50 Years Ago This Week – Kael Lauds Orson Welles

On June 24 1967, Pauline Kael – not yet established at the New Yorker where she would emerge as one of the most influential film critics in America – wrote a long essay for the New Republic singing the praises of the then under-appreciated Orson Welles and his new under-seen film, Chimes at Midnight.  “Like Brando, Welles is always being attacked for not having fulfilled his prodigious promise; but who has ever beaten the mass culture fly-by-night system of econom

News and Commentary – On Olivier Assayas

Is Olivier Assayas our greatest living director? If we believed in such pronouncements here at Mid Century Cinema, we could see the argument in favor. But we don’t. More to the point, as we found ourselves screening his films repeatedly (and, like Kubrick films, they invariably get better with each viewing), and musing about this prospect, it seemed long past the time to discuss his work here.

50 Years Ago This Week – Dont Look Back

May 17, 1967 marked the release of Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back (that’s right, no apostrophe). A documentary of Dylan’s 1965 visit to England, cameras followed as the twenty-four year old Bob performed in proper concerts and on informal occasions, held forth in sparring matches with a clueless, often hostile establishment press, bantered with his entourage, and jousted with many.

News and Commentary – Jack Nicholson, The New Hollywood Years

On April 22, 2017 Jack Nicholson turned eighty, and although he has been a big-time, world famous, larger-than-life movie star for over a third of a century, he holds a revered place at Mid Century Cinema for an earlier phase of his career.  After ten years of struggle, at the end of which he was on the cusp of abandoning acting altogether, Nicholson put forth a body of work in the decade that followed which stands up to comparison with any ten year stretch by an actor in the history of cinema.  

News and Commentary – Another Semester of 70s Films: On Sidney Lumet

This week’s film was Sidney Lumet’s Network, a great movie that is so good and about so many things that one could talk about endlessly.  But we have already talked about it a good bit, in a post from last year, and in a cranky review of a recent book about the movie. So with this post we will pull back for a longer shot, and consider Lumet as a seventies filmmaker.

News and Commentary – Another Semester of 70s Films: Mikey and Nicky

This week’s movie was Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky, a relatively little-known obscurity that should be included in any serious discussion of the great films of the 1970s. That this is generally not the case can be attributed to a number of factors.  It was an enormously troubled production—May shot a lot of film (legend holds over a million feet, shedding cinematographers and shattering production schedules and budgets along the way), and she then edited obsessively and endlessly.