50 Years Ago This Week – Star Trek!

Since September 8, 1966, we have lived in a world that has included Star Trek, a television show that made a small difference, in a good way.  That it would endure for fifty years, spawning endless descendants, sequels, books, movies, and subcultures, is astonishing.  (The show bounced around NBC’s schedule for three years before it was finally cancelled, a casualty of its perennially poor audience share.)  That it has, finally and perhaps inevitably, been largely reduced to an assembly-line mass-consumption multiplex blockbuster product-package is disappointing. 

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? 

50 Years Ago This Week – Who’s Afraid of the Production Code?

A milestone on the road to the Seventies Film, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, an adaptation of Edward Albee’s Tony Award winning play starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, was released fifty years ago.  Successfully bringing the play to the screen – with the explicit approval of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) – marked the beginning of the end for Hollywood’s draconian but eroding self-censorship system, overseen for over thirty years by its Production Code Authority (PCA).