Daily Archives: January 4, 2020


From Cineaste, Fall 1998. –J.R.

Speaking About Godard

by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki; foreword by Constance Penley. New York/London: New York University Press, 1998. 245 pp., illus. Hardcover: $55.00, Paperback: $17.95.

Negative Space: Manny Farber at the Movies (expanded edition)

by Manny Farber; preface by Robert Walsh. New York: Da Capo Press, 1998. Paperback: $15.95.

Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki’s dialogues about eight features by Jean-Luc Godard, stretching from Vivre sa vie (1962) to Nouvelle vague (1990), is a book I’ve been awaiting ever since coming across its sixth and seventh chapters, on Numéro deux (1975) and Passion (1981), in issues of the journals Camera Obscura and Discourse, respectively. The two best critical studies I’ve encountered anywhere of these difficult, neglected masterworks, they manage to account for a great deal of what’s going on in them, metaphorically, ideologically, and intellectually, and the graceful division of labor between the two critics as they proceed through the films — roughly speaking, a dialectical exchange between Freud (Silverman) and Marx (Farocki) — makes the process of their exploration all the more illuminating. Silverman, a film theorist who teaches at Berkeley, and Farocki, a German essayistic filmmaker with over seventy films to his credit, are both primarily concerned with what these two films mean, and they attack this question with a great deal of lucidity and rigor.… Read more »

Catching Up with the World

From the Chicago Reader (October 5, 2001). My thanks to [email protected] in Chile for reminding me that I wrote this. — J.R.

I periodically get letters from readers complaining that I write too much about movies they’ve never heard of, some of which come from countries they know little about. A good many examples of these kinds of films are playing over the next couple of weeks at the 37th Chicago International Film Festival.

The reason you haven’t heard of most of the 80-odd features on the schedule is that they don’t have multimillion-dollar ad campaigns designed to make them seem as familiar as trees — or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Warners was doing a big campaign for his latest action flick, Collateral Damage, which is about international terrorists who kill his wife and child with a bomb. Before September 11, it was scheduled as the festival’s opening attraction, but Warners belatedly came to its senses and decided not to release it (David Mamet’s Heist was abruptly coughed up as a replacement). There were times in August and early September when posters for Collateral Damage seemed almost as prevalent as American flags have been the past few weeks.

One of the American dream bubbles pricked on September 11 is the idea that we really aren’t part of the world — a delusion that seems inextricably tied to the conviction that we’re safe and invulnerable compared to other countries.… Read more »