Daily | Film-Philosophy, Seventh Art, Sight & Sound

Fritz Lang’s 'Secret Beyond the Door…' (1947)

Fritz Lang’s ‘Secret Beyond the Door…’ (1947)

The new “rolling issue” of Film-Philosophy—like the universe, Vol. 18 will just carry on expanding—opens with a section dedicated to the work of Stanley Cavell, “undoubtedly the most significant Anglophone philosopher to have written on film.” Robert Sinnerbrink, editor of this special section: “Whether in film studies, philosophy, literary and cultural theory, or film criticism, the ‘Cavell effect’ is now evident in the number of authors inspired by Cavell’s unique perspective on film and the originality of his version of film-philosophy. Perhaps even more than Deleuze, Cavell has been responsible for making film and philosophy, or film-philosophy, more theoretically ‘respectable’ among philosophers and aestheticians, while his work is gaining increasing recognition among film theorists, literary and cultural critics.”

Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin introduce a new audiovisual essay in the Notebook: “Long before the much-vaunted, high-concept ‘mind-game movies’ like Memento (2000), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) or Inception (2010), there was Fritz Lang’s Secret Beyond the Door… (1947). The film is like a broken puzzle at every level, virtually begging us to rearrange its pieces and find its key.”

“Over more than four decades, [Harun] Farocki produced an extraordinary body of work that, for someone who continuously compared things, situations, and images to one another, is paradoxically incomparable,” writes Hito Steyerl in a remembrance for e-flux journal. “In all he did, he kept it simple, clear, and grounded. In cinematic terms: at eye level. His legacy spans generations, genres, and geographies. And the abundance of ideas and perspectives in his work does not cease to inspire. It trickles, disseminates, perseveres.”

Ben Sachs (Chicago Reader) and Jillian Steinhauer (Hyperallergic) each offer brief introductions to Farocki’s work; for those who read German, let me recommend Diedrich Diederichsen‘s remembrance in Texte zur Kunst. And Sight & Sound has posted Kevin B. Lee‘s open letter to the late artist: “Your work is frequently categorized as ‘essay filmmaking.’ Among the ranks of the great ‘essay’ filmmakers, your films may not be as formally audacious as Godard’s, or as seductively subjective as Chris Marker’s. But you mean the most to me because you are not just an ‘essay’ filmmaker, but a ‘sober’ filmmaker. You helped me sober up from the dead-end love known as cinephilia and discover a new way to love movies and images, one that can reach beyond them towards something more essential: the world itself.”

Also new from Sight & Sound:

  • Kevin‘s audiovisual elegy for Robert Gardner.
  • Robert Greene (Actress) writes about “the double smack down I got from two great filmmakers [that] served as a cold-water-splash-in-the-face education about some of the thorniest issues in documentary.” The two filmmakers? Frederick Wiseman and Krzysztof Kieslowski.
  • “The phantasm of authenticity, immediacy and nonfiction…, is no longer viable. There is no such thing in cinema (or any other medium), and no ‘real life’ beyond the mediated.” In lieu of a ballot, Alexander Horwath has answered S&S‘s invitation to participate in its “Greatest Documentaries of All Time” poll with a screening program.
  • Adam Nayman on Kelly Reichardt: “Night Moves is cruel and paranoid where Old Joy was tender and elegiac, but both movies (and really all her movies) are taking place in the latter’s ‘falling-tear-shaped universe,’ where tragedy seems at once inevitable and entirely self-willed.”

“The expanded-cinema practices of the 1960s and ’70s—which gave rise to a headily diverse body of work ranging from Stan VanDerBeek’s Movie-Drome, 1963–65, to Hollis Frampton’s A Lecture, 1968, from Ken Jacobs’s Nervous System performances (1975–) to Tony Conrad’s Yellow Movies, 1972–73—have been the subject of significant curatorial and scholarly attention in recent years, much of which has interrogated how these works negotiate the antipodes of intermedial expansion and reductionist specificity.” The new issue of Artforum features Erika Balsom on cinema as a performing art—and Lynne Cooke on Decoding Fear, “a compelling exhibition of James Benning’s work at the Kunsthaus Graz this past spring.”

At Hyperallergic, Hrag Vartanian briefly tells the story behind William Wegman and Robert Breer’s video for New Order’s “Blue Monday 1988”

Writing for Film Comment, Dan Sullivan looks back on the work of Marcel Hanoun, focusing on October in Madrid (1967). Also, Grady Hendrix: “Bollywood is where celluloid craziness lives.” And Nick Pinkerton looks back on his days at Kim’s Video.

“From its superficial, stoner appeal, to the method of its making, to its structure, Fata Morgana [1971] could be described as the quintessential Krautrock movie.” At the Quietus, David Stubbs considers the working relationship between Werner Herzog and Florian Fricke and his group Popol Vuh.

“Now, serials are simultaneously invisible and omnipresent,” writes Wheeler Winston Dixon at Film International, where Tony Williams argues that Nixon (1995) represents [Oliver] Stone’s major cinematic achievement to date.”

At the Talkhouse Film, Zach Clarke (White Reindeer) suggests that Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears “does what few movies even attempt—it presents an intensely stylized approach and extremely specific tone from the get-go and sticks with it 100% of the time. It’s unrelenting, uncompromising, and almost incomprehensible…. I loved it.”

At Movie Morlocks, Susan Doll presents a pre-Code primer.

At the Dissolve, Matt Singer‘s got Bill Hader’s list of 200 essential movies “every comedy writer should see.”

Meantime, Catherine Grant‘s posted another walloping round of links to essential reading, leading with “Testament of Cocteau: Orphée on Film and in Opera,” a conversation between James S. Williams and Ed Hughes and closing with the short video embedded above.


The new issue of The Seventh Art features video interviews with Albert Serra (The Story of My Death), Lukas Moodysson (We Are the Best!), John Fawcett and Graeme Manson (the creators of Orphan Black) and Elina Psykou (The Eternal Return of Antonis Paraskevas).

“I’m really loving painting these days. So there’s nothin’ on the burner right now.” Says David Lynch, talking to Marlow Stern at the Daily Beast. He’s also really loving serial television dramas these days, too, by the way.

“Hsiao Kang” is Tsai Ming-liang’s nickname for Lee Kang-sheng, who appears in all his films. “If anyone wants to know me or what turns me on, all they have to do is study Hsiao Kang,” Tsai tells Kaori Shoji in the Japan Times. “He is the defining factor behind my personality and all my films. He defies all rationale and explanation. He just is. Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to make movies. I think I may even cease to exist.”

For BOMB, Gary M. Kramer talks with Tim Sutton about Memphis (“I don’t think it’s up to a white filmmaker to make this film, but I do think it’s up to an outsider to make the film that I made”), Pavilion and more.

Pat Saperstein talks with our CEO, Ted Hope, for Variety, where you’ll find an excerpt from Ted’s new book, Hope for Film.


“Jeff Lambert has been promoted to executive director of the National Film Preservation Foundation, succeeding Annette Melville, who nearly two decades ago was instrumental in launching the archival agency that rescues lost cinema.” Mike Barnes has details in the Hollywood Reporter.

One of four ads David Fincher’s directed for Gap

Movie City News has the Academy’s recent announcement regarding the next round of Governors Awards. In November, they’ll be presented to Jean-Claude Carrière, Hayao Miyazaki and Maureen O’Hara, with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award going to Harry Belafonte.

The European Film Academy has announced the nominees for this year’s People’s Choice Awards: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Two Days, One Night, Stephen Frears’s Philomena, Christophe Gans’s Beauty and the Beast, Felix Herngren’s The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida and Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (Director’s Cut).


Houston. The Museum of Fine Arts retrospective Truffaut: On Childhood is on through November 22. The 400 Blows (1959) screens this weekend, “And while it’s arguable that no other title in the series continues to loom as large in film history and in our collective pop-culture conscious as his debut effort, each is unmistakably a creation of the same artist, informed by the same sensibility,” writes Joe Leydon for Houstonia.

London. The BFI’s Peter Lorre season opens today and runs through October 7. “In the 1940s and 1950s, it became hard to imagine the art of cinema without him,” writes Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times. “It helped to grow up with him, as I did: with the man born László Löwenstein in 1904 in what is now Slovakia. New generations may never have encountered Lorre, even on YouTube; never met those glass-bead hooded eyes, that so-sweet-it-could-slay face, that voice and accent, which placed themselves, for a director, anywhere he wanted. China, Russia, Greece… They were all outposts of Greater Hollywood in a war-scarred age when xenophobia made every foreigner a threat or a macabre fascination.” More from Philip French in the Observer.

The Essential Raymond Durgnat is out this month, and Sight & Sound’s convened a panel for Thursday: “Geoff Andrew chairs a discussion with guests including Henry K. Miller, Tony Rayns and Lucy Reynolds, illustrated by clips from the films that Durgnat championed.”


Martin Scorsese will direct Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in a short for a casino in Macau. Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr., who can hardly believe this cast himself, has details. Meantime, much has been made of Steve Baltin‘s fleeting mention of a Scorsese-directed feature about the Ramones, but that project seems a little iffy at this point.

Lars von Trier’s “next project will be an ensemble TV series entitled The House That Jack Built, shot in English and due to air in 2016,” reports the Guardian‘s Xan Brooks. “Speaking at the Venice film festival, von Trier’s producer Louise Vesth would not be drawn on the series’s plot details. ‘Lars has a great idea, which I can’t tell you about,’ she told reporters. ‘From what I’ve heard, it’s something you have never seen before and will definitely never see again.’ She confirmed that the director wanted ‘a huge cast’ for the show.”

It’s been ten years since Lucile Hadzihalilovic directed her debut feature, Innocence. At long last, she’s filming her followup, Evolution, reports Fabien Lemercier at Cineuropa: “Written by the director together with Alanté Kavaïté, the story revolves around 11-year-old Nicolas, who lives with his mother in a seaside housing estate. The only place that ever sees any activity is the hospital. It is there that all the boys from the village are forced to undergo strange medical trials that attempt to disrupt the phases of evolution…”

“I’ve got a small grant to work with a choreographer to make a ballet out of Titicut Follies,” Frederick Wiseman told the press in Venice on Friday. Wendy Mitchell reports for Screen Daily.

“Prominent Japanese/American director Steven Okazaki is set to shoot Mifune: Last Samurai, a high-profile feature docu on Toshiro Mifune, the most prominent actor of Japan’s golden age of cinema,” reports Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli.

From Reuters: “Baskets, a new comedy series created by comedians Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K., has been picked up by FX for a 2016 debut.”


Listening (209’22”). Illusion Travels By Streetcar #27: “Andy Warhol Saved from Drowning, and more.”

Matte Shot‘s a blog devoted “to the inventiveness and ingenuity of the craft of the matte painter during Hollywoods’ Golden Era.” Via Movie City News.

And the Film Doctor‘s posted a fresh round of links.

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