The Cine-Files #6 is a special issue on acting, and the centerpiece is a dossier of essays on individual performers: Robert B. Ray on Fred Astaire, Joe McElhaney on Lauren Bacall, Sharon Marie Carnicke on Elizabeth Taylor, Will Scheibel on Elvis Presley, Murray Pomerance on Brandon De Wilde, Karen Hollinger on Meryl Streep, Cynthia Baron on Denzel Washington, Steven Rybin on Parker Posey and James Naremore on Clara Bow. Naremore also discusses film acting in general with Jonathan Rosenbaum, and there are two features—Jennifer O’Meara on Cate Blanchett and Rebecca Naughten on Javier Bardem—as well as a bibliography and a links to related video essays and one of Catherine Grant‘s incredible collections of open access articles.
Speaking of video essays, Transit has posted one by Cristina Álvarez López inspired by Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Véronique (1991) and, in the Notebook, you’ll find third entry in an on-going series of audiovisual essays by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin, this one on Brian De Palma’s “fantasy-scenarios: situations and configurations that capture De Palma’s imagination, and that he worries over (consciously and unconsciously) from film to film.”
A bit of Cineaste‘s new summer issue has made it online, accompanied by a few web exclusives. Among the full texts available are Richard Porton‘s reports on the the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s recent series Art of the Real and Rotterdam 2014, Alexandra Juhasz and Ted Kerr‘s “discussion of Dallas Buyers Club, as well as nearly a score of past and present alternative AIDS videos that also broker in activist made home-movie-like images of a crisis past,” and two interviews with documentary filmmakers: Erik Luers with Robert Greene and Eva Santos-Phillips with Sonia Fritz.
From Cinephilia and Beyond: “Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, David Lean, Akira Kurosawa, John Schlesinger, Sergei Bondarchuk, Franco Zeffirelli, Billy Wilder and Mike Nichols discuss the state of filmmaking in 1969 and how they got their start, in a special presentation from the 42nd Academy Awards. Narrated by Gregory Peck”
The new issue of the Brooklyn Rail features Joshua Sperling‘s interview with Pawel Pawlikowski, Xin Zhou‘s with Shaina Anand of the Mumbai-based collaborative studio CAMP, Jason LaRivière on William Friedkin‘s Sorcerer (1977), Aily Nash in the 60th edition of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (more from James Hansen at Filmmaker) and Williams Cole: “As Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s new film Citizen Koch lays out in lurid detail, the role of money in our already tenuous political process has only increased in tangible and pernicious ways.” Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir finds Citizen Koch to be “kind of a mess. But it’s a mess well worth discovering for yourself—and consider the history of its production and the situation it tries to capture.”
“For Bazin, the appeal of [Chris] Marker’s films lay precisely in the way he had allowed himself to remain the writer he had started out to be,” writes Barry Schwabsky in the Nation. “His writerly disposition may account for the ease with which Marker took to digital culture, where the word and the image coexist on an equal basis, being merely so many incarnations of information.”
“It is perhaps not sufficiently emphasized that Godard spent two years in his twenties as a publicist for Fox in Paris.” Writing for Criterion, Colin MaCabe looks back on JLG’s turbulent relationship with Cannes.
At Cannes, the Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips hosted a film critics panel with Wesley Morris (Grantland), Alison Willmore (BuzzFeed), Eric Kohn (Indiewire), A.A. Dowd (AV Club) and Keith Simanton (IMDb)
Bernard Natan, “né Natan Tannenzapf, was a Romanian Jew who immigrated to Paris in 1905 and went on to become a titan of French film, a man whose brand name, for a time, rivaled that of Gaumont and Pathé, founding fathers of le cinéma français,” writes Thomas Doherty for the Chronicle of Higher Education. “At once media visionary and rapacious entrepreneur, he burned bright over the City of Lights until an arrest for fraud sent him crashing to earth. Following a sensational trial laced with xenophobia and anti-Semitism, he was sentenced to four years in the Prison de la Santé, in Paris, which is where the Nazis found him. Shipped to Auschwitz, Natan perished in 1943 and promptly vanished—or was he erased?—from historical memory.” David Cairns and Paul Duane‘s “Natan seeks to undo the second injustice. At a brisk 66 minutes, it unspools like a much shorter, cinema-centric version of Marcel Ophuls’s epic documentary The Sorrow and the Pity (1969), the searing j’accuse that vaporized the glorious myth of consensual French resistance during the Nazi occupation.”
“Vertov and his Kinoks had radical dreams that went beyond their contemporary (and fellow Form theorist) Sergei Eisenstein’s; the Kinoks wanted to do away with drama or narrative altogether, completely disassociating cinema from its literary forebears.” Niles Schwartz for L’étoile: “Vertov’s Kinok dreams derailed soon after The Man with a Movie Camera was released; presently, turning the Utopian presentation on its head, the iPhone handy First World is affluent with its gadgets while turning a blind eye to exploited workers who make such technology possible.” And then he draws lines between Vertov and Terrence Malick and Kathryn Bigelow.
Ian Johnston at Not Coming to a Theater Near You: “Jerzy Skolimowski’s films of the sixties—edgy, innovative, and challenging—were so clearly part of the collective new wave sweeping national cinemas of the day that the choice of The Adventures of Gerard  as the first film of his international career seems doubly perplexing; it offers almost no connections with the work that went before.”
Geoffrey O’Brien for Criterion: “Many westerns have been self-consciously conceived on an epic scale, but Howard Hawks’s Red River (1948), in its deepest channels, actually feels like an ancient epic.”
James Agee “not only carved out a voice of his own, but helped establish the parameters of modern film writing.” Flavorwire‘s Jason Bailey elaborates.
Writing in Bright Lights and referencing Stanley Fish, A. Jay Adler considers “with regard to three modern filmmakers and their most recent (at this writing) films—Steven Spielberg and Lincoln, Paul Thomas Anderson and The Master, and Michael Haneke and Amour, all released in 2012—where they stand, as filmmakers, in relation to ‘I write because making things out of words is what I feel compelled to do’ and ‘to locate the value of the writing either in its effects or in the verisimilitude it achieves is to grab the wrong end of the stick.'”
Khoi Vinh points us to Dustin Rowles‘s piece at Pajiba, “The Economics of Movie Reviews, or Why So Many Film Critics Continue to Lose Their Jobs,” and adds: “If movies are a reflection of ourselves, film criticism lets us perceive those reflections more deeply.”
“Vinegar Syndrome knows all about the grindhouse,” writes Peter Galvin in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. “As one of a small crop of emerging, genre-focused home video releasing companies, VS was born in 2012 when film collectors Joe Rubin and Ryan Emerson raised $10,000 via Kickstarter to restore and release a set of lost H.G. Lewis films. Rubin and Lewis used their profits to keep going, their mission to preserve a number of niche exploitation films that have been forgotten over time, including bizarro action and horror flicks and a good deal of what is basically ’70s and early ’80s porn.”
Farran Smith Nehme‘s posted a delightful “key clause from the contract Miss Teresa Wright signed with Samuel Goldwyn Productions at the outset of her career.”
Shep Houghton turned 100 yesterday and, talking with him for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Matt Weinstock notes that he’s “appeared in the margins of an extraordinary string of classics: Gold Diggers of 1935, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Shadow of a Doubt, The Big Sleep, Show Boat and Spartacus. During a career that stretched from Josef von Sternberg silents to Streisand musicals, Houghton was propositioned by a Munchkin, blew off Lucille Ball, and taught Greta Garbo to waltz for the 1937 costume drama Conquest.” And yet he remains “the unknown witness, the all-seeing Nobody.”
Vulture‘s Bilge Ebiri talks with James Gray, noting that he may be “best compared to European masters like Luchino Visconti or Bernardo Bertolucci instead of his American contemporaries. There’s an operatic quality to his films—a refusal to shy away from big emotions without cheapening them. He beams at the comparison. ‘Those guys are my favorite directors!'”
For Out, Jerry Portwood talks with Robert De Niro about Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr., “a moving portrait of a son who wants to resurrect his father’s legacy before it’s too late.” It premieres on HBO on Monday.
Kaleem Aftab interviews Vilmos Zsigmond, now 83, for Filmmaker, noting that he’s just received the Pierre Angénieux Excellens in Cinematography in Cannes for his work with Altman, Spielberg, Cimino, De Palma and Woody Allen, just to mention a few. And for the Independent, he talks with Juliette Binoche about Clouds of Sils Maria and Camille Claudel 1915.
In the new issue of frieze d/e (click the “EN” in the upper righthand corner for the English version), Jan Kedves asks Jam Rostron why she considers Melissa McCarthy to be a feminist icon.
Movie Mezzanine has asked dozens and dozens of critics and film folk to list their top ten films of the 60s. It’s a long scroll full of surprises.
2009 BBC documentary
This week’s question posed to the Criticwire network: “What are your five favorite cultural experiences of 2014?”
And Time‘s Richard Corliss lists his “10 Best Movies of 2014 (So Far).”
“Film critic and freelance writer Jeff Michael Vice has died. It’s a huge loss for us at Cinephiled as he was an integral part of the team and recently had taken the role of lead reviewer for the website. Jeff was a talented writer, a brilliant humorist and a great friend.” A remembrance from Kurt Geltz.
“Anna Berger, a character actress known for playing matriarchal figures from different ethnic backgrounds in films like Woody Allen’s Crime and Misdemeanors and television shows like The Sopranos, died on May 26 in Manhattan,” reports Daniel E. Slotnik for the NYT. “She was 91.”
“The Oscar-nominated actress Joan Lorring has died more than six decades after appearing opposite Bette Davis in the film The Corn Is Green,” reports the AP. “She was 88.”
“Tessa Watts, who has died aged 68, was one of the pioneers in the production of pop music videos, which revolutionized the music industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s.” The Telegraph adds: “Her most lauded production was the surrealistic video for the Peter Gabriel song, ‘Sledgehammer,’ directed by Stephen R. Johnson in 1986…. The film won ‘best video’ awards in Britain, Europe and the United States, and a Palme d’Or at Cannes, and remains the most garlanded music video to date.”
“Michael Gottlieb, who wrote and directed such big-screen comedies as Mannequin and Mr. Nanny, died Friday [May 23] in a motorcycle accident on the Angeles Forest Highway north of La Canada Flintridge. He was 69.” Mike Barnes has more in the Hollywood Reporter.
Listening (83’09”). Phillip Lopate is Peter Labuza’s latest guest on The Cinephiliacs. “He maps out his cinephilia over the years, including finding spirituality through contemplative films, considering the possibility of an essay-film, and thinking through the paradox of making a films about marriage.” The discussion then turns to Satyajit Ray‘s Charulata (1964).
More listening (32’27”). In the fourth episode of You Must Remember This, Karina Longworth looks back on the life and legend of Frances Farmer.
And yes, more listening (152’46”). The Projection Booth‘s 168th episode has Mike White talking about Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) with filmmaker Vincenzo Natali and Richard Crouse, author of Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils.
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