Friday, June 22, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
...several times, in his piece on the Film Forum Spaghetti Western series.
The Western’s basic civilization vs. wilderness theme gets travestied by Spaghetti westerns into nihilistic prognostications about mankind‘s depravity. [Alex] Cox confesses the young person’s conventional fascination with cynicism as a rejection of sentimentality which hipsters consider weak and untrustworthy (especially in counterculture terms that dismiss established moral tenets). The cynicism of Spaghetti westerns now seems an inevitable development of the skepticism following mid-20th century American imperialism and triumphalism. It was a way for Italian Communist anxiety (a luxe privilege) to express itself within a critique of the American ideals it cannot sustain.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Alexander Payne, Filmmaker of the Year, offers five pieces of advice to students at the UCLA/TFT Film Festival "Directors Showcase" event, June 14, 2012.
1. Be prepared for it to take a while.
2. If you're writing a script that you want to direct, don't take any money for it.
3. Watch Ozu.
4. Always get your entrances and exits.
5. Quoting Italian director Nani Moretti, who in turn is quoting writer Eduardo De Filippo: "He who searches for style, finds death. He who searches for life, finds style."
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
There's a non-fannish, genre-informed rave review by Javier Martinez of his new book, "Blue Remembered Earth", on The LA Review of Books website. An interesting political perspective, by the way.... I've never paid much attention to the politics of SF, but Martinez's analysis makes sense to me.
Reynold's frame is a society which is a technological totalitarian state -- and that's OK by Reynolds, apparently. Says Martinez:
This concept half a century ago would likely have been depicted as a sinister hive-mind, a metaphor for global communism, that our protagonist would rally against and overthrow armed only with his smarts and can-do attitude. BRE moves away from this libertarian old-guard position, upheld by such pulp-era titans as John W. Campbell, Robert A. Heinlein, and Poul Anderson - not to mention their ideological heirs, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and the stable of writers at Baen Books.
The ideological shift from individualism toward techno-collectivism is, if no less problematic, evidence of a left-leaning vision in Reynolds's work. A conventional history of the genre can trace the leftist turn in SF back several decades to at least the 1950s, with the pioneering social satire featured in Galaxy magazine. But Reynolds's lineage is more complex: he clearly owes a huge debt to those authors central to the early decades of the genre (certainly the future-history detailed in his "Inhibitor" series is a nod to Heinlein's work, if not his ideology), but he melds this traditionalism with elements culled from the writers of the1960s and '70s - such as John Brunner, Barry N. Malzberg, and Barrington J. Bayley - who turned routine space adventures into more meditative excursions. At the same time, Reynolds expresses an exuberance that aligns him with the outer-space quasi-mysticism of Arthur C. Clarke and Fred Hoyle. Reynolds's romanticism, however, is not transcendental but purely material, a celebration of the endless possibilities of secular culture and the richness of experience technology promises.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Monday, June 4, 2012
Having read the second novel, I’m not surprised by the plot. But this is really a model of adaptation. The character work is even deeper in the series than it is in the books, the plot has been trimmed to its essentials, and ending the season with the supernatural creatures assault is more dramatically satisfying than the revelation of Bran’s (in the book less unambiguous) survival.
The series has been quite faithful to the novels so far; it will be interesting to see if they are as willing to sacrifice characters next season as George R.R. Martin has been.
"Game of Thrones" is every bit as much about the exercise of power as Caro’s monumental LBJ biography is. Not quite on that level, of course, but deeply considered and challenging.
To introduce a summer festival of Italian westerns in New York, Alex Cox (whose love of big, incoherent, violent movies was not, in the end, good for his career) reminisces about summers spent in the second-run movie theatres of Paris:
My enthusiasm for “Django” and its contemporaries rivaled that of a young Elizabethan treated to the London theater of the Rose or the Globe. Who cared why the Dane waited so long to murder his uncle? There was mayhem! There was murder! There was madness! There was music! And a ghost! The enthusiasm for these things shown by the best Renaissance playwrights — Marlowe, Webster, Kyd, Middleton — rivaled the spaghetti western auteurs’ equal passion for arbitrary killing, crucifixions, loud music and scenes with white-clad villains abused by talking parrots.His list of favorites:
• Carlo Lizzani’s “Requiescant,” a fierce revenge tale in which the director Pier Paolo Pasolini and several of his actors appear in strange character roles.• Corbucci’s “Navajo Joe” and “Great Silence,” also pessimistic revenge tales, in this case ones that do not end happily for the hero. (“Navajo Joe” is the best of all possible Burt Reynolds vehicles; “The Great Silence” is one of the finest westerns ever).• “Quien Sabe?” (“A Bullet for the General”) and “Tepepa,” parables about third-world revolution and the Vietnam War disguised as westerns.• Giulio Questi’s “Django Kill,” which had nothing to do with “Django” but displayed a surreal aesthetic worthy of Buñuel, featuring gay outlaws, murderous townsfolk and that talking parrot.• Tonino Valerii’s “Price of Power,” which restaged the Kennedy assassination, in Dallas, circa 1880.