Daily Archives: October 17, 2020

Eleven Treasures of Jazz Performance on DVD

Commissioned and published by DVD Beaver in 2007. In 2015, Ehsan Khoshbakht and I put together a sidebar for Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, Italy, “Jazz Goes to the Movies,” and then a reconfigured version of this a few months later at the Festival on Wheels in Ankara, Turkey, which led both of us to revisit many of these titles and releases.  — J.R.

blackandtan

DudleyMurphybook

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of jazz films — documentary records of particular jazz performances and narrative films that incorporate jazz in some fashion, in their soundtrack scores and/or in their stories. But in some cases, identifying which films belong in which category is simply a matter of personal taste. Consider, for instance, Black and Tan and St. Louis Blues, two landmark jazz shorts directed in 1929 by Dudley Murphy —- a fascinating figure who straddled the avant-garde and the mainstream, having both collaborated with Fernand Léger on Ballet mécanique and Paul Robeson on The Emperor Jones and directed several Hollywood pictures, and who’s been receiving some belated recognition lately thanks to Susan B. Delson’s excellent biography, Dudley Murphy: Hollywood’s Wild Card (University of Minnesota Press, 2006). I would argue that Black and Tan, which stars Duke Ellington, is important chiefly as a narrative film, whereas St.Read more »

Three From Vietnam

From the Chicago Reader (May 13, 1994). I’m delighted that stills from these and other Vietnamese films have finally become available on the Internet — which didn’t appear to be the case in October 2010, when I participated in a panel related to the first of these films in Washington, D.C. — J.R.

*** THE LITTLE GIRL OF HANOI

(A must-see)

Directed by Hai Ninh

Written by Hoang Tich Chi, Hai Ninh, and Vuong Dan Hoang

With Lan Huong, Tra Giang, The Anh, and Kim Xuan.

*** THE GIRL ON THE RIVER

(A must-see)

Directed and written by Dang Nhat Minh

With Minh Chau, Ha Xuyen, Anh Dung, and Tran Van Son.

** THE RETIRED GENERAL

(Worth seeing)

Directed by Nguyen Khac Loi

Written by Nguyen Huy Thiep

With Manh Linh, Doan Anh Thang, Hoang Cuc, and Tran Van.

“16 January 1990

“UNITED NATIONS FORCES ATTACK IRAQ, LAYING THE FIRST BLOW ON SADDAM HUSSEIN . . .

“In Powershift [Alvin] Toffler discusses power in its three forms, violence, wealth and knowledge. Now that knowledge is in the hands of everyone, all people, all Nations, television and satellites have forever made it impossible for one group to manipulate the knowledge of what is happening; World television is bringing this vital knowledge to everyone without being diminished.Read more »

Sleep with Me

From the Chicago Reader (September 6, 1994). — J.R.

The best of the so-called Generation X movies that I’ve seen so far, this charming first feature by Rory Kelly about a circle of friends in their 30s, and the various complications that ensue when one of the bunch falls helplessly in love with a friend’s wife, owes much of its spark to collective effort, in the script as well as the performances. The film was written by Kelly and five of his friends — Duane Dell’Amico, Roger Hedden (author of Bodies, Rest & Motion), Neal Jimenez (writer and codirector of The Waterdance), Joe Keenan, and Michael Steinberg (director of Bodies, Rest & Motion and codirector of The Waterdance) — with each of the six scripting a separate scene organized around a gathering. A limitation of the collective social portrait is that one never learns what most of the characters do for a living, but the behavioral interplay is often funny and observant. The able cast includes Craig Sheffer (A River Runs Through It), coproducer Eric Stoltz (who starred in both The Waterdance and Bodies, Rest & Motion), and Meg Tilly; the striking and effective score is by David Lawrence.… Read more »

Dialogue Between Shigehiko Hasumi and Jonathan Rosenbaum on Howard Hawks and Yasuzo Masumura (Tokyo, 3 December 1999)

This dialogue is part of a section called “Two Auteurs: Masumura and Hawks,” included in Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia (2003), a volume I co-edited with Adrian Martin. It was preceded by my essay, “Discovering Yasuzo Masumura: Reflections on Work in Progress,” and, before the “epilogue,” it was followed by Hasumi’s own essay, “Inversion/ Exchange/Repetition: The Comedy of Howard Hawks”. — J.R.

Jonathan Rosenbaum: When did you first write about Howard Hawks?

Shigehiko Hasumi: In 1977, just after he died. At that time, Hawks was so underestimated in Japan that no film magazine wanted an article on him. I published it in a literary magazine.

JR: And is there a particular period in his career that you prefer?

SH: Yes, from Bringing Up Baby (1938) to His Girl Friday (1940). Of course, his two films noirs with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, To Have and Have Not (1944) and The Big Sleep (1946), impress me deeply. But the comedies in this period seem to me the highest accomplishment of his mise en scène. For me, Hawks is essentially a filmmaker of comedy. In that sense, I could say also that my preference goes to the period between Twentieth Century (1934) and Monkey Business (1952).… Read more »