Saturday, July 1, 2006

On Revivals

Film critic Jeffrey M. Anderson just published an article about revivals - older films currently being shown around the country. His thoughts appeared on Cinematical - a film blog. Anderson had this to say.
I'd like to take a moment, if I may, to talk about revivals. It's a dirty word to most critics, and an even greater number of editors. "Why should we bother reviewing an old movie?" they ask. You'd think it would be a prerequisite for the job, but the sad truth is that most critics have very little notion of film history; they're out there flying blind. . . .

There are four older movies currently on the charts: Carol Reed's The Fallen Idol (1948) is on 2 screens with a $104,000 gross after 20 weeks. Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows (1969) is on 6 screens with a gross of $330,000 after 9 weeks. Claude Sautet's Classe tous risques (1960) is hanging on after 30 weeks with $91,000, and G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box (1928) just opened on 1 screen. . . . 

Right now, I can't think of a better current release than Melville's Army of Shadows (except maybe Hou Hsiao-hsien's Three Times). It's an exciting, if grim and unflagging portrait of war and the ultimate fruitlessness of it all. Its more brave and clever than nearly any war movie made since. Similarly, Pandora's Box is one of the most vivid, luminous pictures from the silent era, thanks mostly to the presence of Ms. Louise Brooks. Each time I see the film, I find it difficult to suppress a gasp when she appears on screen. She's still more striking than many of today's stars. . . .

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