Daily Archives: September 7, 2018

Declarations of Independents: A Dozen Art Movies

From The Soho News (March 25, 1981). — J.R.

March 10: Permanent Vacation — a punk art film by Jim Jarmusch, with Chris Parker, visible in the Bleecker Street Cinema’s James Agee Room every weekend this month. A semi-promising beginning offers alternately deserted and busy city streets (crisply shot by Tom DiCillo), and a skinny existential drifter reflecting on the “newness” of rooms in his travels that fades away, replaced each time by dread: “The story is how I got from there to here — or maybe I should say here to here.”

The problem is, while trekking dutifully through enough architectural (and cultural) rubble to furnish at least a dozen other art movies, the movie mainly gets from there to nowhere, at a fairly leisurely crawl. Along the way are a few good ideas and jokes, most of them literary and underdeveloped (like affectless Beckett/beat conceits which evoke Wurlitzer’s Nog), one of them actorly (Frankie Faison), some of them musical (John Lurie of the Lounge Lizards). Chances are, if this is the sort of thing you like, you’ve already found your way there.

March 11: Marta Meszaros’ Nine Months, a Hungarian feature made in color five years ago, now on at the Cinema Studio 2. … Read more »

Southern Sleaze

This piece comes from the November 19, 1993 issue of the Chicago Reader. —J.R.

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

*** (A must-see)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Written by Tennessee Williams and Oscar Saul

With Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden.

FLESH AND BONE

** (Worth seeing)

Directed and written by Steve Kloves

With Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, James Caan, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Depending on whose figures you believe, the recently released “director’s cut” of A Streetcar Named Desire is either 4 percent or 8 percent longer than the version released in 1951. All the originally censored elements — lines of “racy” dialogue and shots of lustful expressions — have been restored, and the fact that this once-scandalous 126-minute movie is now accorded a PG rating indicates the progress we’ve made in some areas.

But if you think people are getting more of the movie now than they could 42 years ago, you’re mistaken. The running time is longer, but thanks to current movie-projection habits, close to 25 percent of every frame is missing at most screenings. The aspect ratio of the original movie — the relationship between the height and width of the frame — is 1:1.38, the standard ratio of all Hollywood movies in 1951.… Read more »