House Logo
Explore categories +

Carl Jung (#110 of 3)

Back in the Saddle: An Interview with Kevin Stoehr About the Film Western

Comments Comments (...)

Back in the Saddle: An Interview with Kevin Stoehr About the Film Western
Back in the Saddle: An Interview with Kevin Stoehr About the Film Western

“It was Chico Marx, of all people, who uttered one of my favorite lines, ’I’d like the West better if it was in the East,’” says Kevin Stoehr, a professor of humanities at Boston University. It’s an hour into our interview and we’re finally back on topic. After all, the whole reason I made the long journey to Stoehr’s seaside condo in Portland, Maine was to discuss his acclaimed new book, Ride, Boldly, Ride: The Evolution of the American Western, which he co-authored with Mary Lea Bandy. But the professor, a conversationalist without equal, has been on a roll.

In the past half hour, this master of the non sequitur has discussed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the hidden homoeroticism in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the origins of kick boxing, Rod Steiger’s unforgettable performance as Mr. Joyboy in The Loved One, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And if all that weren’t enough, he’s treated me to a killer imitation of Truman Capote in Murder by Death.

Now it’s back to cowboys. And it suddenly occurs to me that the ruggedly handsome Stoehr bears more than a passing resemblance to one. He’s a strapping six-foot-four, the same imposing height as western icons John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. When I suggest that the professor wouldn’t look at all out of place outfitted in steel spurs and leather chaps, he blushes and is for once totally speechless. That sort of compliment may be a bit too Brokeback Mountain for him. But he recovers quickly.

“This project has been a genuine labor of love for me on so many different levels,” Stoehr says of his comprehensive study, which has been earning rave reviews. Dave Kehr of the New York Times calls Ride, Boldly, Ride, “a sweeping, insightful account of this most rich and resilient of movie genres.” In celebration of the book’s publication, the Museum of Modern Art recently held a month-long film series and invited Stoehr to introduce screenings of two rarely seen silent westerns, D.W. Griffith’s The Battle at Elderbush Gulch and John Ford’s Straight Shooting.

New York Film Festival 2011: A Dangerous Method

Comments Comments (...)

New York Film Festival 2011: <em>A Dangerous Method</em>
New York Film Festival 2011: <em>A Dangerous Method</em>

The teasing sense of humor that David Cronenberg has infected A Dangerous Method, his adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s play The Talking Cure, with is a big part of why the film is unmistakably Cronenberg’s finest since 2002’s Spider. Because A Dangerous Method follows Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung as they butt heads over their respective theories of psychoanalysis, it stands to reason that the smallest gesture in the film is full of meaning. Repeated tics, like the placement of hands on hips, or even when one character suffers a sudden, seizure-like paroxysm right after Jung discusses the symbolic death of one of his patients’ fathers, are rather funny. But these actions also connote so much without really saying anything at all. Leave it to Cronenberg to make a nip slip a telling sign of the schizoid nature of Sabina Spielrein, one of Jung’s most infamous patients. Cronenberg constantly uses overloaded images, including, yes, a cigar, to intrude on and indirectly raise the stakes of his film’s central drama. These absurdly loaded images serve to subversively heighten the pathos inherent in Hampton’s source drama.

Toronto International Film Festival 2011: A Dangerous Method, The Ides of March, & Le Havre

Comments Comments (...)

Toronto International Film Festival 2011: <em>A Dangerous Method</em>, <em>The Ides of March</em>, & <em>Le Havre</em>
Toronto International Film Festival 2011: <em>A Dangerous Method</em>, <em>The Ides of March</em>, & <em>Le Havre</em>

A Dangerous Method: The most classical film yet of David Cronenberg’s classical period, this portrait of the struggle between mind and body elegantly suggests a plethora of urges, addictions, and neuroses continuously churning under its fastidious period-piece veneer. The cerebral side is the relationship between earnest fuddy-duddy Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and sardonic silver fox Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) in the early 1900s; the visceral side comes in the contorted, seductive form of Sabine Spielrein (Keira Knightley), the young masochist whose initial hysteria grows even more provocative to the men of science around her as she comes to match their intellects and challenge the limits of their rationality. Working from Christopher Hampton’s play, Cronenberg outlines the archetypal bonds (mentor and pupil, doctor and patient, husband and wife) that comprise what one character describes as “the smooth workings of society,” and then proceeds to examine—not with Dead Ringers microscopes but with Age of Innocence opera binoculars—the itchy irregularities emerging in the creamy white skin of the characters. If it has a tendency to explicitly state its own themes, the film nevertheless unsettles with its lucid visions of release and repression: One can imagine the director putting the ruthlessly composed final image here side by side with the raucous abandon that closes Shivers, and daring us to tell which one is more horrific.