I fell in love with film at a very early age and quickly found myself loving the artwork (the posters, lobby cards and soundtrack covers) of the films as much as the films themselves. This probably started when I was in third grade and loved the album covers for the soundtracks of "Cabaret" and "A Clockwork Orange" so much (when I had at the time no other knowledge of the films) in the racks of the Renton Public Library that I checked them out and then found the music to be completely enchanting, enthralling and mysterious. "A Clockwork Orange" I was attracted to on many different levels: the music, the stylized art of the movie poster, the unusual title, the font...but seeing that I was in third grade I had no clue what the film was actually about. Nevertheless I searched out the one-sheet movie poster for it and put it on the wall in my bedroom. I'm amazed that my parents let me put up a poster in my room (when I was seven!) with a tagline that read "Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven." They never said a word about it.
Even though I had the movie poster and the soundtrack for "A Clockwork Orange" in third grade, I didn't actually read the book until sixth grade (and soon found out that I was still too far ahead of my peers) and didn't finally see the film until I think I was a sophomore in high school, this being before VCRs when you had to wait for a vintage film to come to the local repertory theatre.
Anyway, "A Clockwork Orange" notwithstanding because I didn't actually see it until I was a teenager, I must admit that the first film I ever loved was "Earthquake," when I saw it as a nine-year-old and went back four other times to see it before it left the Renton Village Cinema where it was playing "in Sensurround." Yes, my first appreciation of a moral dilemma was when Charlton Heston (trying to save his wife from being sucked down into the sewers of disaster-stricken Los Angeles) had to choose between the lovely, young Genevieve Bujold reaching down to help and his alcoholic harpy wife Ava Gardner flailing around in muck. Of course, his decision didn't bother me half as much as the fact that Lorne Greene (58) played Ava Gardner's(52) father and Heston's (50) father-in-law.
I decided to try and find that movie poster too.
When "The Towering Inferno" was released the following year, 1974, an unusual thing happened. Even though I was initially excited about it because it was another disaster film, I came out of the film having not only an appreciation of being able to tell a story with intricately woven character threads, but I also fell in love with the concept of architecture. I quickly set to work on building a skyscraper with my Lego's (I also had a sub-obsession with Bell helicopters after seeing the film and bought myself a toy one of those as well). To this day I have a fascination with architecture that I can trace back to this film. If I'd had a better mind for math and engineering I would have been an architect, but I've found as a writer that I'm always drawn to texts where something interesting is done with the "architecture" of the text (e.g. James Joyce, William Faulkner, Italo Calvino, Alasdair Gray). I soon had this poster on my bedroom wall, too.
And then I saw "American Graffiti," which was the first film that really reached me on every level there was: artistically, emotionally, stylistically, musically. In fact when I saw the re-release in 1975 when I was 11 years old, the soundtrack became the first real album I ever owned. I played it over and over again, ostensibly because the music was so exotic compared to what was being played on the radio at the time. What better crash course in popular music history could an 11 year old have? I soon found myself checking out books on Fats Domino and Buddy Holly out of the school library and, once again, found no one else I could discuss my interests with. Before I knew it I was bugging the manager of the Lewis & Clark Theatre for six months to give me the one-sheet movie poster; which he finally did when its run was over. No matter how much I love the "Star Wars" films, I still to this day think that "American Graffiti" is a much better film than all of them put together.
Suddenly film meant much more to me than it ever had, which I didn't think could happen because it already meant a lot to me. And it wasn't until years later that I realized the bountiful time I was growing up in and developing a love for film. I personally think that from 1967 to 1982 was the golden age of cinema in the United States and perhaps for the rest of the world too, because it was during these years that the inmates were running the asylum, as it were. The directors, actors, writers and producers making films during these years were more experimental than there had ever been a precedent for.
It seemed like every week another masterpiece was being released in these years. I remember sneaking into "Taxi Driver" when I was 12 (after I had paid the money to see "All The President's Men." Six of one, half dozen of the other, eh?); cutting class to catch "Apocalypse Now" on opening day when I was 15 at the old Town theatre on 6th and Pine; taking the good ol' 107 and 142 from downtown Renton to downtown Seattle to catch films on the weekend before I knew how to drive; when I was 16 missing a screening of the Sex Pistols film "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle" cancelled at the last minute because it had been stopped at customs; seeing Citizen Kane on Thanksgiving when I was 17 at the drafty, old, brick Rosebud theatre in Pioneer Square;
sitting on my own in the Renton Village Cinema every weekend when I was a kid and getting to hear "Swingin' Safari" by Billy Vaughn as I waited for the Disney movies to start.
Of course, when I bought my first VCR when I was at Western Washington U, that was it. The following year, 1985/86, I was the Film Programmer for the whole campus, where I tried to bring as varied a selection of films as possible. My crowning achievement was bringing all 13 and a half hours of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's "Berlin Alexanderplatz" to Bellingham, only the fourth city (at the time) to screen it. I also brought everything from "Lawrence of Arabia" to "Spinal Tap"; Kenneth Anger's "Magick Lantern Cycle" to Pabst's "3 Penny Opera"; Cocteau's "Orpheus," and Victor Erice's Spanish film from 1974 "Spirit of the Beehive," a film I loved so much I walked right back in and saw the 9:00 showing after the 6:30 showing was over. A beautiful film, I have my own copy of it on videotape now, and I still think it's the most accurate depiction of childhood I've ever seen, let alone all the OTHER layers the film works on with the myth of Frankenstein, the reign of Francisco Franco and the state of Spain itself.
I think this is a tremendously exciting time for film because thanks to the stylistic and budgetary ice-breaking of directors like Matthew Harrison, major studios are realizing that masterpieces can indeed be made for only spit and Kleenex. If anyone has any questions, suggestions or ideas of how to make the film section stronger, please don't hesitate to email me at: malcolm(at)towerofbabel.com.
Baudrillard and Hollywood: Subverting the mechanism of control and The Matrix. An essay by Jim Rovira
Baudrillard ve Hollywood: Denetim mekanizmalarının altüst edilmesi ve "The Matrix"
Yazı: Jim Rovira
Blue In The Face/Smoke by Wayne Wang
The Candidate by Michael Ritchie
El Candidato por Michael Ritchie
Carrington by Christopher Hampton
SIDEBAR: Who Was Carrington?
Casino by Martin Scorsese
Casino por Martin Scorsese
Cat People (1982) by Paul Schrader
Cold Blooded by Wallace Wolodarsky
The Doom Generation by Gregg Araki
The Exorcist by William Friedkin
El Exorcista, dirigida por William Friedkin
Flirting With Disaster by David O. Russell
James Foley Interview
Christopher Hampton Interview
A Hard Day's Night by Richard Lester
Heaven or Las Vegas? (A comparative essay on Casino and Leaving Las Vegas)
Рай или Лас Вегас? Сравнително есе върху филмите "Казино" (режисьор Мартин Скорсезе) и "Да напуснеш Лас Вегас" (режисьор Майк Фигис)
Last Summer in the Hamptons by Henry Jaglom
Leaving Las Vegas by Mike Figgis
Les Miserables by Claude Lelouch
SIDEBAR: Les What? Lel-who?
Lost in America by Albert Brooks
Mighty Aphrodite by Woody Allen
Nico: Icon by Susanne Ofteringer
Pharaoh's Army by Robby Henson
Pink Floyd The Wall by Alan Parker
Pink Floyd, The Wall, dirigida por Alan Parker
Patricia Rozema Interview
Smoke/Blue In The Face by Wayne Wong
Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese (A former taxi driver looks at the 1976 masterpiece)
Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey by Steven M. Martin
Total Eclipse by Agnieszka Holland
When Night is Falling by Patricia Rozema
White Man's Burden by Desmond Nakano