Writing in bed “like Proust,” Cinema Scope editor Mark Peranson, resting up after Locarno and Toronto, introduces the new 60th issue with a few thoughts on the sheer insanity of the film festival experience. “But who can blame critics or regular joes who want to cram as many films as possible into their schedules: TIFF is like dangling a colorful toy in front of a baby, a cinephile is bound to reach for it, out of instinct. But maybe it’s also somewhat indicative of a culture where consumption is seen as an end in itself. This all adds up to a situation that’s guaranteed to annoy every single stakeholder, but also one that keeps every one of us coming back, year after year.”
You’ll have seen some of pieces from this issue noted in our TIFF14 coverage-of-the-coverage: Peranson‘s conversation with Pedro Costa about Horse Money, Blake Williams‘s essential essay on Eugène Green, Michael Sicinski‘s survey of new films from South Korea. And you’ll see Max Nelson‘s piece on Martín Rejtman and Andrew Tracy‘s interview with Matías Piñeiro (The Princess of France) when the New York Film Festival gets rolling in a few days.
What else is new: TIFF Wavelengths programmer Andréa Picard on Harun Farocki: “[I]nfluenced by Straub’s Marxist social engagement, electrified by the ballsy antics of the nouvelle vague, which unleashed a sense of freedom for rereading, reinterpreting, and fictionalizing the archive of film history, and incorporating a Brechtian desire for a synthetical approach to the language of cinema (‘in order for it to persist’), Farocki was in constant search for truth, an uncertain, unverifiable, even latent and mutable truth from images that were constructed as well as those that were ‘unintentional.'”
Jason Anderson talks with Simone Rapisarda Casanova, who’s won the Best Emerging Director prize in Locarno’s Filmmakers of the Present competition for The Creation of Meaning, while Boris Nelepo and Celluloid Liberation Front talk with Peter von Bagh about Socialism, which “uses images to give voice and a human face to a political goal. Socialism: a failed dream defeated by a successful nightmare. The film has the sombre and mournful dignity of those who, defying opportunistic trends, still stand up for lost causes in the firm conviction that only unity and solidarity can grant universal happiness, however imperfect.”
“Directed by Jerry Lewis Day” at DC’s
Adam Nayman asks: “If Xavier Dolan is not a great—and arguably not even a particularly good—filmmaker, how to account for the enormous international acclaim of his work, of which Mommy feels like an early culmination?”
“David Lynch’s feature-film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) did more to complicate than elucidate the implications and absurdities of the series, raising more questions about the characters, their motivations, their actions, and their fates than it answered,” writes Jordan Cronk. But now we have the “Missing Pieces,” and he wonders: “Do we even want, or need, the mystery solved at this point—and if so, then what?”
Chuck Stephens revisits Michael Snow’s Wavelength (1967) for “what must be my 50th (or who knows, maybe 150th) viewing,” Jonathan Rosenbaum has an almost overwhelming “Global Discoveries on DVD” column this time around—and Angelo Muredda reviews Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s Nick Cave movie: “The contradictions that set the film apart from its rock-documentary brethren don’t always seem like the product of a deliberately off-kilter structure, but of filmmakers who haven’t entirely worked out whether rock gods are best put on a pedestal or brought down to earth. Yet there’s an ambition to Forsyth and Pollard’s work that’s hard to deny, as well as a refreshingly quixotic commitment to tweaking the generic conventions of the promotional piece they’re making even as they work safely within its bounds.” For more on 20,000 Days on Earth, see Critics Round Up.
“In many ways, [Dan Sallitt‘s] The Unspeakable Act works like in an inversion of Alex Ross Perry’s screwed-up screwball comedy The Color Wheel,” suggests Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at the AV Club. “Both movies—which were made on comparably tiny budgets, premiered around the same time, and were championed by many of the same critics—are talky brother-sister acts informed by hardcore cinephilia, but they couldn’t be more different in terms of style and tone…. But there’s also a significant difference in worldview.”
“Disarmingly personal, Mean Streets  is at once Scorsese’s most autobiographical project and a film of uncomfortable sympathies and character identification.” The latest entry in Reverse Shot‘s current symposium comes from Jordan Cronk.
Guest editor Molly Langill introduces a special double issue of Offscreen, “Issues of Gender in the Horror Genre.”
A few years ago, Linda Williams began teaching an honors seminar at Berkeley on The Wire. Her new study is entitled, appropriately enough, On The Wire, and Michael Guillén has a good long talk with her about it.
For the Observer, Sarfraz Manzoor talks with John Duke Kisch about his new book, Separate Cinema: The First 100 Years of Black Poster Art.
Writing for Artforum, Howard Hampton imagines an unsuspecting young woman ducking into a midnight screening in Los Angeles in 1979: “The more concretely nightmarish and nauseating and perversely empathetic Eraserhead becomes, the more it seems to be speaking in mysterious tongues she somehow understands better than English.”
“Segundo de Chomón is such a significant player in film history,” writes David Cairns, “that it’d be possible to fill an article with his achievements without even describing the films he made at all—special effects artist, photographer, director, he refined color cinematography, combined live action with animation, and built the first camera dolly. The hundreds of films he worked on span the full range of early cinema, from one-shot travelogues in 1903 to Abel Gance’s Napoleon in 1927, for which he devised special effects, he was in the forefront of movie magic his entire life.”
Also at the Chiseler, Dan Callahan surveys the career of operetta star Jeanette MacDonald, who “worked in musicals on stage throughout the 1920s before Ernst Lubitsch decided to put her opposite Maurice Chevalier in his first talking picture, a musical at Paramount called The Love Parade (1929). They made a series of movies together in which MacDonald does most of her trilling in her underwear, to the delight of some latter-day cinephiles and no doubt Lubitsch himself. She is sexy in those movies, like Monte Carlo (1930), One Hour with You (1932) and The Merry Widow (1934), not in the way that, say, Jean Harlow is sexy in Hell’s Angels (1930), but in a slightly prim, girlish, ‘I need just a little push to abandon myself’ way.”
“I spent the end of August in Italy visiting my 91-year-old great aunt, a Brooklyn-born Jew who moved to Rome in 1950, just five years after Roberto Rossellini made Rome, Open City,” writes director and producer Sierra Pettengill at the Talkhouse Film. “She traveled in the right circles, as they say, and I managed to get a good story out of her about actress Anna Magnani unabashedly silencing a fancy dinner with a roaring belch. I went to see Rossellini’s film with her in hopes of more of the same, but instead got a Fellini anecdote that’s unfortunately not fit for print.” She contrasts re-watching Rossellini’s neorealist classic there “with a woman whose viewing life has spanned nearly a century, and viewing it in New York with an audience firmly planted in 2014, trying to grasp the slipperiness of history.”
In the New Republic, David Thomson writes about rediscovering critic Dorothy Richardson who wrote a column in the 1920s for Close Up called “Continuous Performance.” This “alluded to the custom (a habit that lasted into the 1980s) whereby a movie theater opened in the late morning and showed its films time after time until it closed. This meant that a customer could stay there all day, and sit through To Have and Have Not four or five times—or come in on the film in its middle and stay there until the renewed story reached that point where they had arrived. The genius of Richardson was to see that this commercial practice was the secret sign to what was, and remains, an essential potency of the screen: it presents an overwhelming reality that is also withheld, remote, and ‘impossible’—a place we cannot get to.”
IN OTHER NEWS
“Takashi Miike, considered one of the most original and prolific auteurs in contemporary cinema, will receive the 2014 Maverick Director Award,” the Rome Film Festival‘s announced this weekend. Miike will be on hand to “accept his award on the occasion of the world premiere screening of his new film, Kamisama no iutoori (As the Gods Will).”
“For decades, the seven reels from 1913 lay unexamined in the film archives of the Museum of Modern Art,” writes Felicia R. Lee in the New York Times. “Now, after years of research, a historic find has emerged: what MoMA curators say is the earliest surviving footage for a feature film with a black cast…. MoMA plans an exhibition around the work called 100 Years in Post-Production: Resurrecting a Lost Landmark of Black Film History, which is to open on Oct. 24 and showcase excerpts and still frames.”
New York. Tomorrow evening at Light Industry, film preservationist Ross Lipman “presents an evening of archival cinema and discussion. Known for his acclaimed restorations of films like Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, Barbara Loden’s Wanda, Kent Mackenzie’s The Exiles, and works by Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Shirley Clarke, Bruce Conner, Kenneth Anger, and John Cassavetes, Lipman has also written a series of essays since the 1990s on the art of restoration.”
Los Angeles. The exhibition Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s opens today at LACMA and will be on view through April 26. It “features 250 objects, including film clips, photographs, posters, documents and cameras representing 20 artists, 14 directors and 25 films,” notes Susan King in the Times.
Tomorrow night at REDCAT: The Seen and Unseen: New Films by Rebecca Baron and Adele Horne.
“Polly Bergen—who passed away at 84 on Saturday—is likely best known for her role in the original Cape Fear, a 1962 J. Lee Thompson-directed thriller starring Robert Mitchum as a vengeful ex-convict terrorizing a lawyer and his wife (Gregory Peck and Bergen).” Deborah Vankin in the Los Angeles Times: “But Bergen also played the first female President in Curtis Bernhardt’s 1964 Kisses for My President—a role that’s far more in line with who the actress was in real life. Bergen—also an accomplished singer who recorded albums and performed in Broadway musicals—was a dynamic businesswoman and strong women’s rights activist. She created and ran a successful cosmetics company that she sold to Faberge in 1973 and she was a staunch political supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
The Film Doctor‘s posted a round of “soulless links.”