean truths is nothing new. In fact, the director’s greatest creation is a character called “Abel Ferrara,” a shambling, grizzled, reckless, perpetually drugged-up walking staph infection who just happens to have lined up financing for and successfully completed the shooting of twenty-some films since 1976—though Ferrara is careful not to let the mask slip before his public.
Can there be such a thing as too much virtuosity? Along with most of America, in the last several days I caught up with the latest works from two ‘90s-vintage virtuosi. The first is Gravity, by Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón, which at present is the number one box office attraction in America; the second is “Rap God,” officially the third single from Eminem’s forthcoming album The Marshall Mathers LP 2, an album that even in the post-analog media world will … Read More
Claire Denis is attracted to polarities, and she has a tendency to revisit or reconsider similar material as seen through different prisms, light and dark. Take, for example, the back-to-back releases of Trouble Every Day (2001) and Vendredi soir (2002). The former deals in glancing sexual encounters with fatal outcomes. The latter is built around a no-strings-attached one night stand that blows by like a zephyr, with so little permanent consequence that might very well be the idle fantasy of … Read More
If you read about movies enough, you will encounter certain stock phrases meant to explain historical and sociological forces at play in pop cultural movements. “Nuclear anxiety” is one. “Postwar disillusionment,” of which film noir is said to be symptomatic, is another. It’s worth exploring what, precisely, that term really means. To this end, a rather obscure 1946 film noir called The Chase is enormously informative.
When you can effortlessly obtain a thin-slice sample of anything that you might for a moment entertain a passing interest in, what naturally follows is a rush to judgment—of much the same sort that we can presently see issuing from Toronto, or any festival, via Twitter. Though Pauline Kael has fallen out of favor with the kids, her one-and-done viewing methodology has become pretty de rigeur, much as the quick-draw is increasingly favored over the accurately-targeted.
Dark and sturdy, Frenzy premiered out of competition at the 25th Cannes Film Festival, and was released on the 25th of May, 1972 in the UK, when its director was 72 years old. Only two weeks later David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars hit record stores, and it is remarkable to think of these texts as products of the same universe, much less the same country.