Daily | Cahiers #700, Dreyer, “Kaboom!”

Cahiers du Cinema

That’s one big round number

“I’m truly pained by the era’s cynicism,” Cahiers du Cinéma editor-in-chief Stéphane Delorme tells BOMB‘s Contributing Editor for Film, Nicholas Elliott. “Everything that’s been done in Cahiers recently starts from the principle that we are not cynical…. That’s why we decided to devote our 700th issue to emotion; we asked filmmakers, artists, actors, technicians, and philosophers to describe a cinema emotion—a specific moment in a film that deeply moved them and with which they now live. A moment that haunts them. Our goal was not simply to create a compendium of secret emotions, which would be beautiful in and of itself. The idea is more profound: it is to make emotion a central issue again.”

And, as you can see on the cover of the forthcoming May 2014 issue, David Cronenberg, Bertrand Bonello, Abel Ferrara, Jane Campion, Francis Ford Coppola, Leos Carax, Martin Scorsese, Isabelle Huppert and David Lynch are among the 140 contributors to that special feature. So, too, is Christoph Hochhäusler, who tells us he’s not quite sure he nailed the assignment. We’re sure it’ll be a more than worthy contribution nonetheless.


“I’ve long believed that the two summits of mise en scène in the history of cinema are Carl Dreyer’s Ordet [1955] and Jacques Tati’s Playtime [1967],” wrote Jonathan Rosenbaum in a 2008 essay he’s just posted. The “extreme and unorthodox style of the mise en scène in each case exists to articulate a radical vision,” and “part of the supreme achievement of the director in each case is to delineate a particular transition over the stretch of two hours that we creatively participate in without necessarily realizing that we’re doing so. This is a transition that moves us steadily yet invisibly towards a miracle, though the miracle in each case is of a very different kind: a spiritual epiphany in Ordet and a social utopia in Playtime.”

Rosenbaum‘s also posted a 2004 entry on “Two Neglected Filmmakers,” Eduardo de Gregorio and Sara Driver.

“Of all the clichés that Hollywood movies have foisted upon their viewing public, one of the most robust is that the glamorous dream machine runs on the fuel of starlets’ blood and agents’ bile and writers’ flop sweat and all the filth that Kenneth Anger could scrape from the gutters of Sunset Boulevard and smear on the pages of his Hollywood Babylon.” So begins Jessica Winter‘s review in Bookforum of the novel American Dream Machine, whose author, Matthew Specktor, and narrator, Nate, are both writers and sons of powerful Hollywood agents. “There is no doubt that Specktor has great stories to tell, and perhaps this novel will prove to be the raw material from which he can carve some of them out…. But in setting out to overthrow an earlier model—in this case, a standard depiction of Hollywood as bleak, hollow, a screaming void—Specktor has instead managed to mimic that model, without reflecting its merits.”

The May 2014 issue of The Believer is out, and online, we get brief glimpse of Lucas Kavner‘s interview with Kenneth Lonergan, the full conversation between Chuck Palahniuk and Tom Spanbauer and all of Anne Helen Petersen‘s article on, as the subtitle puts it, the “banality of the celebrity profile, and how it got that way.”

The New York Timessummer movies special is up, and besides the “Memos to Hollywood” from Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott mentioned over the weekend, another highlight is “Kaboom!” Kevin B. Lee has “analyzed the explosions (1,094 in all) of nine top-grossing blockbusters spanning four decades, and it turns out there are two distinct types of popcorn movie pyrotechnics: ‘dramatic explosions,’ which have a significant narrative or emotional impact (think of the Death Star bursting at the end of the original Star Wars), and ‘decorative destruction,’ in which explosions are deployed in a barrage, like fireball wallpaper.” Kevin’s discovered that there’s a lot more wallpaper slapped up on the screen than there used to be.

Here’s a stranger case of number-crunching. At Vocativ, Adam K. Raymond and Matan Gilat have used Metacritic data to determine which of the fifty most widely read critics, relative to each other, are “the most shameless cheerleaders,” which are “the nastiest grouches” and which fall “in the critical dead center.” The resulting chart might tell us a little about the tendencies of this or that critic along one particular axis, but nothing, of course, about the insight, wit or acuity of his or her pans or raves.


At Cineuropa, Jorn Rossing Jensen looks ahead to the Midnight Sun Film Festival, set to take place in the Finnish village of Sodankylä from June 11 through 15. Peter Greenaway and Olivier Assayas are among the guests, and you can scan the full program here.

The mayor of Saint-Jean D’Angely, a small but culturally rich town in southwestern France, has issued a call to rebuild the Cinema Eden, known for its art deco facade, after it burned down on Saturday. Clément Massé and Jérôme Vilain report for France 3.


Rachel Weisz, Harvey Keitel and Paul Dano have joined Michael Caine the cast of Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, report John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy. The story “turns on Fred and Mick, both knocking on 80—one a long retired composer-conductor, the other a still-jobbing film director—who are vacationing together in an elegant hotel in the lap of the Alps.”

Meantime, Piero Messina, Sorrentino’s assistant director on The Great Beauty, will make his directorial debut with The Wait, which, as Nick Vivarelli reports, “is set in an old Sicilian villa amid a rugged countryside, as ‘a match-up between two women: a mother and her son’s fiancee.'” Juliette Binoche is attached to star.

Trailer for Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s Winter Sleep, set to premiere in Cannes; only French subtitles as yet

One more from Variety. “Rhys Ifans will star as Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in indie drama Dominion with John Malkovich and Diego Luna,” reports Dave McNary. The story, written by director Steven Bernstein, “will focus on the events surrounding the last days before his untimely death at the age of 39 in 1953 in New York, which included multiple visits to the White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village.”

“Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie may be teaming up on a movie project with a script written by Jolie.” And, according to the Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit, that’s about all we know about it for now.


Kino Lorber has posted a trailer (unembeddable) for Roberto Rossellini’s Il Generale Della Rovere, winner of the Golden Lion at the 1959 Venice Film Festival. “A fascinating crossroads in Rossellini’s career, the film looks back at the furious urgency of his earlier postwar sketches and ahead to the contemplation of his later, stylized portraits,” wrote Fernando F. Croce in Slant in 2009. And last December, Mike D’Angelo, writing for the Dissolve, noted that Vittorio De Sica, taking the lead role, “radiates wily silver-fox charisma.”

Sean Axmaker highlights three new Criterion releases in his latest “Videophiled” column.

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