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The Other Woman

Posted By Alex Belth On January 26, 2012 @ 1:15 pm In 1: Featured,Arts and Culture,Criticism,Million Dollar Movie | Comments Disabled

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Nice piece by Sarah Weinman over at Slate on Penelope Gilliatt [2]:

In her first few years at The New Yorker Gilliatt wrote, as sharply as she ever had, on films as varied as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. She’d always made the case for comedy as an art form, helping to revive the reputation of the “poetic widower” Buster Keaton with a crucial 1964 profile in the Observer. In The New Yorker that advocacy continued. “Maybe all funniness has a tendency to throw settled things into doubt,” she wrote in The New Yorker about a Jacques Tati revival. “Where most people will automatically complete an action, a great comedian will stop in the middle to have a think about that point of it, and the point will often vanish before our eyes.” Even when Gilliatt got things wrong, sometimes spectacularly so, she did so with panache. (On the “Gynecological Gothic” 1968 Polanski film Rosemary’s Baby: “Why on earth does a major film-maker feel seduced by a piece of boo-in-the-night like this story?”)

Gilliatt also thrived, at first, on the half-year schedule of reviewing films in New York and writing for page and screen in London. Her screenplay for 1971’s Sunday, Bloody Sunday garnered an Oscar nomination—as well as [Pauline] Kael’s approval—for its sensitive portrayal of a love triangle between a divorced working woman, a well-off Jewish doctor, and the man they both fall for. (Triangles figured prominently in Gilliatt’s fiction, from her 1965 debut novel One by One to the playlet Property, a devastating portrayal of a woman caught, like chattel, between her first two husbands.)* Her strongest short-story collection, Nobody’s Business (1972), featured charming, off-kilter, dialogue-driven portraits of those looking for “grace of mortal order” in a chaotic world. (One prescient story looks at the relationship between a cyberneticist and his creation, FRANK, for “Family Robot Adapted to the Needs of Kinship.”)


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[1] Image: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/sunday.jpg

[2] piece by Sarah Weinman over at Slate on Penelope Gilliatt: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2012/01/the_uneasy_partnership_of_pauline_kael_and_penelope_gilliatt.html

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