Early in our friendship, I made the mistake of telling Patricia Highsmith that I loved Hitchcock’s adaptation of her first novel, Strangers on a Train. I wasn’t sure the friendship would survive the night.
Essays on retrospectives and repertory films playing at Metrograph
December 21 RFK '64
Haunted by enemies both real and imagined, Robert Kennedy was a patrician without a court in 1964.
November 12 Up and Down the Ladder: Excerpt from an Unpublished Manuscript c. 1933
Francis Ford wrote his memoir when he found himself virtually unemployable at the coming of sound. A copy of this memoir exists in the collections of The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences; it doesn’t read half as bitter as one might expect.
November 10 Bitter Victory: On Ezra Edelman's OJ: Made in America
Why did a few hundred teenagers in Cincinnati, far from USC or Brentwood or even Buffalo, feel this amount of investment in the O.J. Simpson murder trial? Why did people all over the country feel the same psychic involvement? And how did we think we knew which side represented justice?
September 8 The Conditional Magnificence of the Ambersons
When I saw this desecrated masterpiece for the first time at the age of 13, I could actually feel where Welles' footage stopped and RKO's began: Ambersons is such a profoundly physical experience that the difference is plain.
July 26 PG and the Power of Nightmares
Nowadays, the PG rating, one P higher than a G, intimates a family film, not simply a title for which “Parental Guidance” is suggested. This was not the case in the seventies and early eighties.
June 1 Woman Trouble: On the Films of Brian De Palma and Nancy Allen
It is in Allen’s performances that we see the trickiness of De Palma’s play with gender and sex in full, fulsome flower. She is in fact his greatest envoy in the sex wars. She embodies all his work’s contradictions and somehow renders them glorious, delectable, meaningful.
May 25 The Age of Cain
Along with his fellow pioneers of “roman noir,” Cain was the aquifer of viciousness and Weltschmerz from which film noir drank—even before film noir was a thing.
April 20 In the Case with the Insects:
On Fassbinder’s Top 10
On Fassbinder’s Top 10
For Fassbinder, criticism was less an opportunity to develop lucid arguments than a way of directly registering his enthusiasms and disgusts. As they accumulated, his judgments about other people’s films became a kind of roadmap to his taste.
April 13 Vincent Lindon’s Tough Love
Never mind that it was Jean-Paul Belmondo who muttered his awe for “Bogie” in Breathless. It is Vincent Lindon who has truly assumed Humphrey Bogart’s mantle—Jean Gabin’s, too.