Celebrating The Individual: Milos Forman, R.I.P.

Milos Forman passed away yesterday in Danbury, Connecticut.  He was 83 years old.

When the news of Forman’s passing first broke, many commentators focused on the fact that, over the course of his career, Forman accomplished something that few other directors have.  Forman not only directed two movies that won the Academy Award for Best Picture but he also won two directing Oscars.  On the surface level, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus may have looked like two very different films but both of them dealt with a nonconformist and the people who sought to destroy him.  Time and again, that was a theme to which Forman would return.

Loves of a Blonde (1965)

Even before Forman won his first Oscar, he had established himself as an important director.  As a young man, Forman survived the two greatest evils of the 20th Century, Nazism and Communism.  Both his mother and the man who he originally believed to be his father died in concentration camps during World War II.  After the war ended, Forman would discover that his real father was Otto Kohn, a Jewish architect who was also a survivor of the Holocaust.

The Fireman’s Ball (1967)

Forman started his film career working in the Czech Republic, which at that time was communist-controlled and known as Czechoslovakia.  Forman was one of the leading directors of the Czech New Wave, making films that took a satirical look at life under the communist regime.  It was during this time when he received his first two Oscar nominations, both for Best Foreign Language Film.  In 1968, Forman was fortunate enough to be in Paris when the Russians decided to invade Prague and put an end to all that subversive individual freedom.  While the new Czech goverment kept itself busy by banning all of his films, Forman moved to the United States.

Taking Off (1971)

Forman’s first film in the States was a satire called Taking Off, which failed at the box office but has since developed a cult following.  Despite the box office failure of Taking Off, Forman was hired to direct 1975’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, a film in which an authoritarian institution reacts to a nonconformist by ripping out part of his brain.  Not only did this film win the Academy Awards for picture and director but it also won awards for actor, actress, and screenplay.  One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was the first film to win the big five awards since It Happened One Night.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Forman continued to make films about nonconformists.  Hair was a film adaptation of the famous hippie musical.  Ragtime looked at early 20th century America through the eyes of a proud black man who refused to bow under the prejudice of the time.  Amadeus portrayed Mozart as a rock star and Salieri as a man who declared war on God, all the while trying to please a culturally illiterate ruler.  Later films like Valmont, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and The Man In The Moon were a bit more uneven but all of them featured moments that celebrated the right of the individual to refuse to go along with the crowd.

Ragtime (1981)

A master director of actors, Forman directed Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, and F. Murray Abraham to Oscar wins while Brad Dourif, Howard Rollins, Eizabeth McGovern, Tom Hulce, and Woody Harrelson were all nominated for performances that they gave in Forman films.

Milos Forman may be gone but his films will live on.

Amadeus (1984)

Best Served Cold: DEATH RIDES A HORSE (United Artists 1967; US release 1969)

cracked rear viewer

During a torrential rainstorm on a dark, bone-chillingly cold  night, a band of men guarding a cache of gold are all murdered by a masked outlaw gang. The marauders then enter the home of the leader, a married man with a family. He is the first to die, and after his wife and young daughter are brutally raped, they too are killed. But the marauders haven’t seen the little boy hiding in the shadows, witnessing his family’s violent demise. The house is burned to the ground, but the boy lives, storing the memory of the men who destroyed his family, until fifteen years pass, and the boy has become a man with an unquenchable thirst for revenge…

This dark, disturbing scene sets the stage for DEATH RIDES A HORSE, a gem of a Spaghetti Western directed with style by Giulio Petroni, made in 1967 but not released stateside until 1969…

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4 Shots From 4 Films: Savage Messiah, All The Vermeers in New York, The Stendhal Syndrome, Mr. Turner

4 Shots from 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots from 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

In honor of Slow Art Day, here are…

4 Shots From 4 Films

Savage Messiah (1972, dir by Ken Russell)

All The Vermeers in New York (1990, dir by Jon Jost)

The Stendhal Syndrome (1996, dir by Dario Argento)

Mr. Turner (2014, dir by Mike Leigh)

“Qoberious” Vol. 1 : A Mystery Wrapped In A Riddle Inside — You Know The Drill

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Seattle-based cartoonist D.R.T. is a figure cloaked in a certain amount of intrigue — in a recent TCJ interview he revealed that his name is Daniel, that he has a background in film and animation, and that he suffered a debilitating stroke at age 27 that forced him to learn to draw all over again, this time with his non-dominant left hand. His debut graphic novel, then, Qoberious Vol. 1 (released under the auspices of his own self-publishing imprint, Kvorious Comics),  is something that can only be called a true labor of love — emphasis on the “labor.”

Crucially, though, it in no way feels belabored — indeed, the hermetically-sealed reality D.R.T. creates literally seems to have flowed directly from his subconscious onto the page, and in many ways even feels like a work channeled from some other, perhaps higher, dimension. There is a raw immediacy to this…

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Music Video of the Day: Dust My Shoulders Off by Jane Zhang (2016, dir by Outerspace Leo)

Today is Slow Art Day, which is a day in which we are encouraged to celebrate art by going to a museum  taking our time to truly appreciate what we’re seeing.  This also seems like the perfect day to select Jane Zhang’s Dust My Shoulders Off for our music video of the day!

The video features Zhang at a museum, literally becoming a part of 11 different paintings.  Over the course of the video, the following paintings are recreated:

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

Self Portrait by Vincent Van Gogh

The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet

Meisje met de parel by Johannes Vermeer

Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth

Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

The Scream by Edvard Munch

The Temptation of St. Anthony by Salvador Dalí

Ascending and Descending by M.C. Escher

The Son of Man by René Magritte