My Summer of Love

My Summer of Love received a lot of “buzz,” as they say, in Toronto, and I would guess that most of it was generated by Press’s performance, which is a lot of fun to watch.

Nobody Knows (2004)

After Life is one of my favorite films of the past five years, so for that reason alone, I was very much looking forward to Kore-eda’s latest, Nobody Knows, the story of four young siblings whose mother abandons them to find work in another city.

TIFF Film Schedule

I’ve put in my ticket requests for the Toronto Film Festival. By choosing to fly in on the 11th and out on the 18th, I’ll be missing two of my most highly anticipated films, Robert Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest, which will be introduced by Chantal Akerman and which I’ve always wanted to see on the big screen, and Godard’s latest, Notre Musique.

Motion Pictures During World War I and II

Note: Writing an entry for an encyclopedia intended for high school and college libraries, as it turns out, is a lot like writing an undergraduate research paper: the concerns seem to be quantity rather than quality, breadth rather than depth. I found the process more than a bit maddening.

Arthur Miller, Then and Now

No new Cine Club notes this week, as we decided spontaneously last night (and with mixed results) to watch John Huston’s The Misfits (1961). I love parts of the film — Thelma Ritter’s jokes and Montgomery Clift’s performance, in particular — and I think it’s a fascinating film to talk about.


Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner will rewrite Steven Spielberg’s untitled drama about the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics, where members of the Israeli team were held hostage and slain by Palestinian extremists.

Preach On

“If cinema is merely an imposition of ideology, then, as a field of study, it is both a bore and a chore. There was a brief moment in my life when I viewed cinema solely through the lens of post-structuralism, but I realized that it was jeopardizing my love for the art. Call me naive, but I believe cinema, like other artforms, can still offer aesthetic experiences worthy of the search.” — EJ Park

Random Musings . . .

On some recent viewings . . . Shame (Bergman, 1968) — Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow star as Eva and Jan Rosenberg, cultured musicians who escape to a rural island when their orchestra is shut down during a war. Their new, more simple life as farmers is soon interrupted when their home is invaded, […]

The New Cine

I’m pleased to announce Cine Club, a new group blog that I hope will evolve in interesting ways. In the spirit of Andre Bazin and Francois Truffaut, I recently began hosting weekly film viewings with a small group of friends.

The New American Old West: Bruno Dumont’s Twentynine Palms

This essay was originally published at Senses of Cinema.


I’ve purchased my airfare. Any advice for a first-time visitor to the Toronto International Film Festival?

Hour of the Wolf (1968)

Hour of the Wolf is Ingmar Bergman’s vampire film. Let me repeat that: Hour of the Wolf (1968) is Ingmar Bergman’s vampire film.

Fahrenheit 9/11

Like millions of others, I lined up this weekend to see Fahrenheit 9/11.

Damnation (1988)

Would Tarkovsky’s style, siphoned through another imagination, produce a similar effect? Would any of that strange poetic logic survive the translation? Béla Tarr’s Damnation makes for an interesting case study.

The Masters of Cinema Series

I’ve been trading emails with Doug, Trond, and Nick for years now, so I couldn’t be happier to see them entering the DVD production business, even if only tangentially. The Masters of Cinema Series will, no doubt, be a gift to all of us cinephiles. Cheers, guys.

The Great Divide

I genuinely admire Jeffrey Overstreet for his willingness to write this stuff. I’m glad that someone is doing it. I’m even more glad that that someone ain’t me.

A (Very) Few Words on Twentynine Palms

A much longer response is in the works.

A Scanner Darkly!

“Linklater has kept the story dark, and haunted by rumors of God.” — Erik Davis at Boing Boing

Iron & Wine & Tarkovsky

How strange. I just discovered that Sam Beam, of Iron and Wine, graduated from Florida State’s film school. As an alumnus of that program, my wife receives a monthly email notice, The Warren Report, that offers brief updates on the lives and careers of FSU filmmakers.

DVD Beaver Listserv Top 20

I’ve participated in the DVDBeaver listserv since its inception. Gary Tooze created the list when several of us who posted frequently in the Movies section of the Home Heater Forum decided that we needed a place to talk privately about foreign and art films. Here is a compiled list of our favorite films.

Late August, Early September (1998)

Like, one of Rohmer’s late comedies, the charm of Late August is found almost entirely in its characters (all of whom are likeable enough and three-dimensional enough) and in the smart things they say to one another. They twist themselves in existential knots, struggling to balance their idealized visions of integrity with the muddy necessity: compromise.

Dogville (2003)

There’s little sense in writing about Dogville without discussing its final sequence, and there’s little sense in watching Dogville if you know how it ends.

Talkin’ About Movies

Last night I delivered the following talk at the 2004 NEXUS Interdisciplinary Symposium: Reconstructing Theory and Value.

All Work and No Play

Jon Ronson has been given permission to dig through the boxes that fill Kubrick’s Hertfordshire home — the lucky bastard — and he’s written about some of his findings.

Biskind Blows

Via GreenCine Daily comes this link to Biskind Blows. I haven’t read Down and Dirty Pictures, and have no real desire to, but, based on others’ reports, I feel safe in assuming that my main beef with Easy Riders, Raging Bulls applies to his newer work as well.

Faith and Film

After reading about it for the past few months, I found a copy of The Hidden God: Film and Faith on the new releases shelf of the university library during my lunch break today. Given the sensational coverage of film and faith in recent weeks, this collection of short essays is a breath of fresh air.

To Be Continued . . .

A link to my profile of Hal Ashby at Senses of Cinema.

Great Directors: Hal Ashby

This essay was originally published at Senses of Cinema.

2004 Film Diary

A day-by-day viewing log of my filmwatching habits in 2004, beginning with Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail (1972) and ending with Brad Silberling’s Lemony Snicket (2003).

Best Films of 2003

Living in Knoxville, Tennessee, with its two or three screens devoted to interesting fare, leaves me grossly ill-equipped to make sweeping generalizations about the year in film. The following, instead, is an odd mix of movies (or, more often, groups of movies) that I will probably forever associate with 2003.

Calendar (1993)

Made for German television and with a budget of only $100,000, Calendar is one of the most compelling and stylistically inventive films I’ve seen this year.

But Is It Funny?

Dale Peck at Slate offers the best critical reading of HBO’s Angels that I’ve found. He points out something that has bothered me a bit as well: the film just isn’t very funny. Which is a shame, because the play is really funny.

Minor Quibbles

I’m thrilled so far with Angels. Mary-Louise Parker is stealing the show as Harper, and Justin Kirk is fantastic as Prior. The homage to Cocteau and the casting of the prior Priors were both brilliant. But why, in their trimming and reshaping, did Kushner and Nichols have to cut my two favorite lines from Millennium Approaches?

Still Cranky (After All These Years)

I don’t read White for his reviews, I read him for his attitude, and I wish there were more out there like him.

Film Journey

Over at Film Journey Jonathan Takagi has posted a series of capsule reviews from his recent trip to Paris.

Roth, on Film

We all know that Stanley Kauffman, that grand icon of American film-reviewing, has been with The New Republic since 1958. But did you know that he was preceded immediately by a young punk of a wannabe novelist named Philip Roth?

Going Digital

HBO’s economic freedom is just one of the many topics of discussion over at Newsweek, where Mike Nichols, Tony Kushner, and their cast are talking up Angels in America.

Carney on Minnie and Moskowitz

The greatest face in film history? Ray Carney on John Cassavetes’ Minnie and Moskowitz.

Lost in Translation (2003)

I really enjoyed Lost in Translation — enjoyed it as much as any film I’ve seen this year. As I watched Lost in Translation, I kept thinking of two other films, and it suffered for the (admittedly unfair) comparison.

Bresson at the Film Forum

So I wonder if there’s any chance, any chance at all, of Au Hasard Balthazar making a stop in Knoxville. I’ve seen this film only twice, both times on a duped VHS tape that a friend mailed to me from California, but it’s securely in my Top 20 favorite films.

Film and Stage

Closer will be directed by Mike Nichols, who apparently is going to finish out his career by filming great plays. Two months and counting until I fire up my one-month subscription to HBO in order to watch Nichols’s rendition of Angels in America.

More from Toronto

In his on-going reportage from the Toronto film festival, J. Robert Parks has posted a full-length review of Tsai’s Good Bye, Dragon Inn.

Notes from the Festivals

David Hudson’s always excellent film blog at GreenCine is a great one-stop resource for links to news from Toronto and Venice. Some early blurbs that have caught my attention.

From the Journals of Jean Seberg (1996)

Journals is at its best, I think, when Rappaport intertwines the lives and loves of Seberg, Jane Fonda, and Vanessa Redgrave. All are of the same age, all made films directed by their husbands (another of the film’s more interesting concerns), and all participated actively in radical political movements.

A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

It took me three tries to make it through John Cassavetes’s A Woman Under the Influence. I wasn’t bored by the film; I was in agony.

Great Directors: Tsai Ming-liang

This essay was orignally published at Senses of Cinema.

Ivan’s Childhood (1962)

Kholin’s and Masha’s encounter is a desperate act of human contact, but it’s also vaguely degrading; it’s a moment of near transcendent delight, but it’s one that feels debased and compromised. I can’t make sense of it, really, though I feel compelled to, which is probably why Ivan’s Childhood is one of the few war films that I return to with any frequency.

Children of Heaven (1997)

While the film lacks the explicit political critique of something like Panahi’s The Circle (banned by Iranian officials) or Kiarostami’s Close-Up, it offers a wonderfully told story, and it also performs a service that is terribly important right now: Our hearts should be warmed to the people of the Middle East, the people who are (or who soon will be) hiding out under the devastation of our bombing campaigns.

Beau Travail (2000)

Whereas post-colonial critics have, in turn, criticized/praised Melville for his appropriation of racist stereotypes (or his subversion of those stereotypes, depending on which side of the debate each critic stands), Denis situates Melville’s moral dilemma in an explicitly post-colonial situation, complicating further the relationships between European and African, Christian and Muslim, and calling into question the political value and motivations underlying those relationships.

The Sweet Sting

I’ve never been one to miss high school, but I do occasionally find myself longing for something from those days, something lacking in the day to day management of adult life.