So the nominations for this year’s Gotham Awards were announced yesterday and, at Criticwire, Matt Singer‘s lifted the hood and done a bit of poking around in there. He reminds us that the “nominees are chosen not by members of an enormous and anonymous academy, but by small groups of film critics and programmers. If you’re curious why some films get nominated and others get snubbed, it can be informative to cycle back to the nominating critics’ reviews.” Which he’s made quite easy to do: For nearly every nominated film and filmmaker, he’s got links to reviews by jurors in their respective categories.
“Whether stalking across movie screens, cathode ray tubes, or LCD displays, the monsters created by Universal Studios have been with us for more than 80 years,” writes Randy Fox in the Nashville Scene, introducing an overview of Universal Horror, a series on at the Belcourt through Halloween. As we noted the other day, Universal Horror B-Sides are unreeling at Cinefamily in Los Angeles all month long, and Flavorwire‘s previewing a show of new posters for the old flicks on view, starting today, at Mondo Gallery in Austin. If you’re following our tumblr, you already know all about that, so for this entry, I’m going with a matchbook sporting tiny drawings by Jason D’Aquino.
A new Blu-ray package, Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection, has Joseph Jon Lanthier recounting his childhood obsession with classic American horror, wherein he found, as he writes for Slant, “a compromise of sorts between the dissonant pedagogical models of school and church: Despite the involvement of supernatural elements (such as Dracula’s vampirism), the movies’ characters strive to understand and disarm these threats systematically, if not quite scientifically. Van Helsing, for example, must ‘prove’ Dracula’s true nature using a mirror before acting on his suspicions. The death and resurrection-oriented plot devices are also often blasphemous, but hokey values eventually subsume this iconoclasm. I precociously seized on the agnostic ambiguity such oppositions evinced, and engaged in furtively faith-based fights with my parents under the pretense of defending the Promethean hubris of Dr. Frankenstein, or the what-goes-around-comes-around gnosticism of the Wolf Man. Secretly, of course, I relished these characters’ implicit theistic denial, but their stories were tragic and mystical enough to interpret as surreptitious Christ parables too.”
Reading. “I must sing the hymn of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), a hand-sized piece of crude TV animation that instantly became, and remains, an American cultural standard,” writes Michael Atkinson at Sundance NOW. “Now part of our collective DNA, it’s an achingly lovely ballade of a grade-schooler’s waist-high universe, complete with intimations of secret forces looming just beyond view in the autumnal dusk.”
“Dear Americans, Republicans, and Democrats Alike,” David Lynch has a message for you.
List. “The 10 best films of the 1890s” at the AV Club.
Book. The Film Society of Lincoln Center is giving us an extensive preview of New York Film Festival Gold, a smartly designed volume celebrating the festival’s 50th anniversary with contributions from the likes of Pedro Almodóvar and the new artistic director, Kent Jones.
DVD/Blu-ray. Glenn Kenny‘s posted his “Disgracefully Overdue Face-Saving Blu-ray Consumer Guide, October 2012.”
Festivals. “If I could only go to one film festival each year, it would be Sitges,” declares Steve Dollar at GreenCine Daily. “Now in its 45th year, the Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya is the Cannes of the Uncanny.” And Indiewire runs Michael Nordine‘s report from the Busan International Film Festival, “the self-proclaimed ‘Cannes of Asia.'”
New York. The Museum of the Moving Image launches a series of screenings of the work of Raya Martin today, noting that he “draws on a wide array of sources—combining pop culture references, archival material, and avant-garde structuralism—in his radically lyrical works…. As part of the retrospective, Martin and Gym Lumbera have created a panoramic video installation, a simplistic altar made from a prohibited film scene.” Today through October 31.
“If there is any single personality who embodies the ‘genius of the system’ (or kept the ‘whole equation’ of movies in his head),” writes J. Hoberman for Artinfo, “it would be Ernst Lubitsch, the German-Jewish-American producer-director whose career spanned the Golden Age of the Motion Picture. Lubitsch made two-reel slapstick comedies, discovered the silent star Pola Negri, made rampantly exotic costume epics in Berlin, then came to Hollywood where he would serve as production chief at Paramount and set the standard for Hollywood sophistication. Painstakingly restored after years in the limbo of legendary lost movies, Lubitsch’s fabulously entertaining Loves of Pharaoh (1922) was the most lavish super-spectacle produced in Germany to date, as well as the last movie its director would make before relocating to Hollywood.” It’s screening at BAM through tomorrow and Farran Nehme has a full report: “This is what you call a major film-preservation event.”
Zardoz (1974) screens tonight at the 92Y Tribeca. “It’s amazing that [John] Boorman was able to get a major studio to produce and release this trippy, campy science fiction drama that essentially encourages viewers to destroy everything and start from scratch,” writes Simon Abrams in the L.
San Francisco. In the Bay Guardian, Dennis Harvey previews Not Necessarily Noir III, a “catch-all occasional series encompassing all things cool and (mostly) celluloid which don’t fit the loose strictures of [the Roxie Cinema and Elliot Lavine’s] long-running actual noir retrospectives.”
In the works. Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio) is currently developing an adaptation of Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel The Beginning of Spring, reports Deadline‘s Mike Fleming.
“Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, who have somehow each gone their entire careers without working together, are set to star in And So It Goes… which seems to be the general attitude of the enterprise overall,” writes the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth. “Penned by Mark Andrus (As Good as It Gets, Life As a House, Georgia Rule) it is one of those ‘kids change your life’ movies for the retiree set.”
Obit. “Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel, who starred in the iconic 1974 erotic French film Emmanuelle and over 50 other movies, died in her sleep overnight after suffering from cancer,” reported the Telegraph yesterday. Paul Gallagher at Dangerous Minds: “Kristel also worked with some of European cinema’s most acclaimed directors, starring in Claude Chabrol’s Alice ou la Derniere fugue, Robbe-Grillet’s Playing with Fire, and Roger Vadim’s Une Femme Fidele.” And the Guardian‘s Ronald Bergan notes: “Her favorite film was [Walarian] Borowczyk’s The Streetwalker (La Marge, 1976), in which she is touching as a mysterious and proud prostitute who has an affair with a happily married man (Joe Dallesandro).”