Daily | Badiou, Mungiu, Champetier—and Zombies

Beyond the Hills

‘Beyond the Hills’

Alain Badiou‘s “recent writings on cinema might be read as a kind of dialogue with Deleuze, a sometime enemy who has deeply marked his thought,” writes Nico Baumbach in the Los Angeles Review of Books. “Cinema, a collection of interviews and occasional pieces spanning more than half a century, offers not a systematic work of philosophy so much as a philosopher’s engagements with an art form over a period of time.” And “the guiding, Deleuzian thread may be the question of cinema’s relation to thought. How does one understand the novelty of particular films, and of cinema in general, as both a resource for thought and a specific way of thinking? Or as Badiou poses this question in an interview with Cahiers du cinema in 1998, ‘What does cinema think that nothing but it can think?'”

Also in the LARB, Costica Bradatan has put together a dossier on Beyond the Hills (2012), and in Bradatan’s interview with Cristian Mungiu, the director has a few things to say that aren’t entirely unrelated to Baumbach’s piece: “Would an American viewer and a Romanian viewer take the same things from this film? No. Would a believer and an atheist read it in the same way? No…. Therefore, to be objective or precise with ‘the message’ of the film is just an illusion. And this shouldn’t be the concern of a filmmaker. Films shouldn’t, and can’t, be precise in that respect—they can depict attitudes, characters, situations, but they can’t interpret.”

Jean Harris tells the true story Beyond the Hills is loosely based on, that of Maricica Irina Cornici, who died at the age of 23 “after an exorcism performed over several days in June 2005 at the Holy Trinity Monastery, a convent located in Tanacu (Vaslui County, Romania).” Anikó Imre on the Romanian New Wave: “We watch how ordinary people’s days turn grotesque under extraordinary circumstances.” And Clara Dawson and Jolyon Mitchell discuss the “disjuncture between medicalized mental illness and centuries-old religious traditions.”

“One evening, in the car, coming back from watching the dailies, I remember asking him: ‘But how is it that when you frame a shot, it’s so obviously a Jean-Luc Godard shot?’ He said to me, ‘The difference between me and other people is that I frame the world (cadrer) and other people encircle it (encadrer).'” For the Notebook, Ted Fendt‘s translated a talk given by cinematographer Caroline Champetier at the La Roche-sur-Yon International Film Festival in October 2012. Besides JLG, Champetier’s worked with the likes of Léos Carax, Nobuhiro Suwa, and Claude Lanzmann.

“Zombies have become the way we imagine radical revolutionary change,” argues John Powers at the Airship. “More surprising, the zombie apocalypse is as close as we have come in the past 30-odd years to producing a convincing utopian vision for the future that grows out of our present circumstances.”

Back in the 1980s, “film studies explicitly took up theoretical debates about the canon that were raging in literary studies,” writes Chris Cagle. The “canon wars” never really reached a definitive conclusion, he argues, which leaves him wondering if it might now be possible to settle on “an expanded or supplemental canon, or a half-canon or canon-prime if you will, a broader set of films that encourages us to think and watch broadly while giving us some guidance in the process.”

In an excerpt from n+1‘s ebook, Solutions from Hell: Ten Years of War Writing, A.S. Hamrah looks back to the War on Terror at the movies.

At Alternate Takes, James MacDowell, who’s revisited Richard Linklater‘s Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) after seeing Before Midnight, considers “the relationship between these films and the genres of romantic comedy and romantic melodrama; and secondly, relatedly, in terms of the series’ representations of gender. My hope is to express something of what makes these films so unusual and valuable, but also to suggest some ways in which it makes sense to view them as entering into a dialogue with certain longstanding traditions in the fictional treatment of romantic love.”

Nick Pinkerton at Sundance Now on Larry Clark and Harmony Korine: “It’s doubtful that either man, any more than most of us, understands the entire truth about their motives in life or art, but the particular enduring strength of Kids [1995] must owe something to the chemical reaction created by the admixture of these two personalities, one resolutely unserious, the other unnervingly sincere…. Neither Korine nor Clark has bettered this, their debut.”

Philip Ziegler’s Olivier is a “lucid, revealing account of a long life dedicated centrally to the theatre and peripherally, profitably and with an initial patronizing reluctance, to the cinema and TV,” writes Philip French in the Observer. “In his first major film, the period drama Fire Over England, he became the lover of his co-star, the bipolar Vivien Leigh, then the wife of a wealthy older man. There was real passion here, and the pair found stardom in Hollywood at the end of the decade, she in Gone With the Wind, he in Wuthering Heights and Rebecca. They eventually married, though he was later to say, unkindly but accurately, that she was ‘barking fucking mad from the word go.'” And here’s how Geoffrey Macnab opens a piece for the Independent: “You can’t miss the masochism in Vivien Leigh’s screen characters. She excelled at suffering.”

DVD/Blu-ray. “A dozen long-vanished films again see the light of day in the new DVD anthology from the National Film Preservation Foundation, Lost and Found: American Treasures From the New Zealand Film Archive,” writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times. “A few have big names attached to them—John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Mabel Normand—but every movie here has its own fascination, some for social and historical reasons, others as entertainment pure and simple.” Five out of five stars from Gary W. Tooze.

Ingmar Bergman once “said that when he conceived Autumn Sonata [1978], he considered no other actresses for the two main roles” than Liv Ullmann and Ingrid Bergman. Farran Nehme for Criterion: “He didn’t say why, nor did he need to.”

Los Angeles. In conjunction with the exhibition Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film, opening today and on view through February 2, LACMA will be presenting a series of film programs. The first, The Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, runs through October 11.

Adele Horne will be at the Egyptian tonight for a screening of her 2012 film Maintenance.

San Francisco. Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s The Gospel According to Saint Matthew (1965) screens this evening at the Pacific Film Archive. Michael Guillén‘s posted an overview of “the sequential waves of criticism reacting to the film.”

New York. “T.J. Wilcox’s In the Air is the year’s second major museum installation that harks back to the 19th century moving panoramas and kindred spectacles that amazed audiences with gigantic painted vistas of mountains, cities, and seascapes,” writes J. Hoberman at Artinfo. “In a way, it’s a frozen city symphony.”

London.Tacita Dean’s film JG, showing at Frith Street Gallery until 26 October, was inspired by a correspondence with J.G. Ballard shortly before his death from cancer in 2009,” notes Mark Blacklock, blogging for the LRB. “Dean was interested in the connections between Ballard’s short story ‘The Voices of Time’ (1960) and Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970), a 1500-foot earthwork built into the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Ballard urged Dean to ‘treat it as a mystery that your film will solve.'”

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