Classics

14 posts

Fahrenheit 451: Avatar of the New Man

Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 begins with a striking narration of the film’s credits. The premise is simple: talk becomes the natural medium in an illiterate state. When the firemen, that is, the book burners, arrive at a high rise with orders to burn books we are immediately struck by the stark and vulgar aesthetics of the buildings that are so typical in totalitarian countries – globs of spiritless, unimaginative, state-commissioned modernism.

Brighton Rock Rises Again. Graham Greene Abides.

Acclaimed screenwriter Rowan Joffé will try his hand at the directing game next year. For his debut, he has selected an auspiciously high-profile story. Brighton Rock, adapted from Graham Greene’s 1938 novel, is a captivating crime thriller and a chilling exploration of the human capacity for love, betrayal and violence. If all goes right, this will be one beautiful and scary film.

A Watchful Eye On… Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes as a strict Victorian period piece is over and done with, but the character still has potential in a new context. The only rule is not to stray from the unique faculties that make Sherlock such a distinctive and popular hero. If the story’s focus ceases to be the detective’s brilliant deductive logic, then the magic is lost and the character wasted. If, however, due attention and respect are paid to this detail, the rest is free and open to broader interpretation.

The Weekly Listicle: Misleading Movie Titles

Sometimes a movie’s title appears to be a secret known only to the writer. Sometimes it is based on a very subtle detail in the story, which only becomes clear after multiple viewings. Sometimes a flaw in the film’s execution simply fails to bring out the significance of the title. And sometimes movies just have stupid titles. This week, William Bibbiani and I (Dan Fields) meditate upon the sticky subject of Movie Naming.

Arletty and Jean-Louis Barrault in Children of Paradise

Movie Time Nostalgia, Part 4: We Are All Children Of Paradise

A movie can do a lot of things to an audience. It may move them, amuse them, disgust them, terrify them, or in all too many cases bore them. One thing only a handful of films can do is inspire wonder. Every once in a while, a winning combination of writer, director, designers, composers and cast meet in perfect harmony. Such, I feel, is the case of Marcel Carné’s 1945 epic romance, Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise).

The Weekly Listicle: “On This Very Night…” Spooky Tales for Halloween

It’s almost Halloween, folks! Aren’t we supposed to be having fun? Rather than dwell further on the shortcomings of modern horror, we salute the spirit of the campfire tale, the ghost story, and the urban legend in this nostalgic look at great horror stories in film and television. Join me – Dan Fields – and my fellow campers Julia Rhodes and William Bibbiani, as we pass the flashlight and torch a few marshmallows.

Book Review: Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

Pasternak ranges the individualism of Zhivago against the heartless society that is being erected by the Bolsheviks on the grave of Tsarist Russia. Where Zhivago questions his every deed from the standpoint of conscience, left-wing leaders like Lara’s husband, Pasha Antipov, who styles himself as Strelnikov or “Shooter,” kill without blinking or thinking.

History of Madness by Michel Foucault

By the 1700s the “correctional” metaphor prevails and most of them are placed in moral and physical restraints in order to correct their aberrant attitudes or behaviors. Many of these souls were chained as animals in appalling conditions which would get us convicted if we treated our dogs similarly today. Such unfortunates included those convicted of debauchery, crime, and sexual license “where reason was the slave of desire and a servant of the heart.” (I suppose all of us would require sequestration under those criteria).