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Glenn Kenny
Film writer, formerly of Premiere magazine and .com. Reach me at
Recent Activity
I think both Alexei German's Hard To Be A God (above) and Abderrahamane Sisako's Timbuktu are masterpieces, but they're also films that demonstrate the necessary elasticity of the possibly overused term. German's film, decades in the making, insistently unpleasant if not harrowing, replete with narrative difficulty and sleeve-tugging if not wedgie-pulling subtext, a meticulous immersion into an awful created world that's a mirror of our own, feels very much like a magnum opus. Sisako's film,... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Some Came Running
This week, for, I explain why I'm not as crazy about Peter Strickland's The Duke of Burgundy (from which the above pretty picture derives) as a person like myself perhaps ought to be. And it gets more problematic from there, with reviews of the George-Lucas-originated (or perhaps the correct word is "misbegotten") Strange Magic, and finally, the execrable Mommy, from Xavier Dolan, who puts the English-language "terrible" into "enfant terrible." Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2015 at Some Came Running
Dear Professional Film Critic, does the movie American Sniper really “glorify a killer?” Well, gosh, you put it that way, it sounds pretty terrible. But some outlets and individuals are using that term to frame the movie, so… Anyway, here’s the thing. American Sniper does take the war in Iraq at face value, as in it was a war and that the United States was within its right to wage it and all that. And,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2015 at Some Came Running
When I saw Ava DuVernay’s Selma last December, I, like many other critics, was terrifically taken with it. And I was also a little surprised. I was not surprised that it was good—DuVernay’s 2012 Middle of Nowhere demonstrated she had both considerable talent and considerable perspective—but at the way it was good. DuVernay stuck to her metaphorical guns with respect to perspective and declined to deliver a Great Man biopic. Instead she wove a drama... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2015 at Some Came Running
Against Jerry Lewis in Hollywood Or Bust, Frank Tashlin, 1956. Ekberg, who died yesterday at age 83, is the first of Bob Dylan's "Country'll Grow" trinity to shuffle off this mortal coil. To call her the poster girl for the Male Gaze is both somewhat apt and entirely reductive. Nevertheless, here is a rendering of her mouth as it appears on a giant advertisement for Call Me Bwana in From Russia With Love. Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2015 at Some Came Running
Ricardo Montalban in Battleground. For some reason, I thought that it might be fun over the Christmas holiday to give myself more work. With little to nothing going on in terms of “real” work during this period, I figured I’d go on a sort of cinema vacation: revisit a group of films just for the hell of it. Actually, only partially for the hell of it; I thought, the better to revive the enthusiasms that... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2015 at Some Came Running
In Zabriskie Point, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, 1970. With G.D. Spradlin and an unknown actress. Actors as a rule don't get to choose their directors but Taylor had the appeal, talent, and luck to get him chosen by a bunch of the greatest: George Stevens (Taylor's in Giant, briefly); John Ford/Jack Cardiff, then Cardiff solo; Hitchcock, Tashlin, M.A., and...Generally Quite Good director Quentin Tarantino eventually. Richard Quine, Burt Kennedy, and Edward Dmytryk were no slouches... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2015 at Some Came Running
The perennial girl and two guns. Scarlett Johansson in Lucy (#36). My friend Mark Harris wrote one of the more compelling and convincing impending-death-of-cinema essays recently; it was published on Grantland. A necessary response to the never-satisfied "there aren't really THAT many comic book movies" claque, it outlines a studio-movie future of Nothing But Franchises. As Charles Scorsese said in Goodfellas, and I'm paraphrasing here, there's nothing nobody can do about it, at least given... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2014 at Some Came Running
"Butterball" Paige and his Bigsby guitar, at left, with Ernest Tubb to Paige's left. Over the past couple of months I've been working with my friends at Retrofret Vintage Guitars, helping out with its newsletter and website. Lots of exciting things happen at that place, particularly if you're a guitar geek; what I've been doing with them is some writing designed to draw folks with a moderate to strong interest in the subject over to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2014 at Some Came Running
“He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” Hunter S. Thompson used that Samuel Johnson observation as the epigraph for his 1971 Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and one of the many things Thompson achieved in that ruthless work was in revealing the pain that even good men are capable of inflicting once they’ve made beasts of themselves. It’s not for nothing that Terry Gilliam, adapting... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2014 at Some Came Running
Today, for Wondering Sound, I speak with Paul Thomas Anderson about the music in his new film Inherent Vice, and in all of his other films. I'm pretty happy with the piece and was happier still to speak with Anderson, who's all kinds of smart and engaging and also, in my estimation, a great filmmaker. And Inherent Vice is, for this film critic, the movie of the year. In the opening of my piece, I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2014 at Some Came Running
Water and script pages, Here's To The Future, Gina Telaroli, 2014 The young filmmaker Gina Telaroli has a new picture premiering this upcoming Saturday, December 13, at the Migrating Forms festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Here's To The Future! is both an immediately engaging and consistently (playfully) challenging piece of work; I characterize it below as an essay film disguised as a process film. The premise of the movie is simple: Telaroli assembles... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at Some Came Running
Ivan Julian and Robert Quine at a 1978 recording session, photo by Kate Simon. This piece presented some challenges with respect to illustration, as will be evident. After I saw Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave for the first time last fall, I commented to a colleague, “I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to listen to ‘Brown Sugar’ again.” This was both kind of a joke and kind of not. One of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2014 at Some Came Running
This month sees the publication of two novels about both movies and movie love—or movie lust, or movie madness, it all depends on how you look at it, I guess. I am very fond of both of these books and believe you ought to buy them. So there. The first is Missing Reels, by Farran Smith Nehme, published by The Overlook Press. I shall have to disclose my bias here: Farran, who blogs as The... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2014 at Some Came Running
1: First time I saw Jack Bruce play was at the performing arts center at William Paterson College, in 1980, most likely the fall, leading an outfit called Jack Bruce and Friends. I hadn't heard a whole lot of his post-Cream output at the time, and a good deal of what I knew of seemed kind of intimidating to me. But I was also wary of holding him in the reflexive contempt that I still... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2014 at Some Came Running
(Note: this post gives away a number of plot points to both Birdman and Whiplash, so if you're still not conversant with those films and are intent on avoiding "spoilers," you might want to wait until you've seen both films before reading.) In the opening shot of Birdman (the movie’s much-remarked upon formal conceit involves presenting much of the action in the form of a single moving-camera take, but in point of fact the movie... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2014 at Some Came Running
I've neglected to mention in this spot that I'm hosting another film series at the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, this one a study of the cinematic private eye, entitled "Detectives: Good, Bad and Ugly," and tonight I'll be introducing Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep at 6:30. Next Wednesday I'll bring in another Marlowe, an underrated one by my lights, Dick Powell in Murder My Sweet. As the series continues we'll take in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2014 at Some Came Running
I wrote a piece for Gawker, which went up yesterday, about long, ostensibly difficult works of fiction in my recent personal experience, tying it in to a contemporary cultural debate that I find kind of besides any real point even though the majority of my sympathies might be said to fall on the "highbrow" side of it. The response has been gratifyingly positive; even the comments, which can get pretty brutal on the site, have... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2014 at Some Came Running
"and every thang is keeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwllll....ooh lord!..." Back in 1985, when I was beginning my “career” as a relatively feisty and entirely earnest rock critic, I began dating a woman of my own age (25) who worked (as a stockbroker) and lived (in a studio apartment in a cramped arrangement with another woman who wasn’t quite living with her fiancé, and who became so used to my presence in the place that she once inadvertently started... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2014 at Some Came Running
Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel Inherent Vice opens with an epigraph: "Under the paving stones, the beach!" which the author designates as "Grafitto, Paris, May 1968." The sentiment is frequently credited to the philosophers and activists now called "the Situationists," and beyond the nod to a certain mode of radical thought, the quote's resonance as the novel begins is, depending on how much context you freight the quote with, both melancholy—the events of the book take... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2014 at Some Came Running
Last month the Film Society of Lincoln Center showed, as part of its "Strange Lands: International Sci-Fi" series, Karel Zeman's 1958 Vynálaz zkázy, an unusual live-action/animation hybrid derived from several Jules Verne tales. Well, actually, the Society showed The Fabulous World Of Jules Verne, the English-dubbed and presumably re-edited version of the film that Joseph E. Levine prepared for U.S. release in 1961. That's the only version of the film I've seen—I recall it as... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2014 at Some Came Running
Yes, I do want fries with that: Carla Juri and Some Dude™ in Wetlands This week for I review two very different films with Strong But Troubled Young Female Protagonists in common: The German scandal Wetlands, and the Scottish musical God Help The Girl. Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2014 at Some Came Running
Even skeptics can anticipate. I won't be seeing Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Birdman (a still is above, featuring costars Michael Keaton and Edward Norton) until about a month from now, and of course I'm highly curious, albeit not particularly keen on participating in any "wars" about the thing. As it happens, when the director's last film, Biutiful, was in theaters, I contributed a piece to Film Comment entitled: "This Can't End Well: How We Live Now,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2014 at Some Came Running
WHAT'S GOING ON HERE: Well, when I started writing for last year, around the time MSN Movies closed up shop, I thought maybe I could "monetize" this feature. I'd pitched it around to other revenue-generating sites before, and received...unenthusiastic responses, but my Ebert pals were into it. But it really didn't work out in terms of traffic (thanks Obama) and so we decided my contributions would have to be of a different nature. But...I... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2014 at Some Came Running
Joseph Cotten in Too Much Johnson, shot in 1938 “Much of the pre-Second World War character of Chicago and New York hardly exists anymore. Everybody builds these mirror boxes, and every second front is a front that didn’t exist in the ‘30s. […] I’ve been to New York many times in the last few years, and I have no sense of coming back to a town where I used to live. There’s a little corner... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2014 at Some Came Running