Giovanni Marchini Camia‘s terrific report from the set of Apichatpong Weerasethakul‘s likely Cannes contender Love in Khon Kaen is highlighted in Saturday‘s “in the works” roundup; today, let’s take note of some of the other features from the new issue of Film Comment now online, starting with Nathan Lee‘s cover story on Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent: “It is one of those biopics engaged with creative genius, like Peter Watkins’s Edvard Munch or Maurice Pialat’s Van Gogh, whose integrity is wholly independent of its biographical dimension.”
FC teases us with the first two paragraphs from Kent Jones‘s article: “Acting is the Bermuda Triangle of film commentary, written and spoken.” As it happens, the website Violet Lucca‘s chosen to write about this time around is Elisabeth Subrin’s Who Cares About Actresses.
Also online are Beverly Walker‘s profile of Robert Redford, Roger Smith on why Hollywood “faces a genuine threat to its existence,” Chuck Stephens on Louis Jean Heydt, Nicolas Rapold on Virgil Vernier’s Mercuriales, Riley Stearns’s Faults and Guillaume Nicloux’s The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, Max Nelson on Kornél Mundruczó’s White God, Amy Taubin on Robert Kenner’s Merchants of Doubt, Emma Myers on Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young, Chris Norris on Rupert Goold’s True Story, Graham Fuller on Richard Laxton’s Effie Gray, Eric Hynes on Kirby Dick’s The Hunting Ground, Violet Lucca on David and Nathan Zellner‘s Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter and Laura Kern on Kristian Levring’s The Salvation.
From Spectacle Theater
Meantime, in his latest “Kaiju Shakedown” column, Grady Hendrix writes up Seijun Suzuki‘s Story of Sorrow and Sadness (1977). “Rarely has a mainstream commercial release been as rabid in its attack, and as thoughtful in its critique, of our dystopian mediascape. And it should embarrass current commercial filmmakers that one of the few movies to have something intelligent to say about today’s mediascape was made almost 40 years ago. By a 54 year old director. About golf.”
Sight & Sound presented an outstanding feature yesterday, International Women’s Day: “While the number of female film critics in the UK and US has increased over the last few years, male voices still dominate the profession. But women critics have been pivotal to our understanding of cinema since the birth of the medium, and indeed were far more common in its early years, as the excellent compendium Red Velvet Seat: Women’s Writings on the First Fifty Years of Cinema attests…. Asking 25 writers and curators to each nominate a female critic and choose a piece of their writing has amassed a surprising array of different voices: from 1920s teenage gossip columnist Nerina Shute to the first regular broadsheet female film reviewer C.A. Lejeune, Sight & Sound’s august editor of 34 years Penelope Houston, zombie-loving trade reviewer Marjorie Bilbow and the feminist activist and author bell hooks, as well as unlikely cinema analysts like novelist Hilary Mantel.”
In a related piece, Brad Stevens notes that “if women in trousers had been seen as appealingly sexual during the 30s (Marlene Dietrich in Morocco, for example), in the postwar period they come across as threatening, implicitly challenging patriarchal control. The noir genre, with its emphasis on femme fatales and disturbed ex-servicemen, provides numerous examples of men troubled by newly masculinized women.” They’d get over it, but “discouraging women from wearing masculine clothes made an unexpected comeback” in the 80s.
Adrian Martin has turned his latest column for De Filmkrant into a beautiful farewell to teaching shot through with anticipation. He’s returning “to freelance writing and related filmic adventures…. Often, when I read about the best essayists and critics—such as Raymond Durgnat or Siegfried Kracauer—you sense the glee of their admiring exegetes in noting that, especially as the critic’s life approached its ending, his or her explorations usually came full circle: right back to the founding moment of their pleasure. They return to the primal obsessions, to the spark that got them into the game in the first place—while cinema history strides on, obliviously, ahead. It’s poetic, it’s sentimental, but it’s also a bit sad: as if the cinephile is doomed to travel backwards.”
Delightful promo for the Cineteca di Bologna
In the first of two entries on two MGM releases of 1932 that would “become benchmarks of cinematic storytelling,” David Bordwell takes a close listen to Strange Interlude and talks us through the emergence of the voiceover.
Dave Thompkins for the Paris Review on John Carpenter‘s The Thing (1982): “The film poses a series of existential questions, the first one being whether it’s even possible to discuss the Thing without sounding totally high. Can one be the Thing if one is worried about being the Thing? Or does the Thing fake-worry about being the Thing, so as not to reveal its cosmic sloppiness?”
In an essay on Eric Baudelaire’s The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 Years without Images (2011) in the new e-flux Journal, Naeem Mohaiemen outlines various interpretations of the history of the Japanese Red Army before turning to Adachi and Koji Wakamatsu. “Both were JRA sympathizers, and the films that Wakamatsu made in this period can be read as erotica that doubled as propaganda.” As for Adachi now, he “seems to want to create a language for a different universal project.”
Writing in the Notebook, Daniel Riccuito suggests that “no medium of expression predating cinema could have wrenched audiences out of linear time as thoroughly as Jean Epstein’s La glace à trois faces (1927).”
On a related note, Max Nelson at Reverse Shot: “What makes Beware of a Holy Whore  one of Fassbinder’s greatest disquisitions on failure is that its major characters usually fail even to express their failure with anything like a genuine disruption or a meaningful abuse of power. The space in which they’re floating cocoons them, swaddles them, and, in the end, refuses to take the blows they try to deal it.”
Trailer for Daniel Leconte’s 2008 documentary on Charlie Hebdo, Tough Being Loved by Jerks
Did you keep up with Errol Morris Week at Grantland? And David Cairns‘s René Clément Week? And we have another piece marking the 100th anniversary of Griffith‘s The Birth of a Nation, this one from Ashley Clark in the Guardian.
In a piece for the New Statesman that begins in the Maysles Cinema in New York before moving on to considerations of work by Joshua Oppenheimer, Sarah Polley and others, Johann Hari argues that we’re living in a “golden age” of the documentary—and it’s only going to get better.
“It will soon be the fourth anniversary of the worst calamity in Japan since the atomic bombings of World War II struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” writes Mark Schilling in the Japan Times. “Has enough time passed to begin making fiction films about 3/11?”
3:AM has posted an excerpt from the forthcoming English translation of Nathalie Léger‘s Suite for Barbara Loden.
Time Out lists the “100 best Bollywood movies.”
In the new Brooklyn Rail:
- Rachael Rakes and Leo Goldsmith talk with Peggy Ahwesh about Kissing Point, a collection of works made “during her stays in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, filming and teaching at Al-Quds Bard College.”
- Sophie Hamacher‘s conversation with Frederick Wiseman begins with National Gallery but soon expands to “literature, the idea of participatory film, and the possibility of democratic filmmaking.”
- Not an interview, but Ben Mendelsohn writes about the just-closed exhibition Nature is a Discipline: “It is difficult to overstate the influence of Peter Hutton and James Benning, two towering figures in American avant-garde cinema and the standard bearers for a deeply attentive approach to landscape.”
Christoph Huber talks with film historian Martin Reinhart and his colleague Thomas Tode about the “Viennese Version” of Sergei Eisenstein‘s Battleship Potemkin (1925), which “brings together the famous images with the synchronized sound–originally coming from shellac discs–recorded for a 1930 ‘talkie’ re-release in Germany. Most notable is the contribution of famous, and sadly short-lived composer Edmund Meisel, whose unusual combination of music with sound effects and songs leaves a literally striking impact.”
Daniel Morgan moderates a discussion of post-1968 Godard with Nicole Brenez, Murray Pomerance and Jonathan Rosenbaum
At the AV Club, Vish Khanna talks with Tim Heidecker about On Cinema at the Cinema, a show he’s co-created Gregg Turkington (“away from his usual Neil Hamburger character”). “Heidecker plays a hypocritical, right-wing bully who uses his platform as On Cinema’s host to rail against perceived injustices, while Turkington portrays a sweet, earnest film buff who takes an uncomfortable amount of abuse from Heidecker.”
More interviews: Ty Landis with Joel Potrykus (Buzzard) for Movie Mezzanine and, at the Quietus, Mat Colgate with David Mitchell (It Follows; more from Diana Drumm at Slant) and Katherine McLaughlin with brothers Daniel and Matthew Wolfe (Catch Me Daddy).
IN OTHER NEWS
Abel Ferrara and Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval are firing rhetorical shots at each other again over the final cut of Welcome to New York—with IFC caught in the crossfire. Eric Kohn reports for Indiewire.
The latest round of Cannes 2015 lineup predictions comes from Nicholas Bell at Ioncinema.
New York. “In Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film, a show at El Museo del Barrio, the question of whether or not Figueroa is the ‘author’ of the 200+ movies on which he worked in a fifty-year career is almost beside the point,” writes Nick Pinkerton for Artforum. “Instead, Figueroa’s career in image-making is placed within a broader cultural context, alongside parallel historical developments, new ways of representing Mexico which had been emerging in the graphic arts, and the changing image of Mexico that the country broadcast to itself before, during, and after its ‘Golden Age’ of studio filmmaking in the 1940s and ’50s.” Through June 27.
The Tribeca Film Festival (April 15 through 26) has announced the lineup for its Shorts Program.
San Francisco. Cracked Actor: David Bowie on Screen is on at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through March 29. Dennis Harvey for Eat Drink Films: “There’s a lot to enjoy here (allowing for a couple notable omissions), but the main takeaway perhaps is that Bowie showed so much range and ability in his relatively few movie outings, it’s a downright shame the industry couldn’t/wouldn’t find more for him to do.”
London. Albert Serra: Divine Visionaries and Holy Fools, opening Wednesday and running through March 20 at the Tate Modern, is the first major UK survey of work by the Spanish filmmaker.
Berlin. The exhibition Blow-Up: Antonioni’s Classic Film and Photography is on view at C/O Berlin through April 4.
Bologna.“I’m glad to announce that ‘jazz on film’ is returning to the screen, or rather jazz is going to the movies,” writes Ehsan Khoshbakht. “Me and my Chicago-based friend Jonathan Rosenbaum have curated a mini retrospective of jazz films, Jazz Goes to the Movies, at Il Cinema Ritrovato.” June 27 through July 4.
For more goings on, see Friday‘s roundup.
IN THE WORKS
Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr: “Woody Allen has begun casting his 2015 feature film, and he has set Jesse Eisenberg, Bruce Willis and Kristen Stewart to lead the ensemble, I’m told. No comment from the Allen camp.”
Fleming has also “heard rumors” that Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty) have dropped “out of Paramount’s Triple Frontier, a Traffic-style tale set in South America.” Instead, she’ll direct “the Boal-scripted pic about Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant captured by the Taliban and held prisoner for five years after he left his base in Afghanistan. Backing it is Megan Ellison.”
“Jude Law is reportedly in advanced negotiations to play the lead role in Italian Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino’s high-concept TV series, working-titled The Young Pope, about an imaginary pontiff who is the first Italian-American pope in history.” Nick Vivarelli has details in Variety.
An adaptation of Errol Morris’s 2012 book, A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald, is in the works. Rebecca Ford has a bit more in the Hollywood Reporter.
“HBO is developing Madame X, a miniseries based on Kate Manning’s book My Notorious Life that will star Anna Paquin, who will also executive produce with Jack Black and her True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer, multiple individuals familiar with the project have told TheWrap,” reports Jeff Sneider. “Lynn Shelton (Laggies) is attached to direct the miniseries, which will be written by Julia Hart (The Keeping Room).”