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To be alive in 2019 is to be bombarded day by day through the brand new. By that I suggest the news, to be sure—the planet is roasting, the president is ranting, the very belief of a shared authentic reality seems to be disintegrating, and oh, P.S., Pete Davidson, and Kate Beckinsale are split. But also the new, in the singular. There are infinite simply-debuted streaming series to binge each day. Your working gadget needs every other replace, even though that might not rely on given that the device it governs is probably becoming obsolete. The film that broke global field workplace records ultimate weekend is already being mentioned in particular in terms of the multi-movie franchise with the intention to quickly the USA it.
For a movie critic in this age of assaultive newness, the past turns into a luxurious, a place to be visited furtively in between barrages of clean content material. In the midst of 2018’s 12 months-end onslaughts of Oscars hype, Top 10 lists, and awards balloting—the time of year whilst the vital of novelty makes itself most keenly felt in subculture circles—Vanity Fair movie critic K. Austin Collins tweeted about searching forward to the vacation smash, whilst he deliberate to hole up on his grandmother’s couch with the just-released Criterion field set of Marlene Dietrich’s legendary Hollywood collaborations with director Josef von Sternberg. (Something new within the international of the old.)
As someone trying to preserve up, more or much less, with the calendar of new releases even as additionally writing an ebook about the silent-technology famous person Buster Keaton, I diagnosed strongly with Kam’s feel of important bifurcation, as well as his yearning for the spaciousness afforded by using visiting the cinematic beyond. (And this isn’t at all the equal issue as heading off the conflicts of the existing by “escaping” right into a nostalgic or regressive beyond. The antique films most well worth revisiting are the ones that boost, on occasion without even intending to, the same questions and problems we grapple with today.)
In conversations online and off, and inside the 2018 Slate Movie Club, Kam and I stored returning to the concern of the tension amongst exploring movie’s future, experiencing its present, and know-how it is beyond. Why must the history of the medium we write approximately every day to be relegated to the repute of an indulgent excursion binge? If older films are worth designing your leisure time around and writing complete books approximately, why aren’t they really worth looking collectively and talking about in our day-to-day lives?
Thus, the concept for our podcast Flashback turned into born. Every other Sunday, Kam and I will take one older movie and communicate approximately what it supposed in its time and what it’d suggest these days. Older in this context may imply anything made among 1895 (the Lumière brothers’ Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat? Two thumbs up!) and, say, the ultimate yr of the 20th century (does David Cronenberg’s Existenz maintain up as a vision of the destiny of digital reality?). The concept isn’t always to plod chronologically via movie history however to deal with it as a mysterious storage chest with countless drawers to open, so we’ll skip from generation to generation and genre to genre, following our instincts and curiosity as well as whatever parallels we discover inside the films and headlines of the modern.
With the release of the new Criterion streaming channel and the reassuring persevered life of different traditional film sources like TCM, MUBI, and Fandor, it’s obtrusive that new movies aren’t the best ones of the hobby to visitors. The internet has made even the maximum obscure gemstones of the past something cinephiles can study and learn about (if now not usually effortlessly locates to stream, hire, or buy). With you, our listener and fellow viewer, in mind, Kam and I will try to choose titles which are to be had on as many virtual platforms as viable, and we’ll also announce the next movie on the end of every episode so if you want to observe in advance with us, you could. (He and I will change off alternatives every episode, to maintain the alternative guessing.)
For the first episode of Flashback, embedded above, I picked the 1944 George Cukor conventional Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman as a Victorian-technology wife and Charles Boyer as her suavely controlling husband. It’s a movie whose title has to turn out to be one of the most frequently yelled verbs of our time without a whole lot attention being paid to the amazing work of artwork that helped popularize the term. Gaslight has long been one in every one of my favorite films from the “golden age” of the studio gadget. It’s a masterfully directed melodrama, visually opulent and emotionally uncooked, and its capabilities considered one of Bergman’s best performances, for which she received her first Oscar. It’s also an astute commentary of an interpersonal dynamic—the deliberate manipulation of 1 birthday celebration’s notion of reality through another, extra powerful celebration—that’s as ubiquitous and as troubling today as it became seventy-five years ago if no longer more so.
One extra component to observe approximately Flashback: After this primary episode, it is going to be had only to subscribers of Slate Plus, the magazine’s club program. If that makes you need to click on away grumbling approximately a bait-and-switch, reflect on consideration on whether or not it might be worth $35—much less than a dime an afternoon—to get a full year of not simply this display but get right of entry to to greater segments and advert-free content material for the complete roster of Slate podcasts, plus a host of other advantages. Sign up for Slate Plus now to continue listening to the podcast, or if you’re already a member (thanks!), join Flashback right here.
Flashback has been a pleasure to develop and begin recording. I’m excited for Kam and me to construct our own cinematic time system, and I desire you’ll tune in to pay attention to approximately the treasures we deliver returned