Daily | Books | Welles, Fellini, Bresson


Welles in ‘Macbeth’ (1948), which he took to Venice, where the Italian critics savaged it

Time for a roundup devoted exclusively to newish books, and we begin with Kevin Canfield, writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books: “In Orson Welles in Italy, [Alberto] Anile focuses on a five-and-a-half-year stretch beginning in 1947 and ending in 1953, one of the most frustrating periods in Welles’s inimitable, if famously uneven, career. Welles’s extended stay in the country was colored by professional miscalculations, financial worries, legal entanglements, and amusing language gaffes…. Amidst it all, he suffered a drubbing from Italian journalists and film critics, the sustained nature of which forms the through-line of Anile’s rich and fascinating book. ‘[E]gocentric, histrionic, proud as Mephistopheles,’ is how one critic described Welles in a Milanese newspaper in 1948—and he was a fan.”

Also in the LARB: Maggie Doherty and Edan Lepucki on Marisha Pessl’s Night Film.

Indiewire‘s running the introduction to The Journey of G. Mastorna: The Film Fellini Didn’t Make by translator Marcus Perryman. The book presents the screenplay, which Fellini wrote in collaboration with Dino Buzzati, Brunello Rondi, and Bernardino Zapponi. Perryman lists the many reasons the film never got off the ground and notes that Fellini himself admitted that “he repeatedly plundered the script for his new films: for the airport scene and award ceremony in Toby Dammit, for the pope’s regalia in Fellini Roma, for verbatim inclusions and characters in Amarcord. Prova d’orchestra investigates the world of orchestral music, to which Mastorna belongs, albeit focusing more on the conductor as dictator than the musician as acolyte; La città delle donne has numerous affinities with the unmade film. The bus and motel in Mastorna are very much like Ginger’s bus and motel and Mastorna includes one of Fred’s dance routines. Some said Ela nave va was Mastorna in disguise. Perhaps he actually did make the film by hiding scenes from it in his other work.”

Derailments from Fabrica

In 2011, Brendon Connelly noted that years after the film was abandoned, “Fellini began a collaboration with Milo Manara to translate the screenplay into comics. Manara’s strip interpretation was released in 1992, and this would prove to be the final published work of Fellini’s life.” The story of that collaboration is told in the short documentary Derailments; and that’s the trailer up there.

Back to Indiewire, where you’ll find an excerpt from David Thomson‘s forthcoming book, Moments that Made the Movies, an illustrated collection of riffs on, yes, moments that “leap onto the screen in my head if the title is mentioned.”

To catch up, via 3:AM Magazine, with Greg Gerke‘s piece for the Quarterly Conversation on Robert Bresson (Revised), the 752-page collection edited by James Quant, Gerke notes that one of the highlights, “an addition from the first edition, is a symposium conducted by Quandt with some celebrated film scholars, including Kent Jones, artistic director of the World Cinema Foundation, and Jonathan Rosenbaum, a retired film critic whose renown is rivaled only by Roger Ebert. This section gives the subject of Bresson a different charge because each participant’s thesis and pronouncement gets checked instantly against someone else’s knowledge and relation to Bresson, with the result of clarifying each idea. The contributors address a range of key topics: the questions of transcendentalism and existentialism in the films, his black and white films versus the color ones, Notes on the Cinematographer, 1960’s youth culture, the cult of work, and Bresson’s influence, of which Rosenbaum adds, ‘When I spoke to [Abbas] Kiarostami in an interview… about Bresson replacing an image with a sound whenever possible, Kiarostami replied, “In fact, I’ve studied all his films for precisely that reason.”‘”

Trailer for Matt Zoller Seitz’s forthcoming book

Alyssa Rosenberg for Think Progress on The Wes Anderson Collection—and its trailer: “Matt Zoller Seitz, who’s worked on the book intensively for three years, spends a lot of the trailer talking about the visual treats therein, and I am not going to lie, I’m pretty excited for the pictures from the Rushmore yearbook. But I’m actually most looking forward to the extended interview with Anderson at the center of the book…. I’m hoping the two talk about women. I think it would be very, very easy for many of Anderson’s female characters to be Manic Pixie Dream Girls if they were the creations of any other director. But one of the things I love so dearly about Anderson’s work is that much of it exists as a rebuke to the idea that women exist solely to change the lives of the men who adore them for the better, or even that women need to reciprocate the love of men who are obsessed with them at all.”

In John Wayne’s World: Transnational Masculinity in the Fifties, Russell Meeuf “sets out to reject the incorrect, yet still widely held, notion that Wayne exemplified a masculinity that was ‘uniquely American’ throughout the 1950s,” writes Clayton Dillard at the House Next Door, “and that international audiences were receptive of the actor’s image due to ‘the oligopolistic hegemony of Hollywood studios in international markets.’ Rather, Meeuf argues that Wayne’s global resonance had more to do with the actor’s body and image, which ‘dramatized the conditions of global capitalism and uneven modernization.’ Moreover, Wayne’s films with directors John Ford and Howard Hawks offered global audiences competing modes of masculinity, not just from Wayne’s star persona and its trajectory within films over these years, but from paratextual materials such as posters and various advertisements, which often differed given the market.”

Budd Wilkins for Film International: “‘In his essay on “Screen Memories,” [Freud] argued that troubling or traumatic memories tend to find expression through highly distorted symbolic forms.’ This one line perfectly encapsulates the core idea explored throughout” Eleftheria Rania Kosmidou’s European Civil War Films: Memory, Conflict, and Nostalgia, which is “by no means a bad book; it is, however, an imperfect one.”

As part of “The Kind of Face You Slash,” Bill Ryan’s annual, month-long series on horror fiction, Dennis Cozzalio reviews Theodore Roszak’s Flicker (1991), “a tantalizing, immersive and sometimes maddening investigative fiction revolving around a metaphysical mystery that traces deep into the musty corridors and crypts of ancient religion and of film history itself.”

Trailer for Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions

Speaking of Del Toro, Will Wharton‘s identified every movie reference in the filmmaker’s epic opening title sequence for the “Treehouse of Horror XXIV” episode of The Simpsons.

“Perhaps some Amazonian tribe has a word that means ‘something so terrible it achieves a certain kind of majesty,’ but in English we do not,” writes Michael Ian Black, reviewing The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside “The Room,” the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made for the New York Times. In the Los Angeles Times, Jim Ruland explains to the uninitiated that The Room (2003) was written, directed, and executive produced by Tommy Wiseau, who also takes the lead role as Johnny, “a longhaired, English-mangling, Eastern-European banker who looks like, as the book puts it, ‘one of the anonymous, Uzi-lugging goons that appears for two seconds in a Jean-Claude Van Damme film before getting kicked off the catwalk.’ … Co-written by veteran journalist-essayist Tom Bissell and actor Greg Sestero, who played Johnny’s best friend, Mark, while somehow simultaneously serving as line producer, we learn every grim detail about how the movie was made.”

“Stephen King recently published Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, and so we’re again asking what he thought of Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of the original book,” sighs Jason Bailey at Flavorwire. “And the answer, as ever, is not much. He’s voiced these objections before, in previous interviews and essays; he disliked Kubrick’s take on the property so much, in fact, that he co-produced and wrote a mini-series ‘do over’ in 1997. (It was not well regarded.) This latest round of niggling was swiftly shot down by Kubrick defenders as the carping of a jealous, inferior artist; over at Salon, Laura Miller fires back, arguing that King’s claims of misinterpretation are correct. Almost point for point, she’s right—Kubrick’s film is not a good adaptation of King’s work. But it’s also a great film, so the quality of the adaptation is patently irrelevant.”

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