We need to catch up with To Be (Cont’d), host of monthly informal and stimulating dialogues. “The vast majority of writing and conversation about the films of Claire Denis is inspired by post-colonial theory, strains of social memory theory, and the sexual or racial politics of the body in cinema,” writes Michael Leary, opening up the current discussion with Darren Hughes. “There is much value in thinking about Denis’s films from these perspectives. But I do not want to limit ourselves to these traditional perspectives here, because I think those conversations have missed a lot of formal and expressive detail in her work.”
Last month, Zachary Lewis and Michael Sicinski took on “Slow Cinema.” Lewis: “I commend Harry Tuttle, a long-time Contemporary Contemplative Cinema (CCC) promoter for setting up the first steps toward a definition…. However, even Tuttle’s measures for slowness or contemplation are not ironclad.” Sicinski suggests thinking “about Bazin’s stylistic reassessment of film history as a prelude to a new, more networked method of charting some tendencies that cross borders and socio-political circumstances. When we look at different films, we find that ‘slow’ can be put to multiple uses. All it ever seems to have as a constant is that slowness asks viewers to engage with time and space as basic elements of meaning, not just neutral containers for narrative data.”
For Sight & Sound, Isabel Stevens talks with Edgar Reitz, Christoph Hochhäusler, Volker Schlöndorff and Peter Strickland about the late graphic designer Hans Hillmann, noting first that he “designed 130 film posters. Most poster designers work from stills or publicity material; Hillmann meticulously studied the film, creating designs as radical as the cinema his posters advertised.”
Luc Moullet’s Barres (1984) with English subtitles via Open Culture
Also in S&S, Neil Young travels through what was once Yugoslavia to discover that a “paucity of cinema options is a partial explanation for the film festival boom across the Balkan region.” And Chris Robinson writes about Tom Schroeder’s six-minute Marcel, the King of Tervuren, “a Greek tragedy told—as only animation could—with Belgian roosters.”
For East of Borneo, Sasha Archibald writes about Agnès Varda‘s “extended engagement with Los Angeles, a relationship between city and filmmaker that would eventually include two sojourns and five films, all conceived, written, filmed, and edited in California.” These films would “make of California a hypertrophic variation on America.”
“There’s nothing wrong with having a script, of course. It can be a useful tool. Up to a point.” At EatDrinkFilms, Pawel Pawlikowski has begun telling the story of the making of Ida, which has been picking up awards around the world over the past year.
“Trying to figure out which Ben (Russell or Rivers) executed which shot in A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness has been discouraged by its authors but is too tempting a project to avoid,” writes Vadim Rizov at Little White Lies, where Sophie Monks Kaufman interviews Ben Russell. “Long tracking shots of someone walking—generally enigmatic subject Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe—align with Russell’s similarly pedestrian-powered odyssey Let Each One Go Where He May; likewise, Lowe sitting on the water, observing the ripples spiraling out from his boat, recalls a similarly extended study in Rivers’s Two Years at Sea. Echoes of past work are a constant throughout, but unity of voice is achieved.”
“Why are all our narratives about the future 50 years old?” asks Ed Finn at Slate. “We seem to be recycling big ideas as if we live in an inspiration drought. We’ve retooled Star Trek so many times, it’s starting to look like one of those 1957 Chevrolets still cruising the streets of Havana…. The fact that we are all so steeped in the same shorthand of the future (intelligent robots; warp drive; retinal displays) is a hint that we’ve become complacent about our dreams.”
“She wanted to know well in advance when we would film her death scene in La Boheme.” So begins an amazing story—it may even be true!—King Vidor told about directing Lillian Gish. Chad Hartigan‘s posted it at his excellent tumblr.
IN THE WORKS
“Ang Lee is the frontrunner to direct Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk based on the critically acclaimed Iraq War novel by Ben Fountain,” reports TheWrap‘s Jeff Sneider. “The dark satire follows 19-year-old Texas-born infantryman Billy Lynn and his fellow U.S. servicemen who survive a firefight in Iraq in 2005. The Bush administration brings the veterans home for a victory lap that leads them to the Dallas Cowboys’ football stadium where they’re honored during the team’s Thanksgiving halftime show before they return to war in Iraq.”
Re-Bourne? “Despite months of denials, and months of rumors, sources say [Matt] Damon and [Paul] Greengrass are indeed talking to Universal about bringing the amnesiac assassin back to the big screen.” The Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit: “Greengrass would not only direct, but also write the script…. If a deal is made—and talks are only in the early stages—it sets the stage for a return of the 21st century’s first screen hero who threatened to upstage Bond.”
Ben Kingsley and Brie Larson are joining Daniel Radcliffe in Douglas McGrath’s Brooklyn Bridge, reports Variety‘s Leo Barraclough.
“Theodore J. Flicker, a filmmaker whose eclectic career included the Cold War comedy The President’s Analyst and the much-loved ABC comedy Barney Miller, died Sept. 13,” reports Cynthia Littleton for Variety. “Flicker moved into Hollywood after working with an improvisational group in New York that he co-founded, the Premise. Members including future showbiz notables George Segal, Joan Darling and Buck Henry. The group helped Flicker produce his first film, the indie cult classic The Troublemaker (1964).” Flicker was 84.
Scottish actor Angus Lennie, perhaps best known as Archibald “the Mole” Ives in The Great Escape (1963), has died, reports the BBC. He, too, was 84. Lennie also appeared in the late Richard Attenborough‘s Oh! What a Lovely War (1969).