“Today, the feud between the nouvelle vague and what they variously called the ‘tradition of quality’ and the ‘cinema du papa’ seems to have been conclusively won by the upstart Cahiers critics, but as a Keaton fan and a Chaplin fan, I always ask, why can’t we like both?” David Cairns has decided to spend the week watching and writing about the films of René Clément and he’s opened his survey with an overview of the oeuvre at the Chiseler. He suggests that Clément saw the world as “a covert battleground, in which blows are only struck when you’re not looking, and your assassins come disguised as your friends.”
Today at his own site, Shadowplay, Cairns focuses on Au-delà des grilles, aka Le mura di Malapaga (The Walls of Malapaga, 1949), a Franco-Italian co-production and “a neatly bilingual movie with Jean Gabin as a fugitive in post-war Genoa. It’s also a kind of compendium of Gabin’s greatest hits: he’s on the run for murdering his lover, making it play like either a sequel to Gueule d’amour or an alternative reality version of La Bandera. The city becomes his prison, with shots explicitly evoking the urban cage of Pépé le Moko.”
Meantime, it’s Errol Morris Week at Grantland. From Alex Pappademas‘s terrific conversation with him: “I’m supposed to write a series, another series that I can’t write because I can’t find the time: What I Learned About Epistemology from the Movies, which I think could be turned into a book.”
You’ll have heard that The Birth of a Nation turns 100 this year. Yesterday, we ran Shari Kizirian‘s piece on the impact of the film and on D.W. Griffith‘s years at Biograph. A few weeks ago, I pointed to Godfrey Cheshire‘s excellent essay for Vulture. Today, it’s Time‘s Richard Corliss: “The rhetorical fire it kindled makes recent arguments over the validity of such Oscar-nominated films as Selma and American Sniper seem like the most decorous debates in the Red Hat Society—for The Birth of a Nation not only was about the country’s history, it changed it, unarguably for the worse.”
Tim Burton directs Griffin Dunne in The Jar, a 1986 adaptation of a 1944 short story by Ray Bradbury
Erich Kuersten argues that The Terror (1963), begun on a whim by Roger Corman and completed by Francis Ford Coppola and Monte Hellman, “is part one of a very strange textural existential genre meltdown Hellman trilogy, a strange metatextual mirror to Antonioni‘s loose trilogy of Blow-Up (1966), Zabriskie Point (1970) and The Passenger (1975). For Hellman, The Terror is followed by The Shooting (1966) and Two-Lane Blacktop (1971).”
In the Stranger, Charles Mudede eventually gets around to writing a few words about Kristian Levring’s The Salvation, and more specifically, Eva Green, but first he’s got a story to tell about spending a week in a hotel room with Michael Pitt.
IN OTHER NEWS
The Tribeca Film Festival has announced the lineup for its 2015 World Narrative Competition, twelve features competing in seven categories. That number’s too large for James Franco not to be involved with at least one of them, and sure enough, he stars in Pamela Romanowsky’s The Adderall Diaries. A quick list of the rest:
- Alexis Alexiou’s Wednesday 04:45.
- Hank Bedford’s Dixieland with Riley Keough.
- Laura Bispuri’s Sworn Virgin, which saw its premiere in the Berlinale‘s Competition.
- Paz Fábrega’s Viaje.
- Stephen Fingleton’s The Survivalist.
- Dagur Kári’s Virgin Mountain.
- Reed Morano’s Meadowland with Olivia Wilde, Luke Wilson, Kevin Corrigan, John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi, Juno Temple and Merritt Wever.
- Andrew Renzi’s Franny with Richard Gere and Dakota Fanning.
- Jeppe Rønde’s Bridgend.
- Sibs Shongwe-La Mer’s Necktie Youth.
- Zachary Treitz’s Men Go to Battle, co-written by Kate Lyn Sheil.
Cannes has announced that the Cinefondation’s Atelier has selected 15 projects from 14 countries. From May 15 to 21, the filmmakers and their producers will pitch to potential partners and Abderrahmane Sissako, this year’s president of the Cinéfondation and Short Films Jury, will oversee the selection of the best projects. Among the selection are new works by Midi Z and Kutluğ Ataman.
The San Francisco Film Society and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will co-present the west coast premiere of Miranda July‘s performance work New Society on April 28 and 29 as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival (April 23 through May 7). Sean Uyehara: “This audience-participation piece relies in part on an absence of information about what will happen during the excursion. But we can say that the evening will be both funny and moving, and we’ve been told that it ‘will test the limits of what is possible given two hours and a room full of strangers.'”
Having surpassed its original fundraising goal, Kino Lorber is expanding its Kickstarter campaign for Pioneers of African-American Cinema: “Originally announced as a four-disc set, comprised of eight feature films (plus shorts, fragments, and new interviews), Pioneers will be expanded to five discs and will include twelve features, and even more bonus content.” The new “stretch goal” is $60,000 and the deadline is March 21.
New York. “High and Low (1963) is a particularly emphatic example of Kurosawa’s attention to spatial continuity over the course of an entire film,” writes Ben Parker for Reverse Shot. It “was shot using the TohoScope process, drastically widening the frame for an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. However much the social and moral themes of the film are posed along the vertical axis—in Japanese, the title is Tengoku to jigoku, ‘Heaven and Hell’—the images and compositions are constrained to the horizontal. Ultimately, Kurosawa is attempting to undo the vertical binary of postwar Japanese society.” Screens Saturday at the Museum of the Moving Image.
David Cronenberg’s Secret Weapons (1972)
As noted yesterday, Rendez-Vous with French Cinema opens on Friday, presenting 26 films at three locations. The Voice‘s Stephanie Zacharek highlights five, among them, Next Time I’ll Aim for the Heart: “Erstwhile Cahiers du Cinéma critic Cédric Anger has fashioned a chilly, fascinating film from the pages of true crime.” Also: “Mélanie Laurent is best known as an actress, but Breathe, her assured, potent second feature as a director, gives us good reason to pay attention to what she’s doing behind the camera as well as in front of it.”
Los Angeles. REDCAT has added two more screenings of Thom Andersen’s The Thoughts That Once We Had, both on Saturday.
“On screen, Katharine Hepburn looks as if she has made a curious contract with time,” writes Michael Wood in the London Review of Books. “She has promised not to change, and time has promised not to count properly. Of course time can’t halt entirely. It’s a long long way from May to December, as the song says, or from Bill of Divorcement (1932) to Love Affair (1994), and you can see much of the road in the current season of Hepburn films at the BFI.”
IN THE WORKS
“Bryan Singer is to adapt Robert Heinlein’s classic right-wing libertarian science-fiction novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress for the big screen,” reports the Guardian‘s Ben Child. “Hollywood has attempted to bring the story to the big screen twice before, most recently via Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks, but to no avail. Singer will reportedly work from a screenplay by Green Lantern’s Marc Guggenheim on the new version.”
Catherine Grant and the Reframe team present a practical guide, “How to Make Video Essays: Resources for Teachers and Students.”
Listening (39’52”). From Karina Longworth, You Must Remember This #35: Olivia de Havilland and John Huston, with Special Guest Rian Johnson.