Monthly Archives: January 2012

Princess Theatre, Florence, Alabama (an “early” photo and news story)

I’m terrible when it comes to dating cars from any period, especially during the early part of the 20th century. According to my memoir Moving Places: A Life at the Movies (1980), which I researched pretty thoroughly back in the late 1970s, “The Florence Princess, an $85,000 Opera House, [opened] triumphantly on Labor Day, September 1, 1919″ (see pp. 180-181 in the book for more details). But according to this newspaper photo — which I don’t recall ever having seen before, posted by Betty Terry on “Remembering Florence” (a Facebook page) last November — it cost $40,000 more than that; and according to a news clipping that went with it (see below), which she posted about a week later, it opened, apparently in some other form, in 1925. An abiding mystery…but of course we can never get very far by believing what’s printed in newspapers, then or now, even when that’s all we have left. Because newspapers are largely generated and sustained by advertising, and it’s typically the job of advertising to make things sound brand-new even when they’re simply or merely upgraded.  [1/16/2012]

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THE HUNTER

Written for the January/February 2012 Film Comment. — J.R.

The Hunter

The Hunter
(Rafi Pitts, Germany/Iran)
A Separation, equally pleasing to mullahs and Western viewers, got all the prizes for its clever manipulations, but Pitts’s singular puzzle thriller, which also strategically withholds narrative information and can never be shown in Iran, is the one I keep thinking about. (Class warfare is the true, undeclared subject of both films.) Pitts plays a Tehran night watchman who starts shooting cops at random after losing his wife and child just before the country’s stolen election. The film’s second act shifts radically in style, locale, and focus, like On Dangerous Ground. My review is on Cinema Scope’s website.—Jonathan RosenbaumRead more »

UNFORGIVABLE

Written for the January/February 2012 Film Comment. — J.R.

Unforgivable
(André Téchiné, France)
Téchiné’s best films (Wild Reeds, My Favorite Season, Thieves, Unforgivable) have two major signifying traits: all the characters are major fuck-ups, and the co-writer-director loves them all equally. Some of those in his latest film, set in and around Venice, include a macho novelist (André Dussollier), his flighty daughter (Mélanie Thierry), his real-estate agent and subsequent wife (Carole Bouquet), and one of her former lovers, a detective (an especially memorable Adriana Asti), whom he hires to go looking for his daughter. The multiple crisscrossed emotions and lives are every bit as intricately and beautifully plotted and tracked as those in Thieves.—Jonathan RosenbaumRead more »

Azazel Jacobs

From Cinema Scope No. 50, Winter 2012, as part of a feature, “50 Best Filmmakers Under 50″. — J.R.

Azazel+Jacobs

 

Many reviewers of Azazel Jacobs’ four features understandably place them in a direct lineage from his father Ken’s work. Both filmmakers are clearly preoccupied with interactions and crossovers between fiction and nonfiction — although the same could be said of everyone from Lumière, Méliès, and Porter to Costa, Hou, and Kiarostami. And both are remarkable directors of actors/performers, even though, in the case of Ken, projectors and found footage have performative roles along with people. The dialectics forged by opposite coasts and mindsets — corporate Hollywood vs. flaky New York Underground, claustrophobic obsession/fixation versus airy and uncontrollable street theatre — are equally constant.

Most reviewers are quick to point out that Azazel is more committed to narrative than his father. It’s easy to see what they mean, but some of their assumptions are worth questioning. If part of what we mean by “narrative” is plot and incident, there may be more of both contained in the intertitles of Ken’s The Whirled (1956-63) than there is in the main action of Azazel’s second feature The GoodTimes Kid (2005). If part of what we mean is “character,” then the work of both filmmakers is overflowing with it, from Jack Smith’s manic cavorting in many of Ken’s films to Diaz’s exhilarating dance in The GoodTimes Kid, not to mention John C.… Read more »