Thom Anderson went to USC with George Lucas

More of the apparently prolific Thom Andersen after the jump

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Paul Lynde Halloween Special

Courtesy of Battleship Pretension

Kehr’s Weekly Recap: Phantasm (1979)

A spotty little horror movie (1979), effective here and there through some appealing eccentricities. Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep) served as writer, director, cinematographer, and editor, showing a fair amount of raw ability and suggesting, at times, a disciplined Brian De Palma. The film was produced entirely in Oregon, and its regional peculiarities add some outside interest. 87 min.

54 seconds with Dave Kehr

Kehr’s Weekly Recap: Explorers (1985)

Joe Dante‘s 1985 film seems to crystallize the tragic position of a strong directorial personality in the assembly-line 80s. With one hand, he builds up a slick, pseudo-Spielberg fantasy about a 12-year-old’s innocent dreams of reaching the stars; with the other, he slashes into the burnished, sentimental drama he has worked so hard to create with a savage satire that exposes those innocent dreams as grubby, media-induced hallucinations. When our hero (Ethan Hawke) and his two buddies (River Phoenix and Jason Presson) do reach the great unknown, it turns out to be a gyp — a drab, awful place populated by creatures even more cretinous and childish than those they left back on earth. But where Dante’s cynicism ultimately carried the day over Spielberg’s piousness in Gremlins, Explorers remains a hopelessly schizophrenic film, obscenely eager to compromise its own originality. With Dick Miller and Robert Picardo.

Kehr’s Weekly Recap: Ordet (1955)

Carl Dreyer‘s great 1955 film is concerned with the moral and metaphysical shadings of love: Is it a thing of sex or of the spirit? A force of repression and control or a promise of infinite expansion? A farmwife dies; her brother-in-law, a failed preacher, promises to raise her from the dead. The conflict is crystallized in a famous exchange of dialogue (from Kaj Munk‘s play), when the father, trying to comfort his widowed son, says, “She is no longer here . . . she is in heaven.” The son replies, “Yes, but I loved her body too.” Dreyer’s direction has been described as too theatrical, perhaps because the action is largely confined to the farmhouse set, yet the spatial explorations of his camera and cutting are profoundly cinematic and expressive. The film is extremely sensual in its spareness, a paradox always at the center of Dreyer’s work.

Kehr’s Weekly Recap: The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936)

Political filmmakers everywhere could learn a lot from Jean Renoir‘s 1936 classic, made as his contribution to France’s Popular Front. Monsieur Lange (Rene Lefevre), a meek employee of a Paris publishing house, passes his spare time writing the adventures of “Arizona Jim,” a rugged American cowboy hero. His boss, Batala (a masterpiece of ham acting by Jules Berry), steals the rights to Lange’s stories and prints them. Providence steps in when Lange learns that Batala has been killed in a train wreck, allowing Lange and his coworkers to form a cooperative and publish the stories themselves. But Batala returns, dressed as a priest and demanding his cut. Jacques Prevert‘s screenplay has wit and economy, but it is the multiplicity of points of view implied in Renoir’s fluid direction that lifts the film from propaganda to art. In French with subtitles. 85 min.

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