Daily | Ferrara, Richie, Romanians

Willem Dafoe as Pasolini

Willem Dafoe as Pasolini

“I know who killed him.” That’s Abel Ferrara, as quoted by Eric J. Lyman in the Hollywood Reporter. Ferrara, who’s just finished shooting a film about the last days of Pier Paolo Pasolini with Willem Dafoe taking on the title role, claims to have solved the mystery that’s been the subject of emotionally and politically charged speculation ever since the director, poet, critic and artist was found dead on November 2, 1975. Pasolini was probably first hit over the head and then run over by his own Alfa Romeo GT. Lyman reports that Pasolini’s cousin, Guido Mazzon, “has lobbied hard to open the case again so that new evidence can be evaluated. ‘I hope that what is claimed with such certainty by the American filmmaker is true, because we cannot bear another round of unfounded speculation,’ he said.”

If, as Lyman reports, shooting on Pasolini is indeed complete, might we see it in the Cannes 2014 lineup? For that matter, since the fate of the long-completed Welcome to New York, with Gérard Depardieu as Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Jacqueline Bisset as Anne Sinclair, is still, as far as we know, up in the air, might Ferrara even have two films at Cannes this year?


For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Colin Marshall‘s written an appreciation of the late critic, novelist, curator, and filmmaker Donald Richie: “In his observations of, explorations in, and engagements with Japan, he exemplified how to place oneself advantageously in a land and culture not one’s own, a process begun by accepting, then embracing, how adamantly it will remain precisely that: not one’s own.”

Adam Nayman‘s new book is It Doesn’t Suck: Showgirls

“By the mid-’60s, after 25 years of stardom and superstardom, most people would mainly talk about John Wayne’s conservative politics, either pro or con, or about his having survived lung cancer, with the loss of part of a lung,” writes Peter Bogdanovich for the New York Times Book Review. “Hardly anyone spoke of his acting, except to take it for granted or to minimize it by saying he ‘always plays himself.’ In his authoritative and enormously engaging new biography, John Wayne: The Life and Legend, Scott Eyman writes in great detail on all three subjects: the politics that led Wayne to be actively involved in the Hollywood Red Scare that blacklisted hundreds in the industry; the cancer that ultimately killed him in 1979 at age 72; and the surprising amount of care and work that went into creating the persona known to the world as John Wayne.”

“You think of Romania, a country plagued by all the economic and social hardships associated with a transition to a market-oriented economy, troubled in so many ways, and yet: Porumboiu, Puiu, Mungiu, Muntean, Nemescu, in nearly one decade—how did this happen?” asks Brandon Konecny in Film International. In Contemporary Romanian Cinema: The History of an Unexpected Miracle, Dominique Nasta “rightfully argues” that this “recent film phenomenon… has a history, a cinematic lineage; and it arose from a fecund admixture of Romania’s penchant for tragicomedy, early auteurs, postmodernity, relation to history, economic factors, and more besides.”

Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s posted a piece he wrote for Cineaste in 1998: “Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki’s dialogues about eight features by Jean-Luc Godard, stretching from Vivre sa vie (1962) to Nouvelle vague (1990), is a book I’ve been awaiting ever since coming across its sixth and seventh chapters, on Numéro deux (1975) and Passion (1981), in issues of the journals Camera Obscura and Discourse, respectively. The two best critical studies I’ve encountered anywhere of these difficult, neglected masterworks, they manage to account for a great deal of what’s going on in them, metaphorically, ideologically, and intellectually, and the graceful division of labor between the two critics as they proceed through the films—roughly speaking, a dialectical exchange between Freud (Silverman) and Marx (Farocki)—makes the process of their exploration all the more illuminating.” That collection is Speaking About Godard. Further in he also reviews the then-newly expanded edition of Negative Space: Manny Farber at the Movies.

In the new Literary Review, Donald Sassoon calls Stephen Parker’s Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life “an astonishing tour de force based on impressive scholarship.”

Meantime, I’ve just updated the entry on Mark Harris’s Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War.


“In order to appreciate what a dirty bomb Heathers was when it was originally released 25 years ago, on March 31, 1989, you have to remember what exactly the ‘high school movie’ was back then.” Jason Bailey explains at Flavorwire.

Jump ahead nearly ten years to Wild Things (1998). “If not precisely Lynchian, there were, in retrospect, some rather startling formal games being played in the erotic thrillers of the period,” writes Nick Pinkerton for Film Comment.

One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevitch (2001) is Chris Marker‘s film about Tarkovsky for the Cinéma, de notre temps series; be sure to turn on the subtitles; via Cinephilia and Beyond

Interviews: Graham Fuller with Tilda Swinton for Film Comment and Stephen Galloway with William Friedkin for the Hollywood Reporter.


New York. Tout Truffaut, Film Forum’s complete retrospective, is on at Film Forum through April 17, and the New Yorker‘s Richard Brody argues that “the linchpin of Truffaut’s career, as much aesthetically as politically, is the 1972 film A Gorgeous Girl Like Me.”

“Recent weeks have seen the launch of London-based Porn Studies, a peer-reviewed academic journal devoted to pornography, and respectful reviews of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, so hardcore in the cinematheque is nothing to bat an eyelash at,” writes Nick Pinkerton. “After [Anthology Film Archives’] long weekend of Porn Noir, Williamsburg’s Spectacle Theater will be presenting three Gay Porn Classics from Hand in Hand Studios in April…. Because this is Artforum and not Screw, I will try to approach the bill of fare on the basis of aesthetic and historical interest, rather than rating them with Al Goldstein’s ‘Peter Meter.'”


“Lorenzo Semple Jr., the creator of the campily classic Batman TV series who went on to craft such big-screen paranoid thrillers as The Parallax View and Three Days of the Condor—though he would be replaced on both films—has died. He turned 91 on Thursday.” Mike Barnes has more in the Hollywood Reporter. See, too, Matt Singer at the Dissolve.


Recently updated entries: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Noah and remembrances of Alain Resnais and Věra Chytilová. Meantime, the Film Doctor has posted a round of “strike zone links.”

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