From the editor and writers of Bright Lights Film Journal
Action! Interviews with Directors from Classical Hollywood to Contemporary Iran
(Anthem Art and Culture), by Gary Morris (Editor), Bert Cardullo (Introduction), Jonathan Rosenbaum (Foreword). London and New York: Anthem Press, 2009.
"I dare anyone to squeeze between two covers a more varied, useful and flat out entertaining sampling of the personalities that make the seventh art the liveliest."
David Hudson,
From the Editor
"God bless us, everyone?"
Invoking Tiny Tim's famous phrase in A Christmas Carol, regular contributor Dave Saunders sets the tone for the new issue by suggesting we take a closer look at preconceived notions and long-held beliefs. Admittedly, it takes a leap of faith to credit bankers and businessmen bent on destroying society with human qualities, and the notion of PBS as a cultural entity of paramount importance seems impervious to challenge except by the extreme right. But Dave and associate editor Andrew Grossman, respectively, prove worthy guides to new ways of viewing the banking class and public television.
Dave's argument for inclusiveness plays out elsewhere this time, starting with the Features section. New contributor Oren Shai's sweeping study of the women-in-prison genre covers decades and a wealth of films and cultural tropes, while Imogen Smith takes a fresh approach to two Powell/Pressburger films in a persuasive analysis. Associate editor Alan Vanneman carves up the sacred cow of Chaplin's Limelight with his usual skill and humor.
Moving on to the Articles section brings us to Grossman's striking attack on PBS for its increasingly middlebrow, sanitized playlist. Dave Saunders uses It's a Wonderful Life, The Descendants, and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis to argue forcefully for more egalité in our attitudes. BL regular Norm Ball waxes eloquent on a wide range of cultural phenomena via David Bowie's new song/video "Where Are We Now?" Joan McGettigan opens a window on the shifts in generational attitudes toward The Great Gatsby — book and films — in a timely study. And Matt Brennan blends two genres — personal history and critical analysis — in a contemplative piece on Woody Allen's To Rome with Love.
The theme of revisiting old viewpoints reappears in Jim MacEachern's lively look at Mickey Rooney, a long-awaited rehabilitation of this highly gifted actor who was Gore Vidal's favorite. And Grossman reappears with a hilarious neo-Aristotleian dialogue on consumerism and the paradigm shift of product presentation from still life to kinesthesia.
BL regular Graham Daseler leads off the Films section with a fine probing of The Talented Mr. Ripley, with detours to the book and the director. New contributor Alexander Joy authoritatively explains why your reasons for liking Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds may be the wrong ones. Page Laws returns to these pages with a pithy profile of Spielberg's Lincoln, while four excellent new writers, Anna Morris, Gemma King, Isabella Kapur, and Virginia Konchan, find new angles on, respectively, Michael Haneke's Caché, Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sam Mendes' Skyfall, and Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights.
In the Revivals section, John Belton offers a thorough formal analysis of several early (and a couple of late) Jean Renoir films, focusing on the director's use of space, framing, and how character interacts with them. Regular contributor David Pike was lucky enough to see the restored version of Anthony Asquith's 1928 silent Underground, and gives an account of it with his usual panache.
Elsewhere, Vanneman returns with a witty take on several operas available on Blu-ray. Gordon Thomas reviews some of the more intriguing recent DVD releases — The Blue Angel, the Rolling Stones' Charlie Is My Darling, three of the earliest Fritz Lang films, the underrated drama Hello I Must Be Going — with his trademark thoroughness and style. BL associate editor Lesley Chow attended the Melbourne Turkish Film Festival and found the gold among the dross in a fine review.
Three book reviews wrap up the issue: new contributor Richard Martin on Mark Shiel's Hollywood Cinema and the Real Los Angeles; BL stalwart Matt Kennedy on Michael Ankerich's Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips; and newbie Cerise Howard on Alexandra Heller-Nicholas' Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study.
A hearty welcome to the new writers and a tip of the hat to the regulars.
Enjoy the issue.
Gary Morris
February 2013 | Issue 79

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