Daily | Fitzgerald, Sedelmaier, Jarman

F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Fitzgerald’s time in Hollywood was a period of illusion, of delusion over all,” writes the New Yorker‘s Richard Brody. “Much to his credit and much to his misfortune, he was unable to sell out. He didn’t condescend to the movies, but took them seriously—so seriously that he made the mistake of thinking that screenwriting was writing, and that it could take its place in his oeuvre, which, in turn, would mark the cinema with his original artistry…. In short, Fitzgerald was undone by his screenwriting-is-writing mistake.”

In the New York Times, J. Hoberman notes that the new 50th Anniversary Collectors Edition of The Nutty Professor (1963) “contains ‘A Personal Message From Jerry Lewis.’ ‘Many people around the world’ have called The Nutty Professor his ‘best work,’ he notes, adding, ‘I think I can agree, but it is hard for me to say it is my favorite.’ That ambivalence is the key to the film.” And Love Happy (1949) “is generally despised by Marx Brothers aficionados. Yet sprigs of poetry sprout amid the wreckage, mostly involving Harpo, who appears here less as savage innocent than holy fool.” More Hoberman below.

Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s posted an essay from 2000: “Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest movie, Rear Window, is as fresh as it was when it came out, in part, paradoxically, because of how profoundly it belongs to its own period.”

For the Nation, Noah Isenberg reviews Mark Harris’s Five Came Back, a “finely observed and wonderfully detailed portrait of [William] Wyler, John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston and Frank Capra.”

“Frank McHugh, essentially a short, doughy man with a nasal whine of a voice, somehow embodies the contrast between pre-code and post-code cinema better than anyone.” David Cairns explains at the Chiseler.

Ben Grosser’s work is all about how software permeates and affects much of our lives,” writes Ben Valentine at Hyperallergic. “As we begin to realize the extent to which we rely on algorithms for major societal functions such as search engine results, stock trading, mass surveillance, and more, our focus remains on what the machines are doing for us humans. Computers Watching Movies (2013) reverses that idea, offering a glimpse into how an algorithm sees the human world, for it’s own sake. Grosser designed a program to watch popular movies, and describe it’s act of viewing.”

In the second part of his series at Criterion’s Current, on Godard at Cannes, Colin MacCabe contrasts his own reactions to Film socialisme (2010) and Adieu au langage (2014).

“Leos Carax has said that your first film is the only one you wait your whole life to make; Impolex is far from perfect, but when I look at it now, I see the ambition of a young filmmaker nervous that this will be the only one, so why not just go for it.” You can watch Alex Ross Perry‘s 2009 debut feature at No Budge until Tuesday.

In his latest “Bombast” column for Film Comment, Nick Pinkerton takes a look at how Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best! “interfaces with the musical and social phenomenon of punk rock, and where it fits within the context of the punk-rock movie.” For the latest reviews of this festival favorite, see Critics Round Up.

Larisa Shepitko’s The Ascent (1976) “is one of the greatest films ever made.” Liel Leibovitz argues the case at Tablet.

Todd Rohal is a big fan of Joe Sedelmaier, a director of commercials that became wildly popular in the 80s: “Maybe the glimpses in the work from those that he inspired directly or indirectly—the Coens, Roy Andersson, Jared Hess, David Byrne, Mike Judge, Tim & Eric—are enough to say that he left his inspired mark on the world of filmmaking. But dammit, I feel as if an important chapter of cinema history got deleted when Joe Sedelmaier, one of the most original American comedy directors of his time, never got a fair shot at making a movie.”

Also at the Talkhouse Film, Chad Hartigan notes that he was leery of 21 Jump Street but “wound up loving it.” 22 Jump Street? Not so much. For more reviews, see Critics Round Up.

At Eat Drink Films, both Peter Canavese and Ryan Lattanzio review Nicholas Wrathall’s documentary Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia (2013).

Brandon Schaefer talks with Jay Shaw about designing Mondo’s poster for Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman. More interviews: Xan Brooks with Helena Bonham Carter for the Guardian and Michael Tully with Kat Candler (Hellion) at Hammer to Nail.


“I want to be your cruel and quirky alternative to Deadlame and Valiety and The Hollywood Unreported and TheCrap. To zig when others zag.” Nikki Finke is back.


New York. Tonight at Light Industry, J. Hoberman will present White House Butler Down, a simultaneous double projection of Roland Emmerich’s White House Down and Lee Daniels’ The Butler. “Although never random, such couplings (or triplings) are unpredictable and hence experimental. They don’t work equally well but they seldom fail to produce unanticipated coincidences and precipitate unforeseen correspondences.” Hoberman also points us to a couple of essays that might serve as an introduction to the event: “Cine Obamarama: The Presiding-While-Black Scenario” (Film Comment) and “Here There Is No Why: The Trial of 12 Years a Slave” (Harper’s).

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival, running through June 22 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the IFC Center, “refuses to avert its gaze from war, injustice and oppression,” writes Stephen Holden in the New York Times. “Although this edition isn’t as strong as those of the previous two years—there’s no The Act of Killing or The Invisible War—it’s as honorable and necessary as ever.”

KINO!, a festival of new German films, has begun its week-long run. At Twitch, Christopher Bourne previews four titles.

Black Blood: The Photographic Art and Films of Jasmine Hirst is on view at Film-Makers’ Cooperative through July 18.

Chicago. The Reader presents its guide to the Chicago African Diaspora Film Festival, which runs through Thursday.

Los Angeles. Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater will be at Cinefamily tomorrow for a Father’s Day screening of Boyhood.

Toronto. The TIFF Cinematheque series Queer Pagan Punk: The Films of Derek Jarman runs through July 5. “As a queer filmmaker,” writes Calum Marsh for Hazlitt, “and more broadly as a political one, Jarman was unique in that his films were not exclusively ‘about’ any one ideological talking point or agenda; indeed, part of what makes his cinema so refreshing is the almost incidental manner in which his political ideas are articulated. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his three great historical-biographical features, Caravaggio (1986), Edward II (1991), and his masterpiece, Wittgenstein (1993), which together provide the clearest expression of Jarman’s queer experience. In these films, Jarman reaches into the past to understand the cultural and political history of homosexuality, and then, more daringly still, draws connections between this historical record and the agonies and urgencies of contemporary gay life. Their power is derived from their many juxtapositions: biography and autobiography, personal and political, past and present.”


“Sylvain Chomet, the Oscar-nominated French director of The Illusionist and The Triplets of Belleville, is moving forward with The Thousand Miles,” report Variety‘s Elsa Keslassy and John Hopewell. The film is “inspired by various works and unpublished writings/drawings of Federico Fellini…. Italian prince Emanuele Filiberto will topline as a middle-aged count who takes part in Le Mille Miglia (the thousand mile), one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious car races. The journey transforms into a magical odyssey during which the count reminisces on his youth and life experiences.”

Trailer for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman with Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts

“Guy Pearce will join Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult in the futuristic indie movie Equals,” reports Variety‘s Dave McNary. “Drake Doremus, who worked with Pearce on his feature Breathe In, is directing from a script by Nathan Parker.”

Maya Rudolph is joining Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in The Nest. Tatiana Siegel for the Hollywood Reporter: “The Bridesmaids actress will play a childhood friend of the duo, who portray sisters summoned home to clean out their childhood bedroom before their parents sell the family house. They decide to throw one final rager in the house, which turns into a cathartic experience for a bunch of ground-down adults…. In addition, Rudolph has landed a starring role opposite Catherine Keener in the indie drama The Greens Are Gone. Peer Pedersen wrote the screenplay for that and is directing.”

Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr. reports that Tom Hiddleston will play Hank Williams in I Saw the Light, to be directed by Marc Abraham.


“Carla Laemmle, a dancer and actress whose uncle, Carl Laemmle, founded Universal Studios, where she grew up, died Thursday night,” reports Claire Noland in the Los Angeles Times. “One of the last links to Hollywood’s silent film era, Laemmle was 104…. Her film appearances included The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and Dracula. For that 1931 classic starring Bela Lugosi, she spoke the film’s first lines: ‘Among the rugged peaks that frown down upon the Borgo Pass are found crumbling castles of a bygone age…'”

“Legendary jazz singer Jimmy Scott has died at the age of 88,” reports Mayer Nissim at Digital Spy. “After releasing several albums in the 1950s and early 1960s, Scott’s career faded, but he had a massive resurgence at the start of the 1990s. He sung on Lou Reed’s ‘Power and Glory – The Situation’ on 1992’s Magic and Loss, having performed ‘Sycamore Trees’ on the finale of Twin Peaks a year earlier.”


Listening (60’55”). On the latest Plastic Podcast, Robert Davis and J. Robert Parks ask, “What changes when you watch a movie a second time?”

More listening (4’34”). WNYC’s Sara Fishko talks with Jonas Mekas about Andy Warhol‘s Empire (1964).

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