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DAS BLOG of SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION!!!

Jack Smith in Star Spangled to Death (ca 1958)

 NOT TO MENTION DOGGED SELF-AGGREGATION!!!

Although sporadic updates may be found in “Events” and necessary modifications (plus relevant new material) will accrue to “Biography,” Das Blog mainly serves to link to material published in other venues, with new stuff featured on “The Home Page” [see below]

On the 1968 New York Film Festival (written in 1968) [Film Comment Blog] Yes, I know. I was a teenaged know-it-all, as well as a rabid soixante-huitard, a serious pothead, occasional speed freak, and fanatical cinephile. Read more…

On Georgian cinema [New York Times] Squeezed between the Black and Caspian Seas, as it was among the Roman and Persian, and Ottoman and Russian empires, Georgia is a small realm with a spectacular natural setting and a proud past. Read more…

On Hou Hsiao-hsien [NYRBlog] Although the Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien has been making movies since the early 1980s, I first became convinced of his genius when I saw The Puppetmaster(1993) some twenty years ago. Read more…

On Tabu, People on Sunday, and the lost paradise of silent film [Artforum] The doors of Eden banged shut. Even so, during the summer of 1929, facing the clamorous inevitability of the talking picture and only months before the crash that would announce the Great Depression, a handful of filmmakers sought refuge in the “natural world” of the soundless movie. Read more…

On the films of the Hollywood blacklisted [New York Times] The close-up, the big screen, the eternal klieg light of unending media coverage: Motion pictures, especially those made in Hollywood, are a technology of magnification. How else to explain that the tale of the 300 or so movie studio employees whose political associations cost them their jobs has come to dramatize the repressive hysteria of the McCarthy era? Read more…

On Snowpiercer [NYRBlog] Bong Joon Ho’s Snowpiercer is a madcap addition to the comic-book-derived movies that have dominated cinematic summer fare for much of the twenty-first century. At once streamlined and ramshackle, it doesn’t have a plot so much as a premise—or rather, a ruling metaphor. Read more… 

On The Immigrant & The Grand Budapest Hotel [Tablet] “The Jew is the one whom other men consider a Jew,” according to Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential reasoning. Thus anti-Semitism can exist without Jews. So can philo-Semitism, and so can the nebulous category known as Jewish-themed films. Read more… 

On Ida [Tablet] “So. You are a Jewish nun,” a cynical Polish Communist greets her teenaged niece with just a touch of sarcasm. Read more…

On Sigmar Polke’s films [Artforum] Great film installations—Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho, 1993, say, or Christian Marclay’s The Clock, 2010—use the fact of motion pictures to hypostatize time. Lesser ones raise questions about narrative and intention. The 16-mm films and extended segments of 16-mm footage incorporated into the Museum of Modern Art’s current retrospective of Sigmar Polke’s work do both. Read more…

On Manakama and Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab [NYRBlog] Manakamana, the new documentary by anthropologist Stephanie Spray and filmmaker Pacho Velez, is a motion picture that transports the viewer to a mountaintop Hindu temple, as well as back in time to the medium’s dawn. Read more…

On Sholem Aleichem and Fiddler on the Roof [The Guardian] The Russian-speaking Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916) was, in his lifetime, a prolific popular writer and a failed playwright. In death, he defined a culture. Read more…

On Michael Snow as photographer [Artforum] A humble, relentless, more or less continuous zoom shot taking forty-five minutes to traverse a Canal Street loft into a photograph pasted on the far wall, Michael Snow’s Wavelength (1967) provided twentieth-century cinema with a definitive metaphor for itself as temporal projection—and also burdened Snow with an unrepeatable masterpiece. Read more…

On Darren Aronofsky’s Noah [Tablet] Dark, savage, excessive in its add-ons and murky in its details, Aronofsky’s rip-roaring re-reading and re-scripting of Genesis: 6-10 is not a blockbuster for the ages. But it is likely the most eccentric Old Testament adaptation to come out Hollywood since John Huston’s The Bible… In the Beginning. Read more…

On Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac [NYRBlog] Lars von Trier has made several great films (Dogville, Melancholia). He has also orchestrated a number of provocations, the strongest of which is The Idiots (1998), a movie that anticipates Borat, Jackass, and other recent movies in pushing regressive behavior beyond all acceptable limits. His newest film, Nymphomaniac, belongs with these… Read more

On the exhibits “Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module” and “The Shadows Took Shape” [NYRBlog] Does a museum show occupy space—or should it send us hurtling through it? Read more…

On 12 Years a Slave [Harper's] “Someone must have slandered Joseph K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.” So begins one of the most emblematic novels of the twentieth century and so, more or less, begins the most generally honored motion picture of 2013: 12 Years a Slave. Read more… 

NEW YORK TIMES DVD/BLU-RAY REVIEWS:  Il Sorpasso plus Stranger on the Prowl . Mr Magoo & Father Brown . Riot in Cellblock 11 plus The Big House . Alice plus Black Jack . Friedkin’s Sorcerer & The People vs Paul Crump .  Persona plus The Master of the House . The King of Comedy plus Ms.45 . Men in War plus The Boy From Stalingrad . Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame Samson and Delilah plus The Miracle Woman . Buster & Fatty Talk . Crimes and Misdemeanors plus The Front . Foreign Correspondent . Come Back Africa & Zulu .  The Jungle Book The Miami Story with other Kefauver policiers . It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World plus Khartoum .  I Cannibali plus . Nostalghia .

                                                      NEW PUBLICATIONS!

“Freed to Love? Movies and the Sexual Revolution,” Free to Love: The Cinema of the Sexual Revolution (International House Philadelphia)

“‘Like Canyons and Rivers': Performance for Its own Sake,” Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance and the New Psychodrama, Jay Sanders with J. Hoberman (Whitney Museum/Yale)

“The Gremlins Franchise: Standing Spielberg on His Head,” Joe Dante, ed. Nil Baskar & Gabe Klinger (Osterreichisches Filmmuseum)

“Drawing His Own Conclusions: The Art of Spiegelman,” Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps, Art Spiegelman (Drawn + Quarterly)

PRINT ONLY: On Andy Warhol’s Poor Little Rich Girl, Film Comment (Sept-Oct 2014); review of  Decades Never Start on Time: A Richard Roud Anthology, Film Comment (July-Aug 2014); On Ad Reinhardt’s Art Comics, Bookforum (Feb 2014); On The Collaboration and Hollywood and Hitler, London Review of Books (12/19/13); On Eleanor Antin’s memoir Conversations with Stalin, Bookforum (Dec 2013); On reviewing Eraserhead and Killer of Sheep back in the day, Film Comment (September-October 2013)

2014 REVIEWS: The Last of the Unjust [Tablet] . Ida [Tablet] . Snowpiercer [NYRBlog] .

2013 REVIEWS: Inside Llewyn Davis [Tablet]. Nebraska . The Wind Rises . At Berkeley . The Pervert’s Guide to IdeologyBlue is the Warmest Color . The Fifth Estate . Gravity . Captain Phillips . A Touch of Sin . Enough Said . Newly Weeds .  Le joli mai . Shark . KatzelmacherOur Nixon . The Grandmaster Ain’t Them Bodies Saints  The Act of Killing Computer Chess . Viola . Crystal Fairy Museum Hours . I’m So Excited! . The Bling Ring . Behind the Candelabra Hannah Arendt Old Dog . The Great Gatsby . Something in the Air Post Tenebras Lux . Spring Breakers . Room 237 . Portrait of Jason . Un Flic . This Ain’t California.To the Wonder . Blancanieves . Le Pont du Nord . Beyond the Hills . Caesar Must DieThe Gatekeepers . Hors Satan . Gangster Squad . San Diego Sunset.