BLFJ

By BLFJ | Pop reviews and in-depth analyses of current and classic films from around the world.

The Not-So-Straight Story: David Lynch's Mulholland Drive

Today – January 20 – is David Lynch’s birthday (he’s 71). To honor one of the true originals of le cinema moderne – and to remind ourselves of the …

David Lynch

“You’ve Gotta Do Something”: Cosmic Mobility and the Future of Mankind in Rebel Without a Cause

<i>“Through the infinite reaches of space, the problems of man seem trivial and naïve indeed, and man existing alone seems himself an episode of little</i> …

Space

La La Land and Dreams of a Musical Renaissance

There is some originality in this orgy of borrowing, with easy references to touch screens, cell phones, and an interracial marriage, but all with a …

La La Land

Jerry Lewis and the Gender of Work

<i>The Disorderly Orderly</i><p>The gender of work in the work films is a spectrum that includes both the neutered worker of <i>The Bellboy</i> and <i>The Errand Boy</i> and …

The Elephant in the Graveyard: The Testament of John Derek

<i>Everywhere she was, there was Eden</i>. – Mark Twain<p>So this is what it’s like on the other side. Not exactly how I pictured it. Nothing like they told …

Bucket Lists

“What a Fine Ruin It’ll Make!”: John Ford’s The Long Gray Line (1954)

Repeatedly, the tragedies in Marty’s life lead him to question the worth of life, and repeatedly the order and stability of the parade re-enters to …

In Search of Lost Time: A Review of Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women

Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, and Greta Gerwig<p>The whole film can be viewed as a consciousness-raising of sorts. While even new-wave French auteurs …

R.E.M.

The Cowboy’s Final Act: On Clint Eastwood, Trump, American Sniper, and Sully

Eastwood's famous "empty chair" speech at the RNC, before a backdrop of his iconic "Man with No Name" image. Source: YouTube<p>These films aren’t merely …

Clint Eastwood

The Hole in Moana’s Heart

What the movie gets wrong is at the story’s heart: not the goddess Te Fiti’s, but the human heart. People, not gods, were the cause of environmental …

Extinguishing Features: The Last Years of Richard Pryor

<i>Editor’s Note: Richard Pryor died on this date, December 10, 2005, nine days shy of his sixty-fifth birthday. We salute this comic genius and</i> …

What Makes Them So Successful? A Look into the Philosophy Behind the Coens’ Filmography

Ethan and Joel Coen on the set of <i>No Country for Old Men:</i> © Miramax Films and Paramount Vantage<p>The truth is that they tend toward philosophical …

Challenging the Censor: An Interview with Indian Political Documentarian Rakesh Sharma

Kanizben, who saw a man burnt alive during the Naroda Patiya massacre in the 2002 riots, in a still from Rakesh Sharma’s <i>Final Solution.</i><p>“India has …

Book Review: Films of the New French Extremity: Visceral Horror and National Identity

Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jampanoï star in Pascal Laugier’s <i>Martyrs,</i> one of the most relentless and influential films of the New French Extremity.</i> …

Books

Lords of Nothing: Hell or High Water (2016)

“Hey, buddy. We’re exactly the same. What’s happening to these people happened to my ancestors, and it happened to your ancestors.” – Alberto to …

George Lucas’s Wildest Vision: Retrofuturist Auteurism in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

The very foundation of Lucas’s cinematic philosophy <i>is</i> newness – this comes through in his obsession with technological possibilities, and through his …

The Crazy World of His Girl Friday (1940)

Publicity shot. Columbia Pictures/Photofest<p><i>His Girl Friday</i>’s headlong pace feels like that of modern life, and its rapid-fire, overlapping dialogue …

Waiting for Cinema: Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s Naked Reality (2016)

Bekolo’s cinema is not just “African,” or postcolonial, or experimental, or narrative. It is also a cinema that constantly searches for itself, for …

Making Waves: Wavelengths at the Toronto International Film Festival (September 8-18, 2016)

<i>Kékszakállú</i><p>With so many films being made – many of which will never receive wide distribution – how do you navigate the glut of movies at a whopper …

You Say You Want a Revolution? Regan’s Head and The Exorcist

<i>If the evil spirit is “seen,” that is, reflected . . . he is overcome</i>. – Marie-Louise von Franz<p><i>Unmask Satan, and you vanquish him</i>. – St. …

Mapping the (Cinematic) Genome: Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959); Peppermint Candy (1999); Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)

Emmanuelle Riva and Eiji Okada, <i>Hiroshima, Mon Amour</i><p>Our cinematic genome, meanwhile, is becoming – if not always more clearly defined – certainly more …

The Propagation of Empathy, the Absence of Bathos: On Alexander Payne’s Sideways (2004)

Regret is perhaps Payne’s greatest theme. The continual human dramedy, the elegiac comedy, a country full of people with limited potential raised to …

Mia of the Spirits: Woody Allen’s Alice (1990)

Alice isn’t all high-concept reverie and mystical melancholy. After a series of self-consciously arthouse films and sombre homages – and bookended …

New York City

A Legacy of Hope: Andrzej Wajda, 1926-2016

He studied and documented his country’s history, politics, and national myths in both film and theater, and was a beloved mentor to countless young …

Poland

Experimenting with the Horrific: A Reappraisal and Retrospective of the Films of Tobe Hooper

Hooper’s interest in horror articulates itself primarily in formal invention: how can the frame be used to incapacitate viewer expectations? * * * …

Horror Movies

Black Lives Matter: Whitewashing the Amanda Knox Story in the Netflix Documentary

By ignoring the black lives involved, the new Netflix documentary Amanda Knox (premiering on Netflix on September 30) is not only a very white film, …

Documentaries

Blood’s Up: The 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival

But even though Jesse (Elle Fanning) is “everything” right now, what she has is fragile: the aura of enchantment so prized by fashion is easily lost. …

Paul Verhoeven

The Trouble with Scottie (on Vertigo)

I have yet to encounter anybody who feels my fierce outrage at Scottie’s unfairness toward the necklace. That object is all-important, not because it …

Vertigo

Two from Flicker Alley: Isn’t Life Wonderful (Griffith, 1924) and Chaplin’s Essanay Comedies, 1915-16

From his very beginnings as a filmmaker, Griffith understood the efficacy of location shooting. Putting actors into real landscapes and streets not …

Keystone Pipeline

On Café Society and Woody Allen – Last seen in search of lost innocence, and rich wood paneling!

Art doesn’t have to be autobiographical, does it? Woody can write about the kid he wasn’t as well as the kid he was, can’t he? * * * I …

Woody Allen