American Cinema

Notes on the 20th Anniversary of Clueless

This month Clueless turned twenty. Amy Heckerling’s film, starring a cast led by Alicia Silverstone, was released in American cinemas from 19 July 1995. It would not appear on movie screens in Europe until the autumn: crossing the Atlantic to arrive in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 20 October, it spent the next six months working its way across the…

Food & Drink on Film: A New Leaf’s Malaga Cooler

When Henry Graham and Henrietta Lowell first meet in Elaine May’s 1971 film A New Leaf, it is over a cup of tea, or rather three cups, and quite literally over them for Henrietta has just spilled all three. ‘Incredibly clumsy woman isn’t she – no wonder she’s doesn’t ride’, utters Henry’s friend Bo, who has problems of his own:…

Elaine May’s A New Leaf (1971)

Henry Graham in A New Leaf is an artist in shades of green: his palette is of money, which he spends not judiciously, but with grace and flair and a firm creative hand. Born into great wealth, his spending is an act of pure self-expression. The trouble is that Henry Graham has overspent, and the cheques which he has passed…

The Unknown Known: The Epistemologies of Errol Morris and Donald Rumsfeld

Errol Morris’s documentary The Unknown Known views the political career of Donald Rumsfeld and his time as US Secretary of Defence between 2001 and 2006. The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival at the end of last August; was given a limited release in the United States on Wednesday; and has been showing at select Picturehouse Cinemas in the UK…

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – starring James Stewart and John Wayne – is often considered the last great film John Ford directed, in a career that comprised around 140 films over a period of fifty years. Released in 1962, Ford would direct only four more feature-length pictures; including one more with his friend and longtime collaborator Wayne, in…

Silver Linings Playbook: Romance by Stealth

Silver Linings Playbook was given a gradual, staggered release in North America. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival early last September; featured at a number of smaller, independent film festivals throughout the United States across October and early November; received a limited release in cinemas in the middle of November; and was finally afforded a wide release towards…

Sound and Meaning in A Serious Man

The Coen brothers, throughout an increasingly acclaimed career, have nevertheless faced frequently the criticism that much of their work is elusive; creative and visually strong, atmospheric, and humorous whether that humour is considered broad, black or satirical, but lacking coherent and sustained themes, convincing character development, and narrative resolution. A Serious Man – with its oblique opening set in a…