Nearly four decades after its initial release, Being There, Hal Ashby’s 1979 satire of American culture, feels more prescient than ever. A showcase for the subtler side of actor Peter Sellers, the film follows the misadventures of Chance, a childlike gardener who, by a series of coincidences, becomes a media darling and a confidant to a powerful Washington, D.C., businessman. For the latest installment of his series Anatomy of a Gag, filmmaker and critic David Cairns details the nuances that generate laughter in this almost gagless comedy, including the surprising juxtapositions in Ashby’s editing and musical choices, his evocations of everyone from Stanley Kubrick to Stan Laurel, and the carefully calibrated minimalism of Sellers’s performance.
Once There Was Everything
The director of the newly released Columbus takes a close look at how doors open onto philosophical mysteries in the films of French master Robert Bresson.
Anatomy of a Gag: Le grand amour
Beloved for his inventive blend of physical humor and emotional warmth, French director-actor Pierre Etaix passed away last October at the age of eighty-seven. In the second installment of our video series Anatomy of a Gag, filmmaker and critic David…
Storyboarding Blood Simple
Featuring commentary by the Coens, Sonnenfeld, and actor Frances McDormand, this video, created by photographer Grant Delin, highlights the careful planning that went into the film’s construction.
Godard in Fragments
In the 1960s, pioneering French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard introduced the world to a new cinematic lexicon, generated from his innovative, auteurist style. Between 1960 and 1967 alone, he made fifteen features (beginning with his groundbreaki…