“Every Man for Himself was a film that changed my life,” writes Colin MacCabe, whose book, Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy, appeared in 2003. In a piece for Criterion, MacCabe sketches the evolution of Godard‘s thinking and art from 1968 to 1980, the year of Every Man‘s release. “If Godard had lost his faith in revolutionary politics, he had rediscovered his faith in cinema. I was of that generation that had been seduced by political siren calls, which claimed that film was only ideology. Every Man for Himself was the most comprehensive demonstration that film could also be illumination. For me, it was a license to leave an increasingly arid academic world and try to find the light.”
Girish Shambu remembers the late film historian, scholar and critic, Gilberto Perez, having spent the last few weeks “revisiting films alongside his writings about them in his classic, magisterial book, The Material Ghost (1998), which contains nearly three decades of his work. These films, on which he wrote indelible, definitive essays, include Murnau’s Nosferatu, Dovzhenko’s Earth, Renoir’s A Day in the Country, Ford’s My Darling Clementine, Huillet/Straub’s History Lessons, Godard’s Alphaville, and Antonioni’s L’Eclisse and L’Avventura.”
“Women never ruled Hollywood, but their creative talent, their ideas themselves, were once far more widely recognized and valued in the filmmaking community,” writes Peter Davis, and he’s got dozens of examples to back up his argument—including the case of his own mother, Tess Slesinger, whose screenplay for Elia Kazan’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) was nominated for an Oscar. As for today, of course, “What remains both sad and scandalous is that the cinematic contributions of half the population to our sense of ourselves, to our joy and entertainment, to the cathartic effects of art itself, are simply, mostly, not there.”
Also in the Nation, an exasperated Stuart Klawans notes that “serious people—critics I admire, whose political sympathies are close to mine—keep insisting that Clint Eastwood worked profound moral ambivalence and heartfelt complexities of character into American Sniper. I wish it were so.” Fortunately, “Queen and Country is the film of an old master ([John] Boorman directed his first feature in 1965) who still has one of the most magical eyes in the business.”
The “energies” of New Queer Cinema “are still percolating through to us today, 25 years after the initial impact of the movement,” argues Nathan Smith in Times Higher Education. “But to understand its importance, one must also consider some of the transgressive works that emerged from its urgent desire to challenge representations of homosexuality on screen.”
Mark Cousins on Brian De Palma in 1998
The problem with most of the film schools proliferating around the world is that they “teach about equipment and production, when their job is really to awaken in students a sensory response to the world,” argues Mark Cousins in Sight & Sound. His own course would address 50 themes over 50 weeks: “As I’ve just read Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed, and been to the Bauhaus museum in Weimar in Germany, where radical ideas about teaching creativity and craft were developed, and since I’m lucky enough to have talked to Samira Makhmalbaf about the methods her father, Mohsen, used in Iran to teach his kids filmmaking, my suggestions are irregular.”
Jim Jarmusch‘s Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) “simultaneously relies on and subverts common vampire genre codes in order to perform cultural critiques that are commonly associated with the historical film,” argues John Trafton. Also new at Bright Lights, Katherine Bertolucci: “The Shame Is on the Aggressor: The Image of Rape in Films About Bosnia and in the Films of Angelina Jolie.”
Joan Crawford “could play tough and hard, but it always feels like a brittle shell, as mannered as the refined hauteur she wears in other roles,” writes Imogen Smith at the Chiseler. “Underneath is a strange blend of fiendish energy and quivering need…. One of the earliest and most interesting demonstrations of Crawford’s duality comes in Rain (1932).”
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Seth Abramovitch has scored the first interview Michael Cimino’s given for thirteen years. Clint Eastwood gave Cimino his first big break, giving him his first directing gig, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), and Cimino seems eternally grateful. He’s just wild about American Sniper and, flippantly or not, declares, “I think Clint should be president.” He also revisits a run-in with Jane Fonda and tells Abramovitch that he’s writing up a storm: “I’ve got a room full of scripts.”
For BOMB, Pamela Cohn talks with Jesse Moss, “a fearless director, who does not shy away from encountering his own inner demons as he’s documenting those of his subjects,” about The Overnighters and Steve Macfarlane talks with Céline Sciamma about Girlhood, which “confounds superficial expectations of its hood culture milieu throughout its heroine’s transition from a meek, braided girl hiding within the banlieues to an itinerant criminal and then something else entirely.”
For the Atlantic, David Sims talks with Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski, whose Ida is considered a frontrunner in the foreign language Oscar race. It’s also, writes Sims, “a remarkably affecting, often funny, and subtly tragic work that succeeds by focusing tightly on its characters as they brush up against their country’s dark past.”
Film Comment‘s posted the second part of Michael Sragow‘s interview with Joe Dante.
Berkeley. “With only four short films to her credit, Mati Diop is already one of the most promising filmmakers testing the edges of documentary and fiction,” writes Max Goldberg for SFAQ. “Her films feel like intimate reveries but function as myths, transforming ordinary stories of loss and risk through an impressionistic rendering of the physical world.” Tonight’s screening of A Thousand Suns (2013) will be followed by a conversation with Diop and Genevieve Yue and Diop will be on hand for tomorrow’s screening of Claire Denis‘s 35 Shots of Rum (2008).
Los Angeles. “The great escape artist Harry Houdini starred in five silent films in the early 20th century, but one considered among his best was long considered lost,” writes Allison Meier at Hyperallergic. “Next month, The Grim Game (1919) will have its world premiere, the restored film finally screening to the public after a resurrection from four decades of obscurity…. Its long-awaited return will be at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival, March 26 to 29 in Hollywood.”
Boise. Sun Blood Stories performs original scores to films in the public domain and will be premiering their new soundtrack to Georges Méliès‘s A Trip to the Moon (1902) on February 28 and March 1 before performing at Treefort 2015. Michael Guillén chats with the band.
Toronto. Barbara Stanwyck “is often remembered for her versatility,” notes Calum Marsh in the National Post. “Rightly so. As an expansive retrospective of her films runs this month and the next at the Bell Lightbox in Toronto, a range of styles impresses itself: Stanwyck starred in noirs, murder mysteries, melodramas, westerns, frothy comedies. She could play buoyant or bed-ridden, smooth-talking or stuttering, confidant or crook. And in all she would prove electrifying.” Ball of Fire: The Films of Barbara Stanwyck is on through April 4.
Vienna. The series Second Lives. Recent Restorations from the Austrian Film Museum runs from next Thursday through March 11.
Bonn. Videonale.15 is on from next Friday through April 19.
IN THE WORKS
Leonard Pearce has put together quite the preview package at the Film Stage with fresh images from and the last details on Miguel Gomes‘s Arabian Nights, Hirokazu Koreeda’s Our Little Sister, Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Treasure, Philippe Garrel’s In the Shadow of Women, Hou Hsiao-Hsien‘s The Assassin, Valérie Donzelli‘s Marguerite and Julien with Anaïs Demoustier and Jérémie Elkaïm, Elie Wajeman’s The Anarchists with Adèle Exarchopoulos and Tahar Rahim, Lucile Hadzihalilovic‘s Evolution and Joann Sfar‘s The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun.
At the Playlist, Kevin Jagernauth notes that the Daily Mail is reporting that Jason Hall, who wrote American Sniper, is currently writing Thank You For Your Service, which Steven Spielberg will direct “later this year.” It’s an adaptation of David Finkel’s book about the struggles soldiers deal with when they return home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“A month ago, District 9 and Elysium director Neill Blomkamp posted concept art from the Alien franchise started by Ridley Scott,” writes Rodrigo Perez at the Playlist. “What was that all about? Was he just having fun? Nope, it was Blomkamp’s dead-serious idea for an Alien film he actually pitched to 20th Century Fox.” And now it’s on.
“HBO’s long-gestating period drama project from Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan has been given an official pilot green light, with Gus Van Sant set to direct.” Nellie Andreeva reports for Deadline: “New World is believed to be tackling topics inspired by the events surrounding the infamous Salem Witch Trials in 17th century New England.”
Yann Demange (’71) “is in final negotiations to board Sony’s increasingly high profile cop project The Seven Five,” reports Deadline‘s Ali Jaafar. “Based on the Tiller Russell-directed and Eli Holzman-produced documentary about one of the most corrupt police forces in 1980s New York, The Seven Five focuses on Michael Dowd, who was arrested in 1992 arrest for leading a ring of dirty cops for the best part of eight years between 1986-1992. Their crimes included theft, abuse and drug dealing. Dowd’s case exposed widespread corruption in the NYPD and sent him to prison for 14 years.”
At the Playlist, Edward Davis notes that Spike Lee’s mentioned to Anne Thompson that he’ll followup on Bad 25 with another doc on the making of a Michael Jackson album, Off the Wall (1979). And “during a recent Meet the Filmmaker Apple Store chat for Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, when asked if he would return to ‘the Republic of Brooklyn’ for more narrative features set within the borough, Lee reminded the audience that one is already written. ‘Definitely,’ he said, ‘I have a script that’s a mutherfucker. I just gotta get the money for it. It’s called Brooklyn Loves MJ. So if we get the money for that, you’ll like that too.'”
“Willie Nelson, Charlotte Rampling and Sophie Lowe will star in winter-director Lian Lunson’s fantasy-drama Waiting for the Miracle to Come, with production set to begin next month at Nelson’s ranch in Spicewood, Texas.” Dave McNary reports for Variety. It’s “the story of an aspiring trapeze artist who discovers a cryptic letter her father once wrote directing her to a goldmine in the California desert. Upon arriving in a mysterious town, she finds herself at the gates of ‘The Beautiful Place,’ a house occupied by retired vaudeville stars—played by Nelson and Rampling.”