Coming up on the New York repertory calendar…
“Five Easy Pieces”
“It was ‘Easy Rider”s success that greenlit ‘Five Easy Pieces’—but director Bob Rafelson and screenwriter Carole Eastman’s film is totally human, trading ‘Rider”s counterculture mytho-poetics for a study in the charisma of disdain…and how rebellion and loutishness are often indistinguishable,” writes the Village Voice’s Nick Pinkerton. Bob Rafelson’s film gets a week-long run at Film Forum beginning Friday. “Set against the stillness of cinematographer László Kovács’s luminous landscapes, now restored for the film’s 40th anniversary, it’s a great work of the Discover America Seventies.”
“Jack Nicholson was never going to be another Jimmy Stewart,” notes Joshua Rothkopf in Time Out New York. “As early as his prefame days (in 1960s TV Westerns and Roger Corman cheapies), there was too much attitude, too much snarl. Instead, he became the symbolic actor of the counterculture; his Hollywood ascent was as much a signal of change as the rises of Coppola and Scorsese. ‘Five Easy Pieces,’ a brilliant gem of American psychological realism (where are these movies today?), is Nicholson’s arrival to the A-list. His Bobby Dupea flees a privileged upbringing, replacing it with grimy work in oil fields; there’s some serious denial here, some buried self-contempt.”
The New Yorker’s David Denby: “‘Five Easy Pieces’ suggests how thoroughly America was going out of its skull during the Vietnam War… The movie has more anger than it knows what to do with; that’s its fascination and its weakness, too.”
“Essentially an American version of Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Wild Strawberries,’ it applied those art-house lessons to the restlessness of college-age youth,” writes the New York Press’ Armond White.
William E. Jones Retro at Anthology
“The Dynamic of William E. Jones’s work lies in the tensions produced between, on the one hand, deep-running vortices of emotion and longing and, on the other, the angular severities of social control, unearthed and drawn out from the otherwise obscured historical matter of gay men’s subjective lives and shared fantasies,” writes Ed Halter in Art Forum. “Among the source materials for his five long-form pieces, numerous short films, and printed publications are 1970s pornography, legal data, pop music, and personal memories: Extraordinary and unexpected facets emerge from the obsessive jewel-cutting that Jones performs on this raw ore.” The Films of William E. Jones runs February 26 to March 4 at Anthology Film Archives.
“Jones’s film-essays map out the precise contours of longing,” observes Melissa Anderson in the Village Voice. “In the fan study ‘Finished’ (1997), about porn actor Alan Lambert, who committed suicide in 1992 at age 25, Jones’s infatuation with the star of ‘Bare Bottoms’—elucidated over shots of the San Fernando Valley (the world’s porn headquarters), Montreal (Lambert’s hometown), and non-fucking scenes from Lambert’s oeuvre—leads to a noir-ish investigation that reflects the plot of Frank Capra’s 1941 film ‘Meet John Doe’, and, ultimately, complete disillusionment. Another idol analysis, ‘Is It Really So Strange?’ (2004), an exploration of Morrissey’s popularity among Latinos in SoCal, is Jones’s most ‘conventional’ work—an assembly of rough-hewn talking-head interviews, which, through the thoughtful questions Jones poses to his subjects, still unearths nuggets about the masochistic pleasures of unrequited love.”
James van Maanen discusses Jones’ “Tearoom” over at his blog: “Jones put together his creation in 2007, though it was actually filmed (by the Mansfield, Ohio, Police Department) in 1962. After installing a camera to shoot through a two-way mirror in a closet door, the police captured scene after scene of men of various classes and races engaging in sexual activity. Though the film is grainy as hell, with a stationery camera that could not peek around corners, you can make out the occasional stiff member and see all sort of sexual positioning taking place. The footage was later used by the Ohio courts as evidence, and all the men shown here were found guilty. At this time in Ohio, sodomy carried a mandatory sentence of at least one year in the state penitentiary, and so Jones’ film, as is often the case with his work, becomes a kind of ‘found’ object that offers up suppressed history, simultaneously making it into something new for our own time.”
For more on his work, visit Jones’ website.
Bong at BAM
“Aged 40, Bong Joon-ho has made two of the highest-grossing movies in the history of his country’s domestic box office,” writes Nick Pinkerton in the Village Voice. “The enshrined star of South Korea’s burgeoning 21st-century film industry, he appears to take his role as standard-bearing popular artist seriously. His latest film, ‘Mother,’ opens Stateside in March—BAM offers a preview screening and, for the occasion, a review of the decade that made him.” That series, Monsters and Murderers: The Films of Bong Joon-ho, begins tomorrow.
“With just three features to his name, Bong Joon-ho has planted himself on the shortlist for favorite South Korean export,” observes Jason Jude Chan in Flavorpill. “Suspense is his forte, but his gorgeously made films are also rich in humor and horror. Take his smash monster hit, ‘The Host,’ which dizzies and delights with its tonal whiplash. Then there’s his latest, ‘Mother,’ a murder-he-wrote dandy that could be seen as a close relative to his supreme police procedural ‘Memories of Murder.'”
“Mother” opens officially on March 12. Watch the trailer on YouTube.