Nick Pinkerton

  • Cy Endfield, Hell Drivers, 1957, 35 mm, black and white, sound, 91 minutes.
    film November 20, 2015

    Fury Road

    A RETELLING OF THE EVENTS of the January, 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift in the Anglo-Zulu War, in which a ragtag force of some hundred able-bodied British Army regulars successfully defended a remote supply depot from a vastly superior force of Zulu warriors, the 1964 film Zulu means a great many things to a great many people. It provided the great Welsh screen star Stanley Baker with a signature role as Lieutenant John Chard, and definitively broke through his thirty-year-old cockney costar, Michael Caine. It inspired a young Afrika Bambaataa in the Bronx River Projects to create his Zulu Nation

  • Ulrich Seidl, In the Basement, 2015, HD video, color, sound 81 minutes.
    film November 09, 2015

    Under the Skin

    WITH REFERENCES, direct or implicit, to famous native sons Adolf Hitler, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, and Sigmund Freud, Ulrich Seidl’s In the Basement may be the most Austrian movie ever made. The filmmaker’s latest formalist documentary even features an appearance by Fritz Lang—not the Vienna-born director of the Dr. Mabuse series, but a forlorn-looking small-arms enthusiast with a fondness for bulky sweaters, whose subterranean firing range also affords him acoustics to exercise his sweet tenor and bemoan the opera career he never had.

    In interviews, Seidl has been mentioning an in-the-works

  • Seijun Suzuki, Kagero-za, 1981, 35 mm, color, sound, 139 minutes.
    film November 05, 2015

    Pop Eye

    WHEN THE CINEMATIC whatsits of Seijun Suzuki were rediscovered by American cinephiles in the late 1990s, through both a touring retrospective and the Criterion Collection’s home video releases of his noir-inflected signature films Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Branded to Kill (1967), the typical reaction was one of giddy bafflement. Even if we weren’t quite sure what these pop-addled movies were up to, we knew they weren’t sitting still.

    Now Suzuki is on the move again, with a 35-mm print-heavy retrospective beginning November 6 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, coming from the Freer and Sackler

  • Maurice Pialat, Van Gogh, 1991, 35 mm, color, sound, 158 minutes. Van Gogh (Jacques Dutronc).
    film October 15, 2015

    Life Worth Living

    THE WORK of the French director Maurice Pialat belongs to that category of films for and by the walking wounded, films that touch on the insoluble outrages of existence—the fact of our impermanence and our embarrassing inability to face up to it, the mortifying discrepancy between what we say and what we do. These disheveled, glowering movies are unreconciled to the world, and in their cussed opposition there is a measure of consolation. Brusque and bracing, Pialat’s films aren’t so much clean “slices” of life as ragged, gouged-out fistfuls of the stuff.

    The Museum of the Moving Image’s Pialat

  • Hasse Ekman, Banketten (The Banquet), 1948, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 104 minutes.
    film September 09, 2015

    Swede Smell of Success

    IT’S BECOME SO CUSTOMARY for clickbait headlines to presumptuously refer to movies and filmmakers that the reader has “Probably Never Heard Of” that we tend to lose sight of what constitutes genuine rarity and undiscovered territory. To wit: I can’t say if you’ve heard of Hasse Ekman, subject of the retrospective “The Other Swede in the Room” which begins on September 9 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but I do know that not a one of the ten films playing are available on domestic home video—I’ve only been able to watch a handful of them—and if you haven’t seen any of Ekman’s deft,

  • Éric Rohmer, The Marquise of O..., 1976, 35 mm, color, sound, 103 minutes.
    film August 28, 2015

    Grace Period

    ÉRIC ROHMER’S last completed feature, The Romance of Astrea and Celadon, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in fall of 2007, when its director was eighty-seven years old, slightly less than three years before his death. The basis of the film was L’Astrée, a seventeenth-century pastoral novel by Honoré d’Urfé that concerns a protracted misunderstanding between Céladon, a shepherd of high birth, and Astrée, the woman whom he loves in spite of a feud between their families. The couple are torn asunder by Astrée’s jealous suspicions, and Céladon, played in Rohmer’s film by Andy Gillet, finds

  • J. P. Sniadecki and Libbie Cohn, People’s Park, 2012, color, sound, 75 minutes.
    film August 07, 2015

    Cutting Edge

    CHINESE MONEY, implicitly or explicitly, has become a major factor at the contemporary multiplex—hacked Sony e-mails revealed a round of anxious self-censoring before the Adam Sandler vehicle Pixels began shooting, while Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation arrived in cinemas with the stamp of the government-run Chinese Movie Channel among its many sponsors. It remains to be seen how recent economic tremors will impact investment in movies, but for now investors seem eager to throw yuan into film projects—so long, that is, as they aren’t Chinese independent cinema.

    In contrast to the emergence of

  • Roberto Gavaldón, La noche avanza (Night Falls), 1952, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 85 minutes.
    film July 24, 2015

    Golden Days

    PRIDE COMES BEFORE A FALL. This lesson unites film noir from the United States and its south-of-the–Rio Grande equivalent, the Mexican ciné negro—though the degree of pride, and the manner of its expression, vary in ways that say something about masculine self-image. The protagonist of US noir is often something of a schlump patsy, dumber by half than he thinks he is, obliviously backing into a way-over-his-head situation. The ciné negro protagonist acts like a matador when in fact he is the bull; he’s every bit as oblivious, yes, but twice as arrogant as he strides toward oblivion.

    In Roberto

  • John Ford, The Grapes of Wrath, 1940, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 129 minutes.
    film July 02, 2015

    Ford Motors

    A DILEMMA IS AT THE HEART of John Ford’s cinema: You are going on a long journey. You must decide what to take with you and what you will leave behind; if you will travel alone, or in company. Sometimes this journey crosses physical space—the plains and deserts and mountains of the American West, say—though even standing in a single spot, one passes through time, the length of a life and the lives of generations.

    In Ford’s film of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1940) there is an extraordinarily moving scene in which, as the Joad family load up their jerry-rigged moving truck for the long, hard

  • H. Lee Waters, Movies of Local People (Chapel Hill), 1939, black-and-white, 29 minutes.
    film June 01, 2015

    Life in Movement

    THE PROGRAM of Movies of Local People that will play at the Museum of Modern Art in early June is one of several newsreels produced by the traveling filmmaker and entrepreneur H. Lee Waters. Waters photographed communities in the southeast United States (mostly North Carolina) and then sold them back a chance to see themselves on the silver screen, posing and goofing for the camera or otherwise just going about their business, in a limited engagement at a local venue. This particular edition happens to have been made among the black community of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for screening at the

  • Mary Pickford Technicolor test for The Black Pirate, 1926, 35 mm, color, 5 minutes. Print courtesy of George Eastman House; image courtesy of Deutsche Kinemathek.
    film May 28, 2015

    Medium Rare

    LET’S TAKE FOR GRANTED the received wisdom which says that the “average moviegoer” can’t tell the difference between a 35-mm print and a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) projection. The conclusion we should draw from this isn’t that there is no difference between these formats, but that the arbiters of film culture, including critics, curators, and absolutely everyone else, have failed entirely to educate a wider public as to what this difference is, and how to talk about it. Cinema is usually a narrative art, but it is always a visual art. Nevertheless, the discussion of the former aspect has

  • Nicholas Ray, Johnny Guitar, 1954, 35 mm, color, sound, 110 minutes.
    film May 15, 2015

    Unauthorized Biography

    IN A BUSINESS that exerts an irresistible pull to hustlers, fabulists, and frauds, the screenwriter Philip Yordan (1914–2003) was in a class by himself. He was famous for his last-minute punch-ups, the so-called “Yordan touch,” as well as his extraordinary prolificacy, turning out more material in short order than any one man could possibly be capable of producing—more, in point of fact, than one man was capable of producing.

    The scare quotes on the title of Anthology Film Archives’s “ ‘Written’ By Philip Yordan” series refer to the fact that, more even than was usual of scripts created in the