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In Conversation

Alex Cox with David Wilentz

Starting with Repo Man, Alex Cox has successfully subverted mainstream culture (and the studio system) with several definitive cult films. David Wilentz recently sat down with Cox for a conversation about filmmaking, imperialism, and Spaghetti Westerns.

Crying Over Broken Eggs

Known for his glacially paced, emotionally violent films, Michael Haneke has become one of contemporary cinema’s most loathed and feted directors. The Austrian takes on issues that many viewers would prefer to ignore—violence, class difference, power, guilt and sado-masochism.

…If two of them are dead

Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park is triumphant throughout. Every shot is a masterpiece. The screenplay improves on an already tremendous book. The casting is phenomenal. The sound design is haunting, humorous, and never cute. Any of these is cause enough to see the film (especially the cinematography and editing), but there’s more. The film manages to dissociate words from meaning, truth, and beauty without naively asserting that images conjure these abstractions.

Big, Fat, Piece O' Pie

My Blueberry Nights, Wong Kar Wai’s English-language feature debut, is a portrait of America and its culture of loneliness, and an homage to the heroic iconography of early Westerns, the divine romantic comedies, and the edgy MTV hip-ocrasy of love and loss.

Love You to Death

There are few things as mysterious as other people’s marriages, whether they appear successful or disastrous. The downfall of New York’s Governor (precipitated, it now appears, by a Republican operative and fellow extra-marital sex enthusiast) recently created yet another opportunity for the rest of us to speculate wildly about the private lives of those richer and more famous than ourselves.

DVD Culture

In One Word: Emotion

Pierrot Le Fou opens with a lengthy voice-over explanation of Velasquez narrated over shots of a tennis game and a man leafing through paperbacks in an outdoor Parisian bookshop. Cut to the same man sitting in a bathtub with a cigarette dangling from his lips reading an art history text aloud to a pig-tailed child. Describing Velasquez’s paintings, he tells his daughter, “a spirit of nostalgia prevails, yet we see none of the ugliness or sadness, none of the gloom or cruelty of this crushed childhood.”

DVD Culture

Two Lane Blacktop

Is there anything left unsaid about the greatness of Two Lane Blacktop? Note to the uninitiated: Two Lane is the epitome of that modern American art form, the road movie. Easy Rider established the genre (For The Mainstream) with its counter-culture quest for the self unraveling along the American highway.

DVD Culture

The Draughtsman's Contract

If you watch Peter Greenaway’s introduction to The Draughtsman’s Contract, an alarm may go off as he reveals how he conceived the film. A fine artist by training, Greenaway had a teacher whose mantra was: “Draw what you see and not what you know”. The Draughtsman’s Contract is Greenaway’s cinematic elucidation of that theory.

DVD Culture

Thanatos and Eros Sitting Around Talking

In the evolution of great visual cinematic stylists, has any director been as anti-text as Peter Greenaway and still worked on the big screen?

Grasping at the C-list

I am not a big fan of reality TV, but VH1’s Rock of Love resonated with me from the beginning. Now in its second season, Rock of Love continues to be a looking glass into the world of those desperate to join the C-List.

The Return of Prodigal Son: Jonas Mekas Center for the Visual Arts

Unfortunately, a scheduling conflict prevented me from going to Vilnius on the occasion of the opening reception for The Center for the Visual Arts, which is named after one of our beloved film editors, Jonas Mekas. However, Robert Haller, the Director of Collections and Special Projects at Anthology Film Archives, was there with Jonas, and he was kind enough to left us publish a segment of his diary.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2008

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