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Bananas (#110 of 3)

The 10 Best Woody Allen Movies

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The 10 Best Woody Allen Movies
The 10 Best Woody Allen Movies

Forty-four features over 48 years. That’s a lot of cinema to emerge from the mind of one man, however tireless and prolific. Woody Allen’s approach to filmmaking shares more in common with the routine, unfussy diligence of the classical studio era than modern auteurism, which is to say that Allen treats his vocation less like a tortuous calling than, well, a job, something to sit down and do every day. His latest feature, Magic in the Moonlight, arrives in theaters this week, maintaining a release streak that has brought us nearly a film a year for going on five decades. Allen has a reputation for discarding each film as it passes him by, not bothering to reflect on their importance or worry about their legacies; his attentions are drawn to what’s next so quickly that he hardly has time to bother with his own history. It’s safe to say that Allen wouldn’t have much time for a list such as this. Still, the canon cries out for rejuvenation, and so we size up another annual Allen tradition: the commemoration of his greatest hits.

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2012 Samsara, Reportero, Detropia, & More

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Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2012: Diaries: 1971-1976, Samsara, Reportero, Detropia, & More
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2012: Diaries: 1971-1976, Samsara, Reportero, Detropia, & More

Ed Pincus was one of the founders of the MIT Film Section, a training ground for future documentary filmmakers like Ross McElwee. Pincus produced a body of work that straddles the line between the purported objectivity of Direct Cinema, a movement he helped pioneer with early works like the Black Natchez, and the more self-reflecting style known as personal documentary. As its name suggests, Diaries: 1971-1976 belongs in the latter category, an intimate epic that examines the inextricable Gordian knot of personal and political commitment by turning the camera eye on friends and family. Bookended by intimations of mortality, the deaths of a relative and close friend, Diaries spends most of its three-hour-plus run time charting the shifting sexual climate of the 1970s, delving into experiments in lifestyle choices ranging from nudism to open marriage. Frequent exchanges between Pincus and wife Jane, a member of the feminist collective responsible for the manifesto Our Bodies, Ourselves, consider the consequences of their decisions not only on their own relationship, but also on their two young children. Diaries also records, albeit in a distanced, Brechtian fashion, the last gasps of anti-war protest and the disintegration of the counterculture, at least the Cambridge variety. For a stretch late in the film, Diaries achieves a gritty kind of New Hollywood vibe as Pincus and a fellow filmmaker range around the desert Southwest, the documentary equivalent of Easy Rider. As a time capsule, Diaries is invaluable, but Pincus’s decision to work against narrative cohesion by cutting away from conversations at key moments, and otherwise hashing up individual segments, renders the film chaotic and disjointed, sapping it of the cumulative impact found in documentaries like Allan King’s A Married Couple, let alone the massive slab of social experimentation then going on over at PBS called An American Family.

Comic Retros Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture and Tony Millionaire’s 500 Portraits

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Comic Retros: Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture and Tony Millionaire’s 500 Portraits
Comic Retros: Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture and Tony Millionaire’s 500 Portraits

In time for Christmas, Fantagraphics Books has released two new thick and fancy illustrator retrospectives. One is a coffee-table book about the career of Jack Davis, the other a smaller volume with the portraits of Tony Millionaire.

If you’re unfamiliar with comics and cartooning, neither of those names may mean much to you. Jack Davis was one of the most well-known and well-paid cartoonists in the world during the 1960s and 1970s. His career started in the 1950s, drawing for EC Comics, and then Mad, Trump, and Humbug magazines. Davis then worked on LP covers and movie posters and made it big with his drawing for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in 1963. And in the 1970s he did dozens of covers for TV Guide and Time.

Davis is best known for watercolor drawings that cram a group of characters into a frantic and grotesque and exaggerated pose. You can see this in his posters for The Long Goodbye, Bananas, or A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.