Links I Like: Nov 26, 2011

I have been severely lacking in time to get my link love posts finished (or read other blogs, to be honest…sorry guys!). Some of these have been sitting in a draft post for weeks now, but the posts are good enough (and not time sensitive) that I still want to draw attention to them for anyone who hasn’t happened to read them yet.

Lucking Out and Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark by The Self-Styled Siren

There have been a whole lot of posts about Pauline Kael lately, thanks to the recent publication of a new collection of her writings, a new biography of her by Brian Kellow, and a new memoir by James Wolcott that includes many memories of her. This one from the Self-Styled Siren is one of the best, discussing both Kellow’s and Wolcott’s accounts as well as her own uneasy relationship with Kael’s criticism. And that’s a theme among most of the posts, as it is in my own life. I first became aware of Kael as a young film buff, probably thirteen or so, from 5001 Nights at the Movies, a collection of her New Yorker capsule reviews. I didn’t like her at all, finding her dismissive of things I loved for what I thought were all the wrong reasons. I didn’t read anything else of hers for years, until I forced myself to read some of her long-form essays and found someone impassioned about film but incredibly idiosyncratic about it. I still find her difficult much of the time, but she can also be really insightful. The Siren gets at all this and much more. See also articles from Jim Emerson, Dennis Cozzalio, and Glenn Kenny.

It Ain’t the Meat (It’s the Motion): Thoughts
on movie technique and movie criticism
by Jim Emerson at scanners::blog

I almost included this essay among the Kael essays linked as “also sees” above, but it really deserves its own place. It starts off dealing with a bunch of quotes either from or about Kael regarding the question of technique and style – Kael resolutely refused to discuss technique on any technical level, arguing that the general public didn’t give a damn and privileging emotional impact over technique. Emerson distinguishes between “technical” and “technique”, showing how an understanding and explication of technique doesn’t necessarily have to be presented technically to readers, but also wrestling with the core of Kael’s populist stance.

Not Appearing in This Film: The Silent Movie Career of Carole Lombard – Sort Of by The Mythical Monkey

A fun piece submitted for a Carole Lombard blogathon in October (yeah, told you some of these were rather old), this one looks back on a part of Carole Lombard’s career that I frankly didn’t know existed. If you’d asked me, I would’ve said Lombard started in film in the early ’30s (I think 1932’s Supernatural is the earliest Lombard film I could name), but I would have been wrong. She actually started in film as early as 1921, when she was twelve. But she’s either invisible in most of these films, the films are lost, or they’re exceedingly lackluster. Still, the Mythical Monkey seeks out what he can, and brings forth a fascinating picture of a beautiful girl who never quite found her niche until screwball comedy came along with 1934’s Twentieth Century.

In Profile: The Life and Films of Bong Joon-ho by Jordan Winter at Anomalous Material

So far in my admittedly limited experience, Korean cinema is pretty fantastic (I think I’ve seen eleven or twelve Korean films and basically loved them all), and Bong Joon-ho is right at the center of it right now. He’s got the crowd-pleasing, genre-bending The Host, and the critical darling Memories of Murder, and a whole lot else. Jordan Winter runs through his whole filmography, finding patterns and connections among the films as well as charting a trajectory for his career, which I certainly hope is only beginning.

Pioneers of Animation: Winsor McKay by Brandie at True Classics

Winsor McCay is justly credited as one of the creators of animation, being one of the first cartoonists to move his drawings to the screen and figure out how to make them move – not only that, he was one of the first to give his animated creations personality and interaction. Brandie has written a great rundown of his career, both as cartoonist and animator (because the two were inextricably connected), and of his importance to early cinema and to animation as we know it today.

Sometimes, You Have to Come Back to The Tree of Life by Greg Ferrara at CinemaStyles

I loved The Tree of Life the minute I saw it, but not everyone did, and I respect that. Greg didn’t love it the first time he saw it, but he went back and watched it again, and this piece is a result of that second viewing. And it’s wonderful. Not only because he now agrees with my love of the film, but because it’s such a lovely piece about how to watch any film, how to let it get hold of you, and because it’s hard to admit complete changes of mind. It’s less of an “aha, got it” moment here, and more that the film just didn’t let him go, and his way of expressing that is perfect.

Sound and Vision: Charlie Chaplin and the Sound of Silence by Carly at the Kitty Packard Pictorial

Charlie Chaplin is well known for continuing to make silent films (well, two of them, at any rate) well into the sound era. But it’s maybe not quite as well known how important sound and music were to him, even in the silent era. He played and wrote music himself, and was one of the earliest people to provide theatres with fully-written score to be played alongside his silents. I knew he wrote scores for some of his films, but I had no idea how deep his appreciation and use of music went until reading this excellently researched and presented article.

Happy Birthday, Louise Brooks by The Mythical Monkey

I try not to include multiple articles from the same source, but this post has been so long in the making that people are oustripping my ability to do that without skipping over great posts. So I had to let a couple of people in here twice. I know virtually nothing about Louise Brooks other than that her hairstyle started a bob craze and that she was in two highly regarded G.W. Pabst films, Pandora’s Box and The Diary of a Lost Girl. Reading this article was a treat, but a sobering one, as Brooks’ life and career seemed constantly undermined by mismanagement and her own poor decisions, despite her obvious talent and appeal. By the end, I really wanted to order a do-over for her – and recommitted myself to seeing whatever films of hers I can find.

Diabolique by Chris at Silent Volume

Chris has been eschewing his usual silent cinema posting diet due to a Clouzot retrospective going on in Toronto, and all his reviews from that are worth reading, but I really liked this one because it both reminded me that I need to rewatch Diabolique and gave me a lot of things to think about that I hadn’t thought of before for when I do, especially in relation to its use of genre. Like, it’s usually billed as a thriller or sometimes a film noir, but I hadn’t really considered how close to horror territory it comes – I’m definitely going to look for way that it genre-bends next time I watch it.

The Great Citizen Kane Debate at True Classics

You can’t run around in film buff circles for five minutes before finding out that Citizen Kane is considered the finest film of all time by many, many people. You can’t run around in such circles for more than ten minutes before finding out that many other people think Citizen Kane is hopelessly overrated. The girls at True Classics take this debate to blogathon form, asking people to write pieces either for or against Kane as the greatest film of all time. I’ve seen the film five or six times and still don’t know which side I come down on, so I didn’t write anything for it, but the bloggers who did participate have some really good perspectives, definitely proving the debate is far from settled.

Czech New Wave series at Bonjour Tristesse

Bonjour Tristesse does a good many marathons to catch up on specific genres of film, and does a WAY better job than I do of actually following through on these marathons. Right now, the Czech New Wave is under scrutiny, at the rate of a few films per week. I’ve seen a few of these films myself, and it’s definitely a movement I like and want to see more of – I’m watching the progress here closely to help guide my own eventual viewing.

Godard Series: Pierrot le fou, etc. at Andy Buckle’s Film Emporium

Meanwhile, Andy Buckle has chosen Jean-Luc Godard, a filmmaker very close to my own heart, as his director of the month, and is going through at least all his major 1960s films. I’m not sure how far he intends to go, and really, there’s no reason I chose to link the Pierrot le fou review as opposed to any of the others, except that Pierrot le fou is one of my favorite Godard films and I think Andy wrote about it very well. Check his “Classic Throwback” category for more reviews – he’s going pretty much in chronological order.