News and Commentary
This week’s movie was actually John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy, but we’ve already written about that one here, and we’re sticking to our stories: (1) if forced to choose, we’ll take the dirty old Times Square over the modern tourist-trap eyesore; (2) except for, you know, the movie ending with Dustin Hoffman dead on a bus, Cowboy has the classic structure of a Hollywood romantic comedy; (3) despite that, however, we do not think that Rasto Rizzo and Joe Buck are meant to be implicitly u
Last night we eagerly unwrapped the new Criterion Collection special edition of Jack Garfein’s Something Wild, from 1961. New to us, this was a movie aimed directly at Mid Century Cinema’s sweet-spot: gorgeous time-capsule-perfect street shots of New York City; raw, daring performances by the hip cohort of the Actors Studio that contrasted with and challenged Hollywood conventions; and
I’m teaching “The Politics of the 70s Film” this semester, and, as we have done previously, Mid Century Cinema will follow along with commentaries related to the movies screened for class—or to movies related to those movies (since we can’t bear to repeat ourselves). This week we watched The Graduate. Regarding the general themes of this one, we don’t have much to add to last year’s comments, so we’re going to focus instead on one specific sequence in the film: when Benjamin reluctantly takes Elain
Regular followers of Mid Century Cinema know that Bertrand Tavernier is one of our favorite directors, so it is no surprise that we read with great interest a new collection of interviews with the filmmaker. Not every artist need be a great raconteur, but vicariously spending time with Tavernier – intelligent,
The recent release of John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle in a new special edition from The Criterion Collection was more than enough reason to revisit this old classic—and it did not disappoint. If anything, Jungle is even better than we remembered. What is great about this movie?
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.
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.
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?”