Daily | Hoberman, Iran, Miyazaki

Two Rode Together

James Stewart and John Ford on the set of ‘Two Rode Together’ (1961)

Pointers to fine reading and viewing will follow soon enough, but for now, so much has gone on since the last update, we’re sticking with the news. And we begin with a happy update. A couple of weeks ago, we learned that Dave Kehr is to be the new Adjunct Curator in MoMA’s Film department. That was the good news. The bad news was that he’d no longer be writing his video column for the New York Times. But, as Kehr himself tweeted yesterday, J. Hoberman will be taking over that column. And that’s very good news indeed. Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke has a tad more on the paper’s official announcement at the Observer.

Meantime, Kehr has turned in his final column. As he notes at his site, “I get to go out on the greatest, John Ford.” Aaron Cutler‘s posted an appreciation of Kehr’s work, calling the first collection, When Movies Mattered: Reviews from a Transformative Decade, “the most useful guide to writing film criticism that I have ever read.”


The snag in negotiations aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear program is just one of a few distressing stories related to the country to break in the past few days. For starters, activist, actress and “subtle and humorous blogger and columnist” Pegah Ahangarani has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Writing for Sight & Sound, Ehsan Khoshbakht argues that authorities are turning her into a hero, with people “shouting her name in the cinemas of Tehran.”

Meantime, the Iranian government is still holding Mohammad Rasoulof‘s passport, which has kept him from attending the Stockholm Film Festival. The AP reports that several filmmakers, “including Sean Gullette of the U.S. and Sweden’s Tarik Saleh, stood blindfolded outside the Iranian embassy Tuesday” in protest.

The Yellow Dogs, a self-described “Post Punk/Dance Punk band” from Iran, were featured in Bahman Ghobadi‘s No One Knows About Persian Cats (2009). Musician Ali Akbar Mahammadi Rafie, evidently “upset after being thrown out of another band,” as the BBC reports, has shot and killed three members of The Yellow Dogs, Soroush Farazmand, Arash Farazmand, and Ali Eskandarian. Matt Singer has more at the Dissolve.


Hayao Miyazaki may have retired from filmmaking, but he carries on drawing and is said to be working on a manga. The Guardian‘s Ben Child has details.

“Hollywood studios now make more money selling movie tickets in China than in any other market outside North America.” Jonathan Landreth breaks down the numbers for the Atlantic.

You’ll have heard that Blockbuster is closing its 300 remaining retail stores in the U.S. “Such an entity deserves burial more than praise,” argues Nick Pinkerton at Sundance Now, “yet at The Dissolve, former Blockbuster employee Nathan Rabin issued something like a eulogy for the chain.” And Sam Adams puts this question to the Criticwire network: “What was the video store that changed your life?”


The International Film Festival Rotterdam has begun teasing the lineup of its 43rd edition (January 22 through February 2), starting with Gianfranco Rosi’s Sacro GRA, the first documentary ever to win the Golden Lion in Venice. Also: “The central theme of IFFR 2014 has been announced: as a prelude to the European elections next year, IFFR brings a multi-strand Signal called The State of Europe.”

The Aesthetics of Shadow. Lighting Styles 1915-1950 is the title of the Retrospective at the 64th Berlinale (February 6 through 16), a series co-curated by the Deutsche Kinemathek and New York’s MoMA. The emphasis will be on “lighting styles from specific genres and decades of film history in Japan, the USA and Europe.” Also: George Clooney’s Monuments Men, suddenly timely as hell, will see its international premiere in Berlin.

“Mexican filmmaker Diego Quemada-Diez’s The Golden Cage and French drama Suzanne by Katell Quillévéré received top prizes at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, which concluded over the weekend,” reports the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Brian Brooks.


“Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer led the nominations for the 7th Annual Cinema Eye Honors, taking six nominations including the top prize, Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking,” reports Indiewire‘s Peter Knegt. “Also nominated in the that category were Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing (which was close behind Cutie with five nods), Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s After Tiller, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s Leviathan and Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell.”

Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar‘s scored three Asia Pacific Screen Awards nominations, while five other features have racked up two each: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son, Murat Aliyev’s Shal (The Old Man), Golshifteh Farahani’s My Sweet Pepperland, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and Anisul Haque’s Television, and Asghar Farhadi’s The Past.

See, too, the nominations for the European Film Awards and the British Independent Film Awards.


Robert Pattinson will be joining Benedict Cumberbatch in James Gray’s Lost City of Z, reports the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth. An adaptation of David Grann’s book, Lost tells “the story of English soldier-turned-explorer Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, whose obsession with the Amazon and belief that an ancient civilization resided there led him on many expeditions where he narrowly escaped death. After financing eventually dried up, Fawcett self-funded one last adventure into the Amazon with his son, from which neither returned.” Gray’s told the Playlist that “he’s aiming for the epic scale of David Lean but with a ‘slightly more hallucinogenic feel. Because [Fawcett] went to the jungle and sorta went mad.'”

The sequel’s also directed by Gareth Evans

The original cut of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac runs five-and-a-half hours, but as Vadim Rizov reports at the Dissolve, it’ll “be released in Denmark and Norway in a two-part version totaling only four hours. The shorter version’s the product of commercial prudence: When a film is this long, and costs this much ($10 million), and features such controversial content (including hardcore sexuality), earning its budget back is going to be an uphill climb.” Scott Roxborough has more details in the Hollywood Reporter.

“Jennifer Lawrence will not only star in the upcoming film adaptation of Jeanette Walls’s 2005 best-selling memoir The Glass Castle, the project will also mark her first time as a producer,” reports Jessica Herndon for the AP. The book, “which spent more than 335 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, details Walls’s poor and dysfunctional upbringing as she is raised by an eccentric artist mother and alcoholic father.”

James Marsh reports that Room 237 director Rodney Ascher‘s next project will be another documentary, The Nightmare, “a disturbing investigation into the demonic visions experienced by victims of sleep paralysis and provoked by Ascher’s own unsettling experiences with the condition.”

Also at Twitch, Andrew Mack reports that there’s another horror anthology in the works, XX, this one comprised of films by female directors: Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena), Mary Harron (American Psycho), Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body), Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary), and Jovanka Vuckovic (The Guest).



I’ve been doing some updating lately on several entries, but most substantially on 12 Years a Slave, The Armstrong Lie, At Berkeley, Birth of the Living Dead, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, The Past, and The Strange Little Cat.

More browsing? Check in with the Film Doctor and John Wyver.

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