DAILY | Conversations and Remembrances


“The artistic collaboration between the late filmmaker Stephen Dwoskin and composer Gavin Bryars, from the 1960s until the mid-1970s, has been almost completely neglected by historians of both avant-garde cinema and experimental music,” writes Yusef Sayed, introducing his conversation with Bryars in which they cover the work “as well as his troubled friendship with Dwoskin, which saw them parting ways in the 1980s.”

Jacob Wren‘s posted a brief extract from Olivier Assayas‘s A Post-May Adolescence: Letter to Alice Debord: “My point of view today, and this had determined a good deal of my relation to cinema and to fiction in general, is that when it comes to art, and particularly the relation of art to the world, two paths coexist, and are not mutually exclusive. The first path would be the one that shaped the 20th century: that of avant-gardes and their constant interrogation of the relation between the arts—their role, their borders—and the world: also their interrogation of their own nature…. The second path, which grows in the shadow of the first and often in ignorance of it, is that consisting in the simple representation of the world where humanity simply concerns itself with the human, with the timeless means that, in every era, have allowed it to reach these ends, always renewed, always the same.”

Before posting another fine round of links, Girish Shambu wonders whatever happened to Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge (1994), “roughly rendered ‘All the Boys and Girls of Their Age'” and “one of the most ambitious European film projects of the 1990s.” The collection of ten autobiographical films by the likes of Assayas, Claire Denis, Chantal Akerman, and Andre Téchiné was originally commissioned for the Franco-German television broadcaster Arte, screened once in Toronto, once in New York, and has since… disappeared?

Festivals. Ioncinema has begun writing up individual entries on films it believes have a good shot at making the lineup of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. As of this writing, there are around 20, from directors as varied as David Lowery, Richard Linklater, Atom Egoyan, and Paul Schrader.

The Weimar Touch, the Retrospective for Berlinale 63 (February 7 through 17), will be “devoted to how cinema from the Weimar Republic influenced international filmmaking after 1933. It will focus on continuities, mutual effects and transformations in the films of German-speaking emigrants up into the 1950s.”

DVD/Blu-ray. From Dave Kehr: “In the New York Times this week, some notes on Mary Pickford on the occasion of Milestone’s release of Rags and Riches: The Mary Pickford Collection, a Blu-ray collection that includes fine transfers of Maurice Tourneur’s The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), Sidney A. Franklin’s The Hoodlum (1919), and that single, astonishing work of art signed by William Beaudine, the 1926 Sparrows. Just how Beaudine went from this plateau—which anticipates Sunrise in several intriguing ways, and seems to me a possible inspiration for Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter—to directing Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla remains one of the great mysteries of the American cinema.”

New York. “This December, MUBI will be presenting a small Tony Scott retrospective in New York at 92YTribeca.” Daniel Kasman has details.

Paris vu par Hollywood

Paris. J. Hoberman‘s in the City of Light, and “the only museum show I’ve had to queue for—one for which Parisians have been lining up and passing through airport style security since mid September—is the free exhibit at the city hall, Paris vu par Hollywood (Paris Seen By Hollywood),” a “dense, varied, almost academic, assemblage of production stills, vintage fan magazines, souvenir programs, lobby cards, set designs, costumes, posters… Irony is a no show.”

In the works. “Pedro Almodóvar is planning to direct a sci-fi movie, inspired by his love of 1950s pics like Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” reports Robert Mitchell in Variety.

“Courtney Love is not involved ‘in any capacity’ with a new film about Kurt Cobain, overseen by his estate,” reports Sean Michaels in the Guardian. “Love and the proposed director, Brett Morgan, have corrected reports that they are collaborating on the proposed documentary about the late Nirvana singer.”

Viewing. Catherine Grant‘s posted Tag Gallagher‘s video essay Roberto Rossellini’s The Flowers of St. Francis (1950) and added “a list of links to Gallagher’s online film studies essays (written and audiovisual), interviews with him about his work, and studies of his work.”

Oliver Smith‘s made 38 fake film titles and strung them along to the tune of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Bob.”

Some people make a Kickstarter video by setting up a camera, getting in front it, and making their pitch. Not Jamie Stuart.

Listening (57’38”). Criticwire: Writers and Journalists Reinvent the Art of Film Criticism for the Digital Age, a panel moderated by Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn and featuring the New Yorker‘s Richard Brody, Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman, freelancer Jenni Miller, and Criticwire‘s Matt Singer.


Elliott Stein

Elliott Stein, as a writer, critic, and historian one of the true gentlemen of cinema—in the tradition of sorely missed scholars like Henri Langlois, William K. Everson, and Andrew Sarris—has died at the age of 83,” writes David Noh in Gay City News. “Described as ‘a true cinematic multihyphenate’ by the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Cinématek, his writing appeared in the New York Times, the Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Sight & Sound, Film Comment, the Financial Times, Opera, and many other publications.”

You’ll find personal remembrances from Jonathan Rosenbaum and Anne Thompson, and Matt Singer, who used to “type up Elliott,” that is, prep his hand-delivered reviews when Matt was an intern at Voice, has posted a statement “from his colleagues at BAMcinématek, where he programmed the popular ‘Cinemachat’ series for more than a decade.” I agree with Nick Pinkerton, who offers his own memories as well as links to several pieces Stein wrote for the Voice: This paragraph from BAMcinématek calls out for quoting in full:

In his Paris years, Elliott visited the Cinémathèque Française nearly daily (and remarked the only person he saw there every time he went, even if the house was otherwise empty, was Jacques Rivette), and befriended many important intellectual figures of the time; he is mentioned in the memoirs of Edmund White, John Ashbery, Susan Sontag, Ned Rorem, and Richard Olney. He also became a film critic for the Financial Times and an opera critic for Opera (he wrote the libretto for his friend Ned Rorem’s first opera ‘A Childhood Miracle’), worked with Kenneth Anger on ‘Hollywood Babylon,’ managed a literary review, taught English to Yves Montand, and acted in a few films, most notably Edouard Luntz’s ‘Les coeurs verts.’ Later, Elliott wrote and acted in Antony Balch’s ‘Bizarre’ and played a character named Ficletoes in Edgardo Cozarinsky’s ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,’ opposite Zouzou, Marie-France Pisier, Dennis Hopper, Pierre Clémenti, Raoul Ruiz, and others. He also lived in ‘Giovanni’s Room’ (he was friends with James Baldwin) and his friendship and intellectual rapport with Susan Sontag was a source of her landmark essay ‘Notes on Camp.’

Boris Strugatsky, the last remaining member of the legendary Russian science fiction duo best known internationally for providing the story behind Andrei Tarkovsky‘s classic film Stalker, died on Monday,” reports RIA Novosti. Strugatsky, who was 79, rose to literary prominence through science fiction novels co-written with his elder brother Arkady, who died in 1991 at the age of 66…. Many Strugatsky novels were made into movies, including Roadside Picnic, turned into the movie Stalker by Tarkovsky in 1979. In 1977, the duo had a main belt asteroid named after them.” More from Pravda.

Cornel Lucas, who has died aged 92, made his name shooting studio portraits of film stars of the 1940s and 1950s and was said to have done more for the images of many of those he photographed than their performances on celluloid,” reports the Telegraph. “Working with Rank, which had more than 40 artists under contract, he created the star images of, among others, the young Joan Collins and Diana Dors, and gave rugged, masculine glamor to Dirk Bogarde and Trevor Howard. His big break came in 1948 when he was asked to photograph Marlene Dietrich.” Lucas also shot David Niven, Stewart Granger, Katharine Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Brigitte Bardot, Cyd Charisse and Lauren Bacall. “‘It could take three hours to get the lighting right,’ Cornel Lucas recalled. ‘But, after that, I could make my subject younger than a plastic surgeon could.'” More from Sydney Samuelson in the Guardian, where you can also click through a gallery of photos.

For Sight & Sound, Gary Thomas remembers British animator Run Wrake, probably best known for his 2005 short, Rabbit. He worked “across different forms—music video, advertising, television graphics and tour visuals for bands. He is one of a small number of British animators—another would be Joanna Quinn—to have sustained a career where a personal, distinctive and unmistakable style carries their work and the range of commercial and personal projects…. His last film is the haunting and brave Down with the Dawn (2012)… A response to his diagnosis with cancer in November 2011, it’s a powerful, personal and intimate work; elegiac, certainly, but characteristically unnerving, and a poignant testament to his brilliance. He continued working and his latest animation features in the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary tour.” Wrake was 47.

Composer Richard Robbins, who died last week, aged 71, worked with Merchant Ivory Productions for over three decades, a period longer than “such celebrated director-composer unions as Federico Fellini-Nino Rota, Michelangelo Antonioni-Giovanni Fusco and Alfred Hitchcock-Bernard Herrmann,” notes Ronald Bergan in the Guardian. “Robbins scored nearly every Merchant Ivory production from The Europeans (1979) onwards, and was an integral part of the film company’s brand.”

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