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Blogging & Blog-rolling

David Cronenberg’s Visual Shock [NYRBlog]
While movie directors are regularly given retrospectives, few have been the subject of museum exhibitions. Read more… Read more – ‘David Cronenberg’s Visual Shock [NYRBlog]’.
Mario Montez 1935-2013
Asked to name his favorite superstar, Jack Smith singled out the appealing madcap known asMario Montez, explaining that “he [sic] immediately enlists the sympathy of the audience.” Read more… Read more – ‘Mario Montez 1935-2013’.
Something “Wicker” This Way Comes [Artinfo]
Restored on its 40th anniversary in director Robin Hardy’s “final cut” and, courtesy of Rialto, back in release, “The Wicker Man”—explicated here by Graham Fuller—is the culminating work in a tradition that never gotten its due, namely Brit Goth. Read more… Read more – ‘Something “Wicker” This Way Comes [Artinfo]’.
The Bling Ring: Whatever
“The Bling Ring,” which goes wide this weekend, didn’t get much respect when it had its world premiere last month in Cannes; nor has Sofia Coppola’s fifth feature proved to be a critical darling. Read more… Read more – ‘The Bling Ring: Whatever’.
Les Blank 1936-2013 [Artinfo]
Les Blank, who died Sunday at age 77, was King of the Folkie Filmmakers, a professional Stranger in Paradise, the ramshackle poet laureate of a lost American gemeinschaft. Read more… Read more – ‘Les Blank 1936-2013 [Artinfo]’.
Maya Deren: Cat Woman [Artinfo]
Maya Deren’s “Meshes of the Afternoon”, shot 70 years ago this May in and around a bungalow north of Sunset Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills, is the American avant-garde movie most often screened in American film classes, which is why it has been visually quoted, consciously or not, by everyone from Madonna to David Lynch. […] Read more – ‘Maya Deren: Cat Woman [Artinfo]’.
Hollywood and the CIA Can Agree on Argo [Artinfo]
The Oscar balloting continues and with two weeks left before the voting ends, is being handicapped in the trades as though it were America’s second most important national election which, unless you’re a die-hard baseball fan voting early and often for hometown representation on the all-star team, it more or less is. Read more… Read more – ‘Hollywood and the CIA Can Agree on Argo [Artinfo]’.
On “The Yellow Ticket” [Tablet]
Now in its 22nd year, the New York Jewish Film Festival has a long-standing interest in archival material. Read more… Read more – ‘On “The Yellow Ticket” [Tablet]’.
On “The Clock” [Artinfo]
The great paradox of “The Clock” is that it uses the conventions of commercial narrative cinema (the very stuff of time-killing “escapism”) to tell time in real time and thus create an audience of self-aware spectators. The experience of watching a movie is forcibly literalized. Read more… Read more – ‘On “The Clock” [Artinfo]’.
Report from the Front: NYFCC Garlands “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Lincoln”
In one of the lengthiest sessions I’ve sat through since joining the New York Film Critics Circle in 1981, the group took over five hours to decide upon its 12 annual awards, with Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” and Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” — serious pictures, both filled with topical resonance — emerging as the two […] Read more – ‘Report from the Front: NYFCC Garlands “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Lincoln”’.
Total Recall – The Drive-In
Seeing the totally superfluous “Total Recall” $200 million remake, under a full harvest moon, at Cape Cod’s Wellfleet Drive-in prompts another sort recall. The last of its kind left on the Cape, and one the few in New England if not the whole Northeast, the Wellfleet Drive-in lends itself to implanted memories. Read more… Read more – ‘Total Recall – The Drive-In’.
In Honor of Mr Vidal, Praising Ms Breckinridge
The author hated the movie, as did most of the cast; it bombed at the box-office, received what may have been the worst reviews ever accorded a major studio release, and ruined its director’s career. Read more… Read more – ‘In Honor of Mr Vidal, Praising Ms Breckinridge’.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
One face was ubiquitous in Berlin last month, and it didn’t belong to Spider Man. S-Bahn stations and bus shelters across the city were festooned with a poster announcing Alison Klayman’s documentary-portrait “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.” Has this 55-year-old Chinese conceptual artist cum political activist supplanted Damon Hirst or Jeff Koons as the art world’s […] Read more – ‘Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry’.
Kusama’s Self Obliteration: Part of Our Time
Tucked into the irresistible biomorphic carnival that is the Whitney’s current Yayoi Kusama retro is a continuous showing of  “Kusama Self-Obliteration,” Jud Yalkut’s 1967 16mm documentation of the artist’s once-notorious “body festivals.” Read more…  Read more – ‘Kusama’s Self Obliteration: Part of Our Time’.
Disney in Reaganland
Movie Journal notes with interest the opening of the exhibition “Treasures of the Walt DisneyArchives” at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California—although, to my mind, the more appropriate coupling would have been the creation of a Ronald Reagan “New Morning” Land in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Read more… Read more – ‘Disney in Reaganland’.
Stephen Dwoskin (1939-2012)
Returning from holiday, I got word that the American avant-garde filmmaker Steve Dwoskin had died June 28 in London, his home for nearly five decades. Read more… Read more – ‘Stephen Dwoskin (1939-2012)’.
Rediscoveries alla Bolognese
Cannes is for film journalists, festival directors, and star-gazers. Il Cinema Ritrovato, the annual festival of restoration and rediscovery held each year in Bologna, is for film programmers, academics, and cinephiles whose idea of a star is a director–say the Soviet filmmaker Ivan Pyr’ev–who’s been dead for at least half a century. Read more… Read more – ‘Rediscoveries alla Bolognese’.
Andrew Sarris (1928-2012)
Andrew Sarris, the most influential movie critic of his generation, died today at age 83.  Read more… Read more – ‘Andrew Sarris (1928-2012)’.
Death in Syria, in Berlin
Seen in Berlin (on a break from an event marking the 30th anniversary of R.W. Fassbinder’s death), Lebanese multi-media artist Rabih Mroué’s harrowing film piece “Double Shooting,” installed in a remote part of the old Tempelhof airfield as part of a month-long mock international expo “The World is Not Fair.” Read more… Read more – ‘Death in Syria, in Berlin’.
“Star Wars Uncut” Comes to Lincoln Center: Midnight in Cyberspace?
A most fascinating experiment at Lincoln Center tonight: The Elinor Bunim Munroe Film Center, known to habitués as the Boon-Moon Room, has begun a series of weekly midnight movies, thus posing the question–can the course of exhibition history be reversed? Read more… Read more – ‘“Star Wars Uncut” Comes to Lincoln Center: Midnight in Cyberspace?’.
Sweet Little 16mm
Taking a busman’s holiday at MoMA’s Werner Schroeter retro, I saw a beautiful 16mm print of the late German director’s “Death of Maria Malibran” [above] and was knocked out by the sheer 16mm-ness of his 1972 masterpiece. Even blown up to 35mm, Schroeter’s brilliant first feature “Eika Katappa” (1969), also shot on 16mm color reversal […] Read more – ‘Sweet Little 16mm’.
Cooper Student Arrested Trying to Get to (My) Class
Walking up the Bowery late Wednesday afternoon en route to Cooper Union to teach my course “American Movies in the Age of Reagan,” I passed a procession of Occupy Wall Street student-debt protestors (accompanied by a phalanx of New York City police) to find Cooper Square filled with cops… Read more Read more – ‘Cooper Student Arrested Trying to Get to (My) Class’.
Four Days at BAFICI
In downtown Buenos Aires for a few days as the guest of BAFICI [Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente], which has published a Spanish-language anthology of my work. Read more… Read more – ‘Four Days at BAFICI’.
Goodis Gold
The Library of America grows ever more cinephilic, witness the tough little B-movie twin bill Wednesday night at the Walter Reade to mark the induction of pulp fictioneer and noir-iste David Goodis (1917-67) into the Library’s austerely uniformed ranks, with a five-novel anthology edited by Robert Polito. Read more… Read more – ‘Goodis Gold’.
A Spoil Sport at “The Hunger Games”
I went, I saw (so you don’t have to), I wasn’t unduly bored — although “The Hunger Games” requires nearly half its two-hour-and-twenty-minute running time to get the show on the road. Read more… Read more – ‘A Spoil Sport at “The Hunger Games”’.
Not Seeing “The Hunger Games” Isn’t the End of the World
… or maybe it is. There are three excellent movies opening in New York and Los Angeles this weekend and one of them, Abel Ferrara’s “4:44 Last Day on Earth,” is about that very thing. Read more… Read more – ‘Not Seeing “The Hunger Games” Isn’t the End of the World’.
Jury Duty; Or, What I Saw at SXSW
First time at SXSW (also Austin, not to mention Texas), I can’t help but note that the fabled film/music/“interactive” media festival has a demographic suggesting a shaggier version of the L train on a Saturday night. Read more… Read more – ‘Jury Duty; Or, What I Saw at SXSW’.
“John Carter”: Cowboy and Indians on Mars
Poised to plunge into distribution tomorrow, Disney’s elaborately retro space opera “John Carter” is the movie that dares to ask, “Would a Princess of Mars ever consider marriage to a wayward Virginia cavalryman?” It’s a proposal worthy of Newt Gingrich. Still, this quarter-billion dollar, retrofitted 3D production is hardly the “Waterworld”-scale debacle that many feared […] Read more – ‘“John Carter”: Cowboy and Indians on Mars’.
Controversial New “Lorax” Bizarrely True to Dr. Seuss
I don’t expect to spend any part of my weekend (or my life) with the 3-D animated version of Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” that opens today, but it is interesting to note that, beginning with a Lou Dobbs screed on Fox TV, the movie has been attacked by the right, left (Huffpo and NPR), and […] Read more – ‘Controversial New “Lorax” Bizarrely True to Dr. Seuss’.
Asghar Farhadi, Jafar Panahi, and the Oscars: This Was Not the Time
Kudos to the Academy for naming Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” last year’s Best Foreign Film — not just the first Iranian feature so honored but the first ever from a Muslim country… Read more  Read more – ‘Asghar Farhadi, Jafar Panahi, and the Oscars: This Was Not the Time’.
On Béla Tarr’s “The Turin Horse”
“It’s something more than a movie … or maybe it’s something less.” So said Hungarian director Béla Tarr, speaking in English to introduce “The Turin Horse” at a film festival in Wrocław, Poland where I first saw it last summer… Read more Read more – ‘On Béla Tarr’s “The Turin Horse”’.
The Wrong Margaret Got the Oscar
What then to say in the sober aftermath of an Oscar night that was not only set up to be the most retro in recent memory but the most consecrated to conventional wisdom? Read more…  Read more – ‘The Wrong Margaret Got the Oscar’.
Harvey Weinstein is Back — NY Film Critics
The big news to emerge from yesterday’s New York Film Critics Circle voting–held early this year to scoop the other year end awards–is, of course, the second coming of homeboy Harvey Weinstein. Not only was The Artist voted best picture and its director Michel Hazanavicius anointed Best Director but NYFCC perennial Meryl Streep, who stars […] Read more – ‘Harvey Weinstein is Back — NY Film Critics’.
George Kuchar 1942-2011
​George Kuchar, the Bronx-raised filmmaker who began his career, along with twin brother Mike, at age 12, died this week in San Francisco after ... Read more – ‘George Kuchar 1942-2011’.
Raul Ruiz, 1941-2011
​One of the most innovative and prolific narrative filmmakers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Chilean-born, Paris-based director Raul... Read more – ‘Raul Ruiz, 1941-2011’.
Robert Breer, 1926-2011
​A pioneering kinetic sculptor, a key member of the great generation of American avant-garde filmmakers, and one of the most influential animato... Read more – ‘Robert Breer, 1926-2011’.
Robert Sklar, 1936-2011
​The New York film community was shocked and saddened this past weekend upon receiving news that Robert Sklar, longtime pillar of NYU's Departme... Read more – ‘Robert Sklar, 1936-2011’.
Cannes 2011
May 11 The Quest to Avoid Lady Ga-Ga Begins May 13 Good Movies Where Are You? May 16 The Tree of Life May 17 Cannes Has Issues May 18 Melancholia. Wow. May 19 Lars von Trier Kicked Out May 20 We the Jury May 23 The Winners May 25 Cannes Outdoes Itself Read more – ‘Cannes 2011’.