My 27th column for Caiman Cuadernos de Cine, formerly known as Cahiers du Cinéma España, which appeared, I believe, in their July-August 2012 issue. — J.R.
I have a habit as a critic that I suspect irritates some of my readers. When I find that my opinion about a new film differs substantially from that of the mainstream, I sometimes theorize that the reasons for this must be ideological. In this manner, I speculated that the immoderate fascination of other Americans with the mad serial killers of The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and No Country for Old Men (2007), which somehow seemed motivated by a twisted identification with them -– and especially with the capacity and eagerness of these psychotics to kill innocent people without any compunctions — were related to the fact that these films came out during the first and second Gulf wars, when Americans were killing innocent people with no compunctions at all, and sometimes even exhibiting comparable displays of glee about this mindless activity.
More recently, I’ve been puzzling over the fact that Richard Linklater’s latest feature, Bernie, a masterpiece that has been clearly delighting many of the audiences that come to see it, was only released after many delays, wasn’t sent to Cannes, and has been doing poorly at the box office — a fate similar to that of Linklater’s previous feature, Me and Orson Welles (2011), another treasured project which took him many years to finance, and one also dominated by a remarkable central performance (Christian McKay as Orson Welles, Jack Black as Bernie Tiede).… Read more »
Please go to kickstarter.com/projects/1209470946/a-fuller-life/posts for details. — J.R. [8/20/12]
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I was interviewed by Estado de Minas, the largest newspaper in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, shortly before and in connection with my plans to teach a ten-hour course on Charlie Chaplin there in mid-August 2012. (They ran some of my comments on criticism but omitted what I had to say about Chaplin.) Here are their questions and my responses….The first photo below shows Chaplin in a London film studio with Cy Endfield (on the left). — J.R.
1. Questions about Chaplin:
Why do we still love Charlie Chaplin? What makes him so relevant in 2012?
These are questions that I hope my course will help to answer. Right now, one of my main reasons for wishing to teach this course is that I don’t know the answers to these questions.
Why do you think Chaplin must be reintroduced to contemporary filmgoers? Isn’t he universally recognized and understood enough already?
It would be presumptuous of me to speak about whether or not Chaplin is adequately recognized today in Brazil —or, for that matter, in any country that I haven’t visited and/or whose language I neither speak nor read. But to make a generalization based on my experience, I would say that Chaplin tends to be universally recognized today as a great performer, but very widely unrecognized, undervalued, and misunderstood as a filmmaker.… Read more »
1. For me, there have been quite a few surprises in the results of Sight and Sound’s latest ten-best poll of film critics around the world — not so much the displacement of Citizen Kane from first place (which it occupied for half a century, ever since the second poll in 1962) by Vertigo, something that was bound to happen sooner or later, as the first appearance of The Man with a Movie Camera (in eighth place, with 68 votes). And, perhaps most startling of all, seeing Sátántangó tied with Jeanne Dielman, Psycho, and Metropolis (each of which received 64 votes), or seeing Abbas Kiarostami (represented by Close-Up, in 42nd place — in an incongruous six-way tie with Gertrud, Pather Panchali, Pierrot le fou, Playtime, and Some Like It Hot) doing better than Charlie Chaplin (represented by City Lights, in 50th place, tied with La jetée and Ugetsu Monogatari).
“Let’s remember,” Roger Ebert recently blogged, “that all movie lists, even this most-respected one, are ultimately meaningless.” But he goes on to note, correctly, that “In the era of DVD, all of the [50-odd] films on the list are available; in 1952, unless you had unusual resources, most of them could be found only in a few big cities,” which is far from meaningless.… Read more »