Ingmar-Bergman-002Sam Shepard 1RECOMMENDED READING:  JOY RIDE; show people and their shows by JOHN LAHR.  Norton, 2015

Most of the show people and shows that one of our most perceptive and significant critics discusses here are theater folk and their plays.  But in his writing, Lahr is always brushing up against film, and in this latest book he has an interesting piece on Sam Shepard and a long, informative essay on Ingmar Bergman in which his brief strokes about many of Bergman’s films are piquantly surprising.  Like almost everyone writing these days, he vastly overestimates Mike Nichols; but this wise book is filled with mature and experienced judgment.

In a great one-liner he writes of Sam Shepard:  “…he exuded the solitude and the vagueness of the American West.”

He tells a new story about the two-Bergman tension (Ingrid/Ingmar) during the filming of Autumn Sonata and a painful tale I wish I hadn’t read about Bergman’s rudeness to Laurence Olivier.

And he writes this:  “From the moment when the ten-year-old Bergman cranked his first projector and ran his first three-meter film loop through a magic lantern  —  lit by a paraffin lamp and throwing a trembly brown image on the whitewashed wall of his nursery wardrobe  —  the shadows on the wall, he says, ‘wanted to tell me something.’  He goes on, ‘It was a girl.  A beautiful girl.  She woke up.  Stretched her arms out.  Danced just one circle and went out.  How I concentrated on this girl!  Then I could move it the other way, so she came back!’  The apparatus of film could retrieve or reverse the past; it could make the inert come to life; it could penetrate the senses and speak soul to soul with or without words.  It was  —   and remains  —  a miraculous hedge against loss.  Bergman says, ‘I still have the same feeling of fascination.  It hasn’t changed.'”

The pictures:  Director Ingmar Bergman on the left above; on the right Sam Shepard, writer, actor, persona.


Until then,
See you at the movies,


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