“There has been, for 40 years now, a quarrel about the meaning, value and legacy of the cinema of Robert Bresson.” In his latest “World wide Angle” column for De Filmkrant, Adrian Martin outlines the two “polarized” positions in the “Bressonian Quarrel” and explains why he sympathizes with one of them, albeit with some reservations.
Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s posted his 2007 “Footnotes to Out 1” as well as a 2012 piece on Rivette in Context, an event that took place in London in 1977 and again in 1979. Also: A previously unpublished piece on Bertrand Tavernier‘s ‘Round Midnight (1986), his 2002 “speculations” on Erich von Stroheim‘s Greed (1924), his 1990 review of Emile de Antonio’s Mr. Hoover and I (1989) and a generous sampling from “Straub and Huillet on Filmmakers They Like and Related Matters.”
“Every fact-based war movie is a virtual monument, a cenotaph—or ’empty tomb’—memorializing the dead who lie elsewhere,” writes J. Hoberman in the New York Times. “Some, like Chris Marker’s Level Five (1996) or Léon Poirier’s Verdun, Looking at History (1928) are even self-aware cenotaphs.”
Studs Terkel interviews Jacques Tati in 1962
Whatever you’re thinking of Bill Cosby these days, don’t miss Charles Taylor‘s piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books on Hickey & Boggs (1972), which reunited Cosby and Robert Culp “four years after I Spy went off the air. The movie’s dour silences, its disappointments, are haunted by the memory of the prankish music that Culp and Cosby made together on I Spy.”
On a related note, Jesse Barron for the New Inquiry on Inherent Vice: “Set about a quarter of a century after throwbacks like L.A. Confidential, Vice belongs to the time when Los Angeles was turning into the place that plays itself.”
For the New York Times Magazine, John Semley, too, riffs on Inherent Vice—and “The Death of the Private Eye”: “If the private dick has all but disappeared, something of his DNA is woven into the biology of the authority-bucking hackers in tales like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Michael Mann’s forthcoming Blackhat. Even Edward Snowden, to an extent, fits the profile. The protagonists of these stories are techie specialists who have learned to nimbly navigate the complex digital ecosystem that Doc Sportello foretold.”
“Horror contains the seeds of its own destruction.” Bradley Tuck introduces a new issue of One+One Filmmakers Journal.
The LA Weekly‘s Amy Nicholson‘s a terrific storyteller and she’s got a quite a tale in Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala’s 33-year-long shoot (take that, Linklater!) on their remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Jerry Lewis’s “popularity with lowbrow audiences is unquestioned, and his fashionability among highbrows well known,” writes Brad Stevens for Sight & Sound. “But the contempt of those in middlebrow circles is surely significant, given that Lewis has spent much of his career relentlessly mocking middlebrow tastes.”
Peter Bogdanovich interviews Orson Welles in the late 60s
“The legend of Orson Welles looms so large it overtakes the man, a legend partly engineered by Welles himself from his beginnings in the theater.” Sean Axmaker revisits a piece we ran at GreenCine back in 2003.
Agata Pyzik for frieze: “He was a Polish designer who trained as a sculptor at the Academy of Arts in postwar Krakow. He co-created a phenomenon, which was later called the Polish School of Poster (and included such masters as Henryk Tomaszewski and Roman Cieślewicz). He invented his own kind of animated film, and then created a unique erotic/symbolic cinema which, he believed, combined his art and obsessions; although his films were never simply a cheap thrill, he was labelled a pornographer. He was Walerian Borowczyk, whose work is now available in its all glory, with the Arrow Academy DVD release of Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection—which includes his six greatest films.”
“Through serendipity, skill and plain dumb luck, the last two silent films featuring comedic firecracker Colleen Moore have been restored through the work of The Vitaphone Project and Warner Brothers,” writes R. Emmet Sweeney at Movie Morlocks. Synthetic Sin (1929) and Why Be Good? (1929) were both “directed by William A. Seiter, an inventive gag man as well as a sensitive shaper of star personas, from the Dadaist antics of Wheeler and Woolsey through the stubborn independence of Ginger Rogers…. The Colleen Moore persona is synonymous with that of the ‘flapper,’ post-WWI women who flouted conventional gender roles by smoking, drinking and sleeping with whomever they wanted.” Moore and her husband, producer John McCormick, “would define what flappers looked and acted like to the majority of Americans.”
“Pert Kelton seems, on the one hand, the embodiment of the pre-Code era, and on the other, a one-of-a-kind mutation,” propose David Cairns and Daniel Riccuito. Also at the Chiseler, Jim Knipfel on Harry Houdini in Hollywood.
Michael Atkinson for Criterion: “Monte Hellman’s mitotic microwesterns The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind don’t define their era—which barely saw them—so much as manifest a broader existential modernity rivaled only by Antonioni’s in the same decade. Famously, they were both shot in 1965. Hellman, who’d toiled intermittently in the Roger Corman–verse, had recently finished making two tiny back-to-back thrillers with Jack Nicholson in the Philippines for Robert Lippert and was scrounging for work when Corman suggested he and Nicholson drop the proposed abortion drama Nicholson had written, head out into the Utah desert, and make not one low-budget western but two.” More from Chuck Bowen (Slant, 4.5/5) and Noel Murray (Dissolve, 4/5). Jim Hemphill interviews Hellman for Filmmaker. And Kim Morgan: “Trying or not trying, Warren Oates simply standing in a shot usually knocked down any stock idea of what a character should be. He’s too unique.”
New at Bright Lights: Erich Kuersten on Werner Herzog, Amy Kenyon on “American Dreamers: Badlands’ Kit Carruthers and Holly Sargis,” Gary J. Shipley on Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida and “a crisis represented by some core dyadic pessimism that is crucially equivocal, and by the end of the film still unresolved, a puzzle,” and Steve Johnson: “Known mainly for a string of B pictures (‘We like to think of them as A pictures,’ his ex-wife and frequent collaborator Flora has politely reminded) from the ’50s through the ’80s frequently involving enormous menaces and their miniature victims, [Bert I.] Gordon was as spirited a filmmaker as they come even if never reaching the artistic heights of a Jack Arnold, perhaps, who occasionally mined the same vein.”
Woody Allen’s Cupid’s Shaft (1969)
“Sion Sono’s films came into our lives in a manner impossible to describe, leaving us overwhelmed, confused, engaged, elated.” Jen and Sylvia Soska at the Talkhouse Film on Why Don’t You Play in Hell?: “As we’re filmmakers ourselves, this brilliant love letter to filmmaking and ill-fated, all-consuming passion sank its talons into our hearts from the first frame.”
“Nightcrawler, a new thriller with a sense of humor by Dan Gilroy, is a recession-era American Psycho,” suggests Hamza Shaban, writing for the Baffler. And at Movie Mezzanine, Tina Hassannia argues that “what Nightcrawler aspires to be is not a film about journalism, but a film about capitalism.”
KQED’s Jon Brooks revisits What Happened Was… (1994) and argues that Tom Noonan’s “one man tour-de-force of moviemaking is just waiting to be rediscovered (or discovered), and I would maintain is one of the most overlooked films in contemporary American cinema.”
“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night may be my film of the year (it’s a close contest with Locke),” announces David Thomson in the New Republic. More on Ana Lily Amirpour’s new feature from Michael Atkinson (Voice), Joshua Rothkopf (Time Out, 4/5) and Keith Uhlich (L).
“Each Saturday at two o’clock / We queued up for the matinee…” Luke McKernan’s posted Vernon Scannell‘s poem, “Autobiographical Note.”
Congrats to Dennis Cozzalio, celebrating ten years of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.
A couple of years ago, Robert Drew, who passed away in July, “generously spent a long time sharing with me firsthand recollections of documentary’s historic shift in the 1950s and 1960s,” writes Nicolas Rapold for Film Comment. “All too often the history of what’s usually called cinema verité tends to coalesce around the same names and victory-lap claims to ‘capturing reality,’ and sometimes Drew’s role seems relegated more to textbooks. In our interview, his journalism-derived criteria for what makes a good story are evident, and he’s not shy about his role in guiding progress, but he also recognizes the influences of other filmmakers and the role of money in putting obviously appealing ideas into action. He also goes into gratifying detail about the engineering knowhow behind crucial camera modifications, both the people and the parts.”
In his latest “Kaiju Shakedown” column for Film Comment, Grady Hendrix talks with director, producer, screenwriter and star of a slew of late-60s martial arts movies, Jimmy Wong Yu, “who could convey an encyclopedia’s worth of badassery with a single glower.”
For Filmmaker, Pamela Cohn talks with Sierra Pettengill, producer of The Reagan Years, about “the textures of archival footage, the value of community and pitching at CPH:FORUM.
The other day, we posted Sara Maria Vizcarrondo‘s interview with Robert Greene in which he talks about, among other things, his new film, Actress. Here are two more conversations: Eric Hynes (Reverse Shot) and Emma Myers (L).
IN OTHER NEWS
The big news ’round these parts is that “Fandor is now hosting commercial-free curated releases from The Criterion Collection,” as Reina Baldwin puts it in a brief FAQ on our blog. Hannah Burns, too, has further details.
The International Film Festival Rotterdam “has signed a multi-year pact with Infostrada Creative Technology, a leading Dutch media company, to launch Tiger Release,” reports Variety‘s Elsa Keslassy. “Tiger Release will give rights-holders of movies playing in Rotterdam’s official selection the opportunity to show their films on Infostrada’s global VoD platforms including iTunes, YouTube, Vimeo, Google Play and PlayStation Network in the territories of their choice.”
The Berlinale’s given us a first peek at the 2015 Retrospective, Glorious Technicolor. From George Eastman House and Beyond. And festival director Dieter Kosslick‘s signed on for another five years.
Hong Sang-soo’s Hill of Freedom has been named the best Korean film of the year by the Korean Association of Film Critics’ Awards, reports Nemo Kim for Variety. “Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu was named best director for his Gyeongju, with the best actor award going to Choi Min-sik of Roaring Currents, and Chun Woo-hee of Han Gong-ju named best actress.”
Australia’s Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art has announced that David Lynch: Between Two Worlds, a retrospective of art and cinema, will open on March 14.
As he prepares to shoot The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino, who turned 51 this year, is thinking ahead to his retirement. “I like that I will leave a ten-film filmography, and so I’ve got two more to go after this. It’s not etched in stone, but that is the plan.” Kevin Jagernauth has more at the Playlist.
Guy Davidi, whose Sundance award-winning, Oscar-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras drew severe criticism from several Israeli politicians, including the Minister of Culture, has been refused funding for the project he’s been shooting for the past six years, Mixed Feelings. He’s now turned to Indiegogo in the hopes of completing his portrait of actor Amir Orian, who’s “left his blooming career to create an alternative theater in his own apartment.”
A benefit auction for New American Cinema Group/The Film-Makers’ Cooperative is now open.
New York. For the Believer, Anisse Gross talks with Sam Green, whose latest ‘live documentary,’ The Measure of All Things, based on the Guinness Book of Records, will be presented at The Kitchen on Friday and Saturday.
From tomorrow through Monday at Anthology: Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion!!!: An Homage to Paul Scheerbart (1863-1915).
You’ll remember that new restorations of films by Charlie Chaplin are screening at MoMA. On Saturday, Ben Model will talk about the use of undercranking in silent slapstick comedy and then accompany the screenings on piano. John Bengtson looks into the making of The Bank (1915).
Boston. “Once described, as ‘probably Germany’s best known important filmmaker, after laboring for years as Germany’s best known unknown filmmaker,’ [Harun] Farocki defies simple description,” writes Robert Moeller for Hyperallergic. “A long career, with over 120 works and a late detour into the art world circuit situate him as both a noted documentarian and as a film/video artist. In one of his last projects, curated with Antje Ehmann (his wife), Farocki again turned his attention back to the Lumière brothers in a project called Labor in a Single Shot—making its American debut at the Boston Center for the Arts in partnership with the Goethe Institut. Resonating again is the recurring theme of work.” Through November 30,
IN THE WORKS
“The artist and director Steve McQueen has