Let’s begin with David Phelps, writing for Lumière about Robert Beavers’s Listening to the Space in my Room (2013). The “constructivist universe of Beavers’s films—in which man, from Beavers’ earliest film diaries, shapes the universe through film into ritualized rhythms—has been aptly compared to Vertov‘s, but the differences could be those of a century. In Vertov, the Machine-Artist achieves perfect synchronicity within the mechanical world he has created, even as its very cog; the film itself is a record not of events that have happened, but a political promise of events to come. Beavers’s associational cross-cutting likewise displaces events from a chronologically-ordered past into a more speculative orbit, but it is evident there remains a sovereign reality beyond the transfigurations of a whisking camera and cross-cutting montage. It is a world apart: seen through windows, unsychronized with the soundtrack, vanishing in and out of darkness.”
Tom Hanks has a short story in the New Yorker, where you can listen to him read it (18’48”). Deborah Treisman asks him why he’s suddenly turned to writing fiction. “I’ve been around great storytellers all my life and, like an enthusiastic student, I want to tell some of my own. And I read so much nonfiction that the details stack up in my head and need a rearranging sometimes.”
“The films of David Mackenzie envision life as a never-ending whirlwind of experience, a cyclone of emotion constantly spinning out of control,” writes Glenn Heath Jr. in the Notebook—where Michael Pattison talks with Mike Hoolboom, whose Public Lighting (2004) is “about Madonna, Philip Glass, New York; it’s about identity and the inevitability of change; it’s about the amusing and tragic disconnect between unspoken desire and lived experience. More than anything, however, the film is about images: not just the literal, pre-existing and original footage that Hoolboom lays atop one another, but those ethereally conjured by association—with a mysterious glance, an erotic juxtaposition, a delicate superimposition or a musical cue.”
“Ratatouille is—in my humble opinion—the greatest animated film ever made,” declares Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales). “The 8th Pixar Studios film was written and directed by Brad Bird and released by Disney in 2007 to a worldwide gross of $623 million…. Bird was one of the chief animation architects for the first eight seasons of The Simpsons—and you can see its influence all over his three films—which subscribe to the Auteur Theory with increasing clarity in each subsequent release.”
Michael Koresky on Scorsese’s protagonists: “At one point or another in their respective careers—often of the criminal variety—these men are undeniable successes; but it’s success itself that quickens their downfalls. Hughes, in Scorsese’s 2004 biopic The Aviator, is perhaps the ultimate example of this trajectory, and perhaps the most disturbing: for him, success and failure are at all times inextricable.”
Also at Reverse Shot, Ben Parker revisits The Departed (2006), “which is about the perils of self-definition and the way our lives fit awkwardly with the person we feel ourselves in some way compelled to be.”
Bill Morrison: Collected Works (1996 – 2013), the new box set from Icarus Films, reveals Morrison “as not ‘just’ a manipulator of archival footage,” writes Glenn Kenny at RogerEbert.com. “Much of his short work is shot by the filmmaker, but like his found-footage films, these movies investigate and exploit the physical texture of film and its relation to narrative convention and innovation.”
Glenn‘s also got a new piece for Criterion: “As breakup songs go, ‘Dreaming My Dreams with You,’ written by country stalwart Allen Reynolds, is a tear-jerking doozy…. One of the best versions of the tune is heard in an unexpected context… Performed by Billy Kinsley in a spare, understated arrangement, it comes up, on little cat feet, so to speak (the acoustic guitar chords fade in oh so subtly), during a largely wordless scene in Nicolas Roeg’s intense, disturbing 1980 erotic thriller Bad Timing.”
Julianne Moore talks with Sarah Paulson for Interview.
“Why would any intelligent person who is already horrified by the news of the day want to watch horror movies?” asks New York‘s David Edelstein. “The answer is that, unlike earnest, realistic films with Good Housekeeping Seals of approval, horror movies—with their sadism, unapologetic sensationalism, lack of nuance, and avid gratification of pathological impulses—offer sharper, more acute versions of our worst-case scenarios, brilliant metaphors for what haunts us.”
Charles Isherwood in the New York Times: “Any given five minutes of the classic film noir Double Indemnity—I am tempted to say any single frame of the classic film noir Double Indemnity—packs more heat than the torpid two hours of Billy & Ray, a play by Mike Bencivenga about the combative collaboration between Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler on the movie’s screenplay.”
Muriel screens this afternoon and tonight at the French Institute Alliance Française. “In this 1963 film, Alain Resnais dramatizes France’s efforts to conceal the physical and moral damage of the Second World War and the Algerian War (which had just ended),” writes the New Yorker‘s Richard Brody. “Under Resnais’s direction, the clunky reconstruction of the devastated French town is as central to the action as the characters are, creating a blank and bleak setting for their oblivious chitchat. In effect, he attributes two French generations’ worth of neurotic, self-destructive behavior to the collective repression of history.”
Des Plaines, Illinois. Michael Smith‘s programmed Oakton Community College’s First Annual Pop-Up Film Festival featuring free screenings of Kris Swanberg’s Empire Builder (2012), tonight, followed by a Q&A with Swanberg; Melika Bass’s Shoals (2012), tomorrow, with Bass; John Rangel’s The Girls on Liberty Street (2013), Thursday, with Rangel; and Dan Sallitt‘s The Unspeakable Act (2012) on Friday.
Boston. A tenth anniversary screening of Henry Corra’s Same Sex America happens tonight at the Brattle.
IN THE WORKS
News from Phaidon: “The makers of Downton Abbey have revealed details of their next project—and it centers on the lives of the early members of the Magnum photo agency. Magnum’s René Burri who sadly passed away yesterday, will be depicted alongside Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David ‘Chim’ Seymour.”
Tanya Basu for the Atlantic: “He was the son of globalization—born in the Dominican Republic to a mother of Spanish descent and a father hailing from Puerto Rico. His was a family of intellectuals and civil servants. He dabbled in painting before diving into the cutthroat world of fashion design. He played bridge with investor whiz Warren Buffett and once nearly got in a fistfight with journalist William Norwich. And he was a true American pioneer. With the death of Oscar de la Renta on Monday night at the age of 82, the fashion world has lost not only a brilliantly talented artist but also arguably the very first American designer with street cred on the world’s runways.”
And following Arnaud Desplechin‘s, one more remembrance of Misty Upham at Eye for Film, this one from Kent Jones: “So what I remember of Misty is that she spoke and moved quietly, as if she were holding something in balance, something fragile. As Arnaud wrote, she knew perfectly well how to allow her pain to be filmed, and my memory of her is in alignment with her presence onscreen.”
Viewing (20’56”). Mat Kirby’s The Phone Call, starring Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent, “was the winner of Best Narrative Short at the Tribeca Film Festival this year, winner of the Silver Dragon for Best Fiction Short at the Krakow Film Festival and winner of Special Audience Recognition and Youth Jury Awards at Aspen Shortsfest, among others.” And you can watch it at Indiewire.