Daily Archives: November 20, 1992

Rock Criticism

From the November 20, 1992 Chicago Reader. –J.R.

ROCK HUDSON’S HOME MOVIES

**** (Masterpiece)

Directed and written by Mark Rappaport

With Rock Hudson and Eric Farr.

In the creation of art, the verb is there to authenticate the subject with the same name.

To paint is the act of painting. . . . To write becomes the act of writing and of the writer. To film, that is, to record a sight and project it, is the act of cinema and of the makers of films . . .

Only television has no creative act or verb to authenticate it. That’s because the act of television both falls short of communication and goes beyond it. It doesn’t create any goods, in fact, what is worse, it distributes them without their ever having been created. To program is the only verb of television. That implies suffering rather than release. — Jean-Luc Godard

You were a great star, Mr. Hudson — one of the biggest. Sorry it all had to end like this. — director Mark Rappaport’s voice in Rock Hudson’s Home Movies

The precipitous decline in the quality of American movies since the 1970s can be attributed to several factors, but three interconnected changes in U.S.… Read more »

Flirting

Part two of Australian writer-director John Duigan’s trilogy about teenage life in the 60s (which commenced with 1987′s The Year My Voice Broke) follows Danny Embling (Noah Taylor) to a ritzy boarding school, where he becomes involved with Thandiwe Adjewa (Thandie Newton), a beautiful and precocious black girl from Uganda, at a nearby girls’ school. Not only worthy of its fine predecessor, this tender, perceptive, and gorgeously acted memory piece may even surpass subtlety, feeling, and depth of characterization. (Nicole Kidman is also very fine as one of Thandiwe’s classmates.) A winner of many prizes in Australia, this lovely feature probably deserves them all. (Fine Arts) … Read more »

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

A good reason for including the name of the original author in the title of Francis Ford Coppola’s ambitious version of the famous vampire story is that most previous film versions have been based not on the 1897 novel but on Hamilton Deane and John Balderston’s 1927 stage adaptation. This version, written by coproducer James V. Hart, brings back the multiple narrators of the novel, leading to a somewhat dispersed and overcrowded story line that remains fascinating and often affecting thanks to all its visual and conceptual energy. (Some of this derives from the filmmakers’ musings about what was going on culturally in Europe at the turn of the century, including the decadent art of people like Beardsley, Klimt, and Huysmans and the birth of both movies and psychoanalysis.) Still the overreacher, Coppola suffers at times from a surfeit of ideas (rather than a dearth, like most of his colleagues); there are times when he squanders his effects (as he did in Rumble Fish), or finds some of them in unlikely places. (Murnau’s Faust has apparently exerted more of an influence than his Nosferatu, for instance.) But this is still the best vampire movie in ages–a visual feast with ideas, more disturbing than scary, though a rich experience in many other respects.… Read more »