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A Touch of Sin

Jia Zhangke’s ‘A Touch of Sin’

This week, we lost visual effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, director, screenwriter, and actor Bryan Forbes, and the world’s first underground movie star, Taylor Mead. Venice named Bernardo Bertolucci president of the jury for its upcoming 70th edition, the debates over Zero Dark Thirty were revived, as were films once Booed at Cannes, Gabe Klinger launched his Kickstarter campaign for Cinéma, de notre temps: James Benning and Richard Linklater, and we caught up with a slew of other projects in the works.

Now to catch up with what all else has gone on since Monday, and we begin with Cannes, opening on Wednesday with Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby—but of course, we already know what most critics think about that one. The next day, Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring opens Un Certain Regard, and the Hollywood Reporter‘s put Coppola on its cover, flagging Stephen Galloway‘s profile.

‘Heli’ Clip from The Playlist on Vimeo.

The Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth has posted that mightily impressive clip from Amat Escalante‘s Competition entry Heli. And, when the lineup was announced, the one Competition title I could find next to nothing on was Jia Zhangke‘s A Touch of Sin. Well, at In Contention, Guy Lodge has done some serious digging: “[E]ffectively Jia’s first studio film (a collaboration between the director’s own Xstream Productions and the heavyweight Shanghai Film Group), it’s a sprawling multi-narrative drama taking place across a range of social and geographical environments, rural and urban, within contemporary China. Plot details are vague for what Jia has described as a ‘major production’ and a ‘road movie with action scenes’; lest you think the socially conscious auteur has gone wholly wu xia on us, we’re also told its four interwoven stories reflect on China as ‘an economic giant being slowly eroded by violence.’ Shot over five months with the director’s largest crew to date, the film weighs in at 135 minutes—one of the Competition’s bulkier entries.” FilmoFilia has a first batch of photos.

Meantime, as Melanie Goodfellow reports for Screen Daily, the festival has confirmed that Gilles Jacob, now 83 and president since 2001 and CEO since 1977, will step down in 2015. And via Cédric Succivalli comes word that six films have been shortlisted for the Queer Palm 2013: the omnibus film Bombay Talkies, screening Out of Competition; Guillaume Gallienne’s Me Myself and Mum (Directors’ Fortnight); Yann Gonzalez’s Les Rencontres d’après minuit (Critics’ Week); Alain Guiraudie’s L’Inconnu du lac (Un Certain Regard); and in Competition, Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Vie d’Adele and Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra (which has a new, more revealing UK trailer, by the way).

More festival news. The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival has wrapped, its awards presented, and Mark Lukenbill‘s got the full list of winners at Indiewire—where Peter Knegt reports that Athens will be the focus of Toronto‘s fifth City to City program (September 5 through 15), Erin Whitney has the lineup for the 60th Sydney Film Festival (June 5 through 16), and Cristina A. Gonzalez‘s got the lineup for the Brooklyn Film Festival (May 31 through June 9).

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix on the set of Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’

“A trio of splashy, late entries to the Los Angeles Film Festival were announced Wednesday,” reports Chris Lee in the Times: “the mega-budget summer movies Man of Steel and Monsters University, as well as an in-person discussion with indie auteur Spike Jonze that will include footage from his upcoming feature, Her.” June 13 through 23.

In the Guardian, Daniel Dylan Wray previews the 20th Sheffield Doc/Fest, running from June 12 through 16.

In other news. “Rewarding independence of mind and originality of style, the 62nd Jean Vigo Prize was awarded to The Enclosure of Time by Jean-Charles Fitoussi,” reports Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa.

And in theaters. I’m loving what James Kang is doing at Critics Round Up. After just a few weeks, he’s already proven that the site will be what we all hoped it’d be. Take a look at what critics are saying about, for example, Sarah Polley‘s Stories We Tell, Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, Wang Bing’s Three Sisters, Olivier Assayas‘s Something in the Air, Song Fang’s Memories Look at Me, and Jared Moshé’s Dead Man’s Burden. I also appreciate James’s kind words about the Daily, just as I appreciate the way Critics Round Up will free me up to concentrate on newsier developments, notable essays, and what all. Which isn’t to say I won’t carry on rounding up, of course. But I think that we may well end up complementing each other pretty nicely.

Cahiers du Cinéma

The May (not April) issue

Reading. Every now and then, David Davidson sees something in Cahiers du Cinéma he believes the English-speaking realm of cinephilia needs to know about, and in the April issue, it’s a dossier on “a new generation of young French filmmakers who are incorporating a new lyricism in their films.”

“How can one consider the relation between cinema and politics today, in an era that has been branded as one of both ‘post-politics’ and ‘post-cinema’?” asks Stoffel Debuysere.

Chris Marker‘s Sans Soleil and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner share more than the year of their making, 1982. I refer you to faces on posters. Also in 1982, Jonathan Rosenbaum was writing about Japanese cinema.

“It seems almost every cinephile I know has endorsed [Kent] Jones‘s response to Quentin Tarantino’s comments about John Ford,” writes Zach Campbell. “It’s a well-written piece, and as a critical refutation of QT it’s marvelous. But for me there was also a sticking point…”

Caleb Crain for the New Yorker on Upstream Color: “It can’t be accidental that [Shane] Carruth’s movie so strongly echoes Thoreau, the figure in American intellectual history who tried hardest to do his thinking apart from the hive mind. Indeed, the shape of Carruth’s career itself is distinctly Thoreauvian—in his suspicion of the compromises that come with money, in his insistence on doing for himself what other filmmakers usually have done for them, and in the economic austerity that his choices have imposed on his personal life…. My hunch is that Walden is the movie’s master key.” Elaboration follows. And I’m just going to throw this in here: “We might want to ask ourselves,” writes Wen Stephenson in the Nation, “if we’re really ready to walk in Thoreau’s footsteps, and what it might mean, at this radical moment, if we did.”

“Describing the universe of Lior Shamriz is a complex task,” writes Monica Delgado in desistfilm. “Unclassifiable in itself, the work of this Israeli-born, Berlin-based filmmaker has a vitality and creativity that has referents in cinema, but also in literature, painting, and overall in the mixtures that this burlesque genre offers.”

The great Dan Callahan talks with Fred Schepisi for Sight & Sound and writes about Lon Chaney and Eric Linden for the Chiseler.

A Crackup at the Race Riots

The new cover for the re-release

For the Paris Review, Christopher Biggs talks with Harmony Korine about the re-release of his novel, A Crack Up at the Race Riots.

At the Playlist, Dianna Drumm has notes from Max Von Sydow’s recent chat at TCM’s Classic Film Festival in which he discussed working with Ingmar Bergman and Woody Allen.

Filmmaker editor Scott Macaulay talks with Larry Gross about what it means to be an “independent screenwriter.”

For the Philadelphia City Paper, Bryan Bierman meets Garrett Brown, inventor of the Steadicam.

New York. “Heartbreaking and distanced, straightforward and oblique, Maniac Shadows, an autobiographical sound and image installation by Chantal Akerman, is impelled, like all of the artist’s films and gallery work, by the most primal relationship: the mother/child dyad.” On view through tomorrow at the Kitchen.

Overdue: Delmer Daves, programmed by critics Nick Pinkerton and Nicolas Rapold, opens tonight at Anthology. At Artinfo, Graham Fuller recommends the series running through Thursday.

San Francisco. Girls! Guns! Ghosts! The Sensational Films of Shintoho is on at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through May 26. “Exploitation specialist Shintoho is often described as ‘the Japanese American International Pictures,’ with output likened to Roger Corman’s oeuvre,” notes Cheryl Eddy in the Bay Guardian. “The comparison is apt, what with the overlapping timelines (Shintoho was active from 1949-1961) and shared love of low-budget productions chockablock with daring, sleazy, violent, racy, and otherwise beyond-the-mainstream themes.”

Also, Dennis Harvey: “Elliot Lavine’s latest Roxie noir retrospective, offering 30 features over two weeks, seems particularly heavy on vintage male charisma. Whether showcasing the seldom-noted comic chops of Humphrey Bogart, the seldom-appreciated star swagger of Victor Mature, or Cliff Robertson having an unusually credible (for the era) mental breakdown, the range of familiar and ultra-rare titles in I Wake Up Dreaming 2013 offers a compendium of variably tough guys in tougher situations.” Tonight through May 23.

Baltimore. The Maryland Film Festival is on through Sunday, and the lineup looks solid.

Vienna. The Austrian Film Museum’s intriguing series The Real Eighties: American Cinema, 1980-89 runs through June 23.

The Wind Rises

‘The Wind Rises’

In the works. Hideaki Anno, director of Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-96), “is providing the voice of the film’s lead character Horikoshi Jiro, the man who designed the Zero fighter plane used in the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II,” for Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, reports Hugo Ozman at Twitch.

“Owen Wilson will be joining Joaquin Phoenix and Benicio del Toro for director Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s last novel, Inherent Vice,” reports Alison Herman at Flavorwire.

Viewing (1’31”). A very promising trailer for Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.

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