Monthly Archives: January 2014

Recommended Listening


Thanks to Second Run Features, here is a very lucid, informative, and well-recorded conversation between Chris Petit and Pedro Costa about the latter’s 2001 documentary about Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Où gît votre sourire enfoui? (Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie?), which took place at London’s ICA Cinema on January 9:

whereliesyourhiddensmileRead more »

En movimiento: When Context Changes Content

Written in January 2014 for my 34th bimonthly En movimiento column for Caiman Cuadernos de Cine. — J.R.


Film history can be regarded as a succession of encounters between viewers and films in which particular conditions and contexts (pedagogical, historical, ideological, cultural, and/or circumstantial) tend to shape and even determine the content of what’s seen as well as ignored.  This produces many striking discrepancies and disparities when one shifts from one national culture to another.

The-10th-Victim Investigation   Almost half a century passed between the time I saw my first Elio Petri film (The 10th Victim, 1965) and the time I saw my second (Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, 1970), the latter occasioned by a recent DVD and Blu-Ray release by Criterion. I’m sure that many of the reasons for this are haphazard and without any particular significance. But a feature-length documentary about Petri (1929-1982) included in the Criterion release, revealing that he was a member of the Italian Communist party who consciously avoided making films that would type-cast him as an arthouse director, makes me realize that, as an American — even one who was living in Paris when Investigation came out — I was unconsciously affected by a Cold War context that kept most of Petri’s later films invisible to me.… Read more »

En movimiento: The Season of Critical Inflation

My latest En movimiento column for the Spanish monthly Caiman Cuadernos de Cine, written for their January 2014 issue. An afterthought: Since one of my recent favorites is Blue is the Warmest Color, I’ve been struck by the curious double standard that’s been operating lately within the critical community whereby “harder” pornography of various kinds involving sex and/or violence (including Spring Breakers, The Act of Killing, 12 Years a Slave, and Claire Denis’ Bastards) are getting applauded by many of the same critics who skewer the “softer” pornography of Blue is the Warmest Color. – J.R.

gravity Am I turning into a 70-year-old grouch? Writing during the last weeks of 2013 — specifically a period of receiving screeners in the mail and rushing off to various catch-up screenings, a time when most of the ten-best lists are being compiled — I repeatedly have the sensation that many of my most sophisticated colleagues are inflating the value of several recent releases. And my problem isn’t coming up with ten films that I support but trying to figure out why so many of the high-profile favorites of others seem so overrated to me. All of these films have their virtues, but I still doubt that they can survive many of the exaggerated claims being made on their behalf.… Read more »