Filmology:
January 28th

“For the next hour, everything you hear from us is really true and based on solid fact.”
Today’s entry from Filmology is F for Fake (1973), Orson Welles’s fascinating bit of cinematic flim-flammery which finds a few solid and unadorned truths amidst a universe full of fakery.
My book, Filmology: A Movie-a-Day Guide to a Complete Film Education, is now for sale in both paperback and ebook formats.

In Theaters:
Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune

Bob Dylan, or at least the idea of him, is the lurking, mocking background chorus in this beautiful, bittersweet look at postwar America’s foremost agitprop singer/songwriter. For all that Phil Ochs could have achieved in his lauded but still overshadowed career, there stands Dylan, the one who came up through the same West Village coffeehouse folk scene but who had no problem jettisoning its politics once he realized that greater commercial reward was there for the taking without the encumbrance of protest. As Christopher Hitchens points out in the film, there was a difference between those who liked Dylan and those who even knew about Ochs — anybody could be into Dylan, Ochs’s songs were for those who cared…

Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune is playing now in limited release; check it out. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.

Filmology:
January 25th

“That dream’s against regulations, soldier.”
Today’s entry from Filmology is Battleground, William Wellman’s moving, rough-edged, and sarcastic film about a platoon mired in the bloody snow during the Battle of the Bulge. It’s a stirring corrective for anybody who thinks that all films of that era were uniformly flag-waving patriotic propaganda.
My book, Filmology: A Movie-a-Day Guide to a Complete Film Education, is now for sale in both paperback and ebook formats.

In Theaters:
A Somewhat Gentle Man

When Ulrik (Stellan Skarsgard) is released from prison at the start of Hans Petter Moland’s wry crime comedy, he looks like something ragged and frozen, a man who’s been left under an emotional tundra from which he never expected to be thawed out. Moland’s film is much the same, shot in a dark and slushy corner of Norway which appears to be mostly industrial wasteland that hasn’t seen the sun or an honest smile in living memory. Just about the only hint of life in the film is the score, which bubbles along with a circus-like humor underneath the surface of this initially very dour, quiet, and uneventful film, reminding us that, yes, indeed, this is a comedy…
A Somewhat Gentle Man is playing now in limited release. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.

Filmology:
January 19th

“My theory is that everyone is a potential murderer.”
Today’s entry from Filmology is Strangers on a Train, Hitchcock’s creepy-fantastic 1951 adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel about doubling, repressed passions, and the occasional murder.
My book, Filmology: A Movie-a-Day Guide to a Complete Film Education, is now for sale in both paperback and ebook formats.

In Film:
“It Was a Very Good Year”
The Social Network
Now that the first decade of the new millennium is done with, despite what the snarking class might say, the state of film is very healthy indeed — even considering atrocities like Sex and the City 2

“It Was A Very Good Year for Film,” a self-explanatory riposte to a 2010-hating article by Joe Queenan, was published at PopMatters.