Let’s begin with Peter Cowie for Criterion on Samuel Fuller: “I never met him or wrote much about him, until The Big Red One, at Cannes in 1980 (albeit in an abridged version), suddenly brought him into focus as much more than a king of the Bs, indeed as one of the most thoughtful directors of his generation.” And then in 1992, it was suggested that Fuller be introduced to Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, “the egghead director of Hitler: A Film from Germany (1977), a seven-hour mixed-media dissertation that the festival was reviving that summer. Syberberg was the inverse of Sam: tall, patrician of gaze, and an intellectual to his fingertips… and when confronted by Sam Fuller, he turned away and refused to shake his hand. Syberberg treated him like a Z director. Sam, always proud of being a mere B, chomped on his cigar and muttered, ‘I’ve known guys like that all my life.’ Sam had that effect on many snobs. His work eschewed pretension.”
For Vice, Giancarlo T. Roma talks with James Schamus about That Film About Money and That Second Part About That Film About Money: “I’m not trying to convey much information, my main goal is simply to freak you out.”
“Errol Morris’s triumvirate, now almost a decade in the making, is one of the strongest artistic replies to America at war, of which the invasion Iraq is a particularly persistent manifestation,” writes Julian Cosma at 3:AM. “Fog of War, Standard Operating Procedures, and Unknown Known are, as stand-alone works, striking and haunting films. Together, they constitute an attempt to understand, from top to bottom, the history of how American power gets abused. Morris does this by taking the perspective of those in power.”
For the Observer, Andrew Anthony profiles documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis, who’s “built a formidable career out of a more impressionistic and polemical approach to making his case. He dismisses much contemporary journalism as a delirious cycle of ‘disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information.'” For example:
Adrian Martin calls our attention to Transit: A Journal of Travel, Migration, and Multiculturalism in the German-speaking World. The current issue features Katrin Sieg‘s essay, “Remediating Fassbinder in Video Installations by Ming Wong and Branwen Okpako,” and, as noted in today’s entry on newish books, Cara Tovey‘s review of Marco Abel’s The Counter-Cinema of the Berlin School and Jaimey Fisher’s Christian Petzold.
IN OTHER NEWS
The International Film Festival Rotterdam has announced that its 44th edition (January 21 through February 1) will open with Tom Hooper’s War Book, “the story of a chilling war game between a group of government officials,” and close with J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year. Also, a fresh lineup: “2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the Tiger Awards Competition for Short Films. The 2015 competition comprises an eclectic mix of twenty short fiction films, experimental films, and creative documentaries from all over the world.”
Philadelphia. “It was art school that brought [David] Lynch to Philly in 1966, and it was in his studio at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he experienced an epiphany that, in the familiar telling, moved him away from painting,” writes Dennis Lim in the new issue of Artforum. “He was at work on a painting of plants in a garden when he sensed a wind emanating from within the canvas, seeming to stir the leaves under his brush. What if paintings could move? he wondered. What if they had sound? The rest is cinema history.” David Lynch: The Unified Field is on view through Sunday.
Chicago. The Music Box Theatre is screening The Works of Frank Capra each weekend through February 7. “According to Joseph McBride’s 1992 biography Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success,” writes Ben Sachs in the Reader, “the director was a self-aggrandizing cynic who was nonetheless tormented by feelings of self-hatred. (Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s Reader essay on Broadway Bill provides a useful synopsis of how Capra’s life influenced his filmmaking.) One doesn’t have to look very deep into Capra‘s movies to see evidence of this persona—it shapes the very premises of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which pit honest souls against hordes of opportunists and demagogues.”
Berlin. For Rooftop Films, Danielle Kourtesis talks with programmers Hannes Brühwiler and Andrew Grant about Unknown Pleasures, the festival of American independent film currently on through January 16.
IN THE WORKS
For Hyperallergic, Edward M. Gómez talks with Jeffrey Perkins about George, the documentary he’s been working on since 2010 about George Maciunas (1931–1978), “best remembered as the conceiver and self-appointed leader of Fluxus, an international network or community of avant-garde artists, which a few decades ago was especially active in the United States, Japan and Europe.”
At the Film Stage, Jordan Raup reports that Casey Affleck will replace Matt Damon as the lead in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester-by-the-Sea. “He’ll take the role of a plumber who returns home after news of his brother’s passing arrives. He then must take care of his nephew of 16 years all while a tragedy from his past bubbles to the surface.”
In the Financial Times, Raphael Abraham gets Pedro Almodóvar talking about his next film: “It’s a return to the cinema of women, of great female protagonists, and it’s a hard-hitting drama, which excites me. It’s called Silencio because that’s the principal element that drives the worst things that happen to the main female protagonist.”
“After proving herself as a formidable action lead in the hit Lucy, Scarlett Johansson is ready to tackle DreamWorks’ Ghost in the Shell,” reports Tatiana Siegel. “The actress has signed on to star in the anime-based, live-action thriller, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) will direct from a script written by Bill Wheeler.”
“The radical filmmaker René Vautier, who claimed to be the ‘most censored director in France,’ died on Sunday aged 86,” reports the AFP. “A lifelong critic of French colonialism, Vautier is best known for Avoir 20 ans dans les Aures, which depicted young French conscripts being turned into killing machines during the war in Algeria. It won him the international critics’ prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1972, but like much of his work, brought him into conflict with French authorities…. He was sentenced to a year in jail for making Africa 50, which he shot when was just 20, and which is seen as the first French anti-colonial film. It denounced the crimes of the French army and the lack of education afforded to the natives of French colonies. It was banned for 40 years.”
“Edward Herrmann, a stalwart American actor of patrician bearing and earnest elocutionary style who became familiar across a spectrum of popular entertainment, from movies and television shows to plays, audiobooks and advertisements, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 71.” In the New York Times, Bruce Weber notes that Herrmann might be best known today “as Richard Gilmore, the doting, upper-crust grandfather of the Connecticut Gilmores on the popular series Gilmore Girls.” At RogerEbert.com, you’ll find appreciations by Ebert himself (written when Herrmann was chosen to read the audio version of Ebert’s memoir, Life Itself) and Sheila O’Malley.
“In what is deemed the most lackluster period of British film history, the American actor Yolande Donlan, who has died aged 94, brought a welcome touch of Hollywood glamor,” writes Ronald Bergan in the Guardian. “Though few would claim as masterpieces the eight films she made with the prolific British director Val Guest, whom she was to marry in 1954, they were reasonably entertaining low-budget movies which gave Donlan the chance to display her vivacity and versatility.”
“It saddens me to report, so soon after the passing of Mary Dawne Arden, the death of another prominent player in the films of Mario Bava,” writes Tim Lucas. Giorgio Ardisson, “the handsome young actor best remembered for his roles in Bava’s Hercules in the Haunted World (Ercole al centro della terra, 1961) and Erik the Conqueror (Gli invasori, 1961), died on December 11, at the age of 82.”
“Ninón Sevilla has died at the age of 93,” reports Latin Times. “Emilia Pérez Castellanos, Ninón’s birth name, rose to fame during the Golden Age of Cinema in México with the so-called rumberas-films” and “was also known as a telenovela actress.”
Marc Maron‘s latest guest on the WTF podcast is Paul Thomas Anderson (116’40”).
On the latest episode of DVD Is the New Vinyl, Aaron Hillis talks with Terry Gilliam, Jonathan Caouette and Larry Karaszewski (31’54”).
Peter Labuza and Keith Uhlich discuss their favorite films of 2014 on the Cinephiliacs—the first of a two-part conversation (118’26”).