Roger Ebert has been writing film reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times for nearly forty years. And during those four decades, his wide knowledge, keen judgment, prodigious energy, and sharp sense of humor have made him America’s most celebrated film critic. He was the first such critic to win a Pulitzer Prize—one of just three film critics ever to receive that honor—and the only one to have a star dedicated to him on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His groundbreaking hit TV show, At the Movies, meanwhile, has made “two thumbs up” one of the most coveted hallmarks in the entire industry.
No critic alive has reviewed more movies than Roger Ebert, and yet his essential writings have never been collected in a single volume—until now. With Awake in the Dark, both fans and film buffs can finally bask in the best of Ebert’s work. The reviews, interviews, and essays collected here present a picture of this indispensable critic’s numerous contributions to the cinema and cinephilia. From The Godfather to GoodFellas, from Cries and Whispers to Crash, the reviews in Awake in the Dark span some of the most exceptional periods in film history, from the dramatic rise of rebel Hollywood and the heyday of the auteur, to the triumph of blockbuster films such as Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, to the indie revolution that is still with us today.
The extraordinary interviews gathered in Awake in the Dark capture Ebert engaging not only some of the most influential directors of our time—Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Werner Herzog, and Ingmar Bergman—but also some of the silver screen’s most respected and dynamic personalities, including actors as diverse as Robert Mitchum, James Stewart, Warren Beatty, and Meryl Streep. Ebert’s remarkable essays play a significant part in Awake in the Dark as well. The book contains some of Ebert’s most admired pieces, among them a moving appreciation of John Cassavetes and a loving tribute to the virtues of black-and-white films.
If Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris were godmother and godfather to the movie generation, then Ebert is its voice from within—a writer whose exceptional intelligence and daily bursts of insight and enthusiasm have shaped the way we think about the movies. Awake in the Dark, therefore, will be a treasure trove not just for fans of this seminal critic, but for anyone desiring a fascinating and compulsively readable chronicle of film since the late 1960s.
For nearly half a century, Roger Ebert’s wide knowledge, keen judgment, prodigious energy, and sharp sense of humor made him America’s most renowned and beloved film critic. From Ebert’s Pulitzer Prize to his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, from his astonishing output of daily reviews to his pioneering work on television with Gene Siskel, his was a career in cinema criticism without peer.
Arriving fifty years after Ebert published his first film review in 1967, this second edition of Awake in the Dark collects Ebert’s essential writings into a single, irresistible volume. Featuring new Top Ten Lists and reviews of the years’ finest films through 2012, this edition allows both fans and film buffs to bask in the best of an extraordinary lifetime’s work. Including reviews from The Godfather to GoodFellas and interviews with everyone from Martin Scorsese to Meryl Streep, as well as showcasing some of Ebert’s most admired essays—among them a moving appreciation of John Cassavetes and a loving tribute to the virtues of black-and-white films—Ebert’s Awake in the Dark is a treasure trove not just for fans of this era-defining critic, but for anyone desiring a compulsively readable chronicle of the silver screen.
Stretching from the dramatic rise of rebel Hollywood and the heyday of the auteur to the triumph of blockbuster films such as Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, to the indie revolution that is still with us today, Awake in the Dark reveals a writer whose exceptional intelligence and daily bursts of insight and enthusiasm helped shape the way we think about the movies. But more than this, Awake in the Dark is a celebration of Ebert’s inimitable voice—a voice still cherished and missed.
The Battles along the Rivers, Mountains, and in the Deep Woods of the South that Changed the Fate of Nations
The American Revolution marked a dramatic change in the struggle for land along the southern frontier. In the colonial era, American Indian leaders and British offi cials attempted to accommodate the westward expansion of Anglo-Americans through land cessions designed to have the least impact on Indian societies. The region remained generally peaceful, but with the onset of the Revolution, the British no longer exercised sole authority to curb the settlements appearing within territory claimed by the Creeks, Shawnee, and most importantly, the Cherokee. Whether it was to escape the economic uncertainty of the east, the rigors of the confl ict, or the depredations of troops and militias on both sides, settlers fl ooded west. Under these conditions, the war in the south took on a savage character as Indians, Loyalists, and Whigs all desperately fought to defend their communities and maintain control of their own destinies. Taking advantage of the political turmoil in the east, the Cherokee Nation launched a coordinated offensive in 1776 against illegal frontier settlements. The Whigs responded with a series of expeditions from each of the Southern colonies that razed Cherokee towns and their food supplies. All the while, both British and Whig leaders walked a fi ne line: If the Indians attacked settlers without distinguishing between Loyalists and Whigs, those groups could unite and thwart both British and Indian interests; if the Indians attacked the western frontier with Loyalist and British support, the Whigs would face a two-front war—an event that ended up happening.
In Dark and Bloody Ground: The American Revolution Along the Southern Frontier, Richard Blackmon uses a wealth of primary source material to recount the confl ict between American Indians and Anglo-Americans in the colonial South during one of the most turbulent periods of North American history. He explains the complex points of contact in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia between native groups and settlers, while revealing the political gamesmanship between rival British and Whig traders and offi cials to secure Indian loyalty. The author also explains the critical role of the southern frontier to the American victory, a victory achieved long after the decision at Yorktown. Before the war, clashes between Cherokee and Shawnee hunters in Kentucky had become so commonplace that it was known as a “dark and bloody ground.” With the rise in Anglo-American settlements there, led by Daniel Boone and others, the dark and bloody ground became a metaphor for the entire struggle for the Southern frontier.
Even the Dark
Leslie Williams Southern Illinois University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3623.I5585A6 2019 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
The speaker in this collection seeks an understanding of the darkness of suicide and mortal illness in the light of Christian faith. Poet Leslie Williams captures this light in tender and piercing poems that traverse a grieving world where healing is always possible but never assured: “my God can do this, but my God / might not.”
Through restless questioning, the speaker finds a balm for suffering in the divine beauty and mystery of the natural world. Seven prose poems woven into the collection deal with different aspects of a young girl’s life-threatening illness. Five additional poems wrestle with the grief of suicide and the emptiness afflicting those left behind. Other poems in the collection reflect on how to approach daily life while coping with heartbreak and express wonder about our responsibilities in a variety of roles: as parents, as neighbors, as an imagined anchoress, as children of God.
The language remains beautiful and precise throughout, whether the speaker lies “in a gully cracked / with stars” or tells herself, “It’s a handmade raft I live on.” The speaker entreats, as in Psalm 27, “teach me how to live.” Dwelling attentively in the abundance and mystery of creation, the book aims to offer a comfort and peace that might “even the dark.”
Most pop songs are short-lived. They appear suddenly and, if they catch on, seem to be everywhere at once before disappearing again into obscurity. Yet some songs resonate more deeply—often in ways that reflect broader historical and cultural changes.
In Footsteps in the Dark, George Lipsitz illuminates these secret meanings, offering imaginative interpretations of a wide range of popular music genres from jazz to salsa to rock. Sweeping changes that only remotely register in official narratives, Lipsitz argues, can appear in vivid relief within popular music, especially when these changes occur outside mainstream white culture. Using a wealth of revealing examples, he discusses such topics as the emergence of an African American techno music subculture in Detroit as a contradictory case of digital capitalism and the prominence of banda, merengue, and salsa music in the 1990s as an expression of changing Mexican, Dominican, and Puerto Rican nationalisms. Approaching race and popular music from another direction, he analyzes the Ken Burns PBS series Jazz as a largely uncritical celebration of American nationalism that obscures the civil rights era’s challenge to racial inequality, and he takes on the infamous campaigns to censor hip-hop and the radical black voice in the early 1990s.
Teeming with astute observations and brilliant insights about race and racism, deindustrialization, and urban renewal and their connections to music, Footsteps in the Dark puts forth an alternate history of post–cold war America and shows why in an era given to easy answers and clichéd versions of history, pop songs matter more than ever.
George Lipsitz is professor of black studies and sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Among his many books are Life in the Struggle, Dangerous Crossroads, and American Studies in a Moment of Danger (Minnesota, 2001).
Horse in the Dark: Poems
Vievee Francis Northwestern University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3606.R3653H67 2012 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
In the next chapter of the Cave Canem/Northwestern University Poetry Prize, we enter the poetic world of Vievee Francis. Bold and skilled, Francis takes us into the still landscapes of Texas and the fluid details of the African American South. Her poems become panhandle folktales revealing the weight of memories so clear and on the cusp. Her creative tangle of metaphors, people and geography will keep the reader rooted in a good earth of extraordinary verse.
“Joyce’s Book of the Dark gives us such a blend of exciting intelligence and impressive erudition that it will surely become established as one of the most fascinating and readable Finnegans Wake studies now available.”—Margot Norris, James Joyce Literary Supplement
The 2009 financial stimulus bill ran to more than 1,100 pages, yet it wasn’t even given to Congress in its final form until thirteen hours before debate was set to begin, and it was passed twenty-eight hours later. How are representatives expected to digest so much information in such a short time.
The answer? They aren’t. With Legislating in the Dark, James M. Curry reveals that the availability of information about legislation is a key tool through which Congressional leadership exercises power. Through a deft mix of legislative analysis, interviews, and participant observation, Curry shows how congresspersons—lacking the time and resources to study bills deeply themselves—are forced to rely on information and cues from their leadership. By controlling their rank-and-file’s access to information, Congressional leaders are able to emphasize or bury particular items, exploiting their information advantage to push the legislative agenda in directions that they and their party prefer.
Offering an unexpected new way of thinking about party power and influence, Legislating in the Dark will spark substantial debate in political science.
The development of the modern world has brought with it rampant light pollution, destroying the ancient mystery of night and exacting a terrible price--wasted energy, damage to human health, and the sometimes fatal interruption of the life patterns of many species of wildlife. In Let There Be Night, twenty-nine writers, scientists, poets, and scholars share their personal experiences of night and help us to understand what we miss when dark skies and nocturnal wildness vanish. They also propose ways by which we might restore the beneficence of true night skies to our cities and our culture. Let There Be Night is an engaging examination, both intimate and enlightening, of a precious aspect of the natural world. The diverse voices and perceptions gathered here provide a statement of hope that he ancient magic of night can be returned to our lives.
Charles Simic's quicksilver imagination, his masterly way with words, and his unalloyed love of life and language alike inform every page of this wonderfully wide-ranging collection. Again and again, Simic takes up a subject and turns it this way and that, showing us what we haven't noticed before, inviting us to share an infectious delight that turns everything, in the end, into poetry. It's a gift that has won him a coveted MacArthur Fellowship, among many honors, but he wears his magic lightly.
Often, he addresses poetry itself. Among the pieces here are appreciations of Mark Strand, James Merrill, John Ashbery, and James Tate, each evaluated with a keen eye tempered by a generous spirit. Other essays discuss Joseph Brodsky, Czeslaw Milosz, and Vasko Popa; to these writers he brings the understanding available only to those who can read them in the original. In considering Brodsky's translations, for instance, he offers insights regarding not only the poet himself but the very nature of language. Elsewhere, he peers into poetry's past and its future: as a vessel of memory, a witness to history, and a mirror of human experience.
But perhaps the greatest pleasures afforded by The Metaphysician in the Dark, as he styles himself with a beguiling mix of modesty and irony, appear when Simic goes further afield. His look at the deadpan comedy of Buster Keaton is as revealing of the author as of the actor and his craft; his perusal of a Heironymous Bosch altarpiece captures both the painter's sense of apocalypse and a riotous joy in the piling of detail upon detail; his review of a book on Joseph Cornell examines how obsession becomes art. He is fluently familiar with subjects as diverse as Saul Bellow's novels and Aberlardo Morell's extraordinary camera obscura photographs. Yet when he takes the gloves off, as in two essays on the Serbia of Slobodan Milosevic, his outrage is as forceful as his pride is strong in his own Serbian heritage.
Each of the two dozen essays here reflects a sophistication irresistible in its simplicity; taken together, they display a questing intelligence and a panorama of life and art.
Charles Simic is an acclaimed poet, novelist, essayist and teacher. Winner of a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize, he is the author of more than twenty volumes of poetry and six books of prose, as well as numerous translations. He is Distinguished University Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, where he has taught since 1973.
See You in the Dark: Poems
Lynne Sharon Schwartz Northwestern University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3569.C567S44 2011 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
An acclaimed novelist, essayist, memoirist, and translator, Lynne Sharon Schwartz has written that she began writing "before [she] knew about the strictures of literary genres: poem, story, essay." What she wrote as a child was "poetic speculation . . . partaking of all the genres and bounded by none." It is not surprising, then, that her facility with, and love of, language and speculation are on display in her new collection of poetry, See You in the Dark.
Despite her indifference to genre, Schwartz takes a profound delight in poetic forms, appropriating the sonnet, the prose poem, and the envoi. She brings an easygoing musicality to her work, which ranges from parodic translations of Verlaine to instructions for making the perfect soup to a meditation on an Ecstasy trip. No artificial line between high and low culture divides Schwartz's world: she is equally intrigued by the metaphor of gardening, the work of artist Jenny Holzer, the bandits Frank and Jesse James (maybe distant relatives of Henry and William?), and the unintentional poetry of Craigslist's "missed connection" section.
Filled with wisdom, humor, and deep insight, See You in the Dark is poetry for readers not bounded by genre.
In the years after World War II, Westerners and Japanese alike elevated Zen to the quintessence of spirituality in Japan. Pursuing the sources of Zen as a Japanese ideal, Shoji Yamada uncovers the surprising role of two cultural touchstones: Eugen Herrigel’s Zen in the Art of Archery and the Ryoanji dry-landscape rock garden. Yamada shows how both became facile conduits for exporting and importing Japanese culture.
First published in German in 1948 and translated into Japanese in 1956, Herrigel’s book popularized ideas of Zen both in the West and in Japan. Yamada traces the prewar history of Japanese archery, reveals how Herrigel mistakenly came to understand it as a traditional practice, and explains why the Japanese themselves embraced his interpretation as spiritual discipline. Turning to Ryoanji, Yamada argues that this epitome of Zen in fact bears little relation to Buddhism and is best understood in relation to Chinese myth. For much of its modern history, Ryoanji was a weedy, neglected plot; only after its allegorical role in a 1949 Ozu film was it popularly linked to Zen. Westerners have had a part in redefining Ryoanji, but as in the case of archery, Yamada’s interest is primarily in how the Japanese themselves have invested this cultural site with new value through a spurious association with Zen.
Today’s film scholars draw from a dizzying range of theoretical perspectives—they’re just as likely to cite philosopher Gilles Deleuze as they are to quote classic film theorist André Bazin. To students first encountering them, these theoretical lenses for viewing film can seem exhilarating, but also overwhelming.
Thinking in the Dark introduces readers to twenty-one key theorists whose work has made a great impact on film scholarship today, including Rudolf Arnheim, Sergei Eisenstein, Michel Foucault, Siegfried Kracauer, and Judith Butler. Rather than just discussing each theorist’s ideas in the abstract, the book shows how those concepts might be applied when interpreting specific films by including an analysis of both a classic film and a contemporary one. It thus demonstrates how theory can help us better appreciate films from all eras and genres: from Hugo to Vertigo, from City Lights to Sunset Blvd., and from Young Mr. Lincoln to A.I. and Wall-E.
The volume’s contributors are all experts on their chosen theorist’s work and, furthermore, are skilled at explaining that thinker’s key ideas and terms to readers who are not yet familiar with them. Thinking in the Dark is not only a valuable resource for teachers and students of film, it’s also a fun read, one that teaches us all how to view familiar films through new eyes.
Theorists examined in this volume are: Rudolf Arnheim, Béla Balázs, Roland Barthes, André Bazin, Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Stanley Cavell, Michel Chion, Gilles Deleuze, Jean Douchet, Sergei Eisenstein, Jean Epstein, Michel Foucault, Siegfried Kracauer, Jacques Lacan, Vachel Lindsay, Christian Metz, Hugo Münsterberg, V. F. Perkins, Jacques Rancière, and Jean Rouch.
The American film noir, the popular genre that focused on urban crime and corruption in the 1940s and 1950s, exhibits the greatest amount of narrative experimentation in the modern American cinema. Spurred by postwar disillusionment, cold war anxieties, and changing social circumstances, these films revealed the dark side of American life and , in doing so, created unique narrative structures in order to speak of that darkness. J.P. Telotte's in-depth discussion of classic films noir--including The Lady from Shanghai, The Lady in the Lake, Dark Passage, Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, and Murder, My Sweet--draws on the work of Michel Foucault to examine four dominant noir narrative strategies.