COQUETTE

Many, many years ago, in a universe far, far away, film criticism was bound on one side by studio style, and on the other by cycle, or what we would call today, ‘genre’. History was rendered chronologically, year by year. Early talkies like COQUETTE (1929) were dismissed as stagy because of the primitive sound equipment available during the transition to sound. The dynamic photography and fluid narrative of late silent cinema was sacrificed. SINGING IN THE RAIN satirizes this period, which was also known for the fall of gigantic movie stars who couldn’t, for one reason or another, make the transition to sound.

ALIBI

For me the most interesting aspect of ALIBI is the fact that at this point (1929) the film industries of the US, Britain, Germany and France were equally capable of producing this type of film. The urban crime drama may have been pioneered by the French feuillade whose roots go back to written literature but it was perfected by Lang and the German School. Film Expressionism cried out for the geometrical shapes and dark shadows of the urban setting and the speed of what was just becoming known as ‘modern life’. After all it was only in 1920 that 50% of the American population lived in cities even though the Jeffersonian ideal of the rural ideal was to linger in both film and literature until WW2.

FOX NEWS AT 10

Due to the shade of illumination provided by the lamps arranged throughout the temporary tent set up there, the corner of West 48th street & Avenue of the Americas became a red light district on the evening of Wednesday, October 4 when Fox News Channel held a party to mark its 10th anniversary. Anticipating that the space might qualify as a red state in miniature within the blue sea of Manhattan, I donned my raspberry sherbet-hued suit jacket for the occasion, and likewise was unsurprised to find that all of the servers and bar staff had been outfitted with sartorially apposite red ties as part of their uniforms for the evening.

THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND

Forget whatever else you might have heard about THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND. When it came out no one really had it figured out. It did not fit neatly into the Peckinpah canon and it took a while after his death for a broadly philosophical-aesthetic of Peckinpah to be established to shoehorn various elements to make a coherent (but incorrect) analysis possible.

BLIZNA aka THE SCAR

BLIZNA (THE SCAR) Stephen Bednarz is a successful manager who is handed a plum assignment: to construct a huge synthetic fertilizer factory and a new town to go along with it. The magnitude of the project is stunning. It involves not only the preparation, design and construction of the plant but the social services of the town built for the plant’s workers.

SIGN OF THE TIMES – AUTUMN IN NEW YORK

An annual sporting ritual heralding Autumn is the US Tennis Open, where most folks were surprised to see Andy Roddick crash out in the first round this year. On his feet while he did were sneakers provided by his new apparel sponsor Babolat, a French athletics wear firm who had Roddick on hand to help them introduce their products in the US at a sumptuous luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 42nd Street. Their manufacturing partner, the Gallic rubber giant Michelin, had a launch event of their own on November 2nd, when the long-anticipated Michelin Guide: New York City Restaurants & Hotels 2006 was presented at the Guggenheim Museum. 1000 First Edition numbered guides were made available to event attendees (I got # 759), and among them Wylie Dufresne told me he was “very pleased” with the one star awarded to his place WD~50. Less ecstatic was Daniel Bouloud, who opined that “they messed up the two stars, they messed up the one stars, but they got the three stars” – a comment on his ventures Daniel and Cafe Bouloud receiving one and two stars respectively. Assuming Le Bernardin’s three-star rating was satisfactory, I asked Eric Ripert how he liked the evening’s catering, supplied by Restaurant Associates; “I didn’t taste the food,” he tersely replied, which spoke for itself.

IN THE FACE OF EVIL: REAGAN’S WAR IN WORD & DEED

Disappointing biopic. Whatever your personal thoughts are about the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan was a key participant in the dramatic shift of the geopolitic at the end of the 20th Century. This film is a mess, self-serving to the Religious Right who feel Reagan could do no wrong and should receive sainthood. As a Lincoln Republican and son of a Goldwater Democrat I was expecting a warts and all serious, balanced documentary about Reagan’s rise from affable Hollywood “B” actor to concerned citizen to “Leader of the Free World”.