Daily | Durgnat, Bordwell, Davies

Raymond Durgnat

Second Edition

1963 was a watershed year for film criticism, argues Henry K. Miller in Sight & Sound. For one thing, it was the “high point of Anglo-American Hitchcocko-Hawksianism… The spring of 1963 saw the opening of the Museum of Modern Art’s six-month-long Hitchcock retrospective, organized by Peter Bogdanovich, the appearance of [Andrew] Sarris’s special ‘American Directors’ issue of Film Culture, the basis for his 1968 book The American Cinema, and the publication in San Francisco’s Film Quarterly of Pauline Kael’s brilliant critique of auteurism, ‘Circles and Squares.’ … Apart from this, there is another story to tell about 1963, about another magazine, equally attuned to its times and resonating at least as much with the present.”

That would be Motion, launched “in the summer of 1961, when its editor Ian Johnson was still a student at the LSE, before Movie but as part of the same general tumult.” And it attracted Raymond Durgnat, who’d been writing for Films and Filming, “a monthly magazine of which there is no equivalent today.” For Motion, Durgnat wrote about Robert Aldrich and the French New Wave and, with Johnson, “compiled the magazine’s crowning achievement, a ‘Companion to Violence and Sadism in the Cinema’, accurately described by Films and Filming as a ‘directory to the world’s most nasty pictures.’ … As well as its challenge to [Sight & Sound], by picking out recurrent features in different films, regardless of director or even genre, Motion also swam against the auteurist tide…. Durgnat, who had more in common with Kael than he could admit, had no time for Cahiers-inspired auteurism.”

Miller then explains why Durgnat, who passed away in 2002, would himself see 1963 as a crucial turning point. This evening at BFI Southbank, Miller, Tony Rayns and Lucy Reynolds will be discussing Durgnat’s legacy.


Sticking with film criticism for the moment, Oliver Nöding and Marco Siedelmann have conducted a wide-ranging interview with Armond White for the German publication Hard Sensations. White: “There used to be terrific film critics in the American mainstream media and these were the ones who inspired me—Kael, Sarris, John Simon, Stanley Kauffman, James Agee, Arthur Knight, Judith Crist, Hollis Alpert, Bosley Crowther, Vincent Canby, Manny Farber and among academics there were Raymond Durgnant, Andre Bazin, Leo Braudy, Richard Griffiths and Kevin Brownlow. They defined the possibilities in writing film criticism. I can be a fan but I’m not a follower. I had to develop my own perspective—which I wanted to add to theirs as if to communicate and exchange ideas, a form of gratitude.” Eventually, of course, the question has to arise: “When do you think did you become a ‘notorious’ critic?”

Trailer for the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts exhibition, David Lynch: Unified Field (September 13 through January 11)

“I started studying cinema in the late 1960s, when university film programs began and archives were starting to open up to university researchers,” writes David Bordwell. In an essay that originally appeared in 75000 Films, edited by Nicola Mazzanti, he addresses “how my own interests have intersected with changes in film culture and moving-image technology, as those have in turn affected archives.”

“Rather than being the victims of digital technology, the movies are its analogue-era forebearer,” argues the New Yorker‘s Richard Brody.

“One of the most talked-about shots in all of Davies’s films is a galvanizing image about two-thirds of the way into The Long Day Closes [1992].” Criterion’s running an excerpt from Michael Koresky‘s forthcoming book, Terence Davies.

The new Fall 2014 issue of Cineaste is out, though there isn’t much of it online. Two interviews are posted in full, Aaron Cutler‘s with Joaquim Pinto (What Now? Remind Me) and Dennis West and Joan M. West‘s with Andrew Rossi (Ivory Tower). There’s also Jared Rapfogel‘s report from this year’s Oberhausen International Short Film Festival and four DVD reviews. Otherwise, there are a few previews, including one for the symposium on the current rage, television.

Catherine Grant alerts us to two more new issues, Intensities, a special issue on the “Transmedia Relationship Between Film/TV Texts and Board Games,” and FilmIcon, the Journal of Greek Film Studies.

In the latest “Cinephiliac Moment” at photogénie, Fabrice du Welz (Alleluia) describes “one of the most fascinating scenes that I have been privy to witness in my cinephile existence,” and it comes from Stanley Kubrick‘s Barry Lyndon (1975).

At Movie Morlocks, R. Emmet Sweeney revisits Out of the Past (1947): “Jacques Tourneur and cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca previously collaborated on Cat People, and continue their use of low-key lighting to produce dream-like suggestions of violence. All of the deaths in Out of the Past are hidden off-screen, the specifics elided. They simply accrue in the fog of [private detective Jeff Markham’s (Robert Mitchum)] rueful investigation, a case that turns into a series of delaying tactics to stay alive. But he can only pause to smoke so many times before the darkness finally deigns to meet him.”


“Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Stoker) is set to make a Korean-language thriller based on Sarah Waters’s novel Fingersmith,” reports Jean Noh for Screen Daily. “The original crime novel, first published in 2002, was set in Victorian London and centred on young women who are petty thieves (fingersmiths). Park’s adaptation will be set in Korea during the time of Japanese rule.”

From Criterion, Bob Fosse on the origins of All That Jazz (1979)

“George Clooney is to direct a film about the phone-hacking scandal which led to the closure of British tabloid the News of the World,” reports the BBC. This’ll be “an adaptation of reporter Nick Davies‘s book Hack Attack, which follows Davies’ investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.”

Jessica Chastain is “in early talks” to join Matt Damon in Ridley Scott’s The Martian, reports Variety‘s Justin Kroll.


New York. “Rarely screened, Billy Wilder’s penultimate film, Fedora (1978), may be a wan companion to one of his most celebrated, Sunset Boulevard (1950),” writes Melissa Anderson for Artforum. “But several of its tawdry observations about stardom and vanity give it a kicky kind of sordidness, suggesting a squarer version of Hollywood Babylon, republished just three years before Fedora’s release.” A new restoration screens at Film Forum for a week, starting tomorrow. “Death-haunted work often grips the twilight stages of great artist’s careers, and this one is no exception,” writes Carson Lund for Slant.

Austin. Hump! happens this weekend, and in the Chronicle, Fernie Martinez looks back to its 2005 origins: “The goal of the festival was to provide an all-inclusive setting where regular people could share their straight, gay, vanilla, or hardcore turn-ons with an audience.”

London. Elio Petri: The Forgotten Genius runs for a week at the ICA beginning tomorrow and, via Movie City News, Nico Marzano writes up an appreciation for Port.


Gottfried John has died, aged 72. “He became internationally known for his portrayal of the villian General Ourumov in the James Bond film GoldenEye, released in 1995, in which he starred alongside Pierce Brosnan,” reports the German Press Agency. He also appeared in eight films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, including The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) and Lili Marleen (1981), and in Stephen and Timothy Quay‘s The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (2005).

Le Figaro reports that actress Maria Mauban, best known for her work in Roberto Rossellini‘s Journey to Italy (1954), has died at the age of 90.

Yesterday, I posted entries on Patrick Lung Kong and Andrew V. McLaglen.


Listening (35’16”). From Karina Longworth, You Must Remember This, Episode #12: Madonna, from Sean to Warren, Part One.

More listening (136’00”). Illusion Travels By Streetcar #28: Emile De Antonio: Revolt Without Revolution, and more.

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