Originally published on The Solute

Listen: Eraserhead has come unstuck in time.

It’s autumn, 2012. I’m lying on a bed in a dorm room in Tennessee across from my roommate’s life-sized poster of himself. I’m watching Eraserhead on a laptop, on Hulu — they still have access to the Criterion Collection.

It’s 1970. David Lynch comes up with a story about Henry, a man struggling with his horrible nightmare baby (“They’re still not sure it is a baby!”) in a horrible nightmare world, based on his actual dreams and daydreams. …

Originally published on The Solute
Europa ’51
is the best argument for creative marriages. It’s one of six films the great Roberto Rossellini made with his wife, the equally great Ingrid Bergman. Rossellini finds the beauty and drama in Bergman’s face the way only someone who’s learned to love her can. He makes everyone see the beauty he’s found there.

Bergman and Rossellini are in true collaboration here, not just in the way he directs her performance, but in the way he organizes the visuals. She glows with spiritual light after her awakening, with Rossellini’s lighting sometimes, subtly, creating a…

Originally published on The Solute

The ’70s and ’80s are often called a “dark age” for animation. That’s true in some ways. It was certainly true for the kings of animation over at Disney, which had fallen so far after Walt’s death that their The Black Cauldron got clobbered at the box office by a Care Bears movie. And most other studios were out too, as the changing moviegoing habits of the post-TV world killed the short cartoon format.

But when the cat’s away the mice will play (or maybe the cat would be the Mouse in this metaphor? Anyway)…

The Lady in the Radiator
The Lady in the Radiator

Originally published on The Solute

It’s 1977. David Lynch films a “trailer” that doesn’t actually tell you anything about the movie. Instead, he’s just sitting on a couch with a bunch of Woody Woodpecker dolls. “These guys aren’t just a bunch of goofballs,” he says. “They know that there’s plenty of suffering in the world. They spent many years with hooks in their backs up on Sunset Boulevard. But they tell me there’s this all-pervading happiness underneath everything.”

It’s hard to get that sense from most of Lynch’s films, but especially from Eraserhead. (He’d later say his “boys” “are not…

Originally published on The Solute

A Bridge Too Far doesn’t really have much in common with Star Wars, but in a way, that’s exactly what makes it so relevant here. If Star Wars revived old genres for a new audience, Bridge was the last gasp of a style of action filmmaking whose time had passed. It’s a World War II epic that relies, like Airport, on star power to get butts in seats. …

Originally published on The Solute

As far as action stars go, though, the ’70s didn’t have a bigger one than Clint Eastwood. Like his successor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the man was practically a genre unto himself. If you saw his name above the title, you knew exactly what you were getting: A gritty world and a grim, taciturn antihero, the farthest thing from wide-eyed Luke Skywalker.

The Gauntlet saw him both in front of and behind the camera, playing a burnout, alcoholic cop tasked with taking a witness, Sondra Locke, from Vegas to Phoenix. But a whole lot of people don’t…

Originally published on The Solute

King Kong was far from the last attempt to jump on the Jaws bandwagon. Columbia thought they’d cracked the code by adapting another novel from Jaws author Peter Benchley and casting Captain Quint himself, Robert Shaw, to make The Deep. They even ripped off the iconic Jaws poster with a woman, instead of a shark, swimming up to the surface.

Originally published on The Solute

Before Star Wars proved they could be big business, sci-fi and fantasy were the province of hippies and freaks, and Wizards is one of the last artifacts of that time.

As befits a director who got his start animating R. Crumb’s Fritz the Cat, Ralph Bakshi goes to the world of underground comix for inspiration on Wizards — this time to the sword-and-sorcery fantasies of artists like Richard Corben, Wally Wood, and Vaughn Bodé, which were full of the kind of sex and violence even George R.R. Martin could only dream of.

Wizards has the…

Originally published on The Solute

Star Wars has become the tree that’s impossible to see for the forest. It’s ceased to be a movie because it’s become something both more and lesser — a franchise, a fandom, a massive corporate entity. All that makes it hard to appreciate just what George Lucas accomplished, especially now that his legacy has been tarnished by his attempt to rebottle the genie with his prequels and he’s been kicked out of the world he created entirely.

Star Wars has been so endless imitated by many, if not most, of the movies that have followed…

The reception to Europe ’51 proved its point. Rossellini received a letter direct from the Italian president demanding cuts. Before her awakening, we see Irene’s discomfort with political concerns by trying to divert a political battle with her bourgeois etiquette in seating the different factions to minimize conflict. President Enrico De Nicoli obviously shared her discomfort, demanding the conversation be excised, particularly objecting to Irene’s description of the Communist as “the dove of peace.”

Meanwhile, Communists objected to a brilliant scene where Irene is horrified by the dehumanizing conditions of the factory when she fills in for Giulietta Masina’s character…

Sam Scott

Features writer at Looper and staff writer and editor at The Solute twitter.com/BurgundySuit

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