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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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 »

Critical Consensus: Kent Jones and Jonathan Rosenbaum Discuss Robert Bresson and Jean-Luc Godard

Posted on Indiewire on January 6, 2012, with different illustrations. — J.R.

 

Critical Consensus: Kent Jones and Jonathan Rosenbaum Discuss Robert Bresson and Jean-Luc Godard

By Kent Jones, Eric Kohn and Jonathan Rosenbaum | Indiewire January 6, 2012 at 11:20AM

pickpocket

 bfi-Bresson

Editor’s note: Critical Consensus is a biweekly feature in which two critics from Indiewire’s Criticwire network discuss new releases with Indiewire’s chief film critic, Eric Kohn. Here, Jonathan Rosenbaum (formerly of the Chicago Reader) and Kent Jones (executive director of the World Cinema Foundation and editor-at-large at Film Comment) discuss two legendary filmmakers: Robert Bresson, the subject of a retrospective beginning at New York’s Film Forum today, and Jean-Luc Godard, whose “Film Socialisme” comes out on DVD and Blu-ray on January 10. More details on films opening this week follow after the discussion.

ERIC KOHN: There’s no easy way to have a short conversation about Robert Bresson without shortchanging a career spanning 13 films and widely considered paramount to 20th-century film history. Bresson’s Catholicism, his narrative precision, use of non-actors and painterly formalism have been analyzed many times over.

However, the Bresson retrospective that begins at Film Forum today ahead of a national tour, and includes 35mm prints of 11 films, is the first one in 14 years.Read more »