Monthly Archives: September 1980

3 Days at the Kitchen: Notes of a Videophobe

From The Soho News (October 29, 1980). — J.R.

What attracted me to sign up in advance for a symposium called “Telvision/Society/Art,” put on at the Kitchen and NYU last weekend, was the opportunity to see and hear some old friends, encounter some new people, and maybe even get some new ideas (about what I should be reading and seeing, if nothing else): a bargain for the $10 registration fee.

Presented by the Kitchen and the American Film Institute and organized by Ron Clark, a senior instructor at the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program, the three-day event inevitably threatened a few dead spots — particularly to a virtual videophobe like me, who largelt regards the medium as a kind of wicker basket holding a few magazines that I’m neither interested in reading nor quite ready to throw away. On the other hand, the fact that some of the invited panelists seemed to share the same bias made me suspect that I’d feel right at home.

The symposium got off to a somewhat inauspicious start wuth the presentation of a lumbering keynote paper entitled “Television Images, Codes and Messages” by Douglas Kellner, a teacher of philosophy at the university of Texas’s Austin campus.… Read more »

Rocky Horror Playtime Vs. Shopping Mall Home

I am reprinting the entirety of my first and most ambitious book (Moving Places: A Life at the Movies, New York: Harper & Row, 1980) in its second edition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995) on this site in eleven installments. This is the eighth.

Note: The book can be purchased on Amazon here, and accessed online in its entirety here. — J.R.

4—
Rocky Horror Playtime Vs. Shopping Mall Home

Seven weeks ago, when I received a call from Adriano Aprà in Rome inviting me to speak at this conference, I was in my hometown, Florence, Alabama, where my parents live today.[1] I have moved with all my belongings seventeen times in the past twenty years, and I will have to find and move to yet another place in New York as soon as I return from this conference. Nevertheless, I consider myself unusually fortunate, fortunate not only in being here—in this city and this country for the first time in my life—but in having a hometown to return to year after year: a fixed reference point. And fortunate in being the grandson of the man who ran most of the local movie theaters when I was growing up, which meant that I had virtually unlimited access to most of what was shown.… Read more »

Catching Up with Godard (an interview)

From The Soho News, September 24-30, 1980. Their title (not mine) was “Bringing Godard Back Home”. This is the first of two interviews that I’ve had with Godard to date; the other one, 16 years later, can be found here. — J.R.

Jean-Luc Godard seems to be into transportation metaphors a lot nowadays. It’s been rumored that when Paul Schrader sidled up to him recently at a film festival and said, “I think you should know that I took something of yours from The Married Woman and put it in American Gigolo,” the Master coolly replied, “What’s important isn’t what you take — it’s where you take it to.”

Every Man for Himself, Godard’s first movie to open in America and show at the New York Film Festival in eight years, is first of all a vehicle designed to bring him back to us. It has all the ingredients that mainstream critics have been clamoring for: stars (Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc), clearly defined characters and plot, lush music, beautiful 35mm photography, flaky eroticism, humor. “I’m really making my landing on the earth of story,” Godard tells me at one point. “Like a plane.”

Can it be sheer coincidence that he seems to take up prostitution as a theme only when he’s working in 35mm?… Read more »

Good as Gold?

From the Soho News (September 17, 1980). The owners of this newspaper at the time, if I’m not mistaken, were owners of South African gold mines, and I doubt that this article enhanced my job security — although I remained there as a freelancer for another 14 months, — J.R.

http://dcairns.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/ls1.jpg

 

My Childhood
Written and Directed by Bill Douglas

 

My Ain Folk

Written and Directed by Bill Douglas

 

My Way Home

Written and Directed by Bill Douglas

 

The Gamekeeper

Written and Directed by Ken Loach

Based on the novel by Barry Hines

 

Bloody Kids

Written by Stephen Piliakoff

Directed by Stephen Frears

 

Long Shot

Written by Maurice Hatton, Eoin McCann and the cast

Directed by Maurice Hatton

 

Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession

Written by Yale Udoff

Directed by Nicolas Roeg

 

“British Film Now” –- a package of nine programs (at the Paramount Theater on Broadway at 61st) consisting of eleven features selected by Richard Roud, to be shown over six days preceding the 18th New York Film Festival -– is being presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the British Film Institute, with financial assistance from the British Council and the Cultural Department of the British Embassy, the British Film Producers Association, and Amcon Group Inc.… Read more »

The Plucking of Three Birds of Paradise

I am reprinting the entirety of my first and most ambitious book (Moving Places: A Life at the Movies, New York: Harper & Row, 1980) in its second edition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995) on this site in eleven installments. This is the third.

Note: The book can be purchased on Amazon here, and accessed online in its entirety here. – J.R.

1: The Plucking of Three Birds of Paradise

1— Fifty Years of Show Business

image

[Ritz Theatre, Athens, Alabama]

 


Formal Opening Ritz On Monday, April 30

After five months of work the Ritz theatre, Athens’ latest amusement place, is now ready for the formal opening which will take place at 7:00 o’clock, Monday evening, April 30th [1928], the picture for that occasion being Mary Pickford’s latest screen production “My Best Girl,” followed by a comedy, “Fair and Muddy.

“Prior to the picture showing the following program will be given:

Master of ceremonies—W. E. Willis.

Music by Gene Carter’s orchestra.

Welcome from the city of Athens [Alabama] to Muscle Shoals Theatres, Inc.—Mayor C. W. Sarver.

Orchestra.

Welcome on behalf of the businessmen of Athens—C. D. Beisley, president Athens Chamber of Commerce.

Orchestra.

Response to addresses of welcome by Mayor W.Read more »

Barthes of My Heart

This book review originally appeared in the September 10, 1980 issue of The Soho News. Maybe it qualifies less as a book review than as a short polemic, but if I recall this assignment — my first review of a book by Barthes — accurately, I had some space limitations. — J.R.

 

New Critical Essays
By Roland Barthes
Translated by Richard Howard
Hill & Wang, $10.95

It’s reported that when a celebrated American film critic was asked what she thought of French theory, she replied that the trouble with folks like film theorists is that they forget movies are supposed to be fun. When this response was quoted to me, my heart sank. It made me feel as if all the fun I’d had reading Roland Barthes over the years was no longer legal -– that it wasn’t even supposed to exist.

I’m not trying to pretend here that all of Barthes goes down easily: I still haven’t gotten all the way through S/Z, a favorite among some American lit-crit academics. And I’ll grant you that he may be an acquired taste for puritanical empiricists who mistrust too much sensual, imaginative, and poetic play in their literary puddings — particularly when these occur outside of fiction, and under the auspices of social and aesthetic analysis.… Read more »

Fassbinder’s Latest Weenie

From The Soho News (September 10, 1980). I’ve slightly altered the printed title (from “Fassbinder’s Weenie”) to remove the crude sexual double entendre which tended to be that weekly newspaper’s specialty. — J.R.

thethirdgenerationThe Third Generation

Written, photographed and directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

dritte_generation

By and large, there appear to be three basic kinds of professional film buffs in Manhattan: asocial, Dracula-like countenances mainly interested in films; plastic, starfucking groupies mainly interested in filmmakers; and a few paranoid dinosaurs mainly interested in power. (Wishing to remain alive, I leave it to the discerning reader to determine who is which.) And according to Rainer Werner Fassbinder — a particular favorite of the second group — there are three generations of terrorists in Germany.

“In whatever way every citizen was capable of developing some kind of understanding for the actions and motives of the first and second generation of terrorists — or maybe not — to understand the motives of the third generation is more than difficult,” Fassbinder is quoted as saying, in the more than difficult pidgin English assigned to him in the pressbook. “To act in danger but without perspective,” he adds a little later, “the ecstasy of adventure experienced in the absence of ulterior motive;  this is what motivates The Third Generation.”

A terrorist film, in other words?… Read more »

Half-Caste Agit-Prop [THE CHANT OF JIMMIE BLACKSMITH]

From The Soho News (September 3, 1980). –- J.R.

 

CHANTOFJIMMIEBLACKSMITH

 

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith

Written and directed by Fred Schepisi

Based on the novel by Thomas Keneally

For a good 80 percent or so of its running time, the experience

of seeing  The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith affords a

salutary, beautiful shock. Films that are even halfway honest

about racism — Mandingo and Richard Pryor Live in

Concert are the most recent examples that spring to mind

– are so unexpected that they’re often accused of being racist

themselves, perhaps because of the deeply rooted taboos that

they expose and violate.

 

There’s no question that Fred Schepisi’s powerhouse Australian

movie — adapted from a novel by Thomas Keneally (who plays a

small but significant role as a lecherous cook), and “based on real

events that took place in Australia at the turn of the century”

(just before the federation of Australian colonies) – is agit-prop,

ideologically slanted. But then again, it’s hard to think of any

other current release — including, say, The Empire Strikes

Back and Dressed to Kill -– that isn’t.

The aforementioned hits perform in part the not-so-innocent

task of turning contemporary objects of confusion and disgust

(recent architecture and sex, respectively) into occasions for

exhilarated lyricism.… Read more »

If Looks Could Kill (II)

I am reprinting the entirety of my first and most ambitious book (Moving Places: A Life at the Movies, New York: Harper & Row, 1980) in its second edition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995) on this site in eleven installments. This is the seventh.

Note: The book can be purchased on Amazon here, and accessed online in its entirety here. – J.R.

II

Of married ones and single ones
And families and daters
There’s fun for all of you this week
At the Muscle Shoals Theatres!

 

“Three Stripes in the Sun” is the name of one
That’s playing the Shoals today
It concerns an Army sergeant
Better known as Aldo Ray.

 

“Blood Alley” refers to the Formosa Straits
A dangerous part of the ocean
Where Communists, storms and Lauren Bacall
Keep John Wayne in perpetual motion.
—from Stanley Rosenbaum’s Sunday column, Florence Times , January 8, 1956

 

Sometimes it wasn’t the movie at all but the configuration that went with it, or came out of it, or burned straight through it like a dropped cigarette—the static image summoned up by title, poster, billboard, newspaper ad, review, or some other form of promotion. Or maybe it was the false yet enduring and prevailing expectation.Read more »