Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I think the Pierre Schneider discussion is in his big Matisse, but I'll check when I get home from CA tonight and bring/send you a photocopy of those pages. And sure, I'd love to see your film mags when we get together next. Btw, needing something to read yesterday I picked up an issue of The Believer, a 10x/year journal out of SF, essays, criticism, etc. Have you heard of it?

The first of the three DVDs we watched here that I couldn't remember in my email was Remains of the worth seeing again. Anthony Hopkins's imprisonment in his concept of his butler role lingers in my mind. In wonderful real-life contrast, visited here with an artist, Sas Colby, who is so free!


Saturday, April 08, 2006

I am new to Cinemascope, though I think I'll be a regular reader from now on. My first issue was their previous one, and it was quite good. I've been trying to find their latest issue, but Barnes and Noble and Kims are both out of it. I might just buy a subscription. Film Comment is quite good, as well. I'm also partial to Cineaction, a publiction out of Toronto (Robin Wood, a student of F.R. Leavis, is one of its editors). Cineaction usually has a few lenghty academic articles, as well as a few reviews, on both current and older films. I have the new issue of Cineaste, which is also very interesting: several interviews (Sidney Lumet, The Dardenne brothers, Michael Winterbottom), pieces on Bresson (kind of dissapointing) and a host of film/dvd/book reviews. I can bring a bunch of these magazines in next time we meet, if you'd like to take a look at them. (Or I can photocopy any articles that seem interesting to you.)

Where can I find the Pierre Schneider piece?

Cullen, I read the Bordwell piece, and Barbara Tuchman's definition of "good writing" comes to mind: "clear and interesting" (I think [I'll check and edit this] from "In Search of History" Practicing History 1981). I share Bordwell's interest, and I suppose we're all getting older, in "ideas and information," and when I think about reading art history and/or criticism (two critics in my pantheon are Calvin Tomkins and Adam Gopnik--both always clear and interesting), an example of reading facts that shed light on looking at an artwork that always comes to mind is Pierre Schneider's account of Matisse's painting The Piano Lesson (1916) at MoMA . It doesn't always work this way, but information Schneider provided in his discussion changed it from a painting I felt cool toward into one I happily spend time not only looking at but also thinking about and using as an example. Bordwell's foregrounding of the importance of writing well, since I care about this, is also welcome. And his piece, too, is concise, clear, and interesting (always a relief when one is asking for same). Thanks for sharing this.

Btw, is CinemaScope a journal you regularly read and/or would recommend? Any others?

Also, my only cinemexperience of the past week is Good Night and Good Luck--is there any reason not to be wholeheartedly enthusiastic about it? I saw the first half twice, and it was as edge-of-seat fascinating both times. When the credits rolled, I noted for the first time (where have I been)that Frank Langella had played Bill Paley...I saw FL in Edward Gorey's stage production of Dracula more than twenty-five years ago in Boston, and he was compelling then, so I had to rewind and watch his scenes near the end of GN&GL again, my memories of D (the first half of which I also saw twice...the boyfriend and I had gone way over budget to get the tkts, and a blackout occurred, just a few minutes after the limit that meant the theatre didn't have to give us free tkts to another performance, so of course we went way over budget again to go back and see it all the way through) in mind. All the performances in GN&GL seemed convincing to me...and talk about foreshadowing...from the first appearance of the journalist who ended up committing suicide, I knew. When the phone rang to tell George Clooney/Fred Friendly, while he and the CBS reporters were celebrating the Senate's decision to investigate McCarthy, I knew. Is that the actor's accomplishment? The film made me want to go over to the Museum of Broadcasting and watch some footage of Edward R. Murrow. As always, also love the b&w.


David Bordwell has written an attack on contemporary film criticism in the latest issue of Cinemascope. The above link will take you to an online text of his article. A compelling plea for critics to eschew cleverness and opinion for solid prose and insight. The timing is great, with Lopate's book and interview appearing within the past few weeks. I need to digest Bordwell's piece more carefully, but initially I agree with him. He thinks that both journalistic and academic critics both share the same failing: "muddy" writing, over-opinionated and too formulaic. Regrading formulas, he specifically sites film theory as having created a mechanism for bulk readings, rather than individual considerations, of movies.

A lot to consider. Bordwell also references several critics (Rivette, Bazin and Sontag) as being ideal models. I have several books by Andre Bazin, and have read several essays by Sontag, but I haven't come across Jacques Rivette's writings yet... I saw a colleciton of "Cahiers du Cinema" articles used last weekend and passed it up for some reason....strange that I can't think of WHY I wouldn't buy it, right now...


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Not sure if people were listening, but yesterday on NPR Leonard Lopate had his brother Phillip Lopate on to discuss Phillip's latest book "American Movie Critics: From The Silents Until Now," and the role of the film critic in genearl. Great comments on Kael, Crowther, and many others. You can stream the show from NPR's website. Here is the link.

My computer is officially dead, so I'm working from NYU's computer right now. Once I can get my hands on a new computer, or retrieve my headphones from the office Monday morning, I plan on revisiting this interview and taking notes. I'll be sure to post some thoughts/comments once afterwards.