Antonioni visually informs Jon Jost’s city portrait, which finds New York (God help it!) resembling L.A.: a sleek, cold surface beneath which apoplexy bubbles and erupts. Where is Woody’s Manhattan (1979), city of jazz and wistful romance?      Only a museum’s Vermeer exhibit allows a humanistic respite from “business as usual”: gallery owners exploiting artists; Wall […]

RIVER’S EDGE (Tim Hunter, 1986)

Based on an actual incident that epitomizes the numbing of sympathy and compassion among (among others) the young during Ronald Reagan’s pathological presidency, Tim Hunter’s shrewd, at times witheringly funny River’s Edge, from a brilliant script by Neal Jimenez, observes a group of U.S. teens who fail to adequately respond to a classmate’s murder by […]

HALLELUJAH! (King Vidor, 1929)

Although initially made as a silent, King Vidor’s most vibrant achievement would remain the finest American film musical until the Astaire-Rogers Swing Time (1936). Its rich use of Negro spirituals and work-songs underscores an absorbing theme: the role of evangelism in exploiting and channeling pain, disappointment and unease in the American landscape—here, in the case […]