Howard Hampton

After Darko

Howard Hampton on Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko

April 2017

RICHARD KELLY’S now-legendary debut, Donnie Darko (2001), forged a bittersweet, nutty-poignant idiom from the pop-culture overload of the writer-director’s late 1980s suburban Virginia youth. (It feels as if Kelly was possessed by Donnie … READ ON


No Angels

Howard Hampton on Luis Bu˝uel’s The Exterminating Angel

December 2016

IT’S HIGH TIME to take Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel (1962) and elevate it to its rightful place as a holiday—any holiday—classic. For one thing, its exquisitely paralyzed time-spatial continuum leads straight to Groundhog Day’s … READ ON


On the Road Again

Howard Hampton on Road House (1948) and Road House (1989)

September 2016

EVERY GENERATION SHOULD HAVE A ROAD HOUSE OF ITS OWN—a gamy little refuge on the outskirts of good taste, reeking of smoke, liquor, cheap music, oiled pecs, pin-up legs, clenched fists, paperback sex, bad blood, and bad hair. The 1948 and … READ ON


Spore Reports

Howard Hampton on Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Buckaroo Banzai

September 2016

THE BACKWASH OF 1960S shock waves broke down the firewall between serious cinema and genre films. (In the “P” column alone, the mid-’70s had Polanski’s Chinatown, Penn’s Night Moves, and Pakula’s The Parallax View.) Hollywood wrestled—flailing,… READ ON


Military Might

Howard Hampton on Here Comes Mr. Jordan and Dr. Strangelove

July 2016

KICKING BACK AND CHILLING in an undisclosed concrete-reinforced location, you would be hard pressed to corral two vintage Hollywood comedies separated by a deeper chasm of sensibility than Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) and Dr. Strangelove, Or… READ ON


Laundry Days

Howard Hampton on My Beautiful Laundrette

August 2015

A KICK IN THE LILY WHITE TEETH to England’s gilt-hedged public imagery back in 1985, My Beautiful Laundrette raised thirty-year-old mixed-race writer Hanif Kureishi from a stymied playwright (“the theater thing hadn’t been working out for … READ ON


Dinner Sanctum

Howard Hampton on Andre Gregory & Wallace Shawn: Three Films

July 2015

LOUIS MALLE’S My Dinner with Andre doesn’t fit the usual definition of a great movie, but it has an inexhaustible, omnidirectional confidence. It’s the most subliminal piece of magic realism—expansive, incantatory words jousting with monotonous… READ ON


Behind the Music

Howard Hampton on Vincente Minnelli’s The Band Wagon (1953)

April 2015

MGM’S BEST MUSICALS personified Show Business as bipolar cottage industry—miracles of scrambled, collaged, precision-tooled, toe-shoe equilibrium. Star-struck, self-aware, and ruthlessly efficient, these engines of chaste desire merged revels… READ ON


Roeg State

Howard Hampton on Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973)

February 2015

NICOLAS ROEG WAS ALMOST FORTY in 1968 when he got his big break. After kicking around the British film industry for ages—shooting dazzling second-unit footage for Lawrence of Arabia (1962), but fired by David Lean from Doctor Zhivago (1965);… READ ON


Midnight’s Children

Howard Hampton on David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977)

September 2014

IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT, a couple days before the end of 1979. A young woman is driving past a movie theater on Santa Monica Boulevard, going nowhere but away. She argued with a boyfriend while trying to watch an X show at Madame Wong’s: Sick of … READ ON