Author: Bridget Foster Reed

 

The Romans were guilty of gossip. Deviants tagged the walls of the city with scandalous messages revealing pregnancies and salacious behavior of others. I remember learning that surprising little known tidbit in my ancient Greek and Roman art history course in college. How could this pristine powerhouse of civilization as pure as the white marble architectural feats they built be associated with something as lowly as gossip?

 

How can the duo of red and green, the charming pair that conjures up Christmas cheer possibly be associated with something as dark as heroin addiction?  On the color wheel, red and green are complimentary colors, meaning when used together, achieve the highest level of intensity and contrast.  Typically, I shy away from the use of red and green in my artwork because the viewer’s association with Christmas is so instantaneous and unavoidable.  It is an immense undertaking to reassign that symbolic association, but director David Cronenberg succeeds in appropriating red and green as a device to illustrate the effects of heroin in the film adaptation of Naked Lunch (also a feat in itself as the novel by William S. Burroughs was billed as “unfilmable.”)

November 21, 2014 / / Main Slate Archive

 

Despite the political ramifications of A REPORT ON THE PARTY AND THE GUESTS (1966), its relevance transcends any historical time period, geographical location or cultural identity. The viewer of this film is not merely a bystander or onlooker, as is the case in nearly every film. This film, rather forcefully, invites your active participation in the central plot and resolution.

 

To the untrained eye, the classification of a film as a B-movie is the kiss of death for any film, with its natural habitat being filler for daytime television stations. If it weren’t for my mother championing the worth of the dreaded B-movie I would have avoided them for the foreseeable future.

 

The cover of Esquire Magazine, Issue no. 414, in May 1968 featured Richard Nixon’s mug with a bevy of busy hands in the midst of applying an array of beauty products with the headline: “Nixon’s last chance. (This time he’d better look right!).

 

Editor’s Note: To coincide with our monthly Elements of Cinema series, we will periodically present essays discussing various aspects of filmmaking. 

Jack Nicholson as Michael Corleone. Marilyn Monroe as Holly Golightly. Frank Sinatra as Dirty Harry. These three hypothetical scenarios demonstrate the complexities of casting an actor for a role. Nicholson was offered THE GODFATHER part, which eventually went to Al Pacino, but turned it down believing “Indians should play roles written for Indians and Italians should do the same” (Nicholson is of Irish descent). Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, desperately lobbied for Monroe to play the iconic role of Holly Golightly. Monroe was cast but dropped out due to fear of the role of a flighty and loose call girl harming her image. Despite Audrey Hepburn’s image in the Black Givenchy dress, Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses and strands of Tiffany’s became iconic, she felt quite uncomfortable in Truman Capote’s presence, knowing he did not approve of her playing the part he intended for Monroe. And Frank Sinatra’s reasoning for not playing the part made famous by Clint Eastwood? A broken wrist he sustained from filming THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, which made it impossible for him to handle a gun properly.

 

I was a kleptomaniac in the third grade. I remember it vividly. It seems I did it out of sheer boredom – some needed thrill or excitement in my otherwise non-eventful seven year old existence. For an introvert like me, stealing was the perfect solitary game. The rules were simple: play until you got caught. As a youth I was immune to any serious form of punishment so the risk-reward was in my favor.

 

I intentionally watched THE HOUR-GLASS SANATORIUM in its native Polish language without English subtitles. I don’t speak a lick of Polish. I was aware that a surrealist film of this caliber would most likely rely on some sort of philosophical dialogue that would spark an internal debate about the human condition. From my experiences as an artist and with other surrealist films, (i.e. Ingmar Bergman) I knew that I could rely on my other senses to extract meaning.

December 23, 2013 / / Main Slate Archive

 

UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG puts other musicals to shame. When I read that every word of dialogue was sung I didn’t believe it. Yet sure enough, this film ditches the dull dialogue in favor of a screenplay sung in its entirety. For a film that appears on the surface to be a mere piece of cinematic fluff, UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG consciously parodies classic American musicals and subsequently pulls inspiration from Pop Art.