R. Emmet Sweeney
R. Emmet Sweeney

R. Emmet Sweeney grew up in Buffalo, NY, where as a teen he haunted the few art cinemas in town. Soon he was gainfully employed slinging popcorn and ticket stubs in one of those theaters, where the restorations of TOUCH OF EVIL and REAR WINDOW inflamed his cinephilic passions. Further stoked by the film sections at the Village Voice and the Chicago Reader, he devoured as many moving images as he could, becoming an unrepentant auteurist in the process.

He earned a Masters degree in Cinema Studies from New York University, and has been writing about the movies ever since. His work has appeared in Film Comment, Time Out Chicago, The Believer, IFC News, the Village Voice, Moving Image Source, and most proudly, Baseball Prospectus. He lives in Brooklyn with his wondrous wife and the Ford at Fox box set. Follow him on Twitter at @r_emmet.

Posts by R. Emmet Sweeney

Over the last few months I have been exploring the films of Luis Garcia Berlanga, an acerbic Spaniard who turned Franco-era fascist bureaucracy into grim comedy. In Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall (1953) a poor town dresses up as a romantic Andalusian village to impress impending American visitors, while in Placido (1961) a group of moralizing middle-class businessmen use the […]

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Guru Dutt is a tragic figure in Bollywood history, a tremendously talented actor and filmmaker who committed suicide at the age of 39. He was able to direct eight films before his passing, the most famous of which is Pyaasa (1957), an intensely moving melodrama about a struggling poet, Vijay (played by Dutt). It is a movie […]

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Last week I listed Luis Garcia Berlanga’s Placido (1961) as one of my film discoveries of 2016. A devilishly funny account of Christmastime sanctimony, it was the first film I had seen by Berlanga. Luckily, The Criterion Channel of FilmStruck is streaming four more of his films so I can get further acquainted with this acidic Spaniard. […]

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As 2016 staggers to a close, I am looking back at the pockets of film pleasure I enjoyed from the year that was. This season is clogged with lists, and here I offer another, though one more suited to the historically minded viewers of TCM and FilmStruck. It is a list of my favorite old […]

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Placido (1961) takes place over the course of one chaotic Christmas Eve night as a provincial Spanish town desperately tries to prove its Christian charity. It is a ferociously funny black comedy about performative morality, in which the homeless are used as props to stroke the middle classes’ ego. It is directed by Luis Garcia Berlanga (The […]

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In the first shot of her first film, Athina Rachel Tsangari depicts a close up of a warring kiss, two tongues battling for position. This image from Fit, her 1994 short film, is one not of love or lust but of utility, the tongue turned into a tool. Throughout her career Tsangari has made a skill […]

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On November 14th Leon Russell passed away at the age of 74, after a remarkable career in music. He started as a sought-after studio session ace, working on everything from the Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra to the “Monster Mash.” Drawn to roots music of all kinds, when he started his rock band it played […]

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Ornette Coleman’s symphony “Skies of America” was conceived in 1965, recorded in 1972, and performed intermittently in the ensuing decades. It was something of a grand introduction to Coleman’s “harmolodic” compositional method, the term a portmanteau of harmony, motion and melody, and required a full orchestra alongside Coleman’s working jazz quartet. Due to budget limitations […]

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“I squandered a really good career. What can I say?” – Paul Brickman to Salon After the phenomenal success of Risky Business (1983), writer-director Paul Brickman was offered hundreds of screenplays to adapt. Brickman rejected them all, including future hits Rain Man and Forrest Gump. Frustrated with the Geffen Film Company’s imposed happy ending on Risky Business, he instead bided his time until Men […]

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La Ciénaga (2001) translates as “The Swamp”, and it is a fetid, decaying film—its forests overgrown and its characters unwashed. For her feature debut, Lucrecia Martel depicts the dissolution of a middle-class Argentine family through sound and set design. To escape the humid city during the summer, they retreat to their country home, a rotting edifice […]

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