3 items from 2013
The Past (Asghar Farhadi, France)
I had forgotten what had rubbed me the wrong way about Farhadi's A Separation, but it didn't take The Past more than five minutes before a single cut jolted my memory of the writer-director's schematic, super-literal style of filming his scripts. For such an actor-based approach—the last three films of Farhadi's being heated, nearly claustrophobic personal encounters in small spaces—The Past's lack of a sense of the cinematic freedom one can get from forming a film around the actors (rather than the other way around) is disheartening. The deliberateness of every gesture and prop, every feeling, thought and subtext spoken out loud seems a kind of humanist-realism version of Haneke's relentlessly obvious cinema. It is minus Haneke's chiding, of course, but is certainly didactic, cloaked in the “unfolding” of “drama” (in the Classical Hollywood sense of invisible form, rather than Haneke's clinical-analytic »
- Daniel Kasman
Three Takes is a column dedicated to the art of short-form criticism. Each week, three writers—Calum Marsh, Fernando F. Croce, and Joseph Jon Lanthier—offer stylized capsules which engage, in brief, with classic and contemporary films.
My Name Is Julia Ross (1945)
Correspondence is so often destroyed in Joseph L. Lewis' My Name is Julia Ross—by everything from smugly shredding fingers to curling flame—that the film starts to appear contemptuous toward text. The unlucky scrawlings belong to the title character (Nina Foch), an American expat in London who's kidnapped, dragged to the Cornwall coast, and installed as the faux-loony surrogate wife of a burly nobleman named Hughes (George Macready). (Hughes’ wealth is surpassed only by his barbarism; he reenacts his real spouse’s fate by jabbing a couch pillow, not insignificantly, with a letter opener.) Ever resourceful, the captive Julia scribbles Sos's on scraps »
- Joseph Jon Lanthier
The great Andrew Sarris—dean of American film critics, thorn in the side of Pauline Kael, and the man who introduced the auteur theory to America—passed away last June at the age of 83. In an inspired piece of programming, Anthology Film Archives and guest programmer C. Mason Wells have chosen to honor Sarris with a baker's dozen of American rarities that, even with Kubrick at the IFC, Cimino at Film Forum and Rivette at Bam this weekend, must be the best show in town.
Sarris’s seminal book The American Cinema, Directors and Directions 1929-1968 was a bible to a generation of cinephiles (J. Hoberman publicly kissed his copy of it at the New York Film Critics Circle tribute to Sarris this year), a book that was both revered and disparaged for its canny cataloguing system. Sarris famously divided the roster of American directors »
- Adrian Curry
3 items from 2013
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