The Movie Brats: Steven Spielberg

Spielberg puts feeling into spectacle with an almost religious zest. Like Cecil B. DeMille, he knows how to craft an entertainment. For DeMille, though, entertainment won out. He loved to be crass, was honest about it. He never really sported a higher agenda, I’d say -- and if he not so secretly did, bread and… Continue reading The Movie Brats: Steven Spielberg

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The Movie Brats: Francis Ford Coppola

Pre-Apocalypse Now (1979), Coppola was a god. He’s been off since. The Cotton Club (1984), Tucker (1988), Rumble Fish (1983) — these are good films. (The first five minutes of Dracula [1992] are his best work in a long time.) But none of them are sustained efforts. Coppola is a writer. He directs to protect his scripts. Like Hal Ashby, he can band talent… Continue reading The Movie Brats: Francis Ford Coppola

The Navigator

The Navigator is great comedy. Buster Keaton and Kathryn McGuire play a young rich couple cast adrift on a deserted ocean liner. Never having to fend for themselves before, they must suddenly think about survival. They must learn to accept the technology that webs them: Noticing supplies have been stored in mammoth size, they set up… Continue reading The Navigator

Notes on Assorted College Rock

Pavement Pavement strikes me as a prefab cult band, two parts Fall, one part Camper Van Beethoven. Since the lyrics are often verbose and the music deliberately but carefully tossed off, Pavement is model college rock. As slacker-dandies given to lo-fi snobbery, the band were clever, very clever. I used to hate them. Today, though,… Continue reading Notes on Assorted College Rock

Station to Station

A perfectly blended, idiosyncratic parceling of Bowie's love of rock, soul, and theater. It's fresh, deft, clean, definitive, and straight-ahead. Station To Station is a blues-funk "Changes." For sheer vagueness, it beats Ziggy's rise and fall. Lyrics paint how fascist and exhausting life can be when career is conceit (i.e., decadence, or pretty passing care); how self-negation… Continue reading Station to Station

Young Americans

Bowie the fakir -- black-faced, bland, and coming on like kid Bacall, smolder-husk and all -- never gets on top of his soul move. The problem is slack execution of slickness. Almost unrelievedly passive in its expressionism, Young Americans is a con. The man's trademark cursory conviction (the articulation of a perfectly alienated soul) is nearly absent. Except… Continue reading Young Americans

The Deer Hunter

Tense and sweet, Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter seeks to be his own invincible god without having to confront any unforeseen circumstance. Until he can put aside ego and say "I love you" to near-and-dears, his world continues to break. Though the film's subjectivity strains the use of symbolic devices (e.g., spilt wine), the epic sensibility dovetails… Continue reading The Deer Hunter