With each new issue, the Brooklyn Rail asks a guest editor (or two) to take over a section it calls “Critic’s Page.” For the July/August issue, it’s an inside job, as Rachael Rakes and Leo Goldsmith are already on board as editors—film editors, more precisely (they’re both programmers as well) and their work is part of what makes the Brooklyn Rail a monthly must-read. “This month’s Critics Page,” they write, “is dedicated to the question of the status and position of moving image art today as it floats between—and beyond—the contexts of experimental and artists’ cinema, the film festival, and the gallery.”
“Why have the discussions of the state of ‘avant-garde/experimental/artists’ cinema; essentially remained the same for 30 years or so?” asks curator Chris Stults. Colin Beckett: “The 10 years during which I have paid serious attention to experimental film have unfolded as an extended funeral procession after the death of cinema.” Nicole Brenez: “Today, in order to briefly sum up the multiple platforms and channels through which moving images circulate, I speak of ‘cinematic arts.'”
For Lynne Sachs, “it is with a stubborn adolescent fury that I refuse to believe that the work I do as a filmmaker is being pushed so quickly and definitively from the three dimensional into the digital and ultimately to the virtual world.” Anja Dornieden and Juan David González Monroy present a suggestion for “a device that transforms the human body into a total recording and projecting machine.”
Bettina Steinbrügge suggests we “consider the common roots of the art world and the film world.” Christy Lemaster: “Moving image work is now officially undefinable and that is an exciting state of affairs for all involved.” But Mohammad Salemy argues that “cinema was condemned to an early death at birth through its immediate absorption in the development of the modern and contemporary popular culture on a global scale.”
Trailer for György Pálfi’s Free Fall
“Whether we consider this period as post-cinema, as a time of artistic interface, or a ‘filmless’ moment, there is an unfamiliar energy in the air,” finds Berta Sichel. Elle Burchill: “The state of cinema is as fluid as its technology.” Nuno Lisboa: “Robert Gardner’s recent passing made me think again about how images originate in other images, one’s gestures in another’s gestures, through an incalculable testimonial chain of new encounters.”
Writing about Vimeo, James N. Kienitz Wilkins notes that “the quest for larger and larger resolution is actually the elimination of the concept of resolution.” Roger Beebe: “I get that some in experimental film want to claim the prestige of art for our practice, but I am more inclined to reject that kind of prestige.”
Rebecca Cleman: “The presumption of an artists’ cinema as distinct from either art or cinema, rather than a true merging of the two, is part of what has been inhibiting more fruitful collaborations between the refugees of the two industries.” And both Eric Baudelaire and Jesse McLean address their own work in various exhibition contexts.
And there’s more. In the Film section, Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa considers two films screening in Japan Cuts (the series is on through Sunday), Huckleberry Lain writes about Robert Darroll, whose “works exemplify some of the most complex, ingenious, and poetic films made in the last few decades,” and Andrew Lampbert presents an excerpt from The George Kuchar Reader.
Catherine Grant alerts us to the new issue of aniki, the Portuguese Journal of the Moving Image. With a dossier on “Art and Cinema,” offerings in English include Cecília Mello‘s interview with Jia Zhangke and an accompanying essay, Marshall Deutelbaum on Raúl Ruiz‘s Mysteries of Lisbon (2010), Susan Felleman on the appearance of work by sculptor Elisabeth Frink in Joseph Losey‘s The Damned (1963), Angela Dalle Vacche on post-WWII art documentaries, Gabriele Jutz on Man Ray’s Le Retour à la raison (1923), Marcel Duchamp’s Anémic cinéma (1924–26) and Peter Tscherkassky’s Dream Work (2001), Volker Pantenburg on attention and distraction and Stephen Sarrazin on “three distinct approaches to the exhibition of what is ‘filmic’ in contemporary moving image culture.”
“States of Independence” is the name of the summer-long “celebration of American radicalism, youth and pop culture” at Dazed. That doesn’t sound too inviting, I know, but this week is all about film and you may well want to see, for example, David Gordon Green‘s annotated list of ten filmmakers to know about, an interview with Roman Coppola, advice for filmmakers from Janet Pierson, head of SXSW Film, or an assessment of the state of things from Oscilloscope Laboratories.
The New York Times‘ Dave Itzkoff heads up to Providence, Rhode Island, where Woody Allen is shooting a movie with Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix. For now, though, the conversation focuses on the film coming out on July 25. “Issues of artifice and uncertainty are pervasive in Mr. Allen’s work and life. Magic in the Moonlight is the latest of his films to exhibit his fascination with the early 20th century and to offer a philosophical arena where the forces of rationality and spirituality can duke it out, though it is no secret which side the author favors.”
“Stupid as it sounds, I miss it,” writes Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at the AV Club in a sort of brief history not only of his involvement in Ebert Presents: At the Movies but also of the evolution of the dueling critic format perfected by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
The Paris Review has posted an interview with novelist and screenwriter Daniel Fuchs (he won an Oscar in 1956 for Love Me or Leave Me) conducted by Aram Saroyan in 1989 and never before published—until now. At one point, Fuchs recalls working with William Faulkner: “He would walk down the studio path, erect, wearing a tight, blue, double-breasted blazer with brass buttons, always, alas, the same blue jacket, looking straight ahead of him, not a flicker on his face. There was a silent, secret tumult going on in that man.”
The remarkable run of movies he made before he was driven to leave Germany by the Nazi ascension helped define, if not originate, a handful of major film genres: the cliffhanger action film, with The Spiders (1919-20); the historical epic, with Die Nibelungen (1924); the science-fiction dystopia with Metropolis (1926); the spy thriller, with Spione (1927); the space opera, with The Woman in the Moon (1929); and even, in his first sound film, M (1931), the serial killer drama….
When he made The Spiders, Lang had clearly been under the immediate influence of Louis Feuillade’s serials, with their secret criminal organisations and insidious masterminds at the centre of an international web of intrigue. With The Weary Death (1921) and Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, Lang developed that world into something deeper and richer. Dr. Mabuse became one (or, rather, two) of the most legendary works of the silent era, properly defining Lang’s artistry not only in its moment, but for the next 40 years, as he returned to the film’s evil genius twice more, each at a crucial moment in his career, including his swan song.
Greg Ferrara at Movie Morlocks: “Fritz Lang’s small film, Fury, with Sylvia Sidney and Spencer Tracy, doesn’t get as much press as Metropolis, M, his Dr. Mabuse films, The Big Heat, or even Scarlet Street, but it’s an essential film in his career and one of his best.”
Writing for Criterion, Kim Newman argues that David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981) is “a literal mutation of 1970s paranoid thrillers like The Parallax View (1974) and Three Days of the Condor (1975), tossing psychic abilities into the mix of assassins, cover-ups, and compromised spies.”
As an actor, Ronald Reagan “cultivated an image of bland, uncomplicated affability. And then he smacked Angie Dickinson in the chops on the way out the door.” At the Dissolve, Scott Tobias revisits Don Siegel’s curious casting for The Killers (1964), an “overtly violent and brazenly sexual, a lurid, sadistic tour through the criminal underworld.”
Released just last year, Takashi Yamazaki’s latest is already one of the ten highest-grossing films of all time in Japan. “Populist and problematic,” writes Grady Hendrix for Film Comment, “Eternal Zero is an enormously effective movie, full of exciting aerial combat, engaging story twists, and compelling characterization, but it is a Japanese movie, made for a Japanese audience, and for an American, it’s almost shocking to see a film told from such a radically different point of view. World War II is so often considered a story of American exceptionalism that it’s disorienting not to see a single American in a story about it.”
Niles Schwartz for L’étoile on Eyes Wide Shut (1999): “I believe that it may be as appropriate a final work for a filmmaker as A Prairie Home Companion was for Robert Altman and The Dead was for John Huston. I believe that this was Stanley Kubrick’s most personal film.”
“Is Bong Joon-ho’s latest film, the quite remarkable Snowpiercer, an old-fashioned, backwards-looking film?” asks Michael Sicinski. “I would say no.” He elaborates in the Nashville Scene.
“I have an affinity for love stories that end badly and involve animation created by hand and on celluloid.” So Terrence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty) might have loved Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo unconditionally. But he does not, and explains why at the Talkhouse Film. For more on Mood, see Critics Round Up.
Trailer for the new restoration of Hotel Sahara (1951)
“In his fascinating new hour-long documentary, Stravinsky in Hollywood, made for European television and now released on DVD by C-Major, Marco Capalbo begins with the oft-quoted statistic that Igor Stravinsky lived in West Hollywood longer than he had anywhere else,” writes Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times. “The narrator says it with a betcha-didn’t-know-that tone. Everybody always says it that way.”
IN OTHER NEWS
Variety‘s Ramin Setoodeh broke the news: David Fincher’s Gone Girl will open the 52nd New York Film Festival (September 26 through October 12). The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Brian Brooks confirms that this will be the world premiere.
The Toronto International Film Festival has announced that this year’s edition (September 4 through 14) will feature a special 25th anniversary screening of Michael Moore’s Roger & Me and that Moore will be one of speakers. Eric Eidelstein has details at Indiewire.
John Sayles will attend the inaugural edition of the Reel East Film Festival, happening on August 22 and 23 in South Jersey.
New York. “There are at least 26 good reasons to straighten your stocking seams, touch up your lip rouge, and queue up for Film Forum’s Femmes Noir series, running from July 18 through August 7,” writes the Voice‘s Stephanie Zacharek. “Here are just three: Joan Crawford‘s long-suffering, pie-making matriarch in Mildred Pierce (July 18, 19 and 31); Gene Tierney’s ravishing, murderous schemer—one possessed of the most stunning overbite known to man—in Leave Her to Heaven (July 20 and 21 [more from Jeremy Polacek in the L]); and Jane Greer’s predatory faux angel, who comes shimmering along in a saucer-shaped halo of a hat, in one of the most unsparing and bleakly beautiful of all films noir, Out of the Past (also July 20 and 21).” And writing for Artforum, Melissa Anderson considers the strange case of Tay Garnett’s The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) with John Garfield and Lana Turner.
Recommendations from the L: Henry Stewart on Mary Harron’s American Psycho (2000; tomorrow at the Film Society of Lincoln Center), Aaron Cutler on Budd Boetticher’s The Tall T (1957; Saturday at Anthology) and John Oursler on Roberto Rossellini’s Journey to Italy (1954; Sunday at the Museum of the Moving Image).
Godard‘s The New World (1963), part 1
Philadelphia. In the City Paper, Shaun Brady previews Sunday’s Forgotten Film Festival, “featuring five films, none of which have seen official release on any format in the States. The eclectic lineup includes Patrick Swayze’s debut in the roller disco drama Skatetown U.S.A.; Hammer director Freddie Francis’s Son of Dracula, starring Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr; the U.S. release version of Blood by no-budget auteur Andy Milligan; Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things director Alan Ormsby’s first feature, the cruise-ship slasher Murder on the Emerald Seas; and the heretofore lost 1968 film The Satanist, unseen by audiences for nearly 50 years.”
Madrid. The exhibition Cine Bogart: Imaginar un Edificio (Bogart Cinema: Imagining a Building), which “theater as a laboratory for how to keep a city alive,” is on view at Centro Centro through October 12. Ari Akkermans considers the works at Hyperallergic.
IN THE WORKS
“Nina Menkes is developing a new film examining the Israel-Palestinian conflict through a loose re-telling of the Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotaur set against the backdrop of the Old City of Jerusalem in contemporary times.” Melanie Goodfellow reports for Screen Daily.
“HBO has acquired rights to the Tony Award-winning play All the Way.” As Lesley Goldberg notes in the Hollywood Reporter, Bryan Cranston “will reprise his Tony-winning Broadway debut role as President Lyndon Johnson, with Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan on board to adapt the play for HBO Films.”
“Zachary Quinto and Emma Roberts will be joining James Franco in the drama Michael, about an anti-gay pastor who was once gay himself,” reports Ramin Setoodeh for Variety. Gus van Sant is the executive producer and Justin Kelly will direct.
“Ron Howard is to direct a documentary about the early years of the Beatles,” reports the BBC.
Godard’s The New World (1963), part 2
Viewing (94’50”). At Dangerous Minds, Richard Metzger introduces Mario Schifano’s Umano Non Umano (Human Not Human, 1972), an “episodic documentary” featuring appearances by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Anita Pallenberg, Carmelo Bene and Alberto Moravia.
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