Movie Journal
J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things

MOVIE JOURNAL: J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things

Old Films Capture the Nazis as New

Reconstructed interview in 1934 doc "Hitler's Reign of Terror"

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“I Married a Witch”: Whatcha See, I Don’t Get

Rene Clair’s 1942 fantasy “I Married a Witch” has some distinguished artists among its fans. Jack Smith included it in the syllabus for a class he never ever came close to teaching; Guy Maddin writes a long appreciation for the new Criterion DVD, out in time for Halloween. But I’m afraid I can’t join the club.

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Kechiche’s Cannes-Winning “Blue” Movie

One is the loneliest number in “Blue is the Warmest Color,” Adellatif Kechiche’s inflated but not inconsequential lesbian love story. The French-Tunisian filmmaker’s fifth feature caused a sensation last May at Cannes. The conclusion of the long, explicit sex scene that is the movie’s set piece was reportedly greeted with applause at its press screening and received maximum ink in the ensuing coverage. The jury headed by Steven Spielberg gave “Blue” the Palme d’Or with a special ooh-la-la twist, honoring a threesome with the movie’s intrepid co-stars Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos laureled as equal creators alongside its writer-director.

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Image: IFC Films

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New Doc Shows Bauhaus on the Beach

Cape Cod, where I spend as much time as I can, can not only boast fantastic beaches, world famous oysters, and the wild east that is Provincetown, but a number of Bauhaus-inspired dune-dwellings—some by celebrated architects, many of them abandoned and falling apart.

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Hyperactive “Fifth Estate” Taxes the Mind

The latest installment in the post-internet multimedia extravaganza that might be called, after Trollope, “the way we live now,” Bill Condon’s portrait of Julian Assange is an appropriately zappy torrent of computer screens. Think “The Social Network” + “Tron” with a soupçon of “Zero Dark Thirty.”

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Demy’s “Donkey Skin”: Deneuve Undercover

New York Film Festival ends this weekend with a segue into the giant Jean-Luc Godard retrospective and… too much stuff to see in New York, including MoMA’s always fascinating “To Save and Project” and an ongoing Jacques Demy retro, through October 17.

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“Captain Phillips”: Action and Ordeal

Between his artfully verité docudramas (“Bloody Sunday” and “United 93”) and Matt Damon-ized conspiratorial thrillers (“The Bourne Supremacy,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” and “Green Zone”), Paul Greengrass is arguably the best action director working today — and “Captain Phillips, opening October 11 following its New York Film Festival world premiere, only strengthens the case.

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NYFF Weekend Update

When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism

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Broken China: Jia Zhangke’s “Touch of Sin”

Titled and opening like a spaghetti western, Jia Zhangke’s new movie opens with a tomato-ladden truck toppled to block a two-lane highway. Three young toughs waylay a passing motorcyclist. He takes out a gun and mows them down. Something explodes: “A Touch of Sin”.

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Mario Montez 1935-2013

Asked to name his favorite superstar, Jack Smith singled out the appealing madcap known as Mario Montez, explaining that “he [sic] immediately enlists the sympathy of the audience.”

Mario—who was born Rene Rivera in Puerto Rico in 1935 and died of a stroke last week at his Florida home—was an unclassifiable gender blur and underground luminary of the first order. A post office clerk “discovered” and given his stage name by Smith, he first graced the screen as a Spanish dancer in Smith’s “Flaming Creatures” (1963), billed as Dolores Flores and making a regal, giggling entrance that’s all the more impressive for its false start.

Although Mario would appear in subsequent films by Smith, including “Normal Love” (1964), in which he appeared as a mermaid, and “No President” (1968), as well as movies by Ron Rice, Bill Vehr, Piero Heliczer and José Rodríguez-Soltero, and various productions in the Theater of the Ridiculous, his best-known performances were in a half dozen or more Andy Warhol films, made during the Factory’s mid ‘60s Silver Age. Mario appeared in Warhol’s first sync-sound movie, “Harlot” (1965), wearing a platinum-blond wig while lasciviously peels and eats a bushel of bananas; he starred in “Screen Test #2” (1965), auditioning for the role of the gypsy girl Esmeralda in a remake of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

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