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Daily Briefing. Reassessing James M. Cain

Also: Roger Ebert's new memoir and Jim Emerson's analysis of an action sequence in The Dark Knight.

In the wake of the discovery of a previously unpublished manuscript by James M Cain (Hard Case Crime will be releasing The Cocktail Waitress next fall), William Marling reviews David Madden and Kristopher Mecholsky's James M Cain: Hard-Boiled Mythmaker for the Los Angeles Review of Books: "[F]ilms such as Slightly Scarlet (Allan Dawn, 1956) and Interlude (Douglas Sirk, 1958) have received little attention, and after reading this book's account of their subversive sexuality and innovative techniques (these were among the first Technicolor 'noir' films), you may want to track them down…. The 'movies' chapter concludes with an overview of 'neo-noir,' including Bob Rafelson's Postman, Lawrence Kasdan's Body Heat, and Roman Polanski's Chinatown. The impact of Cain on such films is both obvious and frustratingly difficult to articulate." William Preston Robertson gave it a go, though, in the Guardian in 2001. More on Cain in the New York Times.

"There comes a time in the life of every film reviewer when he or she asks, as Sean Connery does of Michael Caine in The Man Who Would Be King, 'Have our lives been misspent?'" Reviewing Life Itself for the San Francisco Chronicle, Joseph McBride argues that Roger Ebert's life has most definitely not been misspent. "His broad historical perspective, his literate and witty style, his knowledge of literature and other arts, his passion for social justice, and his refusal to talk down to his readers contribute to work that stands the test of time." You can read an excerpt from Ebert's memoir in Salon. Here's how it begins: "I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear."

Viewing (19'30"). Jim Emerson takes a shot-by-shot look at an action sequence in The Dark Knight in order to figure out whether or not it actually coheres.

Joe Bowman tumbls.

One half of August, an exhibition of work by artist and filmmaker Yang Fudong, is on view at Parasol unit in London through November 6.

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