Your weekend won’t lack for reading. Just yesterday, moments after we’d been flagging new issues of Senses of Cinema and Screen Machine, up popped Cinema Scope 52. Granted, much of this issue was rolled out during CS‘s extensive coverage of Toronto 2012, which we’re still working our way through; editor Mark Peranson was aiming for 150 reviews, and I don’t doubt he and his contributors got there. But the online offerings also include Quintín‘s piece on Matías Piñeiro and his actors, Adam Nayman‘s interview with Sean Baker (Take Out, Starlet), Robert Koehler on Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret, “the first movie rescued from oblivion by Twitter,” Chuck Stephens on Paul Sharits, “the most structurally precise and disturbingly unknowable experimental filmmaker of the late 20th century,” and Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s wishlist-buster, “Global Discoveries on DVD.”
More reading. In the Nation this week, Barry Schwabsky reviews Kevin Hatch’s Looking for Bruce Conner, “an excellent new critical study of the artist and filmmaker.” Also, Akiva Gottlieb: “A proposition, based on sampling three months of contemporary American cinema at the 2012 Whitney Biennial: from now until the final reel of celluloid is shot and projected, every film’s primary subject will be film itself. This year’s biennial, which ran from March 1 through May 27, was explicitly devoted to varieties of time-based art—memorable touchstones of the ephemeral—but only the films dwelt intimately on their own obsolescence.”
In another excellent column for Sundance NOW, Michael Atkinson explores the history of an impulse “to make the madness of our nightmares… into something reasonable we can deal with”:
I’m something of a Langian, and have long been the ardent devotee of a particular reflex in European pulp culture that goes at least as far back as the years prior to WWI. If you’ve seen Spiders (1919-20), Dr. Mabuse, Der Spieler (1922), M (1931), or The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933), you’ve seen it in action—the assumptive, almost quaint notion that “modern” crime is the action of an organized underground government, replete with unions, meetings, bureaucracies, taxes, rituals, insignia, and/or sartorial regimens. What’s not to love? Far from a reflection of actual organized crime as it coalesced in the mid-19th century (in Sicily), which as a genuine criminological phenomenon has never been very organized at all, Fritz Lang‘s underground is an almost ironic mirror-image of above-ground social commerce. This may be for convenience’s sake, but it’s also a weird, irrational idea, innocent at its core of real vice or malice. Why would the by-definition unregulated, chaotic, sociopathic side of human society ever organize itself in this way? Aren’t hierarchal social concerns and demands exactly what any self-respecting burglar or pickpocket or bank-robber is trying to escape from?
In other news. Via several channels, Jon Jost has been trying to contact Boston University professor Ray Carney in order to ask him why he’s holding onto a cache of original materials vital to the work of filmmaker Mark Rappaport. No luck so far: “I am 100% sure he is fully aware of what is going on and his elusiveness is a kind of tactic.” Jost also asks Rappaport to lay out a precise timeline of events so that the film community might be able to make as strong a case as possible for him.
For SFMOMA, Chris Cobb reports on an evening in New York with Trevor Paglen, the artist who’ll send The Last Pictures out into space, and Werner Herzog: “During the talk Paglen speculated that one day far in the future aliens might find the disc and have some sort of artifact of human existence to remember us by. Always mellifluous, Herzog disagreed and said that because of the vast distances aliens would have to travel and the extreme lengths of time it would take to reach earth—well, the last thing they would be looking for is art.”
Cartoon Brew‘s Jerry Beck has dates, times, and links for events celebrating what would be the 100th birthday of legendary animator Chuck Jones.
The Denver Silent Film Festival opens today and runs through the weekend. Tomorrow, archivists David Shepard and Serge Bromberg will spend an hour showing clips and talking preservation and restoration.
Also happening this weekend: Hong Kong Cinema in San Francisco, an Amos Vogel Tribute in London, screenings of Robert Wiene‘s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1926) in Los Angeles, and, on Sunday, Breaking Ground: 60 Years of Austrian Experimental Cinema, also in LA.
DVD/Blu-ray. Criterion’s posted Michael Atkinson‘s essay on Marcel Carné‘s “magical” Les visiteurs du soir (1942), made, of course, during the German occupation of France: “It’s such a simple, languorous, brooding film, but in that dire moment, it satiated the French thirst for escape as no other work could.” Also: A transcript of a 1990 interview with Carné.
In the works. Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is Sion Sono’s next project, reports Mark Schilling for Variety: “Based on a script Sono wrote 15 years ago, the pic stars Shinichi Tsutsumi as a gangster with a grudge against an older rival (Jun Kunimura), but a deep love for his enemy’s actress daughter Mitsuko (Fumi Nikaido). The pic has an ‘accidental resemblance to Kill Bill,’ Sono said.”
“Vanessa Redgrave has joined the cast of The Revisionist, a new play by the actor Jesse Eisenberg that is scheduled to open Off Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theater on Feb. 6 and run through March 31,” reports Allan Kozinn for the New York Times. Eisenberg “will also star in the three-character play, which will be directed by Kip Fagan and staged by the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.”