Daily Archives: October 1, 2019

The Tom Blair Trilogy

I believe this was commissioned by the San Francisco International Film Festival in 1993; my thanks to Adrian Martin for reminding me of its existence. — J.R.

Jon Jost’s three features starring Tom Blair display a surprising amount of consistency and continuity. Part of this undoubtedly stems from the singular power and intelligence of Blair — mainly known as a stage actor and director — who is officially credited for “additional dialogue” only in The Bed You Sleep In, but undoubtedly played a comparable role in earlier films. Another part just as surely comes from the way in which Blair’s particular talents have inspired and inflected some of Jost’s preoccupations. All three films focus on specific forms of all-American male dementia and violence, crumbling economies and communities and family units that come apart through contagious paranoid mistrust. And all three can be further read in part as corrosive, speculative self-portraits that reflect his changing position as a filmmaker. When he made Last Chants for a Slow Dance (Dead End) he was effectively without a fixed address himself and his searing look at the misogyny and wanderlust of Tom, driving around jobless and in flight from domesticity, is in part a dark reading of his own situation at the time.… Read more »

Do Yourself a Favor [HOUSE OF CARDS]

From the Chicago Reader (July 2, 1993). For all my enthusiasm back then, I can’t remember any of this film now. This is one of the unfortunate side-effects of regular reviewing, which nearly always involves a certain amount of hype (in convincing both readers and one’s self that this week’s offerings are important and notable) and a certain amount of forgetting (that you both went through the same song and dance a week ago).  – J.R.

HOUSE OF CARDS

*** (A must-see)

Directed and written by Michael Lessac

With Kathleen Turner, Tommy Lee Jones, Asha Menina, Shiloh Strong, Esther Rolle, and Park Overall.

If one of the surest signs of story-telling talent is the capacity to put across an outlandish plot, the first feature of writer-director Michael Lessac is impressive — riveting, exciting, and oddly believable on its own provocative terms throughout. On the page, however, it may sound contrived and pretentious, bordering on some new-age brand of science fiction. So if you want a story that unfolds with all the dramatic force and internal logic needed to compel suspension of disbelief, go see House of Cards before you hear very much more about it, including what I have to say below.… Read more »