Here comes Thanksgiving weekend, and with it, the beginning of the months-long season of list-making and awards ceremonies. Via the Cinephiliacs, which is to say, via Peter Labuza, we already have a notable top ten of 2013. Here’s the list from the editors of Cahiers du Cinéma:
1. Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake.
2. Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers.
3. Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is the Warmest Color.
4. Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity.
5. Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin.
6. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.
7. Philippe Garrel’s Jealousy.
8. Hong Sang-soo‘s Nobody’s Daughter Haewon.
9. Yann Gonzalez’s Les rencontres d’après minuit.
10. Justine Triet’s La bataille de Solférino.
On a related note, David Davidson looks back to the 80s, when Cahiers was boosting the Brian De Palma’s standing among cinephiles.
In this year’s Movies Issue, the New York Times Magazine has gone all out, presenting eleven short films featuring the likes of Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford delivering lines written by Andrew Bujalski, Richard Linkater, Nicole Holofcener, and so on, all under the direction of the great cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, primarily known for his work with Steven Spielberg.
And A.O. Scott reminds us of the many times cinema was declared dead in 2013—by Steven Soderbergh, Spielberg and Lucas, and countless others. Scott’s not buying it. Yes, the studio blockbusters are formulaic, uninspired, and just plain dull; yes, video games are a bigger business; yes, the “case for the supremacy of television is hard to refute… Equally hard to refute is the idea that we are approaching a horizon of video convergence, in which all those screens will be equal and interchangeable and the distinctions between the stuff that’s shown on each one won’t seem as consequential as it does now.” Still, Scott remains stubbornly optimistic: “Like every previous period of decline—which is to say like just about every other moment in the past century—this is an age of wild and restless experimentation. Maybe even a golden age.”
For the 6th Floor blog, Scott lists “5 Movies You Need(ed) to See in Theaters,” and back in the magazine itself, Kevin Lincoln argues that Casey Affleck really ought not to be as underrated as he is, and Lincoln talks with several others in the business who agree.
Amy Adams (American Hustle), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), and Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)
The Hollywood Reporter not only carries on posting its hour-long awards season roundtables, it’s also making waves with an investigative report by Gary Baum. Turns out, during the making of more than a few blockbusters, animals were harmed, actually. During the making of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, for example, “27 animals reportedly perished.”
In his latest column at Sundance Now, Michael Koresky takes on “three films that will likely not make my personal top ten for 2013. These are films that, though I found them in many ways to be unsuccessful, were also too difficult, strange, and layered to be completely and properly evaluated after a single viewing.” Claire Denis‘s Bastards “felt to me more than anything like a provocation rather than a complete artistic statement.” As for Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, “confusing to me—and too often unasked by other critics—is just what the film is accomplishing, and what its meaning and ultimate goals are.” And “why is it so hard to deny The Butler, despite its lamentable and suspicious looseness with history and sub–Oliver Stone historical pageantry?”
You’ll remember that Max Nelson began a history of Film Comment some time back. If you haven’t been checking up on it, you’ll want to know that he’s now worked his way, through five installments, all the way up to the present.
Peter Nestler is “still largely unknown” in the English-speaking world, “despite having a few vocal fans, including Jean-Marie Straub, Hartmut Bitomsky, and Harun Farocki,” notes Christopher Small, introducing his interview with Nestler at the Notebook.
“Bard tells me that the festival screening has been cancelled for today. The owner of the venue where the bomb scare occurred last night no longer wants to have the festival on their premises.” The Believer is posting Ed Wolf‘s dispatches from the Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival in St. Petersburg.
“There are books in which details are piled on top of each other harum-scarum until the reader struggles to breathe under the weight of them,” writes Aljean Harmetz at Thompson on Hollywood. The first volume of Victoria Wilson’s A Life of Barbara Stanwyck “is not one of those books…. [T]he accretion of detail, told simply and unemotionally, builds a living thing.”
Robert Horton‘s posted 16 notes on the interactive video for Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” which “may be the greatest five minutes about Media World (which is to say, the World) since the moment Nada slipped on the special sunglasses in They Live and began seeing what was actually going on.”
Film.com lists the “50 Greatest Musical Numbers in Movie History.”
IN OTHER NEWS
The International Film Festival Rotterdam (January 22 through February 2) has teased two more films in its 2014 lineup, Hitoshi Matsumoto’s R100 and the world premiere of Yassine El Idrissi’s The Iranian Film.
New York. On Friday, Spectacle will screen a double feature under the heading The Great Thinker: Kim Jong Il Propaganda Films.
Chicago. Independent Chinese filmmakers Cong Feng, Mao Chenyu, and Yi Sicheng will present and discuss work this evening at the University.
Oakland. Eight recent hand-made 16mm film works by Australian experimental film artists Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie will be screening tonight at black hole cinematheque.
IN THE WORKS
Mike Leigh will direct The Pirates of Penzance for the English National Opera in 2015, reports Michael Rosser for Screen Daily, where he also notes that Leigh’s next film, to be released in 2014 and featuring Timothy Spall as J.M.W. Turner, has a title: Mr. Turner. It’s the first feature for which Leigh and cinematographer Dick Pope have gone digital: “We are moving on and the medium is there to be embraced. It’s a reality. There’s no point in being Luddite about it.” As for whether Leigh would consider taking on a television series: “When we make a two-hour film, we rehearse for six months. To make a series of 29 hour-long episodes, we would have to rehearse for six years, shoot for nine years and the premiere would be held on the day of one’s funeral.”
Peter O’Toole has come out of retirement to play Corenlius Gallus in Michael Redwood’s Katherine of Alexandria, reports the Guardian‘s Catherine Shoard. “The cast also includes Brit veterans Joss Ackland, Steven Berkoff, and Edward Fox.”