Daily | Books and Interviews, Listening and Viewing

Film Without Film

A conversation with Chris Petit (‘Radio On’)

We begin with a few notes on books to know about. Post-Nearly Press has released two lengthy conversations conducted by Neil Jackson, the first with Iain Sinclair, Improving the Image of Destruction, and the second with Chris Petit, Film Without Film.

For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Askold Melnyczuk reviews Alejandro Jodorowsky’s fantasmagorical memoir, Where the Bird Sings Best, “a book in which magic, circuses, gypsies, and virtual rabbis romp across just about every page… His heightened images point to underlying truths obscured by the speed of the magician’s hand. Jodorowsky aims to blind us until at last we see. In the end, Jodorowsky hopes to drive us toward the ultimate recognition: that we, or at any rate our selves, are the greatest illusion of all.” You’ll find excerpts at BOMB and Vice.

The BBC‘s adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor novels Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring Up the Bodies (2012) will premiere on PBS on April 5. The New York Review of Books has posted Mantel‘s notes to the actors who performed a previous stage adaptation.

Eat Drink Films is running an excerpt from Richard Zoglin’s Hope: Entertainer of the Century, which Roger Leatherwood reviews alongside Scott Saul’s Becoming Richard Pryor.


“Is it that the media’s Hollywoodified tropes of Muslim discontent with the West and of Western fear of Islam are crystallizing into the ultimate audiovisual product?” asks Youssef Rakha in the Los Angeles Review of Books. “Perhaps, because all we know for sure of ISIS’s existence is that someone is making films in which anonymous performers use innocent, uninvolved people to act out in reality the horrific fantasies to which the post-9/11 imagination has tended to reduce Islam. In the multi-genre ubermovie of which the Arab Spring’s aftermath is part, Islam has played the role of scary other, not as a historical-cultural identity, but as a fundamentalist political project whose ultimate aim is the caliphate—precisely what ISIS wants us to believe it is.”

Jonathan Demme and Paul Thomas Anderson: A Conversation (2014)

At the Quietus, Robert Bright revisits Wojciech Has’s The Saragossa Manuscript (1965): “The film is brimming with Bacchanalian revelry, arcane mystery and mortal dread.”

“A little over 30 years ago, on the crumbling pavements of the East Village in New York City, four women teamed up to shoot a script by a rookie screenwriter. Their movie, Desperately Seeking Susan, was both a New Wave Feminine Mystique and an urban fantasia featuring New York as a graffiti-tagged Emerald City.” Carrie Rickey has pieced together an oral history.


“Irish feminist filmmaker Vivienne Dick was one of the artists who helped define the no wave film scene, influencing the shape of contemporary American independent cinema,” and Alison Nastasi talks with her for Flavorwire: “I saw women around me, people like Meredith Monk doing her amazing music and theater, Lydia [Lunch] and other musicians, women making music. Not just singing in a band, but organizing the band, setting up the band, playing all the instruments. That was so inspiring…. There were some really interesting women bands like The Slits, The Raincoats, and other people like Siouxsie Sioux. Punk was a great liberating thing for women.”

For the Telegraph, Georgia Dehn talks with Kathryn Reed Altman about her marriage to Robert—it lasted nearly half a century. “He made me laugh to the very end.”

Vulture‘s Bilge Ebiri talks with Wim Wenders about revisiting his earlier films, about how he salvaged his “director’s cut” of Until the End of the World (1991) and about his eagerness to work with new technologies. Bilge also talks with Errol Morris about his early films—and about The Jinx.

In the Nashville Scene, Jim Ridley talks with kogonada about the video essays he’s made for Criterion and the BFI: “If you want to delve deep into theory, texts are the perfect medium. They are also more precise and explicit. However, when I’m making visual essays, I treat words as supplementary.”

Shirley Clarke‘s Bridges-Go-Round (1958)

The Playlist‘s Jessica Kiang discusses Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter with David Zellner.

Rachel Aroesti has a long talk with Noah Baumbach about While We’re Young in the Guardian. On a related note, at Grantland, Sean Fennessey considers the career of Charles Grodin, “the universe’s most mildly perturbed man.”


New York. Holland Carter in the New York Times on cinematography: “How do you put this particular kind of art across in a museum, art that is as much about time as it is about material, as much about movement, flux, as it is about fixity? Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa, Art and Film at El Museo del Barrio gives a persuasive answer. Arranged in a sequence that more or less follows the path of Mr. Figueroa’s career, the show mixes film clips and film stills—pictures that move and others that don’t—with work by several of the great Mexican painters and printmakers of the early 20th century. And it lets the back-and-forth play of influence among very different media tell a story of its own.” Through June 27.

Programs 3 and 4 of Anthology’s new preservations of work by Paul Sharits screen this evening.


Gillian Flynn, who wrote the novel Gone Girl and its adaptation for David Fincher, will co-write a heist thriller for Steve McQueen based on the 1980s British TV series Widows, reports Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr.


Listening. You’ll have seen Adam Schartoff‘s interview with 52 Tuesdays director Sophie Hyde here in Keyframe. In two more recent episodes of Filmwax Radio posted at Rooftop Films, Adam talks with Wisconsin Film Festival senior programmer Michael King, Bill and Turner Ross (Western) and Anja Marquardt and Brooke Bloom, director and star of She’s Lost Control; and with FIXshorts filmmakers Maya Erdelyi, Lori Felker, Maximón Monihan, Ben Russell and David Schendel.

Mel Brooks on his BFI Fellowship

Viewing. The Cinema Dialogues: Harvard at the Gulbenkian series carries on at the Notebook with Haden Guest, Joaquim Sapinho, Manuel Mozos, Augusto M. Seabra, Denis Côté, and Martín Rejtman discussing each other’s work and that of Federico León.

More viewing. Hitchcock Film Techniques is a series from Borgus Productions.

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