Apichatpong Weerasethakul‘s new ten-minute short, Cactus River (Khong Lang Nam), debuts tomorrow on the Walker Channel. The Walker Art Center’s Sheryl Mousley notes that “the work’s title provides the sense of mystery that we have come to know through all of Weerasethakul’s work: a desert plant with the name of a waterway. It doesn’t make geographic sense, but conjures an image of what will happen to the Mekong if anticipated dams are built—making a veritable cactus-filled river.”
In other news. John Hooper‘s met Emir Kusturica in Visegrad for the Guardian. “In one of the most beautiful spots in the Balkans, the former Yugoslavia’s most celebrated film director was showing the Guardian around his most ambitious and controversial project to date—a town within a town that will echo in wood and stone the region’s greatest work of fiction. Published in 1945 by the Nobel laureate Ivo Andric, The Bridge on the Drina tells the violent story of Bosnia through events on and around Visegrad’s magnificent 16th-century Ottoman bridge.” The project will encompass “an Ottoman caravanserai, an Austro-Hungarian academy of fine arts, an Orthodox church, a bookshop, a new town hall, a hotel, a marina, a helipad and an opera house in which Kusturica plans to stage the premiere of a work he is writing, based on Andric’s masterpiece.”
The AFI Fest, running November 1 through 8, has announced the Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings.
Reading. Paul Ramaeker delves further into his exploration of the supernatural romantic melodrama.
“Last night I was in the Kingdom of Shadows. If you only knew how strange it is to be there.” John Wyver reports from Pordenone on a reconstruction of sorts: “Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre was an attraction at the Paris Universelle Exposition in 1900. It was presented in its own pavilion on the side of the Seine, where visitors watched a sequence of short films—some with synchronized sound, and some with hand-colored images—of the stage stars of the day.” And he follows up with another Le Giornate del Cinema Muto roundup.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s posted an excerpt from David Thomson’s The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies. As for further updates on the death of film culture debates, Richard Brody and Glenn Kenny have responded to Jason Bailey‘s… thing for the Atlantic, speaking up in particular in defense of Alain Resnais; and Matt Singer chimes in at Criticwire: “But this piece isn’t about what critics think, it’s about what the movies themselves think, and there are no less than four opening in theaters today that are specifically about the continuing power of movies. Four. In one weekend. Critics have had their say, now the movies get their turn: they’re not going anywhere.”
The San Francisco Bay Guardian‘s Cheryl Eddy talks with producer Irwin Yablans—John Carpenter‘s Halloween (1978), David Schmoeller’s Tourist Trap (1979), Mark L. Lester’s Roller Boogie (1979), and Tom DeSimone’s Hell Night (1981)—about his new autobiography, The Man Who Created Halloween: How a Bit of Desperation and Inspiration Gave Birth to the Movie That Changed Hollywood.
Mas y Mas‘s October issue focuses on improvisation.
New York. On the day that Catherine Grant‘s “just bumped into” a stash of lectures from David Lean, 100th Anniversary Conference that took place in London in 2008, Brief Encounter (1945), “sheer perfection—the gold standard of tragic romances” (Keith Uhlich in Time Out New York), opens at Film Forum for a week-long run. “Brief Encounter contains a lot of conflicting ideas and possible interpretations,” writes Vadim Rizov at the L. “The six-times married Lean (then only on his second spouse) understands Laura’s urges, but the film has a gay cult following attuned to its shadow narrative (attributed to Noël Coward, whose play was greatly expanded for filming), in which the couple must hide their urges from the world around them much like criminalized gay men. [Trevor] Howard didn’t understand why his second ever film role didn’t end in consummation. (Lean told biographer Kevin Brownlow that Howard asked ‘They know jolly well this chap’s borrowed a flat, they know exactly why she’s coming back to him, why doesn’t he fuck her?’) That frustration is intensely felt (if slightly enervating in its second act, which can only repeat itself), but Brief Encounter is most compactly understood as a monument to romance as antisocial pact, an appeal both specific to its time and place and one with universal lure.”
Also at Film Forum for a week is a new DCP restoration, in 3D no less, of Jack Arnold‘s Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Steve Macfarlane at Slant: “A much more antic, exploitative experience than the Frankenstein/Wolfman/Mummy/Dracula pictures it stands alongside, Creature from the Black Lagoon perfectly typifies the transition from older, more European horror styles into bloodthirsty schlock and ever-cheaper thrills.”
“Seldom given over to the Borgesian narrative trickery and disorienting dream imagery that mark films like The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, apart from the recurring image of a severed head that doubles as the clapper of a church bell, Tristana is nevertheless a virtual compendium of Buñuel‘s characteristic themes and motifs,” writes Budd Wilkins in Slant. Tristana is at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and, at MUBI’s Notebook, Adrian Curry collects posters for “Buñuel’s 1970 masterpiece” from around the world.
Chicago. Dark Ages: The Films of Aleksei Guerman is on at the Gene Siskel Film Center through the end of the month, and the Reader‘s Ben Sachs recommends catching Khrustalyov, My Car! as well as “reading up on the ‘doctors’ plot‘ of 1952, which factors heavily in the narrative, and checking out J. Hoberman‘s well-researched essay on the movie that Film Comment published in 1999. I’d say that Hoberman’s piece contains spoilers, but the film is disconcerting even if you know what’s going to happen.” Also: A preview of two 24-hour horror marathons, Music Box of Horrors and the Portage’s Massacre.
Seattle. The Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival is on through October 21, and at the Stranger, David Schmader has “mini-reviews of five of the films” and Charles Mudede reviews I Stand Corrected, Andrea Meyerson’s documentary about about Jennifer Leitham, “a highly regarded and talented jazz bassist.”
Los Angeles. “A diverse quartet of film festivals open this weekend celebrating Spanish cinema, women directors, horror films and international films.” Susan King on local goings on in the Times.
Ghent. There’s a Romy Schneider exhibition on view at Caermersklooster through January 13.
Vienna. Urbanize! Filming the City – from below is on at the Austrian Film Museum through the weekend.
In the works. David Fincher “has turned to Kickstarter to get a long-gestating project, his PG-13 animated adaptation of Eric Powell’s comic The Goon, off the ground.” Caroline Stanley has more at Flavorwire.
“Jodie Foster is attached to direct financial drama Money Monster.” Pamela McClintock has details in the Hollywood Reporter.
“Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone will stoke the embers of old glories when they play a pair of ageing bulls in the boxing saga Grudge Match,” reports the Guardian‘s Xan Brooks.
Obit. Also in the Guardian, Michael Carlson remembers actor and football player Alex Karras, who died on Wednesday, aged 77. Though he starred in the TV series Webster throughout the mid-80s, most will remember him as Mongo in Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles (1974).
Viewing. New trailers for Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, with Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Mark Strong, Jennifer Ehle, Kyle Chandler, and Edgar Ramirez; and Ruben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad, with Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Robert Patrick, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Mackie, Emma Stone, and Sean Penn.
More browsing? The cinetrix‘s got lots.