Tag Archives: jonathan demme

Jonathan Demme Introduces “Harold and Maude”

What could be better than watching Harold and Maude on the big screen? How about a funny and touching introduction by Jonathan Demme who reflected on his long term friendship with the film’s late director, Hal Ashby. At one point, taking an informal survey from the crowd, Demme asked who in the audience had never seen Harold and Maude before (a significant number) and who had never seen a Hal Ashby movie before (a relatively small number). Demme flashed a typically warm smile and warned the audience that they were in for quite a treat. Thanks to the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Young Friends of Film series, we got the opportunity to see the 1971 cult classic starring Bud Cort, Ruth Gordon, Cyril Cusack, Vivian Pickles, and Tom Skerritt in a small but unforgettable role. Also intrinsic to the movie’s greatness, the amazing Cat Stevens soundtrack. By the way, Paste Magazine recently published the rumor that the soundtrack will be finally available for the first time; hard to believe but apparently true. Look for it soon.

My Best Films of 2007…Finally!

The days keep going by and I keep delaying this piece, simply because there are too many things to do and not enough hours in the day. I don’t think I can even begin to be as comprehensive as Mike Tully has been and why should I try? Tully is Tully, as the saying goes! In addition to being a wide ranging look at cinema 2007, it’s basically a reference tool for those of us who have occasional holes in our memories and can’t remember all the films we’ve seen. Maybe I should keep a notebook…..
All in all, 2007 was one of the best years I can remember for films and there are still several that have been widly deemed noteworthy that I haven’t seen. So without further babbling, I will now pontificate some, wax rhapsodic some and spew the occasional invective, to wit:
The best film of 2007:
The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, written and directed by Andrew Dominik
This is an extraordinary work of art, full stop. A true American classic (albeit one directed by a Kiwi) and one that, once I get some distance from it, will likely take its place on my all-time top 10 list. (Said list doesn’t really exist of course and would likely be 20-30 strong if it did.) I recently saw the film for a second time and I am begging Manohla Dargis and Kenneth Turan to go and see the film again. I’ve given up on Anthony Lane, Kirk Honeycutt and Lou Lumenick…hopeless, the lot. I mean, Honeycutt liked The Walker, for god’s sake!
I know quite a few devotees of this film and it might take some work to convince them that it actually gets even better on second viewing but it does. It’s an even more layered and nuanced portrayal of celebrity and the desperate urge it stirs in fans. The script is more lyrical and the characters more poetic and tragic.
This is the perfect film to relate to Tom Hall’s post about film length in The Back Row Manifesto. Yes, this film is 160 minutes long and no, I didn’t feel it a bit. This is coming from someone who tends to doze off repeatedly during the day, but this film held my interest, even in Toronto at 9am and hungover. The second viewing was simply just perfect.
In September I made a pledge to eat my hat if it doesn’t get 10 Oscar nominations and I guess I am going to have to break said vow. No way am I eating one of my hats. Who do you think I am, Werner Herzog? As it is, Casey Affleck picked up a nomination for best supporting actor (notwithstanding the fact that his performance is a leading one) and Roger Deakins got one for his stunning cinematography. Both have a chance of winning but of course that would require the Academy voters to actually see the damn film.
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Much more after the jump!

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