Nick Pinkerton

  • Chuck Jones, Beep Beep, 1952, animation, color, sound.
    film July 23, 2014

    Duck Dynasty

    A FEW IMAGES, to set the mood: Daffy Duck being bullied by the pencil and paintbrush of a persecuting artist/vengeful God in Duck Amuck (1953); the stricken expression on Wile E. Coyote’s face at the moment when he realizes that he is standing on thin air and a catastrophic canyon plunge is imminent; the lovelorn line teaching himself to make geometrical bouquets in The Dot and the Line (1965).

    These moments, and countless others, can be traced back to the pen of Charles Martin “Chuck” Jones, who, when he died in 2002 at the age of eighty-nine, was one of the most honored animators that the world

  • Ben Stoloff, By Whose Hand?, 1932, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 63 minutes.
    film July 07, 2014

    The Criminal Mind

    IN THE YEARS of its rise to prominence, Columbia Pictures was famous for a couple of things, neither of them having anything to do with crime thrillers. The first was its possession of the most horrible studio chief in Hollywood, Harry Cohn, an ardent admirer of Mussolini and a serviceable noir heavy. The second was the one employee who Cohn needed and hated for needing him, the studio’s superstar director, Frank Capra.

    Not surprisingly, there isn’t a single film by Capra among the twenty-five titles that make up the Museum of Modern Art’s “Lady in the Dark: Crime Films from Columbia Pictures”

  • Tsai Ming-liang, Goodbye, Dragon Inn, 2004, 35 mm, color, sound, 82 minutes.
    film June 06, 2014

    King of Pain

    TSAI MING-LIANG’S Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2004) takes place at the Fu-Ho Grand, a leaky, waterlogged Taipei movie palace on the night of its last-ever screening, which happens to be King Hu’s Dragon Inn (1967) a landmark in the genre called wuxia pian. (Fantasy-tinged martial arts movies, usually based on traditional stories.) Save for some scratchy shots from the film’s prologue and credits, you see nothing of Dragon Inn in Tsai’s film, though its soundtrack is a constant presence—the intensifying clack of a kuaiban before a charge; the rustling of silk garments which accompanies combatants taking

  • Marcel Hanoun, The Authentic Trial of Carl Emmanuel Jung, 1967, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 65 minutes.
    film May 29, 2014

    Between the Lines

    A WOMAN newly-arrived from Lille (Micheline Bezançon) tows her young daughter through the Paris suburbs in a vain quest for work, increasingly broke, increasingly hungry, finally reduced to sleeping on a patch of waste ground in the banlieue, where she looks up to a single lit window in an HLM building, shining like the Star of Bethlehem. This chain of anecdotal incidents that leads to this moment comprises Une simple histoire (A Simple Story)—not really so simple, for the soundtrack consists of the woman’s past-tense recollection of the events being shown, overlapped with the synch sound

  • Scott Cummings, Buffalo Juggalos, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 30 minutes.
    film May 28, 2014

    Homeward Bound

    IN ITS SIXTEEN YEARS OF EXISTENCE, the Maryland Film Festival has become something of a destination festival for independent filmmakers, distributors, and exhibitors—though this year, the destination was itself couch-surfing. For the first time, the MDFF was proceeding without its traditional base, the Charles Theatre, whose five theaters provided the vast majority of the festival’s screens. The show has gone on, but with screenings scattered amid seven different venues, many of them converted classrooms belonging to the University of Baltimore or the Maryland Institute College of Art. In every

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, 1972, 35 mm, color, sound, 124 minutes.
    film May 22, 2014

    Fast and Furious

    RAINER WERNER FASSBINDER died a little over thirty years ago, aged thirty-seven, with—conservative estimate—something like a zillion films, telefilms, and TV serials to his name. The frenetic pace that Fassbinder set for himself, kept up through a diet of booze, cocaine, and pharmaceuticals, didn’t help to prolong his life, and when he finally OD’d, he dropped dead with the bit between his teeth, his bulk splayed across notes about a projected film on Polish-German Marxist philosopher Rosa Luxemburg.

    The market value of Fassbinder’s brand has not diminished since. At Film Society of Lincoln

  • Anthony Harvey, Dutchman, 1967, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 55 minutes. Lula and Clay (Shirley Knight and Al Freeman Jr.).
    film May 09, 2014

    Poetic Justice

    WATCHING ST. CLAIR BOURNE’S aptly-titled 1983 “videowork” Amiri Baraka: In Motion, you’re struck by the manner in which the film’s subject, while presenting a calm and collected demeanor to the camera, is forever at the center of a maelstrom of activity, an octopus whose tentacles are constantly occupied with their independent tasks. Baraka, here nearing fifty, is seen tending to household affairs from his study, addressing protesters outside of South African Airlines, reading poetry at Saint Mark’s Church, and hosting a jazz radio program on WBAI, where he notes that his play Boy and Tarzan

  • Aykan Safoğlu, Off-White Tulips, 2013, video, color, sound, 24 minutes.
    film May 01, 2014

    Spitting Image

    IF YOU WANT a panoramic view of what constitutes experimental film today, there are few more all-encompassing vantage points than the Images Festival in Toronto. Surveying the broad expanse, one may feel tempted to say that the defining dichotomy that emerged from the twenty-seventh edition of Images was between futurist virtual singularity and a backward-looking analog-bucolic ideal—though trying to corral such a vast program into convenient categories is a fool’s errand.

    “The largest festival in North America for experimental and independent moving image culture” took place this year over ten

  • Thom Andersen, Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer, 1975, color, sound, 56 minutes.
    film April 11, 2014

    Real Love

    “THE MACHINE CANNOT LIE,” the businessman and former California governor Leland Stanford said, explaining his hire of an experimental photographer named Eadweard Muybridge to create a study of a horse in motion. It was to be made of stills shot in rapid succession which, seen all together, would capture every aspect of the horse’s trot, and so settle the question of whether or not all four of a trotting horse’s feet ever left the ground. Stanford claimed they did. Muybridge’s plates proved him right. This happened in 1872, more than two decades before the Lumière brothers or Edison’s inventions,

  • Bob Gill, The Double Exposure of Holly, 1976, 35 mm, color, sound, 77 minutes. Detail of film poster.
    film March 28, 2014

    Porn Again

    THERE’S A FAMOUS SCENE in Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep (1946) in which Humphrey Bogart’s Philip Marlowe, caught during a sudden rainstorm in a bookstore stake out, flirts shamelessly with a clerk played by Dorothy Malone. “It just happens I got a bottle of pretty good rye in my pocket. I’d a lot rather get wet in here,” he says. “Well, looks like we’re closed for the rest of the afternoon,” she replies. We all know what’s going to happen next, though the scene fades out discreetly. The films in Anthology Film Archives’s “Porn Noir” series fill in the blanks: What if we just got to watch them

  • Fritz Lang, You and Me, 1938, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 90 minutes.
    film March 21, 2014

    Days of Being Wild

    THE SCRIBES OF OLD speak to us of the Auteurist Wars, in which the guardians of high culture who could only love industrial Hollywood movies as mere “fun trash” were challenged by an army of young zealots, crusaders charged with the guiding doctrine that profound worldviews were discernible in that fun trash, and “that movies are primarily the creation of one governing author behind the camera who thinks in images and sounds rather than words and sentences.”

    The insurgents carried the day decisively—and in cinephile circles, their burning faith has become entrenched orthodoxy. For younger critics

  • Billy Wilder, The Emperor Waltz, 1948, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 106 minutes.
    film February 27, 2014

    Tales of the City

    “I NEVER KNEW the old Vienna before the war with its Strauss music, its glamour and easy charm,” begins the narrator of The Third Man (1949). He’s referring to the most recent war—though cinema itself had missed Vienna in its sparkling heyday. The city has never been a European film capitol on the order of Paris, Rome, Berlin, Stockholm, or London. By the time movies had entered their early maturity, the days of Vienna as the center of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and crossroads of a cosmopolitan empire were already over, the Dual Empire having taken its Humpty-Dumpty fall and been permanently