What a week. The loss of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall and the rollout of hefty lineups from two major festivals, New York and Toronto, have shoved most other items to the back burners, but before we all run off for the weekend, here’s a rundown of what you might want to know about. And we begin with James Gray, a great filmmaker and a great talker (someone get him in a room with Steven Soderbergh and flip on a recorder). For Rolling Stone, Gray has written an appreciation of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which turns 35 this month. The film “poses questions without any attempt to provide definitive answers, and the film’s profound ambiguities are integral to its enduring magic. In fact, the very sensuousness of the movie, its immersive and visceral impact, seduced me before I could recoil from its horrors.”
Sight & Sound has posted the full results of its “Greatest Documentaries of All Time” poll of 340 documentary critics, curators, academics and filmmakers: ballots, comments and a nifty interactive design.
On the occasion of Criterion’s release of John Cassavetes‘s Love Streams (1984), Marjorie Baumgarten talks with fellow Austin Chronicle writer Michael Ventura, “who was on-set throughout the filming, provides the voiceover commentary, and among the package’s many supplements is the hourlong documentary Ventura made about the production, “I’m Almost Not Crazy…” – John Cassavetes: The Man and His Work.” Let me also recommend James Kang’s excellent Critics Round Up entry on Love Streams as well as two more: Catherine Breillat’s Abuse of Weakness and Philippe Garrel’s Jealousy.
For the New York Times Style Magazine, Lauren Tabach-Bank profiles Sam Taylor-Johnson, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Ava DuVernay, Sarah Polley, Lisa Cholodenko and Lana Wachowski, who, in turn, each have a few words on the films that have influenced them. Via Movie City News.
John Cassavetes directing Love Streams (1984)
“Lee Myung-Se taught me how to watch movies.” Grady Hendrix explains in his latest column for Film Comment.
“I think there’s something unique in [Richard] Linklater’s approach to verisimilitude, and it’s particularly interesting in contrast with other films with which Boyhood shares a kinship,” writes Glenn Kenny at RogerEbert.com. On a related note, Ben Sachs in the Chicago Reader: “Few U.S. narrative filmmakers have been so influenced by existentialist philosophy—even his more playful side owes something to this intellectual tradition.”
Sean Nortz in Bright Lights on Michael Wadleigh‘s Wolfen (1981): “There is a shadow film about the horrors of capitalism here, the montage of Wall St. and Charlotte St. perfectly Eisensteinian in its visceral bluntness, with the tacit suggestion that these opposites are not merely adventitious, as in the representational tradition of liberal naturalism, but necessary components of one another.”
Steven Shaviro argues that Bobcat Goldthwaite’s Willow Creek is “a superior example of, and a brilliant riposte to, all that international-art-house-style ‘slow cinema’ people have been pontificating about in recent years.”
For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Bruce Bennett talks with Dave Kehr about the recently wrapped MoMA series Lady in the Dark: Crime Films from Columbia Pictures, 1932–57.
“We tolerate Chester Morris,” writes David Cairns. “I don’t know that we love him.” Also new at the Chiseler are Jennifer Matsui on Herk Harvey‘s “masterpiece,” Carnival of Souls (1962), and Jim Knipfel on Charles Manson on film and television.
The new issue of Interiors focuses on the architecture in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982).
Erich Kuersten‘s written up a list of his “Top 25 Favorite Films.”
Yesterday was Straub-Huillet Day at DC’s.
IN OTHER NEWS
In the New York Times, Randy Kennedy reports that “the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Museum of Modern Art, which holds Warhol’s film archives, are beginning a project to digitize the materials, almost 1,000 rolls, a vast undertaking that curators and historians hope will, for the first time, put Warhol’s film work on a par with his painting, his sculpture and the Delphic public persona that became one of his greatest works. It will be MoMA’s largest effort to digitize the work of a single artist in its collection.”
Seattle’s Scarecrow Video, “one of the country’s largest and best independent video stores,” as the Dissolve‘s Matt Singer succinctly puts it, will close in October—to reopen as a new non-profit, The Scarecrow Project. To make it happen, they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000. They’re not there yet, but they’re well on their way. Says Thelma Schoonmaker: “Scarecrow Video is a treasure that we just can’t lose. I travel the world, and it’s the most comprehensive video store I’ve ever seen.”
“David Lynch’s 2011 concert film on Duran Duran will be hitting the big screen for the first time next month, appearing in more than 300 theaters for one night only on Wednesday, September 10th.” Jason Newman has details at Rolling Stone.
The 58th BFI London Film Festival will close with the European premiere of David Ayer’s Fury, starring Brad Pitt.
Also in Variety, Leo Barraclough: “The 10th Zurich Film Festival has unveiled its first Gala Premieres, which include David Gordon Green’s drama Manglehorn and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s tragicomedy Birdman.”
Austin’s Experimental Response Cinema has announced its Fall 2014 program, featuring visiting artists Peggy Ahwesh, Gregg Biermann and Jodie Mack as well as screenings of work by Yvonne Rainer, Andy Mann and many other artists.
New York. “The blacklist remains fresh and unhealed in America’s cultural memory,” writes Imogen Sara Smith for Moving Image Source. “There are still sparks of anger and controversy when people talk about those who named names, about fronts and friendly witnesses, about the extinguished careers, the exiles, the deaths. Far less attention has been paid to the movies that were made by blacklistees—before, during, and after the period—even though the Congressional investigation that started it all was ostensibly motivated by fear that Communists infiltrating Hollywood could use the power of movies to spread propaganda. This neglect inspired the argument of Red Hollywood, a documentary by Thom Andersen and Noël Burch which makes the astute point that it was in the interest of both sides to play down the influence of left-wing writers and filmmakers.”
Trailer for Thom Andersen and Noël Burch’s Red Hollywood (1996)
Melissa Anderson for Artforum: “Through a series of chapters—’War,’ ‘Class,’ ‘Sexes,’ ‘Hate,’ to name a few—Andersen and Burch’s treatise cogently advances the idea that these films, in fact, evince unmistakably leftist ideas.”
Red Hollywood (1996) opens today at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, where an accompanying series, Red Hollywood and the Blacklist, is also being presented this week in collaboration with Anthology Film Archive’s series Screenwriters and the Blacklist: Before, During, and After (August 22 through September 2).
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: The Cinema of Patrick Lung Kong opens today at the Museum of the Moving Image and runs through August 24 (see yesterday’s roundup). Aaron Cutler interviews Lung for the L.
IN THE WORKS
The sequel to this summer’s Godzilla will open on June 8, 2018. As Pamela McClintock notes in the Hollywood Reporter, director Gareth Edwards will need a few years before he can get to it because he’s directing a Star Wars spinoff.
The University of Reading’s Doug Pye has sent out word that film scholar and teacher Jim Hillier, who edited the first two volumes of the four-volume anthology of translations of selected writings that appeared in Cahiers du Cinéma during its first few decades, has passed away.
“Ed Nelson, a star of the 1960s primetime soap Peyton Place and an actor with almost 200 credits, mostly in television, died on Saturday in Greensboro, N.C.,” reports Carmen Dagan for Variety. “He was 85.”
Four listens today. Sam Pollard, who’s edited six films for Spike Lee, among others, and directed documentaries on Marvin Gaye, Zora Neale Thurston and the films of John Ford and John Wayne, is Adam Schartoff‘s guest on Filmwax Radio (43′).
Drunk History: Making Citizen Kane. With Jack Black and John Lithgow. Via Noel Murray at the Dissolve.
Illusion Travels By Streetcar #26 (110’16”): “The Subject of This Episode is Elaine May, and more.”
And Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) is the subject of the latest episode of The Projection Booth (200’11”).