Daily | Film Comment, [in]Transition, Audiovisual Essay

Film Comment

Previewing NYFF52

The new issue of Film Comment features what’s billed as an “All-Star New York Film Festival Preview” and three pieces from that package are online. Well, almost. Amy Taubin‘s full conversation with David Fincher about Gone Girl will appear when the film opens NYFF52 on September 26. In the meantime, we have an excerpt and, from Taubin, a warning that “no major film since Hitchcock’s Psycho has been such a minefield of spoilers, and for viewers who haven’t read the novel, that minefield begins less than halfway into the narrative. We have tried not to give any of the film’s surprises away.”

“Don’t be fooled by the fact that [Lisandro] Alonso’s filmography can be described in just a few words,” warns Quintín: “all five of his features deal with solitary men in desolate lands, though the hidden dynamic between a majestic landscape and a society off-screen provides the tension in each story.”

Robert Horton previews the Joseph L. Mankiewicz retrospective and, technically, though they appear in a separate department, Nathan Lee‘s piece on David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars and Max Nelson‘s on Alex Ross Perry‘s Listen Up Philip are NYFF52 previews as well.

Also in the September/October 2014 issue: Nicolas Rapold on Bruno Dumont’s Li’l Quinquin, Violet Lucca on cléo journal, Ronald Bergan on Lewis Allen’s Desert Fury (1947), Matthew Connolly on Pascale Ferran‘s Bird People, Michael Atkinson on Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani‘s The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears and more.


The new Issue #1.3 of [in]Transition “is devoted to reflections on the practice and theory of the audiovisual essay form, with particular reference to its emerging procedures and uses in film and moving image criticism and research.” Editor Catherine Grant not only introduces us to some of her favorite works in the burgeoning discipline but also expands on “the notion of the ‘essay.'”

Angst / Fear from Banda TRANSIT.

Cinephilia “as a ‘condition’ is often described as an obsession, magnificent or otherwise,” writes Adrian Martin. And he describes “the type of academic research that draws me,” noting that “the audiovisual essay facilitates it.” Cristina Álvarez López: “The two audiovisual essays I have curated here are both examples arising from the same, pre-set exercise: they are works of condensation involving an idea about a single film.”

Ian Garwood retraces the creation of his essay film on Hoagy Carmichael, How Little We Know. And Miklos Kiss considers the “Audiovisual Research Essay as an Alternative to Text-Based Scholarship.”

The new issue is accompanied by the launch of a new site, The Audiovisual Essay, which also serves as an online repository for materials related to a recent conference in Frankfurt. The way into this site, though, is the page called “Videos and Reflections,” where you’ll find, among several other pieces, Kevin B. Lee‘s reflections on how his own work has evolved over the years and Hoi Lun Law on ANGST/FEAR, a video essay in which Álvarez López and Martin “‘conjure, through montage, an imaginary scene’ out of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Martha (1974) and James Foley’s Fear (1996).”


The New Inquiry‘s posted an excerpt from St. Paul, a screenplay by Pier Paolo Pasolini for a film that was never realized—and an introduction by Eileen Myles: “It is so breathtaking to watch as he proposes a film that is a mix of World War II era archival footage alongside, as he puts it, the ‘fictional’ characters of St. Paul and the apostles. Line by line, Pasolini is both poet and precise and sneering Marxist… St. Paul, the book, is a dream of a film, and Paul is an alter ego of Pasolini’s—just as Pasolini, collectively, works like that for a lot of us.”

“From the outset, in his Introduction, John Belton makes the organizing stance of Cinema Stylists admirably clear,” wrote Jonathan Rosenbaum in a 1984 review for Film Quarterly. “Revised auteurism—that is to say, non-vulgar and non-biographical auteurism, an auteurism brought more in line with the qualms of Barthes and Foucault (and subsequently Wollen) about authorship, and tempered with some of the notions about authorial presence in Wayne Booth’s The Rhetoric of Fiction—is the dominant (if not exclusive) mode in this collection of over three dozen pieces… With the specters and examples of Robin Wood and Andrew Sarris hovering over his shoulders—his right and left consciences, as it were—Belton lacks the stylistic fluidity of either of his mentors, but has certain sound academic virtues which match and occasionally surpass the capacities of both.”

And Jonathan Rosenbaum’s also recently posted “A Bluffer’s Guide to Béla Tarr” (1990) and “Barthes & Film: 12 Suggestions” (1982/1983).

50 Years On from Christian Keathley.

Via Adrian Martin, Philip Brophy for the Wire: “Ben Rivers and Ben Russell’s collaborative experimental film A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness (2013) offers an exciting point from which to observe the dynamics between sound and image. But let’s move cautiously. Audiovision necessitates perceiving things not evident on the surface.”

Sophia Nguyen‘s latest piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books yet another take on Scarlett Johansson’s performances in Spike Jonze’s Her, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin and Luc Besson’s Lucy, but this one’s a bit different: “The posthuman Scar-Jo is embodied ambivalently, and only provisionally. Passion does not animate her; curiosity does. She excises a bit of her humanity each time, every movie setting up a lab experiment where she subtracts some vital quality and coolly watches what happens…. Scar-Jo begins as a drug mule, alien lure, or a bespoke digital assistant, and fights her way to a fuller existence. But these stories have their source code in male anxiety, and are thus incapable of vesting her with genuine agency. These myths end happily, reassuringly, in co-option and control.”

Starting with Blood Simple (1984), the Atlantic‘s Christopher Orr has been revisiting the work of Joel and Ethan Coen. A link at the bottom of the page will take you to the next feature, from where you can click on to the next and so on.

Writing for Film International, Robert Kenneth Dator suggests that we “come out from behind all the humanism, neo-realism, absurdist, satirical, comedia negro, autobiographical, indulgent, new wave, groundbreaking, symbolic, narrative, surrealist diatribe and take Fellini on his own terms.” The film at hand: Il Bidone (1955).

In the New Republic, Helen Alexander and Rhys Blakely argue that “the most significant effects of the death of film might not be felt for decades, perhaps even centuries—until the cinema buffs of the future try to arrange screenings of today’s classics.”

The Career of Paul Thomas Anderson in Five Shots from Kevin B. Lee.

Michael Smith considers the role that food plays in Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre (2011).

Both Michael Dunaway (Paste) and Calum Marsh (Slant) talk with Harmony Korine. More interviews: Tim Lewis with David Cronenberg for the Observer; Nick Schager with Terry Gilliam for Maxim; and Danny Miller with Tim Sutton for Cinephiled.


New York. Tomorrow evening, Light Industry presents Gregory Markopoulos’s Galaxie (1966) on 16mm.

MoMA presents a half-minute preview of its fall season

On Thursday, Nick Pinkerton and Nicolas Rapold present a double feature at BAMcinématek, The Cure in Orange (1987) and Hype Williams’s Belly (1998) starring Nas and DMX—both on 35mm.

Fall previews: Chicago Reader and the San Diego CityBeat.

London. The BFI’s Peter Lorre season runs through October and Michael Newton‘s written an appreciation for the Guardian: “When acting, he seems haunted, shiftless; he moves between an uncanny calm and fits of restless mania. This instability might be traced back to the desperate rhythms of his life as a morphine addict. His style depends on rapid transitions, his talent for letting an emotion leap towards its opposite. Dramatically, this proves vivid, but it also leaves us with a sense of the characters he plays as purely reactive, puppets of expression.”

And the BFI’s Jim Jarmusch and Friends season is also on through October. Programmer Geoff Andrew argues that “cool” doesn’t do his work justice.


“James Franco has closed a deal to acquire Rant, the 2007 novel by Fight Club author Chuck Pahlaniuk,” reports Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr. “Franco is eyeing playing the title role, Buster Rant Casey, a murderous demolition driver who takes part in the Party Crashing derby in a world where people intentionally crash into each other violently to feel, and create a vivid reality of the experience.”


Composer Antoine Duhamel, best known for his work for Godard (Pierrot le Fou) and Truffaut (Stolen Kisses), died last week at the age of 89. In 2002, he was awarded a Silver Bear at the Berlinale for his work on Bertrand Tavernier‘s Safe Conduct.

“Yoshiko ‘Shirley’ Yamaguchi, who starred in Japanese WWII pics posing as a Chinese but segued postwar to fame in Japanese and Hollywood films such as Samuel Fuller’s House of Bamboo [1955], died at her Tokyo home of heart failure on Sept. 7, her family announced on Sunday. She was 94.” Mark Schilling tells her remarkable story in Variety, noting that “her dramatic life was fictionalized in Ian Buruma’s novel The China Lover.” Among her many other credits: Akira Kurosawa’s Scandal (1950), King Vidor’s Japanese War Bride (1952).

British stage, film and television actor Donald Sinden died last week at the age of 90. “He made his name in movies as a Rank Organization contract player in the 1950s and early 1960s, appearing in everything from The Cruel Sea to Doctor in the House,” writes the Guardian‘s Michael Billington. “He would also regale one with stories of starring in a John Ford movie, Mogambo, where he played alongside Clark Gable and Grace Kelly and boldly withstood the off-screen antics of Ava Gardner, who became a firm friend. It is a measure of Sinden’s dedication to theatre that he forsook movie glamour to join the newly-formed Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford in 1963.”


Jon Jost has decided to “make a kind of autobiography built around my work.”

From the Panel to the Frame: Style and Scott Pilgrim from Drew Morton.

Cinephilia & Beyond is looking mighty fine with its new redesign.

Happy to see this new feature at the Film Stage: Once a month, Midnight Marauder will create an original alternate poster for a new theatrical release.

At Vulture, Christopher Bonanos introduces a preview of Karina Longworth’s new book, Hollywood Frame by Frame: The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951–1997.

For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @KeyframeDaily. Get Keyframe Daily in your inbox by signing in at

Did you like this article?
Give it a vote for a Golden Bowtie


Keyframe is always looking for contributors.

"Writer? Video Essayist? Movie Fan Extraordinaire?

Fandor is streaming on Amazon Prime

Love to discover new films? Browse our exceptional library of hand-picked cinema on the Fandor Amazon Prime Channel.