Movie Diary 7/26/2016

Hell-Bound Train (James and Eloyce Gist, c. 1930). Another item from the “Pioneers of African-American Cinema” set, this time a 50-minute piece meant to be shown in churches (the filmmakers were an evangelist couple). It has the rhythm and imagery of a folk song, as a locomotive to Hades contains examples of sinners (drinkers, gamblers, people who enjoy jazz). Also a man in a devil costume, rejoicing at each transgression. This is the real deal, unfiltered American folklore.

The Exile (Oscar Micheaux, 1931), The Girl from Chicago (Micheaux, 1932), Veiled Aristocrats (Micheaux, 1932). Early-sound items from the astonishing entrepreneur Micheaux, whose fluid silent-movie style took a hit when sound came in. These three take on political issues, the issues associated with trying to pass for white, and displacement.

Jason Bourne (Paul Greengrass, 2016). Matt Damon returns to the role after nine years, and Greengrass gets rid of the usual scenes of people talking and focuses the film on a series of suspense scenes. Not a bad way to approach it. (full review 7/29)

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