Film critic, playwright and member of Anthology Film Archives’ Film Selection Committee.
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Animal Cinema: The Spirit of Roslyn
There is in the natural world a phenomenon which most suggests the spirit, and most aptly that of film; an image developed in literature, indeed in language, but almost never in film. And this is the wind.
Consider, most concretely, that cornerstone and touchstone in cinema of wind, Jean Epstein’s Fall of the House of Usher. Here a traditional symbol of life and passion, the flame, burns down a candle as the obsessed artist-hero…
Until this film, “abstract” cinema had employed “Abstract” images, the materials of geometry (Harry Smith, the Whitneys, Richter), had been a strict setting, literal illustration, or free accompaniment of music (Fischinger, Len Lye), or had been “musical” without music (Eisenstein, Dovzhenko). The later approach, exemplified in the cream separator sequence of Old and New, the harvest of Earth, is closest to Brakhage. Here images of “reality” are intensified and extended in meaning by repetition and variation within a…
Greed represents, famously, one of the great atrocities of cinema history. Yet in spite of its mutilations (or, for all we truly know, because of them) it stands as Stroheim’s supreme work. In terms of irony, of counterpoint, of subtly metaphoric imagery, Greed is indeed inferior to, say, Stroheim’s earlier Foolish Wives. Yet this latter film has much in it that lags, some that digresses. Greed is more sustained. Its greatness lies in the unblinking, raw intensity of…
Twice a Man
In the ever-present memory of a beautiful mind a universe of utmost harmony unfolds. All past, now simultaneous, or out of time, must, however, be projected chronologically. That reel time, our real time, is not the measure of Twice a Man. Rather it is subjective time, remembered time, time where (after) image is not tied to action, and action functions not as plot, but as its own recollection, repeated whenever recalled.
Out of the infinite complex of…