The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

February 16, 2016
by Dan
2 Comments

Kriemhild’s Revenge: The Strange, Working Romance of Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou

At the Paris Review blog, Henry Giardina considers the relationship between film director Fritz Lang and writer Thea von Harbou, with particular reference to their adaptation of the epic poem Die Nibelungenlied for the screen: Fritz Lang and Thea von … Continue reading

February 20, 2014
by Dan
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Mise En Scène & The Visual Themes of Wes Anderson

Way Too Indie explores the visual themes of American film director Wes Anderson: for all his towering success as an American auteur, the look and feeling behind each Anderson film finds its influences more rooted in foreign cinema. The tracking camera, … Continue reading

December 4, 2013
by Dan
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Projection: 85 Years of the Projection Booth in Movies

Created by photographer Joseph O. Holmes, this charming (if occasionally grisly!) 12-minute super-cut features clips of projection booths from 46 different films, from Buster Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr. to Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds: The film debuted at New York’s The Museum of the Moving … Continue reading

October 21, 2013
by Dan
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The Sprawling, Obsessive Career of Fritz Lang

As part of the The Dissolve’s ‘Career View‘ series,  Noel Murray surveys the work of German-American film director Fritz Lang: Over his first two decades as a movie director, Lang was responsible for some of the most memorable images in cinema’s … Continue reading

July 26, 2013
by Dan
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Martin Scorsese: The Persisting Vision

The August issue of New York Review of Books has a wonderful essay by Martin Scorsese on the history and language of film, Vertigo, and cinema as a great American art form: As in the case of many great films, … Continue reading

March 26, 2013
by Dan
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The Film Before The Film

The Film Before The Film is a documentary short by the Berliner Technische Kunsthochschule about the history of opening titles. Although the narration is a little flat, the film itself is a visual treat:

November 9, 2012
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Comics Without Borders — a long interview with cartoonist Joost Swarte at The Comics Journal: In the graphic field of comics I was inspired by Will Eisner’s Spirit. If I see these title pages, the constructions in his title pages, and what … Continue reading

November 2, 2012
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

A rather brilliant cover for The Yellow World by Albert Espinosa, reminiscent of a Matisse cut-out or a Paul Rand illustration, designed by Jon Gray. The Sickly Glow — John Banville, author most recently of Ancient Light, reviews The Big … Continue reading

November 14, 2011
by Dan
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The Title Design of Saul Bass (A Brief Visual History)

I’ve been waiting for a book about Saul Bass since I was bookseller. Now Saul Bass: A Life In Film & Design is finally in bookstores, Ian Albinson of the brilliant Art of the Title has put together a brief visual … Continue reading

August 16, 2011
by Dan
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Dirty Harry | A. O. Scott

I was reading about Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film Dirty Harry this week for a long, much overdue (now almost mythical) post I’m supposed to be writing, and so I have to share A. O. Scott’s video review of the movie for The … Continue reading

August 9, 2011
by Dan
0 comments

M*A*S*H | A. O. Scott

New York Times film critic A. O. Scott revisits Robert Altman’s 1970 film MASH: The film was based on MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors by former military surgeon Richard Hooker, first published in 1968.

June 17, 2011
by Dan
1 Comment

J.J. Abrams | Fresh Air

One last miscellaneous post before the weekend… Filmmaker J.J. Abrams  talks about his new movie Super 8 and, perhaps most interestingly, his storytelling process with Terry Gross for NPR’s Fresh Air: In a movie like “The Graduate,” Ben and Elaine … Continue reading

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