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Sir David and Mrs. Brown

David Lean is a filmmaker with many prehistoric virtues. Clearly a sort of a materialist, Lean vests in rich, elaborative visual details and displays a strong belief in assuring their solidity, be it the perfect sunset or the right look of a corn field in 1910s Russia.

Bresson on the Bayou

Back in the day, Firesign Theatre had a film promo parody that went: "the lives of honest working people as told by rich Hollywood stars." And that’s the problem with the most well-meaning and even well-executed examples of the phenomenon (Valley of Elah, A Civil Action, North Country); all that damn sincerity.

New Social Mov(i)ements

There is a new wave in agitprop, but it’s familiar to the old timers. Referencing, conjuring, sentimentalizing, and recreating the passion of the New Left and eco-warriors, performance artists and marquis actors are engaged in a frenzied effort to get viewers to aim higher.

In the Bubble

The characters in the Coen Brothers’ latest film are, each and every one, mired in delusion, and therein lies the movie’s acidic charm. At a historic juncture when we're all finding ourselves trapped inside a nightmare wrought by someone else’s wishful thinking (of military triumph, bottomless bailouts, the ultimate Mrs. America makeover), the deadly silliness of the Coens’ shipload of fools provides black comedy indeed.

Mourning For a Better Story

In Elegy, Isabel Coixet creates a sensually lush adaptation of Philip Roth’s inert and insipid story “The Dying Animal.’’ The film reveals a tone, rather stilted at first, that slowly seeps into the psyche.

Ladies & Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1981)

Director Lou Adler’s long lost cult classic, nearly thirty years old, provides the missing link in Rock 'N' Roll films. With a limited festival screenings late night TV spots, and this criminally delayed DVD, few have had the opportunity to experience this treasure.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2008

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