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Archive for October 10th, 2013

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by Shubhajit Lahiri

Westerns, film noirs and gangster films were three of the most iconic contributions of American cinema. On initial glance the three might not seem reconcilable, but, in essence a few chords do relate them. Machismo and masculinity, for instance, can be found in all the three, as do growing nihilism and cynicism, trenchant socio-political contextualization (intended or otherwise) and how it shapes its protagonists and antagonists, the concepts of ‘lone wolf’ and underhanded heroism, and so forth. Consequently, it deserves attention when a filmmaker manages to reconcile the three without any palpable display of forcefulness or discomfort. What might surprise one, though, is that André De Toth, despite not being someone who comes to mind immediately when one thinks of all the famous and/or iconic American filmmakers, managed to achieve that so seamlessly and memorably.

Day of the Outlaw, De Toth’s astounding last Western, was one of the finest fusions of the genre’s setting and themes with noirish sensibilities and tone, and gangster elements – most notably the invariable comeuppance, that I’ve seen. On one hand it placed a lone wolf at odds with the changing times and evolving civilization around him, while on the other it showed how fragile any society, at the end of the day, essentially is at the face of primal forces. It also made terrific use of harsh Wyoming winter to complement its relentlessly bleak tone and ambivalent characters. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

I just heard the sad news of Stanley Kauffmann’s passing in Manhattan last night at the age of 97.  The dean of film criticism, Kauffmann wrote reviews for The New Republic for well over 50 years, most of which were subsequently included in published volumes, starting with A World of Film.  During my college years I discovered Kauffmann, and through my life I have repeatedly identified him as my favorite cinema scribe of all-time, and have returned to his criticism over decades all the way to the present day.  Obviously he lived a very long time, and no doubt his demise was hastened by the death of his wife last year after a marriage of 70 years.

His passing does represent the end of an era in more ways than one, though one will always marvel that his reviews were still being published just months before his passing.  He was one of the titans and he always resisted the brawling so embraced by his colleagues Kael, Sarris, Simon and MacDonald.

I will have more to say on the coming MMD.

R.I.P.

Here is the announcement in The New Republic:

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115090/tribute-stanley-kauffmann

 

And here is a moving tribute from Time colleague Richard Corliss:

http://entertainment.time.com/2013/10/09/stanley-kauffmann-the-old-master-of-movie-criticism/

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