Daily | Cinephilia and the Numbers

Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag; a still from Andy Warhol’s ‘Screen Tests’ (1964-66)

“By all accounts, it was Susan Sontag’s lament in the February 25, 1996, issue of the New York Times, ‘The Decay of Cinema‘ (1996), that started it all,” begins Tom Paulus in the first part of a projected two-part essay at photogénie, “The Attractions of Cinema: Movie Love after the Sixties.” In just a few clear and concise sentences, Paulus sums up Sontag’s argument, and then: “Sontag concludes that, ‘If cinephilia is dead, then movies are dead too… no matter how many movies, even very good ones, go on being made. If cinema can be resurrected, it will only be through the birth of a new kind of cine-love.’ Ever since that critical moment, cinephiles have heeded her call.”

What follows, I think it’s fair to say, is not exactly a breezy read, but if you’re at all interested in the ideas that have shaped cinephilia over the past several decades, this is one for your reading list.

Meantime, in the nuts-and-bolts corner of film criticism, Sam Adams, guest on the current episode of The Cinephiliacs (he’s also just gathered first reviews of X-Men: Days of Future Past), has asked the Criticwire network how these writers feel about affixing letter grades or star-ratings to their reviews. Answers vary.

Trailer for Ways of Listening, a conversation between John Berger and Tilda Swinton, directed by Colin MacCabe

One more related note. As I’ve told James Kang privately, I’m thrilled that we’ll be able to carry on enjoying the fruits of his considerable labor. Seriously, I know how much time and effort goes into a project like his. Critics Round Up is a powerful (not to mention smartly designed!) resource, people. Use it. If you find numerical ratings helpful, they’re there. If not, head straight for the expertly extracted quotes from top reviewers.


Andrew Hultkrans, writing for Artforum: “‘Best reverse Keith Richards I’ve ever seen.’ This is how Television’s Richard Lloyd, who knows something about the subject, describes the inverse trajectories of junk and (in)fame lived out by doomed New York Dolls/Heartbreakers guitarist Johnny Thunders in Danny Garcia’s comprehensive new documentary Looking for Johnny (2014), the story of how a Richards manqué from Queens grew up to consume exponentially more heroin (with exponentially less money) than the smacked-out Stone while midwifing glam, punk, and hair metal simply by being himself.”

“In the canon of avant-garde video installation artists, French entertainer Yoann Lemonie and directing team We Are From LA would seem unlikely candidates,” writes Adam Hofbauer at Bright Lights. “But in collaborating with Pharrell Williams in the creation of the video for ‘Happy,’ this team has, perhaps unintentionally, created a unique cinematic object able to stand alongside the works of Christian Marclay and Douglas Gordon.”

Trailer for Asia Argento’s Incompresa, set to premiere at Cannes

For Hyperallergic, Sarah Walko talks with Alejandro Jodorowsky about The Dance of Reality; and for BOMB, Anya Jaremko-Greenwold talks with Richard Ayoade about The Double.

It’s Gordon Hessler Day at DC’s.


About a month ago, Lars von Trier began writing a horror movie for fellow Danish director Kristian Levring called Detroit, reports Indiewire‘s Dana Harris.

Talking to the Guardian‘s Andrew Pulver, Jane Campion, president of the Cannes jury this year, mentioned that, in Pulver’s words, she’s “on the verge of closing a deal to shoot an adaptation of Rachel Kushner’s underground art scene novel The Flamethrowers for indie super-producer Scott Rudin.” For more, see Noel Murray at the Dissolve.

“Wild Bunch and Berlin-based Sophisticated Films are bringing Terrence Malick’s long-anticipated, 30-years-in-gestation Voyage of Time onto the Cannes market,” report John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy. Whether it’s a straight-up doc, an essay film or something in between, “Malick’s most ambitious film to date,” according to the distributors, “is a celebration of the earth, displaying the whole of time, from the birth of the universe to its final collapse.”

More news from Variety: Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Margot Robbie and Matthias Schoenaerts are lined up for Luca Guadagnino’s as-yet-untitled “sexy thriller” and James Watkins will direct Idris Elba and Adele Exarchopoulos in the “action thriller” Bastille Day. Again, John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy report. And from Leo Barraclough: Seville Intl. has acquired international rights to Denys Arcand’s An Eye for Beauty.

Trailer for the new restoration of Claude Chabrol‘s The Color of Lies (1999)

“Open Road Films has acquired all U.S. distribution rights to Jon Stewart’s directorial debut Rosewater,” reports Casey Cipriani at Indiewire. “Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Bahari, a BBC journalist who is detained in Iran and brutally interrogated in prison for more than 100 days.”

Charlotte Rampling is to ‘take a lead role’ in the forthcoming second series of Broadchurch, according to ITV.” Lowenna Waters reports for the Telegraph.


New York. “Getting a primped-up, digitally-restored one-night screening at Film Forum this Tuesday [tonight!], D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916) is all at once the Moloch of cineastical good intentions, the first great juggernaut of auteur ambition, and the largest experimental film ever made,” writes Michael Atkinson in the Voice. “It’s also a thunderstorm of cinematic dazzle.”

In conjunction with the ongoing series at the French Institute Alliance Française, Indiewire has another pair of English translations of articles that originally ran in Cahiers du Cinéma: Paul Vecchiali on Raymond Bernard and Claude Ollier on Agnès Varda.

Romania. “The 13th edition of the Transilvania International Film Festival (30 May-8 June) will screen 22 new Romanian productions in its traditional Romanian Days sidebar.” Stefan Dobroiu reports for Cineuropa.


Royal Mail have launched their Great British Film Special Stamp issue. Have a look at the Telegraph.

Listening (32’07”). Thomas Elsaesser on “The Future of Obsolescence.”

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