Cinema: A Critical Dictionary

The publication industry surrounding film studies is incredibly constrained by time. Books go in and out of print faster than you can look up last weekend’s box office gross. Because of this, I’ve enjoyed purchasing the bulk of my film books from used and second-hand bookstores. There has been a lot of good critical and historical analysis written about the movies, especially since the ’60s and the rise of film academia, and many wonderful books still exist in dark, dusty corners of neighborhood bookstores.

Recently, I came across one such findóCinema: A Critical Dictionary edited by Richard Roud, which …

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Kieslowski, von Trier, Jancs?

Updates to the site have been slow the past week, but that’s because I’ve been temporarily focused on an article I’m writing for the online journal Senses of Cinema regarding the career of Krzysztof Kieslowski (see my blog entry for May 28). As such, I’ve had the pleasure of revisiting his earlier features Personel (1975), Camera Buff (1979), Blind Chance (1982), and No End (1985), as well as various books and documentaries. A new Region 2 DVD box set in France includes the latter three films as well as The Scar (1976), but without English subtitles. Stay tuned for my …

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Amnesty International Filmfest


Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Amnesty International Film Festival in West Hollywood. It was a collection of revealing documentaries and short films covering a wide range of topics that US audiences seldom get a chance to see. None of the films were produced by Amnesty, who merely programmed the series. The following are personal summaries of the screenings I attended with links to more information:


Hidden in Plain Sight (2003, USA)


Previously, Robert Richter’s series of documentaries, School of Assassins (1994), Father Roy: Inside the School of the Assassins (1997), and Crossing the Line (1999) were …

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Carl Th. Dreyer

Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889-1968) was a monumental figure in the history of cinema, making only a few films which transformed the medium. The National Film Theatre in London is gearing up for an extensive retrospective of his work, ranging from the silent era (The President, Leaves from Satan’s Book, Once Upon a Time, The Parson’s Widow, Love One Another, Michael, Master of the House, The Bride of Glomdal, and The Passion of Joan of Arc) to his rarely-screened, state-sponsored shorts and documentaries to his sound features (Vampyr, Day of Wrath, Two People, Ordet, and Gertrud). If …

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The Decalogue

While snooping around the Facets Multi-Media website, I stumbled across an announcement for their August 19 special edition video rerelease of The Decalogue (1987), Krzysztof Kieslowski‘s masterly film series originally made for Polish TV and subsequently made famous through its appearances at film festivals around the world. It’s a collection of ten, one-hour films based loosely on the ethical precepts of the Ten Commandments, and the films are noted for their striking cinematography, nuanced performances, and gripping dramaturgy.

The original DVD/VHS from Facets (released in 2001) has been out-of-print for some time and regularly sells for high prices on …

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Documentaries…

The last few weeks have offered a slew of notable documentaries: Rivers and Tides, The Stone Reader, Stevie, and Winged Migration.

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing the highly entertaining documentary, Spellbound (2002), which follows eight children as they compete in regional spelling bees and culminates with their face-off at the 1999 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. The film manages to sketch their individual personalities and their relationship with their families while offering some cultural analysis along the way. America has been obsessed with the concept of the spelling bee …

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