Monthly Archives: February 2010

Ten Best Lists, 2005-2009

This is the last of my lists of ten-best lists, in a series of six. — J.R.

Chicago Reader, 2005:

The World (Jia Zhang-ke)
Not on the Lips (Alain Resnais)
A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)
Ten Skies (James Benning)
Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki) & Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Tim Burton)
Yes (Sally Potter) & Capote (Bennett Miller)
Michelangelo Eye to Eye (Michelangelo Antonioni) & Saraband (Ingmar Bergman)
Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch) & Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July)
The Girl from Monday (Hal Hartley) & 2046 (Wong Kar-wai)

Chicago Reader, 2006:

Cafe Lumiere (Hou Hsiao-hsien) & Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Army of Shadows (1969, Jean-Pierre Melville) & Statues Also Die (1953, Resnais/Marker/Cloquet)
The War Tapes (Deborah Scranton) & Iraq in Fragments (James Longley)
Cuadecuc-Vampir (1970, Pere Portabelle) & Warsaw Bridge (1990, Portabella)
Find Me Guilty (Sidney Lumet) & Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck)
Citadel (Atom Egoyan) & The Power of Nightmares (Adam Curtis)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones) & The Illusionist (Neil Burger)
Ask the Dust (Robert Towne) &  Hollywoodland (Allen Coulter)
Moments Choisis des Histoire(s) du Cinéma (Godard) & My Dad Is 100 Years Old (Maddin)
Fast Food Nation (Richard Linklater) & Bobby (Emilio Estevez)




DVD Beaver, 2006:

1.… Read more »

Keith Jarrett, Symphony Center (Chicago), February 12, 2010

Why did I book a ticket to this solo concert long in advance, even though I have yet to shell out for Paris/ London: Testament, the three-disc album he released last October, which the concert was meant to promote? I guess it’s basically a matter of not getting too many chances lately to see Jarrett live — meaning that I’m even willing to put up with an evening of his playing that’s mainly devoted to his relatively dull and uninspiring impromptu originals.

There’s always been a certain solipsistic side to some of Jarrett’s predilections as a performer. If memory serves, the last time I saw him live was at a Left Bank cave in Paris called La caméléon circa the early 70s, less than a block from my flat, and I can still remember how infuriated I was when he insisted on playing the flute — not especially well — during a large portion of his set. His stabs at performing classical music, no matter how “competent,” often seem comparably misguided.  Similarly, when he chooses to go “free-form” nowadays and play some version of what used to be regarded as avant-garde jazz, I’d much rather hear Cecil Taylor than Jarrett’s much inferior version of that style.… Read more »

Introduction to an Index compiled for this web site

It’s taken a lot of work, but I’ve finally managed to compile an index of all, or almost all, of my long reviews that were published in the Chicago Reader between the fall of 1987 and the fall of 2009, nearly all of which are on this site. This index can be accessed here, or else below this post, under Notes (dated 6 February 2010), and I hope it makes some of the contents of this site more user-friendly and accessible. It’s basically organized alphabetically by film titles, or, in a few cases, by subjects or book titles. I haven’t provided links, but these reviews can be searched out by either film title or (which may be easier) by dates in the right-hand column.

I doubt that I’ll ever compile a similar list of all my capsule (i.e., one-paragraph) reviews for the Reader on this site, which would be much, much longer, but I should add that a separate index of all my longer non-Reader pieces, chronologically rather than alphabetically ordered, can already be found at “About This Site”, and at some future date I may index those pieces alphabetically as well. [2/7/10]… Read more »

Finding Oneself in the Dark: Costa’s NE CHANGE RIEN

Written for Filmkrant‘s “Slow Criticism”, February 2010 (no. 318). — J.R.

There’s a personal reason why Ne Change Rien comes together for me in a way that few music documentaries do. Eight years ago, I was approached by Rick Schmidlin, the producer of the 1998 re-edit of Touch of Evil (on which I’d served as consultant), about writing or directing — in any case, helping to conceptualize — a documentary about jazz pianist McCoy Tyner. This led to a lengthy conversation with Tyner in Chicago and then a three-page treatment that I prepared with cinematographer John Bailey via phone and email, which concluded, “Any film that’s about listening, as this one will be, will also be about looking — predicated on the philosophy that the way one looks at musicians already helps to determine the way one listens to them.”

For me one of the ruling ideas was that few jazz films, apart from a handful of the very best, focused enough on the spectacle of jazz musicians listening to one another. And I saw (and heard) the whole thing as a two-way process — the way one listens should dictate the way one looks, as well as vice versa.… Read more »