Brandon Konecny reviews Cinema, a new collection of essays by Alain Badiou: “For the first time in an English translation, the French philosopher’s over 50 years’ worth of writing on film is collected in this stimulating volume, including his essays, reviews, lectures, and interviews…. If his writings on film can be distilled down to one central concern, it is cinema’s disposition as an impure art, the ‘plus-one’ of the arts, whereby it takes the most accessible conventions of its predecessors—be they those of painting, literature, dance, music, or theater—and uses them for its own purposes, while giving nothing to them in return. It can thus only realize its own ontology, its very being, by way of its artistic thievery, as it were.”
Also at Film International, Patrick McGilligan, known for his biographies of Fritz Lang, Oscar Micheaux, Nicholas Ray, and more, and Anne Edwards, also an accomplished biographer (her subjects have included Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, Vivien Leigh, and Ronald Reagan), discuss Edwards’s 2012 book, Leaving Home: A Hollywood Blacklisted Writer’s Years Abroad, “a powerful memoir that weaves the history of the blacklist and her own intimate and professional experiences into a moving testament of integrity and survival,” as McGilligan puts it. “The honest pleasures of this book include many capsule portraits of prominent as well as overlooked blacklist victims.”
C. Jerry Kutner at Bright Lights on Spencer Selby’s The Worldwide Film Noir Tradition: The Complete Reference to Classic Dark Cinema from America, Britain, France and Other Countries Across the Globe: “This is essentially a book of lists. But they are great lists.”
Prompted, perhaps, by Jeff Bezos’s purchase of the Washington Post, the New Yorker‘s Richard Brody looks back on some of the best American movies about newspapers.
Mike D’Angelo, Noel Murray, Keith Phipps, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson, Matt Singer, and Scott Tobias discuss Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985) at the Dissolve. Keith Phipps follows up: “Anyone who’s found reading Orwell instructive of late might do well to turn next to Brazil, which at times plays like an analog prophecy of digital-age nightmares to come.”
“There has, inevitably, been a lot of hype about the latest film to emerge from Saudi Arabia—not least because any full-length Saudi feature is an event in itself.” Toby Lichtig in the TLS: “This is a country with no public cinemas and almost no film industry to speak of. So the fact that Wadjda is a film about the struggle of women, and is directed by a woman, makes it even more remarkable… With this sort of baggage, it could be tricky to judge the film on its own merits. Fortunately, Wadjda stands up capably to scrutiny, partly because it is a charming and generally well-made film, and partly because, in its very softness, its subtlety, it reveals a powerful, subversive intelligence.”
Martin Scorsese on a single cut in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) via Filmmaker IQ
For New York, Scott Brown talks with screenwriter Damon Lindelof, primarily known for Star Trek Into Darkness and for fixing the third act of World War Z, about “Hollywood’s gigantism,” which, as “Lindelof points out, is practically algorithmic—and the effect tendrils all the way down to the storytelling level. When ever-larger sums are spent to make and market ever-fewer, ever-bigger movies, and those movies are aimed at Imax screens, then world-shattering comic-book I.P. and gigantic special effects are expected, with larger-than-life characters wielding those effects. No one necessarily asks for it; it just kind of happens. It’s what Lindelof calls Story Gravity, and dealing with it—whether that means resisting it or simply surfing it skillfully—is the great challenge of writing this new breed of tentpole blockbuster. The question used to be: How do we top ourselves? The new one seems to be: How do we stop ourselves?“
“The biggest taboo in American cinema may be the direct-to-video (DTV) market,” writes Steve Erickson at RogerEbert.com. “At heart, what seems worthwhile to me about vulgar auteurism is its championing of the best DTV genre films.” And Steve argues the cases for John Hyams, Isaac Florentine, and Roel Reine.
In the works. Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep are re-teaming for The Good House, reports the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth: “Michael Cunningham (The Hours, A Home at the End of the World) will adapt [Ann Leary’s novel], a dramedy that tells the story of a recovering alcoholic finding love once again.” Streep’s also collaborating with Jeff Bridges for the first time on The Giver, an adaptation of the young adult Newberry Medal award-winning sci-fi novel.
Quentin Tarantino on Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) via Filmmaker IQ
With 2 Guns opening Locarno today, Baltasar Kormákur is now preparing his next project, Everest, an “action-adventure drama [based on] a disastrous 1996 multi-expedition assault on Everest that left eight climbers dead,” reports John Hopewell in Variety. “Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Hawkes and Jason Clarke are in advanced talks to star, he confirmed.”