News and Commentary

News and Commentary – Hitchcock in the Thirties

I’ve been thinking about the 1930s these days, and not in a good way (though if it’s any consolation, I think we’re in France, not Germany).  But in these dispiriting times, let’s reach for some movies-as-therapy, and remember that not everything about the 1930s was dismal—in fact it was a great decade for the films of Alfred Hitchcock. 

News and Commentary – The Ultimate Thanksgiving Movie

Why is the greatest Thanksgiving movie ever made called “A Christmas Tale”?  (Which, we hasten to add, is not to be confused with “A Christmas Carol.”)  Because it is French. And, as director Arnaud Desplechin explained, they don’t have Thanksgiving in the Old World. But he wanted to tell a version of that particular type of story: the convergence of an extended family returning back to the old homestead—with newcomers, ex-lovers, and assorted relatives and friends all along for the ride, dragging a lifetime of emotional baggage in tow.

News and Commentary – After The Catastrophe: What Can the Movies Tell Us?

And so this has actually happened—America has elected as its President an ignorant, nativist authoritarian.  One would not have thought this possible.  It is still very difficult to process.  

At such a moment, talking about the movies seems, perhaps . . . frivolous?  

I am sympathetic to this perspective.  But I want to suggest that the movies have a role to play in the context of our current existential crisis, especially because the most common question I hear (and the question I keep asking as well) is, “what am I supposed to do now?”

News and Commentary – Mike Nichol’s Carnal Knowledge

Mid Century Cinema favorite Mike Nichols would have turned eighty-five on November 6.  We have previously celebrated each of his first two films, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) and The Graduate (1967), so on this occasion we thought we would take a look at another one of his best—one of the milestones of the New Hollywood, Carnal Knowledge (1971).  Written by

News and Commentary – Coming: The New York Film Festival

It’s time to mark up the calendar with plans to attend screenings at the Fifty-Fourth New York Film Festival, which will be held this year from September 30 to October 16.  The big tent, of course, dazzles with the glittering jewels of carefully selected new films, not yet in general release.  Always full of promise and anticipation, this year we’re most looking forward to Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper, which was

News and Commentary – What We Want from the Movies

What do we want from the movies?  Let us summarily dismiss questions of taste.  Movies are like wine—you can’t tell someone what to like.  The wine you like is the wine you like.  So too it is with cinema. To talk about what we want from the movies, then, is to ask something less personal but more profound: what is it that we value in a film; that is, by what criteria do we to consider a movie worthy not simply of our affection, but our attention? 

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