We’ve mentioned David Cronenberg’s first novel more than a few times already, but we’ll have to again because, hey, Jonathan Lethem‘s reviewed it for the New York Times. Consumed‘s “core plot is elaborated in a highly traditional (and satisfying) way: twin investigations, apparently unrelated, which gradually entwine. Amateur detectives who become complicit—and, of course, involved sexually—with their suspects. As in a majority of his films, Cronenberg’s approach to narrative is sturdy and direct, the opposite of avant-garde. His originality is in what he’s driven to show you, the fierce sculptural intensity of his details and his willingness to linger.”
More on Consumed: Noah Cruickshank (AV Club, B-), Peter Howell (Toronto Star) and Mark Medley (Globe and Mail). Interviews with Cronenberg: Mike Doherty (National Post) and Arun Rath (NPR). Meantime, follow the updates to the entry on Maps to the Stars.
“David Lynch’s paintings (currently on view at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, David Lynch: The Unified Field) are the visual opposite to most of his films,” argues Morgan Meis at the Smart Set. “The paintings are layered with paint, fabric, and other junk. They are often scrawled upon with words, written in a childlike hand… Lynch’s films are uncanny because seemingly straightforward situations are shown to be riddled with weirdness. Beneath the surface lurk cruel, animal drives. In the paintings, the cruelty, the disgust, the violence, is all right there. What gives the paintings their tension is the gentle and often bewildered tone of the sentences. That’s to say, the paintings wouldn’t work without the words.” Further in, these works are set next to two paintings by Nicolas Poussin.
Criterion’s “favorite ‘corrupted theorist’ Slavoj Žižek stopped by the DVD closet”
Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s posted his 2004 review of The Saddest Music in the World—along with an email he received from Guy Maddin following its publication in the Chicago Reader: “Dear Jonathan: I usually try to avoid setting precedents that violate what should be a no-fly zone between critics and filmmakers, but I must say that your review of Saddest Music left me feeling understood at last!!!”
Adrian Martin for De Filmkrant: “For me, one of the greatest lessons of film theory—concerning space, environment, desire, acting, editing, the lot—is contained in a scene of Emir Kusturica’s immortally bizarre Arizona Dream (1993).”
For the New Yorker, Joshua Rothman and Erin Overbey have “pulled together six of our favorite stories on actresses from the past few decades”:
- Penelope Gilliatt on Diane Keaton in 1978.
- Hilton Als on Angela Bassett in 1996.
- Anthony Lane traces Julia Roberts in 2001.
- Hilton Als on Tilda Swinton in 2002.
- Claudia Roth Pierpont on Katharine Hepburn in 2003.
- John Lahr on Cate Blanchett in 2007.
New York, New York (1977) “was to be Scorsese’s love letter to the MGM musicals of his childhood,” writes Max Nelson at Reverse Shot. “There must have been times at which the prolonged, difficult production felt akin to a séance…. But New York, New York can never become a musical in the tradition of Vincente Minnelli or a grand ballet in the spirit of Michael Powell. The cinematic space in which Scorsese’s film takes place is tougher and more severe.” And Ohad Landesman argues that The Last Waltz (1978) and Shine a Light (2008) “provide a reflexive meditation on the nature of the rockumentary and expose some of the strategies used for cinematically reshaping and restructuring the concert. In that sense, Scorsese tries to have his cake and eat it, too.”
Hype Williams’s Belly (1998), “forged in the fires of conflict, is a bit of a mess if judged according to the standards of the well-made film—but of how many fascinating features could this be said?” asks Nick Pinkerton at Film Comment.
“With public access TV, you never know what youʼre going to see, but the odds are that you’ll stumble across something memorable, inflammatory, confounding, provocatively boring, hilarious or informative, or some combination of the above.” At the Talkhouse Film, Hellaware director Michael M. Bilandic presents the highlights of one evening’s viewing.
At the Dissolve, the staff’s written up the “Movies’ 50 Greatest Pop Music Moments.”
IN OTHER NEWS
“Magical Girl was awarded the top Golden Shell and best director for rising Spanish helmer Carlos Vermut at the 62nd annual San Sebastian Film Festival on Saturday,” reports Elsa Keslassy in Variety, where Peter Debruge calls this sophomore feature “an elaborately contrived, imagination-dependent dark comedy that operates through sleight of hand, misleading auds into following a preteen leukemia patient’s dying wish while it assembles another, far more sinister secondary narrative deep in its viewers’ collective subconscious.”
And here’s Debruge on the winner of the special jury prize: “A French couple who agree to raise their children in nature, free from laws and the effects of mass culture, find that things get awfully complicated when the mother decides to go back to organized society in Cedric Kahn’s Wild Life. Caught in the middle are the family’s three sons, who must decide which side to take. Early on, the two youngest opt to go off the grid with their dad, and the film follows their 10-year disappearance, resulting in a raw and occasionally bumpy meller that shares more in common with bandits-on-the-lam movies like Badlands than that custody-battle classic Kramer vs. Kramer.”
Back to Keslassy: “Marshland (Isla Minima), a thriller turning on two homicide detectives on the trail of a serial killer on the loose, won best actor for Javier Gutiérrez and cinematography for Alex Catalan.” Jay Weissberg: “A couple of mismatched cops in the immediate post-Franco era investigate the brutal murders of two teenage girls in Alberto Rodriguez’s satisfyingly atmospheric neo-noir.” Keslassy: “The four awards swept by Magical Girl and Marshland underscore the resilience of Spain’s film industry and the local talent pool which keeps growing in spite of the economic recession.”
Joe Leydon on the winner of the New Director Award: “Loosely based on a real-life incident employed effectively by the filmmakers as a last-act plot twist, Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s The Lesson is a spare, stripped-to-essentials drama about economic stress and mounting desperation.” San Sebastian’s audience award has gone to Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado’s documentary The Salt of the Earth, while FIPRESCI’s awarded its international critics’ prize to Christian Petzold’s Phoenix.
Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli: “The Rome Film Festival has announced it will fete Russian auteur Aleksei Fedorchenko (Silent Souls) with its Marco Aurelio of the Future Award and also host the world preem of his new pic, Angels of Revolution set during the early days of the Soviet state.”
New York. Film Forum’s Tennessee Williams series is on through Sunday and, writing for Artforum, Melissa Anderson argues that three films “elevated to fascinating, florid heights by Elizabeth Taylor in the three film adaptations of Williams plays she starred in: Richard Brooks’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), and Joseph Losey’s Boom (1968).” In the Voice, Anderson has an overview of BAMcinématek’s Retro Metro series, “a program of 13 features and three shorts that highlight the joys and terrors of subterranean travel. Spanning 1928 through 1992, these movies reveal wildly vacillating feelings about the sprawling transit system—what Randy Kennedy calls ‘an object of pride and fascination, fear and loathing’ in the introduction to his excellent 2004 book, Subwayland.” Also through Sunday.
Tonight, MoMA and Gaumont present Jean-Pierre Melville’s debut feature, Silence of the Sea (1949). Jeremy Polacek in the L: “Recounting the silent resistance waged by an unnamed Frenchman and his niece against the German lieutenant lodged for many garrulous months in their village home, the film transforms silence into an impossible, confessional realm: the lieutenant able to speak of peace and love (for the niece), the Frenchman able to respect him. But only in silence.”
And starting tomorrow, the French Institute Alliance Français presents its new weekly series, Alain Resnais: Time, Memory & Imagination.
IN THE WORKS
“Arte France Cinéma’s (managed by Olivier Père) fourth selection committee of 2014 has opted to get involved in co-producing and pre-purchasing five projects,” reports Fabien Lemercier for Cineuropa. “Among these titles is Elle by the renowned Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, back behind the camera eight years after Black Book to shoot a French-language film adapted from the novel Oh… by Philippe Djian. The cast is toplined by the brilliant Isabelle Huppert, and the shoot will kick off in January next year…. Arte France Cinéma will also be co-producing Foxtrot by Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz (winner of the Golden Lion at Venice in 2009 with Lebanon), who looks back on his experiences as a soldier through a tragic story (due to be filmed in February 2015).”
Also: Christian Vincent is directing Sidse Babett Knudsen and Fabrice Luchini in L’hermine (literally, The Stoats).
Animated Self-Portraits (1989) by Jiri Barta, Sally Cruikshank, Borivoj Dovnikovic-Bordo, David Ehrlich, Kihachiro Kawamoto, Renzo Kinoshita, Pavel Koutsky, Candy Kugel, Mati Kütt, Nikola Majdak, Josko Marusic, Priit Pärn, Bill Plympton, Maureen Selwood, Jan Svankmajer, Osamu Tezuka, Riho Unt, Hardi Volmer and Dusan Vukotic
“After a gap of nearly two decades, veteran director Yamada Yoji is finally returning to comedy, the genre that made him famous,” reports Mark Schilling for Variety. “The 83 year old Yamada is now making Kazoku wa Tsurai yo (literally, It’s Tough Being a Family), with a title derived from his signature Otoko wa Tsurai yo (It’s Tough Being a Man) Tora-san series…. Shochiku is producing the new film about a family facing a crisis when the wife (Kazuko Yoshiyuki) demands a divorce from her husband (Isao Hashizume) as their 50th wedding anniversary approaches, shocking their three grown children and their spouses.”
“Paramount Pictures and Oscar-winning The Departed scribe William Monahan are teaming up to acquire ‘The Throwaways,’ a 2012 New Yorker article by Sarah Stillman that will be used as the basis for a film Monahan will write and produce,” reports Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr. “The article detailed the death count of kids who were collared by drug enforcement agents for relatively minor or even borderline serious infractions, like being caught with small amounts of drugs, and trade cooperation for prosecution. What they do is take these untrained kids and wire them up and put them into incredibly dangerous sting operations to catch big fish.”
“Samantha Morton, John Hurt and Tahar Rahim will topline the cast of six-part crime drama The Last Panthers,” reports Variety‘s Leo Barraclough. “The series opens with a diamond heist before plunging into the dark heart of Europe where a shadowy alliance of gangsters and crooked moneymen—’banksters’—now rules. Morton plays Naomi, a British loss adjustor charged with recovering the stolen diamonds whatever the cost, while Hurt is Tom, her nefarious boss. Also in pursuit is a French-Algerian policeman Khalil, played by Rahim.”
Don Keefer, who had a minor role in the original Broadway production of Death of a Salesman, “was a sought-after character actor onstage and in films, including The Caine Mutiny, Woody Allen’s Sleeper and Liar, Liar, starring Jim Carrey,” writes William Yardley in the New York Times. “But Mr. Keefer, who was 98 when he died on Sept. 7 in Sherman Oaks, Calif., may be best remembered for his role in a classic 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone.” And that’d be It’s a Good Life.
Viewing (106’53”). At Dangerous Minds, Paul Gallagher‘s posted the long edit of Jack Smith’s Normal Love (1963) as well as a few of Smith’s photographs.
The Film Doctor‘s posted a round of “mediascape links.”