CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 29 Jan / 12 Feb]

 
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Friday, Jan 23, 2015
In its examination of issues of multiculturalism, The Emerald Forest continues to acquaint complacent Americans to troubling geopolitical issues 30 years after its release.

John Boorman has stated that the myth of King Arthur informs his filmography, and that’s not hard to see in The Emerald Forest, scripted by the same Rospo Pallenberg who wrote Boorman’s Excalibur. As with Arthur, a special boy (director’s son Charley Boorman in a striking performance) has the magical power to lead his people. Instead of drawing a sword from a stone, he draws stones from a river and ends up going on a quest to a strange, forbidding land. That land is what most of us call “civilization”, and it’s a savage place, as represented by a modern city on the Amazon. The boy’s quest is the inversion of the quest by his father (Powers Boothe) through the jungle in search of his son, so the movie gives us two quests and two irreconcilable viewpoints for the price of one.


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Thursday, Jan 22, 2015
Robert Altman's '70s noir is a terrific, sad, and mischievous movie.

It’s 3 AM, and Marlowe’s sleeping with the lights on, fully dressed. He’s also forgotten to feed his cat, who jumps on him in remonstrance. We don’t know if he’s hung over or what, but Marlowe’s definitely going to seed. After trying and failing to feed the cat some cottage cheese with egg and salt, he finagles something morally questionable. He tries to fool the cat by substituting another brand in the old brand of cat food. Finding this a breach of contract, the cat dumps him, splits the scene, slips out the back. There are 50 ways to leave your owner.


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Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015
This entry in the '50s noir cycle is an exercise in paranoia from a woman's point of view.

Witness to Murder (1954) opens with a pre-credits sequence in which Cheryl Draper (noir icon Barbara Stanwyck) wakes up in the middle of the night and, looking across the street, witnesses neighbor Albert Richter (George Sanders) strangling a woman in his apartment. She calls the police, who say she must have dreamed it because they can find no evidence of a crime. However, the killer knows very well that she’s a witness, and he embarks on a diabolical plan to persecute and eliminate her. It proves remarkably easy to convince the police that she’s unstable and needs to be locked away in the women’s ward of a mental hospital.


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Tuesday, Jan 13, 2015
No amount of melodramatic hysteria or Ella Fitzgerald's singing can save Pete Kelly's Blues from its bland angle on its subject.

Jack Webb created ‘20s jazz trumpeter and bandleader Pete Kelly for radio in the early ‘50s. At the decade’s end, he revived Pete Kelly’s Blues as a TV series starring William Reynolds in response to the Untouchables craze for period gangster shows. In between those incarnations, Webb produced, directed and starred in a handsome film version in Cinemascope and WarnerColor, about which we can say… it’s a handsome film in Cinemascope and WarnerColor.


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Monday, Jan 12, 2015
This Joan Crawford vehicle is a tantalizing mix of woman's melodrama and Freudian noir.

Possessed displays many ingredients popping in the Hollywood boilers of 1947. First, it’s a Joan Crawford vehicle, one fashioned to remind viewers of Mildred Pierce, which is mentioned in the film’s trailer. Like that hit, the story features problems of tension and jealousy with a (step)daughter, a romance with a shallow cad, and a scene where Crawford brandishes a revolver. Both were impeccable Jerry Wald productions.


Next, it’s a film directed by Curtis Bernhardt, shot by Joseph Valentine, and designed by Anton Grot in a manner emphasizing the dark, expressionist tendencies and uneasy paranoid mood that French critics would call “film noir”. Its expressionist streak extends to the casting of Crawford, whose wide-eyed glances and shoulder twitches are more expressive than natural. At least three prominent uses of subjective camera simulate her character’s vision: when she’s wheeled into a hospital, when she wanders into a house after an apparent ghost (an eerie scene), and when she’s holding a gun. In some shots, she points it at the viewer, as we adopt her prospective victim’s point of view.


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