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Doug C

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Everything posted by Doug C

  1. Darren, this film is definitely more of an entertainment than a formal provocation like Cronenberg's film (which, as you probably know, I did feel was a little too slick for its own good). Children lacks its ironic, double-edged sword. Elen, I'm not upset at the violence and gloom per se, but how they seem to be the film's raison d'etre. Stalker (which this film resembles in atmosphere and setting at times) is gloomy, and Blade Runner (which this film also resembles at times) is gloomy and violent, but both films have much more philosophically up their sleeves and take great pains in developing them. Dark City is a violent film, but its violence remains only one aspect of the whole and not the defining experience of the film. (And in many ways, BR subtly critiques its own violence, playing off genre expectations a la Unforgiven (both were written by David Peoples) and, as Darren mentions, A History of Violence does. It's interesting that you specifically cite the issue you do in your spoiler tag, because I felt the film romanticizes this event when it occurs (not by the hands of the state but by an individual), instead of criticizing it. I actually thought Cuaron incorporated that scene (and the so-called "war on terror" allusions) to counter potential right-wing endorsements of the film. But playing off Jeffrey's claim that the film is a corrective to a culture that supposedly "devalues children," how can a film that so insistently dehumanizes humanity (apart from a major character or two) be considered such a corrective? Unfortunately, I am well-acquainted with the Hollywoodization of many a fine SF novel, so I won't assume this film is an appropriate substitute for James' book.
  2. Well, regardless of what kind of political or theological baggage you want to graft onto the baby imagery in the film, it doesn't change the fact that 95% of the movie wallows in a humanity without dignity, steeped in meaningless violence. This is ultimately a big-budget remake of Escape from New York, but with more violence and better actors. It seems to me that you're picking out one element of the film to hang your hat on without taking into account the rest of the movie. I don't care if Peter can cite a cute argument for The Terminator as a "nativity film," watching Gov. Schwarzenegger parade around Griffith Observatory frontally naked or indulge in a methodical cop killing spree isn't my idea of inspiring holiday contemplation. This, too, is a brutal film that pummels, shocks, and manipulates the viewer through a series of sadistic, violent episodes...and without any ideological structure (apart from what you want to bring to it), I doubt many people will find much to contemplate; they'll simply hang on for the "ride." If James' book has any social or philosophical commentary at all, the movie completely elides it. Except for a silly monologue by Michael Caine about life being divided between "faith" and "chance" that sounds like he either made it up on the spot or Alan Alda's character from Crimes and Misdemeanors wrote it.
  3. What a huge disappointment. As some of you may know, I'm a big SF literature fan, and although I hadn't read James' novel, the idea of a talented director adapting a SF novel with a great cast stoked my expectations for a smart, visually sophisticated, SF cinema of ideas. About the only critical comment I had inadvertantly read before last night was Ed Gonzalez at Slant contending that "Cuaron directs the m-f'ing sh*t out of a flimsy script," but that line kept resounding in my head throughout the entire film as its perfect summation. This is not a movie of ideas, this is under-developed, apocalyptic miserablism thatfunctions as a CGI war movie on the scale of Saving Private Ryan. Yes, the battle scenes are stunningly staged and filmed in long takes, but this is literally the only thing the film has to offer, and had I known that I would've skipped it. It is unrelenting and without nuance in its images of human suffering and cruelty (though it could've been worse) to the point where it loses its effectiveness, sort of a dumb, literal approach at evoking "mankind at the end of its ropes." A rubble movie for sure, but one that never has anything at all to say about the rubble, where it came from, or its dwindling culture--the stuff of great SF--despite throwaway references to Homeland Security, Immigration issues, and Abu Ghraib. It's all there for dystopian decoration; none of the fighting factions--the police state, the terrorist/rebels, the opportunists, the pathetic masses--represent any ideological position, they all just serve as perpetrators and targets for explosions, chaos, suspensful chases, and deus ex machina escapes. All of which wouldn't be so bad if the technical direction and acting wasn't top-notch. The film screams so loudly for us to take it seriously that its lack of seriousness is virtually insulting. And the music is especially gauling; when it's not foregrounding the film's hip soundtrack, it's cranking up angelic arias in each and every "meaningful" scene. Cuaron has some polished set pieces here, but frankly, I'm tired of filmmakers who only want to immerse us in tour-de-force, vicarious sensations of violence with little or nothing to say about it. Saving Private Ryan revolved around flimsy ideas, but this film only revolves around flimsy sentiments, if that.
  4. Oh, it's a fine book, and Johnson and Petrie also provide a good commentary on Criterion's release of Solaris. I definitely endorse it!
  5. Thanks for those, M; I'll get back to some of our previous comments when I get the chance, but I thought I'd note... ...that I was sent a manuscript to review earlier this year of an upcoming book in the UK, Through the Mirror: Reflections on the Films of Andrei Tarkovsky that you might want to keep an eye out for, too.
  6. Crow, thanks for the heads up on The Aura here and in your SLIFF coverage. (Boy, do I wish that was around when I lived near St. Louis.) It's playing in Los Angeles at the moment and your praise definitely makes me want to check it out. And what a fine list of older films, many of which are personal favorites for me. Although I suspect I'd love Kings of the Road if I could ever track it down, my favorite Wenders movie at present is Paris, Texas. Such a beautiful, empathic, character-driven film.
  7. The camera's static gaze in this film is particularly effective, both in what it frames and what it doesn't. There's a fun scene where the father (a struggling businessman) pesters his daughter to redesign his sales flyer by looking over her shoulder at a computer screen and attempting to talk/order her through software he's clearly unfamiliar with. Yet the camera stays fixed on the printer the entire time; we only glean the scene through their dialogue as they argue about the interface, text, placement, font sizes, etc. Eventually, the scene ends with the flyer emerging from the printer so that we finally see the subject/culmination of their conversation. With its constant visual invention and tone poetics, I'd compare Play more to a warm and slightly surrealist Godard, if you can imagine it, although there is a genuine sense of grief and loss that runs beneath the entire film. The Evening Class interviewed the director here and I think Scherson is someone to watch in the coming years. I agree with you about music, too. One of the reasons I love Bernard Herrmann's scores is that they are all about mood and psychology rather than melody; you don't hum Herrmann scores for weeks on end like so many pop-y contemporary scores. The other film in my list with a standout score is Times and Winds, which uses Arvo P
  8. Doug, I haven't heard of these. Would any of them would be up my alley, and, if so, is there any chance I can get my hands on 'em? Also, I didn't realize you were so fond of Renaissance. I was put off by the style of the film, so I didn't catch it when it played in Knoxville. That's funny Darren, Renaissance isn't on my list! (I feared it would be a case of style over substance and never read anything that suggested otherwise.) Thanks for asking about these: The Moon and the Son was just released on the DVD A Collection of 2005 Academy Award Nominated Short Films. Canemaker is a giant in the field of animation, both as an artist and as a scholar, and this is a very touching portrait imagining a difficult but healing conversation he might have had with his father, with whom he otherwise had a troubled relationship. For someone like me with father issues, it was very moving, but I also found the hand-drawn animation stunningly creative. Of all the films in that list, Darren, I can say with confidence that you'd love Oxhide, another intimate family portrait made by a Chinese film student and her parents in a series of late nights after all of them came home from work/school. It's apparently a fictional work, with each person playing an imagined role, but it evokes a great deal of emotional honesty through its oblique and meditative compositions capturing minute, quotidien details in their family home. MK2 in France was supposed to release a DVD...I'll have to check on it. Cinema Scope called it "the most important Chinese film of the past several years." Cavite has been released on DVD here, and it's a surprisngly tense and effective thriller made by two Filipino Americans who devised a plot (a terrorist directs someone around a city via cell phone) that would allow them to film the movie by themslves by walking through the rarely-seen poor areas and slums of the city of Cavite in the Philippines. It's a true lesson in economy of means that sheds light on an ongoing political conflict in the region, and it offers an unusually compelling ethical dilemma as well. Play is a wonderful, magical realist film set in Santiago, Chile that has a great feel for urban loneliness and the touches of romance and absurdity that arise from living among millions of people in a crowded, modern environment. It's an compassionate, funny, formally creative film with a strong sense of place and a notably atmospheric score. When I think of this movie, I smile. It won Best New Narrative Filmmaker at the Tribeca film fest. It's also the best-looking film shot in DV I saw all year. The House of Nina is a more straightforward but very solid dramatic narrative film (sorely ripe for a US audience) starring the dependable Agnes Jaoui as the head of a true-to-life French orphange during WWII that cared for French Jewish children; later it begins to house Eastern European Jews returning from recently liberated concentration camps, and as you might expect there is a lot of psychological scarring on their part, which creates a lot of interpersonal tensions in a time when cultural rebirth is crucial. It was a very personal project for the director (Richard Dembo), who died during post-production, and it's the kind of intelligent, emotionally honest, historically interesting film Miramax/Wienstein should be distributing but hasn't in a long time. Alas, no US distrib or DVD yet (and I don't think the French DVD has English subs).
  9. I list new releases I have seen during that year, period (theater, festival, DVD, what have you). Here are my top ten for voting purposes, but I wish to list all the films below in order to be completist. 1. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu 2. Still Life 3. Oxhide 4. Colossal Youth 5. Hamaca Paraguaya 6. Climates 7. Pan's Labyrinth 8. Woman on the Beach 9. Play 10. A Scanner Darkly Favorite new releases (alphabetically): A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman, 2006) A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006) Cavite (Neill Dela Llana and Ian Gamazon, 2005) Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa, 2006) Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006) The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005) Dong (Jia Zhang-ke, 2006) The Future of Food (Deborah Koons Garcia, 2005) Hamaca Paraguaya (Paz Encina, 2006) The House of Nina (Richard Dembo, 2005) Iraq in Fragments (James Longley, 2006) Iron Island (Mohammad Rasoulof, 2005) Khadak (The Colour of Water) (Peter Brosens and Jessica Hope Woodworth, 2006) The Moon and the Son (John Canemaker, 2005) Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006) Old Joy (Kelly Reichhardt, 2006) Oxhide (Liu Jiayin, 2005) Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006) Play (Alicia Scherson, 2006) Reds (theatrical rerelease) (Warren Beatty, 1981) Requiem (Hans Christian Schmidt, 2006) The Road to Guantanamo (Michael Winterbottom, 2006) Still Life (Jia Zhang-ke, 2006) Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006) Times and Winds (Reha Erdem, 2006) When the Levees Broke (Spike Lee, 2006) Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo, 2006) Favorite older discoveries: 21-87 (Arthur Lipsett, 1964) Abhijan (Satyajit Ray, 1962) Army of Shadows (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969) Barefoot Gen (Keiji Nakazawa and Mori Masaki, 1983) Buffalo Boy (Ming Nguyen-Vo, 2004) Casa de Lava (Pedro Costa, 1995) Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, 1965) Chronicle of a Disappearance (Elia Suleiman, 1996) The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Daniele Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, 1968) Documentaries by the Dardenne brothers Documentaries by Kieslowski Hamlet (Grigori Kozintsev, 1964) Histoire(s) du cin
  10. I don't think so, but you make it sound more complicated than it should. This probably isn't the thread to critique your article, which I think conveys many implicit biases (such as plugging CT and blasting Hollywood Jesus) that I think could be more even-handed, but suffice it to say for now that I'm simply questioning your consistent use of "Christian" in the article when you seem to be referring to "the recent evangelical publishing market." It's a distinction that cannot be overemphasized. I mean, given your supposition that "popular" movies are always emphasized over "good" movies in "the whole Christian publishing guild," where does that place any of the authors or boks I cited above? Or those of us who continue to emulate them? Moreover, how does that jive with the laudable values you define in the section entitled "The Good, The Bad, and the Slightly More Well-Defined"? They simply don't. (Apologies if this is getting off-topic--I'd be happy to continue this conversation elsewhere if it doesn't fit here!) And one of the reasons it hasn't--and one of the reasons it hasn't contributed to the scholarly realm you're seeking here--is because it remains primarily a market-driven, popular subgenre. Which is why Christian writers who have already penetrated and influenced the larger film culture should be understood and valued. Great, my point exactly. Oh, come now, you'll have to do better than cite them! PTC has always been an evangelical writer, and both seem more comfortable in evangelical cultural (if not always theological) waters. I've remarked before that as much as I respect SDG's Catholic faith, I find his reviews less representative of traditional Catholic cultural positions than many others. Then it's probably covered with good prints. So consider my comments a (hopefully productive) attempt to help focus your line of thinking. I'd love it if you could share some with us. I've always been fascinated by religion and film syllabi, conferences, seminars, etc... As long as it pre-dates the Internet.
  11. I do think your article implies there is some kind of renaissance in Christians writing about film that I'm not convinced actually exists outside of the evangelical publishing market, which imposes serious constraints, and I would hope that a discussion of Christians writing about film would include the notable precedents set long before the age of the Internet. I also think it's important for Christians new to film studies to recognize that they are not the inventors of films or commentaries that deal with spirituality, and to become acquainted with the many widely-established films and essays that already exist on the subject (for example, Bazin's essay on Diary of a Country Priest might be the most influential film review ever written). Let's surmise the field before claiming the avant-garde, yes? I'm thinking Religious Theory is one more lens with which we construct meaning in film, along with Psychoanalysis, Feminism, Marxism, or what have you. Most university courses offer a course in film theory that is separate or appended from aesthetics, and the influence and articulation of Christian or comparative religious thought would be one of many legitimate theories to add to the mix. Speaking as a Religious Studies minor from a state university, we didn't have any Religion and Film classes, but I think one could certainly have been offered in an academically legitimate way. (In fact, I think Andrew Greeley was considering offering such a course in our department at one point.) Andrew, there are a few English collections of Bazin's writing, like Bazin at Work edited by Bert Cardullo, both volumes of What Is Cinema?, his books on Welles and Renoir, and two OOP books, The Cinema of Cruelty: From Bu
  12. I thought he meant Johnston wasn't enough for a college level class (except his own, of course). Frankly, Johnston is a theologian first and a film scholar way, way second. M, are you saying this text would be for a non-Christian introduction to theology and film? I'm intrigued, but how would that actually play out in a Christian or secular institution? No it's not, it's endemic to a specific (largely evangelical) lecture/publishing circuit that uses pop culture to legitimize film criticism for lowest common denominator religious audiences. Expanding your Defining Christian Criticism boundaries, believers from Episcopalian James Agee to Catholic Bazin to Calvinist Schrader have long made serious contributions to film (and film & theology) criticism, and little contemporary writing comes close to providing a litmus of contemporary world cinema as the excellent series of Catholic Discovery in Film books (focusing on short and avant-garde 16mm films) from the 1960s. (Not to mention Ivan Butler's 1969 Religion in the Cinema or Neil Hurley's 1970 Theology Through Film.) Of course, all of these authors wrote for the general market, not a religious one, but if that's the direction of your class, I'd definitely broaden your terms by considering those examples. (And I'll plug the likes of Baugh and Cawkwell once again.)
  13. What's wrong with using Bordwell? I'm not sure there's a "Christian" way of understanding formal concepts like mis-en-sc
  14. I agree that it's one of the stronger documentaries this year, full of observant compassion for those who have fractured their lives but are willing to face the consequences and their selves as honestly as they can. As one inmate says, "I've often thought that a bunch of convicts would make great actors, because they're used to lying and playing a role. But really it's the exact opposite of that, because you have to tell the truth." http://www.shakespearebehindbars.com/ Also recommended is the totally engrossing This American Life radio program featuring another prison production of Hamlet: http://www.thislife.org/pages/descriptions/02/218.html
  15. Doug C

    Ordet (1955)

    Then you failed to grasp my argument. Badump-bump! But back to what I was saying... Which, of course, is how I was using it. I can't; they're both as artificial and make-believe fantasy to me as the last half of Return of the King. However, I do accept Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast more readily because its fantasy is more rooted in the real world--wires, lighting tricks, and all. (Anyway, if you want to worry about rhetorical qualification, I'd urge you to qualify "fakest.") Your definition of "ineffable" is so 19th century. There are indescribable images today, photographically speaking. Those films are both for me, but particularly the latter because of the former. No matter how much I like The Miracle Maker, it remains somewhat abstract in my mind. You've typically never gravitated to formal meanings in film, so it doesn't surprise me that you would say this, but I definitely differ. Of course the ontological thumbprint of a film is implicit with viewing experiences, no one I know watches a film with the perspective you cite; an appreciation of the medium comes later through thought, analysis, and reflection. Art affects us and we often only understand later how it does so. Well, I do.
  16. Doug C

    Ordet (1955)

    We were discussing the live action cinematographic medium, not animation. In that context, anything that isn't natural is artificial...despite its perceived verisimilitude or our willingness to suspend disbelief (both of which evolve over time and differ between individuals; a lot of CGI still looks fake to me). Its a quality unique to the film medium, unlike the written word, which has no inherent difficulty depicting the ineffable. My point still stands that filmmakers who suggest or reveal the invisible offer a particularly unique and meaningful spiritual service, because they come the closest to approximating how we (or at least I) perceive spiritual realities in life. I love fantasy, but that involves entirely different criteria.
  17. Doug C

    Ordet (1955)

    Perhaps you could've used Requiem? I agree, which is why I said I can understand being tired of ambiguity, depending on where we're at and how long we've been there. But there's a difference between saying "I'm not at a place to appreciate this film" versus "This film is not Christian/truthful/worthy because it's not where I'm at." (Although I realize IM was also criticizing a thematic reading.) I spend most of my moviegoing time engaging challenging art films because I enjoy them and the conversations they inspire and find the experience beneficial to my life, but there are definitely times when I just want to watch a classical Hollywood comedy and be reassured by nostalgia, unambiguous meanings, predictable narratives, and recognizable forms. It's important to pace ourselves and respect each other's unique developmental journeys.
  18. Doug C

    Ordet (1955)

    Thanks for your reply, IM. I always appreciate your honest reflections. Sounds like somebody needs to start making films, then! Well, I accept that this is true for you. For myself, I have faith, but I nevertheless see spirituality as being an ambiguous realm--believing in things unseen. It's a gift. Film is a visual medium; it can only represent what is physical and tangible or it becomes artificial, make-believe fantasy. Personally, I respect and adore filmmakers who attempt to address spirituality while remaining true to the medium's inherent literalness--their films help me to see ordinary, ambiguous life in extraordinary ways. If the spiritual realm was obvious and recordable, it wouldn't require faith. In my life, spirituality is ambiguous and multifaceted, God is implicit, I don't presume to know all the answers, and I live in a great deal of mystery in the face of the Unknown. My hope and faith provide me a context for engaging that ambiguity, but I won't be surprised if some of my working assumptions/interpretations of experiences turn out to be false, either. Ambiguity also allows artists to pose stories and images that open dialogue rather than close it. Ha. Ambiguity can be a brain teaser, but it can also be poetry, it can be beauty, it can be an adventure waiting to be lived. Personally, I'm glad I don't have all the answers--the world would be a very boring place if I did; I would only be passing time until I died. Mystery is a wonderful thing. Having said that, I think it is possible for filmmakers to be too calculating about ambiguity in a variety of ways. At the Toronto film festival, for example, Ken remarked that as much as he liked Requiem, it almost seemed too calculatingly ambiguous, as if the filmmaker didn't have a perspective whatsoever. Fortunately, I don't think Dreyer succumbs to that temptation. That's right, thanks for the clarification. Although I hope I've made my case clear as to why I don't believe that is, in fact, Dreyer's message!
  19. Doug C

    Ordet (1955)

    Ken, thanks for spelling out your thoughts between classes. Not by me; these films aren't above analysis/criticism or they're not serious works to begin with. I guess more mediocre examples would be Dogma, The Big Kahuna, or Saved!; I don't know if any of those films are still on the A&F list, but they always struck me as more venerated here simply because of their obvious-yet-hedged cynicism toward certain aspects of faith culture than any genuine artistic qualities. I'd also put Ordet into your second, more pro-faith category, even if it does emphasize the fallibility of religious culture. It's pretty unique in that regard, as is much of Dreyer's work. Can we think of a film that is more critical of religious suppression and celebratory of personal faith than The Passion of Joan of Arc? I'd also highlight The Flowers of St. Francis. Yet that film also maintains an ambiguous balance between foolishness and joy that is provocative and inspiring (if we let it be). I can imagine being tired of ambiguity, but I don't see how that's a legitimate critique or a cover for "odious" meaning. It's downright dangerous to equate ambiguity that is true-to-life (or while we're at it, academicism and intellectualism) with falsehood, or oppose it to "truly Christian" art. In that regard, I appreciate your efforts to tease out the meaning of the word. Do we need to distinguish between "polyphony" and "ambiguity"? Ken, your comment about Dreyer's polyphony was exactly correct, so I guess the ambiguity comes about when we have to weigh the multitude of voices/explanations Dreyer provides? That's a very good distinction...but how does it relate to IM's misgivings, again? You're probably right, but it kind of establishes a critical lens for the film, too, one that dismisses Dreyer's profound human focus and encourages a discussion that gets bogged down in the theological nuances of the film...which isn't all that removed from Morten and Peter the Tailor's initial blindness, of course. One of the amazing things about Ordet is that it upholds the primacy of human relationships even while it refuses to reduce the spiritual realities of which the characters debate. A convention exists that original languages should be used for one-word titles. I've never seen "Money" or "Balthazar" used as official titles in any reputable publication, but we've already suggested Alan change those at some point or another.
  20. Doug C

    Ordet (1955)

    One other note in passing, I think the subtitle to this thread is misdirecting. Ordet isn't about "questions about theology" so much as "questions about human interaction with theology and with each other." To treat the film as a theological tract rather than a human commentary is missing the point.
  21. Doug C

    Ordet (1955)

    Indeed, Ordet is largely about how spiritual realities can confound, but also exceed, the expectations of non-believers and believers alike. It's a lesson in humility for all; I'd say the film definitely comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable (I haven't heard that clich
  22. Doug C

    Ordet (1955)

    One of Ordet's great beauties is that it challenges believers as much as it does non-believers; it's not a simple, feel-good tract for Christian consumption. Don't you think that lukewarm, or even a lack of, faith can exist among Christians? Particularly those who have lost their first love and replaced their faith with custom or self-interest? During the film's final moments, it is the "athiest" doctor who restrains the outraged pastor from silencing Johannes because what he's saying doesn't adhere to the pastor's theology--not, as we might expect, the other way around. Maybe the "wait and see" reflexes of a rationalist prove to be more appropriate in this case? Dreyer is making a fictional film about a miraculous moment (in more ways than one). In no way is he suggesting a functional recipe for miracles. To read his film in that way is schematic and reductionistic and undermines its poetry as well as its sensitivity to human (Christian as well as non-Christian) fallibility and our genuine inability to put God in a stale box of presumption. I know more Christians who have "theological" problems with the "implications" of the ending than non-believers, who seem far more willing to simply accept the film as an emblem--rather than a recipe--of faith. Dreyer knew fully well that his ending would make some Christians squirm in their seats, and not just because it trumps religious hypocrisy with a faith that can move mountains--and truth be told, that should make all of us tremble. Dreyer is not suggesting that true faith will always result in what we want. Nothing in this film makes me think that. Nor is that true in life. I visited a church in Korea whose entire congregation had deserted their pastor after his wife had died of cancer because their faith wasn't deep or humble enough to allow room for God's unfathomable will or their own disappointment; they simply assumed that if their pastor couldn't keep his wife alive with his faith, he must not have any faith at all. Life is ambiguous and if we can't accept that, we're going to have problems. I also wouldn't put too much stock in what Johannes says before the final scene as he is clearly somewhat insane. Too much stock, that is--clearly, he is tapping into something profound. Therein lies only one of the film's points of ambiguity and beauty; we must search within the film and within ourselves to determine where the dividing line is for Johannes, not merely have it drawn for us. This is why ambiguity is so important in good art--it compels personal searching and discernment and remains humble (rather than presumptive or prescriptive) before life's genuine mysteries and paradoxes. As to your other points about cultural engagement and finding the Spirit implicit in art that is true and beautiful, we'll simply have to disagree. Although I'm surprised that you find the inclusion of 2001 "bizarre" for you at this point given that I've already offered you a lengthy defense of that film many months ago.
  23. That's great, rjkolb, Anders has also mentioned that Kozintsev's King Lear is his favorite on film. Both films are exceedingly well done, sweeping, visully iconic, with translations by Boris Pasternak and scores by Shostakovich. Zefferelli and company really pale in comparison.
  24. I haven't seen better Shakespearean adaptations than Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet (1963) and King Lear (1969), and although both have been available on Russian DVDs, Hamlet is being released on disc here Tuesday. Very highly recommended.
  25. I wouldn't say there's anything wrong with junkets in and of themselves, so long as the critic maintains his or her integrity and doesn't dutifully write promotional fluff pieces. The main problem I see with junkets is that they allow the studios to dictate what films should be written about and are thus "newsworthy." (And in the case of the "Christian press," that begins to take the place of genuine cultural-spiritual discernment.) Attending junkets means the critic will be writing (yay or nay) about a flavor-of-the-week film with an enormous marketing budget and a major, multi-million dollar media campaign. Do such films really need the added attention or are there better and more rewarding films that lack the budgets to wine and dine the press that are more deserving of the limelight? I would say choosing what films to write about is a primary issue for any critic, and a dependence on junkets suggests he or she is allowing the studios to make that decision for him or her.
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