Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ray Carney appreciation week

For the film buffs out there: Ray Carney is a film scholar and writer who is singlehandedly responsible for tracking down rare versions of John Cassavetes' Shadows and Faces, as well as writing some of the best books about Cassavetes that have ever been written, including Cassavetes on Cassavetes, which he edited. (By the way, most of these links will lead you to Carney's writings on these topics, and if you have time to spend, they're quite interesting). He's a passionate guy, as one would expect of a Cassavetes devotee. He also was badly fucked over by Criterion in the preparation of their recent Cassavetes box set, which he laboured on for months, only to have his name removed at the insistence of Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes widow, who has been pissed off at him for screening said rare versions of Cassavetes films and for resisting the attempts to sanitize and canonize the man, now that he's safely dead. I corresponded with Carney briefly, and tried to stir up some help for him in his struggles with Criterion by writing Roger Ebert (who never wrote back) and Jonathan Rosenbaum (the only result of which, aside from an e-mail response by Rosenbaum saying he didn't want to get involved, may have been the following Chicago Reader review, not written by Rosenbaum but mentioning the Criterion debacle; since Rosenbaum is the head critic at the Chicago Reader, it's reasonable to assume he was aware of this piece of writing and perhaps influenced it; Jeff Economy sounds an awful lot like a pseudonym, too, but it ain't) . Anyhow, I'm about to send Professor Carney some unsolicited money to help him in his legal struggles to keep said rare versions of Shadows and Faces out of the hands of those who would suppress them; and I'm encouraging y'all to do the same -- or at least to buy one of Professor Carney's books. (He's also written on Dreyer, Mike Leigh, and Frank Capra, and has at least one damn great title to one of his works, namely What's Wrong with Film Books, Film Courses, and Film Reviewing—And How to Do It Right -- an excerpt of which can be found here). Actually, the money I'm sending won't be enough to buy one of his lawyer's toenail clippings but it might buy a lunch (or two, if he eats cheap). Thanks for your hard work, Ray.

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