September-October 1980

Alain Resnais's Mon oncle d'Amérique, Krzysztof Zanussi, Carlos Diegues interviewed, Isabelle Huppert interviewed, the Renata Adler-Pauline Kael battle, Raymond Durgnat and Scott Simmon on Westerns, Cannes 1980, Icelandic cinema, zoom lenses, Peter Sellers, Jonathan Demme

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French Uncles
My American Uncle is an investigation into the theories of Prof. Henri Laborit—and perhaps the funniest, best-made new film shown this year at Cannes. Jan Dawson probes the film’s mind and heart. And Annette Insdorf talks with My Uncle‘s author, Jean Gruault, about his collaboration not only with director Alain Resnais but with Godard, Rossellini, Truffaut, and Jacques Rivette.

N.Y. Festival Preview
This fall’s Festival doesn’t have a lot of art-household names, but there are some filmmakers worth discovering. Krzysztof Zanussi is the Polish physicist turned movie metaphysician; Peter Cowie looks at his career. Carlos Diegues, the father of Brazil’s Cinema Novo, talks with Dan Yakir. Isabelle Huppert is the French actress who may soon be a Hollywood star; she entertains Lawrence O’Toole’s questions.

Summertime Blues
This was the summer of our discontent. Critics got so hot and bored they sniped at each other (Richard Corliss on the Renata Adler-Pauline Kael hoohah). The films were mostly tepid remakes of not-so-classic old movies (Stephen Harvey). Only Dressed to Kill won much critical praise—and George Morris didn’t like it.

The Western’s 6 Creeds
Mention the Western, and the average moviegoer thinks of John Wayne. Auteurists think of John Ford and Howard Hawks. But according to Raymond Durgnat and Scott Simmon, Western movies owe much to such tenderfoots as Thomas Jefferson, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Stagecoach, Union Pacific, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance were picture textbooks on laissez-faire populism, Puritanism, and the survival of the fastest gun. They were persuasive propaganda—and, just as often, terrific movies.

Journals
Mary Corliss on a minor year at Cannes and a major loss to film criticism. Larry Kardish discovers a brand new national cinema—in Iceland.

The Bionic Eye
While film classicists bad-mouth the zoom lens, more and more directors are using it in provocative new ways. John Belton and Lyle Tector analyze the zoom boom and its surprisingly honorable place in film history.

The Conventions on TV
The Republicans staged a coronation, the Democrats held a state funeral—and Richard Schickel and Frank Rich, for their sins, watched it all.

The Rest Is Sellers
From Chief Goon to Chauncey Gardiner, Peter Sellers spent thirty years in the public eye without ever quite being there. By David Thomson.

Jonathan Demme
The director of Citizens Band and Melvin and Howard talks with Carlos Clarens.

Books
Dave Kehr thumbs through Richard Roud’s Cinema: A Critical Dictionary, and gives a cautious thumbs-up.

Independents
Amos Vogel pays tribute to Global Village, Boris Kaufman, and Len Lye.

Letters
Our readers strike back.

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