Right about now would be a good time to revisit the work of Joan Didion, advises Maria Popova at Brain Pickings. “Nearly half a century before today’s crescendoing public outcries against Hollywood’s masculine whiteness, Didion addressed the issue with unparalleled intellectual elegance. In an essay titled ‘Good Citizens,’ written between 1968 and 1970 and found in the altogether indispensable The White Album (public library)—which also gave us Didion on driving as a transcendent experience—she turns her perceptive and prescient gaze to Hollywood’s diversity problem and the vacant pretensions that both beget and obscure it.”
Writing for Sight & Sound, Jonathan Romney explores a subgenre, that “special strain of films that you might classify as ‘conceptual science fiction’: either art films that explore science-fiction themes, or genre films proper that use the formal devices of art cinema to notify us that themes, rather than thrills, are primary…. Cinema’s classic CSF work remains Chris Marker’s 28-minute La Jetée (1962), a concise exploration of a time travel paradox.” To the list, Romney adds Alain Resnais‘s Je t’aime, je t’aime (1968), Shane Carruth’s Primer (2004) and Upstream Color (2013), Duncan Jones’s Moon (2009), Vincenzo Natali’s Splice (2010) and, from this year alone, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, the Spierig Brothers’ Predestination and James Ward Byrkit’s Coherence.
At the House Next Door, Chuck Bowen ranks the films of David Cronenberg, from Crash (1996) at #1 to Stereo (1969) at #21, with notes on each.
At Little White Lies, David Jenkins talks with Jessica Hausner about Amour Fou, “a dry-as-a-bone comedy about the futility of romantic love” and “a follow-up to 2009’s arch parable on religious devotion, Lourdes.”
“Richard Linklater – The Works” edited by Joel Walden
The occasion for Matthew Sorrento‘s interview with John Boorman in Film International is the rollout of Queen and Country, but this terrific conversation also gives equal time to Point Blank (1967) and Hope and Glory (1987). For more with Boorman, listen to the last episode of Adam Schartoff‘s Filmwax Radio (64’50”).
IN OTHER NEWS
“The 2015 Asian Film Awards nominations were announced Wednesday, with director Ann Hui‘s The Golden Era leading the pack with five, including for best director, best actress for Tang Wei, best supporting actor for Wang Zhiwen, best screenwriter and best editor.” Karen Chu in the Hollywood Reporter: “The biopic is followed by Chinese titles Black Coal, Thin Ice, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2014, Gone with the Bullets and Blind Massage, each with four nominations…. Organized by the Asian Film Awards Academy, founded in late 2013 by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society, the Busan International Film Festival and the Tokyo International Film Festival, the Asian Film Awards will be held on March 25 at The Venetian Theater in Macau.”
The Golden Era screens on Sunday in New York as part of Film Comment Selects and James Kang‘s collected reviews at Critics Round Up. Current rating: 85/100. Meantime, Chu has the full list of nominations.
“Roman Polanski has testified at a court hearing in Poland regarding a US request for his extradition over a 1977 child sex crime conviction,” reports Reuters. “Dariusz Mazur, the judge presiding over the case in Krakow, said the court could not make a ruling on Wednesday because it still had to consider extra documents submitted by Polanski’s lawyers.” Adds Georg Szalai in the Hollywood Reporter: “Polanski attended the Wednesday court hearing in the historic city of Krakow with his lawyer. He has been preparing a film he plans to shoot on location there about Alfred Dreyfus, the 19th century Jewish French military officer executed on false charges of spying.”
New York. Tonight at the Walter Reade: “On the occasion of the publication of his latest novel, Satin Island, the writer and artist Tom McCarthy will introduce and discuss a double bill of Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (1997), Johan Grimonprez’s essay film on the history of airplane hijackings, and Antony Balch and William S. Burroughs’s seminal collage film Towers Open Fire (1963).”
“He’s won Oscars and an Emmy Award, was an inspiration to Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, and made work as mainstream as the 1974 TV movie The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman while also creating independent features, documentaries and animated films that have long gone unseen,” writes Steve Dollar in the Wall Street Journal. “The San Francisco filmmaker John Korty comes to Fort Greene for this three-day retrospective, which revives the likes of Twice Upon a Time, a 1983 animation, and Funnyman, which stars the 1960s comedy troupe the Committee in a stop motion/live action hybrid.” Adds Tanner Tafelski, writing for Film Comment: “Similar to avant-garde colleagues, especially Bruce Conner or Craig Baldwin in their collage-based work, John Korty is a montage artist, slicing and dicing his narratives, bringing out the gestures, rhythms, and textures in them.” Fog City Maverick: The Films of John Korty is on at BAMcinématek through tomorrow.
Boston. The MassArt Film Society presents The Liminal Cinema of João Pedro Rodrigues tonight and the Portuguese filmmaker will be there.
IN THE WORKS
Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, the movie Paul Reubens and Judd Apatow began putting together four years ago, has been picked up by Netflix. Scott Roxborough in the Hollywood Reporter: “John Lee, whose directing credits include episodes of Broad City and Inside Amy Schumer, will helm the project in his feature film debut.”
Tom Harper, whose War Book opened Rotterdam this year, is currently shooting Andrew Davies’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace with Gillian Anderson, Jim Broadbent, Paul Dano, Stephen Rea and Greta Scacchi, reports Leo Barraclough for Variety. The BBC and the Weinsteins are producing the TV mini-series set to roll out in six one-hour episodes.
The worldwide success of The Lego Movie “has prompted no less than three further films,” notes Ben Beaumont-Thomas in the Guardian, “one based on the Ninjago product line, another on the Lego Batman figure voiced by Will Arnett, and an official sequel. The latter has now got an official title—The Lego Movie Sequel—and Rob Schrab attached as director. It’s Schrab’s first feature film in the director’s chair, following his work on TV comedies like The Sarah Silverman Program, Community and The Mindy Project; he also wrote the animated film Monster House. The first film’s directors, Philip Lord and Christopher Miller, stay on as writers and producers.”