Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Trick of the Mind: Superman vs. Batman vs. Superman

Remember them?

(File this under “Stuff I don’t give a shit about, but for some reason still feel the need to comment on.”)

Amid all the noise about Sucker Punch (especially after its collapsing box office) there’s been a lot of talk regarding Zack Snyder’s impending “reboot” of the Superman movie franchise. And almost always embedded in there is some kind of dismissal of Bryan Singer’s 2006 Superman Returns as a failure.

Monday, March 28, 2011

He Lived by Night: RIP Farley Granger

They are all equal now.

Farley Granger, who starred in the magnificent Nicholas Ray film that gives this blog its name, has died, at the age of 85. He also starred in a whole bunch of other great films, of course, including Alfred Hitchcock's Rope and Strangers on a Train.

As it so happens, I've been working on a blog post about Visconti's Senso, perhaps Granger's greatest film. So, more on this marvelous actor, and all he represented in both America and Europe, later.

But for now: I've been reading James Kaplan's pretty great biography Sinatra: The Voice, and there is, as you might imagine, a lot in there about the naked power of male vulnerability (or seeming vulnerability), which Sinatra perfected and wielded with the efficiency of a laser-guided missile. So maybe it's just on my mind, but Granger had a similarly magnetic delicacy. But his never felt manipulative, never felt aimed. Even when his characters were using it specifically as a manipulative tactic (Senso is actually a perfect example), there was something very honest and raw about it. Here, you thought, was a guy who really was wounded, and not just playing at it. He maybe wasn't the most technically adept actor, but there were few performers who were just so damned compelling. Rest in peace.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"We Are Most Alone When We Are With the Myths": Alexander Revisited

Another link I’d hoped to put up earlier: A couple of weeks ago, the estimable Dennis Cozzalio of the blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule did a pretty great interview with Oliver Stone about Alexander Revisited, the director’s revised, ultra-extended cut of his ill-received 2004 Alexander the Great biopic. The interview was meant in part to publicize a screening and Q&A at the Museum of the Moving Image of this cut of the film. I couldn’t attend the screening, but I did sit down and watch Alexander Revisited at home. This took some doing, as I mostly despised Alexander when I first saw it in theaters. What did I think of it this time around? I’ll tell you, in a bit, but first, here’s Dennis, making a compelling case for the film in his introduction to the Stone interview:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Giving Last Tango Another Whirl

I had meant to send up this link last week, but, some other stuff got in the way. At Slant Magazine early last week, Ed Howard and Jason Bellamy participated in a lengthy and quite interesting back and forth about Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris. The film, which recently debuted on Blu-Ray, was already on lots of people’s minds thanks to the untimely death of Maria Schneider this past February. Their conversation is lengthy, fascinating, and well worth the read -- and it prompted some further thoughts of my own, which I'll share below.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Big Brother is Good People: Welcome to the New Paranoia

It’s a good time to be a paranoid moviegoer. The Adjustment Bureau, based on a story by Philip K. Dick, will no doubt provoke some comparisons to Inception, with its portrait of a world in which our actions and decisions are at the mercy of other people with mysterious powers of influence. Those aren’t the only ones either. Shutter Island, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, The International, and plenty of other movies indulge our certainty that there are those out there with almost absolute control over our fates.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

RIP Annie Girardot

Here we go with another obituary. Darn.

I hadn’t thought of Annie Girardot in a while. Then I heard the news of her passing, and the memories came raging back. I must have watched and re-watched my crappy tenth-generation VHS dub of Rocco and His Brothers dozens of times when I was in high school (thanks, Facets by Mail!), and as much as I was impressed by all the stuff I was supposed to be impressed by – Visconti’s direction, Nino Rota’s music, Alain Delon’s soulful innocent, Renato Salvatori’s tormented, eye-rolling antihero, etc. etc., it was Annie Girardot’s Nadia that I found most captivating at all.