Forty years ago last month, on June 29, 1974, a shot of Hiroshima’s ruined Genbaku Dome hit cinema screens like an epitaph, marking the end of Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Final Episode, the final film in Kinji Fukasaku’s epic secret history of post–World War II Japan, The Yakuza Papers. Essentially one 634-minute movie split into five parts, this is the story of a Japan where honor died in one mushroom cloud and human sympathy was incinerated in the other. It’s the story of a country built on greasy whorehouse handshakes and backroom deals, where politicians need criminal muscle to get out the vote, and who you pay off is more important than who you are. It’s a grand, glorious gun opera and the best way to see it is all at once, one movie after the other smashing into your face. When you pick yourself up off the floor, your skull will be splitting from keeping track of all the plotlines, characters, subplots, gang names, and knotty alliances, but your nerves’ll be buzzing.
In general, quite a bit of fine reading’s gone up at Film Comment‘s site recently. There’s Thom Andersen on Francesco Vezzoli, whose work “is about cinema, but it refuses cinema.” Allegra Frank reviews Hiroyuki Okiura’s A Letter to Momo (2011). And via Film Comment‘s Twitter feed, a collection of remembrances of Luis Buñuel by Michel Piccoli, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, Bulle Ogier and Franco Nero from the September/October 1983 issue.
David Davidson has been studying Cahiers du Cinéma, particularly as it evolved in the 1980s during the editorship of Serge Toubiana. “This period is too little explored and I think it’s essential to understand the magazine today.” He argues that Toubiana and Serge Daney‘s “reconnection with Truffaut was the catalyst for their shift from purely intervention and third world films towards cinema in its entirety, and they needed to catch up and the media landscape had rapidly evolved.” In a followup entry, Davidson then considers the evolution of Cahiers in the wake of Toubiana, focusing in particular on the editorship of Charles Tesson between 1998 and 2003.
Chris Marker was born 93 years ago today. A year ago, Frieze posted this remembrance:
“What’s left to discover today? Plenty.” David Bordwell‘s been “archive-hopping” and, focusing on films from the 1910s and early 1920s, writes about several of his most intriguing finds. “Most exciting was our viewing of a major film that has gone unnoticed in standard film histories.”
The other day, we posted a report on this year’s Jerusalem Film Festival by Laya Maheshwari. Now Filmmaker‘s post another by none other than Nina Menkes, who’s currently living in Jaffa, Israel. Menkes notes that the festival’s new director, Noa Regev “had a difficult task for her first edition. Walking a fine line between continuing with the film screenings while acknowledging ‘the situation,’ as it is called here, wasn’t easy but she handled it with grace and intelligence.” During her introductory remarks, Regev “invited those in the audience who wanted to join her, to please stand for a moment of silence ‘in honor of the four Palestinian children who were killed (by the IDF) yesterday,'” and for that, she “was publicly vilified and threatened for even daring to mention these four children. A dark and toxic atmosphere prevails. Namaste.”
Martin Ritt’s Paris Blues (1961) with Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier is out on DVD and Blu-ray from Kino Lorber today and, writing for Artforum, Melissa Anderson finds that “puncturing the film’s earnestness—a burden that fell upon Poitier to carry, as he had to do in so many of his films from the 1950s and ’60s—are moments of saucy, slinky mischief.”
IN THE WORKS
“Paul Greengrass is to potentially direct a film adaptation of the memoir of Morten Storm, the white Dane who became radicalized and joined al-Qaida, before renouncing the organization and becoming an MI5 and CIA informant.” Ben Beaumont-Thomas has details in the Guardian.
Eva Green is in negotiations to star in Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, reports Variety‘s Justin Kroll. “Based on the Ranson Riggs’s novel about a teenager who finds himself transported to an island where he must help protect a group of orphans with special powers from creatures out to destroy them.”
Disney’s new 3D Jungle Book, to be directed by Jon Favreau, has added two new voices, reports Deadline. Christopher Walken and Giancarlo Esposito will join Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, Idris Elba and Scarlett Johansson.
“Donna Tartt’s best-selling novel The Goldfinch is set to fly off the page following the acquisition of movie rights by the Warner Bros studio,” reports the BBC. “Rush Hour director Brett Ratner will co-produce the adaptation with Brad Simpson and Nina Jacobson, Bafta-winning producer of The Hunger Games.”
New York. The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Sound + Vision 2014 opens Thursday and runs through August 9.
James Shigeta, “who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines,” writes Matt Zoller Seitz at RogerEbert.com. Shigeta “was marvelous in Samuel Fuller‘s 1959 film The Crimson Kimono, shared the 1960 Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer with George Hamilton, Troy Donahue and Barry Coe, and played Wang Ta in the 1961 film version of Flower Drum Song. His speaking voice was a deep tenor with a hint of a quaver, as if he were suppressing the raging emotions he always naturally felt. And his singing voice was sunshine.”
Peter Marquardt, who played the white-suited drug lord Moco in Robert Rodriguez’s 1992 classic El Mariachi and its first sequel, has died,” reports THR‘s Mike Barnes. Marquardt, who was only 50, also appeared in Rodriguez’s Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003).
Listening (31’58”). In 1962, Studs Terkel interviewed Jacques Tati.
More listening (62’27”). In the latest episode of Filmwax Radio, Adam Schartoff talks with Fandor CEO Ted Hope about the Fix and Festival Alliance initiatives, with Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn and with Amy Browne and Jeremy Kaplan, two of the four co-directors of the new documentary, A Will for the Woods.
Viewing (9’33”). When Little White Lies editor David Jenkins “got word that Time Out was moving spaces and as a result was trashing their back collection of Sight & Sound issues,” he asked Adam Cook to help him give them a new home in his London apartment. Adam’s turned the move into a film and posted it in the Notebook.