Volume 22, Issue 1 / January 2018

As Things Come to an End

This first issue of 2018 looks back at some important cinematic and cultural events of 2017. Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) put together (along with the Denver Art Museum) an impressive exhibit entitled “Once Upon a Time….the Western” which runs from October 14, 2017 to February 4, 2018. The sprawling show featured old and new works of art that influenced and were influenced by the American western film genre. The crux of the show featured the impact of pre-filmic Western painting on the films themselves, with thematically organized film clips illustrating the influence of art on the film. My visit inspired me to write down some thoughts on the show, collected here. For many in the city of Toronto the end of 2017 signaled more than the end of a year, but the end of an era, the closing of one of the last genuine video stores, Videoflicks. Younger cinephiles will not understand what the passing means, but people who grew up watching and collecting films during the 1980s will remember their weekly trips to their local video store fondly. Jordan Adler’s report on the closing of this Toronto institute definitely had me feeling nostalgic for the days when you were never quite sure what film you’d be leaving the video store with for viewing that night! In today’s political climate (need I say more?), the Middle East is always topical, and with social change a real possibility in Saudia Arabia, Daniel Garrett’s review of two films that deal with varying aspects of Saudi Arabia, Wadjda and A Hologram for the King, is a timely way to start 2018. Wadjda has received some festival legs for being the first Saudi Arabian film directed by a woman, Haifaa Al Mansour. While A Hologram for the King is directed by a German, Tom Tykwer, and stars a name Hollywood actor, Tom Hanks, playing a man on a business trip in Saudia Arabia whose mid-life funk is challenged when he finds love in the most unlikely of places. January is usually accompanied by Best Film Lists and summations of the Best and the Worse films of the year. For the second year running Peter Rist offers a twist on the usual end-of-the-year best film lists by stepping back a mere 100 years to offer his views on the best films of 1917. So that we don’t have a complete break from 2017 (and, admittedly, Offscreen can not get enough of Mr. Lynch) we follow up our last double Twin Peaks issue with Mike LeSuer’s fascinating comparison between two “Frank’s”, the notorious Frank from Blue Velvet (Dennis Hopper) and the titular character from the oddball coming of age music saga Frank, played (almost entirely incognito with a huge papier-mâché bobble head mask) by Michael Fassbender. Frank also stars an actor whose star has since this film risen to near stratospheric levels, Domhnall Gleeson (at one point it seemed every other film I was seeing had him in it!) (Donato Totaro, ed.)

Featured Image from Native American Artist Wendy Red Star, “Four Seasons”, 2006

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