Over the past few days, it’s been all about the directors. Ray Pride is among the many who’ve embedded the “Full Uncensored” cut of the Hollywood Reporter‘s directors roundtable, which runs just over an hour. Everyone’s been quoting Quentin Tarantino going on about retirement and so on, but there are five other participants as well: Ben Affleck (Entertainment Weekly‘s #1 Entertainer of the Year), Tom Hooper, Ang Lee, David O. Russell, and Gus Van Sant—who, by the way, according to Movieline‘s Frank DiGiacomo, is “writing a script to a ‘martial arts’ film that is ‘a little bit of a superhero movie and a little bit of Stephen Chow.'”
Another big conversation piece, in both senses of the term, has been the full transcript of Scott Foundas‘s interview with Christopher Nolan, who says (among many other things): “For me, The Dark Knight Rises is specifically and definitely the end of the Batman story as I wanted to tell it, and the open-ended nature of the film is simply a very important thematic idea that we wanted to get into the movie, which is that Batman is a symbol. He can be anybody, and that was very important to us.”
This week has also seen new translations of essays by Serge Daney: “The Godard Paradox” at diagonal thoughts (it originally ran in the Revue Belge du Cinéma in 1986) and “The Rules of the Game,” a 1963 piece on Otto Preminger now up at Serge Daney in English.
The Directors Guild of America will present its Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction to Milos Forman on February 2.
The Berlinale (February 7 through 17) will present an Honorary Golden Bear to Claude Lanzmann, whose “complete body of work will be presented in the Homage dedicated to him. The Homage will also feature the debut screening of the restored and digitized version of Shoah.”
At Filmmaker, Brandon Harris reports from the 20th annual Plus Camerimage in Bydgoszcz, Poland, where David Lynch “was feted on opening night with a Lifetime Achievement Award… While the festival is unspooling a near complete retrospective of his films (Dune is excluded), the centerpiece of its celebration of the ever mercurial auteur came on Sunday night, when he was on hand to present the opening of an exhibit of his nearly 50 lithographs he’s completed in the past five years.” Filmmaker‘s running a few photos.
Ken Loach has been making news at another festival, but not the sort you might expect. On the other hand… At any rate, as Celluloid Liberation Front reports in the New Statesman, he’s turned down an award from the Turin Film Festival “in solidarity with outsourced festival workers.” The festival’s returned fire by canceling a screening of The Angels’ Share. “That the whole affaire took place in Turin is significant since the northern industrial city has witnessed in the past massive industrial action and widespread militancy. The festival itself, widely regarded as a left-wing event, has in the past had sections of its program dedicated to labor-related issues…. TFF artistic director, the filmmaker Gianni Amelio, after having put Loach’s decision to renounce the award down to his temperament, stated his respect for the director’s choice while at the same time deeming it inappropriate.”
“Amnesty International and other human rights organizations are putting the pressure on Iran to release the brother of exiled Kurdish-Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi,” reports Anthony Kaufman. “On November 4, 2012, Behrouz Ghobadi was arrested by plainclothes forces in Iran. Since then, he has had no contact with his family and has not been able to see an attorney. Iranian officials continue to withhold information about his whereabouts or the conditions in which he is being held. In a new petition started by Amnesty, several prominent filmmakers and actors have now joined the Ghobadi family in calling for Ghobadi’s release, including directors Martin Scorsese, Paul Haggis, and Guillermo Arriaga, and actors James Franco and Liam Neeson.”
More reading. With Christian Keathley, author of Cinephilia and History, or The Wind in the Trees, headed to the U.K. and Europe, Catherine Grant presents a collection of his textual and video essays. Catherine also points us to a new issue of Scope: “There’s a small but well-edited selection of great articles, and an enormous number of hugely useful book reviews and conference reports.”
Wide Screen 4.1 is a special issue on “Documentary, Art and Performance.”
“Why do we set out to watch, often with great enthusiasm, biopics?” asks Michael Atkinson at Moving Image Source.
Books. Hito Steyerl’s The Wretched of the Screen, “in which she has steadily developed her very own politics of the image,” is the latest edition from e-flux journal books.
“[C]inema’s ostensible transformation from a medium possessing the capacity to record history to one claiming the technological ability to remake it… is the main subject of [J.] Hoberman‘s latest book, Film After Film: (Or, What Happened to 21st Century Cinema?),” writes Michael Joshua Rowin for Bookforum. “Elegiac and anxious, critical and poetic, Film After Film surveys the current seismic shifts in movies and considers their effect on the cinematic imagination.”
Fintan O’Toole in the New York Review of Books on The Richard Burton Diaries: “The very scale of the transformation from poverty to dazzling wealth and from obscurity to royalty makes the narrative of sold-out genius all but irresistible. It is not an unflattering narrative: to receive in return these rewards of women, wealth, and class revenge, he must have had a lot to sell. The corollary of the fabulous price paid for his soul is that it must have been a jewel as rare and precious as the notorious million-dollar diamond or the La Peregrina pearl he bought for Taylor at the height of their reign. He must have been, indeed, potentially the greatest actor in the world.” More from Simon Callow in the Guardian.
At Press Play, Matt Zoller Seitz talks with Alan Sepinwall about his new book, The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever. “It’s an impressive piece of work, and I’d think so even if I didn’t know and like the author. A combination critical exegesis and oral history of the late ’90s and early 21st century, it puts a frame around an era whose aesthetic aftershocks are still being felt and understood.”
Lists. Anthony Kaufman‘s already selected his top ten documentaries of 2012. And for the New Yorker‘s Alex Ross, the “Movie Score of the Year” is Jóhann Jóhannsson’s for Bill Morrison’s The Miners’ Hymns.
DVD/Blu-ray. “Releases of historically important films in restorations have been prominent lately.” Kristin Thompson writes up a batch that “has a distinctly, though not exclusively, German accent.” Two more holiday gift guides: Gary Dretzka (Movie City News) and Dave Kehr (New York Times).
Cambridge. “After being confined to his Tehran apartment and banned from his profession in 2010, director Jafar Panahi has become known more as a victim of Iranian human-rights abuse than as a great filmmaker,” writes the Phoenix’s Peter Keough. “True, his films decry oppression, but they do so with formal brilliance. To best appreciate this, watch them all at the Harvard Film Archive’s Jafar Panahi: This Is Not a Retrospective.”
In the works. “George Clooney and production partner Grant Heslov are reteaming with their Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio for an untitled crime drama that Paul Greengrass will direct and Clooney will star in.” Zach Dionne has a bit more at Vulture.
“Gérard Depardieu has agreed to star as a monk in a historic serial penned by the eldest daughter of Uzbekistan’s strongman President Islam Karimov,” reports the Telegraph. “Gulnara Karimova wrote a screenplay for The Theft of the White Cocoon, a story about the origin of the famed Central Asian silk and set in the 5th-6th centuries in Central Asia.”