Nabokov On Screen

John Colapinto looks beyond Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita to other adaptations of Vladimir Nabokov: [When] another Nabokov novel hit the screen [in 1978] … it was, again, one of the dark-comic masterpieces from the author’s sojourn in Berlin in the nineteen-thirties: “Despair,” a novel whose plot seems tailored to a high-concept, one-sentence Hollywood pitch: “Man meets his double, swaps … Continue reading Nabokov On Screen

A Short Film For Saturday: A Little Chaos

Paul Gallagher recommends Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s short film Das kleine Chaos (A Little Chaos), above. He sees the influence of Godard and Bertolt Brecht: The story concerns three young wannabe criminals, who take their lead from the b&w gangster films of 1940’s and ‘50’s Hollywood. Made in 1966, it’s an assured and highly stylish nine minutes … Continue reading A Short Film For Saturday: A Little Chaos

The Cinematic Canon

The highly-esteemed Sight & Sound poll, from the British Film Institute, just released a new list of the 50 greatest films of all time. Hitchcock's Vertigo has ended the 50-year reign of Citizen Kane. Ebert questions the list's lack of contemporary additions:

What surprised me this year is–how little I was surprised. I believed a generational shift was taking place, and that as the critics I grew up with faded away, young blood would add new names to the list. Kieslowski, perhaps. Herzog. Fassbinder. Scorsese. Lynch. Wong Kar-Wei. What has happened is the opposite. This year's 846 voters looked further into the past. The most recent film in the critics' top ten, as it has been for years, is Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968). The two new films are silent: Vertov's "Man With a Movie Camera" (1929), and Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (1928). Murnau's great silent "Sunrise" (1927) is also on the list–three silents out of ten, and no Chaplin, Keaton or Eisenstein.

Ebert's personal submissions here.  David Edelstein's top ten here.  Sight & Sound's Ian Christie explains how the 10-year poll has evolved:

So does 2012 – the first poll to be conducted since the internet became almost certainly the main channel of communication about films – mark a revolution in taste, such as happened in 1962? Back then a brand-new film, Antonioni’s L’avventura, vaulted into second place. If there was going to be an equivalent today, it might have been Malick’s The Tree of Life, which only polled one vote less than the last title in the top 100.

Dana Stevens takes issue with the idea of a canon:

“TV Dramas That Suck Years Out Of Your Life”

Number 94 on the You Aught To Remember countdown:

Remember the good old days? The days when you could turn on prime-time television at 9:00 or 10:00 PM and catch an arresting hour-long drama mid-season and feel thoroughly entertained? Oh sure, maybe you didn't know all the character's names on ER or what exactly was going on between Harry Hamlin and Susan Dey on LA LAW but, you could pretty much tune in any night and enjoy a well-constructed program. Other shows required even less dedication; The Twilight Zone, Quantum Leap or Law & Order (in any of its many incarnations) could be watched in whatever sequence one wished-you always knew Jerry Orbach's mordant one-liners would be the same. The model made sense; after all, television viewing was a casual activity – prone to whims of channel surfing and audience distraction (not to mention toilet breaks). Dramas that forced a deep commitment of time and mental energy on the viewer simply selected themselves out of candidacy for Neilsen glory. Not any more.

The Atlantic's Ben Schwarz also explores the "megamovie" in his recent review of Mad Men: