From the Chicago Reader (December 20, 2002). And highly recommended reading: Giles Harvey’s excellent long review of Pawlikowski’s Cold War in the January 2019 issue of Harper’s. — J.R.
Pawel Pawlikowski (Last Resort) is clearly a filmmaker to watch, and he’ll appear at the festival to discuss these four English TV documentaries. From Moscow to Pietushki (1990, 45 min.), a portrait of writer Venedikt Yerofeyev, samples his work (especially the eponymous novel) in voice-over by Bernard Hill and shows how and why Yerefeyev became the patron saint of Russian alcoholics during the end of the Khrushchev era. A survivor of throat cancer, Yerefeyev needs mechanical assistance to speak, but his dry gallows humor survives intact. The hilarious Dostoevsky’s Travels (1991, 45 min.) trails the novelist’s great-grandson Dmitri, a tram driver from Saint Petersburg, as he travels around Germany hoping to find a Mercedes he can afford. He can’t speak or understand much German, and the people he encounters, though mostly friendly, seem as clueless about his ancestor as he is. (Explains one speaker at a meeting of the Dostoyevsky Society, Most people here are only familiar with Dostoyevsky through the film Anna Karenina.) Tripping With Zhirinovsky (1995, 40 min.)… Read more »
Just posted on the website Con Los Ojos Abiertos (which literally means With the Eyes Open), Christmas 2018. (https://www.conlosojosabiertos.com/la-internacional-cinefila-2018-las-mejores-peliculas-del-ano/)
If I’d sent this in a bit later, I would have somehow managed to include A Bread Factory (Patrick Wang). — J.R.
The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles)
The Image Book/Le Livre d’image (Jean-Luc Godard)
Do You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (Travis Wilkerson)
Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
The eye was in the tomb and stared at Daney/L’oeil était dans la tombe et regardait Daney (Chloé Galibert-Laîné)
To varying degrees and in different ways, all 0f
of these films or videos are experimental,
which is also true of the two films found below.
Best debut feature: The Chaotic Life of
Nada Kadić (Marta Hernaiz Pidal, Mexico)
Best commercial film from the U.S.: A Simple
Favor (Paul Feig)
… Read more »
From the Chicago Reader (September 23, 1994). — J.R.
QUIZ SHOW ***
Directed by Robert Redford
Written by Paul Attanasio
With Rob Morrow, Ralph Fiennes, John Turturro, David Paymer, Christopher McDonald, Elizabeth Wilson, and Paul Scofield.
Behind the opening and closing credits of Quiz Show we hear two different pop versions of “Mack the Knife” — Bobby Darin’s bright, Lyle Lovett’s funereal — perhaps an indication that director Robert Redford has something faintly Brechtian in mind. If so, probably the most relevant Brecht passage is the exchange that concludes the 12th scene of Galileo, when Andrea, the son of Galileo’s housekeeper, quotes the maxim “Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.” Galileo replies, “No, Andrea: ‘Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.'”
On the other hand, this is Robert Redford we’re talking about, who’s been a hero in this unhappy land for the past three decades, not someone who’s ever been known to seriously rock any boats. A better indication of what makes Quiz Show so interesting, suggestive, and fruitful (if not Brechtian) is the showroom spiel for a glittering Chrysler 300 given to the movie’s hero, congressional investigator Richard N. Goodwin, shown out shopping just before the opening credits.… Read more »
Written for Sight and Sound, November 2015. — J.R.
I hope I can be forgiven for quoting myself in my first collection, Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism (1993): “As I’ve discovered in my own endeavours in editing the prose of Truffaut, Welles and Bogdanovich, the best editing is usually the kind the reader is least aware of, though the supreme masters of this game – who within my experience are probably Penelope Houston and Michael Lenehan – sometimes manage to minimise the awareness of the writer as well.” Lenehan was the main editor for several years at the Chicago Reader, and Penelope’s stint at Sight and Sound was considerably longer. Over two decades later, I can add without hesitation that no editor that I’ve ever worked with has known more and taught me more about the mechanics of prose than Penelope.
But I hasten to add that my indebtedness to her goes far beyond her superb gifts as an editor. I might even say that it was her taste, above all, that drew me to her magazine in the first place, and her determination to acquire an English work permit for me – a process that I recall took the better part of half a year – that enabled me to move to London from Paris in 1974, to serve as assistant editor at Monthly Film Bulletin (under Richard Combs, a supportive boss and fine editor in his own right) and staff writer for Sight and Sound, my first major job anywhere.… Read more »