Janis Joplin

By Ellen Willis From The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, 1980 Janis Joplin was born in 1943 and grew up in Port Arthur, Texas. She began singing in bars and coffeehouses, first locally, then in Austin, where she spent most of a year at the...

The Clear Line

By Luc Sante From Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers!, 2004 In a corner of my office, on top of a bookcase, lies a hunting horn—a sort of bugle, curved in the manner of a French horn. It has occupied a place in my inner sanctum wherever I’ve lived since childhood....

French Fries and Sympathy

By James Wolcott Texas Review, May 1982 Coffee and Coca-Cola, the crackling hiss of food on the fry, the ring of laughter in a bustling room—Diner, written and directed by Barry Levinson, is a bittersweet reverie about the pleasures of noshing and chumming about until...

Buster Keaton

By Charles Simic From Writers at the Movies, 2000 Only recently, with their issue on videotape, have all the films of Buster Keaton become widely available. It’s likely one may have seen The General (1926) in some college course, or caught a couple of shorts at some...

Stop Making Sense

By Pauline Kael The New Yorker, November 26, 1984 Stop Making Sense makes wonderful sense. A concert film by the New York new-wave rock band Talking Heads, it was shot during three performances at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in December, 1983, and the footage has...

The Kerouac Legacy

By Seymour Krim From Shake it For the World, Smartass, 1965 I met Kerouac only twice, both for brief periods of not more than 15 minutes, and communication between us was abrupt and unreal. What I wrote about the man and writer was the result of feeling, experience...

Something Wild

By Pauline Kael The New Yorker, November 17, 1986 For seven decades of romantic screwball comedies, sexy, smart, funny women have been waking up heroes who, through fear or shyness or a stuffy educational background, were denying their deepest impulses. The women...

Once Upon a Time in America

By Michael Sragow Boston Phoenix, March 5, 1985 Now that it’s arrived in its uncut, 227-minute, director-approved form, Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America emerges as a pulp masterwork—at once the simplest and most indescribable of movies. In a sense, it’s just...

The Untouchables

By Pauline Kael The New Yorker, June 29, 1987 Chicago circa 1930—AI Capone’s capital of crime—looks so much better than New York City looks right now that local audiences for The Untouchables may feel somewhat chagrined. Chicago still has solid traces of Louis...