Author: Whit Denton

Criterion Discovery: Dont Look Back

Background Dont Look Back (Spine #786) is one of the greatest “rock docs” of film history (practically inventing the subgenre), and likely the most famous of director D.A. Pennebaker’s cinematic oeuvre. It is the fourth film of Pennebaker’s in the collection, the others being The War Room (#602), Monterey Pop (Spine #168), and Jimi Plays Monterey & Shake! Otis at Monterey (#169). Story The documentary covers Dylan’s 1965 tour in England, focusing on the minutiae of his time across the pond: his sparring with journalists, his conversations with roadies, and his thoughts on life in general. The Film Dont...

Read More

Is it Still Great: The Departed 10 Years Later

Time is a force like battery acid, corrosive. Frequently, films are released to raves and fawning admiration, only to soon fall into obscurity, hardly seen purposefully by anyone except maybe the Turner Classic Movies guy. Other times films will be positively received initially, and then quickly become nearly universally despised, touted as “overrated tripe” or the even more cutting, “lame.” For a cinephile, to see any film, even the most overrated and lame of them all, succumb to a fate like this is a depressing and dispiriting thing to witness. To see a truly great film, a film that...

Read More

Stand By Me 30 Years Later: How Does Nostalgia Age?

When we first see Gordie LaChance , it is autumn, a time of endings, of dying things. He gazes aimlessly out of his car window, his face blank with memory. As the daylight begins to wane in the rural field around him, he watches a few young kids putter along innocently on bicycles. He has grown old. Stand By Me is so clearly a film borne out of wistful reflection that this opening series of shots establishing the somber Richard Dreyfuss as Gordie LaChance, The Writer behind this story, is hardly necessary. From the dreamy soft lighting to the...

Read More

Truth In Brian De Palma’s Blow Out 35 Years Later

A common topic for artists when speaking of their work is this amorphous and kind of indefinable idea of truth. The unspoken tenets of art seem to call for this truth, or verisimilitude, that transcends a work from just something someone made, to a divine object of a cultural significance few people have ever seen. What a strange notion, this idea of truth? There are few things more elaborately and deliberately untruthful than art. Film, especially, is a particularly deceptive and sneaky art form. It is so carefully put together, each of its elements picked and chosen to fit...

Read More

Making a Brick: Richard Linklater’s Slacker 25 Years Later

When James Joyce first published his now celestial-seeming classic novel Ulysses, he was asked why he put so much effort into the specifics of the book’s geography, focusing a great amount of text on street names and building placements and so forth. In his reply, Joyce articulated that “if I can get to the heart of Dublin, I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.” For Joyce, getting all the details of Dublin with a certain painstaking exaction was essential, for if he could do that, he could...

Read More