Monthly Archives: December 2009

As seen from the U.K., “American Cinema”

Thanks to John Iltis, the estimable dean of Chicago film publicists, here is a link to a rather eye-opening piece from a few days ago by the London Telegraph‘s Sukhdev Sandhu about changes in Anglo-American film culture over the past decade. Some of the thoughts here seem to corroborate a few of my own recent observations about respective differences — a widening rift, really — in the reception and perception of both Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus in the U.K. and the U.S. (in the latter case in particular, the cross-referencing of Heath Ledger’s character with Tony Blair). –J.R.… Read more »

Robin Wood’s Final Top Ten

Thom Loree, one of Robin Wood’s dearest friends, has sent me the following, and kindly given me permission to reproduce it here. This list was dictated to Robin’s friend John Anderson two days before he died. (Correction, 1/7/10: Thom has informed me that he misunderstood the date; this list was in fact composed “a few weeks” before Robin died, not  two days, although he was already “gravely ill at the time”.) Rio Bravo was clearly in the number one slot; the others weren’t ranked, and are given in the order in which he dictated them. –J.R.

Rio Bravo

Either I Can’t Sleep or I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (Robin wasn’t articulating well, but probably the former)

Sansho Dayo

Tokyo Story

Ruggles of Red Gap or Make Way for Tomorrow

Code inconnu

The Reckless Moment or Letter from an Unknown Woman

Angel Face (something of a surprise, this)

The Seven Samurai

Le Crime de Monsieur Lange or La Règle du jeu

Thom adds: “No Hitchcock, curiously enough.”








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Ten Best Lists, 1972-1976

A list of lists, the first in a series of six, first posted on December 21, 2009. Some time ago, Eric Johnson kindly went to the trouble of compiling many of my old ten-best lists and placing them on his web site. I’ve pasted these in here with some corrections regarding sources and precise titles, and added a few others. (Beware of a few anomalies and oddities below, such as the films by Mizoguchi and Renoir that I’d happened to see those years in London. I’m sure I must have had some polemical slant in mind, but I’m no longer able to define this slant more than vaguely.)

In mid-June 2015, I’ve just discovered that Charley Varrick, #7 in my Village Voice list of 1973, was originally misspelled by me as Charlie Varrick. Having just reseen this very impressive masterpiece on a new German Blu-Ray, I can only add that it deserves a lot more recognition than I was able to give it at the time. — J.R.

The Village Voice, 1972 (ranked):

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
(Luis Buñuel)
L’amour fou (Jacques Rivette)
The Central Region
(Michael Snow)
Such Good Friends
(Otto Preminger)
Phantom India (Louis Malle)
Umbracle
(Pere Portabella)
Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertrolucci)
Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (Jonas Mekas)
Fat City (John Huston)
Frenzy (Alfred Hitchcock)

The Village Voice, 1973  (ranked):

Playtime
(Jacques Tati)
A Page of Madness (Teinosuke Kinugasa)
Who is Beta?Read more »

Roman Polanski and The Catastrophe of Public Discourse

Almost two months ago, while I was in Vienna, helping to launch my film series “The Unquiet American: Transgressive Comedies from the U.S.,” Der Standard commissioned the following article from me. Since they still haven’t run it, I’ve decided to post it here, spurred in part by an excellent article by David Walsh on a related subject that Christa Fuller has just brought to my attention. —J.R.

Roman Polanski and The Catastrophe of Public Discourse

By Jonathan Rosenbaum

The recent arrest of Roman Polanski in Switzerland, on charges for fleeing to France 31 years earlier before standing trial for illegal sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, was obviously a notable news item. But that alone could hardly have accounted for the indignant outcries from the American press and blogosphere about the nature of Polanski’s crime and the justice of his arrest.

Why should the case of Polanski be considered more relevant to the present moment than the multiple war crimes of Dick Cheney, for instance? And even though Bernie Madoff was arrested and incarcerated for his massive financial swindles, what about the many other criminals in and around Wall Street and Washington, D.C. who continue to be rewarded rather than punished — not to mention torturers of innocent people, war profiteers, and racist hate mongers?… Read more »

A Quote from a Famous General

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
–Dwight D. Eisenhower, from a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

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