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).

News and Commentary – Taxi Driver: The Man Who Wasn’t There

The sensation that was Taxi Driver settled in as the eleventh screening at our semester of the seventies film.  Directed with brilliant, baroque virtuosity by Martin Scorsese (on the heels of his breakthrough Mean Streets and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore), Taxi Driver was the result of an extraordinary convergence of the talents of three young men: Scorsese (collaborating with cinematographer Michael Chapman),

News and Commentary – Shampoo: Holding a Mirror to the Left

A semester of seventies films offered with its tenth entry a (modest) respite from the usual darkness and despair, with the sex-comedy Shampoo (1975).  Of course, everything is relative—it’s still the seventies out there, and we surely don’t get the ending we were rooting for, leaving George (Warren Beatty) as diminished, desolate and despairing as Harry Caul was at the end of The Conversation.