Daily Archives: May 4, 2019

A Perversion of the Past [MISSISSIPPI BURNING]

 

From the Chicago Reader (December 16, 1988). — J.R.

MISSISSIPPI BURNING

no stars (Worthless)

Directed by Alan Parker

Written by Chris Gerolmo

With Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif, R. Lee Ermey, and Gailard Sartain.

This whole country is full of lies. — Nina Simone, “Mississippi Goddam”

The time in my youth when I was most physically afraid was a period of six weeks, during the summer of 1961, when I was 18. I was attending an interracial, coed camp at Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee — the place where the Montgomery bus boycott, the proper beginning of the civil rights movement, was planned by Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks in the mid-50s. As a white native of Alabama, I had never before experienced the everyday dangers faced by southern blacks, much less those faced by activists who participated in Freedom Rides and similar demonstrations. But that summer, my coed camp was beset by people armed with rocks and guns.

I believe that we were the first group of people who ever sang an old hymn called “We Shall Overcome” as a civil rights anthem, thanks to the efforts of the camp’s musical director, Guy Carawan.… Read more »

Some Call It Loving

James B. Harris’s second feature, which I discovered and saw several times in Cannes in 1973, continues to be a particular favorite among unclassifiable films, and it has finally become available digitally (and was even recently shown on TCM). My initial review of the film for Film Comment led to be getting invited to dinner once by Harris himself along with his French distributor, Pierre Rissient; this review appeared a couple of years later, in the Autumn 1975 issue of Sight and Sound, after the film opened belatedly in London. Note: This film has also sometimes gone under the titles Sleeping Beauty and Dream Castle. — J.R.

Some Call It Loving

On the face of it, a series of outlansish imponderables: Robert Troy (Zalman King), a moody white jazz musician, occupies a baroque mansion overlooking the Pacific with Scarlett (Carol White0 and Angelica (Veronica Anderson) who sleep together and devote their waking hours to acting out his erotic fantasies — pornographic emblems which become oddly chaste through their highly formalized enactments (dancing nuns, mistress-and-maid rituals) — while his “best” and only friend Jeff (Richard Pryor), a black derelict dying of drugs and drink, worships his saxophone playing at a local nightclub…At a carnival, Troy comes upon a Sleeping Beauty sideshow, where a depraved-looking hawker in a doctor’s suit (Logan Ramsey) invites the male spectators to try to wake Jennifer (Tisa Farrow) with a kiss for the price of a dollar.… Read more »