directory of world cinema: american independent and sinescope

It’s been pretty busy around these parts and as the summer crawls forward… it’s only going to get busier as the Terry Gilliam book gets finished and a new book project gets started.  I’m not going to say anything publicly about the latter thingy… but it’s exciting and in time I can be more open about it.

First off, I noticed this evening that my comrade from across the pond, UK film academic/editor/writer John Berra, has been interviewed by Jeremy Richey over at his fabulous site Moon in the Gutter.  I was fortunate to have been able to contribute a number of reviews (and an essay on Yakuza cinema) to both of the books that Berra edited (when not teaching film studies at Sheffield Hellam University), Directory of World Cinema: Japan and Directory of World Cinema: American Independent (both published by Intellect).

The book on Japanese films is now available in the UK and will soon be available in the US.  The American Independent book can now be pre-ordered here.

I also want to mention a project that I’m very happy about.  I’m now a contributing editor and resident film critic at the online arts journal Sinescope.  The site just went up Sunday evening and… well, it’s just getting started.  Plenty of wonderful essays already up over there–including my own piece on Quentin Tarantino’s war epic Inglourious Basterds–and I also have a film-oriented blog (He Watched by Night) there too which will include DVD/Blu-ray, theatrical, and movie biz items.  And if you head over there you can read my reviews of the recent superb Criterion Collection releases Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy and Steve McQueen’s remarkable feature-film debut Hunger.

Whew!  Sorry for the self-promotion, but I really wanted to mention those nifty things.  We now return to regular programming…

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on the chisel: act of violence (1948)

Men who saw combat in World War II returned to the good ol’ U.S.A. plagued by dark thoughts.

Many of them understandably couldn’t quite shake the experience.

They came back changed in ways their loved ones couldn’t imagine.

But many of the so-called Greatest Generation did keep it together.

They assimilated back into society with relative ease.

They started families, built up businesses, and kept their dark secrets hidden.

Until someone reminded them of things they’d done.

Things that you’ve trained yourself not to think about because they reveal aspects of your character…

You’ve kept hidden from the people you love more than anything.

And that makes you sick.

Smothered.

Crazy.

Scared.

So you panic and flee…

Deep into the night…

Into the realm of lost souls…

Because there’s nowhere else to go when you hit bottom.

But there are always others to share the pain with…

People who’ve been at the bottom a lot longer than you…

People who’ve seen it all… done questionable things… and will never

judge you for who you are or for what you’ve done in the past.

People you can confess your sins to.

But no one said confessing would necessarily make you feel better.

No one promised that the darkness in you would magically disappear.

You feel swallowed by it all…

Facing the horror within you doesn’t help…

It just devours you even more…

And that’s a punishment worse than death.

So the panic floods your senses all over again…

You can’t live like a trapped animal.

You have to make a drastic decision about your future…

That you no longer have one.

But new friends think differently.

They’re not done with you yet…

They want to give you a helping hand…

They want you to confess your sins a little more…

Because your new friends want to make a deal with you…

Help get you back on your feet, back to where you belong…

Only problem is you don’t fit in like you used to.

But you can try…

Because she is worth it.

It’s time to take a stand and face your problem…

To deal with your demons once and for all.

That’s usually dangerous business though…

Old friends with grudges usually aren’t so forgiving…

Especially when you try to tell them the truth…

And new friends don’t take kindly to chums who renege on beneficial propositions.

You only make…

One more haunted, confused widow.

some of my favorite things #5: the war of the worlds

waroftheworlds

Below is one of my favorite first paragraphs.  Reading it again sends a chill through me and makes me want to spend the rest of the afternoon in the book’s clutches.  Can’t think of a better way to celebrate the birthday of H.G. Wells, can you?

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.