The Spanish monthly film magazine that I write for, Caiman Cuadernos de Cine, recently invited me to expand on my latest column for them as well as a few Facebook posts about Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Here is the result, hot off my laptop. — J.R.
Has 9/11 or the war on terror had any impact on you personally or creatively?
9/11 didn’t affect me, because there’s, like, a Hong Kong movie that came out called Purple Storm and it’s fantastic, a great action movie. And they work in a whole big thing in the plot that they blow up a giant skyscraper. It was done before 9/11, but the shot almost is a semi-duplicate shot of 9/11. I actually enjoyed inviting people over to watch the movie and not telling them about it. I shocked the shit out of them. But, again, I was almost thrilled by that naughty aspect of it. It made it all the more exciting.
But on some level you must have been caught up in the reality of 9/11.
I was scared, like everybody else. “OK, what is this new world we’re going to be living in? Is it going to be fucking Belfast here?” And I didn’t want to fucking fly nowhere.… Read more »
This short essay, originally published in December 1993, was the first time I was ever commissioned to write liner notes for a CD — in this case, the soundtrack music for Jon Jost’s The Bed You Sleep In, composed by Erling Wold and released by The Table of the Elements. (The second time was this month, July 2019, when I was invited to write a short essay for a CD in the U.K. of Carlos Santos’ soundtrack score for Pere Portabella’s masterpiece Vampir Cuadecuc.) – J.R.
The Bed You Sleep In is the twelfth feature of Jon Jost, one of the most independent of all American independent filmmakers, and in more ways than one. It can be regarded as a kind of summary of his preceding work. From a conventional standpoint, Jost’s first eleven features, made over the past two decades, fall into two loose categories: fiction (Angel City, Last Chants for a Slow Dance, Chameleon, Slow Moves, Bell Diamond, Rembrandt Laughing, All the Vermeers in New York, and Sure Fire) and personal, experimental essays (Speaking Directly, Stagefright, and uncommon senses). But Jost is far from conventional, and a closer work at his work reveals that such neat divisions can’t always be made.… Read more »
This appeared in Take One, July 15, 1979 (vol. 7, no. 8). Check out Dave Kehr’s recent column on 70s Akerman in the New York Times for some other reflections. —J.R.
Chantal Akerman is a tough filmmaker to tangle with, make up one’s mind about or describe. One thing’s clear enough though: Les Rendez-vous d’Anna, her fifth feature, is the most assertive film by a woman that I’ve seen since Marguerite Duras’ Le Camion — and probably the most accessible that Akerman has made to date. It might wind up serving as a calling card for the rest of her work.
A film that assumes the ambition (and pretention) of taking the pulse of Western Europe while pursuing a narcissistic autobiographical meditation obviously isn’t going to win everyone over — particularly when every shot has the visual weight of a battleship and nearly every facial expression has enough glumness to sink one. Take that, Akerman seems to be saying, offering up yet another drab, anonymous hotel room or train station at night, each one lit with precise, uncanny radiance, and hammering these cold, elegantly symmetrical compositions into our skulls with an obstinate will to power that makes Milius and Peckinpah seem like frollicking pussy-cats in comparison.… Read more »