My Affair with Art House Cinema: Essays and Reviews

Columbia Univ. Jul. 2024. 352p. ISBN 9780231216395. pap. $26. FILM
Movie maven and essayist Lopate (A Year and a Day) offers a compendium of ruminations on selective international and domestic feature films, documentaries, and cinema critics, especially ones within the last quarter century. He favors message movies by unique auteurs and individualistic products rather than collaborative, escapist, or entertainment blockbusters. Alphabetized by the last name of directors, his book of 50+ essays encourages serendipitous—instead of page-by-page—reading and discusses artistic or experimental films such as those by Robert Bresson, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Federico Fellini, Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujirō Ozu, Alain Resnais, and François Truffaut. Lopate highlights U.S. directors John Cassavetes, David Lynch, David Mamet, John Sayles, Paul Schrader, some surprising entries—George Clooney and Harold Lloyd—and international women auteurs, such as Maren Ade and Chantal Akerman. Among his observations are that embarrassment has replaced wisecracks in comedy; restraint and subtlety work best; Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon is flashy and overrated; Elia Kazan’s appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities should not define his reputation; and one can change an opinion about a film, especially after additional life and viewing experience.
VERDICT Erudite and comprehensible, this invitation to cinematic culture, just like encounters with many films, rewards repeat customers.
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