Erik Morse

To a pulp

"One-Two Punch" stalks noir from page to screen
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the death of author Cornell Woolrich, darkest of the noir genre's lost souls. Like so many of the milquetoast protagonists who populated his novels, Woolrich died an anonymous and ignoble death in a New York City hotel room. Years of alcohol abuse and a gangrenous leg amputation had left him an amorphous wad of a man. Read more »

Souther-fried nocturne

William Eggleston's lost film Stranded in Canton is an extraordinary exegesis on the ordinary
|
()

A drunkard's lament. A bluesman's wail. The mischievous grin of children. A carnival geek's chicken act. Seething with images of the mundane and transmundane, photographer William Eggleston's lost film Stranded in Canton is an extraordinary exegesis on the ordinary. After 35 years on the museum and midnight movie circuits, Stranded has finally been given a proper DVD release by art publisher Twin Palms. Read more »

Story of the eye

"Brought to Light" charts science and the modern gaze
|
()

> a&eletters@sfbg.com

In "Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible," SFMOMA associate curator of photography Corey Keller assembles an exciting encyclopedia of daguerreotypes, photographs, and X-rays to reconstruct and demonstrate the 19th century education of the eye. Read more »

Bump(s) in the night

Fear(s) of the Dark offers an animated omnibus of juvenile dread
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

In the new animated horror film Fear(s) of the Dark, artistic director Etienne Robial convened some of the most influential graphic artists of the modern era and dared them to respond to a simple question: "What scares you?" Working under minimum guidelines of time limit and color (monochrome was required), the selected comic and graphic novel artisans — including cartoonist Charles Burns, The New Yorker illustrator Blutch, British designer Richard McGuire, and others — produced highly personal vignettes that were wove Read more »

Gore, no?

High Life surfs waves of bloody "gorno"
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

Akashic Books' initial 2002 publication of High Life was not much of a cause célèbre in the larger literary world. But the ultraviolent novel of sex, murder, and scatology in mid-1990s Los Angeles was a definitive moment in the development of the so-called "torture porn" subgenre. As the debut author for Dennis Cooper's Little House on the Bowery imprint, Matthew Stokoe became both a disciple of glorious S-M writers like Cooper, Bret Easton Ellis, and Samuel R. Delany and a centurial groundbreaker. Read more »

Repulsion!

Wanted and Desired takes aim at Roman Polanski and the culture of celebrity
|
()

"I like young women, as do most men, I think," Roman Polanski confesses in the opening sequence of Marina Zenovich's fascinating new documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. Few artists could recite such a controversial preamble as convincingly as this infamous auteur, loved and reviled with equal fervor after a 45-year career. While it focuses on the Hollywood rape scandal that enveloped Polanski in the spring of 1977, and his subsequent flight from the law, Wanted and Desired doesn't portray the oft-demonized director as a villain or a victim. Read more »

A rictal dysfunction

80 years later, The Man Who Laughs is a mutilation masterpiece
|
()

According to Peter Bogdanovich, 1928 remains unique in film history as Hollywood's greatest year. The latter-day American director cites landmark silent film contributions such as King Vidor's The Crowd, Victor Sjöström's The Wind, and Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. as evidence that synchronized sound — first used in 1927's The Jazz Singer — initially limited rather than expanded the cinematic medium. Read more »

"Jim Campbell: Home Movies"

The technophile artist has arrived at a startling depiction of memory and magic
|
()

REVIEW The West Coast electronic artist Jim Campbell returns to the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum to reprise his popular 2006 installation "Home Movies," a screening of amateur, low-resolution family films projected through a tapestry of LED lights. Strung from ceiling to floor, the highly pixilated reflections of quotidian family life become nothing less than digital simulacra when magnified to such extremes. Read more »

Blondells have more fun?

Another look at an enigma from cinema's so-called Golden Age
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

At the start of his 2007 biography Joan Blondell: A Life Between Takes (University Press of Mississippi, 300 pages, $30), film historian Matthew Kennedy introduces the story of one of Hollywood's forgotten actresses by posing a phenomenological question: what does it mean to always be gazed upon?

In describing Jack Warner's golden girl of the 1930s, Kennedy looks to the lineaments of her face and body as the first sign of her success. "The architecture of [Blondell's] mouth, simultaneously sharp and soft, suggested Cupid," he writes. Read more »

Speed Reading

Comics and openers: The Ten Cent Plague and Uncredited
|
()

 

THE TEN CENT PLAGUE: THE GREAT COMIC BOOK SCARE AND HOW IT CHANGED AMERICA

By David Hadju

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

448 pages

$26Read more »