Zero Dark Thirty and Torture

April 1, 2013

. I held my peace during the controversy over Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty because I was working on an extended consideration of the film and preferred to make my case fully in that venue. Suffice it to say as brief introduction that I think the criticisms of the film, those that accused it of [...]

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Zero Dark Art vs Journalism

December 26, 2012

. There is a quite extraordinary article on Huffington Post today by G. Roger Denson. It addresses the controversy over director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal‘s film Zero Dark Thirty and the matter of torture. It is somewhat extraordinary for its length, by HufPo standards, but truly for for the quality of its perceptions and the [...]

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Season’s Jeer and Cheer

December 24, 2012

. No doubt many will be ritually watching It’s a Wonderful Life this holiday season. I recall with satisfaction when my brother, Jeff, and I discovered the film on late night television after a print was finally turned up in distributor mothballs, many years before the film became, for some, the tiresome phenomenon it has [...]

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Purity & Invention: a Claude Sautet Retrospective

September 27, 2012

. From August 1-9 this summer, The Film Society of Lincoln Center hosted a long overdue retrospective of the films of Claude Sautet (1924-2000). Probably best known to younger, more contemporary audiences for his late flowering of 1990s films Un Coeur en Hiver (A Heart in Winter) and Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud (Nelly and Mr. Arnaud), Sautet established [...]

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CineFile – Drive

July 15, 2012

. with Ryan Gosling, by Nicolas Winding Refn. Primal eruption  and withdrawal. Related articles New Images of Ryan Gosling in Nicolas Winding Refn’s ONLY GOD FORGIVES ( WTF: Nicolas Winding Refn Directing ‘Barbarella’ TV Series ( ‘Only God Forgives’ Will Share The ‘Language’ Of ‘Drive’ ( Behind the Scenes Photos: Ryan Gosling in ‘Only God Forgives’ [...]

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CineFile: A Serious Man

January 22, 2012

. Before the Law. Waiting for Godot. Meeting Marshak. Anticipating the week ahead… Related articles CineFile – Cheyenne Autumn ( CineFile – The Last of the Mochicans ( CineFile: Let There Be Light ( Running for Office in Movies (

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CineFile: Let There Be Light

November 14, 2011

. I wish I’d had this for Veterans Day, but the following day nor any day is too late to view it. Let There Be Light was the last of three films made by John Huston for the Army Signal Corp during and just after World War II. Because of its frank, documentary record of [...]

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CineFile – Nobody’s Fool

August 7, 2011

In my previous post I offered a couple of links to video excerpts from Paul Newman films. Sometimes, though, people don’t click on links. (What’s that all about? Don’t they know how web surfing works? How else are they going to go down the rabbit hole?) So I thought I’d offer one of those excerpts [...]

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CineFile – Manhattan

June 26, 2011

I’m home in New York for awhile – Manhattan to be precise. Film by Woody Allen. City a joint project. The clip ends with the night of my arrival. Manhattan (1979) from circeo59 on Vimeo.

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CineFile – Farley Granger

April 3, 2011

Farley Granger, who died a week ago today, was a second level movie star for only a brief period – the late ’40s through the mid ’50s – but any fan of Hollywood’s Golden Age, even that tail end, will inevitably know him for his appearances in two notable Alfred Hitchcock films, Rope and and [...]

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CineFile – Movies, Music, Motion, Minimalism

March 27, 2011

As a youth riding buses and subway trains in New York City, and as a child in the backseat of the family car, I loved to stare out windows in silence, even if everyone around me was loud with conversation. I lived inside my head, not the world, and observation was a form of contentment. [...]

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CineFile – The Thin Red Line

March 20, 2011

“In this world, a man, himself, is nothin’. And there aint no world but this one.” If you’ve read the blog this past week, you’ll have some idea of why I’ve chosen Terrence Malick‘s The Think Red Line for this week’s CineFile post. There is that crushing illusion in which war between states and armed [...]

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Jazz Is: 29 – Dexter Gordon, “Body and Soul”

March 16, 2011

While I was laboring over the Wisconsin labor crisis and neglecting my regular features, Dexter Gordon, much beloved sax man, had a birthday. Gordon, who died in 1990, was born on February 27, 1923. Here is how his Wikipedia entry introduces him: Gordon is one of the most influential and iconic figures in Jazz and [...]

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CineFile: Mothers, Sons, & Political Paranoia

February 13, 2011

In the 1950s there really was a communist threat. It just wasn’t in the United States, even though there were surely many more American communist supporters and sympathizers then than there are Americans today who are supporters of any form of Islamism. Even then Joe McCarthy claimed that there were communists in the Pentagon, and [...]

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CineFile – Five Easy Pieces

January 30, 2011

It isn’t the most famous scene in the film – that would be holding the chicken between her knees – but it is the film’s most emotionally naked, its thematic center. As Jack Nicholson’s Bobby Dupea reveals himself to his stricken, speechless father, played by William Challee, whose apparently compassionate face bears, in its unresponsive [...]

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CineFile – The Farewell Waltz

January 23, 2011

Mervyn LerRoy’s Waterloo Bridge is a quintessential Golden Age Hollywood romance of love tragically interrupted by war. Both of its stars, Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh, later recalled their roles as perhaps the favorite of their careers. This is its most exquisite scene, offering a typically sentimentalized representation of high-cultured English civilization before the coming [...]

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January 16, 2011

Hans Richter (1888-1976) was an early Dadaist, and along with Futurists Bruno Corra and Arnaldo Ginna and fellow German Walter Ruttmann, was among the earliest makers of abstract film. Filmstudie (1926) was his third film, following on Rhytmus 21 and Rhytmus 23. Richter moved to the U.S. in 1941 and in the 1950s was Professor [...]

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How We Lived on It (32) – All I Need

January 15, 2011

Footage from the 1996 French film “Microcosmos.” [ad#adsense]

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CineFile – Paths of Glory

January 9, 2011

Stanley Kubrick‘s first masterwork, an essential artistic consideration of the political nature of war. One of the defining performances of Kirk Douglas’s career. This is the execution scene, of three French soldiers during the First World War chosen at random, yet with bias, for trial on trumped up charges of cowardice because of the failure [...]

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CineFile: Elevator to the Gallows

December 19, 2010

What do you get when you put together Louis Malle, Miles Davis, Jeanne Moreau Maurice Ronet, Lino Ventura, film noir, the advent of the French New Wave, and the birth of the Cool? As this past week’s Jazz Is might have promised, even a trailer that is memorable. [ad#adsense] Related articles CineFile: The Birth of [...]

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CineFile: The Crowd

December 12, 2010

There had been signs of what we would later think of as modernity through much of the nineteenth century, and modernism was already a fully realized artistic development; still it is remarkable to witness this early vision of the mass metropolis, of teeming anonymity. Influenced by the great German films of the time, King Vidor‘s [...]

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