News and Notes
Paths of Glory
It is easy enough to call this an anti-war film, as it portrays the horrors of battle as succinctly as any movie before or after. The soldiers who man the trenches are bone-tired and malnourished, their emotions dulled by the relentless horror they face day after day. The generals, meanwhile, are foppish aristocrats who worry more about their careers than the lives of their soldiers. But World War I is just the backdrop Kubrick uses for his searing indictment of the rich and powerful. Something of a forgotten classic, especially when placed against Kubrick's later works, this beautifully rendered film should be seen by students of history or anyone who cares about equality and justice.
Don't Look Back
Filming Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of England, cinema verit� pioneer D.A. Pennebaker became the next best thing to a fly on the wall. Beyond the title credits, the film is without captions or voice-over narration, allowing the viewer to interpret the film (and thus the subject) on its own terms. Among the variety of fascinating, near-candid moments captured was one in a hotel room: after pop-star Donovan has played a mediocre folk song, a cocky Dylan snatches the guitar from his hands and plays a masterful "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," illustrating how the times and culture were indeed "a-changing" in the mid-1960s.
When celebrated sidemen Ry Cooder, Jim Keltner, and Nick Lowe were not available to record the follow-up to his revelatory Bring the Family album, John Hiatt went with the anonymous guys in his touring band. Fortunately, the Goners were more than up for the task, matching the ragged exhilaration in Hiatt's voice throughout a dozen sterling songs, making Slow Turning at least as good as its predecessor.
Une Semaine de Bonté
Subtitled "a surrealistic novel in collage," Une Semaine de Bonté (A Week of Kindness) is a novel only in the most liberal sense of the word. Starting with existing wood-engraved illustrations from French popular fiction, Ernst added all manner of fantastic elements that transform each picture into an otherworldly tableau. The work is divided into five sections, each with it's own theme, and each prefaced with a quote from a Dadaist or Surrealist writer. The sum of these parts is a bizarre, often erotic, and completely fascinating journey into the subconscious.
Larry Young's exploratory sound has earned him comparisons to John Coltrane, which might seem strange since Young plays the organ. Thoughtful and dynamic, his solos are indeed impressive; but it's the subtle underpinning and space Young provides tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson and trumpeter Woody Shaw that really makes the album work. It helps to have a drummer as flexible as Elvin Jones, who alone accompanies Young on a stellar reading of "Monk's Dream."
François Truffaut's retelling of Ray Bradbury's novel was the French director's first film in color and his only film in English. Using bold visuals from cinematographer Nicolas Roeg, dramatic music from composer Bernard Herrmann, and inspired casting, which included a wonderful dual role for Julie Christie, Truffaut created a powerful new statement that works on many levels.
Fancies and Goodnights
Reminiscent of Roald Dahl's work, only lighter and much more clever, Collier is a word-magician, weaving scintillating tales with a cast of characters such as genies in bottles, lovelorn ghosts, erudite apes, and department store mannequins. At turns macabre, coy, wistful, silly, fiendish, and outright funny, this collection makes for a perfect bedside companion.