May 6, 2007

Bright Lights. 56.

Bright Lights "In the features foyer, you'll espy a pair of in-depth pieces sure to distract you from the dust of a culture in collapse," writes Gary Morris, introducing the new issue of Bright Lights Film Journal: "Julian Upton's detailed, simpatico profile of Richard Pryor's tragic last years, and David Pike's exhaustive tour of Canadian cinema and its cultural identity in the shadow of its 50-Foot-Woman-like southern neighbor."

"Right now, fashion is more consistently ingenious than film - its storylines are tighter, the range of references more unexpected," comments Lesley Chow in a consideration of Sofia Coppola, Marie Antoinette, but most of all, Kirsten Dunst: "[L]ike [Mary] Pickford, Dunst tends to be starry rather than naturalistic: there is something distinctly nostalgic about her presence."

Strangers on a Train "Hitchcock films have a well-established stock of mothers who weigh not only on their sons (Frenzy, The Birds, North by Northwest) but also on their daughters (Shadow of a Doubt, Marnie)," writes Robert Castle, who aims " to show how incommodious minds result from a type of 'mothering' inflicted on the son or daughter.... Nowhere does the mothering of evil in Hitchcock's work get more splendidly dramatized than in Strangers on a Train."

Man's Favorite Sport? "starts out badly, bad enough that even a devout Hawksian will run the other way," writes Erich Kuersten. "But if one sticks with it, it turns out that below the service of this shrill farce is a vein of rich subtext and Brechtian postmodernism."

"To read Tron as a fable about US-Soviet aggression is hardly difficult," proposes James Corbett.

Slouching towards apocalypse, DJM Saunders reaches out to Chaucer, Samira Makhmalbaf and Charlize Theron, and then: "Narrowing this down a bit - and without entirely forgetting the feminist angle of this piece - I end here by looking primarily at two very different films," Turtles Can Fly and Children of Men."

Pandora's Box Gordon Thomas introduces an in-depth consideration of Pandora's Box: "[W]here two and a half decades may seem long to spend on, say, building a model ship, it's not excessive in getting acquainted with the likes of Pabst's masterwork. It's one of those movies - if you can, it's best to grow old with it."

Reviews of newish movies:

And Alan Vanneman needs his own set of bullet points:

  • Breach is "a triumph in bourgeoisie beige, so like life in the District that you'll want to run, shrieking from the theater, out of pure boredom."

  • Colour Me Kubrick: "There is, or at least there ought to be, a place for low-key, half-assed films with a subversive streak. They have to have John Malkovich in them, of course."

  • "Letters from Iwo Jima, frankly, is a revelation. I find it amazing that the director of a film as moronic and crass as Heartbreak Ridge could create a film as gentle and humane as Letters."

  • Music and Lyrics "is not a classic, and it gets shamelessly soggy towards the end, but it's still the best romantic comedy I've seen since Monica Lewinsky was a virgin."

  • Oddly enough, he tries to watch Magnum, PI, too.

Damien Love not only has a good long talk with Roger Corman, he also talks with others about Roger Corman: Bruce Dern, Monte Hellman and David Carradine.

Damon Smith talks with Ken Loach about The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

A Foreign Affair Dan Callahan on Jean Arthur: "The triumph of her song, and her performance in A Foreign Affair, can be seen as a metaphor for the courage it took for the perennially uncertain, anti-social Arthur to have a film career at all."

Megan Ratner on 51 Birch Street: " In several respects this is a story about why seemingly normal families never are, and about the difficulties American children of the 1950s have in accepting their parents as more than progenitors."

Amy Nolan examines the "links between the prevalence of eating disorders, the emergence of the 'hard body' aesthetic (to which Bateman aspires) that dominated many films of the 1980s, and the ways that masculinity (and femininity) is represented in [American Psycho]. I see clear links between the pervasiveness of anorexic thinking and the detached, satirical, misogynist landscape of Bateman's world, which is a curiously disturbed reflection of our own."

Jesse Stommel is working on his dissertation and, according to his bio, "His recent work is primarily focused on horror, more specifically body horror, the abject, corpses, and zombies." But his piece here on "Terrible Bodies in the Films of Carpenter, Cronenberg and Romero" reads, thank heavens, like anything but academic.

Robert Keser reviews a slew of features he caught at the European Union Film Festival while Karin Luisa Badt reports back from the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival.

Gordon Thomas wraps the issue with reviews of seven recent DVD releases.

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Posted by dwhudson at May 6, 2007 10:01 AM