“There truly is no such thing as a bad Guy Maddin interview,” writes editor Mark Peranson, introducing the new issue of Cinema Scope. He’s conducted the interview that graces the cover himself and the point of departure is, of course, The Forbidden Room, co-directed with Evan Johnson. Mark Peranson:
The Forbidden Room takes as its starting point the reimagining of a smattering of lost films from what one might call the childhood of cinema, encases them in an impossibly complicated concentric structure, and implodes what we usually regard as possible or acceptable in a cinematic “feature-length night’s entertainment.” With few points of comparison, it stands as a proposition for what cinema is right now and what it can be, a fully digital work that resembles some (mostly) imaginary past as processed through the human mind and machine software—like sands in an hourglass, these are the days of our lives.
Before moving on to the rest of the issue, we should note that we’re finally seeing the “Cinema Scope Top Ten of 2014,” with links that take us back to CS‘s original pieces on each of the titles:
- Horse Money (Pedro Costa).
- Adieu au langage (Jean-Luc Godard).
- P’tit Quinquin (Bruno Dumont).
- Jauja (Lisandro Alonso).
- Phoenix (Christian Petzold).
- Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson).
- The Kindergarten Teacher (Nadav Lapid).
- Maidan (Sergei Loznitsa).
- Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-liang).
- From What Is Before (Lav Diaz).
Also in Issue 62:
- Adam Cook and Daniel Kasman‘s interview with Kidlat Tahimik regarding Balikbayan #1 Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III, “a journey backwards through the last three-plus decades of the filmmaker’s life, a quest to unearth and make sense of the failed production of what was to be his fourth feature, Memories of Overdevelopment.”
- Michael Sicinski on Kevin Jerome Everson’s Park Lanes, “clearly one of the most significant achievements of his career.”
- Andrew Tracy: “Whether spoken or not, this is the shared premise of the highbrow hosannas for Blackhat: that the film is not only some kind of milestone aesthetic achievement—for [Michael] Mann, or cinema, or l’humanité en tout—but that in being so it is serving a vital critical function, consciously or not (or maybe both at the same time).”
- Max Nelson on Derek Jarman, “the urbane, long-time London bohemian deeply committed to the preservation of England’s ancestral agrarian past; a pragmatically minded social reformer with an unexpectedly romantic, fanciful cast of mind; a filmmaker (and a painter, writer, and gardener) equally attracted to urban dinginess and gossamer, paganistic wispiness.”
- Shelly Kraicer: “Over the last six years, Luo Li has established himself as one of the most interesting young Canadian directors on the international festival circuit, and one of the most promising Chinese independent directors to emerge in the last decade.”
- Phil Coldiron: “What is odd, and serious, about [Rick Alverson‘s] Entertainment are the ways that its two levels—which we can call earnest and ironic—act on and against each other in a tricky play for the viewer’s sympathies.”
- For Blake Williams, “the overall quality of the films in Sundance 2015 was remarkably, even shockingly, tolerable.”
- Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s latest round of “Global Discoveries on DVD.” And by the way, at his own site, he’s posted a fresh column or the forthcoming June 2015 issue of Caimán Cuadernos de Cine, “Critical Taste versus Criticism.”
Plus: Chuck Stephens on Kenneth Anger’s Puce Moment (1949), Jason Anderson on David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows, Samuel La France on Kornél Mundruczó’s White God, Quintín on Damián Szifron’s Wild Tales and Angelo Muredda on Abderrahmane Sissako‘s Timbuktu.
THE NATION @ 150
The Nation is celebrating its 150th anniversary by releasing—for free—a walloping issue that not only collects highlights from the vast archive but also features new work from its contributors—assessments of the state of the union, calls to (rhetorical) arms and ruminations on the future.
Of special interest to us here will be, for example, Stuart Klawans: “Cinema is gone—everyone agrees. And yet cinema also abides, if only so that Jean-Luc Godard can go on delivering valedictions to what it used to be. Like the history of which it’s a part, the moving image has not finished its work, nor is it likely to anytime soon. I think it’s just gotten a little too much into itself.”
James Agee, the Nation‘s film critic from 1942 to 1948, on Frank Capra‘s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): “At its best, which is usually inextricable with its worst, this movie is a very taking sermon about the feasibility of a kind of Christian semi-socialism, a society founded on affection, kindliness, and trust. Its chief mistake or sin—an enormous one—is its refusal to face the fact that evil is intrinsic in each individual.”
And Michael Moore outlines his platform—should he decide to run for president.
“Is this the favored aesthetic for a new Zeitgeist?” asks Adrian Martin in his latest column for De Filmkrant. He’s referring to the way “the ‘loosely wound’ alternates with the ultra-sharp” in Better Call Saul (and in Inherent Vice).
“UK series Black Mirror is being lauded as the first show that really tells the truth about our dystopian tech destiny,” writes Alissa Walker at Gizmodo. “But the best critique of technology in today’s culture is not this science fiction import. For the most scathing commentary on the high-tech world we’ve designed for ourselves, you have to watch Portlandia.”
“Speaking at Ad Week Europe in London [on Wednesday], director Richard Ayoade, YouTube film maker Thomas Ridgewell (TomSka) and Dave Bedwood, creative director at M&C Saatchi, discussed how platforms like YouTube are influencing filmmaking, how online content differs to traditional media and what the ad industry can learn from online video.” Rachael Steven reports for Creative Review.
Amanda Ann Klein at RogerEbert.com: “I have taught The Breakfast Club twice now to Millennials, students even too young to have watched the movie on TBS on a lazy Saturday afternoon, and what surprises me is that they love it. They love it the way I loved it when I was a teenager. They are rife with affect for this text.”
Chris Wisniewski in the Reverse Shot in Space symposium on Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills (2012): “How can Mungiu’s wide-widescreen images be claustrophobic, and how is it that films that are shot in a defiantly expansive aspect ratio achieve an effect of isolation and narrowness, a closing in?”
Jake Cole at Movie Mezzanine on Kelly Reichardt‘s western, Meek’s Cutoff (2010): “Not since Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, which ironically foregrounded the genre’s ties to romanticism with its William Blake-inspired protagonist, has a western so thoroughly eclipsed the farthest reaches of revisionism and become an all-out attack on both the genre and the troubled reality from which it derives.”
Quentin Tarantino turns 52 today. In 2009, the Spaghetti Western Database posted a list that’s been making the rounds lately: QT‘s top 20 spaghetti westerns—plus plenty of runners up.
Well, we have to start with this one, of course, President Obama and David Simon, talking about The Wire and the evolution of national and local policies on drugs since the series broadcast its last episode a little under a year before Obama was first sworn in:
Another lively interview people are talking about is Simon Abrams‘s with Abel Ferrara. As you’ll have heard, Ferrara is furious with Vincent Maraval and his company, Wild Bunch, for re-editing Welcome to New York and with IFC for releasing a film he claims is no longer his—”it’s Vincent Maraval’s version.” Ferrara is indeed so hopping mad that the conversation’s inspired the staff at the Dissolve to look back on “our favorite ornery interviews.”
Back to the film at hand for a moment, though: “It’s worth saying from the start that Welcome to New York is a fierce, deeply moving film, and that even the R-rated version by Wild Bunch—the one that I saw first—is an intensely personal and profound movie,” writes the New Yorker‘s Richard Brody. “Nonetheless, Ferrara is justifiably angry about the R-rated version: Wild Bunch’s cut goes far beyond the simple removal of a few sexually explicit moments. The distributor excised seventeen minutes from a film that runs two hours and five minutes. Most significantly, it altered the presentation of the scene on which the entire plot is based.”
For Interview, Emma Brown talks with Kim Longinotto about Dreamcatcher and the subject of her award-winning documentary, Brenda Myers-Powell, the protagonist and founder of The Dreamcatcher Foundation.
Film Comment‘s posted the second part of Nick Pinkerton‘s wide-ranging interview with Larry Clark.
Plus: Steve Erickson (Studio Daily) with Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado (The Salt of the Earth), Peter Hall (Movies.com) with David Robert Mitchell (It Follows), Sophie Monks Kaufman (Little White Lies) with Xavier Dolan (Mommy), Colleen Kesley (Interview) with Kornél Mundruczó (White God), Demetrios Matheou (BFI) with Damián Szifrón (Wild Tales), Nicolas Rapold (Film Comment) with Lisandro Alonso (Jauja) and Kaori Shoji (Japan Times) with Jean-Marc Vallée (Cafe de Flore).
IN OTHER NEWS
Cannes (May 13 through 24) will announce its lineup on April 16 and both Variety and Screen have posted epic lists of contenders, ranging from the possible through the probable to the almost certain. These lists, both divided into geographical sectors, are an especially fun browse because, while the majority of the titles won’t make the cut, it’s likely that we’ll be seeing them premiere some time this year—if not in Cannes, then perhaps in Venice, Toronto or New York. What’s more, every title gets a blurb, a line or two of synopsis, plus the cast and occasionally a few words on the director’s track record with Thierry Fremaux and his programmers.
— IONCINEMA (@ioncinema) March 26, 2015
Variety seems all but convinced that new films from Woody Allen, Todd Haynes, Jeff Nichols, Denis Villeneuve and Arnaud Desplechin as well as Pixar’s Inside Out are “securing their positions,” and they’re high on Screen‘s list as well. More names that catch the eye: Hou Hsiao-hsien, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Jia Zhangke, Hong Sang-soo, Johnnie To, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Terence Davies, Yorgos Lanthimos, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Miguel Gomes, Joachim Trier, Andrzej Żuławski, Alexander Sokurov and Corneliu Porumboiu.
New York. At the Film Stage, Nick Newman has suggestions for the weekend.
On Monday at REDCAT: Transforming Spaces: New Films from L.A. Filmmakers.
Vienna. The Austrian Film Museum’s series Scared of Schengen: Euro-Horror Today opens today and runs through April 6.
IN THE WORKS
“Kenneth Branagh and Martin Scorsese are set to team up on film version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, inspired by the former’s production of the play for the 2013 Manchester international festival.” The Guardian‘s Andrew Pulver stresses that even if this happens, it’ll be quite a while before the project gets off the ground.
“Julia Louis-Dreyfus is in negotiations to star in a remake of Force Majeure.” The Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit: “No director or writers are attached at this stage. Sources say Louis-Dreyfus will also be involved as a producer.”
And how about some forthcoming books. At Movie Mezzanine, Tom Elrod, publisher of The Critical Press, previews this spring and summer’s releases: Forward Observer: Stanley Kauffmann at the Cinema, 1999-2013, edited by Bert Cardullo; F.X. Feeney’s Orson Welles: Power, Heart, and Soul; Robert Greene‘s Present Tense: Notes on American Nonfiction Cinema, 1998-2013; and Matthew Dessem’s The Gag Man: Clyde Bruckman and the Birth of Film Comedy.