“The point is not to claim that film criticism took a wrong turn in the Fifties and Sixties,” writes Kent Jones in an assessment of the lasting impact of auteurism on the current state of film criticism. “The auteurist idea at its most basic (that movies are primarily the creation of one governing author behind the camera who thinks in images and sounds rather than words and sentences) is now the default setting in most considerations of moviemaking, and for that we should all be thankful. We’d be nowhere without auteurism, which boasts a proud history: the lovers of cinema didn’t just argue for its inclusion among the fine arts, but actually stood up, waved its flag, and proclaimed its glory without shame. In that sense, it stands as a truly remarkable occurrence in the history of art.” That said: “I don’t believe that the gulf between artistic practice and criticism is as wide in any other art form.”
Also in the new issue of Film Comment: Jonathan Romney on Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, Irina Leimbacher on Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, Nicolas Rapold on Aleksei German‘s Hard to Be a God, Jonathan Robbins on Raúl Ruiz’s Life Is a Dream (1986) and The Blind Owl (1987) and more.
The 2014 Film Issue of The Believer is out, accompanied by a DVD collecting work by John and Faith Hubley introduced by John Sayles. Full texts online include three interviews—Gideon Lewis-Kraus with Mike Mills (whose new film is A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought Alone), Toph Eggers with Mike White and Anisse Gross with Mary Harron—Greg Cwik on Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992), “a mean bastard of a movie,” Lili Anolik on Bret Easton Ellis, Lindsay Lohan and The Canyons—and two poems, one by Jennifer Willoughby, the other by Traci Brimhall. We can also preview other pieces, such as Nicholas Rombes‘s on Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Neighboring Sounds.
In the new Brooklyn Rail, Danny King previews Overdue: Richard Fleischer, opening tomorrow at New York’s Anthology Film Archives, a retrospective programmed by Nick Pinkerton and Nicolas Rapold. Plus: Genevieve Yue on Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture, opening at Film Forum on March 19 (see, too, Kevin B. Lee‘s open video letter to Panh). Ela Bittencourt looks back on this year’s Documentary Fortnight at MoMA and Noah Isenberg reviews Andrew Steinmetz’s book The Great Escape: The Case of Michael Paryla: “Throughout his idiosyncratic mix of travelogue, family memoir, and elliptical musings, Steinmetz entertains the thought that there might be some kind of hidden, causal connection between his cousin’s ironic, possibly ill-advised choice to play a Gestapo agent in The Great Escape and his premature death.”
“God is, in fact, alive and well in Hollywood,” writes Lawrence Krauss in the New Yorker, citing Son of God and the upcoming releases of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Heaven is for Real, “the film adaptation of the best-seller about a young boy who, after nearly dying on the operating table, convinces his family that he actually visited heaven during surgery…. No one can fault Hollywood for recognizing that religion, like violence, is often profitable at the box office. But this logic leads to a prevailing bias that reinforces a pervasive cultural tilt against unbelief and further embeds religious myths in the popular consciousness. It marginalizes those who would ridicule these myths in the same manner as we ridicule other aspects of our culture, from politics to sex.”
Glenn Kenny considers what he believes “adds up to a cinematic paradox that is both glorious and tragic. That Harry Cohn’s best/worst efforts notwithstanding, Kim Novak became a great screen actress, and that at her greatest, the subject of her work was the difficulty of being ‘Kim Novak.'”
IN OTHER NEWS
“Abbas Kiarostami will preside the Cannes Festival’s Cinefondation and Short Films jury, whose other members are French hyphenate Noemie Lvovsky and three directors: Brazil’s Daniela Thomas, Chad’s Mahamat-Saleh Haroun and Norway’s Joachim Trier.” John Hopewell reports for Variety.
“The 57th San Francisco International Film Festival, running April 24–May 8, has revealed the films in competition for the New Directors Prize, as well as the Golden Gate Award contenders in the documentary feature category.” And Beth Hanna‘s got them at Thompson on Hollywood.
“It was just the other day that we got our first proper look at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival with their Competition and Viewpoints lineups,” notes Ben Umstead at Twitch. “Today we get to even more fun stuff with the lineups for their Spotlight, Midnight, Storyscapes, and Special Screening programs.”
New York. “Though the French New Wave is said to have receded by the end of the 1960s, that freewheeling spirit seen in the films of such iconoclasts as Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut can still thankfully be glimpsed here and there in contemporary French cinema,” writes Kenji Fujishima at the House Next Door. Case in point: Tip Top, the latest beguiling genre-scrambling wonder from Serge Bozon.” Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2014 opens today and runs through March 16. For overviews, see Melissa Anderson (Artforum), Stephen Holden (New York Times), Fabien Lemercier (Cineuropa) and Jonathan Romney (Film Comment).
Nashville. Saul Bass’s only feature, Phase IV (1974), “lies somewhere in the middle between avant-garde whatsit and old-school genre filmmaking,” writes Bilge Ebiri in the Scene. “It’s a monster movie shot like a science experiment. And it is unnervingly beautiful.” Monday at the Belcourt.
Seattle. The Stranger‘s posted its spring film calendar.
Vienna. The Austrian Film Museum’s series 1964 opens today and runs through April 10.
IN THE WORKS
Jim Jarmusch “has a lot on the go, including an opera, a documentary that should see completion too and another feature-length narrative effort that’s written, ready to roll and that the director hopes to shoot this fall,” reports Edward Davis.
Also at the Playlist, Kevin Jagernauth reports that David Simon (The Wire, Treme) will “write the first installment of a six-hour series about Martin Luther King.”s
Deadline‘s Nellie Andreeva reports that Amazon Studios has greenlit the comedy Red Oaks, to be directed by David Gordon Green and executive produced by Steven Soderbergh.
“Billy Ray, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter behind Captain Phillips and The Hunger Games, looks set to pen a film for Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill,” reports Jess Denham for the Independent. “Ray’s script for The Ballad of Richard Jewell will be adapted from a Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner about the security guard falsely vilified as the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bomber.”
“Stanley Rubin, a writer and producer whose career in movies and TV spanned 50 years, has died at the age of 96,” reports Phil Dyess-Nugent at the AV Club. “He produced the classic train noir The Narrow Margin (1952), Robert Wise’s Destination Gobi (1952), Otto Preminger’s River of No Return (1954), and the Audie Murphy Western Destry (1954). He also wrote the Josef von Sternberg melodrama Macao (1952).”