Daily | Flashbacks, Fissures, and Formulas

Mildred Pierce

Murder in ‘Mildred Pierce’

“Today’s movies are constantly using fragmentary flashbacks to fill in elements left out of earlier scenes,” writes David Bordwell in his latest entry. “The first time through a scene, we think we’re seeing everything. But the replay shows us bits and pieces that were left out, or that we didn’t notice, or that we’ve forgotten about. Back in 1992 I wrote an essay about this technique. ‘Cognition and Comprehension: Viewing and Forgetting in Mildred Pierce‘ focuses on the murder of Monte Beragon in the 1945 film…. Today I’m going to consider Mildred again, but by doing something I couldn’t do in print. The wonders of the Internetz let me use video extracts to show concretely how clever this replay is.” Spoiler alert!

“The history of Cahiers du cinéma can be analyzed as if it proceeds through a repetition of stages: birth, death and reinvention.” David Davidson tracks a history of fissures and translates letters documenting “one of its significant rifts.”

In the fourth, leisurely paced and irresistibly readable installment of his ongoing memoir project in the Los Angeles Review of Books, novelist and screenwriter John Kaye tells, among other stories, the one about nervously handing his screenplay, Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins, over to producers back in 1972. The film, featuring Alan Arkin, Sally Kellerman, Mackenzie Phillips, Harry Dean Stanton, and Alex Rocco, would eventually be released in 1975.

Die Hard

Bruce Willis in ‘Die Hard’

Die Hard is modern action cinema’s baby daddy, having spread its seed so far and wide that it’s become the defining template for a legion of macho one-against-many sagas,” writes Nick Schager for Esquire. “The formula of John McTiernan’s 1988 original is at once simple and yet deceptively canny, tapping into male fantasies in ways so undeniably appealing, it redefined the genre and spawned more copycats than virtually any other action film of the past quarter century. That includes this week’s White House Down, which (coming on the heels of March’s similar Olympus Has Fallen) is just the latest blatant attempt by Hollywood to piggyback on the broad shoulders of Bruce Willis’ high-rise terrorist-combating classic.”

“Why is one of the only truly interesting mainstream movie-makers of the Noughties so publicly derided whilst so many mediocrities get a pass?” Writing for Sight & Sound, Joseph Bevan hopes M. Night Shyamalan can yet “transcend these mediocre times.”

No wonder everyone’s linking to David Edelstein‘s rant in Vulture. He rages for all of us who’ve had screenings ruined by loud talkers, texting, flashlights, the list goes on.

“You can fool all of the people for some of the time, then some more of the time, and then—even with the benefit of hindsight—they’ll have been fooled for so long that it will constitute, de facto, all of the time. This, at any rate, seems to be what’s happened with 3D movies, which any objective person will tell you are shit.” Will Self rants in the New Statesman.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Eugene Hernandez has extensive (and often quite funny) notes on the conversation John Waters had with Harmony Korine in Provincetown last weekend.

“Per capita, Saudi Arabia has the highest YouTube use in the world: 28 million people watch 90 million videos a day.” This is, after all, a country without any cinemas. For the London Review of Books, Tabatha Leggett talks with the founders of UTURN Entertainment, quite a successful online television network.

Grand Piano

Elijah Wood in ‘Grand Piano’

In other news. “Eugenio Mira’s Grand Piano, a piano concert-set psychological thriller starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack, will open the 46th Sitges Intl. Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, Europe’s biggest genre movie event,” reports Variety‘s John Hopewell.

The Festival del film Locarno has announced that it’ll present its first Vision Award – Electronic Studio to Douglas Trumbull during its 66th edition (August 7 through 17).

Lists. There’s more to celebrate this Pride Month than in most years, so Indiewire‘s recommending “43 Great LGBT Films.” Meantime, Flavorwire lists the “20 Worst Depictions of LGBT Characters on Film.”

New York. “Received wisdom is that left-wing documentary filmmaking in the United States ended with the ill-timed release of Leo Hurwtiz and Paul Strand’s Native Land (1942)—not to be renewed until the rise of the New Left in the 1960s. Nothing could be further from the truth. Union Films was a radical, New York-based film collective that made over two dozen non-fiction films between 1946 and 1953. Its impresario, Carl Marzani, would ultimately spend three years in jail for his first anti-business motion picture, Deadline for Action (1946). Fighting back at every step, he twice took his case all the way to the Supreme Court, only to lose the decision by one vote. When not in the courts, he was making films.” Tonight’s program at Light Industry begins at 7:30.

Outlaw: New Works, a solo exhibition by Jonas Mekas, opens today at Microscope Gallery and will be on view through July 29: “The catalyst for the exhibition is the end of the 4th year of litigation of an artistic court case with a former gallery.”

San Francisco. The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (2004) screens tomorrow at midnight at the Clay Theatre and, for the Bay Guardian, Cheryl Eddy has a terrific conversation with Laura Albert, who wrote the novel the film’s based on in the guise of J.T. LeRoy. Albert and producer Chris Hanley will be on hand, while director and star Asia Argento will beam in via Skype. Albert, whose cover was blown in 2005, says that watching Leos Carax’s Holy Motors recently was a “transformative” experience: “I did not break character. You know how, in that movie, he’ll do anything? He’ll kill someone! He’s in it. Most people don’t know what that’s like. And that was it. I will never apologize. We’re talking about art. Nobody was harmed in this, really. I didn’t really scribble that far outside the lines. Everything was labeled ‘fiction.'”

Teaser for A Fuller Life, Samantha Fuller‘s doc on her father, Samuel Fuller, featuring William Friedkin, Monte Hellman, Joe Dante, Buck Henry, Tim Roth, Wim Wenders, James Franco, Constance Towers, and more.

Austin. “This weekend, Portland, Ore.-based film programmer Dan Halsted completes the 30-year odyssey of some rare, mystery martial arts movies as he presents Old School Kung Fu Weekend at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre,” reports Richard Whittaker in the Chronicle. “‘It’s two days packed with five films and trailers, and we’re not announcing anything,’ Halsted said. ‘It’s fun to keep it all a secret.’ All five films are part of a treasure trove of 200 prints that had lain undiscovered for decades in an abandoned cinema until Halsted uncovered them.”

In the works. The Guardian rolls out the first in a series of extracts from the eight chapters of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, due in December.

“Fox Searchlight has acquired the rights to Suzanne Rindell’s debut novel The Other Typist as a vehicle for Keira Knightley, who is attached to star in and produce.” Gregg Kilday has details in the Hollywood Reporter.

Obits.Bert Stern, an elite commercial photographer who helped redefine advertising and fashion art in the 1950s and ’60s but is perhaps best known for his painfully raw and poignant photos of Marilyn Monroe, taken for Vogue six weeks before her death, died on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan,” reports Paul Vitello. “He was 83.”

Also in the New York Times, Anita Gates: “Elliott Reid, a character actor familiar to television and movie audiences and probably best remembered as Jane Russell’s love interest in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, died on Friday in Studio City, Calif. He was 93.”

For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @KeyframeDaily on Twitter and/or the RSS feed. 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.