From the Jewish Daily Forward, January 31, 2013. — J.R.
I’ve seen only two features written and directed by Michael Roemer — Nothing But a Man (1964) and The Plot Against Harry (made between 1966 and 1968, but released only in 1989). Either of these suffice to make him a major American filmmaker. And two other Roemer scripts I’ve read — one of which he managed to film (Pilgrim, Farewell, 1982), the other of which he hasn’t (Stone My Heart — undated, but apparently from the late 60s and/or early 70s) — show equivalent amounts of conviction, originality, density, and courage. But there’s a fair chance that you’ve never heard of him. And I think one of the reasons why could be that he’s a man who knows too much.
What do I mean by this? Partly that these films are politically incorrect (meaning that they all grapple with life while posing diverse challenges to people who think mainly in established and unexamined political and ethnic categories) and partly that in filmmaking we often confuse advertising and hustling with other kinds of talent — most obviously when it comes to the Oscars, but also when it comes to how we categorize and package various achievements.… Read more »
From the Chicago Reader, September 4, 1987. — J.R.
** (Worth seeing)
Directed by Paul Leduc
Written by Leduc and Jose Joaquin Blanco
With Ofelia Medina, Juan Jose Gurrola, Salvador Sanchez, and Max Kerlow.
THE WOLF AT THE DOOR
** (Worth seeing)
Directed by Henning Carlsen
Written by Carlsen, Christopher Hampton, and Jean-Claude Carrière
With Donald Sutherland, Max von Sydow, Valerie Morea, Sofie Graboel, Fanny Bastien, and Merete Voldstedlund.
We live in an increasingly visual culture, but there are signs that we haven’t quite got the hang of it yet. We still confuse image with event and one medium’s capabilities and limitations with another’s, falling into the trap of assuming that everything is seeable, hence realizable on a TV or movie screen. We still let our (not all that) new toys decide for us what it is we’ll say and how it is we’ll say it. Don’t believe the Sunday supplements: we won’t truly have entered the age of visual literacy until we can turn on the television in the evening and see not one single image of a politician waving from the doorway of an airliner.
When that day comes, we’ll probably discover that the film biographies of painters have vanished as well.… Read more »