Monthly Archives: January 2010

J.D. Salinger (1919-2010): A Minor Memoir

Originally posted on January 29, 2010. — J.R.

I never met J. D. Salinger, but I may be one of the few people who can say that I saw him in the flesh when he attended my high school graduation in the spring of 1961, seated a few rows behind me — an event that came about because Wally Shawn, the son of the New Yorker editor William Shawn, was a classmate.

I can also report that I was visiting Wally in the Shawns’ Upper East Side apartment the day that Time magazine’s cover story on Salinger appeared, the following fall, around the same time that Franny and Zooey was published in book form. (The cover date was September 15, 1961.) Paradoxically, although Wally was the only one of my classmates at Putney who read my first (and never published) novel, Away From Here, written during my senior year, it would be incorrect to claim that I was a friend of his, at least in his mind, because he never gave me his unlisted phone number. He did, however, invite me to stop by his family homestead from time to time, on the chance that he might be in, and this was one of the times I did, most likely the last time.… Read more »

Ten Best Lists, 2000-2004

This is fourth in an ongoing series of five lists of lists. –J.R.

Chicago Reader, 2000:

The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami)
Rosetta (Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne)
Beau Travail (Claire Denis)
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch)
The River (Tsai Ming-liang)
The House of Mirth (Terence Davies)
The Smell of Camphor, the Scent of Jasmine (Bahman Farmanara) + The Child and the Soldier (Seyyed Reza Mir-Karimi)
Khroustaliov, My Car! (Alexei Guerman)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee)
Kikujiro (Takeshi Kitano)

Chicago Reader, 2001:


A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg)
Waking Life (Richard Linklater)
The Circle (Jafar Panahi)
ABC Africa (Abbas Kiarostami)
The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (John Gianvito)
Gohatto (Taboo)(Nagisa Oshima) + Chunhyang (Im Kwon-Taek)
Yi Yi (A One And A Two…)(Edward Yang) + In The Mood For Love (Wong Kar-wai)
What Time Is It There? (Tsai Ming-liang)
Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch) + Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff)
Boesman & Lena (John Berry)


Chicago Reader, 2002:

*Corpus Callosum (Michael Snow)
Platform (Jia Zhiang-ke)
Y tu mama tambien (Alfonso Cuaron)
I’m Going Home (Manoel de Oliveira)
Ellipses, Reels 1-4 (Stan Brakhage)
Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov)
The Cat’s Meow (Peter Bogdanovich)                                                                                                              Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes)                                                                                                              Germany Year 90 Nine Zero (Jean-Luc Godard)                                                                                                8 Mile (Curtis Hanson)

Chicago Reader, 2003:

25th Hour (Spike Lee)                                                                                                                           + Crimson Gold (Jafar Panahi)                                                                                                                    Down With Love (Peyton Reed)                                                                                                                        In the Mirror of Maya Deren (Marta Kudlacek)                                                                                          Pistol Opera (Seijun Suzuki)                                                                                                                          The School of Rock (Richard Linklater)                                                                                                        The Same River Twice (Robb Moss)                                                                                                            + My Architect: A Son’s Journey (Nathaniel Kahn)                                                                                      Cold Mountain (Anthony Minghella)                                                                                                          Masked and Anonymous (Larry Charles)                                                                                                    + The Shape of Things (Neil LaBute)                                                                                                       Oporto of My Childhood (Manoel de Oliveira)                                                                                          + Joy of Madness (Hana Makhmalbaf)                                                                                                            All the Real Girls (David Gordon Green)                                                                                                    + Sweet Sixteen (Ken Loach)


Chicago Reader, 2004:

The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (Samuel Fuller)
Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood)
Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembene)
Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen)
The Exiles (Kent Mackenzie)
The Saddest Music in the World (Guy Maddin)
Before Sunset (Richard Linklater)
Young Adam (David Mackenzie)
Coffee and Cigarettes (Jim Jarmusch)
Springtime in a Small Town (Tian Zhuangzhuang)… Read more »

Ten & Twenty Best Lists, 1995-1999

This is third in an ongoing series of five lists of lists. –J.R.

Chicago Reader, 1995:
Latcho Drom (Tony Gatlif)
Crumb (Terry Zwigoff)
A Great Day in Harlem (Jean Bach) + When It Rains (Charles Burnett)
Lamerica (Gianni Amelio)
Good Men, Good Women (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Safe (Todd Haynes)
Germany Year 90 Nine Zero (Jean-Luc Godard)
Exotica (Atom Egoyan)
Hyenas (Djibril Diop Mambety)
Up Down Fragile (Jacques Rivette)

Chicago Reader, 1996:
Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch)
The Asthenic Syndrome (Mira Kuratova)
The Decalogue (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Nightjohn (Charles Burnett)
The Neon Bible (Terence Davies)
Regularly or Irregularly (Abbas Kiarostami) + From the Jounals of Jean Seberg (Mark Rappaport)
Thieves (André Téchiné) + My Favorite Season (André Téchiné)
The White Balloon (Jafar Panahi) + Goodbye South, Goodbye (Hou Hsaio-hsien)
Blush (Li Shaohong) + Red Hollywood (Thom Anderson & Noël Burch)
Flirt (Hal Hartley) + Deseret (James Benning)
Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton) + Joan the Maid (Jacques Rivette)
Secrets & Lies (Mike Leigh) + Basquiat (Julian Schnabel)
Get on the Bus (Spike Lee) + Chungking Express (Wong Kar-wai)
Mars Attacks! (Tim Burton) + The Cable Guy (Ben Stiller)
When Pigs Fly (Sara Driver) + Desolation Angels (Tim McCann)
Stealing Beauty (Bernardo Bertolucci) + My Life and Times With Antonin Artaud (Gérard Mordillat)
Ectasy (Mariano Barroso) + Vive l’Amour (Tsai Ming-liang)
Cyclo (Tran Anh Hung) + Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier)
2 X 50 Years of French Cinema (Anne-Marie Mièville & Jean-Luc Godard) + The Crucible (Nicholas Hytner)
A Family Thing (Richard Pearce) + Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud (Claude Sautet)
Yang and Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema (Stanley Kwan) + Red Lotus Society (Stan Lai)
Foxfire (Annette Haywood-Carter) + Bottle Rocket (Wes Anderson) + Trainspotting (Danny Boyle)

Chicago Reader, 1997:
A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang)
The House Is Black (Forugh Farrokhzad)
Irma Vep (Olivier Assayas)
The Ceremony (Claude Chabrol)
4 Little Girls (Spike Lee) + Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (Errol Morris)
La promesse (Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne)
In the Company of Men (Neil LaBute)
The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyan)
As Good As It Gets (James L.… Read more »

Richard Combs on Michael Haneke

Filmmaker of the Decade: The resurgence of the Nouvelle Vague highlights the most disquieting feature of the decade: the critical search for a new European art-house auteur, which seems to have settled on the pious admonisher, Michael Haneke. European cinema has finally found its Stanley Kramer.

Film Comment, January-February 2010, p. 31 [1/15/10]

Read more »

Ten Best Lists, 1990-1994

The third list to be posted, in a series of six. –J.R.

Chicago Reader, 1990 (ranked):

Sweetie (Jane Campion)

City of Sadness (Hou Hsiao-hsien)

To Sleep With Anger (Charles Burnett)

White Hunter, Black Heart (Clint Eastwood)

The Icicle Thief (Maurizio Nichetti)

Pump Up the Volume (Allan Moyle)

The Plot Against Harry (Michael Roemer)

Texasville (Peter Bogdanovich)

Mr. Hoover and I (Emile De Antonio)

tied: The Freshman (Andrew Bergman), Miami Blues (George Armitage)

Chicago Reader, 1991:
L’Atalante (restoration)(Jean Vigo)
An Angel at My Table (Jane Campion)
White Dog (Samuel Fuller)
Ju Dou (Zhang Yimou)
My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant)
Chameleon Street (Wendell B. Harris, Jr.)
Europa Europa (Agnieszka Holland)
Camp Thiaroye (Ousmane Sembene)
Hangin’ With the Homeboys (Joseph P. Vasquez)
For the Boys (Mark Rydell)

Chicago Reader, 1992:
A Tale of the Wind (Joris Ivens)
Actress (Stanley Kwan)
Rhapsody in August (Akira Kurosawa)
Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami) + Life and Nothing More (Abbas Kiarostami)
The Famine Within (Katherine Gilday)
Rock Hudson’s Home Movies (Mark Rappaport)
Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg)
Close My Eyes (Stephen Poliakoff)
La Belle Noiseuse (Jacques Rivette)

Chicago Reader, 1993:
Nouvelle Vague (Jean-Luc Godard)
The Puppet Master (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Night and Day (Chantal Akerman) + From the East (Chantal Akerman)
Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg)
Bitter Moon (Roman Polanski)
The Story of Qiu Ju (Zhang Yimou)
The Passing (Bill Viola) +
Histoire(s)du Cinéma (Jean-Luc Godard)
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (Mark Achbar/Peter Wintonick) + It’s All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles (R.… Read more »

Ten Best Lists, 1980s

A list of lists, the second in a series of six. –J.R.

Chicago Reader, Best Films of the 1980s (chronological):

Out of the Blue (1980, Dennis Hopper)

Sans soleil (1981, Chris Marker)

Blade Runner (1981, Ridley Scott)

Passion (1982, Jean-Luc Godard)

The King of Comedy (1983, Martin Scorsese)

Love Streams (1984, John Cassavetes)

Manuel on the Island of Wonders (1984, Raul Ruiz)

Shoah (1985, Claude Lanzmann)

The Horse Thief (1985, Tian Zhuangzhuang)

Mix-Up (1985, Francoise Romand)

Mélo (1986, Alain Resnais)

Brightness (1987, Souleymane Cisse)

Housekeeping (1987, Bill Forsyth)

A Story of the Wind (1988, Joris Ivens/Marceline Loridan)

Distant Voices/Still Lives (1988, Terence Davies)

Film Comment, 1981 (alphabetical):
Amor de Perdição (Manoel de Oliveira)
Cutter’s Way (Ivan Passer)
Gal Young ‘Un (Victor Nunez)
Hardly Working (Jerry Lewis)
India Song (Marguerite Duras)
Mommie Dearest (Frank Perry)
Numéro Deux (Jean-Luc Godard)
Reds (Warren Beatty)
Shock Treatment (Jim Sharman)
Taxi Zum Klo (Frank Ripploh)

Chicago Reader, 1987 (ranked):
The Horse Thief (Tian Zhuangzhuang)
Mammame (Raúl Ruiz)
Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick)
Mélo (Alain Resnais)
The Last Emperor (Bernardo Bertolucci)
Ishtar (Elaine May)
Landscape Suicide (James Benning)
Tough Guys Don’t Dance (Norman Mailer)
From the Pole to the Equator(Yervant Gianikian/Angela Ricci Lucchi)
Black Widow (Bob Rafelson)

Chicago Reader, 1988 (ranked):
Mix-Up (Françoise Romand)
Yeelen (Brightness) (Souleymane Cissé)
Housekeeping (Bill Forsyth)
Repentance (Tengiz Abuladze)
Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Robert Zemeckis)
King Lear (Jean-Luc Godard)
Talking to Strangers (Rob Tregenza)
Uncommon Senses: Plain Talk & Common Sense (Jon Jost)
Hairspray (John Waters)

Chicago Reader, 1989 (ranked):
Distant Voices/Still Lives (Terence Davies)
A Short Film About Love (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Terry Gilliam)
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee)
High Hopes
(Mike Leigh)
Golub (Jerry Blumenthal/Gordon Quinn)
Rembrandt Laughing (Jon Jost)
sex, lies, and videotape (Steven Soderbergh)
Forevermore: Biography of Leach Lord (Eric Saks)
Say Anything… (Cameron Crowe)

[1/6/10]… Read more »