Daily Archives: January 2, 2019

The Potent Manic-Depressiveness of LA LA LAND


I was too late in catching up with La La Land to have included it in my best-of-the-year lists for Sight and Sound and Film Comment, where it likely would have figured in both cases. But one telling aspect of the movie that I find missing from the reviews that I’ve read is just how desperate its euphoria turns out to be — which is not an argument against this euphoria but a statement of what gives rise to it and what makes it so poignant. Of course this is a fact about many of the greatest musicals (and greatest post-musicals, such as those of Jacques Demy that Damien Chazelle is so obviously emulating) that characteristically gets overlooked, which is how much the elation of song and dance is only half of a dialectic that also highlights failure, hopelessness, and defeat. The most salient thing about the musical numbers here is how they figure as interruptions to misery and diverse irritations and frustrations — interruptions that are typically interrupted in turn by the hell of a freeway traffic jam or the anguish of a failed audition.  


This is what makes the singing and dancing seem absolutely necessary, not merely a simple flight from unpleasantness.… Read more »

My Favorite DVDs of 2018 (for DVD Beaver)

Go here for many more choices. — J.R.



Top Blu-ray Releases of 2018:


1. Daisies (Vera Chytilova, 1966); UK, Second Run

2. The Adventures of Hajji Baba (Don Weis, 1954); Twilight Time

3. The Colour of Pomegranates (Sergei Parajanov, 1969); UK, Second Sight

4. An Actor’s Revenge (Kon Ichikawa, 1963); Criterion

5. The Covered Wagon (James Cruze, 1923); Kino Lorber

6. Moonrise (Frank Borzage, 1948); Criterion

7. The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1954); UK, Masters of Cinema

8. Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995); Criterion

9. This is Cinerama (Merian C. Cooper, Gunther von Fritsch, 1952); Flicker Alley

10. Figures in a Landscape (Joseph Losey, 1970); France, Carlotta Films


Top 5 Box Set Releases of 2018 :


1. Liebelei & Lola Montez (Max Ophuls, 1933 & 1955); Munich Filmmuseum; PAL, Germany

2. Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series (David Lynch, 2017 ); Paramount*

3. Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood; Criterion

4. Clouzot: Early Works; Kino

5. Early Hou-Hsiao-Hsien: THREE FILMS 1980-1983; UK, Masters of Cinema


*As DVD Beaver points out, this actually was released in 2017. I selected it anyway because it was the best bargain of the year.

 Read more »

Good as Gold?

From the Soho News (September 17, 1980). The owners of this newspaper at the time, if I’m not mistaken, were owners of South African gold mines, and I doubt that this article enhanced my job security — although I remained there as a freelancer for another 14 months.

I haven’t (yet) gone back to Bad Timing to see how wrong I might have been. – J.R.



My Childhood
Written and Directed by Bill Douglas


My Ain Folk

Written and Directed by Bill Douglas


My Way Home

Written and Directed by Bill Douglas


The Gamekeeper

Written and Directed by Ken Loach

Based on the novel by Barry Hines


Bloody Kids

Written by Stephen Piliakoff

Directed by Stephen Frears


Long Shot

Written by Maurice Hatton, Eoin McCann and the cast

Directed by Maurice Hatton


Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession

Written by Yale Udoff

Directed by Nicolas Roeg


“British Film Now” –- a package of nine programs (at the Paramount Theater on Broadway at 61st) consisting of eleven features selected by Richard Roud, to be shown over six days preceding the 18th New York Film Festival -– is being presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the British Film Institute, with financial assistance from the British Council and the Cultural Department of the British Embassy, the British Film Producers Association, and Amcon Group Inc.… Read more »