My Own Private Cinematheque

The title of this film has been withheld for your viewing pleasure..

It really is so much better when you don't know til the end what they decided to call it.

MOVIES ABOUT MOVIES: They Speak for Themselves

Rarely have movies about movies been officially acknowledged as a cinematic subgenre. And yet, there have been hundreds of them from many different countries and time periods. When watching a movie whose narrative is in some way a reflection on the filmmaking process, most cinephiles can achieve instant orgasms without having to lift a finger. Does the very self-reflective nature of these films make them inherently vain?

The Juvenile Jungle

"J. Edgar Hoover ranked 'the juvenile jungle' right up there with communism as a threat to American freedom."
- Thomas Doherty, Teenagers & Teenpics

The collapse of the studio system in the 1950s and ‘60s has been discussed under many rubrics. One of those rubrics is the rise of youth culture. Exploitation producers like Samuel Katzman and Roger Corman paved the way by making movies that were marketed exclusively towards kids. As films like Rock Around the Clock and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein became surprise hits, the studios followed suit. Suddenly, middle class baby boomer kids, who had Mom and Dad’s allowance to spend, became the prime movie-going audience. The entire cinema industry was revitalized based on the energy of youth, fueled by the simultaneous emergence of Rock ‘N Roll. The initial string of Exploitation “teenpics” influenced the studios to make films like Rebel without a Cause, but they also influenced the emerging European and Asian New Wave filmmakers who shifted the international art cinema’s attention from bourgeois adults to troubled adolescents.

Bourgeois Talk

Larry McMurtry, crotchety old man who wrote Brokeback Mountain and wore jeans to the Academy Awards, has written in depth about the inability of cinema to depict intellectuals and intelligence on-screen. This outlook makes a lot of sense when you consider the common belief that the film medium is inherently made up of visuals and action. As a result, you get intellectuals writing "down," as McMurtry has with Brokeback's inarticulate cowboys and also with films like The Last Picture Show, or as smart actors have, as Marlon Brando was famous for in Streetcar and On the Waterfront. There is something cinematic about inarticulation: characters expressing themselves with their bodies, grunting like cavemen and speaking with their eyes.

And though films with excessive dialogue have always been looked down upon as too "theatrical," especially when they're based on plays, there is a tradition of movies that have cinematically captured intellectualism - the charm, the banter, the power of ideas, the dilemma of the vanguard.

Hollywood Smugglers: How Did They Ever Make a Movie Of...?

Hollywood producers like money, so they court mass audiences. Mass audiences are prude and stupid, so we get shit movies. Such is life.

American film artists have responded to this situation in a number of ways, most notoriously opting out of the Hollywood system all together to produce "independent" films that address specific niche audiences. There is, however, another path: that of the "termite" artists who have worked within Hollywood to subtly subvert conventions with oppositional content and aesthetics.

This series celebrates the oppositional movies that are produced by Hollywood for mass audiences. And when they are released, we wonder... "How Did They Ever Make a Movie Of _______?"

Cinema No Moss

One of my dream jobs is to curate for an art cinema. Of course, it would have to be the art cinema du jour of a major city, frequented by the filmmakers whose films I program. Until then, I will use this as a forum for my series ideas. If any curators out there see something they like, contact me at jeff@cosmodromemag.com.

CINEMA NO MOSS

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