The Culture of Celebrity
It was the movies, not Andy Warhol, that created a world in which everyone suddenly wanted to be famous for 15 minutes—where the story of a star’s life was the real subject of cinema, and imitation was the sincerest form of celebrity worship. In an eloquent and far-reaching essay, Richard Schickel surveys the culture of celebrity, from the birth of a notion in D. W. Griffith’s close ups to its modernist flowering in the exemplary and troubling career of Marlon Brando.
David Lean’s Right of Passage
Sam Peckinpah and Luchino Visconti were closet admirers of his work. Manny Farber praised his craftsmanship as far back as 1942. Now David Lean returns from critical exile to win laurels for A Passage to India, notably from Michael Sragow in a perceptive career review. Harlan Kennedy has further thoughts on Lean, and interviews the old-lion director.
Midsection: François Truffaut
François Truffaut died in October at 52. He lives in these tributes: from Richard T. Jameson, who isolates Truffaut’s genius as a manipulator of screen space and sexual obsession; from Steven Spielberg, who directed the director in Close Encounters of the Third Kind; from seven actors and filmmakers whose paths he crossed and illuminated; and from Todd McCarthy, whom Truffaut befriended in Hollywood. The director also lives in a 1981 interview with Dan Yakir, radiating Truffaut’s erudition and grace.
The 1984 Movie Revue
At year’s end, some look forward, some look back. With our famous peripheral vision, we do both. Fast forward in interviews with three young directors of exceptional promise and achievement: Jim Jarmusch of Stranger Than Paradise (Harlan Jacobson), James Cameron of The Terminator (David Chute), and David Lynch of Dune (Jeff Griswold). Flashback with nine 10-Best lists for 1984 and Stephen Harvey’s annual bouquet of raspberries, 1984 and All That. Backward and forward for Anne Thompson’s dip into the hot skinny on this year’s Academy Award nominations.
Marcia Froelke Coburn on the set of Runaway with Tom Selleck (awesome) and Michael Crichton (total genius—it’s a proven fact). Harlan Kennedy at Taormina, where the films were as explosive as the volcano. Mary Corliss in Toronto, where Warren Beatty was nearly upstaged by Mother’s Meat and Freud‘s Flesh.
Amos Vogel pays posthumous honor to Stan VanDerBeek, animator of film and eternal experimenter.
Award-winning (from the L.A. Film Critics) Amadeus now provokes second, third, many thoughts from David Thomson, who sees in Salieri a prototype of the Hollywood deal maker: cynic, gossip, agent provocateur.
James Toback reviews Hollywood Babylon II by Kenneth Anger (“a Louella Parsons in liberated drag”) and Michel Ciment’s book on Stanley Kubrick (“the best book ever put together about a filmmaker”).
Back Page: Cinemacrostic II