Clearly the top item since yesterday’s roundup: Cinema Guild has posted every single essay accompanying its DVD releases in a new online archive. If you read one a day, it’ll take you just over a month to exhaust this invaluable resource.
Just a sampling: Luc Sante on Jem Cohen‘s Museum Hours, Adrian Martin on Dan Sallitt‘s The Unspeakable Act, James Quandt on Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Neighboring Sounds, Jonathan Rosenbaum on Abbas Kiarostami‘s Shirin, J. Hoberman on Béla Tarr‘s The Turin Horse, Amy Taubin on Damien Chazelle‘s Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, Dennis Lim on Ben Rivers‘s Two Years at Sea, Richard Brody on Matt Porterfield’s Hamilton, Rob White on Jacques Rivette‘s Around a Small Mountain, Haden Guest on Manoel de Oliveira‘s The Strange Case of Angelica, Elvis Mitchell on Jeff Malmberg‘s Marwencol, Marco Abel on Christian Petzold‘s Yella and, from Andrew Bujalski: “Thoughts on the Philosophy of Filmmaking, with Too Many Digressions and Avatar References.”
The May/June 2014 issue of Film Comment is out, featuring a special section on Hong Kong cinema. Ross Chen, Tim Youngs and Grady Hendrix present a guide to the scene’s prime movers, while Hendrix has notes on eighteen milestones, key films made between 1996 and 2013.
Also, Joumane Chahine looks back on the life and work of Syrian-American producer and director Moustapha Akkad: “His odd two-track career as both the successful producer of the Halloween films and the embattled director of The Message (aka Mohammad, Messenger of God, 77) and Lion of the Desert (81)—two ambitious epic projects dear to his heart and cause—made for a life that was equally steeped in the American Dream and Middle East fatality (and bloodshed).”
New teaser for Abel Ferrara’s Welcome to New York, set to roll out on VOD in Europe during Cannes
Donald Wilson responds to a piece by Manohla Dargis that kicked up a minor storm when it ran in the New York Times back in January. She was “bemoaning the increasing number of films hitting theaters, which her employer, due to a blanket policy, decrees should be reviewed.” Like many before him, Wilson suggests that the paper curate and hone instead. After all, “shouldn’t the cultural gatekeepers live up to their responsibilities?”
Also online from the new issue: Nicole Armour on Henry Koster’s The Unfinished Dance (1947), Nicolas Rapold on Andrei Gruszniczki’s Quod Erat Demonstrandum, Alex von Warmerdam’s Borgman and Sébastien Betbeder’s 2 Autumns, 3 Winters; Eric Hynes on Jim Mickle’s Cold in July and James Gray’s The Immigrant; Violet Lucca on Jon S. Baird’s Filth and Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best!; Tony Rayns on Tsai Ming-liang’s Stray Dogs; Amy Taubin on Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur; Chris Norris on Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto; Graham Fuller on Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida; and more.
Also want to mention the festival reports. Back from Austin, Violet Lucca notes that SXSW 2014 “had an activist/hacktivist bent that flew in the face of the surrounding Times Squarification.” And for Olaf Möller, Benjamín Naishtat’s History of Fear was the best film competing in Berlin, but he saves his most insightful comments for the latest from Dominik Graf: “The Beloved Sisters is the modern film about the German enlightenment; and that Graf has created nothing less than a romantic national epic—something nobody has attempted in many years.”
Jan Ole Gerster’s award-winning Oh Boy sees a title change as it heads to the States
Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s posted his 2009 essay on Pere Portabella (“Provocative forms of continuity and discontinuity within as well as between his films abound”) and his 1999 list of top jazz films. His #1: Dudley Murphy‘s Black and Tan (1929). “Remarkable not only as an experimental narrative by the (often uncredited) main author of Ballet mécanique and as a radical political statement about to whom jazz belongs, but also as a ravishing, poetic marriage between the music of Duke Ellington and the poetics of death and orgasm. Only twenty-one minutes long, but the aesthetics of jazz and film start here.”
RogerEbert.com has posted an excerpt from Dan Callahan‘s new book, Vanessa: A Life of Vanessa Redgrave. The focus here is on The Devils (1971), “clearly the best or at least most presentable film directed by the reliably outrageous Ken Russell, and Redgrave herself thinks highly of it, ranking it in her memoir with The Charge of the Light Brigade as the two chief works of genius in the postwar British cinema.”
“Liking Chaplin will probably never be cool. For the Sight and Sound-reading, suck-on-a-lemon-and-think-of-Bresson cineaste, Buster Keaton will always be their man,” writes Tom Shone in his review for the New Statesman of Peter Ackroyd’s Charlie Chaplin (“That Chaplin has attracted the attention of Dickens’s biographer is telling”) and Footlights, “a recently unearthed prose work, published with an accompanying essay by David Robinson and presented as Chaplin’s first and only novella. It isn’t really: it’s more like a 34,000-word extended treatment for Limelight (1952).”
For BOMB, Andrew Gallix talks with Nicholas Rombes about his new book, 10/40/70: Constraint as Liberation in the Era of Digital Film Theory.
Spike Lee on Billy Wilder’s Ace in Hole (1951)
The Los Angeles Review of Books is running an excerpt from Dahlia Schweitzer’s Cindy Sherman’s Office Killer: Another Kind of Monster focusing on the Untitled Film Stills: “The glamorously perfect façades of the women who fill films, advertising, and cocktail parties conceal the actual body underneath: a raw, wet, and bloody expanse that would creep out in Sherman’s later work.”
IN THE WORKS
Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, set to shoot this summer in the States, “will follow a teenage girl who joins a travelling magazine sales crew and gets caught up in a whirlwind of hard-partying, law-bending and young love.” Andreas Wiseman has more in Screen Daily.
“While her American romantic drama Learning to Drive, starring Ben Kingsley, Patricia Clarkson and Jake Weber, is in post-production—for a 15 October release—Spanish director Isabel Coixet has arrived in Finse in Western Norway with the cast and crew for her next film, Nobody Wants the Night.” Jorn Rossing Jensen for Cineuropa: “Not that it is easy to get there: since there are no roads to the village, which is at an altitude of 1,222 m, trains are the only means of transportation, except in the summer, when visitors can walk or cycle. US producer-director George Lucas used it to portray the ice planet Hoth in Irvin Kershner’s Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.” Coixet’s cast includes Juliette Binoche, Rinko Kikuchi and Gabriel Byrne.
Coming in July
“Having explored the criminal justice system in high-profile feature documentaries for more than two decades, Joe Berlinger is set to direct his first scripted true crime movie entitled Facing the Wind, which will star Alessandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga, Evan Rachel Wood, Rita Wilson and Jennifer Beals,” reports Jeff Sneider for TheWrap.
Cambridge. The Capra Touch is on at the Harvard Film Archive through June 2, and for Carson Lund, “discovering and revisiting his films as part of Harvard’s current retrospective has, so far, been a consistently rewarding endeavor, revealing a filmmaker whose work complicates his reputation more often than it confirms it. Put broadly, there’s a lot of darkness in these movies.” Meet John Doe (1941) “ends up reaching for resolution…, but it sure kicks up a lot of dust along the way.”
Seattle. The Stranger‘s David Schmader‘s posted a brief preview of Translations: The Seattle Transgender Film Festival, opening today and running through the weekend.
Viewing (1’45”). An unembeddable trailer’s gone up for Les Ponts de Sarajevo (Bridges of Sarajevo), an omnibus film with contributions from Aïda Begic, Léonardo di Costanzo, Jean-Luc Godard, Kamen Kalev, Isild Le Besco, Sergei Loznitsa, Vincenzo Marra, Ursula Meier, Vladimir Périsic, Cristi Puiu, Marc Recha, Angela Schanelec and Teresa Villaverde. Set to premiere as a special screening in Cannes.
Listening (35’44”). In the new, third episode of You Must Remember This, Karina Longworth looks back on the short life and career of the exceedingly prolific writer-producer Val Lewton.
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