Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas (dir. Wim Wenders, 1984)

Harry Dean Stanton has been a prominent presence in American cinema for sixty years. In the early days he haunted the margins of classic films like Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II (1974) where we glimpse him playing pool, or sitting behind Frankie Pentangeli during an FBI hearing. He is unforgettable as the grumbling engineer in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), “right”? And it didn’t take long for this masterful character actor to find his way to the forefront. My favourite Stanton performance is his role as the lead in Wim Wenders’ 1984 film Paris, Texas. But there are also noteworthy appearances in several David Lynch projects: from Wild at Heart (1990), Twin Peaks: Fear Walk With Me (1992), to the ailing brother in The Straight Story (1999), to his appearance in the wilfully bizarre short film The Cowboy and the Frenchman (1988). And that’s to say nothing of his work with directors like John Huston or Martin Scorsese. An impressive body of work. Happy birthday!

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Michael Herr, the writer famous for authoring the gritty Vietnam War testimonial Dispatches, has died at 76, after a long bout with illness according to Knopf, his former publisher. (more…)

On set in San Francisco
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On the set of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (1974). Coppola pictured with Gene Hackman, right.

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Critics respond to Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2014 film, the first adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel

Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)

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Uncorrected Proof of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice

After a publishing career of more than 50 years, Thomas Pynchon has finally allowed one of his novels to be filmed. Inherent Vice, which has been adapted and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is all about a stoner private detective named Larry “Doc” Sportello in 1970 southern California, called in by an ex-girlfriend to investigate the sinister disappearance of her married lover. It is an occult mystery upon which Doc attempts to shed light using the torch he still carries for her.

The resulting movie is a delirious triumph: a stylish-squared meeting of creative minds, a swirl of hypnosis and symbiosis, with Pynchon’s prose partly assigned to a narrating character and partly diversified into funky dialogue exchanges. Each enigmatic narrative development is a twist of the psychedelic kaleidoscope. (more…)

An abridgement of Simon Critchley’s landmark essay on the 1999 film
Wittgenstein asks a question, which sounds like the first line of a joke: ‘How does one philosopher address another?’ To which the unfunny and perplexing riposte is: ‘Take your time’. Terrence Malick is evidently someone who takes his time. Since his first movie, Badlands, was premiered at the New York Film Festival in 1973, he has directed just two more: Days of Heaven, in 1979, and then nearly a 20 year gap until the long-awaited 1998 movie, The Thin Red Line, which is the topic of this essay.

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